Burton Step on, Ruler, Custom-min
Burton Step on, Ruler, Custom-min

A season of using Burton Step Ons with the Burton Ruler


It’s spring. Snow’s done (at least in my area) and that’s a wrap. I’ve been using the Burton Step Ons plus the Burton Ruler as my main boot and binding. Technically I’ve purchased them midway into the season but I’ve definitely ridden these for at least 10 days before everything melted. Here’s my supplementary review about the boot and the binding. Check out my other reviews to get the full picture and what I think about these gears over time.

Don't forget: I've also written articles before about my initial impression of the Step Ons / Ruler combo, the boot separately, and why I chose Step Ons over the others. 

Testing conditions

I’ve ridden my boots/bindings in like Blue Mountain (small local hill), Mont Tremblant (awesome medium mountain in Canada East), and also Crystal Mountain (Washington).

I’ve used it in groomers, maybe a foot or two of pow, chunder, loose snow, and even spring conditions.

Edit (Apr 3, 2024): I’ve ridden this in a good amount of pow in Chamonix, France and I can say it can handle pow

Burton Step Ons bindings review

Since this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive review, I’ll mention all the highlights of my whole experience, both the good and bad.

Hotspot and clicking noise

First, the main concerns. I’ve really never felt the toe hotspots or even the clicking noise with these bindings, if that’s your top concern. I’ve been cautious about this personally because I was thinking maybe “over time or over wear, the problems arise”. But nope.

Forward lean

The forward lean’s a challenge* (* = it was bad at first, but became no issue eventually). In my old strapped bindings, I used to have F3/F4 forward lean. I like forward lean. I was a bit disappointed when I wasn’t able to do this conveniently in my Step Ons.

First, there’s no lever/latch/any quick way to adjust your forward lean. You need a screwdriver. To add salt to that, you CAN’T just use any screw driver. You need the long AND skinny screwdriver. If you have those Burton portable screwdriver, that’s not going to work. It’s not going to fit because it’s not skinny enough. Even if it did, it won’t be long enough because the screw for the forward lean is deep in the hole (that’s why you need a long one).

You know how there are public tables with screwdrivers at the bottom of resorts? Yea they don’t work either. Usually at best they’re long, but not skinny. You can adjust your stance and binding positions with it yes, but not the forward lean.

The reason why this became a no-issue quickly is that, most mountains I go to there are actually Burton stores (so guaranteed they have the screwdriver you need). So you actually have the means to change it if you really wanted/needed to.

At the same time, this isn’t something I leave last minute on the mountain. I do this at home, before my trip. I dial it then and there. And it’s forward lean, you dial this once and you don’t touch it for a very long time.

Double heel click with forward lean

I’ve gotten better and better that I can align and “strap” on in one fluid motion. Every now and then I can also click in even while moving, after I’ve exited the lift.

It’s very easy to secure the four clicks (two on the sides, two on your heel)…until you have forward lean lol. Don’t worry I’ll describe it and show you how it easily became a non-issue.

I’ve experimented it a lot and at first, I’ve ridden the combo as it is (no forward lean, no customizations, etc). It works excellently out of the box. After the second/third try, I tried to put the F3/F4 in it. Btw, I think Step Ons has a max of F3. It became very difficult to secure the second click on the heels.

Yes you can safely and securely ride with one click. It’s designed to be like that especially if you have deep pow days. But I wasn’t in deep pow. I also prefer to always have two clicks every time anyways, even in pow. There’s nothing mechanically wrong with just one click but it just feels…wrong (for me lol). One foot’s flat and secured and the other one’s a bit…lifted. It makes weight distribution and turning -10% weird lol.

With the F3, I tried everything. Maybe I wasn’t pressing my heel enough, maybe I wasn’t shoving it back enough against the high back, etc. No dice.

I gave up and I basically put it back to F0, more like F0.5 if there’s such a thing lol.

What people in YouTube suggest if that if it’s hard to get the second click with the forward leans, you have to adjust the foot bed forward (even if it’s beyond your boot size). Yea I didn’t try that. First, it didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t have any leverage problem on my toes, and this just adds surface to your toe area (my problem is on the heels). Also, even if it worked, I feel like now I’m adding toe hang. I don’t like the idea of solutions that create more problems.

