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Switch Step-ins / Vans Boots

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I started boarding last winter, with a fairly cheap pair of second hand boots, and a board/ bindings package from one of the big chains. Fell in love with it straight away so I want to upgrade some of my kit this year. I like the look of the Switch step-in bindings, but there are lots of mixed opinions on step-ins all over the internet (mostly of the not very useful or informative "Step-ins rule man!!!" / "No way!!!! Step-ins suck big time!!" variety). Has anyone out there used Switch? What are they like? Good points / bad points?


The ones I'm specifically interested in are the X-type, (with a high back) and some Vans boots that go with them. Thanks!

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I just purchased a new set of gear after

riding switch bindings and boots for

a year. my advice is don't bother with

this stuff.


There are of course advantages and

disadvantages to step-in gear vs. traditional

gear. The main advantage being that switch

saves you some time. You will get more runs

in if you are riding solo. It is also alot

easier to just step in rather than sitting down and strapping in every run.


The disadvantages far outweigh the advantages

however. . .


With switch gear, your foot is only locked

in at 2 points, one of them being your arch.

This translates to MAJOR heel lift, sore

arches, and limited turning and stopping



The cushioning of my new traditional gear

was absent in my old plastic and metal

switch setup.


Step-ins are a pain in the arse in the

powder. If there is any crust on your

binding, you won't be able to lock in.

Plus if you get stuck in the powder, the

snow jammed in between the moving parts

makes it very very difficult to step out.


Step-in systems are not compatible with

other systems, meaning if you want to

check out a different board, you have to

switch your bindings over as well. You

can't just hop on a friends's board.


Most companies' high end gear is all

traditional. Examples are the Burton C14

bindings, the high-end boots from Northwave,

Burton, DC, Nidecker, Vans, etc. etc.

You simply have more room to upgrade if you

go traditional.


My opinion is that Step-ins are good for

learning freestyle, but they just don't

perform for freeriding, or even intermediate

or advanced freestyle.


But hey, that's just my $0.02

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Thanks - it's good to get some sensible reasoned opinion. A couple of questions though.


You say Switch only hold your feet at two points. One thing that attracted me to the Switch bindings as opposed to other step ins is that they say they attach at 4 points. I guess by this they mean the front and back of the rail that runs along each side of the boot. When you said they attach at two points where did you mean, or have they changed the setup since you used them?


Just out of interest, did you use the n-type (no highback) or x-type (with highback)?


For the same money (about 3-man for boots and 2-man for bindings) what would be your choice? I know this will depend on personal preferences and the type of riding you do, but I'm interested to know what is considered to be the best gear out there for the money.

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i must say, i havent too much experience with step ins, ive riden them for 5 days total maybe?


but i agree with barok,


plus, what if the boots of 'switch' dont agree with your feet?

or, you break the bindings, and have to buy more step ins or fork out for new boots and bindings...?


personally i wouldnt touch step-ins, theyre just too limiting.


im rockin some 2001 DRAKE F60's

mmmmmmmmmmmm, nice traditional bindings.



i used to tell my friends not to buy step ins cuz you gotta carry a binding around with you on each step. plus its stiff for walking.

but i guess with highback stepin bindings thats half solved....

watever, go Traditional !

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By two points I meant that there is a

clamp that hooks on top of each rail

along both sides of the boot. it is

maybe 4-6 cm long. This clamp provides

the lock-in point. I guess by four points,

they must mean the front and back of the

clamp-rail system, and I guess that

makes some sense because . . . let's say

you carve and turn backside, your heels

press up and the rails on your boots exert

on the back of the clamps, and if you turn

frontside, your toes are up and the rails

exert on the front of the clamps - but

even giving these bindings the benefit of

the doubt, that's still only two points

(per boot) at a time - just not enough.

you really want an even distribution of

pressure over the board, and from the

board back onto your foot. Riding switch

bindings, you will feel alot of vibration,

and I think this comes from the lack of

pressure distribution.


And "yeah, what Don said" about walking

around with big iron rails on your boot -

It's no good.


I personally used the n-type switch

binding. The highback is said to reduce

heellift and give more support.


As for what gear is the best . . .

I have only studied the conventional gear,


People really seem to like the following

companies for boots and bindings. . .


