2001¿A Step-in Odyssey

Review of compatible boots.

In addition to evaluating each step-in system on the market, we also took an extra step and tested some of the boots compatible with each system. Hopefully you’ve already checked out our system reviews and found this story because you’re curious what else is out there. If you haven’t seen it yet, look for our complete step-in review in the December 2000 issue, starting on page 66.

Clicker CompatibleNitro Falcon HB Boot $269+ The Nitro Falcon was the stiffest boot tested, and it rode upright (hard to lean forward in the boots) with a direct, super-responsive drive from the legs down through the feet to the board. The Falcons almost feel like you don’t need a highback on the binding when you’re riding them. A big-mountain dream, skip the park and pipe when riding these stiffies.

+- The Falcon has a super-cushy padded liner, but no Velcro strap or laces to tighten it down.

– The outer strap hooks (gets caught) on the side of the boot and gets stuck in the binding walls. Doh!

Device Compatible5150 Eagle Step-in Boot $130+ These are almost the same boots as the Liquids, offering the same low profile and easy-to-walk-in soles.

– One major difference between the 5150 and Liquid is that the power strap across the top of the Eagle is just Velcro, instead of being a full-on ratchet strap.

Switch CompatibleDC Response Boot $270+ Taking skate-style riding to the slopes, DC has built a comfortable, adjustable step-in boot that is softer and more freestyle-inspired than the other Switch-compatible boots.

+- Incorporating a foam liner with a tongue, the DC offers great forward flex, but not much laterally. The internal harness worked surprisingly well once you sorted out all those laces. The boots have a pulley system that helps get the laces super tight.

– The longest laces of the test, these could be wrapped around the boots three time, even after being tied.

Heelside System Boot $249+ This boot was a big surprise. Despite its plain looks and simple, low-end wrap liner, the Heelside System offered a great all-mountain ride with lots of ankle support and heel hold.

+ A simple heel-holding loop system that’s tied into the front laces works surprisingly well.

– With the old-style Switch bail system sticking out, this isn’t the sleekest boot, but you won’t be laughed off the mountain, either.

Nidecker Freestyle Boot $219+ The Nidecker is somewhat stiffer and heavier than the Vans, Northwave, and DC models, and should be limited to freeriding only. It features one of the sleekest-designed power straps of the bunch, and a decent padded liner.

– A lot like the Heelside boots, Nidecker comes out with non-technical Switch-compatible boot that features the older Switch bail system (it’s not integrated into the sole like the DC, Northwave, or Vans boots).

– This boot has another skin-cutting tiny internal strap. Quit it already!