Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:57 pm Posts: 5051 Location: California
Just dumping some initial thoughts on this set-up into a thread...
I'm working on the long overdue article on some of the boot and binding choices available for splitboarding. I have three main setups I'll be covering and I'd be happy to add reader reviews on additional options (PMBs, Alpine snowboard boots, etc)
Straps and Softies Burton SL8 and C60 binding
Step-ins K2 Clicker HB Pro binding and T1 boot
Hardboots and Plate Bindings Lowa Struktura and Bomber Splitboard bindings
Burton SL8 and C60 binding
I've been using this set up for 3days now after not having used strap binding and soft boots for 7 or 8 years (coming from the K2 Clicker HB system). So far, I gotta say I'm really impressed.
The SL8 boot is the lightest boot I've ever used, they almost feel weird on your feet because they are so light. The boots are designed to have a smaller footprint than most boots on the market which helps with toe drag issues, weight savings, and easy foot placement when scrambling. The boots also feature Burton's speed lacing system which is very effective and allows you to lace the upper and lower section of the boot separately. It takes a little while to get used to but once you do its very easy. I have heard of one report of the lace-lock breaking however.
The boots also have a unique eternal ankle support that locks the liner and your foot into place and is very effective. On the downside, taking your liners out to dry them is a little more difficult.
The liners are a thermo style with the added technology of OutLast. This material is designed to remove moisture and regulate temperature. It comes in socks and all sorts of other uses too. After using the boots for a few days I must say that my feet have fell much drier throughout the day (which leads to warmer feet and less chance of blisters) than when I used my DeeLux liners. The stock footbed of the SL8 also has OutLast in it.
The outside of the boot is very sleek and simple. It features a free floating upper cuff that is designed to allow the boot to flex naturally without boot bulge and slop and it works well.
The midsole of the boot is questionably low profile but the tread does have a effective pattern for grip. The toebox of the boot is actually pretty stiff and should work ok for kicking steps.
The durability of the boot is my main area of concern. So far they are still immaculate and I image they will stay that way for a long time as long as the boots are only used in powder conditions. When springtime comes and the boots see a lot of trail walking or talus and scree crossings, it will be interesting to see how these boots hold up (or don't).
So far so good however and these boots are proving to be a great option for splitboarding in the Sierra powder.
It's no surprise that this binding matches well with the SL8 boot and its proving to be a great option for splitboarding in the strap binding arena. The binding is very simple and doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles.
They are very lightweight and have a surprisingly narrow profile (good for skinning). I'm really digging the toe cap-straps too. I like they way they pull my foot back into the binding as opposed to the strap going across the top of my toes. It is important to make sure you have them tight enough however, if not the strap can slide off your toes while riding.
The instep strap is comfortable and straightforward. The highback has nice padding and is very rigid and responsive. It does not have an on-the-fly forward lean adjuster but it is possible to find a setting that feels good in both skin and ride modes. The toe ramp offers tool free adjustability and is very comfy. The tool free toe strap is a nice design but it can be a little bit of a nuisance when using the binding with the Voile interface. You need to be careful not to loose the male piece of the strap during your transitions.
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm Posts: 1619 Location: Santa Cruz, CA
I just got a pair of Driver X boots. I've only had a couple days on them (resort riding), but so far they seem great. They seem to me that they will be a little more bomber than the SL-8's (and $100 cheaper), though a little heavier. They are stiffer as well, and they have the new Vibram outsole. Looking at the SL-8's articulating cuff, I wonder if that might make it more likely to develop that kink in the back over the achilles that happened on the last 2 pairs of Ion's I had.
I replaced the insoles with Sole footbeds, which seem to give a bit more support. Again, not much time on them but so far they seem like a good thing.
I've also been using the P1 Carbon strap bindings for a year, and I really like them. They're a tad heavier than the C60's, but they have a couple features I like a lot. The highback rotation is independent of the forward lean adjustment (OK, that one's probably not that important since you likely won't be tweaking it all the time in the bc), and the forward lean is a tool-less adjustment, so you can quickly drop the lean down for skinning, then crank it up for going down. Though I guess with a little pocket tool it's probably not a big deal on the C60 either. I agree with your point about being careful to not lose the ratchet strap. It's also easy to just have it slip out and into one of the other 2 or 3 settings without noticing it until you're strapped in and wondering why it feels funny. I think I'm just going to put a piece of duct tape under there.
With the advances in gear over the past few years, I decided to give another go with some strap bindings and soft boots. I've been through two pairs of AT Boots, and usually found myself in modded strap bindings with Plastic Mountaineering Boots. I also used Burton Missions with some Vans (unknown model) softboots when I initially started splitting about 5 years ago.
So I picked up some C60's and some Driver X boots, as I wanted a light high performance binding, and the stiffness and Vibram sole on the Drivers looked promising. I have about 20 full days on the setup, and I must say- I'm blown away! The boots are the most comfortable I've ever owned, and with the cool liners (same as on the boots BCR is using), you can really dial in a nice fit. My biggest issue with the soft boots of the past has been their inability to kick steps in firm snow. But these boots have excelled in everything from 2" of rime over rock to ice, pow, everything. The toe of the boot is really quite stiff and strong. The soles offer far more traction than anything I've ever used, the unique Vibram sole seems to be designed specifically for grip on snow. The boots also descend in split mode with plenty of power for contolling the planks. But the thing that I most like about the boots is THE FEEL! Both the skin up, and the descent are awesome because of the feel of the boot. With the stiff PMB/AT Vibram soles, there's just too much loss of feel of terrain subtleties to me. I can feel the skin grip the snow through the boot, I can feel every nuance on the descent, and it all comes with a nice cushiony feel. I'm totally impressed with the boots, and I' certain that matching up a light aluminum crampon will allow me to use these boots on anything in the lower 48. I average 5-6K of vert 2 x's per week, and these boots are showing minimal wear, they still appear new.
