So I get a lot of questions asking whether <insert random snowboard technology> is actually better than current snowboard technology.
For example, I get a lot of questions on Burton’s EST board/binding system asking whether it’s actually any better than others. By the way, I don’t think they offer much beyond every other binding system, besides the ability to have more stance choices when you set up your bindings.
Here’s the deal with new snowboard technology:
9 out of 10 ‘new’ snowboard tech features have no noticeable improvement
There are exceptions (ie – Now Snowboard Bindings seem to at least partially live up the the hype), but the majority of these new technologies have no noticeable difference for the average snowboarder.
Even if a piece of gear offers 5% better performance, I can almost guarantee that the average snowboarder won’t be able to tell the difference or use any of the extra performance.
The difference is in your head
It’s called the placebo effect. We think something is better therefore our head starts to notice performance improvements that aren’t actually there.
For example, here’s an extreme case of the placebo effect working with the new iPhone 5 release:
Another example is I regularly get messages from people with Burton EST bindings that really feel the performance difference because the EST system allows them to get so closely connected to the snow.
Now before you take this as me hating on Burton, let me be clear, I actually like the Burton EST bindings. I tried some of the Burton ESTs awhile ago and thought they were great bindings, even though I preferred the straps on my K2 Formulas.
That said, I can honestly say I felt no major difference in my connection to the snow because of the EST system. I liked them because they were comfortable and they had a good flex with a nice highback. The EST didn’t play any real factor in whether I liked them or not.
It’s just like when people buy a new snowboard and you ask them how it performs. 9 out of 10 people will say, “Oh it’s amazing! Best snowboard I’ve ever had!”
Of course it’s amazing. It’s new, looks cool, has fancy new technology and it gets us down the hill. Unless our new snowboard gear has some obvious flaw, it’s hard for us to be objective when we have our new toy that’s meant to have tons of new features (even if we can’t really notice the difference).
Once in awhile we get big tech changes like reverse camber or the recent binding changes from companies like Now Snowboards, but almost every other time it’s tiny differences that won’t have a noticable effect for most snowboarders.
The key is we need to try to stay objective. Always look for independent review on new tech and don’t just assume your new technology is the reason your snowboarding is improving.
More often then not, your snowboarding is improving because you’re becoming a better rider, not because your new gear is better.