Binding Model: Nitro Phantom Carver
Binding Size: Medium
Stance and Angles: Goofy, 21in wide, 15/-3
Board Used: Ride Alter Ego 159
Boot Used: Burton Almighty
Boot Size: 8
Rider Weight: 155lbs
Location: Copper Mountain
Conditions: Firm mid winter. The snow feels more like early season snow. Still a moderate mix of man made base with just a bit of natural snow on top.
Binding Adjustability: Everything you might need. Tool less strap adjustments, highback rotation, forward lean block, heel cup adjustment, and toe ramp. Grab your #3 and get going.
Straps: One of the coolest things with Nitro bindings are the cable reinforced ladders and adjusters. It allows Nitro to use a little more flexible plastic knowing that the cables are going to keep them from ever braking. But if they do brake, the cables won’t and your day won’t be ruined. Anything that can save a day without complicating things is welcome. The toe strap is your basic open toe, but with added Vibram rubber for grip. Seems like a gimmick, but the stuff is seriously sticky and grips your boot extremely well. The ankle straps were a little too much for me. The stiffness was good straight forward and side to side, but they were just too tall. They landed at a nice high spot on top but then put too much pressure on top my foot. I feel like they’d fit better being just a bit thinner top to bottom.
Ratchets: There is actually something to talk about here. Nitro is using a double ladder on these. The ladder rungs are split down the middle and shifted to alternate and the ratchet matches up the same, so you get twice the engagement. It has its ups and downs. You have a better ability to micro adjust the how tight you get the straps, something welcome with how the ankle straps fit my boot, but you lose some outright climbing power. If you aren’t paying attention to how you’re pressuring the ratchets you can pretty easily slip and strip the ladders.
Highbacks: This is the “Carver” version of the Phantom so the highback gets the carbon panels added to the top outside corner. The highback is tall, wide, and very flat. To be blunt, the carbon additive is lost on this binding. The highback shape just doesn’t allow you to get all that much out of the corners of the highbacks, so having carbon there doesn’t really help you get more out of it.
Binding Flex: Stiff and supportive overall. Meaty frame, aluminum heelcup, stiff highback with carbon, and stiff supportive straps. The flat highback does still allow for some tip to tail movement, but overall this binding is built to transfer your input into the board with efficiency and power.
Ride: The story here is Nitro’s airbag dampening footbeds. Toe and heel airbags that absorb micro vibrations and big impacts better than just about any other binding out there. Some of the quietest feeling bindings I’ve ridden. The Carvers also get an additional EVA layer under the binding that adds a small measure of smoothness, but is there primarily to lift the binding as sort of a micro riser plate in an effort to help minimize toe and heel drag. I’m in an 8, so it’s not really something I’m going to notice whether or not it’s going to help get my toes away from the snow. But, being EVA and relatively thin, it’s not going to make a massive difference. If you want to drag some armpit, they aren’t going to magically let your 11’s ride narrow boards.
Rider in Mind: Someone charging around, carving hard, and getting low.
Personal Thoughts: I like that Nitro is making a carving focused binding, they just picked the wrong one. I get it, it’s the Phantom. It’s their flagship binding. But when I’m really driving my carves I want to get pressure to my tips. The Phantom does a fine job of that, but adding the carbon to the Phantom highback didn’t really do anything. I like the overall shape, but if there was some cup to that outside corner the carbon would be a lot more useful and would provide a ton of power to the tips. I would rather see a carver version of the Team.
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