Freeriding Straps Salomon SP3 Bindings ($160) and Dialogue Boots ($220)
The Binding: The SP3 sports a high back with a cupped wing that transfers energy directly from your calf into the board, making turning less work while reducing wasted upper-body movement. The traditional beef with strap bindings was that they required frequent minor adjustments for fit and performance. Not so with the SP3: A fixed toe strap opens wide to let your foot in and out of the binding without making you thread and rethread the strap. To adjust forward lean on the fly, just turn a plastic dial on the high-back.
The Boot: The Dialogue boot serves as a great reminder of snowboarding's one great advantage over skiing: instant comfort. Featuring a roomy fit that accommodates wide feet and high insteps, and EVA molded midsoles and natural-rubber soles (both with ample cushioning), the boots feel like a new pair of running shoes. Even with a soft closed-cell foam liner and a lightweight outer boot, though, the Dialogue offers a surprisingly stiff, precise ride, thanks in part to a simple lacing system that cinches all that cush around the foot.
Freestyle Straps Burton CFX Bindings ($240) and Sly Boots ($190)
The Binding: Superpipes, tabletops, spines, rails...bring 'em on. The CFX binding has been a strong seller for Burton for a number of seasons, but this year's model features some significant redesigns: specifically, new ankle and toe straps that decrease pressure on both the instep and the outside of the foot, and a three-component high-back that increases stiffness without adding weight. The base plate has integrated EVA padding to soften harsh landings, and the toe is ramped upward for more turning power (trust us, it makes a huge difference).
The Boot: Burton's freestyle boots have always been famous for their comfort, and the Sly, thanks to Burton's high-end lasted 3D Matrix HD liner, is no exception. But none of that would hold much water if the boots didn't perform in the half-pipewhich, of course, they do. The synthetic upper is incredibly light and flexes easily from side to side when you're contorting yourself into a grab position.
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