Over the years I have owned seven pairs of snowboard bindings, and ridden many more. Although I have had some comfy bindings – some more than others – I have never achieved all day snowboarding comfort, until now. Have a read of this Nitro Phantom bindings review to find out why.
Don’t get me wrong my previous snowboard bindings have not had me in pain all day. But at the end of a very long run, holding an edge for an age, or just after a hard days riding my feet, ankles and/or knees are uncomfortable and I welcome an opportunity to unstrap.
To be honest I thought this was normal, that a bit of bearable foot pain and various aches when you are pushing yourself is part of snowboarding. However I now know that with the right bindings you can have all day snowboarding comfort, as after riding hard for seven hours in the Nitro Phantom bindings I hadn’t even noticed my feet.
Introducing Nitro Phantom bindings
Before I use this Nitro Phantom bindings review to wax lyrical about how good they are, I feel that I should introduce them properly. Nitro bill them as ‘pro-level freestyle performance with a spice of Air for comfort’, and are first choice bindings for team riders such as Austin Smith and Eero Ettala.
The Phantom bindings use the Air 2.0 reinforced glass fibre baseplate that has a 3° canted footbed. This means the outside of your foot is slightly higher than the inside, immediately this puts less pressure on the outside of your foot and ankle. It also aligns your hips, knees and ankles into a more natural position, distributing pressure more evenly.
Under foot you have Nitro Dual Air Dampening which is similar in principle to Nike Air. It adds packets of air under the ball and heel of the foot which provide vibration dampening, extra support on landing and additional comfort. It is lightweight and durable and helps protect your joints to ride another day.
The Phantom has the asymmetrical X-Beam highback which is both lightweight and responsive. It is also quick and easy to adjust the highback angle, plus you can relatively easily twist it so that it aligns with the edge of the board giving better transfer of pressure and edge control.
Strapping in is made easy with Perfect FIT® ankle straps and B.E.S.T. convertible toe strap that can work as a toe cap or go across your foot. All straps are reinforced with steel cables, and adjustable in enough ways to get the perfect fit for you boots. All ratchets are forged aluminium and easy entry with speedwheel buckles.
Attaching the Phantom to your stick of choice are the Nitro minidisks. They are significantly smaller than traditional disks, meaning you attach them in holes that are closer together. This reduces the impact on the boards flex giving you more control. It comes with angle lock which means you don’t lose your angle as you attach your bindings.
Nitro Phantom bindings review: Pre shred
Before I even set up the bindings I noticed that they felt lighter, a quick check on the kitchen scales and I realised they saved just under half a kilo on my normal bindings. Giving the footbed a poke and a squeeze I could also tell the Dual Air Dampening would be softer underfoot.
The Nitro Phantom bindings have a lot of adjustability so you can get them set up perfectly for you. The under toe area slides forward and the heel cup back to ensure it fits your boots. You can rotate the high back and adjust it’s lean. All straps can be adjusted at both ends, and you can move the toe strap anchor point forward or back.
Getting them set up just how I like was fairly easy, although the minidisk meant I couldn’t just use the same holes as the bindings I had removed meaning I had to get a tape measure out to get the distance between them right. The angle lock is particularly useful, you snap it into place and it removes the ‘I lost my angle’ issue as you fiddle.
To strap into my old bindings was a two phase process. Strap in, then hop onto my heel edge to get my heel down and then tighten them again. If I didn’t do this the toe cap would pop of, but it was always a fine line between tight enough and over tightening.
But strapping on the Phantoms was quick and easy, my foot slipped straight into place and when the straps felt tight they were tight, and importantly they stayed in place. I never accidentally overtightened them and on the whole I couldn’t really feel the straps.
Nitro Phantom bindings review: Comfort
Onto the main event in this Nitro Phantom bindings review – how nice are they to ride in? The short answer is comfy, long answer very comfy. But I am sure you would like more detail than that?
We were lucky to get some early season powder in Lech, so I tested them on piste and powder, we didn’t visit the park but I was popping little tricks all over the mountain. Although they are billed as freestyle bindings I found them ideal for all styles of riding.
The first time I strapped in we rode for four hours straight, we caught only chairlifts and my front foot was strapped in the whole time. I was caught up enjoying riding and didn’t think about it, however with my old bindings I would have been loosening the front foot bindings on chairs, and possibly unstrapping both feet once or twice to relieve foot and ankle pain.
Being caught up in the moment I only noticed how comfortable they are when after two days riding I swapped to my old bindings and instantly found them much firmer underfoot. It may sound corny but comparatively the Phantoms felt like I was standing on deep pile luxurious carpet compared to thin lino – perfect for all day snowboarding comfort!
But it wasn’t just underfoot where there was a difference. My ankles – sprained many times playing football – often suffer with pains on the outside, and my knees normally ache after a full day of hard riding. However both were fine, I also had less calf and thigh muscle aches compared to what I would have expected, particularly as this was my first boarding of the season.
Nitro Phantom bindings review: Control
Of course comfort is great but most snowboarders would sacrifice a little comfort for better control so in this Nitro Phantom bindings review we need to talk about how well they ride. The published responsiveness is a 7/10, which means they have some flex and forgiveness but should give precise board feel and control.
My old freestyle bindings have a flex rating of 4/10, in comparison the Nitro Phantoms certainly feel more responsive. Weirdly this extra responsiveness makes them better for doing tricks as you can more precisely pop off an edge, however they are less forgiving if you get it wrong. I also found it easier to do nose and tail presses, possibly because of the microdisks.
My old freeride bindings also have a flex rating of 7/10 so I didn’t notice a huge amount of difference in responsiveness and control with most riding. However when riding fast, aggressive and dynamically I felt more in control, particularly when executing cross under turns. I think this is because the microdisks have a smaller footprint on the board, meaning you can use more of it’s capabilities.
All day snowboarding comfort with Phantom bindings
Having been snowboarding for well over a decade I thought that a bit of foot, ankle and knee pain came with the territory. It was never enough to stop me shredding, but was enough to make me pleased to take a cable car, and in some cases happy to reach a flat spot where I have to unstrap and take a short walk.
But with the Nitro Phantom bindings they are so comfy I don’t even notice them. Underfoot comfort is vastly improved, plus the lower body is properly aligned meaning my foot, ankle and knee pains have been eliminated meaning I’m more comfortable and can ride longer.
On top of this the Phantoms provide precise control particularly when riding dynamically and doing cross under turns. They are great on the piste, powder and for doing tricks. And on top of it all they are lightweight, are easy to strap into and the microdisk gives you more board to play with.
To conclude this Nitro Phantom bindings review, I’ll say that although they are billed as freestyle bindings, I think they are perfect for all mountain riding, providing all day snowboarding comfort whatever your riding style.
I hope you found this Nitro Phantom bindings review useful. For more information check out the Nitro website: www.nitrousa.com