Tested with Switch Axel boot.
Ease of entry: Average
Ease of exit: Average
Performance: Above Average
Snow clog factor: Good
Step in on the fly? Yes.
Seeing is believing with Switch, the other original player on the step-in tip. This system’s strong point (a pair of interlocking bales on either side of your foot) is that you can physically look at what you’re doing. Big, simple parts provide smooth action and make the A99 easy to understand.
You get visual confirmation and a nice, solid click on the entry, and the exit is smooth-even if walking around with bales on your feet takes some getting used to.
The fact that Switch licenses out its interface technology to so many boot companies can be both good and bad-there are more choices, but performance can vary depending on the boot. Hopefully all of them (like the Vans boot used here) make the boot sole stiff enough that you don’t feel the bale on the soles of your feet, which was annoying in the past. The Switch felt stable yet flexible underfoot for freestyling.
Snow clog was not a factor since the parts are so big, and though you have to bend over to do it (like all the systems tested), the exit mechanism releases easily.
Thumbs up: Can physically see where to place the boot contact points for stepping in. Side-to-side motion easy to do while seated and for beginners. More licensees means more boot choices. Also available with external highback (not tested).
Thumbs down: Forward-lean cable system on boots can be overtightened and won’t latch. Entry is easy, but requires a certain amount of dexterity.
These companies also make Switch-compatible boots: DeeLuxe, EXO, Heelside, Northwave, Nidecker, and Vans.