Deciding on whether to go with traditional strap-in snowboard bindings or the
more recent step-in bindings will be one of the first decisions you need
to make before purchasing your snowboard bindings and boots.
The original idea behind step-in bindings was to allow the rider to
quickly step onto the board and take off with a minimum of fuss.
This level of convenience would be particularly handy
when jumping off the chair lift
as opposed to having to sit on the cold snow or bend down
to get your straps into gear.
All of this sounds good in theory but there's more to consider than
just the theoretical level of convenience step-in snowboard bindings
provide. Let's have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of
As mentioned previously, step-in bindings will allow you to get
attached to your board quickly and easily as opposed to the cumbersome
However, step-in bindings can sometimes become a real pain if they
refuse to work after being clogged with snow. When this happens,
you'll find yourself having to sit down or bend over to dust
off the snow before being able to step-in again which,
when you think about it, pretty much defeats the whole
purpose of getting step-in bindings in the first place.
If you're a response
junkie who likes quick transfer of bodily movement straight to your board,
you'll probably like the overall stiffness of the step-in interface
and the fact that the base of your boots are virtually stuck tight to your board.
This level of stiffness will probably not suit freestyle
riders who prefer a little bit of give, freedom of movement,
and a better feel for the board that you can only get with soft
boots and strap-in bindings.
You'll sacrifice a great deal of comfort if you choose to go with
step-in bindings. This is attributed to the overall stiffness
of the unit as well as the general construction where the metal locking
mechanism is sometimes built into the soles of the boots adding
additional weight. This becomes a significant issue
if you need to hike over a distance and your feet start begging
you to stop.
Contrast this with traditional soft boots which, assuming you
are wearing the right size, can be used for anything from riding,
walking in the snow or even driving a car if you have to.
Flexibility and Choice
Speaking of the locking mechanism being built into the boots,
if you decide to use step-in bindings,
you'll have to purchase both boots and bindings using the same
step-in interface together to make sure that they are compatible.
This greatly limits your flexibility when it comes to choice of
Strap-in systems, however, will work with pretty much any non-step-in
boots allowing you the flexibility of choosing the most robust
bindings while going for the most comfortable and fitting boots you
And the Conclusion?
If you're still unsure as to which snowboard bindings system to
go for, you probably can't go wrong with sticking with traditional
strap-in bindings. Whilst you may occasionally find yourself fumbling
with the straps in frustration, the benefits you get in comparison
to step-in bindings far outweigh any minor and temporary inconvenience
If you're still unconvinced, go ahead and try out some step-in bindings
either by borrowing them from a friend or renting them from a shop.
You could well find yourself thinking they are the best little gadget
to have ever been invented for snowboarding.
As with anything else, it all comes down to personal preference.