The Gnu Fastec snowboard system has been around for about five years. Fastec is a proprietary name for what is more broadly referred to as a reclining highback or rear entry system. There have been a few improvements over the life span of this technology involving upgraded hardware and adjustability features but overall the basic design has remained the same. The Fastec system is available on all Gnu binding models with the exception of their splitboard bindings. The fact that their entire line of snowboard bindings uses Fastec says a lot about how well it works. So let’s take a look at some of the features and functionality of the Fastec bindings.
- Highback: The first thing you will notice on Fastec bindings is the large lever on the highback with two cables running down from either side and anchored to the chassis (sides of the binding). This allows the highback to swing all the way down so that you can enter the binding from the rear.
- Auto Lever: The outside of the ankle strap is attached to the chassis by the Auto Lever that locks the binding down once the rider is in the binding and has the highback lever in the position and locked in place. The Auto Lever automatically releases when the highback is lowered allowing you to quickly pull your foot out of the binding. This lever can also be easily released by simply lifting it up, which is great for giving your feet a break from any pressure soreness or circulation issues that may build up around your foot while riding the chairlift.
- Micro Buckle: On the other side of the ankle strap there is a Micro Buckle (standard binding ratchet) coupled with a ladder strap for fine-tuning your fit to get just the right amount of snugness that you prefer.
- Toe Strap: The toe straps are adjusted with tool-less levers, one on each side of the toecap. This allows you to quickly adjust your toe strap fit without having to use a screwdriver. If your toe strap loosens while riding for some reason, you can snug it up on the fly without having to take your gloves off.
So what are benefits to the Fastec system and who might be interested in it? The obvious reason for using a reclining highback is to save the extra time and effort it takes to get into your regular bindings. With regular bindings you have to move your straps out of the way to put your foot in the binding. Then you have to make sure your boot is fully down on the footbed and back into the heelcup. And then you have to insert each strap into the ratchets and ratchet them closed until you reach the preferred amount of snugness. Often, you have to sit down if you are on icy and/or steep terrain to do this, which also means you have to pull yourself back up. With the Fastec reclining highback system you will not have to sit down even in icy conditions because once your highback is lowered (which it already will be from when you got on the lift) it takes less than two seconds to slide your foot into the binding. Then it is just a matter of reaching down and pulling up on the highback lever and pushing down on the Auto Lever. Your binding is already adjusted to exactly where you want it to be so at that point you simply ride away.
Very young kids (and their parents) may benefit from Fastec because it allows the whole family to get going fairly quickly without having to continually help the Junior get strapped in. People who don’t like sitting down in the snow andgetting their butt frozen or wet at the top of every run may appreciate the Fastec system also. Or, if you just want a “set it and forget it” binding that frees you up to get on with your riding- it may be for you.
You may ask, will this really make my snowboarding experience that much more hassle-free and enjoyable? The answer, to me, is that it’s all relative. If you save thirty, twenty or ten seconds is it worth it? What about five seconds? It seems to be a matter of personal preference. If you perceive that you are having a more enjoyable experience then you probably are and so it may well be worth checking out. To someone else, their favorite binding may provide them with specific benefits, such as a particular level of comfort, flex, or response that, in turn, outweighs the need to save time when strapping in. Whatever your take is on Fastec bindings, they are a great asset to the snowboarding community simply by the fact that they provide another viable option to the riders out there. The gimmick technologies will inevitably sink into oblivion and what works will rise to the top. Fastec snowboard bindings have been around long enough to easily see that they work great for a lot of people.