Binding Model: Burton Malavita ReFlex
Binding Size: Medium
Stance and Angles: Goofy, 21in wide, 15/-3
Board Used: Burton Stun Gun 155
Boot Used: Burton Almighty
Boot Size: 8
Rider Weight: 155lbs
Conditions: It had snowed semi recently so there was some good snow to be mined, but an equal amount of time was spent blasting firm but grippable groomers dragging armpits.
Binding Adjustability: Straps are on tool less bolts that are easy to spin off and spin back on. Highback rotation is done through bolts on frame sliders. Forward lean is on a spin bolt separate from the rotation. The ReFlex discs have to be situated so the holes have micro forward/back adjustment so the binding can’t be micro adjusted for stance width. The EST frame only has one spot for changing strap position, the ReFlex has 3; middle, upper, and lower. I’ve found over the years that running the inside of the strap in the middle position and the ladder in the upper position works best for me.
Straps: The ankle strap is an asym hammock. It has a little bit more meat above the ratchet and below the mount on the adjuster side. The cross strut offers most of the support and the hammock does all the pressure distribution work. Burton introduced a new toe strap this year that honestly reminds me a little of the original hockey helmet strap styles from the mid 2000’s, granted one that has seen 15 years of refinement. This new strap is by far the best toe strap Burton has ever put out. It is simple, grippy, and shaped well. Definitely a major shape improvement over the previous version. The toe ratchets are Double Take and they force the ladders a little further away from the boot than traditional ones. This means that the ratchet gets pushed into the boot a little harder causing a little bit of pressure. The softer the toebox, the more you’ll feel it.
Ratchets: Double Take ratchets have a lot of climbing power on the spiral and are a lot less likely to strip. I rode the 2018’s for a full year and never had an issue with ice build up under the locking teeth inside the ratchet, but I have seen it happen. I don’t think it’s really all that common, but something to think about if you frequently deal with iced up ratchets where you live.
Highbacks: The Hammock back and Hammock strap work together to wrap the boot in “suspension”. The hammock in the back of the highback grips the boot and actually lets you run your ankle strap a click or two looser without losing any lockdown. The highback itself is stiffer. Minimal flex backwards and stiffer torsionally. A very solid and supportive feel.
Binding Flex: The Malavita has the 30% glass build and the ReFlex frame. Laterally they feel a bit softer since you’re flexing into the ReFlex, but that slightly softer feel aids in truer board flex and in getting your weight over the tips to leverage butters or snap off your tips. It’s kind of a skatier feel underfoot. Overall the binding sits right around middle of the spectrum or just above.
Ride: Smooth feeling underfoot with good padding and natural canting. The AutoCant footbeds allow the medial side of the boot so sink in easier than the lateral side. I didn’t find it overly noticeable just cruising, but through chop and on harder landing it feels nicer on your knees. ReFlex is there, it does it’s job. The longer you ride them before getting back on something without it the more you’ll notice it. It does offer a bit better board flex under foot, but more importantly to the ride is the open windows in the frame in the toe and heel area that are free of any frame material. You get foam padding from boot to board giving a nice smooth ride.
Rider in Mind: High end freestyle riding everywhere on the mountain.
Personal Thoughts: For a long time I would grab Cartels over Malavitas. I always felt like the Vita just didn’t have the snap I wanted. I spent all last year in the 2018 version and grew to really like the binding for it’s all day comfort and versatility. They’re flat out just comfortable to be in all day. Add to that the new toe strap and you’ve got a really solid binding with a lot of really good tech that actually does something.