Phantom Splitboard Bindings — First Look — Hardboot Splitboarding


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 29, 2015      
The blend of philosophies and technologies all come together with the Phantom Splitboard Binding.

The blend of philosophies and technologies all come together with the Phantom Splitboard Binding. Click images to enlarge.

What happens when an aerospace engineer has a passion for sliding sideways in the backcountry? It turns out you get a highly technical hardboot splitboard binding. One that calls on elements of ski tech bindings from our dear friends who prefer to face forward down the fall line. Here is a first look at what this system is all about.

There are a few plate type splitboard bindings on the market for a seemingly niche crowd. These designs are intended to utilize a flexible, two-buckle, AT boot with the addition of a few key modifications. These adjustments allow for a soft-boot feel for riding while maintaining the benefits of a ski mountaineering boot for the uphill. There are several reasons why some backcountry splitboarders have switched to a hardboot setup, and I am here to explore why that is and what that transition is like throughout this winter.

The Phantom bindings in ride mode with the plates mounted on the interfaces.

The Phantom bindings in ride mode with the plates mounted on the interfaces.

This winter I’ve been out in the backcountry near WildSnow HQ, and have also ridden the set up via lift access in Telluride, Colorado. My first impressions thus far are positive, and it has been an engaging change in my normal routine.

First off, a brief look into the binding system. There are essentially two interface plates on each side of the board that screw into the inserts of the splitboard. Each interface plate has a raised, and an angle adjustable, plate that secures the binding to the board for the descent. The touring system utilizes a Dynafit Speed Superlight toe piece, as well as telemark-style heel riser bars for the uphill (included in the kit from Phantom). The interface is low profile and looks high quality when mounted. My immediate reaction when stepping into the touring toe piece and picking my foot up was, “This is light!”

For the downhill, a pair of plate bindings with small lever-activated pins secure it the interface. The boots are secured via heel and toe bails, and you store the plates in your pack for the way up

The plate binding rotates onto the interface and secures to the board with camming pins.

The plate binding rotates onto the interface and secures to the board with camming pins.

For the uphill, the plates have to be removed and stored in your pack.

For the uphill, the plates have to be removed and stored in your pack.

The biggest leap of faith in this process thus far was modifying a pair of Dynafit TLT6 Mountain boots to feel more natural on a snowboard for the descent. Fortunately, I channeled the Lou Dawson tradition and I was more relaxed than I anticipated as I considered hacking into an expensive ski boot. I will do a separate and more in depth blog post on what those modifications are and how they change the performance of the boot. In short, one mod is to file a larger opening in the aluminum plate that the top buckle locks into for “ski-mode,” giving it more forward flex and a larger range of motion more similar to a soft boot. There are a few other key modifications that can be done based on preference, and I’ll shed light on those in another post.

A side by side comparison of the aluminum plate that the top buckle locks into for “ski-mode”. The left boot shows the plate that has been filed down, and the right is a normal TLT6 configuration.

A side by side comparison of the aluminum plate that the top buckle locks into for “ski-mode”. The left boot shows the plate that has been filed down, and the right is a normal TLT6 configuration.

At this point, I have experienced several positive things about the Phantom Binding hardboot set up, and time will tell how this transition to a new system will pan out.

Skinning out of WildSnow HQ in powder conditions.

Skinning out of WildSnow HQ in powder conditions.

Jonathan Cooper testing his hardboot setup just a few weeks ago, at WildSnow Field HQ.

Jonathan Cooper testing his hardboot setup just a few weeks ago, at WildSnow Field HQ. Photo by Lou 2

As I continue to test this out in a range of conditions and situations this winter, I would like to answer as many questions as possible and give a detailed description of my opinions and experience. WildSnow readers: what do you want in a detailed long-term test and review of the Phantom Splitboard Bindings and riding in a modified AT boot?



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Comments

41 Responses to “Phantom Splitboard Bindings — First Look — Hardboot Splitboarding”

  1. Joe John December 29th, 2015 12:20 pm

    Go knuckle draggers! Can they keep up with Louie?

  2. CHRIS December 29th, 2015 1:23 pm

    I THINK THE BIG THING TO REVIEW HERE IS THE EFFICIENCY VS. RIPPABILTY RATIO.

