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Expert Review: Burton Cartel Bindings

Published on 08/12/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the snowboard bindings, which I bought with my own money in January 2021.
Ben Houghton, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Ben Houghton

All photos courtesy of Ben Houghton

About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the snowboard bindings, which I bought with my own money in January 2021.

My take

The Burton Cartel snowboard bindings are the perfect balance between capability and affordability, and they feel completely at home in all-mountain settings. Unlike some other Burton bindings, they are ideal for intermediate-to-advanced snowboarders and although they are not as adjustable or customizable as other binding sets, they are extremely responsive. I would not recommend these for beginners. I have a size 11 boot so I went with a Large binding. Anything smaller than a size 10 will do fine with a Medium but anything larger than a size 10 will require a larger size binding. The recommended size will depend on your boot size but your Curated Snowboard Expert will gladly help you pick out the right fit for you.

About the gear

  • Model: Burton Cartel Bindings 2021
  • Color: Black
  • Size: Large
  • Burton channel compatible: Yes
  • Mini disc: Yes

About me

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 170 lbs
  • Experience: 10 years

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: January 2021
  • Days tested: Eight
  • Board: Capita Mercury 2021 157 centimeters
  • Boot: Burton Rulers 2021
  • Where I’ve used it: Beaver Mountain, Utah, and Brian Head, Utah
  • Terrain: Powder, trees, terrain park, ice, groomers

How they perform

Shock Absorption
Stance Adjustability

What I was looking for

I had been using the 2013 Union Jib Series bindings for about seven seasons, so I knew it was about time I upgraded them. Being a college student, dropping huge amounts of money on snowboard gear isn’t really an option, so I wanted something affordable but capable. I ride all-mountain and love doing pretty much anything the mountain has to offer, so I wanted something with a mid/stiff flex that would be responsive on any terrain including groomers (like stiff bindings), flex in the park (like a medium flex binding or specific freestyle bindings) and pow.

Why I chose this gear

I chose the Burton Cartels because I had heard so many positive things about them, they seem to have stood the test of time, Burton has high standards with their gear and they were in my price range. The mid/stiff overall flex profile was really appealing to me due to its all-mountain potential.

As someone who rode Union bindings for seven seasons, I was definitely a little biased toward Union when searching for bindings. The Falcor bindings are awesome but were definitely out of my price range. I decided to look for something with a similar construction quality at a cheaper price point, which led me to the Burton Cartel bindings!

What I love about them

  • Comfort: These bindings have an extremely comfortable fit and have years of development under their belt when it comes to engineering comfortability. A lot of it is due to the Re:Flex FullBED gel cushioning system. The simplicity of a one-piece highback and a slight autocant, allow it to rest evenly along the leg. The smooth glide buckles and ratchet, toe strap, hinge, and buckles all feel well-built and are very easy to adjust and take on and off. The fullbed cushioning system reduces chatter and vibration keeping your ride damp and also softens big stomps.
  • Responsiveness: This binding has pro-caliber control. The immediate response of these bindings is one of the first things I noticed when I strapped in for the first time. My first run of the day was a nice smooth ride. The Cartels feature Burton’s special new Hammockstrap ankle strap, which molds nicely to the shape of the boot and covers a larger area than a typical strap. The super-grip capstrap keeps your foot feeling locked in at the toe. The single-component baseplate construction uses one material throughout, which reduces loss of energy from foot to board. This is really noticeable when making small turns or quick carves in trees. The medium flex provided by these bindings perfectly matches an all-mountain board flex and creates consistent response and improves terrain versatility, which definitely reduces fatigue throughout the day. A more natural flex allows you to tweak grabs and tricks too. This mid-flex snowboard binding gives you the support you need while maintaining a relaxed feel on flatter terrain and technical maneuvers.
  • Carving: Due to the responsiveness of the bindings, carving has a smoother feel and is a breeze on these things. The Hammockstrap ankle straps keep my heels and toes locked into the board, even on steeps. In the past, I would have issues with a heel lift in my bindings when carving at high speeds and on steep groomers, and I would feel disconnected from the board on toe-side carves. I have never had that issue with the Cartels. Heel-edge turns were also incredibly responsive. For all-mountain riding, the most comfortable position for the bindings for me is a +15/-9. I feel locked in on every turn!
  • Durability: I’ve ridden these things for full days in pretty rough and varying conditions and the bindings have not shown a single sign of wear and tear. After riding through powder, choppy ice, and taking some hard falls, the bindings are still in fantastic, near-mint shape.
  • Weight: The Burton Cartel bindings feel super light for how all-mountain-oriented they are. Typically, bindings with a stiffer flex tend to become a little heavier. However, the Cartels feel extremely light and allow you to gain instant control of your board. Aluminum levers and nylon composite material used throughout the binding help to reduce weight without sacrificing a rugged attitude.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Binding Adjustability in Boots: The highbacks could be a little more adjustable and have a feature that tilts them at the desired angle. They don’t line up perfectly with my calves and there is no highback rotation to help line them up correctly.
  • Buttering: Buttering on these bindings is not one of their strong suits due to their stiffer flex. The bindings are comfortable and responsive, but they typically don’t pair well with soft-flex boards and therefore are not ideal for buttering setups.
  • Hardware: When mounting the bindings, I did run into an issue with the mounting hardware where one of the screws kept coming loose. After a few runs where I tightened the screw at the end of each run, the issue was fixed and I haven’t had any problems since. This issue may not be as applicable to the EST version. While the Cartels are originally built to fit the Burton channel systems, they also come with a mounting disk to fit a 4x4 mounting pattern and a 2x4 mounting pattern.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment has to be a tree run I did with my sister at Beaver Mountain. There was a fresh coat of powder and we came flying off a steep groomer into an opening in the trees. Even at the speed we were going, I could immediately start navigating tight turns. I felt the responsiveness of the bindings kick in and was able to maintain the rush of the previous groomer while exploring untouched powder in the trees, all the while experiencing easier ollies off of sidehits. It was awesome! (Note: If hard charging lines aren't your thing you may want a binding with a softer flex. Freestyle riders in particular will want something softer.)

Value for the money vs. other options

I would say value is really where these bindings excel. When it comes to responsive all-mountain bindings, it’s common to find bindings over the $300 mark. The Cartels are a steal in terms of responsiveness and comfort for the price and have a sleek, low-profile design. If a rider wants more adjustability in binding, a more expensive option like the Union Falcors might be a better bet, as the Cartels sacrifice some customizability to maintain their low price. But the Cartels are still a high-quality binding that also comes with Burton's manufacturer warranty (Lifetime for baseplates and 1-year for straps and highbacks).

Final verdict

The Burton Cartel bindings are the ideal set for anyone whose riding style is to explore every terrain a resort has to offer. The responsiveness and comfort make turns, stops, and ollies feel effortless anywhere on the mountain. This binding can handle its own on groomers, the park, pipe, trees, icy hits, and powder. With the quick crank of the ratchet, you'll be up and off on the slopes very quickly. For riders looking for quality on a budget, these are the best bindings around.

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