The C60's are also performing great, and I appreciate the simplicity of the forward lean which I keep permanently set backed off most all the way. I've never enjoyed a high back digging into the calf when I've got the climbing bars up and I have a short 10 ft flat section to skin. This is my first binding with the toe cap straps, and they rule! I hit the resort one day this season (blasphemy!), and used the Driver X's w/older Burton Missions that have regular toe straps. The straps running over the foot were instantly uncomfortable compared to the toe cap straps.
After 20 days of hard use, the bindings have survived well, but I have had 2 issues. When I got the bindings, I set them up for my new boots, and tightened all screws. I ignored them after the initial setup, and after about 16 days on the bindings, one of the screws that secures the highback completely fell out. I got home and put lock tite on everythig like I should have from the start. I also have a toe cap strap that is just about completely broken in half- no hard hits, just the abuse of getting in and out of the binding.
I'm very impressed with the new gear, and would highly recommend both boots and bindings to everyone. Even with the small binding issues I've had, I feel they do an outstanding job in an environment that thrashes all gear. Even though this combo isn't as light as the AT/plate binding rig, the extra pound or so is worth it because of the feel.
I know it all comes down to personal taste, but when someone says that their AT/plate rig is surfy, I'm left wondering where I can get some of what they're smoking!
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2006 1:37 pm Posts: 5 Location: Palmer Lake, CO
Tried on the Driver x boots and the saleman suggested the 32s 305 model as a comparison. Equally or more stiff, $40 less than the Driver x and comes with a thermo-liner! No vibram sole and lacing wasn't as slick as the speedzone lacing though.
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 3:00 pm Posts: 292 Location: Sacramento, CA
The tool free toe strap is a nice design but it can be a little bit of a nuisance when using the binding with the Voile interface. You need to be careful not to loose the male piece of the strap during your transitions.
This is this bindings biggest hassle! Other than that, it is light, stiff, comfy for touring, and not to much hardware to loose or fail.
I've been singing the praise of the C60 since last seaosn, I love these bindings! Super lightweight and simple! also, cap strap is much more comfy in tour mode IMHO.
as far as the front straps, just duct tape the bottom area and fold it up and over to the outside of the binding, voila, problem solved! I did that right after I mounted them on my voile plates, as I saw it being a problem.
the only other thing w/ this binding is I cracked a highback earlier in the season. I dunno how, but i must have landed funny w/ pressure on it and it cracked. saw it @ the end of the day, but I felt something funny on my last run. $86 for new one! I've been riding over 20 yrs and never broke a higback. The FLAD, yeah, but not the highback proper. they only have about 50 days on them, so I was a little distressed, but whatya gonna do.
I ride salo malamutes, I like them, stiff , lightweight, good profile, but I also get them cheep and/or free, so I'm a little biased. burton always fit me funny.
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:57 pm Posts: 5051 Location: California
Couple of Questions on the Sl-8.
What size boot in what size binding? Burton used to have their medium binding fit up to their size 10 boot. I'm wondering if the smaller overall boot means a smaller binding?
How much articualtion is in the cuff? Is there a big difference in feeling b/w these and un-articalted boots?
Any flex in the sole?
Are these strictly for powder? How well do they perform in less than optimal conditions? Especially heavy wet snow.
US Mens 8.5 boot, Medium binding (yes I have a little weewee too )
Their M binding still fits up to a size 10. You will save weight if you can go with a smaller binding but you don't want to compromise fit.
The bindings haven't really caught up with boots yet in terms of a smaller footprint/baseplate. Probably because Burton doesn't want to minimize the number of people that buy their bindings but may not buy their boots. With a boot like the SL8 the bindings could be streamlined even more than the C60 but it may not be compatible with other boots.
So far the articulated cuff doesn't move much but it noticeably does allow the boot to flex more naturally.
The sole flex is moderate and natural. It's obviously not as stiff as a plastic boot but it's not a noodle either. The toebox is actually pretty stout too. My toes feel protected. The speed lacing is also nice. It really is speedy.
These aren't designed just for powder. They are basically a high end resort boot so they are designed for all conditions. They are not designed however for climbing in all conditions. This is where I think they will have limitations and issues with durability. It doesn't really matter for now thoughÃ¢â‚¬Â¦its powder season.
IÃ¢â‚¬Ëœll have my new (ebay) Clicker HB set up (crampies too) for spring and I have a hardboot set up to start playing with as well.
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 2:47 pm Posts: 83 Location: Salt Lake City
For the Burton boot riders, have you sized these boots normally, meaning pretty snug or have you found yourself sizing down. I've been trying on boots and in my experience, touring loosens them up alot. The Driver X seemed a little boxy to me in my normal 10, the Sabbath felt very snug, the Salomon Synapse felt good (currently ride a Synapse that's become a noodle but don't think I'd want to go any smaller than a 10).