With Burton’s big reveal of the Step On, snowboarding’s worst kept secret of the last year is finally official – the step in binding is back.
For the last few decades, many of us have been deriding step-ins. They were heavy, clunky, unreliable, poor performing, pieces of junk that were just as likely to accidentally release as they were to ice up and refuse to attach. Similar to binding “advancements” that swivel the front binding, add levered brakes, or automatically close the ankle straps, step-ins were just another great intentioned, but overly complicated invention. As a result, they were unable to compete with the simplicity, weight, and reliability of traditional straps.
Despite the disdain mainstream snowboarding threw at them, step-ins found a niche of die-hard followers that put new liners in their beat up old boots, search for replacement binding parts online, seek out gear at garage sales, and post in forums about their love for step-ins.
A lot of the love for step in bindings comes from a demographic of people who care more about the ease of getting sliding than they do for the performance gains of straps. As an instructor, I think about the hundreds of people I’ve taught who would have more easily learned our sport if they could step into the binding – especially younger kids and older adults. If you step back from the history of step ins, and knew you could have the exact same experience, performance, and reliability out of a step in that you do out of our straps, wouldn’t you consider switching?
I had all of this in my head when I had the opportunity to test out the new Step On Strapless Bindings. I’m sure you’ll hear and read a lot about them over the next few months. The bottom line:
Will they replace my current bindings? Definitely not yet.
Would I ride them when teaching lessons? Yes, I think the benefits of easy-in and out in low performance situations make them a win for instruction, coaching, and rental equipment.
Would my mom like them? 100% yes.
My biggest recommendation is to find an opportunity to demo them yourself. All of us carry a lot of baggage into reviews on new gear like this, and regardless of what you think you know about the Step On, the only way to really get a feel for them is to try them yourself.
As a hilariously fashion driven sport that looks down on anything “different,” there have been a few important changes made by visionaries. Whether or not the new Step On changes the game or goes down as a footnote in snowboard history remains to be seen, and will largely be determined by the market.
For in-depth coverage of the Step On, check out Transworld and Snowboarder’s coverage of the unveil: