Outdoor Retailer 2017: Tech Bindings

tech bindings

New Fritschi Tecton (foreground) with alpine-style heel unit.

Tech bindings have evolved quickly over the past few years and the 2017 Outdoor Retailer (OR) show in Salt Lake offered a glimpse of the latest innovations on the tech binding front. Dynafit and Fritschi unveiled new AT tech bindings at OR, while G3 and Salomon continue to refine their offerings. Here’s quick overview:

DYNAFIT:

Dynafit ST ROTATION 10 TECH BINDING

Dynafit Radical ST Rotation 10

The brand that literally invented the tech binding introduces several new binding designs. One that builds on the current Radical 2.o and two new lightweight models.

Radical ST Rotation 10 – $649

The new Rotation 10 binding marks the next step in the evolution of the Radical 2.0 (read our Radical 2.0 binding review here). The new Rotation 10 version maintains the advances of the Radical 2 – 10mm of forward pressure and the rotating toe piece – and adds a few refinements. The toe piece is now spring-tensioned, so it auto-realigns to center making for a smoother entry experience. And the binding now integrates the heel unit into the baseplate, helping to strengthen and laterally stiffen the heel unit – think reduced heel play that has been present in Dynafit binding over the years. Finally, Dynafit updated a bunch of internal heel unit parts to aluminum, saving 50 grams in weight over the Radical 2.0.

Weight (each): 595 g including brake
DIN range: 5-10
Pivoting toe piece for absorbing lateral impacts
10mm dynamic forward pressure in heel

TLT Speed 12 / Speedfit 10

Dynafit Speed 12 tech binding

Dynafit SPEED 12

Perhaps more interesting to diehard Dynafit fans than the evolution of the Radical 2.0 is the introduction of  two lightweight tech bindings targeting what Dynafit sees as the uphill fitness skier (that’s as opposed to the more traditional ski touring customer). Regardless of who the customer is, I see the bindings as a nice evolution of the TLT Superlight and of interest to anyone influenced by the less-is-more approach to skiing.

The Speedfit 10 and Speed 12 are bare bones, lightweight tech bindings without engineering such as forward pressure or release value certification. The heel units are adjustable for side to side release but are fixed at a value of 8 for vertical release. They harken back to the simple tech binding days and are sure to appeal to the gram counters and fast-and-light skiers. They are a little less expensive than the more technical bindings, too.

Dynafit SPEED 12 – $499

Dynafit Speedfit 10 tech binding

Dynafit Speedfit 10

Weight (each): 285 g
Brakes are optional
Release value range: 6-12 side to side; Vertical release fixed at 8

Dynafit SPEEDFIT 10 – $449

The SPEEDFIT 10 is essentially the same design as the SPEED 12 but with more steel parts vs aluminum, hence the 25 g weight difference and a max release value of 10.

Weight (each): 310 g
Brakes are optional
Release value range: 5-10 side to side; Vertical release fixed at 8

FRITSCHI

The big news from Fritschi is the introduction of the Tecton binding featuring an alpine-style heel unit. The binding features the latest version of the Vipec toe and an all-new alpine heel unit. To fully appreciate the Tecton, you need to start with the toe, which comes from the new Vipec EVO binding and represents a nice set of refinements to earlier Vipec toes, all of which add up to smoother boot step in and releasability. Both the Tecton

Fritschi Tecton tech binding

Fritschi Tecton AT binding

and new Vipec Evo offer dynamic range in toe and heel movement in an effort to offer consistent release values. (The colored tabs in the picture are purely cosmetic offerings to match your skis, boots or whatever.)

Fritschi Tecton – $649

The Tecton is the newest edition to the Fritschi binding family and only the second AT binding to mix a tech toe and an alpine heel (Marker Kingpin is the other). The idea behind it is to offer a more secure attachment to the boot heel than the traditional tech heel pin design allows. You also get the advantage of a well-tested release adjustment

fritschi tecton tech binding

Tecton heel unit – Power Rails shown in red.

system. The Tecton includes a unique feature in the heel that Fritschi calls the “Power Rail,” where the heel interface actually includes raised features that interface with the boot heel’s tech fitting to complement the traditional clamp-down mechanism. Of course, it’s also worth noting that there is only a minor weight penalty (40-60 grams/per) for the alpine heel unit when compared to a fully featured tech binding like the Radical 2.0 or ION 12.

Weight (each): 550 g w/o brake; 630 g with brake
Release value range: 5-12
Dynamic tech toe with 3mm play on each side
Alpine style heel with 9mm dynamic range

Fritschi Vipec Evo – $599

Fritschi Vipec Evo tech binding

Fritschi Vipec Evo tech binding, new for 17/18

The Vipec binding debuted a few seasons ago and has seen some important refinement to address boot step-in convenience. The  16/17 model year (all black), resolved the step-in issues and related jaw adjustment concerns. The latest edition, the Vipec Evo, takes the all back edition and further refined the toe jaws, including the addition of a new toe stop and refinement of the toe release system. Together, these changes sets the Vipec onto a strong path for broader adoption.

Weight (each): 500 g w/o brake; 580 g with brake
Release value range: 5-12
Dynamic tech toe with 3mm play on each side
Pin-tech heel with forward pressure

G3 ION – $549

G3 ION tech binding

G3 ION tech binding

The G3 ION remains largely unchanged. In fact there are no real advertised changes. That said, the binding actually felt easier than ever to step into. There seemed to be more snap in the jaws and the boot/pin alignment just feels more dialed than the older edition that we have mounted on skis in our test fleet. When asked about the feel, G3 offered that while there are no significant changes, the tolerances during the manufacturing process are always seeing minor tweaks, and little adjustments can add up to tangible improvements in feel.

Weight (each): 585 g with brake
Release value range: 5-12
Forward pressure heel

Salomon MTN Pin Binding 

Salomon tech binding

Salomon MTN Pin tech binding

The Salomon MTN Pin binding debuted last season and returns for 17/18. It’s a bare bones, ultra-light binding (595 gram/pair!) akin to the Dynafit Superlight 2.0. Nothing fancy, just a nicely machined basic tech binding. It is somewhat unique in that the tour mode is not based on turning the heel unit. Instead, as you lock the brake in place, the heel is raised above the pins or you flip a heel riser and simply keep the boot from engaging in the pins. Of course, this means that you always have at least the low heel engaged. The MTN offers three release values based on which U-spring unit you choose for the heel –  regular, stiff or expert. There’s an optional brake available, too. Again, there’ nothing super new or special tech related about the Salomon. It’s a simple approach to light, functional tech bindings with no frills.

Salomon MTN pin tech binding

Salomon MTN pin tech binding

Weight (each): 298 g
Release value range: three options: regular/stiff/expert

Shop for tech bindings and support offpistemag

read more about:

Dynafit Radical 2
Fritschi Vipec
G3 ION
Marker Kingpin