Phantom Splitboarding Slipper, Phantom M6 Binding Review – Awesome Hard Boot Splitboarding Set Up
Phantom Splitboarding Slipper, Phantom M6 Binding Review – Awesome Hard Boot Splitboarding Set Up
Phantom Splitboarding Setup – Phantom Slipper, Phantom M6 Binding, all the hardware (and how they work) for hard boot splitboarding are covered in this review. Colorado made and built to take splitboarding to the next level.
Phantom Splitboarding started with the idea of making better splitboarding bindings and boots. The brains behind this is founder John Keffler – an aerospace engineer. When he is not on NASA’s Orion program, he is designing next-level splitboard equipment.
I have been curious about Phantom for the last few years. Seeing the bindings in action when I would link up with my friend Scott Yorko, I was impressed at how fast he toured up. Yet, he was able to still enjoy the ride down just as well as he would on soft boots. It really blew my mind.
Hard boots had always been off-limits to me. As you can see in the write-ups and YouTube videos of the last 6 years, I am a soft boot splitboarder. And I love it! Having worked with most of the splitboard bindings and boot companies, I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on the technology and what was possible with splitboarding.
Then, I started to notice more and more of my splitboarding crew transitioning over to hard boots. Heck, I did my AIARE rescue course with a guide who was on hard boots and he made it look easy. He looked me straight in the eye and said “once you go hard boot, you never go back!” That stuck with me, but I did not act on it for another 3 years.
Until now. After another season of watching hard boot splitboarders having a great time and making touring look easy, I figured I should check it out. I linked up with Jason Goldstein over at the Colorado-based Phantom HQ. He walked me through how everything works and handed me a pair of the new Phantom Slippers. What happened next was revolutionary.
My assumption that hard boots are going to be stiff and restrictive was eradicated. I slipped on the Phantom Slippers ($799) and could not believe how comfortable they were. Not only that, but the articulation was something that I had never experienced. I have used plenty of splitboard boots that had walk modes and articulation, but nothing like this.
Plus, they are super light. 2lbs 8oz for a size 29-29.5 (US 11.5-12). Let that sink in for a moment. That is several ounces lighter than the TLT6 boots that are often used for hard boot setups. It is way lighter than the lightest soft boot for splitboarding too. Several hundred grams lighter.
The boots really are all you need in a hard boot, and they are designed for splitboarding only. This is the first splitboard focused hard boot that I know of. It is a very well thought out design and very simple to operate. There are 2 buckles, with various adjustments to dial in the fit.
I used mine on the loosest settings for both buckles. There are no laces to tie (although you can add some if you want) and they are ridiculously streamlined for performance. They slip on easy and within a moment of clicking into the 2 buckle system, you are ready to tour and ride. I have never been able to get into (and out of) a boot so fast. That is saying a lot.
The boots have a good rubber sole and the boots are full automatic crampon compatible. That is going to make a lot of splitboard mountaineers very happy! The TechToe is already built-in, so you don’t need to add anything to make these work. The Platinum Light Liner is comfortable and washable. You can swap out the liner for other ones as well if you choose to.
Walking in the boots was surprisingly easy. The articulation was as good if not better than any splitboard boot I have used. This allowed for longer and more natural strides. It also allows for a more fluid and efficient stride when touring. That is very noticeable from the first step you take.
Phantom Link Lever
The Link Lever comes installed on the Phantom Slipper as well. What this is is basically the high back from a regular splitboard boot. This is how you adjust your forward lean as well as stiffness. The Link Lever comes in 3 strengths – Red for light, Gold for medium, and Green for stiff. Being that I am 205lbs, we went with the Green Link Levers.
These are available separately ($195) for modding out your hard boots from other manufacturers. I know Aaron Rose – aka Gear Destroyer – swears by them for his hard boot set up. These really do take the hard boot experience to another level for us splitboarders.
When in tour mode, you simple disengage the Link Levers for unrestricted mobility and articulation. When you are ready to snowboard, you engage them and have great rebound and stiffness. You can dial in the angle with a simple twist of the adjustment screw.