    IS IT WORTH IT TO USE A SOFT BOOT/STRAP BINDING? DOES THE EXTRA RIPPABILTY OUTWEIGH THE EFFICIENCY FOR MOST RIDERS?

    REMEMBER, 99% OF RIDERS ARE RIDING IN RELATIVELY MELLOW TERRAIN.

    FOR A PROFESSIONAL FREERIDER LIKE YOU SEE IN THE MOVIES, HARDBOOTS WON’T HANDLE THOSE SPEEDS AND HUGE DROPS WELL. BUT ASK YOURSELF; DO I ACTUALLY RIDE LIKE THE MOVIE GUYS? OR AM I JUST TURNING LEFT AND RIGHT ON A 40 DEGREE SLOPE? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HIT A 30 FOOT DROP 5 MILES DEEP IN THE BC?

  3. byates1 December 29th, 2015 2:40 pm

    drew haas of the mountaineer in the adirondacks did this about 10 yrs ago, nice job john and john!

    as he told me, if i remember correctly, the key to the overall success of the setup is….

    to remember to pack the plates in your pack for the downhill part!!

  4. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2015 2:45 pm

    Chris, we value your comments, please turn off your caps lock or I’m going to need to block your comments. Thanks, Lou

  5. T Ssor December 29th, 2015 3:41 pm

    I’ve been riding hard boots and plate bindings on a snowboard since 91 or so and love them. Did move to softies for a few years but moved back when Phantom came out a few seasons back.

    I have the Phantom set up on a Venture Odem splitter and i must say it is by far the best splity set up i have ever used. I’m as fast uphill and in transition as all of my ski buddies.

    I’m using TLT6’s and all i did was remove one of the optional use tongue stiffeners and taped over both of the holes in the back of the upper boot. No need to cut anything.

    Bottom line is that those bindings rock on lift assist, in the bc, anywhere. I’ve used them on slack country trips, heli days, yurt trips and would recommend them to anyone!

  6. TWM December 29th, 2015 4:28 pm

    It bears mentioning that this Phantom review and the 1 Sept. Karkoram review both omit a critical point about that those interface systems: they both overlap the board seam when in ride mode.

    Readers should understand that (1) no other production interface systems do so, and (2) the overlap vastly improves ride-mode performance by normalizing torsional flex: allowing the board to flex more naturally along a plane without excessive torsional flexing (twisting) or one ski “riding up” in the face of edging pressure.

    A great deal of careful thinking and writing has been done (by the likes of rocket scientists even) about splitboard AT boot interfaces and mods (TLTs, Ones, Aliens, Siderals) on splitboard.com. For readers who want to dig deeper into those details, those threads deserve mention here just as wildsnow enjoys topic-appropriate bumps there.

    Phantoms are widely regarded to be the state of the art AT splitboard system: lighter, faster, easier to use and more compact than others — with vastly lighter foot weight and stride length performance in tour mode compared to soft boot systems. Riders have been testing and reporting on at least two generations of the system for three or so years.

    What would provide truly useful new information would be a review of the new Arcteryx boot and its use in the Phantom system. That boot’s novel lateral flex features suggest that it might be uniquely suited to AT splitting, wherein many boots require significant mods to attain lateral flex sufficient for snowboarding body mechanics — all the more so coupled with the Phantom cant plates. A close look at those two together with an eye toward what if any boot mods might be needed would be super useful.

  7. Coop December 29th, 2015 5:05 pm

    Thanks you all for the comments. Good points and areas to speak to in future posts, keep them coming!

    Byates, funny you mention that. It’s already happened once.

    Also, to clarify. This is a first look post, and is intended to be brief and to solicit feedback for areas to focus on as I continue to test. Thanks for the suggestions!

  8. Dan Gates December 29th, 2015 5:05 pm

    Nice to see Phantom get some love. After three years on this system I am 100% sold.

  9. Jason Bushey December 29th, 2015 5:07 pm

    Few things you should comment on. I have been on these for 3 years and I know my thoughts, but figured its good to have here.

