Man, could I rant and rave about this topic... I'll try to not be too obnoxious.
I've been snowboarding for over 25 years (not a typo!), I have degrees in science and engineering, and I taught snowboarding for three years in a resort on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Additionally, I was on the original PSIA Snowboarding Steering Committee in the late 1980s. I'm a middle-aged snowboarder, and I've witnessed the growth of the sport on a first-hand basis.
Granted, some of the step-in systems are terrible. K2/Shimano, Burton, Rossignol, and others have made some attempts in this direction, but they've all failed miserably. The first and second generation of SWITCH bindings weren't very good, either.
However, I'm absolutely convinced that the last generation SWITCH step-in binding was the best design ever invented. (These were the A-99, Team-N, and Special-N models.) Don't take my word for it; ask any adult you see using SWITCH bindings, and they'll tell you the same story.
Here's another bit of evidence: Industrial Design magazine gave its annual award to SWITCH Manufacturing for the N-Type binding in 1999.
So what happened?
Vans bought SWITCH around 1998 or so, and and then Vans/Switch was purchased by V F Corporation in 2004. VFC owns brands like Lee and Wrangler Jeans - stuff made cheaply in places like China and India.
V F Corporation almost immediately gave up on step-in bindings/boots. Why? It had nothing to do with performance, convenience or safety; rather it was a purely economic decision. Cheap, made-in-China, plastic, strap-in bindings can be manufactured for something like US$20 - even the "high performance" models. Boots... maybe US$50, tops. The SWITCH step-in mechanism was precision machine manufactured for about US$60 in the mid-1990s, so probably over US$100 today. Compatible boots were much more expensive to produce, too. So, if you're a giant company that can sell bindings or boots for, say, $100 to $300, you're going to go with the cheapest cost: plastic, strap-in, nonsensical, cheap Chinese junk instead of expensive-to-produce step-in bindings and boots.
I've been using, buying, selling and trading SWITCH bindings and compatible boots since Vans quit making them around 2004. Mostly I do this via eBay, but quite a bit of swapping between SWITCH enthusiasts goes on via word of mouth and/or Craigslist. There exists a rabid sub-culture of (mostly middle-aged men) SWITCH enthusiasts who are fanatics; I've known some guys who simply gave up on snowboarding after their irreplaceable SWITCH bindings/boots finally gave out (and they tried strap-ins a few times). I have a couple of cases of the Team-N bindings and a few boxes of compatible boots packed away in plastic in my garage. I'm part of that insane sub-group.
If you're interested in further discussion and/or swapping/buying/selling SWITCH stuff, feel free to contact me at
Best wishes for a great snow season to everyone!
P.S. I have a couple of hundred days on my 2004 Vans Flyaway (SWITCH-compatible) boots, and I easily get 100-150 days out of a set of SWITCH Team-N bindings. This is robust equipment. I've never had any component - which the exception of laces - fail in any way whatsoever. Cheers!