Since day one, innovation has defined Burton.
Our hardgoods team constantly tests our products looking for ways to evolve and improve riders' experiences on the hill. One idea can get the ball rolling on the next project. After the release of Step On four years ago, the team has continued to tinker, expanding the line and reworking components to build a better strapless system. We linked up with Sr. Global Product Line Merchandiser Eric Carlson to get the scope of what new improvement his team has for Step On this coming season.
How has Step On evolved since it first launched in 2017? (i.e. general advancements since the first year of Step On.)
The system itself continues to function with the same foundational technology it originally launched with, offering a connection between the boot and binding at one point in the heel and two points in the forefoot. There have been a few tweaks to some of the system components through the years, such as the heel cleat updating to a single metal part vs. an original 2 piece part. But for the most part, the base function and technology remain the same as when it originally launched. We have of course added new models to the Step On collection which offer enhanced performance to riders, each delivering an increase in response and/or comfort, and really just more optionality to find what best fits their needs. Since launch, we're also able to bring an option for larger-sized kids to get out on. We continue to look for opportunities to strengthen this line's offering, all with the goal of improving the user's experience on the hill. This season you’ll find the performance of our high-end Step On boots getting an upgrade with new Vibram outsole, and BOA Fit System’s latest and greatest H4 coiler dial. Bindings get a great update to a key functional component with the Toe Hook 2.0.
For people that suffer from having big feet, has the sizing range increased this season? What were the challenges to make Step On for bigger feet?
Yes, we do!
This season (W22) we are bringing the Photon Step On boot (and its wide version) to market in size M14 and M15, the first time these sizes have been available in a Step On construction. These can be paired with the new size XL offered in the Step On Men’s binding.
Getting these XL sizes into the line took more than just a bit of effort because it required building out a whole new set of critical dimensions for the boot-to-binding function of these larger sizes, followed by building out and thoroughly validating the components to meet them. With the Step On system, it’s not as simple as just increasing the scale of a binding part, boot outsole, or shell pattern, as it may be with a strap offering. Each full and ½ size needs as much attention as the next from our engineering team, ensuring its performance and durability meet or exceed our expectations no matter what size you wear. Also to note on the other end of our size spectrum, this year we’re also offering a new size in the Zipline Step On boot of 3K. This allows even more young riders to be able to get on the Step On system!
One of the major updates this season is the Toe Hook 2.0. Could you please explain how it's evolved and the benefits of the new system?
You’ve got that right, while the toe hooks on all our Step On bindings up until now performed well and truly delivered on their function, we did find some room to improve the rider's experience here. So our engineers dug in to find an update to this component of the Step On system in response to feedback from riders in the field (both testers and customers.) The Toe Hook part has evolved from a single component design to a new two-part component. You now have a toe hook tower (resembling the original version of these toe hooks), plus the new toe hook which sits inside the tower and is the main part that interacts directly with the boot. This two-part design allows for an easier entry/exit of the boot with binding, reduces pressure points some riders have noted on the sides of their forefeet, as well as gets rid of an audible clicking some riders have encountered while riding the system. All bonuses, and no drawbacks with this upgrade. These toe hooks work great with all existing Step On boots from prior seasons, so no issue mating any boots you already have with a new set of Step On bindings featuring the Toe Hook 2.0.
What are the newest bindings in the Step On line, and what purpose do they fill?
There are two new binding models in the line this year, being the Step On Genesis for men and Step On Escapade for women. These come into the line with an increased level of comfort compared to already existing Step On bindings. Still delivering the great convenience riders find with Step On, along with the outstanding response, now allowing a slightly more ‘cush’ ride with the boot finding additional damping in the highback. All being offered in a high-performance unisex design.
What separates the Genesis from the other Step On bindings?
The most notable trait is the Kickback Hammock feature on the highback. Some may be familiar with this hammock tech from the Genesis or Escapade in ReFlex and EST, where it has been included for years. On these new Step On bindings, we bring an all-new design to this feature and deliver improved comfort to riders by offering the support & suspension of this kickback hammock to hug and cradle the boot when in the binding. A bit more cushion on heelside turns, and a smoother transition feels from edge to edge are the top benefits riders will find with this elevated highback construction on these new Step On binding models.
What are the next changes you're working on to improve Step On?
We continue to focus on ways to improve users’ interaction and overall experience with the system every year. Whether improving the comfort of boots on foot, finding opportunities to get even smaller feet into the system, or getting a rental system out to resorts so beginners may have their day 1 experience with step on, we’ve got a few things cooking, to say the least. Keep an eye out, as we’re not slowing down with evolving this line anytime soon!
For all the skeptics out there, what would you say to convince them that the Step On system is the future of snowboarding?
Don’t knock it till you try it. You will not fully understand the benefits of this technology, and how similar it is to what you’re feeling currently riding straps until you get on it and try it for yourself. And this is not anything like other strapless systems you may have seen or tried in the past. I’ve been on this system full time for the past 4 seasons, other than a day testing a strap binding here and there (it’s a tough gig but somebody's gotta do it,) and I am not looking to go back to straps. Or maybe better…
Listen to Dave Downing!
Dave is a rider I have the utmost respect for, who has had oh just a little bit of time spent testing and developing snowboarding products. And who knows how many more boards he’s ridden just for fun. The story of his relationship with strapless systems, from being a proto tester for the original ‘step in’ system (which he was not a fan of,) up to choosing to ride the Step On system as his boot/binding of choice (when he could ride anything in the Burton line) is proof to me. The tale of his first day on the system sums it up pretty well… a day of resort riding where he had what was his standard set up ready in the car to grab after taking what he expected to be only a few laps trying step on. Only to head out on hill and have zero desire to go back and grab his strap setup, ultimately spending the whole day on Step On, which he continues to ride as his daily driver.