For anybody who’s ridden snow in the backcountry, they know that ease-of-system is paramount to a good time. You want your gear to work, especially your bindings. And you want those bindings to work seamlessly with your boots. No second guessing when you’re out there. That’s why I’ve watched with curiosity as Burton subtly announced it will release a step-on snowboard binding for its splitboarding systems November 20th.
Step-in (or Step-on) snowboard bindings of course have a history in the sport. It’s not necessarily glorious. Just ask the Burton development team. Performance has always been a….sticking point. Well, Burton heads have spent many late nights creating a fairly tight system for the step-in with three touch points: the heel and one on each side of the feet. It looks low profile, and easy to use. Adding that tech to its splitboard line only seems like a logical next step, even though it’s a much smaller market.
The reason this is newsworthy I suppose, is the “ease-of-system” thing I spoke of earlier. A step-on binding could do as much or more for backcountry riders as those riding on piste. The most important aspect is saving energy (which is huge in the BC) so you’re not constantly bending over to strap in in deep snow. Step-ons could also speed up the process: speed and efficiency is always a key.
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The system could of course have drawbacks. Powder being its main one as it surrounds the binding, perhaps clogging those touch points. But creating a little snow platform during your transitions would simply be more important. There’s also the changing temperatures of late season riding that might cause wet snow to gum up the binding. Burton heads I’m sure thought of most of this. But the step-on is proprietary, so there’s also that to ponder.
Want to dig into the engineering process of the step-on binding? Check the little video below. There’s a quote from one of the engineers that the team actually bolted a boot onto a snowboard to try and find the correct touch points for a step-in and improve response, and hence performance.
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