- Price: £220 / €260
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Flex: 6
- Entry System: Step On
Of all the products in this year’s Buyer’s Guide, the Burton Step On snowboard bindings require the least introduction. Even before we tested them, they’d already caused quite a stir.
Strap-free bindings seemed like a great idea when they first appeared; eliminating the faff-fest that is strapping in, and giving skiers one less reason to complain about snowboarders being slow. Unfortunately, in practice they - and the boots they paired with - were heavy and unwieldy, falling far short of expectations.
Burton didn’t drop the idea completely, however, and now the Step On is here to right the wrongs of the past. Gone are the rigid metal plates and super-stiff boots, and in their place is a sleek, low-profile connecting system consisting of three contact points.
For obvious reasons, you’ll need to grab one of the compatible boots (the Burton Photon or Ruler for men, the Felix or Limelight for women) at the same time. When you put your boot into the Burton Step On, the metal clip at on the boot’s backstay clicks into the binding’s highback.
Then it’s just a case of moving the weight to the front of your foot to engage the toe cleats on each side.
"The Burton Step On is a massive improvement on turn-of-the-century models"
So what are they like to ride? As you can see below, our tester has plenty to say about that, and for even more info (as well as video) you can see our first impressions here, but suffice to say the Burton Step On is a massive improvement on turn-of-the-century models. It feels as comfortable, responsive and secure as a regular binding, with the reduction in setup time a definite added bonus.
"It feels as comfortable, responsive and secure as a regular binding"
Exiting the bindings is simple; just pull the small lever on the side, and lift your foot with a small twisting motion. After only a couple of practices, it becomes second nature.
From the look of the online reactions prior to release, it’s clear that the Burton Step On isn’t going to win everyone over just yet. However, we expect them to sell like hot cakes - and as long as those who buy them can also get on well with the boot, they won’t be disappointed.
“Without doubt, this is the most anticipated binding release of the last decade. The internet has been awash with opinion since Burton announced they were revisiting the concept of the step-in – a bold move, given the obvious flaws in every previous incarnation.
As a double-decade veteran of regular straps, I could understand the scepticism. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it - right? Nonetheless, I was determined to try these with an open mind. In short? WOW! For the long version, read on…
"I was determined to try these with an open mind. In short? WOW!"
First up, the mechanics. Getting in and out of the Step Ons takes a little practice. The mantra is “Heel, toe, go!" Sounds simple enough (and it is) but it’s definitely a little counter-intuitive (with a regular binding, you tend to put your toe down first). Before long, however, I had it dialled, and by the end of the day I was riding off the chair and clipping straight in without stopping. Hallelujah!
Getting out is a piece of piss. Just flip a lever, lift your heel and twist your toe (very like exiting an SPD bike pedal). The lever re-sets automatically so you’re ready to jump straight back in, which is a nice touch.
Once on the move, it’s a bit strange to look down and see nothing ‘holding you in’’ - it took me a few runs to really trust the system. But the strangest thing by far is just how normal they felt to ride – it is no exaggeration to say that most people wouldn’t even feel a difference between these and a regular binding, which is about as big a compliment as you can pay. If anything, I found it liberating – without the pressure of a clamp over your foot, you feel more ON the board, rather than IN it. In this respect, the riding experience is a little more like surfing or skateboarding - a little more… soulful, and that can only be a good thing.
Foot pain? I had none. Next.
Everyone rightly wonders how the Step On bindings will handle powder – the Achilles heel of previous step-in systems, which tended to get clogged. While we weren’t blessed with waist-deep freshies for the test, there was some overnight powder to the sides of the piste, and the Step On binders did just fine. Sure, you need to clear the footbed before engaging, but that’s just the same as a regular binding (no one likes snow under their feet).
"So many brands try to sell us on their incremental improvements... these, though, are a genuine revolution"
The only difference was that I had to wedge the board down a couple of times to create a firm enough platform to engage the mechanism. In seriously deep and soft snow, that might be more of an issue (likewise, I couldn’t test how easy it is to release your feet if you were stuck upside down in a tree-well situation) but for average sidecountry missions they seemed to pass the test.
So, are there any obvious downsides? The trouser clip on the back of the boot is a bit kooky, and a little flimsy. Clipping in on steep slopes is also tricky, since you need to push your toe down – making you feel like you’ll catch an edge. That said, you can always sit down like the good old days!
On the whole, however, the Step Ons were fantastic. So many brands try to sell us on their incremental improvements to the basic strap-in design; these, though, are a genuine revolution. Early adopters will enjoy a different experience to anything out there, while pro riders could even use them to push one/no-footed trick progression.
Above all, the convenience of the system promises to make snowboarding appeal to more new entrants – and keep them riding long after they’re too old to be sitting down at the top of every chair. For that ambition alone, Burton’s new Step Ons are a worthy addition to the Whitelines 100."
Max Zebe - Team Rider, Burton
"I tried the whole Step On system last autumn on a fresh pow day and I got completely amazed by the whole thing.
I felt like the fastest guy on the mountain; charging one lap after another, snaking everyone going out of the chairlift thanks to a skate-style push and easy click into the binding.
The feeling of riding was another awesome experience, especially on that kinda pow day. It had that surfy, tweaky feeling, and riding never felt so good to me! I couldn't believe how good the response was and how good the binding and boot worked together to give me the exact impulse to my board."