Expert Review: Burton Cartel X Snowboard Bindings
This review is my honest opinion of the binding which I purchased with my own money in August of 2021.
About this review: This review is my honest opinion of the binding which I purchased with my own money in August of 2021.
The Burton Cartel X is an excellent freeride binding that is very dependable and is a stiffer version of the Cartel, which has been in the lineup for a long time. It’s great for intermediate or advanced riders who want something good for hard-charging that’s not made with aluminum.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Burton Cartel X Re:Flex
- Size: L
- Burton channel compatible: Yes
- Mini disc (reduces footprint of the binding on the board to enable more board feel): No
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 170 lbs
- Experience: 12 years of snowboarding
- When I bought these: August 2021
- Days tested: 55 days
- Board: Yes. Typo, Chamonix Chemin
- Boot: 2019 thirtytwo TM2 XLT
- Where I’ve used it: Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, Crystal Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Mt. Bachelor, Lost Trail, Crested Butte, Tamarack, Brundage, Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, Mt Washington
- Terrain: Powder, groomers, park, hardpack, bumps, slush, side hits, terrible ice, super wet snow
How it performs
What I was looking for
When I was looking for a new pair of bindings, I wanted something stiffer and more responsive than my previous bindings to put on some stiffer boards that I had purchased, like the Yes. Optimistic. At the time, I had some older Burton Missions (softer) and also some 2019 Union Force bindings.
Why I chose this gear
I knew the Cartel would provide the stiffness that I wanted and the comfort that comes with a composite base. I was also confident in the bindings' durability since my Burton Missions lasted so long.
I considered the Union Atlas, Union Falcor, and some Ride models like the C-8 and the A-9. I went with the Cartel X because I had ridden the Cartels before and liked the feel of them but I just wanted something a bit stiffer. I also went with them because I wanted a composite base.
What I love about it
- Stance adjustability: I didn’t have a channel board to use these on, but they are compatible and have many different angles, so can make most stances work.
- Comfort: These bindings are very comfortable, the footbed feels nice, and the straps don’t create pressure points on the foot.
- Shock absorption: I liked how these bindings absorb shock; going over chattery snow or hard ice was more comfortable on these bindings than others I’ve ridden.
- Responsiveness: These are a very responsive binding, maybe not the absolute most responsive on the market, but they respond quickly when I push into them, especially the highback.
- Carving: These are an excellent binding for getting good carves in; with the forward lean adjustments engaged, the toe to heel response is fantastic, and the heel to toe is perfect as well. I was able to make great carves with these with no problem.
- Ease of turn initiation: Very easy to start a turn on these; as soon as I put some pressure, they would start to drive the board.
- Straps: The ankle strap on these is fantastic. With molded plastic under a more rigid plastic strap, they provide excellent response and help spread the pressure to a greater area for more comfort. The toe strap is alright, but it doesn’t mesh with the toe of my boots that well. I always felt like I wanted to be in between adjustment points with the toe strap.
- Buckles: The buckles always hold well and never slip. They ratchet down nicely almost every time and are easy to undo. The one issue that I had was one big powder day at Brighton. I was getting some snow caught in the buckle, and it wasn’t ratcheting down properly. It set me in a bit of a panic after waiting in line for hours to get one of the first chairs, but it ended up holding on fine, so it could have been a one-time thing or just my powder panic setting in.
- Durability: These are very durable bindings, especially for being a composite and not aluminum. I rode them in very rough conditions and had them on my board in my roof box for the whole season with other boards, and they sometimes would bang against them. They are surprisingly unaffected by all of this, and I can see them lasting many seasons.
- Weight: I feel like these bindings are on the lighter end of the spectrum for similarly responsive and priced bindings. It always helps to shed a little weight to make the board feel lighter and faster to respond.
- Other: There is a little heel hammock in the highback that helps grip the boot and prevent any lifting that adds a bit more hold.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Binding adjustability in boots: These bindings aren’t the most adjustable on the market. My boot wasn’t perfectly centered in the binding and there is no way to adjust the heelcup. I could help center it on the board with two options of holes on the disc so I could center it on the board a bit better but still was never fully satisfied. That being said, the forward lean adjustment is easy, and so are the tool-less strap adjustments.
- Buttering: These aren’t the best bindings for buttering because of their stiffer feel, but the composite baseplate and the highback having a bit of torsional flex make it a bit more doable than I imagined.
Favorite moment with this gear
I rode them so much this season it’s hard to choose a favorite moment with these bindings. If I had to choose one of the best days on them was when it finally started to snow in mid-March, and I drove down to Utah to catch the storms. I put them on my powder board and left Walmart early to hit the tram line at Snowbird for about an 8-inch storm. I made a second tram and got to hit Upper Cirque and felt that sweet relief when I finally made sleeping in my car worth it for that steep and deep powder. That all started a good cycle of storms for Utah and a long string of great days riding powder.
Value for the money vs. other options
These are well priced for their high-end comfort and responsiveness. At $315 compared to $350+ for both the Union Atlas and Union Falcor it beats out those options for the price. It also competes well with the Ride C-8 at $320 and the Ride A-9 at $370. Granted, most of those bindings with extra cost are because of their aluminum baseplate. The Union Force at around $275 is a bit of a better deal in terms of value, but I wanted something with a bit more response and higher end. Also, Burton bindings seem to be hard to find last year's model on sale for, so that is something to note as well.
These are an excellent binding for charging hard and simultaneously providing great comfort in all conditions. They help with better carving and steeper lines and are extremely durable.