At a Glance
The Jewel bindings from Slingshot are a women’s specific offering in their extensive boot range. Officially from the wakeboard line-up, we are now seeing much more of these products crossing over to kiteboarding, and with Karolina Winkowska’s seal of approval the Jewel bindings are clearly up for the job and tick the boxes for both wake and kite equally.
Slingshot has a long history in the wake industry, and as a result their boots and bindings are considered some of the best on the market. Style, comfort, construction, and fit and just a few areas where it is clear their knowledge and R&D excels.
The universal mounting system means the bindings are easy to fit to any board, and with just 2 screws either side it’s quick and easy to swap to between wake and kiteboards, or change back to footstraps for different conditions/riding style should you wish.
New for the 2014 model is a fresh closure system, simply pull the lace-up tab, secure it down, whack over the Velcro and you’re away. Gone are the days of fiddly laces, and continually having to make adjustments to get the right fit. When you’ve got a kite flying above you, and you’re trying to tie up a pair of shoes fixed to a plank below you, it’s these little things that make all the difference!
On the Water
Billed as an intermediate to advanced closed-toe boot, the Jewel is initially quite stiff and it did take a couple of sessions to get used to. I’d ridden boots with wakeboards before, but this was a new area for me on the kiteboard. It felt a little odd to begin with, as is always the case with something new, but it wasn’t long before I was absolutely loving the feeling that riding with boots gives, and regretted not trying them out sooner!
The bindings feature a low profile ‘bottomless base system’ to provide better foot-to-board feel, and it really does work to make you feel truly connected. This doesn’t mean that they’ve removed the internal comfy footbed and left you standing on hard plastic however, in fact quite the opposite. Heat-formable liners mould to the shape of your foot, and beneath them, as part of the multi-layer system, lays a triple density footbed, created with a technical combo of memory foam, orthotic foam and a gel base. All add a specific benefit to the boot when riding, such as aiding stability, helping to eliminate knee pain and absorbing shock on even the meatiest of landings.
It only takes a few sessions for the liners to mould to your feet (you can increase this by using a hairdryer if you want to, but we didn’t feel it was necessary), and for the boots to feel like a familiar friend. Slingshot’s Heel Hold-Down system works a treat, your ankle feels really supported and the boots are a nice and snug fit.
You really feel the benefits of bindings when building up to tricks, I noticed the energy I was transferring through the board increase, resulting in higher and more powerful jumps and it completely eradicated that fear of your foot coming loose or losing the board and landing one-footed mid-jump. The boots softened up following a couple of good sessions, as any footwear does, and I didn’t feel at all restricted in movement or flexibility when riding. Of course, there’s always the argument that riding in boots can bring about other issues and ailments, but that’s another kettle of fish and a debate for the pub.
The build quality on the Jewel is second to none, and even over an extended period of time; with a substantial amount of use in a hot country we didn’t notice any weak points or failings.
Designed specifically for women the Jewel bindings take into account the typically smaller, narrower female foot and ankle size and shape and provide an incredibly comfortable fit. Riding with them was awesome; having a much more connected feeling to the board improved both riding and confidence, and we liked the support that the stiffness in the boots gave. They look great, are super easy to get on/off, and were ace on the water. In summary, an all-round big thumbs up!
This review was in Issue 46 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Slingshot
By Mary BoothMary has been kitesurfing since 2006, she became and instructor in 2007 and travelled the world teaching the sport that she loves! She joined the IKSURFMAG team in 2008 and has been testing ladies kitesurfing equipment and writing articles from a woman's perspective ever since!