I finally managed to get on some Burton Step Ons.
There’s been so much publicity surrounding this new (ish) way to connect with your board and I’ve had a lot of questions surrounding Step Ons, but hadn’t found the time/opportunity to get on them until recently.
This post will be a quick outline about my experience with the Step Ons (the particular combination I tried) and my overall impressions.
As opposed to my typical reviews, this isn’t a structured, organized post – more just getting my overall thoughts out – for a more thorough, organized and detailed review check out my individual reviews of the specific components:
What I Tested?
I tested the:
- Photon Step on Wide boots (size 10); and
- Genesis Step On bindings (due to be released as a new model for 2021-22 – at time of writing they weren’t yet available)
I tested them with my current control board – the Lib Tech Terrain Wrecker (157).
What are Burton Step Ons?
OK, before we continue, just in case you’ve stumbled on this post, interested in Step Ons, but aren’t exactly sure of what they are, here’s a brief run down.
Essentially they are a system that connects boots to bindings, without the need for ankle and toe straps as you find on most snowboard bindings. Instead of strapping into the bindings, you are essentially clicking into them. There are special clips in the bindings that work specifically with cleats on the boots that basically clip into place.
There are two cleats on the sides of the boots and 1 at the heel. The heel locks in first then the side cleats are clicked into place.
This eliminates the need to strap in and means you don’t have to bend down or sit down to strap in, when you get off the lift. With a bit of practice you can also learn how to click in on the go, so you don’t even have to stop at the top of the lift.
Typically I would test only one component at a time to keep as controlled a test as possible. E.g. if I’m testing a board, I would test using my control bindings and boots (boots and bindings I use all the time to test gear). If I’m testing boots, then the board and bindings remain the same, etc.
In this case I wasn’t able to test the boots and bindings separately, given the nature of the Step On technology, so I had to test them as a combination of boots and bindings.
I still kept as many controls as possible, i.e.:
- Still took my control board with control boots and bindings for a couple of test runs first
- Still did the same things as I always do for my test runs on both the control setup and when I had the Step Ons on.
- Still followed the same procedure for note taking and analysis during the testing – and did this once with as much focus on the boots as possible and then repeated with as much focus on the bindings as possible (though in a lot of ways the feel of them individually was tough to decipher, given that I didn’t test the bindings with control boots or the boots with control bindings).
I found the boots really comfortable straight out of the box.
Wasn’t much need for getting them worn in. Like any snowboard boot, they tend to fit and feel better after riding them for a period of time, particularly if you don’t get them heat molded, but some feel really good out of the box and don’t need a lot of time to feel comfortable – and the Photon Step On was exactly that for me. No doubt they would have become even more comfortable over time.
Of course comfort is only one factor – for more details on the boots, see:
Mounting the bindings to the board was easy – just like mounting typical Burton Re:Flex bindings.
There were a couple of very minor things.
1. Screws were a little tight in the disc, making it harder to line up for quick mounting (as in not having to take screws out of disc then individually place them. This however is very much not an issue if you don’t change bindings often and it’ll probably loosen up.
2. The disc cover you’ve got to hold open as there’s no strap to keep it open (as I’d usually do with Burton bindings). Again very minor and only a slight annoyance to those who change bindings often.
Otherwise an easy mounting process.
Some setting up things that were a little different to typical Burton Re:Flex bindings:
- No highback rotation
- Highback lean adjustment was quite different and required a tool
For details on the performance as well as adjustability etc, see:
Clipping in at home when I first set them up was easy enough and then clipping in my right foot (I’m goofy) before getting on the lift was pretty straightforward too – after one false start.
On the lift it felt a little weird to start with – not having a strap around the ankle – took a little bit to trust that the boot wasn’t going to come out, but that feeling eased pretty quickly.
Clipping in the other foot at the top of the lift was a bit of a different story. It was a little trickier to start with. I didn’t even attempt to do it on the go the first time. But even at a stand still it was a little more awkward to get the second foot in. Not having the stability of having the other foot on the snow either in front or behind.
But by the 3rd or 4th time it was getting easier to do and by the 7th or 8th time, I had it pretty much down – though still never got to a point that I was doing it on the move.
I hadn’t really thought about the unclipping part of it until I went to do it. I have unclipping straps down to an art and can easily unstrap an ankle strap and toe strap on the move – even the second one when wanting to get off at the end of the day or changing gear or before a break.
I had quite a bit of trouble at first and it felt really silly and cumbersome. Again it got quite a bit easier with a bit of practice, but I still didn’t feel it was as smooth as it is with straps – but then I’ve had years undoing straps, so not a big surprise there.
I found that the easiest way to do it was to put one hand down in the snow to stabilize, then release the lever and unclip. This seemed to work well, but the biggest downside to this is those that get Step Ons for the reason that you don’t have to bend down as much.
That said, once you get the hang of it, you probably don’t have to go quite to the extent of having one hand in the snow – and overall bending time, when you take into account total bend time from clipping in and unclipping would certainly be considerably less than with strap bindings. And overall time taken, particularly once you get smooth with it (which I don’t claim that I ever really did!) is certainly reduced.
Just quickly on performance – as the reviews for the Photon Step On Boots and Genesis Step On bindings contain all the detail.
Response was really really good – there’s no issues there on the performance side there. I prefer the board feel of Burton’s strap in Re:Flex bindings, but the response of the Step Ons is better – I think being clipped directly into the highback is, at least largely, responsible for the increased response and decreased board feel.
Overall Burton’s Step Ons are a solid build and all round a nice experience, even if a little awkward to work with to begin with. Over time they became easier and easier and once you get the hang of it, I have no doubt they would be easier and faster than most strap in bindings.
And the response was really impressive – putting in deep carves was a thing of beauty in these things.
Will I make the Switch?
If I didn’t spend most of my winter testing different boards, boots and bindings, would I switch to Step Ons full time? Probably not at this stage. For a couple of reasons.
Firstly, because I really like having good board feel, and whilst the board feel wasn’t that bad, I would happily sacrifice a little more time and effort strapping in, to get better board feel, even at the sacrifice of a bit of response. So this is probably a very personal decision depending on what you value more between those things.
Secondly, I have no issues strapping in to bindings at this stage. My flexibility is pretty good and have no problems strapping in standing up, or where I have to sitting down and then getting myself up. Also, I kind of like the strapping in ritual at the top (I might be weird?).
However, when I’m older, and I plan to ride until my body begs me for mercy, and then continue riding some more, I can see my priorities changing and Step Ons becoming a really attractive option, for sure.
At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, check out the links below for my in depth reviews on the Photon Step On boots and Genesis Step On Bindings: