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37 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The short: they are really convenient, incredibly fast to get in, perform very well, but really require you to get the boot fit right and has limited adjustability. I don’t have any plans on going back to straps, but I would not say they’re necessarily better than strap bindings. They’re different and we’re lucky enough that the world of snowboarding is big enough to have the variety. It’s awesome for us all.

For more depth, read on.


My setup was the 2020 Burton Step On Ions (US10) and Bindings (M) on the Capita Outerspace Living (154) — I also planned to ride it with my Kazu Kokobu Pro (154), but the season got cut short. I’m 175cm and weigh about 64kg. I spent 7 days on them in Chamonix in super deep powder, icy conditions, and slushy snow — it was a very lucky week. I’m an intermediate rider that does mostly all-mountain freestyle, spend most of my time in the resort, and occasionally go off-piste.

Let’s keep this short as it's somewhat subjective; in my opinion, they do perform as well as people say — the same as regular strap bindings, if not slightly more responsive on the toe side. I really didn’t think about the Step Ons at all when I was riding, and that’s mission accomplished in my books. Now I'm not an expert snowboarder slaying it in the half-pipe and laying out long eurocarves, so take my opinion on performance as an average intermediate rider. Also, people have different preferences on how their boots/bindings should feel with their riding style. At the end of the day, it may just be a matter of trying them on to see if they work for you. I think they were great, but I do like stiffer setups.

I never worried that they would come off, even during the multiple times I wiped out big time. When you’re in, you’re seriously in. And let’s be real, it’s not exactly like strap bindings are infallible — I’ve had a heel strap come off on me while on a run before. I will say that when there’s a lot of powder, it’s sometimes hard to see if all three contact points on the Step Ons are in. In those cases, I usually do a small jump or quick toe-side turn to check. It would be nice if there was a clearer visual indicator of ‘being in’. That being said, after a couple of days and when I got used to the Step Ons, I always knew if I was in or not.

Clicking Noise
Yes, there is a clicking noise. Yes, you get used to it. If you love being a silent ninja on the slopes, then definitely don’t get Step Ons — you will especially hear the clicking during those powder days. On those icy or windy days, all the typical snowboarding noises drowns everything out. For me, the clicking is a slight negative, but nothing to write home about.

Boot Fit
Obviously this is personal, but I will say that it’s incredibly important to get the right boot fit for Step Ons. Because there is no strap on top of the boot, there is no leeway in having a poor fit. I have a wide foot (10.8cm) but typically still buy regular boots and don’t have discomfort. I tried the regular Burton Ions and it fit great, so I also bought the Step On Ions in the same shoe size I always wear (US10, UK9, EU43). If you have wide feet, I definitely recommend getting the wide boot. I was getting a lot of heel slip on my first day, but after breaking the boots in, they were fine. The Boa ankle strap did release multiple times though, so I will make a warranty claim on my Ions. I find that the ankle strap on the Photon and Ion are really helpful, and think they’re totally worth the money — they really provide that ankle lockdown feeling.

The infamous ‘hotspots’ on the left and right side of your foot are real. I didn’t feel them while trying at the store, but definitely felt them at home when my boot was inside the binding. They’re caused by the pressure of the two toe cleats squeezing the boot. I solved this problem before I went to the slopes and never felt the hotspots while snowboarding — which was a huge relief as this was my biggest worry. I taped a small amount of tissue on the left and right side of my foot (where the pain was), put a sock over my foot, put my boot on, and stepped into the bindings for a couple of hours across multiple days. The pain eventually went away. Two things likely happened: the liner got broken into and my foot got used to the pressure. So if you have the hotspot problem, I recommend doing what I did — it completely solved my hotspot issue.

Stepping On
It’s really fast. I don’t care how fast you are with your straps, you won’t ever be as fast as Step Ons. I kept up with my skier friends and constantly had to wait for my snowboarder friends. It does take some getting used to, so be patient. First day, I had to step on while sitting. Third day, I could step on while standing. Fifth day, I could step on straight off the chair lift. TIP: There’s a trick to not needing to bend over twice: at the same time while you are getting off the chair lift (since you’re in sitting position near your boot), pull your highback up and clear the footbed — then when you stand up off the lift, you are immediately ready to step on. If you don’t do this, you will need to bend over a second time once off the chair lift just to get your highback up. Regardless, compared to straps, you bend over less and for not as long with Step Ons — but it doesn’t completely remove bending over. It mostly just makes the process faster. Although I’m young, my lower back is very happy.

Stepping Out
This process is similar to regular straps when it comes to speed and convenience. It can be a little awkward at first and definitely requires practice. When stepping out, on top of the typical forward motion, it’s important to twist your heel inwards (towards your body). If you twist your heel outwards, you will slowly damage the toe clip. It will still work even if damaged, and Burton has a lifetime warranty on it (so they’ll send a replacement if it gets worse), but it’s important to learn to step out properly.

Powder Days
You can always step on and step out of your bindings, it just takes a bit of learning and practice. I had thigh deep powder and I was always able to step on. Just like regular strap bindings, it’s annoying to have to get all the powder off your boot and binding (and needing to build a shelf), but that’s just what powder days are like for all bindings. I will say that if you’re stuck in very deep powder (like I was), the Step Ons are slightly more difficult than regular strap bindings by maybe 10%. They really do require you to clear out all the powder, while with straps they can be a little more forgiving if you’ve got some in there.

Ice Build Up
I didn't experience any ice build up besides on the footbed. Regular bindings have more components, while the Step Ons are pretty minimal. Since the heel buckle is elevated off the ground, it also doesn't really get iced up. However, here is a unique problem to Step Ons: ice on the footbed cannot be cleared out with your strap buckle — since there is no buckle. TIP: The leash with the Step On bindings can be connected to your glove, boot, or whatever has a loop. This can act as a conveniently placed tool to clear the ice from the Step On footbed. That being said, I really didn't end up having to use this trick because my glove could always clear the little ice I had.

Forward Lean
It ranges from zero to F3, which isn't that intense to be frank. If you want a lot of forward lean adjustability, then these may not be for you. I'm usually at F2 to F3, so that it's fine for me.

Highback Rotation
Although the highback can be adjusted with forward lean, it doesn’t have a rotational adjustment to align it to your heel side edge. I run +15, -15 so it wasn’t a problem for my angles, but I can imagine it would be for others on more aggressive stances. I think this is probably one of the bigger and not often spoken about drawbacks.

Pant Cuff Clip
It's really important to put your pant cuff inside the clip on the boot. If your pant covers the heel clip, it'll not clip in properly and possibly get stuck. My pant cuff came out of the pant clip once during the day and made it hard to step on, but didn't have any issues getting stuck. From then onwards, I just rolled my pant cuff up instead because I prefer the look. My pants also have a pull-string to raise the back cuff to prevent stepping on them while walking — this works perfectly with the Step Ons.

While there may be more boots coming out, the bindings are pretty stiff and that's the only one option you have — there's a lack of range to choose from. So if you're into soft bindings and want to really customise your setup, then the Step On system in 2020 is pretty limited. Maybe this will change in the future, but it'll take quite awhile.

Overall, I'm really happy I got the Burton Step Ons because I find strapping in to be an annoying chore — anything that helps me avoid that is a win in my books. That's pretty much the main reason to get these. Step Ons prioritise convenience over everything else, maintains performance, and has limited drawbacks. I'm not a hardcore backcountry slayer pushing it every run with demanding performance needs; I'm a two weeks a year resort rider that just wants to have fun. For me, sitting down and strapping in 10-20 times per day is the least fun part of snowboarding and Step Ons are totally worth the other minor tradeoffs.

I think strap bindings are still awesome, so there's no need to get Step Ons if you're happy with what you have. But for those in the market for a new setup, and don't enjoy strapping in, then Step Ons are definitely an option to consider. Just keep in mind that strap bindings have more adjustability and options — so if you're really into getting a dialled in setup, then straps are a safer bet.

Anyway, I hope this review of the Burton Step On was helpful to somebody out there. Happy to answer any questions if you have them. Originally I posted this in reddit, but felt it'd be worth sharing here as well.

970 Posts
Good review. I second the pant clip issue,though i've been lucky that i never had my pants really stuck when i clip on with my cuff getting caught.I either check my cuff while i'm sitting on the chair before getting off, or if it does comes off the clip when i skate away i just pull my pant leg up then step on.

37 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
That photo in the OP is killing jealous
Then you may also enjoy these ones. :)


2765m (9000ft) up right near Mont Blanc. This was one of the sickest backdrops to snowboard around.


Shot of the missus moving from skiing to learning snowboarding.

4 Posts
Hi Kyniver, great review! I'm currently in the market for a new boot/binding setup and have my eye on the Ion Step Ons.

Question on your Ion Step On boot sizing. What is your mondo foot size? Did you follow the Burton size chart? For the life of me, I can't follow that chart because I feel it's a whole US size smaller in recommended sizing as when I try on any boot, it's impossible to fit the recommended chart size.

For example, my foot measures 27cm x 10.5cm (borderline D/E width) so the recommended chart sizing is 9.5US. I am typically a size 10.5US (more like 10.25'ish) in sneakers. So my toes are always painfully cramped up against any boot in a 9.5US.

Is it true the Ions run typically run small? I'm thinking of ordering a size 10.5 Ion boot instead.

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