Updates to the Light Rail
Since our test period, the Light Rail has seen some updates. There is a new base plate, which allows stance adjustments without having to remove the binding. The ankle straps have been redesigned to minimize pressure points, and the pivot bushing is wider, intended to provide more stability and durability. The latest Light Rail is pictured in the first photo, followed by the model we tested previously.
We're linking to the updated version while we're out testing the new model this winter. However, take note that the review below is our account of the previous version of this binding.
Hands-On Review of the Light Rail
While Voile invented splitboards, they were slow to jump into the splitboard binding game. While Karakoram and Spark R&D offer multiple models in varying price points, Voile just offers one version of this model, although they do offer it in multiple sizes and colors. The Voile Light Rail is one of the most affordable models in our review. It might be a good choice for a rental fleet where price is critical and it might also work for folks looking to have a second set-up to lend out to friends, but don't want to drop too much money on it. This model is also a decent call for residents of Utah who like to support products built in their state.
The forward lean adjuster is basically a normal snowboard forward lean adjuster and is the most difficult to adjust of any in our review quiver. Though it is adjustable, it requires more time and precision to change positions between downhill and touring mode. In addition, the range between maximum and minimum forward lean is the smallest in our review quiver. This model uses the standard Voile climbing bars, which work fine.
Despite using the standard pucks, this contender uses a touring bracket that is a different width. This means that the Light Rail is not backwards compatible with older Voile splitboards. If you only have one splitboard, this may not be a big deal, but the lack of compatibility does make it harder to share multiple splitboards or swap the bindings between boards.
At 4 lbs 3 oz, this model is the heaviest binding in our review. This added weight (that is attached to our feet when skinning) is especially significant, as it must be moved with every foot movement.
Along with the Spark Blaze, this model uses a slider pin to secure the binding into touring and riding modes. Unlike the Blaze, the Light Rail's slider pin is smaller, and secured with a latch that lives just under the front of the binding. This location is tight and can be difficult to reach with gloves on, making transitions a more challenging, especially when it is cold. The slider pin is secured with a wire to the binding; this is to prevent the pin from getting lost during transitions. The wire occasionally gets in the way of the pin moving freely and therefore must be adjusted.
Shredding downhill is fine with these bindings. Their heavy weight can contribute to a sluggish ride on a small or lightweight board, but this effect is minor on larger boards with heavier riders.
Straps, Lean, and Risers
The toe and ankle straps function well. However, the ratchets feed less smoothly and require a more precise entry of the ladders; releasing the ratchets can be done quickly with a well-aimed slapping motion. Overall, the buckles feel significantly less polished than the Burton ratchets that can be found on the Spark R&D Arc or Spark R&D Blaze.
The forward lean adjusters are the most difficult to use and offer the most limited range in our review quiver.
The climbing riser bars are the standard board mounted Voile climbing bars and they work well, serving their function.
These are the cheapest pair of splitboard bindings in our review. If price is the absolute most important criteria for you, this is your binding. However, for a few dollars more, the Spark R&D Blaze offers significantly reduced weight, an easier to use slider pin, and upgraded ratchets. Taking this into consideration, the Blaze is likely a superior value if quality and ease of use are part of your evaluation.
The Voile Light Rail is a reasonable option for budget-conscious folks looking to get into the splitboard game. It would be best for someone who uses the minimum forward lean when snowboarding so they don't need to touch the forward lean adjuster for touring (since that is a bit of a pain). This model does the job and is definitely an improvement over bolting slider plates onto a conventional snowboard binding.