    Overall weight of the system. How much different from your previous soft boot setup? Break down the pieces.
    System weight on feet vs pack when touring. Is it more efficient on your feet or backpack?
    Major riding differences (if any)
    Major touring differences (if any, riiight)
    Differences in pack setups now, with potentially less or more repair equipment.
    Also, go back to soft boots after, and get a comparison day by day.
    Drop some stuff, and really don’t baby them. Do they hold up? I bet they will. And for Chris, I’ve dropped 20ft pillows on these things, no issues.

    Have fun, these things I personally think are the future.

  10. Ty December 29th, 2015 5:08 pm

    I too have been very interested to hear about the arc’teryx boot for splitboard use. More on topic, to the gentleman screaming about not riding complex terrain in hardboots, what about joey vosburgh, Jim zellers and many more I know only through the gram? I am interested on the authors thoughts on drops and jumps on this system as I am definitely of that apparent one percent that hikes 5 miles to jump off stuff.

  11. harpo December 29th, 2015 5:23 pm

    Hi Lou, sorry if this is out of place but I didn’t get a response when I put it on the last Plum thread.

    Has anyone used or seen reviews of the Plum ski crampons?

    I love my 2 year old Plums, they are going strong. I just played some Van Halen riffs on them today 😉

  12. CHRIS December 29th, 2015 6:59 pm

    Got my caps lock fixed, Dang ol’ peanut was jammed in there! 🙂

    Come on guys- you know me! Mr. Benells…

    What I meant with the whole pro-freerider thing was that, yes hardboots can handle the things we all love and do in the backcountry. We are not pro snowboarders.

    Most riders think they are shredding like Xavier de la Ruse or Jermy Jones etc… but really the people they should look up to are folks like Zellers and Vosburg, They are not straight lining faces and hittin drops at full speed, but riding terrain (complex or not) in control and safely.

    Every backcountry snowboarder would benefit from riding a phantom binding setup. I’ve been saying that for a few years now, and riding phantoms exclusively for the past 3 years. Wouldn’t ever think of riding anything else…and yes you can do jumps, tweaks, grabs, pillows, complex terrain, etc, (and i’ve done it) but no you can’t go 60 mph down a 2,000 foot spine face, (and you’re not going to do that anyway)

  13. Buell December 29th, 2015 8:50 pm

    So nice to see a story about the Phantoms. My wife and I have been on them since the first year. Before that, dissatisfied with the options, us and many others were making our own AT boot bindings by using the parts of different Alpine snowboard bindings mounted to the Voile slider plate.

    John has put a tremendous amount of thought into the design and sent countless pairs to AT boot splitters for feedback. This system is a dramatic improvement across the board and I am always looking forward to what John might come up with next.

  14. Martin December 30th, 2015 1:00 am

    Chris: Why would it be impossible to do 60mph down spine faces?
    As for me, I have never been more comfortable at high speed than on my Phantom/the One combo. Not that I ride spine faces at 60mph, but if I would give it a shot, I would do it strapped into Phantoms and AT boots since they are the most stable interface between naked feet and board I can think of.

  15. brian December 30th, 2015 6:16 am

    I used the phantoms for a season and while they rode very well, I found myself having to do excessive scraping during transitions. Last year I switched to the spark dyno dh with canted pucks and found this setup to be both light and efficient and also superfast on transitions.

  16. trollanski December 30th, 2015 7:54 am

    One more member of the one 60 mph club… Would love to hear from anyone who has had parts break or break down on these, especially at the costs these components are getting up to….From the posts so far, I am not seeing any durability issues.
    Agree with previous posts regarding aggressive riding in the BC. I enjoy charging pillow lines and carrying appropriate speeds exiting upper chutes and bowls. That is where the fun is for me, even at 50 yrs young. 50-60 MPH happens pretty regularly on the GPS. At the level of riding many have achieved, we go looking specifically for aesthetic, challenging, aggressive terrain…

  17. CHRIS December 30th, 2015 9:08 am

    Well I guess it’s not impossible to go 60 mph in them down a huge spine face , anything is possible…just ill advised. I don’t think you’ll see pro riders hucking in them anytime soon.

    60mph in a smooth, open powder bowl sure, no problem.

    That is the point I’m trying to make,ALTHOUGH VERY POORLY, ..is that 99% of riders out there don’t need their beloved soft boots to rip the way they rip. They could do the same on phantoms, and much more efficiently and comfortable.

