The New Revolution Essay

With more refinement and customizing options, step-ins are tomorrows bindings of today. “Which to choose?” is the eternal question. What would you require from a step-in snowboard binding system?  A cool connection thats adjustable, dependable, and suitable to your riding style, right?  Now try to imagine one binding system meeting those needs for all the millions of riders worldwide. You see the problemsnowboarding is an individual sport. From how you set up your board to where, how, and when you rail it, no one else can decide what makes up a good system for you, because theyre not you.  Step-in bindings are the most versatile, adjustable, and economic system for every type and style of rider.

In the beginning, snowboard boots and binding systems were very simplistic. The first snowboard boots look like Smurf shoes compared to the everyday running shoe. They are huge and very rigid. The first bindings were just a set of metal plates with plastic interlocking straps that went over the boot. Today, the basic design of the strap-on binding is more complex. The base is usually made of a thick polyurethane, composite material, or aluminum. This reduces the weight of the binding without sacrificing any strength.  In the center of the base is a stance dial. The stance dial is a disc that is placed in the center of the base of the binding that is the connecting piece to the board. This lets the rider angle his or her stance to be more compatible with his or her style. The back of the binding is always made out of a thick polyurethane or composite material. It comes in two different styles, the highback or the lowback. Each of these has an adjustment wheel on the backside, which allows the rider to adjust how much lean is in the stance.

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The first type of boot was a soft boot. Soft boots were made to be very maneuverable. Unlike the ski boot, you can actually walk in snowboard boots. This type of boot is also very comfortable. Soft boots are intended for freestyle riding because of their maneuverability. Along with the soft boots came the strap-on binding. The strap-on binding is a very safe binding.This type of binding is intended on freestyle riding because of the straps being over the top of the boot to hold you onto the board when flying through the air and when landing from high elevation drops. This type of binding is very rigid and can take a lot of abuse. Strap-on bindings have the supportive backs incorporated into the binding. After being in the snow all day these bindings do not lock or freeze up making them very dependable.

A major drawback to this type of binding is the fact that it takes more time to dismount the lifts.  Also this makes it dangerous when getting off of lifts because of your free foot just floating on the back of the board.  Another disadvantage to the strap-on binding system is that there are really only four different ways to customize this binding.  It can come with high or low backs and with either ratchet or non-ratcheting straps. Most strap-on systems are made with a plastic or composite base with rotational discs for adjusting the stance angle which break often when other chemicals are spilt onto them (ex: Loctite). Also, strap-on bindings take a long time to strap into after dismounting the lifts because you have to sit down, position your foot into the binding so that it is secure, apply the straps, and then stand up and slowly drift away from the lift. The whole thing is quite a hassle.

In 1993, K2 Snowboarding Company invented the step-in system for the downhill and carving enthusiast. The major change is the binding. The K2 Clicker is a flat lightweight binding where you just step down onto the binding pad and you are connected to your board by a few pieces of steel in your boot and the binding pad. These new step-ins are perfect for downhill because of the great support that you get and for the reduced weight.  This binding makes dismounting lifts very safe and fast because you can click onto your board while being on the lift.

There are many drawbacks to this system though. The entire system is very expensive. The bindings lock up and freeze up frequently, making it very dangerous. Only a couple of companies offer a step in binding making it expensive because they can control what the consumer is buying and they only offered a few styles to choose from. Because of the little binding pad to step onto you have to buy a boot that has the steel incorporated into it, making the boots very expensive also.  Because the boot is the only supportive device in the step-in system, the boots are very uncomfortable and rigid.

Nothing is worse than having to ride in a boot that does not fit you or your style. This year the boot and binding system has changed dramatically. Now there are many types and styles of step-in bindings to choose from.  Virtually every company has their own version of step-in binding system making the step-in system the best boot and binding system to buy. These new types of step-in systems combine all of the best qualities of the step-in binding, step-in boot, soft boot, and the strap-on binding. The new step-in boots now are soft boots with support straps around the ankles, which makes them more maneuverable. The boots also work with either step-in bindings or with the conventional strap-on bindings.

These new boots are ideal for carving, downhill, and freestyle. The new step-in bindings have come a long way in the past few years. You can now get them with a back built into the binding.  The bindings are also more rigid making them more dependable. The problems with freezing and locking up have been taken care of and are much safer to use. The same great qualities of a step in are still there also. There are virtually no adjustments to be made, and step-in systems are safer when it comes to getting off of lifts. Step-in bindings are very versatile now. Most binding companies that have step-in systems out also make snowshoes and crampons with the step-in system incorporated into them.

These crampons and snowshoes are very lightweight and durable. It no longer takes ten minutes to tie the snowshoes or crampons to your feet.  If you are a professional extreme boarder who likes to get into the higher and more secluded places then the step-in system is for you. Because most every boot company now makes a step-in system and many styles to choose from, you can now get the right boot and binding that fits your style. Also, a step-in system is now affordable even for the weekend warrior.

Step-in bindings are the most versatile, adjustable, and economic system for every type and style of rider. Step-in systems are definitely the way to go today if you are going to buy a new snowboard. You cant beat the quality and options that come with the new systems. For the safest and most reliable ride of your life the step-in is the only way to go. Join the revolution!

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