Okay, I’ll admit it, I am a Clicker user. I am not afraid to tell you all this fact. I don’t quite know how it happened. It wasn’t like I was aware of the change but at one point I didn’t have a choice, and so I committed to them for a period of time. When my choice to switch came back , well, I’m still Clicking.

I did’t step-in to my new K2 Clickers very willingly. In fact they sat in a box on a shelf in my office for a solid month before I even thought about putting them on my board. I knew they were there every time I looked up from my computer at that box, but I was afraid. Would they change my riding style? Would I be able to keep up with the pack during a photo shoot? I’m not a real air dog so I wasn’t too worried about losing my tweakability, but I do like tight bindings. Would they be tight?

Upon first inspection I thought they looked wimpy. There was one measly Velcro strap with a buckle to replace a whole binding. The boots were stiff looking. A few weeks earlier I had been riding with Tom Burt, who was Clicking, and I asked him what he thought.

“C’mon Tom,” I chided, “You don’t really like these do you?” I asked him looking down my nose at his Clickers. He smiled a typically-Tom sheepish smile and said, “They’re fine. They’re bindings and boots like any other.” I was still suspicious of them though. How much did they pay Tom to wear them I wondered? While it may be horrible to say this, it’s a realistic question. It’s no secret that K2 has launched an especially aggressive Clicker campaign. They’ve managed to get quite a few big name pros to at least try them, and the Clickers appear to be standard uniform for the K2 snowboard staff.

Finally one weekend I decided to try them. I mounted up an extra board I had with the Clickers and brought my other equipment–just in case. I took one short run to the lower lodge at Mt. Baker and quickly switched back to my conventional bindings and boots.

“You’ve gotta give ‘em a day,” photographer Jimmy Clarke told me as he stood at the top of the chair waiting and waiting and waiting for me to buckle up my bindings. “I love them.” he said snapping his foot in and riding away. He had been in them for a season, and in the few days I had ridden with him he seemed quite comfortable tweaking, spinning, and dropping cornices in the Clickers. Okay, so he blew all my notions of not being able to pull tricks or ride powder. My one run had felt awkward, though. I was stiff and my stance felt wrong. At the end of the day I looked at my stance and realized it was set up totally unlike I had ever set it up before. Perhaps I was unconsciously sabotaging myself? I vowed to give it another day .

I am not sure if it was the Clicker Gods striking me down for not giving them a fair chance or what, but the next day I sprained my arm and could no longer buckle my conventional bindings. I was about to head out on a two week trip with Jimmy Clarke where we would be riding everyday. I was screwed. Then it came to me, I realized I would have to Click. I had no choice.

The boots felt similar to a hard boot, but not quite as tight. It took me a little while to get over that ski boot feeling when walking, and it was then that I realized a lot of my resistance to Clickers was psychological. After dis’ing skiing for a snowboard eight years ago, I had no intention of ever skiing again. I had always told people I loved snowboarding because the boots were so comfortable. Then I noticed thhat the Clickers were surprisingly comfortable in spite of the slight ski waddle that occurs with the stiff base on the boots. I released the buckle on the chairlift while riding up, just like I had with my conventionals, and at the top of the lift I simply stepped into the binding and was off before the rest of the pack even had a chance to bend over to do their bindings up.

I’d like to say I was sold on that first day I really gave them a chance in Montana, but I wasn’t. There were minor snow clog problems, which I remedied by spraying the boot base with WD-40 (I have heard that Pam cooking spray works as well), and stepping-in on steep hill can be a little frustrating. The more comfortable you get with the system though, the easier the unusual step-in situations become.

I am not going to say I didn’t have problems with the Clickers. One thing that I noticed was the amount of play between the boot and binding. This made me nervous at times, especially when I was traveling very fast down a steep face and I could hear the metal on metal clacking and clicking. I didn’t ever feel like they would actually release, but the noise they make can startle you until you’re used to it. I talked a minute ago about snow clog. This is and will be a problem, especially in wet, icy snow. I think with time this will be less of a problem, but at the moment spraying on WD-40 or cleaning it out by hand is the only solution. Banging the bottom against the release handle is also a way to clean it out, but with really thick snow it may take your hand as well.

Another problem is the boot loosening over the course of the day. I find that I have to tighten them at least once at lunch or else I am swimming in them by the end of the day. This isn’t really a big deal, but if you are having a power boarding day without stops, you might notice a loss of control by the end of the day. The final problem I had, which I don’t think is an issue with the men’s boots is that the Velcro strap isn’t long enough to get a good handle on it for tightening. This just means I have to find a cute boy to help me tighten my bindings. No big deal, it gives me an excuse to talk to new people. Perhaps this was intentional on K2′s part.

It took most of the trip before I began to notice myself no longer making excuses for wearing Clickers. By the time I got to Utah I heard myself saying, “No, I actually like them. At first I put them on because I couldn’t strap in, but now I am pretty stoked on them.” The first time I said that I paused and laughed to myself. It wasn’t so long ago that I was giving a thumbs up to a sticker that read: F–ck Step-ins. But times are changing and equipment is evolving. This is reality.

Last weekend I went to the Baker Banked Slalom where I rode icy groomers, ran the slalom course for fun after the race, and hiked Tables for runs in over a foot of fresh powder. I did it all in my Clickers. The more conditions I’m in with them, the more I realize that in terms of an all around system the K2 Clicker is excellent for the beginner to the upper intermediate snowboarder. They may not be quite the item for the advanced rider yet (I think part of this is psychological and can be attributed to the anti-step-in propaganda pro snowbaorders have spread), but for you and I–the common rider–they are ready. But don’t take my advice, go out and rent a pair, give ‘em a try. If you don’t like the K2 Clicker, try one of the other many brands like the Switch Autolock System, The Device binding,T-bone, DNR. There are a number of systems out there and each one offers a little different feel and philosophy. Don’t be afraid, go ahead, I dare you to step-in. You may actually like it.