    If you are inclined to see what I have ridden in mine you can see several of my trip reports on splitboard.com, including 50 degree spine faces in Alaska (but maybe more at like 30mph) and a Denali descent. All on phantoms w tlt5’s.

    I’ve never had mine break nor have I seen anyone’s break, the only thing I have seen get worn out is the spring that is in the pin mechanism.

  18. barrows December 30th, 2015 10:16 am

    No durability problems with Phantoms current versions whatsoever. The first season versions did have a few issues, but those have all been addressed by a re-design of the pin retention system. Ever since that re-design there have been not a single report of any kind of failure. Please note that Phantom Bindings are ridden by some of the busiest guides in the business as well, people like Joey Vosburgh really put these bindings to the test.
    Materials are all 7075 Aluminum, and the design inherently distributes stresses throughout the entire system. I never worry about Phantoms, this was not the case previously when on puck based systems, at all (broken pucks, and shifting pucks).
    As to the poster who mentioned icing, yes, there is sometimes a little scraping of snow and ice from the interface required, very infrequently, but this is the price one pays for a more precise interface, which rides much better, and is easily done (the few occasions when it is necessary) in about ten seconds. This amount of icing is no different than that of the Karakoram Prime system in the same conditions, again, this is due to the more precise interface. Generally speaking, a rider on Phantoms will transition at least as fast, and often faster, than a rider on other systems. In any case, my experience is that dealing with skins takes the most time vs. any other aspect of transitions.

  19. TWM December 30th, 2015 10:54 am

    Zero reported failures — remarkable and deserves repeating.

  20. Shane December 30th, 2015 12:59 pm

    Along with the things Jason Bushey said above, I would like to hear some general comments on why it is that a hardboot system is considered more efficient during the climb. I imagine that they hold a better a edge on sidehill traverses over hard snow but, other than that, where does the increased efficiency come in? I have a hard time seeing where any weight savings can be found and I’ve never had any issues with my stride being compromised in my soft boots / Spark bindings. My wallet would certainly be lighter after ponying up for a set of AT boots.

    I already “keep up”* with my ski partners and wouldn’t like the sound of bindings clanking around while lashed to my pack.

    * which is to say I usually beat them to the top ; )

  21. TWM December 30th, 2015 1:17 pm

    The on-foot weight saving in tour mode derives from the fact that, with a Phantom AT set up, you skin only with your AT boot–the binding rides in your pack or jacket (and do not clank, in my experience).

    With a soft boot set up, you skin with your boot and binding. Considering that many AT boots are lighter than BC capable soft boots, the reduced on-foot boot weight and eliminated on-foot binding weight is significant.

    In my experience, and I ride both soft and Phantom AT systems, the stride gains of the Phantom are realized in two ways.

    First, the forward articulation coupled with the boot’s pivot point on the tech binding allow me to drive my knee deeper into a step, which noticeably improves skin traction on steeper uptracks.

    Second, the walk mode rear-ward flex of the AT boot affords longer forward strides, especially on flatter terrain.

    In my experience, side-hilling performance of the AT system is only slightly better than a well-sorted soft boot set up.

  22. R.Jacobs December 30th, 2015 8:35 pm

    Jonathan, thanks so much for the review and your dedication to further research! I’d love to hear more about the performance of this system in firm conditions (e.g. the morning skin up on a spring day before the corn cycle starts), which is when I always notice the drawbacks to my relatively squishy boots and splitboard bindings (spark R&D). Perhaps a mention of crampons during tour mode (are they available)? I use mine a lot on the splitboard… And finally, I ski and ride and I’d love it if a splittie could handle touring in firm conditions like my skis do! Does this setup perform as well as an AT setup in tour mode?

  23. XXX_rr December 30th, 2015 10:11 pm

    I don’t snow board but the most successful looking splitter I have seen in the bc was an assistant guide using some old soft at boots riding Bishop bombers set at a 45 degree angle which seemed to allow buddy to use his poles mo better which he had out ALL the time

  24. barrows December 31st, 2015 9:26 am

    R.Jacobs: I use B & D ski crampons with my splitboard set up, with Phantom Bindings and Dynafit toe pieces. This set up works perfectly. I have also heard that Spark RnD has crampons which are fully compatible with Dynafit toe pieces.
    The hard boots do sidehill a bit better than soft boots while touring, but the big difference in that regard vs an AT set up is the width of the board. Generally speaking, for spring, I bring my ski crampons, as the offer the best grip in very hard snow conditions, allowing for piece of mind when one is skinning above some exposure.

