Expert Review: Burton Cartel EST Snowboard Bindings · 2023Published on 04/03/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the bindings, which I tested for 3 days in January of 2023.
All photos courtesy of Gaelen Mast
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the bindings, which I tested for 3 days in January of 2023.
The 2023 Burton Cartel EST Snowboard Bindings provide a rare mix of high responsiveness and comfort. They’re a great option for the all-mountain, intermediate-advanced rider who needs to know their bindings will keep up with their progression for years to come.
About the bindings I tested
- Model: 2023 Burton Cartel EST Bindings
- Size: Large
- Burton channel compatible: Yes
- Mini disc: No
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 150 lbs
- Experience: 11 years of snowboarding
- When I tested these: January 2023
- Days tested: 3
- Board: Burton Process
- Boot: Vans Aura OG
- Where I’ve used it: Winter Park, Colorado
- Terrain: Groomers, powder, park
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was on the hunt for a medium-flexing binding that would pair well with an all-mountain board. I needed a binding I could feel confident about taking on any and all terrain a large-sized Colorado ski resort has to offer.
Why I chose this gear
I decided to take out a Burton Process snowboard from my local demo shop. This is a soft/medium-flexing board, and I wanted to use it in a variety of terrain, so I knew I should avoid soft-flexing bindings as well; a soft board/soft binding combo is typically only used by beginners or for pure park rats. The Cartels made sense for my particular case, as they’re on the stiffer side—which meant I would get a responsive ride even though my board was on the softer side.
What I love about them
- Responsiveness: Stiffer bindings tend to have a quicker response time than softer bindings, as they have less flex to them. This lack of flex means energy is transferred from the rider’s movements to the board quicker, resulting in a more responsive ride with more control. With the Burton Cartels coming in at a medium/stiff flex, they are no exception to this rule: I found that they respond quickly and efficiently. I took them through tight spaces such as trees and there was never a time I wished they would have responded quicker. This makes them very confidence-inspiring for tackling terrain that requires quick and precise movements.
- Comfort: In my experience, stiffer flexing bindings that provide a better response aren’t the most comfortable and require a lot of effort to use. However, this simply isn’t the case with the Burton Cartels. Even though they are on the stiffer side of things and have a great response, they are plenty comfortable, and I have never once felt like I had to work too hard to control them. I believe this was due to the ergonomic design of the straps, which didn’t put excessive pressure on my boot while still being rigid (many stiffer bindings will put lots of pressure on a rider’s boot).
- Durability: While I only demoed these bindings for three days, I’ve worked with them for almost an entire season. I work at Winter Park Resort in a demo shop, and the Burton Cartels are the primary binding we use for our “premium” snowboard demos. This means, I send these bindings out with customers almost every single day, and not once has a pair come back with broken or missing pieces. There is only minor cosmetic damage on most of the pairs we carry after over 100 days of use. Not all bindings are built equal, and I’m confident in saying the Burton Cartels are some of the more durable ones on the market.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Snowboard Compatibility: The “EST” version of the Burton Cartels that I rode are only able to be paired with snowboards that use the “channel” system, which is exclusively Burton. Obviously, this means that purchasing a pair of Burton Cartel ESTs would limit me to riding nothing but Burton boards and would force me to buy a new pair of bindings if I ever wanted to purchase a different board brand. However, this is an easy issue to solve, as Burton also makes a version of these bindings called the Cartel “Re:flex”, which is identical in every way except that they can be used on Burton boards and non-Burton boards. But, this drawback felt worth noting for this specific model to highlight the importance of choosing the right model of Burton Cartel.
- Highback Design: The highback of the Burton Cartel is slightly larger than the average snowboard binding highback. While I didn’t notice a change in riding performance, it was obnoxiously difficult to put down when getting onto lifts. Whereas I can typically simply kick my highback down while waiting in a lift line so that the chairlift doesn’t hit it and potentially break it, I find that the Cartel highback seems to repeatedly get stuck halfway down because it gets stopped by the binding straps due to its larger size. This forced me to reach down and adjust it with my hand, which isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but I find it mildly annoying.
Favorite moment with this gear
Anyone who is familiar with Winter Park may know that the trails are long and that riders can hit multiple types of terrain in the same run. There was one trail I continuously rode while testing these bindings: through tight trees, on a groomer, and through a jump-line (multiple jumps in a row)—all in the same run. I was impressed that these bindings handled all of these types of terrain with ease, and I didn’t feel I had to avoid any of it like I may have had do with less confidence-inspiring bindings.
Value for the money vs. other options
Personally, I think the Burton Cartel EST is overpriced, and that consumers are paying a (small) premium for the Burton name. Other reputable brands produce bindings that will perform just as well, if not better (in my opinion), for slightly cheaper. Examples include the 2023 Ride C-6s and the 2023 Union Forces. At the end of the day, however, the markup for the Burton name isn’t so dramatic that I believe buyers should steer clear of these bindings. And if one’s a die-hard Burton fan, or just really loves these bindings, then the extra cost could be well worth it.
These bindings aren’t overly special, as they’re not the best at anything. However, for the rider who wants to snowboard all over the mountain and have confidence in both the capability and durability of their bindings, the Burton Cartels are a solid contender—as they perform well in any and all terrain.