The 2019 Now Pilot Snowboard Binding Review
Binding Model: Now Pilot
Binding Size: Medium
Stance and Angles: Goofy, 21in wide, 15/-3
Board Used: Niche Aether 156
Boot Used: Burton Almighty
Boot Size: 8
Rider Weight: 155lbs
Conditions: Middle of season. So the snow was good, not great as it hadn’t snowed in a bit, but still some decent stuff to rip on. Mid temps typical for mid winter Colorado making the groomers firm but far from hard.
Binding Adjustability: The straps are on tool less bolts that are easy enough to undo and fit back on. You have the capability to adjust the feel a bit if you get the extra bushings from Now. The Pilots come stock with the mid-stiff bushings, so you can make the feel a little bit smoother, or a little firmer depending on what you like. No highback rotation, but there is a pretty standard forward lean block that locks in place with a standard style lever.
Straps: The toe strap had a bit of a hard time accommodating my 8’s, which are on the bottom of the size run. They never blew off or felt like they weren’t doing their job, but they tended to slip forward a little bit. I flipped them, putting the left on the right binding and the right on the left binding, and they fit a little better for me. They were a better fit on these bulkier Burton’s than some of my boots in the past, but the shape still needs some work… or less work. Simpler is better with toe straps. The ankle strap is a more traditional foam core with fabric and stitching, but is running a full asymmetrical shape to them. More meat under the ratchet out of the box offers a little more flex and tweakability, if you flip them, like I did with the toe straps, then you get a little more power and drive with the extra bit of strap now above the ratchet. They were comfy, and honestly I didn’t think much of them, which is certainly not a bad thing.
Ratchets: Smooth on and off with all the cranking power you could need. A little sticky here and there with the release, but barely of notice.
Highbacks: This is what I see as the more classic now highback. It’s not super tall, has that classic Now shape to it, and has the relief cut in the upper section. They’re just above middle of the road stiffness torsionally with a bit of extra give right in the top section driving staight back. Below the relief cut you have all the support you need, so that relief just acts a more of a shock absorber and keep the highback from ever feeling intrusive. It’s a solid and versatile feeling highback that I’m happy to see Now keep using.
Binding Flex: Middle of the road all mountain flex. Enough support to get you around the whole mountain with ease, with enough flex to keep it fun.
Ride: All mountain playful is really the best way to describe the feel in them. They move just enough to encourage you to play around, but are always there to offer the support you need when you need it. The key with the feel in all Nows is the Skate Tech frames. The hanger where the disc mounts is bolted on pivots to the chassis that you strap in to. The way all the science works in them, all the effort you put into the binding gets directed towards the bushings. So a toeside initiation all goes into the toeside bushings, which sit right over your edge. It makes any board truly drive at your feet. As a bonus, since your pressuring urethane bushings, they ride very smooth. You have a full rubberized EVA footbed and you have the bushings to smooth out the ride, and it works well.
Rider in Mind: All mountain freestyle attacker.
Personal Thoughts: The Pilot was the first binding to get the 2.0 Hanger. I’ve always kind of seen it as the Hanger 2.0 version of the Select, except you don’t get the extra bushings or highcup in the box. If you’re curious of Now, have no clue which binding fits your needs best, and have a little more high volume boot, the Pilots are the ones to pick. They could fit well on literally any of the decks I own from small jibsticks to bigger freeride carvers. Very versatile, and great feel.
I bought a pair of these bindings recently and I would recommend them but with two caveats:
1. During the break-in period they can feel a bit jerky at times during turn initiation since it takes a split second for due to the split second for the kingpin mechanism to get you on edge. When you’re used to the inefficient energy transfer of a traditional binding skate tech can feel a bit weird.
2. I’m not at all a fan of these toe straps. My main boots are Burton Rovers and unless I strangled my toes the straps kept coming loose. The only way I could secure them without cutting off circulation was to tighten across the top of the toes rather than the end of the boot, and unfortunately that’s not how they’re designed. I tried flipping them and a few different length adjustments but they just kept coming loose. Now sent me some 3D straps and they secure the toes much better IMO.
I’ve just had several days on these bindings in Tirol.
Work great with my Arbor Element board. The height of bindings allows You to wear bigger size boots than usual.
I also had an issue with slipping toe straps. But I found out that if You place them carefully they can work well.
All in all good mid-stiff bindings.
Caution – blasphemy follows:
So if the toe caps are falling on your old Now bindings and you don’t want to replace them you can swap the tongues (what Now calls the “toe connectors” on their diagram https://www.now-snowboarding.com/themes/classic_now/assets/pdf/exploded_drawing__now_20-21.pdf).
If you look at your bindings or the diagram you will see that the tongue (connectors) angles down…so swap them left and right and your toe caps have a much better chance of staying up. Sometimes just swapping the toe caps themselves doesn’t work depending on your boots…you can swap both the connectors and the caps as well.
I have just replaced them with other manu’s toe cap kits and that works too as both the caps and the tongues will be better designed.
Hope that helps out someone with Now bindings. That all being said the few times I have gotten to the bottom of a run with toe caps falling off….I have not noticed any bad effects on my ride and would not have known if I had not looked down and saw the issue. I have often thought about just modding the front binding only for a better toe cap and then completely removing the rear bindings toe cap/straps as it seems on these bindings you don’t really even use/notice them while riding. Blasphemy I know….but I don’t really “use” the toe strap/cap assembly on my now bindings…your results may be different depending on how you pressure your feet while riding (rode bindingless snowboards for years – before snowboards were even called snowboards…so maybe I pressure the board a tad differently if that concept seems weird to you). But just think back on your run and whether you even felt the lack of the toe strap to decide if that would work for you.
Would you recommend now pilots or burton cartel x to pair with a lib tech orca for all mountain/powder?
Go with the Pilots the Cartel X is overkill.