Expert Review: NOW Pilot
This review is my own honest opinion of the snowboard bindings, which I bought with my own money in January 2021.
About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the snowboard bindings, which I bought with my own money in January 2021.
I really enjoy the comfort that the Now Pilot Bindings provide, including the supportive, well-padded, and 3D-contoured straps found over foot and over toe. They are geared for intermediate to advanced riders, and also have a nice, comfortable base and provide just the right amount of response without feeling overly stiff or too soft.
About the gear
- Model: 2021 Now Pilot Bindings
- Size: Large
- Riding level: Intermediate to advanced
- Burton channel compatible: Yes
- Mini disc: No
- Flex: Medium-stiff
- Height: 6’ 2”
- Weight: 190 lbs
- Experience: 20 years
- When I bought these: January 2021
- Days tested: 15
- Board: Lib Tech Orca
- Boot: Thirtytwo Lashed Double BOA
- Where I’ve used it: Afton Alps, Minnesota
- Terrain: Park, all-mountain, and groomers
How it performs
What I was looking for
I wanted to try a different binding than the Flux XF bindings I owned to compare my options. I was hoping for a more convenient experience strapping in after every lift and something that was a bit more flexible and comfortable.
Why I chose this gear
I was really interested in the Skate Tech feature on these bindings, which is a skateboard truck-inspired hinge on the baseplate. I had already purchased the Flux XF bindings, which feature straps that attach to the inside of the bindings to supposedly provide a more responsive feel, but I found that the straps were really annoying to get on after every lift. I wanted to give these a try to see if they were more convenient and to feel what the Skate Tech had to offer.
What I love about it
- Binding Adjustability in Boots: These bindings are very easy to adjust and very comfortable. I also have two options between a softer or more firm bushing, which sits between the base of the binding and the surface of the board.
- Stance Adjustability: These bindings are really made for all-mountain conditions with a freestyle focus. The adjustability is geared toward those types of riding styles and is a bit more perpendicular to the base of the board rather than being an aggressive lean forward.
- Comfort: These were very comfortable, especially compared to the Flux XF bindings I had previously worn.
- Shock Absorption: Shock absorption was really quite nice. As I previously noted, I can swap out the bushings depending on the type of feel I want, including the shock absorption with the softer bushings.
- Responsiveness: I would say these are fairly responsive bindings because they are medium-firm. They aren’t designed to be super responsive, so I think they meet the mark.
- Carving: These provide great support and won’t hold me back in any carving I might do for all-mountain riding. However, these are not the right bindings for carving in the backcountry or steep lines.
- Ease of Turn Initiation: These were great for turn initiation and I had no problems getting the board around, even on a volume-shifted board that was a bit wider than a regular-width board. These performed very well.
- Straps: The straps are one of the real highlights of these bindings. They are super comfortable, easy to use and adjust, and have toolless adjustability. When I say toolless adjustability, I mean that I can adjust these on the slopes with my hands, which is literally what I did when I first rode these bindings.
- Buckles: The buckles are fantastic and hold really well. I didn’t have any issues with them jamming or skipping on the ratchets, so I was pleased with their performance.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Durability: I would say I haven’t had a chance to really test out the durability of these bindings after only riding these for one season. The baseplates have a lifetime warranty, which is pretty much industry-standard these days, but I’m not really happy about all the other parts only having a one-year warranty. Brands like Arbor will provide a three-year warranty on all other parts of the bindings, so I would like to see the industry, including Now, go in that direction with providing longer warranties.
- Skate Tech: This one is pretty significant to me, since this feature was one of the reasons I bought these bindings. I really can’t feel much of the Skate Tech that Now boasts about — I didn’t feel any additional turn initiation due to the hinge underfoot. I feel it is simply too small of a pivot point to make a noticeable difference. It was pretty discouraging to find out it didn’t live up to the hype.
Favorite moment with this gear
I would say one of the best experiences I had with this gear was when I wore these bindings for the first time and was able to adjust everything on the fly and on the slopes with ease. I found the bindings to be really comfortable and easy to strap in for every run.
Value for the money vs. other options
I think these are definitely worth the money. They are reasonably-priced bindings and were much more comfortable than the Flux XF bindings I previously used, so it felt like an upgrade even though the price was the same as the other bindings.
All in all, these are fantastic bindings. I would be happy to ride these again all season long and would have no complaints with the performance, fit, and comfort. With that being said, I wouldn’t buy these for the Skate Tech because I just don’t really feel the skateboard-truck inspired pivoting that Now advertises.