Sounds like I had a lot of problems with it right? But no worries, I still use it with F0(.5) comfortably and skillfully. Why/how?

Well I just thought about it at its core. I want the forward lean for heel response and control. It’s the response at the end of the day that I want, not the lean. I don’t mind having F0 as long as I get response.

And I assessed it and this is actually what’s happening.
Remember when Step Ons came out and everybody was saying that Step Ons have such an aggressive and immediate response compared to straps? That makes it even out!

Step Ons’ “aggressive” response and sensitivity + F0’s lack of response and sensitivity = my desired heel response! It works for me luckily, but if it didn’t amount to my desired response, this would be my biggest gripe with Step Ons.

(ps, if you read my first impressions article, I discuss there how I didn’t think that Step Ons’ “aggressive” response, was as aggressive as I was expecting)

Clicking in and out on a sloped surface

I’ve also tried clicking in on sloped surfaces. It would be the same as straps anyways. Before you can comfortably click or strap, you’ll have to find a way to make a flat surface for yourself otherwise you slide around. Same thing with Step Ons, powder or not.

I guess the most difficult situation for you would be if you needed to click in on a slope, while standing, while on your toe edge. This’ll be difficult because you’ll need to press down on your heel to click in (which means letting go of your edge hold).

But this is also not a problem. I’ve personally never experienced this, that I needed to click in like this. Because even if this happened, it’s easy and comfortable to click in your Step Ons while sitting down (btw that’s easy).

So if you really needed to, click in while sitting, then turn and roll and stand up on your toes.

Double heel click with pow(der)

This was another one I was excited/nervous to test. When we had a foot or two of powder though, I actually didn’t have any problems with it.

I always wipe/sweep my footbed before strapping/clicking in, straps or not. I don’t like riding feeling like there’s a rock in your shoe.

When you’re at the top of the mountain, no problems at all. I always got my two heel clicks. I’ve also tried clicking in and out in the middle of the mountain. I’ve done pow on tree laps, fall on my face and having to crawl out and stand up again and go.

Snapping out of pow is easy, even if you’re on your butt or on your knees. You can “unstrap”, get your bearings right, get your balance and start to click in easy.

Like straps, as long as you can form a balanced ledge for yourself, you’re good.

I think the only time it’ll be a problem is if you’re in deep pow (e.g.: waist-deep or deeper). The reason being is that, when I experienced it, it was only a foot or two. So when I unstrapped and stood up, I have my free leg standing on a solid surface while I use my strapped foot to pack the snow and make a ledge for myself. Even if I was crawling around, I’d still have my body outside the board firm and stable on a surface.

I’d imagine that if this was deep pow, you won’t have the stable surface and it’ll be hard to pack it in, or even hop on your board while balancing. That’s not even my biggest fear but rather after the fact: how are you going to heel click and press your heels when the snow’s deep and not fully packed?

I’m sure it’ll be doable, it’ll be safe, I’ll make it work. I just know it’ll be a workout :/ haha.

It’s a semi non-issue for me because on previous experience I figured it out. At the same time, I’d be more focused on improving my powder riding and not falling in the first place rather than figuring out that way.

Burton Step On Ruler boot review

Comfort and flex

Nothing to add here. It’s been comfortable and flexy from the get-go. You want soft boots, this is perfect lol.

If anything, sometimes it makes me think and be curious about the other Step On boots with the straps in them (e.g.: Photons/Ions). I think of this sometimes when doing toe edge. It’s not the I want to switch boots, it just makes me curious.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no lack with the boots. With proper sizing, proper technique (angulation + inclination), you have zero problems with toe edge hold. You can do everything. I’ve ridden ice wall double blacks with it and trees. You’ll be fine.

It’s just that I find myself bending my knees more over my toes sometimes when I want to engage toe edge. Maybe also I’m inclining more and angulating less? Then it just makes me wonder if I’d be bending less if there was that “strap” shoved between the top of my toes and upper part of my boot.

