You might have heard of step bindings, but you’re not actually sure what snowboarding step bindings are. About ten years ago a new innovation revolutionized the snowboarding bindings market, because with this new equipment you can just “step in” and start riding. Let’s find out what step bindings are and how they work.
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Snowboarding step binding requirements and test methods are defined in “ISO 15344:2005″ standard. Snowboarding equipment must pass certain verification and validation criteria before it can enter the market. Step binding was invented somewhere in the 90′s, but they were quite popular in the end of the 90′s and early 2000′s. Nowadays step binding is not that popular anymore, but there are still many riders who prefer them because they are so easy to use. Also, many snowboarding equipment rental companies prefer step bindings for the same reason.
How does step binding differ from traditional strap binding?
Most of us are familiar with traditional strap bindings. You know those bindings you tighten with straps. Step binding is different. You simply step in, and when you hear a ”click”, you know that they are locked and you can go riding.
The reason why step binding was invented is that with traditional strap binding you need to loosen and tighten the bindings every time you get into and out of your bindings. With step binding you don’t need to do that. You simply step down and click into the bindings, and this is the reason why step binding became popular with rental shops.
The drawback of step binding compared to strap binding is that with step binding, controlling a snowboard becomes a bit harder. Although step binding is easy and quick to use, performing certain snowboarding tricks with step bindings can be harder than with strap bindings. The reason is that step bindings do not have any additional strap to give support.
Should you consider buying step bindings?
Not all riders like step bindings, but there are people who prefer them. If you choose one of the best step bindings, you actually get bindings that don’t anymore differ so much from strap bindings. Before you make your buying decision, think about what kind of rider you are?. In case you are a moderate rider who doesn’t go off huge jumps, then step bindings should be okay for you.
It’s also a question of personal preference. As said, some like it, some don’t. Keep in mind also that step bindings are more difficult to handle when you are on powder, because in powder you don’t have a solid base to support the board while you are trying to step into the bindings. This is true with first generation step binding, but the second generation step bindings are more advanced and provide better support and control of the board.
If you decide to purchase step bindings for your snowboard, make sure that you also buy step-in boots, because not all snowboarding boots work with step bindings.
So, step binding or not?
So, what should you do? Should you purchase step binding or not? I will give you simple advice. Go to your local board rental shop and try riding a board with step binding. Go riding pistes, powder and even steep couloirs. Try it on different terrain and with different snow and weather conditions. Then compare your experiences to riding a traditional board with strap binding. Then think about your needs. If you prefer easy on-piste riding with bindings that are quick and easy to use, then step binding might be the right solutions for you.