By: R. Kaeru – February 8, 2017
Every snowboarder has their preferences when it comes to gear. Most of us want the newest technologies to give us an edge over the competition or improve our personal performance. Some may just prefer to use what they are best comfortable with. Sometimes just simple improvements to an existing favorite piece of gear are the motivator to try something new. There have been a lot of modifications to snowboard boot/bindings over the past two decades, but there is one model which appears to have comeback from the grave: the K2 Kwicker boot/binding system.
If you are thinking “Why fix something that is not broken?” you may be right, but we will come back to that in just a bit. The K2 KwickerTM is a variant of K2’s originally designed step-in binding system called the K2 Shimano Clicker© Binding/Boot System. There are, however, major differences to the new Kwicker system than its predecessor. First, a bit about step-in systems.
Step-in binding systems are great for snowboards for several reasons. They provide easy access to gondola lift lines so you don’t have to sit on your but to un-strap one boot, or unnecessarily strain your board to hop and flex it to move forward on a flat surface. Hopping and flexing boards consistently puts great strain on the board and can compromise the longevity of its durability, especially when you may need it most. Of course, hopping and flexing the board towards a lift line opens you up to hitting someone’s legs or worse, scratching up their gear.
Step-in binding systems are usually low profile because they don’t have a rigid back plate and medusa-like straps hanging off the flat surface of the board. Sure, you could still attach the board to a backpack by flipping the board around so that the top sheet and bindings face out. But the low-profile step-in system allows one to attach the board to the rucksack allowing the base and edge to face out. This is an advantage one needs. Why? Emergencies are the real reasons why step-in systems should be preferred. They offer a quick way out of the binding system to bring an exhausted or injured party down fast. Simply pull up on a lanyard to release one boot or just reach down to release the locking mechanism on one or both boots to free your legs. All you have to do next is position the person to sit or lay on the pack and board, and a partner can drag you down in front or behind them. Of course, if someone is really in bad shape they can lay on top of the board directly over the flat binding system while the rescuer carries the pack.
The K2 Shimano Clicker system was perfect because it was a low-profile step-in binding system that was light weight, very strong, and easy to use. It was perfect for emergencies and sturdy enough to carve the toughest high-angle couloirs. Of course, it offered a simple click-n-go or full lockdown ability with just a twist of the boot lock. K2 Kwicker now offers the same convenience with a modification to its original design. There are some differences in the new design. K2 Kwicker offers a rectangle shape step-in system whereas the K2 Clicker was a round, plate like step-in system. The rectangular design offered by the K2 Kwicker allows these bindings to be specifically put on split-style snowboards, but could easily be mounted on randoneé ski systems as well. K2 Kwicker is mostly made of a high density composite material and the K2 Clicker was constructed of high strength aircraft aluminum. Both the K2 Kwicker and the K2 Clicker predecessor are easy to install and easy to adjust downrange with a #3 Phillips Head screwdriver. Yes, the K2 Kwicker boots and bindings are compatible with K2 Clicker boots (e.g. Yeti) and bindings!
There was a recall for the original K2 Kwicker and K2 Kwicker BC bindings from sales purchased between October 2013 and December 2013 according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and through the K2 Sports web page. No injuries seemed to have been reported. The author reached out to K2 Sports and was able to confirm that all U.S. purchases of the product between the affected dates were replaced without further incident. Overseas purchases might have to be directed to appropriate subsidiaries for more information. There are no known recalls for the replacement and subsequent K2 Kwicker binding system as of the date of this article.
Winter gear needs to be reliable, strong, light, streamlined and low profile. Snowboard gear is no exception. That is exactly what the K2 Shimano Binding/Boot System was all about. I have used the K2 Clicker system all over America and more so throughout the French-Swiss Alps. Most riders I have met seem to prefer the feel of Strap-Binding systems because they tend to make the board a sturdy extension to their bodies. I have heard some argue their attempts to use click-in binding systems have made them feel out of control especially at higher speeds. The majority of people I came across did not, however, try out the K2 Shimano Clicker system when it was around, but did try other brands’ attempts at a ski-like boot click-in system. The K2 Clicker is this step-in binding system that I have been familiar with and still use today.
Many reviews of various step-in snowboard binding systems since the mid 1990’s were moderate at best but the reviews of this now resurrected product seems to have a better overall rating than traditional plate-strap bindings. What I have deduced from all the past reports, friends, and other boarders I have spoken with over the years, is that people prefer to feel that they are physically attached to the snowboard. I think most reviews disregard the Emergency Factor as discussed above. What happens if? Step-in equipment systems like that seen on snowboards, skis, and racing/mountain bikes need a shearing-force design. Equipment that is attached to your body must be capable to separate you from the snowboard, ski, or bike to avoid the equipment dragging you off the path or prevent the rider from getting out of certain danger. What is the danger? Slab avalanche, rock slides, rock falls, and a plethora of other unforeseen accidents. The design of a break-away system is to prevent further injury! Don’t let your binding system be your anchor to certain morbidity or mortality.