2003 Step-ins

What would you give for convenience?

The contraptions devised to ease entry into both bindings and sport have settled in at their current state. Step-ins work, and subtle tweaks in design continue, but the drive behind them has waned to more of an idle.

If it were hardcore riders screaming for convenience, step-ins might have done more than nick the surface since their debut in 1994. But the priority is still performance and beyond that, progression.

Step-ins do hold a single-finger grip on a certain faction of riders-those dedicated to bending over only once per run, not twice-and they make sense for other reasons, too. Snowboarders who earn a wage on white-instructors and patrollers-are in and out of their bindings more often than rock stars are rehab.

Apart from a mountain’s uniformed shreds, beginners are the riders most likely to come face-to-face with step-ins; simple interfaces and limited adjustments make the boot-and-binding systems a rental-fleet mainstay.

What’s easy for shops isn’t necessarily bad if you’re still fresh to snowboarding. Initiates expend most of their energy (and expel most of their swear words) just trying to stand up. With a step-in, there’s no sitting down in the first place, assuming a slope angle of almost zero and no complications. K2’s Gin Yang confirms that step-ins are best for “people looking for convenience with performance … from kids to rental customers.”

If quick is a priority and you don’t mind wearing most of your binding on your boot, stepping in is worth checking out.-K.H.