Step-in vs. straps for snowboard bindings
March 23, 2005
My son rented some step-in bindings this past weekend and just loved them. He didn't have to take his gloves off to get them on or off and didn't get frustrated with making cold plastic bend (not that this weekend was cold, but getting the straps engaged in VT during JAN can be a real pain). I'm not a boarder so I was wondering if there are any bennies one way or the other. I guess I'm more curious about safety. I rented this year, but plan on buying for him next year. My son will be 10 this month and has been conservative in his boarding, but he is starting to get more confidence with every trip. Any feedback would be appreciated.
I just got some Flow Bindings and I think they're a good compromise. Look into them.
Step-ins are convenient but my feet always hurt because I'd over-tighten the boots trying to get them secure enough (However, they were rentals and some higher quality step-ins are available). With step-ins, the boots are entirely responsible for holding you onto your board while Flow and traditional stap-on bindings provide much of the support themselves.
The only drawbacks I've heard to Flow bindings is they are a little heavier (not much if you ask me).
I've used Flows for the last two seasons and they rock. When they wear out I'm getting another set. All the control of straps and the ease of step in.
I've never liked step ins myself. I just like that you can customize the forward lean and tightness more on the strap ins.
I've used Rossignol and Burton step ins. I remember the Rossi's being hard to get into on a slushy day when the snow collected on the binding and you had to chip it out before stepping in. I like a lot of forward lean and the Burtons were really hard to get into with much forward lean. Its all about preference though and if your son liked them it means more than my opinion. He's probably not much into fine tuning his stance at age 10 either so step ins are probably just fine for now. Plus, step ins have fewer parts to break so you never have to worry about wasting a day with broken equip or having to board down the mountain all wobbly with one foot half in.
Some people say that step ins come undone while boarding but I've never had a problem with that. Just have him make sure its fully engaged before he starts down the mountain and I doubt he'll have a problem with that.
I've only heard good things about Flows so you could check them out for a mid road like the guys said above.
To be honest the Flows have all the control of straps, the nice thing is that it reduces point pressure on your feet because the strap is all one piece. It covers the entire boot. The forward lean adjustment is neat too, just turn a dial on the back of the binding.
I ride pretty fast and demand a lot from my bindings and I have few if any gripes about the flows. They really are good stuff.
Thanks everyone, I'll look into the Flows as well. JR, we have already fought the equipment breakage issues with the straps, But they were low quality rentals in extreme VT cold. (-15 to -20F range) We also had them once put on the wrong straps which just barely fit over the boots, very frustrating for a 9 year old. His instructor figured it out after he noticed him struggling on second day he had them and had the shop fix it. I figure as long as they are safe, he can always upgrade to another type later on if he out grows the performance side of it.
Step-ins sound like a better idea for your son. Since, I assume, you're a skier, you won't have to wait for him to strap in. I have had Burton Step-ins for 3 years now, and I haven't had one problem with them. Although, I do suggest if you choose step-ins you get Burton, or some other brand that includes a high-back on the binding. I like my step-ins because the skiers don't have to wait on me!
Thanks. I was thinking a high back would help. Not having to wait was a real bonus. But the best thing was his enjoyment increased.
Well unfortunately to add some insult to this whole posting as a shop employee I can tell you that unless you are buying old bindings you are going to have a hard time finding step ins. Just about every binding manufacturer has discontinued the production of step ins. Too expensive to make, too many pieces to break that are more expensive than plastic, and above all else... when boarding in softer deeper snow people complained that getting into step ins was impossible because all the board did was sink.
So while the use of step ins is convenient, it has proven to be technologically inept. As a result the binding manufacturers are trying to find the next best thing. Flow is definitely a good compromise with the easy foot cover that can lift right off and snap right back down. Additionally Burton has moved its lower strap so that it covers the toes. As a result you really don't have to loosen the lower strap, but just the upper which reduces the ammount of time you are unbuckling or buckling.
Of course if your son really wants to get into and out of his bindings without having to take off his gloves and just click in, then perhaps you should look into putting him in ski boots??
Or just use hard binding plates like they do on carving boards.
Don't think I didn' try to convert him from the dark side
Looking online it seems that most manufacturers have at least 1 step in. But it does look like strap-ins are the king of the hill.