Phantom M6 Bindings
The Phantom M6 bindings ($399) are really impressive. For starters, they are lighter than any other binding I know of. Coming in at 1lb 2oz (514 grams) each, these are lightweight! But, they are not skimping on build to achieve this weight. These are BURLY! Plus, you don’t use them when touring, so it saves on the added weight underfoot. This makes for a more efficient touring experience.
The bindings sit super close to the board too. I found that this creates a very good board feel and transfers power very effectively. My first 2 turns on the setup were eye-opening. I had not felt that connected to my board before. And I have used some of the best splitboard bindings out there!
Plus, the M6 bindings have 5 degrees of cant. I used to ride canted bindings back when I went to resorts. I forgot how much I appreciated the natural feel of them. It is nice to have them back and save my knees!
The bindings are as easy to set up as any other splitboard binding. Honestly, I was skeptical at first and this had delayed me from trying the Phantom set up earlier. After I watched Jason install the setup, I was relieved at how intuitive the whole system is. In fact, I went home and immediately took everything apart, and reinstalled it. I want to know how to adjust everything with ease, and I find that practicing this several times before heading out is always a good idea.
To install the bindings for riding, you simply place them over the cleats (more on those in a moment) and twist the binding into place. Once they are in place, you engage the 2 Quick Flicks to lock the binding into place. It creates an incredibly tight and secure fit.
The M6 bindings do not come with cleats, so you will need to decide which ones you want and order those at the same time. I went with the Adjustable Cleats ($199) for this setup. The cleats are adjustable +30/-30 for a wide range of users. Using the M6 Bindings as a guide makes set up pretty fast. The board connection is really impressive as well.
If you know your set stance and do not plan on changing it, you can opt for the even lighter Solo Cleats ($99 each). This saves 50% of the weight and adds to the streamlined system of the Phantom setup.
Phantom Rocket Risers
The Phantom Rocket Risers ($99) simple and robust risers. No plastic here! All aluminum body with stainless steel risers. Two heights – tall and short – just like other risers. I like that they named them Rocket Risers, given that John is a rocket scientist 🙂
Phantom Tech Toes
The Phantom Tech Toes ($159) are durable Tech Toe clips. Collaborating with Spark R&D on this design, so you know they are legit. You can read more about Aaron Roses and Evan Green’s experience with these Tech Toes here. They provide great hold while touring and are easy to disengage when ready to transition to riding.
Putting it all together – The Complete Phantom Splitboarding Experience
As you can see above, Phantom put a lot of time and research into the development of their hard boot splitboard system. I have been impressed with the positive experiences of my splitboard colleagues that have been using this setup. Each one has raving reviews on Phantom.
Monetarily, it might appear to be a big investment, and it is. $856 for all the gear you will need to get set up with the above Phantom gear. This is if you already have your own hardboots. This price is not that far off from other splitboard bindings set-ups when you add everything up. Depending on the setup, this is ~$200 or so more than some soft boot setups, and not that much more than the highest-end offerings from some other companies.
If you want the 100% Phantom Splitboarding experience, and you do not own hard boots yet, then adding in the Phantom Slippers is a great choice. The boots come with the Link Lever pre-installed and are comfortable right out of the box. Heck, some people even drive to the trailhead in the boots!
The total cost of all the Phantom Splitboard gear and Phantom Slippers comes in at $1655. Depending on the setup from other companies, this is not that much more. If I were to add up the highest-end (and costly) soft boot set up, with the Jones MTB boots (which I do love and have a review on each model for the last 6 years) then we are almost $200 in difference.
That difference adds up to a better and more efficient touring experience, lighter weight, and great board feel. In fact, the board feel is what sealed the deal for me. I was anticipating a clunky and slow response from using a hard boot. It was the opposite of that! I can see why a lot of my friends have made the switch to hard boot setups, and I can see why everyone that uses Phantom raves about them.
I would recommend demoing them for yourself so you can experience the difference. It is an investment to go from soft boot to hard boot. But, it was an investment to start with a soft boot set up in the first place. Keep that in mind 🙂 Plus, with the demand for splitboarding gear being insanely popular the last few seasons, you will have no problem recouping some of the cost by selling the soft boot set up.
Bottom line – if you want to experience how efficient splitboarding can be, and still want to have that surfy feel on the way down, check out the Phantom Splitboarding set up.