Given the choice, most snowboarders would like speedy entry snowboard bindings. The problem is combining ease of use without compromising comfort and control. Read this Pathron XT Fastec binding review to find out how we got on with the Fastec binding system.
Easy use snowboard bindings
Speedy entry snowboard bindings are not a new idea. Flow has been making rear entry bindings for many years. Plus last year Burton launched their step-in bindings – a previously much maligned system.
Flow have many fans, but the one time I used them I hated their bindings. They did not feel the same as a traditional set up, in my opinion providing less comfort and less control. You often see them on rental boards, probably because for beginners they are easier to use.
The Burton step-ins have received mainly glowing reviews, but they have not been without teething problems. Also you are limited to Burton boots, which personally do not fit me. And the whole Burton step-in set up is very expensive, particularly as boots need to be replaced relatively often.
Fastec speedy entry snowboard bindings
A third option if you want speedy entry snowboard bindings is those using the Fastec system. Like Flow they are rear entry with a clip to hold the high back in place. They cost around £130 and can be bought direct from Pathron on Ebay.
But unlike most Flow bindings, Fastec also have traditional toe and ankle straps. They look and feel like normal bindings, and if you wish they can be done up and used just like normal bindings.
What makes Fastec unique and much easier to use than Flow is a clip on the ankle strap. It automatically releases when you lower the high back making it easy to release your foot.
When putting them on, you step into the binding, pull up the high back up and then close the clip on the ankle strap. The advantage of this over Flow Bindings is that it’s much easier to get your foot in and out and provides a far better fit.
Pathron XT Fastec binding review
So far I have spent around 20 days riding with the Pathron XT Fastec bindings. I have snowboarded in all conditions from icy couloirs to thigh deep powder, and perfectly groomed piste to cut up mogul fields.
They have been used off-piste for freeriding and through the park a few times for a bit of freestyle. So I feel I am in a good position to write this Pathron XT Fastec binding review.
Fastec binding system ease of use
These XT bindings are incredibly easy to use. Just step-in, pull up the high back and close the ankle clip and you are done. There is no fiddling with ratchets, much reduced bending over – a huge advantage after a big lunch! – and they are super quick to use.
It is a matter of seconds to put your bindings on which is great particularly if you are with skiers. Of course if with a group of snowboarders you still need to wait for them, but getting clipped in quickly meant I often had time for a drink, to take a photo or look at a piste map etc.
With normal bindings I can strap in standing up nearly all of the time, and I found this was even easier during this Pathron XT Fastec binding review. However, with normal bindings on steep icy slopes I sometimes have a little sit down facing down the slope to put them on.
When sitting down is the only time the XT’s became slightly fiddly to do up. The lowered high back gets pushed forward by the slope, and the angle of your foot makes it difficult to step in. But in this situation you can always do them up as normal bindings instead.
Having said that, I have only done this once as a test. So although it is fiddlier when sitting down the Fastec binding system still works. Also when strapping in when sitting down I was still quicker than my mates in these speedy entry snowboard bindings.
There is also a huge reduction in mid-run-faffing. I would often find part way down a run that my binding is too loose or too tight. But as the Pathron XT Fastec bindings are always done up to your optimum tightness there is no need to stop to tighten or loosen straps.
The flipside of this is that if there is snow on the bottom of your boots or the heel of your trousers gets bunched up then the bindings feel too tight. I normally ensure there is no snow on the bottom of my boots anyway as it can affect your control of the board – so now if the bindings feel tight I have a reminder to check.
I have also taken to pulling the trousers legs up slightly when strapping in. This is to ensure the material does not bunch up behind the highback to make the bindings feel tight. However, I am short and my snowboard pants are always 2-3 inches too long – so most people won’t have this problem.
Pathron XT Fastec binding review: Comfort
One of the most important things about snowboard bindings is that they are comfortable. The first pair I owned were Burton Missions and despite much adjusting I was never entirely comfortable. It wasn’t until I tried Burton Cartels that I realised it was the bindings causing the problems.
