This was my first year on a split, and I chose to take the evolution slow. By that I mean that I used soft boots and traditional strap bindings with the split. I figured one transition at a time. After reading thoughts from you all, I think I need to condiser hard boots and plate bindings for a number of reasons. Here's the thing....I've never ridden any form of hard boots (other than while skiing), have only ever ridden strap bindings, don't have friends who have tried both, and am nervous about jumping in with both feet.
What do you guys like/dislike about plate bindings w/ hard boots, and how do you compare the ride and performance both on ascent and descent on the different set-ups?
I will not lie, I love soft boots when riding....at the resort that is.
I use Dynafit TLT700 AT boots, Voile Plate bindings
Hardboots/Plate bindings LIKES:
1)Setup-It is lighter than my old clickers by pounds
2)Comfort and efficiency-AT Boots are specifically made for skinning, soft boots and strap bindings are NOT-Think about skinning to riding ratio...I hate to say it, but I do way more skinning than I do riding on some days...shit most days
3)Crampon usage-I can use technical ice crampons with my AT boots (you can do this with clickers too, but eventually there will be no more clicker/crampons to be had...I believe that BCrider and I are some of the only dudes that still own some)
4)Safety-While skinning this season in my old clickers, I ejected from the binding in a VERY exposed section of a climb (I could have lost part of my split had I not grabbed it)
5)Stability-more stability on the icy steep couloirs...MAYBE...still testing this out
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 1:43 pm Posts: 441 Location: Western Washington
Hardboots, that is. I use snowboard specific plastic boots, aka alpine boots. The change to hardboots of any kind will be greater than the change to a split, at least as far as your riding is concerned. Be prepared for a learning curve, and some change in your percieved style of riding. There is no touching a good fitting pair of hardboots on ascent power, stability with crampon usage, kicking steps, traverses, and the obligatory "what the h**l are on your feet" stares. And if you like warm toes on cold days, thermo liners are the best thing ever. Oh, yea, don't use alpine ski boots 'cause they are usually WAY too stiff and you will probably curse them and never try anything else. Get a light A/T or ski mountaineering boot, even if you have to rent a pair to start out.
_________________ Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them (Frederick Douglass)
Pyschomac-Where is the love? You do a fine job of degrading what one looks like with hardboots, but where is the technical side of your opinion.
It is April in the Rocky Mountains and most of the powder is gone. I guess that since powder is all you ride, your season is over. My season is only half over on this side of the pond. CORN HARVEST bradda. It would also lead me to believe that you are not going to be riding couloirs and shots like this where crampons, ice ax, and hardboots are necessary (I am no BCrider who eats this shit up like Wheaties in softboots-my hat goes off to the man). I am pretty sure he still uses an ice ax and crampons though.
In my opinion, there is NO need for shit talking to other splitters because of what they use on their feet. Did I mention, that Stephen Koch, solely rides in hardboots. I can hardly imagine that you are killing it like he is.
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:42 am Posts: 2374 Location: California
Ripping people/places is shitomac's M/O. I haven't, but if you go through his posts I'd bet you'll find a negative slant in all of them. He doesn't post props or jokes- just digs on Americans, hardboots, someone's riding style from a still photo (all time low in my opionion), California, splitboarding, splitboard mountaineering, etc.
Pretty much all of us besides him come to this site to share info/stories while cracking a few jokes here and there. He comes to rip others to make up for his little wee wee.
I dont actually own a splitboard yet, nor have I ever done it. But why cant we just leave everyone to their own devices. If you want to do the mountaineering side of things and the more technical icyier conditions, you should probably go with hard boots. But if your just looking to ride some fun backcountry powder, and not do anything particularly technical then go with your soft boots from regular snowboarding and keep it comfortable. To each his own is what I say.
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:18 pm Posts: 270 Location: Bishop, Ca
I've never snowboarded with hard boots, so I can't really offer any sort of pro/con comparison. But here is my two cents on the subject:
The main drawback to soft boots is the durability. They break down and loose stiffness very quickly. Miles and miles of skinning in strap bindings will tear up soft boots within a season or two (depending on use). But that is something I can deal with, as I really like my soft, (synthetic) leather snowboard boots.
For the type of things I like to do, I don't see any advantage to hardboots.
If I ever decide to focus more on mountaineering and less on snowboarding, then I will probably get a hardboot setup. Until then, I will stick with my soft boots.
And my soft boots do just fine for the things I like to do. I can put crampons on them and climb frozen slopes if necessary. The soft boot/crampon combo wouldn't be good for climbing water-ice, but I don't climb water-ice because I don't snowboard down water-ice. I can climb (moderate) rock with them, and typically feel more comfortable than those in hard boots.
I've worn enough telemark/alpine boots to know that there is NO WAY I would ever ride plate bindings. I've grown so accustomed to the sensitivity and control of strap bindings, I don't think plate bindings would be very fun. And that's why I do it. Because it's fun!
I've considered using mountaineering boots with strap bindings, but I don't have the time/money/patience to test something that may or may not be advantageous.
I can see the drawbacks of soft boots for skinning and definite drawbacks when it comes to real mountaineering. But right now I'm not that interested in real mountaineering. I enjoy hiking and bagging peaks, but my real motivation for going in the backcountry is for the snowboarding.
Sure, I know I spend 95-99% of my time hiking/skinning, and only a small percent of the time snowboarding. But, I really enjoy snowboarding and I really enjoy snowboarding in soft boots.
So, if you like your soft boots I recommend you stay with them.
Now, there is a technical argument with intelligence...I appreciate BCd's point of view and logic. In no way does he bash on hardbooters or splitters for that matter. THANK YOU! True brotherhood! Keep killing it!
As someone who fought the idea of hardboots, tooth and nail, then found himself in love with the hardboot style when forced to switch, these are my thoughts:
1. For serious, high-altitude mountaineering there is no other real option.... yet. This is what forced me to switch... Flow bidnings with a boot like the La Sportiva Nuptse hold a lot of promise, if the bindings can be lightened up.
Aside from weight, warmth and climbing performance, you also have to consider ease of use. With Flow bindings or plate bindings, all you have to do is step into them and flip a bail... or high-back in the case of the Flows. Fiddling with straps when I'm hypoxic just doesn't appeal to me.
Also, edge-hold takes priority over style at high altitude... hands down.
2. Try to demo hardboots and plate bindings from someone like Bomber, before you make the switch... and have a proffessional guide you through the process of setting up cant and lift in the bindings... try it on a solid board, in bounds. It also helps to have someone knowledgable teach you the basics of turn initiation with hard boots and a more aggressive stance.
3. Some folks seem to be able to use the same stance on both hard and soft boots, but when I tried it, it blew up my knees.... everyone is different, but I definitely had to go with a very forward stance.. somewhere between 40/45 and 50/55, depending on the board. I have actually found that I prefer riding this way.
4. Hardboot riding IS different from softboot riding. Give it a fair shot/spend a few days in-bounds trying out different combinations of stance angle, cant, and lift... Do this before you throw in the towel. I'm a perfect example.... I tried it a few years ago with no advice or research, and I hated it. This year, with a little time and effort, I fell in love with it.
5. You don't always have to ride in hard boots.... why not do both? Koch uses soft boots all over the Tetons and at resorts, but he won't go above 14k with them. For him, AT boots and plate bindings are a critical peice of the mountaineering equation, but they aren't necessary everywhere.