Bindings (some are pricey, some are not)

Burton (CFX, C14, Custom)

Drake (F-50, F-60, Podium)

Ride (Brushie)

Technine (Signature)


You can find great deals on bindings online

ebay ! ! I would buy any one of these

bindings if I could get a good price on

them. All of these companies are solid, they stand behind their product, and they will be around for years to come. So if

you can find one of these cheap, go for it.

Just make sure you get the right size.

Bindings are important, don't get

me wrong, but not nearly as important as . .



DC (Revolution 2, Phantom)

Vans (Jamie Lynn, Daniel Frank)

Burton (Ion)

Salomon (Malamute, Synapse, Dialog)

Northwave (Supra)


With any boot though, fit is the most

important thing ! ! ! Can't stress

that enough. If you are going to spend

the money, spend it on the boots, you'll

thank yourself later for it.


This year, I chose Burton C14's bindings

because they are super lightweight, and adjustable in every way imaginable. I

also got DC Revolution 2's, because they

are stiff, and they have a pump system

that molds the inner liner to your foot -

very comfortable and form fitting. I ride

freeride and hit kickers for most of the season, and hit the pipe in the spring.


hope that wasn't needlessly complicated.

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Bought my first Burton step-ins in Canada 1998 and updated the bindings last season. Best bindings I`ve ever bought. Never go strap ins again. Never had any problems,obviuosly if there is a build up of snow in the base then you will have to clean it out just like any other binding. Just `cause there step-in doesn`t mean the snow is going to compress and go away, cleaning of any binding will work better when cleaned out, so if you read that complaint earlier then he`s too lazy.

Never have to sit on your bum to do up bingings, just clean-out and click-in then ride away. No cold wet bum, now that sounds better.

Always say to your mates" are you ready yet", stap-ons always take longer , taking up valuable riding time.

Its the difference between getting the first powpow at Alpen 1 and getting the chop. Strap-on are old school, old technology, get with the programme. eek.gif eek.gif eek.gif

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then how come 95% of pros and

instructors rock conventional

bindings ? are they "not with

the program" ?

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OK, makes for a good read, but if you could just pick 1 pair for a lower-intermediate, what would you go for?


Thanks in advance

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off the top of my head . . .


Burton Customs have gotten great

reviews, despite being a reasonably

priced mid-line bindings.

All of Burton's high-end bindings are

modelled after the Custom, they just

use better materials (Carbon-Fiber)

and allow for more adjustment options,

but those adjustments are something most

riders wouldn't even touch anyway.


So yeah - Burton Customs - but so as not

to sound like a Burton-groupie. . .


Ride's LX and EX bindings are also great

and reasonably priced.


and from what I understand the Drake F-50's

and F-60's are also great and reasonably



you can get prices from several retail

sites online. and checking ebay doesn't

hurt. just make sure you get the right



And don't buy Nidecker, unless you have

Nidecker boots.


[This message has been edited by barok (edited 25 November 2001).]

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I agree with Barok.


I use Drake F60 and Ride Brushie on my boards and I've to say I'm really satisfied with both of them (IMO Ride bindings are better than Drake ones, but most of the people I ride with prefer the F60...).


I'm not sure about Burton Customs: my girlfriend used them the last season and one of the straps broke after only 20 days of boarding. Maybe it's only bad luck, but I think they are cheap bindings... too much plastic. I would avoid them (and step-in too).


[This message has been edited by Simon (edited 25 November 2001).]

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Damn sorry to hear all this about Switch. Been thinking of getting myself some of thems.


Does anybody know where you can get sizes above 28 in this country? Say if I bother going to Tokyo from Nagano, will it be worth it?

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First I'd like to say thanks for all the comments. It's good to get (mainly) reasoned opinion, rather than the usual "I'm right and you're wrong because I can use more exclmation marks than you!!!!!!!!!!!!!(!!!!!)", but......


... I'm still not sure. I've looked other places, and people have come out in favour of them. One reviews site I came across:



I guess you pays your money and you takes your choice. Me.... well, I'm going to spend some more quality time in as many local snowboard shops as I can find trying on as many pairs of boots as I can. I have to admit, despite the comments that have appeared here, that I'm still interested. I'll let you know how I get on if I get Switch


[This message has been edited by Graham (edited 26 November 2001).]