  25. Paul S. January 2nd, 2016 11:23 am

    A timely post! I am looking at the Fischer Transalps because, up to this point, I haven’t found a light AT boot that fits my foot well enough. I am really looking forward to the info on boot modifications.

    Although I can appreciate the single-minded design intent of the Phantom, I’m not ready to give up on my sparks and softboots completely. I’ll be using voile mtn plates for the time-being until I’m confident I can do all the things I want to on hard boots. I probably will invest in some Dynafit toepieces and adapter plates though.

    The ultimate hardboot system for me will not require removing anything from the board (other than skins 🙂 ), and won’t way too much on the board. This should finally get our transition times down close to our two-stick buddies.

  26. James Margolis January 2nd, 2016 12:01 pm

    Thanks for including split boarding in your reviews.

    I have been hardbooting since 1987 since the soft boots of that time (Sorels with ski boot liners) performed poorly on hardpack. In the past few years, I have experimented with soft boots again and now enjoy both hard and soft boot snowboarding for both lift-served riding and split boarding.

    I currently enjoy both the Spark Blaze when soft-booting and the Voile Mountain Plates with canted pucks for hard booting. My mood and mountain conditions determine the mode. Both hard and soft boot systems have their pros and cons and I feel fortunate to be able to use both systems.

    I have 3 questions about the Phantom hard boot binding system and a fourth question about walk mode.

    1. Does the Phantom binding have an optional rear and front foot canting mechanism for descent mode? Canting is really beneficial to me to offset the reduced lateral flexibility of hard boots. Every hard boot binding I ever used came with cants for this reason.

    2. Does the Phantom system include board crampons as an option?

    3. Does the Phantom system include a way to lock the heels to the boards in walk mode so I can skate and pole on the long rolling jeep road descents to keep up with my skiing partners? (I still need to do an extra transition on the descent to split my board apart for the jeep road that skiers do not need to do.) I am not skilled enough to telemark when using split boarding equipment in walk mode as my skiing partners encourage me to do.

    4. Does anybody out there have success in telemarking on split board equipment in walk mode?

  27. buell January 2nd, 2016 1:41 pm

    James, if you get a chance, try the Phantoms. They provide a dramatically better connection to the board and between the board halves than the Voile Mountain Plates. John has also worked really hard to provide the lateral flex we need from our AT bindings so we have a good range of motion to make our for and aft weight shifts.

    1. Yes, the Phantoms are canted. As you mentioned, inward canting on a splitboard with AT boots is really important. I just received an order of cants that are a couple of degrees higher than the ones that came with the bindings so there seems to be a lot of options on the angle.

    2. Ski crampons attach to the Dynafit toe pieces, not the Phantom hardware. Phantom sells the Dynafit Speed Superlight toe piece and an adapter plate for the ascent. A number of riders use the B & D ski crampons with their set up.

    3. Phantom makes their own heel risers and they include the ability to create a soft heel lock down with a Voile strap. I have never tried it.

    4. Tele turns on a splitboard can be done by some but it is hard. Tele bindings have a lot of resistance at the toe piece so the skier can pressure the nose and control the ski during a turn. A splitboard in tour mode has a free pivot at the toe which means you can steer a bit and balance directly above it, but you cannot pressure the tip of the split ski. The best split skiers I have seen keep their heels down on the split ski and edge with commitment by pushing down on the center of the ski (looks a bit like an alpine ski turn, but you still cannot pressure the tips of the skis).

  28. Wookie January 2nd, 2016 4:53 pm

    My wife uses these. We’re a bi-sliding couple. Sabine is faster and less tired. From my perspective – on the up her stride has become like all of us on at gear. It looks easy and efficient – and you can easily see the difference between her stride and the strides of our other snowboarding friends. Her transitions are now faster than most of my skiing partners.
    Skiing on hard boots has changed her downhill – but she has adjusted to this and by observation I can’t notice any change for the worse.
    Her own opinion is that she wished she would have changed 15 years ago.
    Oh – and most of our snowboarding friends are starting to come around.

