By STEPHEN KRCMAR
Spend five minutes reading marketing materials made for snowboarding gear and you’ll be knee-deep in wishy-washy copy that promises panaceas like “the perfect choice for all type of terrain.”
With its new Malavita EST binding, Burton isn’t innocent here. The company says the $330 Malavita is responsible for “pushing park to the apex of the future.” The copy continues: “To put it bluntly, if this binding doesn’t score you an agent and an ender video part, nothing will.”
High on the hyperbole, for sure. But after a couple weeks late last season riding this binding bolted to Burton’s new Custom V-Rocker board, the system proved to perform everywhere I rode it.
Like most park-specific bindings, the Malavita ESTs are softer than all-mountain bindings. But in my test, they performed admirable on the steeps as well as in the park. Bolted to the Custom V-Rocker, when the pitch got steep they were plenty responsive.
The Malavitas come complete with a clean look, laterally supporting asym straps with a cap strap, and the new “SensoryBED II [that] simultaneously increases awareness and your ability to ignore harsh landings,” according to Burton.
Translation: the straps are asymmetric and this sculpted shape results in a better fit over your heel; the lower strap cradles the toe of your boot instead of ratcheting your foot knuckles for more precise fit; and padding on the baseplate underneath your boot sole takes the buzz out of harsh landings (of course, no piece of equipment will help you “ignore harsh landings,” but this comes close).
For true all-mountain riders who want a touch more flex in their baseplates/highbacks — common for riders who like to tweak out airs or spend more time in the park — the Malavita is worth checking out.
Big caveat: While this is a great binding for boards with a Channel — Burton’s proprietary design — you’re out of luck if you ride a non-Burton deck. Although it’s a great binding, the Malavita EST, for many riders, will be a no-go if they’re not ready to switch to Burton-only products on the hill.
But in my tests, on a Burton board, the binding lived up to most of its marketing hype. It was indeed close to “the perfect choice for all type of terrain.” www.burton.com
—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth, Calif. His article on the best boards of 2010 will appear in the November issue of Men’s Journal.