Snowboard bindings come in two types: strap-in bindings and step-in bindings. Both work well, but their construction and user experience are dramatically different. There are also advantages and disadvantages to consider. Whether you're new to the sport or thinking of switching your equipment, the following tips from Rory Angold, Executive Vice President and snowboarding enthusiast, will help you understand these bindings, so you don't regret your purchase once you hit the slopes.
Strap-in bindings consist of two straps. The first piece sits on top of the front ankle area, with the second one lying just above the toes. The straps secure into place using a tooth mechanism attached to a ratchet. They also have a solid rear piece to support the back of your feet and lower leg. Combined, the straps and backing keep your ankles from bending in any direction while attaching you securely to your board.
Step-in bindings resemble the mechanism found in most skis. As their name implies, step-ins forego the use of straps and instead use of modified boots to quickly attach your feet to the board. They're quite uncommon compared to their strap-in counterparts, so general sporting goods retailers may not carry them; however, they can be found fairly easily in specialized winter sports stores.
When it comes to new bindings, chances are cost is on your mind. If you want the cheapest choice, strap-ins are best for you. Not only do these bindings cover a broader price range - usually $80 to $450 - but their commonly manufactured boots are also inexpensive, going for as little as $50. Step-ins, on the other hand, require you to purchase special boots meant for their mechanism. This is problematic if you have perfectly good standard boots and want to switch to step-ins. You're forced to double your investment into a product that is already more expensive.
Step-in bindings can be described with one word: "convenient." Although strap-ins are easier on your wallet, they're much harder to deal with on the mountain. After navigating your challenging dismount from the ski lift, you're forced to then sit down and attach the bindings. Many people find this process annoying, which is the main reason step-ins exist. Step-ins don't require you to sit down or bend over. You simply place your foot in the binding, wait for the "click," and you're ready to go in a matter of seconds.
While step-ins are easier to deal with, they're not nearly as safe as their counterparts. Without buckles and backing to keep your feet in place, the mechanism relies entirely on a single socket for stability and security. If your boot isn't completely locked in, it can detach from the board at any time, resulting in a particularly dangerous fall.
Another problem with step-ins is that you need to keep their sockets free of ice and snow constantly. This is a common problem if you're not vigilant. If you have to waste time unclogging your step-in bindings, it completely defeats the purpose of their convenience.
Regarding control, both types of bindings are essentially the same. Experienced riders report that preference is entirely subjective; however, it's highly recommended that beginners opt for strap-ins, as their superior safety is better for the learning process.
While it seems that strap-in bindings have more advantages, step-ins are perfectly fine when used properly. It all depends on your budget, skill level, and willingness to sacrifice safety for simplicity. Take the time to research the two options and shop around before making a decision.
About Rory Angold
Rory Angold is the Executive Vice President at United Car Care, a company that offers vehicle service contracts that provide reliable protection at an affordable cost. Mr. Angold is the leader, the manager, the financial expert, and the insurance advisor all car dealers would want to have on their team. He has a knack for risk management, sales, and finance, all paired with a leadership mentality that makes him the ideal strategic consultant. He will help you devise and execute a detailed strategic plan to achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
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