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just be careful when you go to the shops.

on this board, you are getting mostly

un-motivated opinions. in the shops they

are trying to move product as quick as they can.


i've often talked to a sales guy, and he'll

recommend product X, which is what the shop

makes the most $$$ from, and therefore, what

the salesperson makes the most in commission

from. but after demonstrating that i've

done my homework and that I know that product Y is

far superior to X, he'll cave and sing the

truth. . . that he's pushing junk to 15 year

old kids, and that one day he'll burn for it smile.gif

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these days theres so much information, internet etc etc, that you dont have to take a salesperson's word for it.

so i never let a salesperson change my mind.


grrrr, i dislike burtons stupid "3D" binding positions.

burton is like microsoft.

my drakes came with baseplates that fit my burton board-holes, but theres not much ajustability cuz the baseplates also fit regular holes....

the burton baseplates from my friend's "burton freestyles" didnt fit my drakes...grrrrr!!!

can you buy some extra baseplates for burton holes that fit drakes...?


northwave and drake are the same company right? ...how come drake make such fine looking bindings but northwave makes the ugliest boots?...lol

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oh, actually, i think Nitro makes the ugliest boots....lol

i like my boots cuz people sometimes mistake them for skate-shoes.

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Yo Don,

I found my friend's burton custom binding's plates fitted my Drake F60s fine. He doesn't have a burton board and so was happy to donate them to me.


Burton's 3D system is plain stupid!

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yea, same deal with my friend donating them to me...


i havent actually tried the plates on my F60s.

instead i tried them on my old F40s and concluded they wouldnt fit the F60s either....


i'll try them on the F60s next time i see my board then....



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Graham, that's what I'm going to do too!


Doncha just hate those snowboarding company websites though? No information, lots of stupid buttons that mean nothing, JavaScript that's broken today, and lots of stuff about wankers who make a living snowboarding.


Snowboarderreview doesn't seem that reliable to me either. I had a wanky set of Belligerent step-in/strap hybrids that couldn't possibly work in practice that the majority of people raved about apart from me and one other person. Although I long for the convenience of step-ins, maybe it's best to be pessimistic.

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sure burton's 3D system is dumb as rocks. . .

forum's slider system is even dumber - cheap

plastic crap looks like it would rip out in

a snap. . .

but not all burton's use the 3D. My C14's

came with both 4 hole and 3D baseplates.

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I decided to go with whichever boots felt best on my feet. If it happened to be the switch ones I'd go with them, if not I'd go with something else. I went and spent a few hours in the snowboard shops trying every pair of boots on that they had in my size, and the boots that felt best on my feet were...... the Vans Switch ones I was looking at in the first place. "Oh yeah" I can hear you all saying, "you had already decided to get those", but honestly they fit better than any others I tried. They had a switch binding mounted on a board on the floor for you to try them out, and they felt really solid. I know you can't properly tell until you're out on a mountain, but they certainly felt good in the shop.


So.... I'm going to be stepping into my bindings this season. I'll let you know how I get on. Maybe I've made a 5man-en mistake and I'll regret it everyday I'm out on the slopes. Maybe I'll love them and never use straps again. Who knows. I'll tell you in March!


What I would say though is that I always think it's worth trying new things. If we didn't try new things we'd all still be sliding down mountains on two planks instead of one, and using those clumsy pole things that always get in the way ;-)


For any skiers reading this I'M JOKING!

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Graham, I had the same thing, only they would've felt the best if they had been the right size.


What size did you get and where did you get them? Did you see anything above a Japanese size 29?

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Mine are size 28. I got them from Sports Depo - I know I know, big sports chains give lousy service but we're lacking in groovy little specialist snowboard shops up here in Akita. That was the largest they had, and I think the largest size I've seen anywhere. Good luck with the 29+ search!

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Haha, my turn!


I started snowboarding '97 with Switch no-back and Vans boots. I upgraged to Flow Carbons in '2000.


If you are a beginner starting off, and/or don't reckon on getting more than 4 trips a season, I completely recommend Switch.


-- They will get you more time on the snow.

-- There are less points of failure.

-- You can strap in on the way up on the lift, look mum, no hands!

-- I personally was never really aware of any real heel lift problem. Sure the boots give more and are less responsive than the 'traditional' set-up, but I can guarantee that for beginners to lower intermediate this is not an issue at all. I could still own if I was to use a switch setup today.

-- I never had any problems with snow clogging in powder or due to ice, nothing that a good kick with my boot heel couldn't solve.


Good luck, sure you'll be happy with whatever you buy.

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