Expert Review: Burton Cartel Snowboard Bindings
This review is my honest opinion of the bindings which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the bindings which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
The 2022 Burton Cartel Bindings are the ultimate workhorse all-mountain bindings for those wanting a stiffer and more responsive ride without sacrificing versatility. These bindings were built for the intermediate to advanced freerider who likes to occasionally hit the park and ground tricks.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Burton Cartel - Stout White
- Size: Medium
- Burton channel compatible: Yes
- Mini disc: No
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 170
- Experience: 10 years
- When I bought these: November 2021
- Days tested: 20
- Boards used with bindings: 2022 Salomon Assassin, 2022 Rome Stalefish, 2022 Salomon Dancehaul (used the same amount on each board)
- Boot used: 2022 Rome Bodega Hybrid
- Where I’ve used it: Brighton Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird Resort, Vail Resort
- Terrain: trees, powder, park, groomers, icy
How they perform
What I was looking for
When I purchased the Burton Cartel bindings, I wanted a stiffer pair of bindings that could do everything. I wanted a pair of bindings that I could throw on a park board as well as a stiff freeride board.
Why I chose this gear
I chose to purchase the Burton Cartel bindings because of their reputation within the snowboarding community, Burton’s quality, and their versatility.
When deciding which bindings to buy, I considered a few different options including the Arbor Cypress, Salomon District, Now Drive, and Jones Mercury. After doing extensive research, I determined the Cartel bindings were the best fit as I wanted a stiff binding that could handle any part of the mountain and the Cartels are known as the ultimate workhorse binding.
What I love about them
- Binding adjustability in boots: The Cartels have nearly completely toolless adjustability so they’re incredibly easy to adjust on the go. It took me a few days to tune them to my boots and ride style but once I got them down to how I like them, they fit perfectly. Each strap can be adjusted up or down, the high back can be moved forward, backward, or rotated (I like my front foot at a really high angle, +18-21 degrees, so the rotation was very helpful), and the baseplate can be extended for larger boot sizes. So, I wear a size 10.5 boot which is on the very far end of the medium size range but they fit just right.
- Comfort: Because of the extreme adjustability and high quality straps, I found these bindings to be super comfortable. It took me a few days to get them dialed into my boots properly but once they were dialed in, it felt like the bindings weren’t even there and I was just riding on the board. This is such an important aspect of bindings and finding a pair that are this comfortable can be quite challenging.
- Responsiveness: The Cartel bindings aren’t necessarily the most responsive bindings on the market but when I bought them, I wanted a pair that were very responsive without being too stiff for the park and freestyle. Burton rates these at the stiffer side of the spectrum so they have excellent response and are ideal for all-mountain riders who want a more versatile stiff binding. If you want even more stiffness but relatively the same amount of versatility, you can also go up to the Cartel X bindings.
- Carving: The Cartel bindings are on the stiffer side of all-mountain flex so the response is truly excellent making for a beautiful carving binding. When I purchased these, I wanted something stiff and full of response without sacrificing the ability to hit the park. These are the perfect binding for that and out of any category, I would say that carving is my favorite in these bindings. The forward lean adjustability is extremely easy to change and, unlike most other bindings, gives you the ability to finely tune the forward lean.
- Straps: The Cartel bindings utilize Burton’s Hammock 2.0 and the Supergrip toe strap. These two uniquely designed straps allow for one of the most comfortable, stable, and sturdy rides I’ve experienced. They allow you to feel as if you’re attached to the board directly from your boot. I’ve ridden many different bindings and when you have a binding that isn’t comfortable, it makes riding so much more difficult and unenjoyable, the Cartels are the antithesis of that. Also, the ankle straps have a crease in them so that when you slide your foot in, they don’t get in the way!
- Buckles: The Cartel’s buckles are incredibly easy to use, smooth as butter to put on and off, and hold extremely well. I’ve never had an issue of a buckle slipping mid-run. Only downside is the toe buckle can sometimes be tricky to get off with gloves on due to the lack of a good spot to pull on them.
- Durability: As I'll explain a bit more below, the straps can break in certain conditions, that’s just basic physics. But, the overall durability is very impressive and performance hardly varies if straps break or crack. Plus, repairing the bindings/straps is so easy that I could probably do it with my eyes closed.
- Weight: The Cartels are phenomenal in utilizing the weight to performance ratio. Sometimes you’ll get a binding that prioritizes weight to the point where you lose out on performance and durability but the Cartels are VERY lightweight yet extremely durable, responsive, and sturdy. The high-quality materials used are seen in the price tag but WELL worth it on the mountain.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Stance adjustability : The stance adjustability isn’t necessarily lacking as they offer a wide range of stance angles and widths, they are just like any other binding. If you really want true stance adjustability then you should get a board with the Channel mounting system. Not necessarily an issue, just not that great.
- Shock absorption: I found that these bindings don’t have the best shock absorption despite having a nice thick layer of padding on the baseplate. They are super comfortable and very responsive but I definitely felt the big landings and chatter at higher speeds. Burton could make improvements here.
- Ease of turn initiation: Despite being ultra-responsive, these bindings did sometimes feel like extra effort was needed to get you into those big turns. It could’ve been my board choice as I like to ride volume-shifted boards but the bindings needed some forward lean to get me that extra turn response.
- Buttering: I absolutely love buttering and think the board is more important than the binding for buttering but these are a bit stiff and don’t have a ton of side-to-side play so buttering can be a bit more challenging in these. Not impossible as I’m always buttering but not the most ideal pair for it.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with the Cartel bindings is a bit odd as it may worry some about the durability but I think it proves its worth. I was at Vail resort over the New Years weekend and the temperatures dropped to about -15 degrees Fahrenheit at the top of the mountain, definitely one of the coldest days I’ve experienced in a while. I had been riding steep black runs on my 2022 Rome Stalefish (bad board choice for such an icy day but oh well, still had a blast) and when I went to strap in, I noticed that my right toe strap had frozen, broken, and was gone. I was so shocked and disappointed as I thought I was going to have to lift back down to Vail village but I realized that it had probably been broken for awhile and I hadn’t even noticed. So I strapped in my left foot (front foot), strapped down my ankle strap on my right foot, and dropped in. I was so shocked that the bindings could still perform so well without my toe strap, that’s the moment I realized I made the right decision in buying the Cartels. Plus, once I got down to the Burton shop in Vail village, I found the toe strap I needed and replacing it took no longer than 5 minutes on my own.
Value for the money vs. other options
The value that you get for the money with the Cartels is truly unmatched, in my opinion. A couple pairs that I would compare to the Cartels include the Salomon District ($250), Arbor Cypress ($270), and the Union Force ($280). The Cartels are priced right in the middle of the pack at 275 but what makes them a better buy is the versatility that you get out of them. They are stiffer than your average all-mountain binding but you can easily throw these down in the park, hit massive backcountry lines, and get lost in the powder. Plus, the Hammock strap and toe strap are some of the most comfortable I’ve worn.
Overall, the 2022 Burton Cartel bindings are some of the most comfortable, versatile, and high-performing bindings that I’ve gotten to ride. They are the perfect all-mountain binding for those who want a stiffer, more responsive ride without giving up too much freestyle performance. These will continue to be my go-to bindings for every board I buy!