Over the last couple of seasons I have mainly been riding Nitro Phantom bindings which are ridiculously comfortable. With dual air dampening and a three degree canted footbed they were by far the most comfortable bindings I had ever owned.
In comparison the XTs dual density EVA foam footbed has much less padding and is not canted. So I was concerned that during this Pathron XT Fastec binding review I would find them less comfy. However, I barely noticed that I was wearing them, foot pain was non-existent and they just felt incredibly comfortable right from the start.
Possibly the only time I noticed a difference in comfort was during hard flat landings. With the Nitro bindings the air dampening absorbed slightly more of the impact that the XTs. But in twenty days of riding I have only noticed this a couple of times, and only when I have got something wrong…
With normal bindings there is always a fine line between overtightening and not doing them up tight enough. When you over tighten it leads to foot pain, but as the XTs are set up to your optimum tightness this is never an issue with the Fastec Binding System.
Pathron XT Fastec binding review: Control
Comfortable and speedy entry snowboard bindings are great, but if you can’t control the snowboard then it’s all a waste of time. Fortunately, the Pathron XT Fastec bindings provide excellent control of your board. Both toe and heel side turns are precise and you can easily carve, jib or butter in them.
I would say they are a mid flex, personally I would prefer them to be slightly stiffer as it it more suited to my off-piste riding. However, they offered enough control to get down a long 40 degree super icy couloir in Slovakia, and have been great in thigh deep powder, so they do a very good job.
I really like that the highback of these XT bindings is rotatable. This means you can put the asymmetrical highbacks in the perfect position for your set up to enable efficient transfer of energy to your heel edge.
The biggest surprise in this Pathron XT Fastec binding review was how much more control I had because they were always done up to my optimal tightness. With normal bindings I have found that sometimes I do them up too tight and others too loose.
If I over tighten my feet hurt, if I under tighten I have less control. Sometimes I have got to the bottom of a run thinking I was riding like a drunk beginner, only to realise my toe strap is completely loose. With these Fastec speedy entry snowboard bindings you set up the tightness once and it is perfect every time.
Quality of Pathron XT bindings
So far I have snowboarded in the XT’s for 20 days and nothing has gone wrong or shown any likelihood of breaking. The quality of the materials seems very good with a strong lightweight fibre compound being used throughout.
However, I did notice on the last couple of days that the straps seem to have stretched a little as I had to do them up slightly tighter. This happened after particularly wet conditions when I ended the day with pretty much everything soaked. So I am not sure if it is my boots conforming more to the straps or the straps stretching.
The weight of the XT bindings is noticeably less than that of any bindings I have previously owned. This is great as it makes snowboarding less tiring, and makes tricks, floating in pow and transporting your gear a little easier.
Conclusion: Speedy entry snowboard bindings?
To conclude this Pathron XT Fastec binding review I can certainly confirm that they as speedy entry snowboard bindings they work very well. They are so much easier to use than normal bindings that I would now struggle to go back to traditional straps.
These Pathron XT Fastec bindings are not just convenient but also very comfortable and offer perfect control. Having tested them in every conditions from thigh deep powder to sheet ice I can confirm they do an excellent job. I will be riding them for the foreseeable future and would recommend them to anyone looking for new bindings.
You can pick up a pair of Pathron XT Fastec bindings direct from the manufacturer on ebay for £130: www.ebay.co.uk/Snowboard-Bindings-Pathron-Fastec-Team
**Update 1 year later**
As of the middle of February and after around 50 days riding I have stopped using the Pathron Fastec XT bindings. It is not because they have broken or have anything wrong with them, but because they no longer suit my other gear.
When I started using the Fastec bindings my Northwave Legend boots were brand new. But as they’ve softened I’ve found it harder to carve on the heel side with these bindings. This is because mid-flex bindings combined with soft boots don’t provide enough control.
So I swapped to my old Nitro Phantom bindings and found I was able to get solid carves in again. Lesson learned, soft boots and soft bindings don’t suit my riding style. So as the boots are comfy it means less convenient bindings until I next replace my boots.