  29. Jason January 3rd, 2016 12:07 pm

    I have been using the spark Dyno HB binding with canted pucks and dynafit toe pieces for about a year now. These replaced older burton race plates attached to voile slider tracks. They have increased the transition speed considerably and have been showing no signs of wear. No icing problems as with all the latest spark products. It would be cool to see these in your line-up of tests as well. Great alternative to the phantoms that cost much less.

  30. barrows January 3rd, 2016 12:51 pm

    Jason, while you are right that the Phantom Bindings are slightly more expensive than the Spark Dyno set up, the difference is not as much as might think. Remember to include the price of your pucks, cants and all hardware when making comparisons.
    Of course, better systems, made of more expensive materials and offering higher performance are almost always going to cost bit more. Phantom Splitboard bindings are competitively priced with the soft boot market leader for high performance Splitboarding, the Karakoram Prime.

  31. ShawnM January 3rd, 2016 12:54 pm

    +10 on the Phantoms. My 3rd season them and no issues whatsoever. Jon is meticulous with design and manufacturing and I’ve put them through some stress- I’m big 6″3′ 240lbs- and after some dialing, have had zero issues. Touring in soft boots was torture-they’ve come a long way, but aren’t there yet. I use Scarpa Spirit 3 w/ intuition liners and cut ground a bit of upper cuff off for lateral flex comfort. Yeah they don’t ride as quick/smooth as soft boots but the gains in uphilling far exceed the slight loss of feel.

  32. See January 3rd, 2016 7:32 pm

    I wonder if all those worn out carbon TLT’s with sloppy cuff pivots would make good split board boots?

  33. See January 3rd, 2016 7:34 pm

    … or any old hard boots as long as the soles aren’t shot.

  34. Dinks January 4th, 2016 7:36 am

    I have been using the Phantom system now for nearly 2 seasons as I managed to get hold of some of the first ones produced, so you guys are behind the curve. I have also used extensively the Spark R&D hard boot binding system.
    In summary the Phantom System is light and the downhill binding small and easy to pack away. I have had no failures over the 2 years I have used them often but they do need to be retuned every so often as the materials wear. They offer a slightly softer ride than the Spark. The Spark interface is more solid and therefore has less to go wrong with it. It is this reason that I took the Sparks to Japan as the puck system is universal with the traditional the Voile Plastic puck where as the Phantom uses a bespoke puck.

    The Phantom system is prone to icing up, ie the fitting is so critical that any ice on the board edge, under the puck locking groove or on the board faces will make locking the two parts together and spinning the binding into the downhill mode quite difficult. I now always carry a scraper and use it for almost all the transitions use the scraper tool. The Spark is much less prone to icing and the ice can be forced out of the binding/puck interface with a quick shove.

    I at first was worried that the simple toe heel clip system may unlock/do but no issues on any tours.

    So in summary the Spark and Phantoms systems offer hugs advantages over soft boots touring systems if you are brave enough to adapt your boots a little. I like both and the Phantom DH binding is lighter but less robust and the complete system has more bits to tune and come loose, but in two hard seasons they still work and ride very well. If your patient with the Phantom icing issues both systems are good, however the Spark is more solid, simpler and has a universal fitting on the Voile pucks but rides a little stiffer than the Phantom

  35. Jason January 4th, 2016 11:26 am

    It’ll be interesting to read the in-depth review after you get more time on these. I actually have the same setup, Phantoms in the same color combo on a Solution, and my fiance has a pair of the Spark Dynos on her board.

    She put the Dynos through the ringer (as much as she could at her weight) on a month long volcano assault last May without any problems once the initial setup was done. I think the guys at Spark got those as good as they could with the Voile interface.

    I’ve only got a few tours on mine so far as I’m waiting for a pair of Backland boots to show up. So far they’ve been great but the transitions are not as quick as they were with other interfaces I’ve used.

    I’d also like to hear your thoughts on simplicity of initial set up, the amount of maintenance that is needed through the season, and the number of different fasteners/tools that you need to carry for spares.

