There are an intimidating amount of backcountry bindings available on the market today. We geek out over the stuff so you don’t have to. Here are the three bindings we are selling this year, why we chose them and what type of skier will be happiest on them.
- Specs: (courtesy Blister Gear Review) DIN Releasable Toe and Heel 6 - 13, 886 grams per binding, lateral elasticity toe: 22 mm, vertical elasticity heel: 10 mm, Climbing Riser Angles: 2°, 9°
- Last season the Shift took the ski world by storm. Like many skiers who’ve been burned by first year releases we waited a year for others to test them out. The Shift has now officially been skied by the general public and been through the ringer - we're confident it's now tried and true. There were some durability issues with the first generation. But that's to be expected and based on what we've heard and our experience the newer models are more rugged.
Who is it for:
- The Shift is for resort skiers who are interested in making forays into ski touring. This binding is not as light, or as simple for backcountry specific use as the other bindings on this list. But it offers a binding that functions and feels just like a resort binding. This is an easy upgrade for those who plan to ski most days at the resort but want the option to go uphill. It’s an awesome piece of the modernization of bindings – everyone now has the ability to go up. You will need tech compatible boots to use the shifts on the uphill.
- The Shift seamlessly replaces an alpine binding so the possibilities are large here: Condor 108, Condor 116, Big Horns, Lupine Series, Prospect 120, Cleaver All-Mtn or Comp. If you’re thinking of the Wave or Lupine Tour consider one of the next two options.
- Specs: (Courtesy of Wildsnow) DIN Relesable Toe and Heel 5 - 12, 684 grams per binding, lateral elasticity toe: 17 mm, vertical elasticity heel: 10.5 mm, climbing aids 2°, 9°, 13° 684 grams per binding.
- While many were fawning over the Shift, this was the new binding that really caught our eye last season. As with the Shift, we waited a year and some small tweaks were made mid-season that alleviated some issues with the toe bumper. Now in its second year this backcountry specific binding skis just as well as the Shift but is lighter and easier to use for the backcountry focused skier.
Who it's for:
- The Tecton is for the backcountry skier who wants the vibration dampening and safety features of an alpine binding. A laterally releasable toe adds safety and elasticity not found in other tech bindings. This is a massive step forward in backcountry binding technology for two reasons: first, it allows for a DIN releasable toe that can safely eject your boot in twisting falls. Second, it allows for toe elasticity – when you ski an alpine binding the toe of your boot floats slightly moving with the binding as it absorbs forces from turns and impacts. The Tecton toe does this too – unlike any tech binding on the market aside from the shift which has to transform to achieve this. If you are new to tech bindings the Tecton is a great choice because the DIN releasable toe will create a much higher level of safety in twisting falls. This is also a big benefit if you’re a skier who wants to take in-bounds style aggression to the backcountry. Lastly, the Tecton will hold up just fine for a trip to the resort.
- What Skis?
- The Tectons are the perfect match for our Condor 108 – a backcountry ski that can handle hard charging and the resort. The Condor 98 with a Tecton is a strong mountaineering setup and a Tecton with the light for its width Condor 116 would be a great powder hounding setup. The Lupines match very well with this binding as well. The 92 for a lightweight or East Coast skier, the 100 as an all arounder, or the 108 for precipitous climates. Our ultralight skis the Wave and Lupine Tour are great choices as well. While the next binding on the list will save additional weight, the Tecton has the safety and feel advantages listed above. The Big Horn series is also an option here, with the lightweight Big Horn 96 making a particularly good BC option.
3. Salomon MTN
- Specs: 380 grams per ski (with brakes)
- A no-nonsense backcountry binding.
Who it's for:
- For the backcountry skier who wants a binding that is light, reliable and simple to use. This tech binding takes years of the Dynafit style design and improves on it. Switching between touring and ski mode requires a simple turn of the heal piece and there’s nothing else to worry about. We like that the mounting process is simpler than any dynafit we’ve ever worked with, and that the heal pieces come with different strength springs for heavier and lighter skiers. This is a tech binding at its simple and solid best. We also love the rando racing style transition that allows you to switch right into tour mode by flipping down the lowest climbing lever - it isn't preferable for flat touring but works great for lapping hills and provides the quickest transition we've tried.
- What Skis?
- The Wave, Lupine Tour, and Condor 98 are ultralight skis and are an obvious choices for this binding. For hard charging skiers comfortable with their tech setups the Condor 108 and 116 are great choices as well. The Lupine Series is already very light and with this binding become extremely capable backcountry tools.
Additional Reading: Blister Gear Review: Salomon Shift, Wildsnow: Tecton, Wildsnow: Salomon MTN
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