I haven’t tried Photons/Ions yet.

The “what I thought was a crease inside”

In my first impressions article, I mentioned that I felt a crease or fold or some sort inside the boot on my first try or two. I’ve never felt that since. So I’m glad to report that maybe there was something I wasn’t doing right, or maybe it wasn’t tight enough, etc.

Snow under foot when on pow

As mentioned, whether it’s strapped or Step Ons, I always clean my footbed before strapping in. This one’s a very minor problem but I guess it’s worth mentioning.

So I clean my footbed before strapping in right? Good. A minor problem is sometimes when you lift your free foot and start to strap in, that free foot sometimes carry some snow underneath it, especially if it’s a pow-ish day.

This happened rarely to me, probably just once because I knew what was happening and mitigated it right away. What happens is you carry snow underneath and when you click in, you’ll notice “ah, there’s a thin layer of snow underneath”.

You’ll still be able to click in, even two clicks. But again, I’m just being picky here. It’s not enough that it feels like there’s a rock under your foot, but you also can tell that there’s a layer in there and it’s not completely clean.

It might be a problem for you later if you never pay attention to this. Because over time those thin layers can accumulate every run. They’re easy to remove, but if they get compacted and/or frozen enough, they’ll freeze and stick under your boot. Then you’ll have the “pebble under your foot” feeling. It’s a B to remove it too because it’ll be frozen in the grooves of your boot so you’ll have to bend over, twist your foot, take off your gloves and scratch them off to get it out.

This is easily preventable by just brushing/scrapping the bottom of your boot against your edge, or the sharp corners of your bindings every now and then.

Single Boa

My Step On Rulers were my first pair with a single Boa. My previous boots were double Boa. That said, I was afraid that I might have the problem of “it’s loose/tight on one zone than the other””. I’m happy to report that that has never been the case and it was never a problem!

I can tighten my Boa at its max while maintaining comfort in any/both zones of my foot. It’ll be snug and it’ll be responsive, no problem. It actually makes you wonder if the double Boa is even necessary actually.

Worst case scenario is actually you can “hack” the single Boa to tighten more in one zone than the other.

Bonus tip: Tightening separate zones in a single Boa

I found out that this is possible. At the very least it gives you some slight customization.

What you do is you pop out/unlock your single Boa. Let’s say you want to tighten the upper part more than the bottom part of your foot.

What you do is while unlocked, you pull the strings of the bottom half of your boot, making it more loose than the top part. There’s this tab that’s tied to two strings on most boots. It’s usually used to easily loosen the bottom/mid part when you’re taking your boot off. I use/pull that instead to loosen the bottom.

What you can do after is just leave your finger(s) under the strings (or offer some sort of resistance on those strings/areas while you crank your boa).

You then pop in/lock your boa and start cranking while your finger/resistance is still in place. What’s going to happen is you’ll notice that the top part will tighten more/faster than the bottom. Then once you notice that the bottom part is starting to tighten up too, let go of your finger/resistance.

I find that it works for me. Maybe it evens out as you ride but when I was doing it, I was definitely feeling/getting the desired result.

I wouldn’t rely on this method if you’re about to drop in some X-Games level XL jump. I use it more after my first run. When I’m strapping in the parking lot, everything’s cold and stiff. No matter how tight you crank everything, after my warm up run my boots usually feel loose since my foot has warmed up and loosen the insides of the boot.

Wrap Up

Overall, I love them. They’re my daily driver: groomers, parks, or pow. While I’ve honestly listed the pros and cons from my experience, I don’t see them as a drawback or like “I changed my mind, I will go back to straps”. I still firmly believe Step Ons is the new way and I’m never going back to straps.

It’s just like the transition of horseback riding to automobiles. Instead of whipping the horse to go faster, you just flex your ankle on the gas pedal. The gas pedal flex is neither a pro/con in comparison to horse whipping. It’s just the new/different way to accelerate.

This articles is mainly me discussing “how to press the gas pedal” and “what to expect”.

Don't forget: I've also written articles before about my initial impression of the Step Ons / Ruler combo, the boot separately, and why I chose Step Ons over the others. 

You May Also Like