  36. barrows January 5th, 2016 10:50 am

    I feel there are some specific ride performance advantages of Phantom over the Spark Dyno that may need to be explained. First, in no way am I suggesting that the Spark Dyno is a bad product, and the guys at Spark are top notch, and all splitters ow them a debt of gratitude for being the first company to step up and improve the binding options for us.
    The interface design of the Phantom binding holds the board halves in plane more securely, with overlapping cleats which keep the board in plane better. This design was actually adopted by Karakoram as well for their “Prime” interface system for soft booters. This overlapping interface does require a little more attention to removing ice occasionally during transitions, but it is well worth it for the increase in ride performance it offers. Additionally, the Phantom binding system is designed to allow the board to flex naturally; this is accomplished by the baseplate of the binding being a flat plate of aluminum which can flex with the board. The Phantom binding system is designed to be very stiff toe to heel, across the board, allowing for very precise edge control, while allowing for some flex medially and laterally, the way that snowboarders need the system to flex.
    Before going to Phantom’s I used Burto Race Plate toe and heel pieces mounted to the Voile plate, it worked, but the ride performance with Phantoms is vastly superior, giving a much more lively and precise ride.

  37. Corey January 5th, 2016 12:00 pm

    Posting so I get notifications of this conversation. I’m currently struggling with the decision between Phantoms ($850 – Tour mode = 708g, Ride mode = 1585), the complete Spark option – Dynos with adapter plates/Speed Radicals ($589 – Tour mode 907g, Ride mode = 1669g) or Dynos with Ranger Bindings Tech 2.0 ($516 – Tour mode = 558g, Ride mode 1320g).

    So the Dynos with Ranger bindings is the cheapest and lightest but it has one major flaw. No heel riser adapter. I’m interested in this conversation because everyone raves about the Phantoms except for the icing issues. The knock against Dynos are the rigidity. I wonder if the flex would be a problem for me though because I’m a bigger guy 195 lbf & 6’3″.

  38. kyle January 5th, 2016 3:14 pm

    Yup 3rd season on the Phantoms as well. Have no problems jumping ect on them. Actually when I 1st got them I set them up on my park board and spent an afternoon hitting icy jumps getting my boots more dialed in. They felt solid and had no problem standing up to that abuse which is much more than they get in the backcountry.

    Coming from a freestyle background, I was skeptical but after playing with a dynasplit set up using the voile plates I was sold on the system. Now with phantoms it’s been my dedicated set up ever since.

  39. buell January 5th, 2016 8:08 pm

    The icing on the Phantoms is not that bad. I had been on F2 toe and heel blocks on a Voile slider before the Phantoms and did miss the ease of sliding the Voile slider onto the Voile pucks. I was certainly one of the more vocal riders discussing the icing issues on the first year Phantoms with John (which were effectively an overbuilt prototype, but a significant improvement regardless).

    Year two and beyond models are much more refined. John made a number of adjustments to the design which reduced the icing dramatically and made them more self clearing overall. Depending on the day, I do not even need to pull out my scraper, the bindings just go right on. If it is icing, once you understand where to scrape, it is very quick and definitely worth the small effort for the ride performance.

  40. David January 5th, 2016 11:44 pm

    Good items to review.

    I’d recommend trying to separate the review of the TLTs for riding from the binder review.

    As commenters suggest, might wanna do a compare of the Spark Dyno’s as well. I’ve used them both and found the ride quality to be equal but transitions were significantly different.

  41. Thor February 1st, 2016 3:13 am

    Looks like I really need to be upgrading!
    I’m still on my 2000(!) Burton setup, with their board, stepin softboot/bindings and stepin plate bindings and race hardboots (or ice climbing hardboots). Only one failure: broke a interface pin in tour mode. Extensive and varied use, at least the 12 first years. Mostly steep backcountry, non-resort based in Romsdalen, Jotunheimen and Hemsedal (Norway). Almost completed the Haute Route (6days Chamo-Zermat in the Alps) back in 2001.
    James Margolis: with quite a bit of telemarking history (up until yr 2000) I have been known to do quite a bit of telemark turns, when not bothering to transition on hilly descents. But with great care, only in easy sections with light snow.





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