Fritschi Visit — Vipec 2014

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

This just in: Fritschi sent along a few notes about Vipec compatibility with different boots. Apparently some confusion exists as well as the not unknown issue (with other brands and model tech bindings) of certain boot toe shapes hitting the binding and opening it. In our view, main thing with this binding is if you mount it yourself you’d better know what you are doing, or if not, find a ski shop that actually does have some expertise. Note from Fritschi follows:

Vipex Compatibility with alpine touring boots — information direct from Fritschi (lightly edited)

——– Alpine touring boots according DIN/ISO 9523

The Diamir Vipec 12 is compatible with all alpine touring boots that conform to DIN/ISO 9523 and are also equipped with “pintech” tech inserts.

——— Alpine touring boots with sole shape that is NOT DIN/ISO 9523 (e.g., Scarpa Alien)

• For alpine touring boots with the front “pintech” inserts behind the normal position like Scarpa Alien, Dynafit TLT 6, etc. we recommend installing the “Color Clip High” as an interim solution in order to assure a proper frontal release.

As consequence the toe of such boots hits the “Color Clip High” in a different angle in the position “walk”. In climbing mode it might happen that in an extreme position (knee close to the ski), the “Easy Switch Toe” is pressed down by the boot from “walk” to “ski” mode and may open the binding. For the next season we will offer a definitive solution with an adapted Color Clip for these boots.

• Light weight alpine touring boots with an extreme rocker are only compatible if the sole does not touch the front unit of the binding when the boot is stepped in.

• Light weight alpine touring boots without metal ‘pintech’ inserts like La Sportiva Stratos Evo, etc. are not compatible with Vipec. (Editor’s note: Someone really tried to use a boot in a tech binding without the boot having tech inserts? Sheesh….).

Vipec began shipping in North America just a few days ago.

Vipec began shipping in North America just a few days ago.

During the winter of 1995/1996, Fritschi L.T.D Swiss Bindings helped launch the modern era of ski touring with their Titanal frame binding. This was one of the first bindings to combine lighter weight and user friendly design — yet still give the the appearance of an alpine binding replete with toe wings and an over-center step-in heel latch.

Early Fritschi bindings, FT88 to left, and Titanal.

Early Fritschi bindings, FT88 to left, and Titanal.

Fast forward 20 years or so. Fameless “Tech” bindings have been around longer than that, but it’s taken those decades for skiers to learn that a backcountry binding doesn’t have to look like an alpine binding to ski like an alpine binding. More, eliminate the frame and eliminate lifting the heel unit with each step; you gain an extraordinary amount of efficiency — energy savings that increase exponentially the more steps you make (because the more tired you are, the more important each calorie saved).

Fritschi building is at left.

Fritschi building is at left at bottom of photo, you can just make out the yellow Fritschi logo.

Sometimes going to the source of the river is always best. In this case, our font of elixir being the Fritschi facility in Reichenbach, Switzerland. If location has anything to do with innovation, these guys have it, with the high alps of the Berner Oberland rising from the valley like a mystic monarchy ruling over its congregation of alpinists.

Out of the congregation comes innovation. In this case, the Vipec binding — resulting from Fritschi taking four years to develop their own iteration of what is now the tech binding virtual standard for a frameless boot/binding interface.

First, nomenclature.

I’ve been speaking with various Europeans about what they’ree calling the tech type bindings. Turns out the word “tech” doesn’t roll off the tongue for some denizens of the new world order known as the EU — thus the term “pin” is also used to describe tech bindings. Of course we in North America call telemark bindings “pin bindings” so using the term for tech binding doesn’t work. So how about “pintech?” We’re experimenting with the term, so we’ll use “tech” and “pintech” interchangeably. At Fritschi they like the term “pintech.”

How about the name Vipec? According to the Fritschi boys, they scoured the planet for names they could apply to the new binding. But “everything is taken, trademarked, so we had to come up with as unique a name as possible. We combined the words ‘Virus,’ ‘Peak,’ and ‘Scenic’ to come up with ‘Vipec.’”

Fair enough.

What sets Vipec apart from all other current tech bindings is side (lateral) release totally at the toe.

What sets Vipec apart from all other current tech bindings is side (lateral) release totally at the toe. As shown here, the toe wings fold down to effectuate release. Before that happens, a sliding carriage moves side-to-side to provide elasticity on par with alpine bindings. Make no mistake, most tech bindings have lateral release elasticity, but Vipec takes it farther. That's good, because with no release lockout, elasticity is the only thing that will keep you in a ski binding when using normal release settings.

Overall design philosophy of the Vipec project is fairly obvious to the experienced eye. First, hearkening to all of Fritschi’s other ski bindings, they kept the side (lateral) safety release at the toe. I’m not convinced this makes the binding any safer than a conventional “pintech” configuration with release mostly at the heel, but it does have the important effect of making the binding feel rock solid when you apply power under the rear of your boot during a turn. More importantly for safety, having lateral release only at the toe possibly minimizes pre-release tendency arising from powerful heel thrusts during aggressive skiing, and thus allows the binding to be set at normal release values — most certainly a safety feature.

Carriage holding front 'pintech' boot pin pivots slides left and right to provide release and elasticity, while the upright tabs also fold down for safety release.

Carriage holding front 'pintech' boot pin pivots slides left and right to provide release and elasticity, while the upright tabs also fold down for safety release.

During testing, for me the Vipec backcountry skiing binding felt quite similar to an alpine binding in that way and was noticeably different than the normal tech binding feeling I’m used to. More, I set both heel and toe to a reasonable RV 7 and skied some rough conditions including blue ice on a typical European ski touring “toboggan run” approach trail. No problems staying in.

Other safety features:

– The ski brake appears beefy and functional, and the binding can be configured to run with no brake.

– Available crampon is easily attached and removed via a pin-catch system, and has a cool flip-up spacer that optimizes use with higher heel lifts.

We like the crampon. Snaps on and off easily, has height adjustment.

We like the crampon. Snaps on and off easily, has height adjustment.

Crampon installed.

Crampon installed.

Installing crampon. You squeeze triggers with your fingers then snap the pins into place.

Installing crampon. You squeeze triggers with your fingers then snap the pins into place. Width of the crampon is not critical, so long as it fits over your ski. Thus, they don't have to make a lot of sizes.

– Perhaps the most important safety aspect of Vipec is that it does NOT have a release lockout. (Those of you who extreme ski on “pintech” bindings and like the lateral release lockout should note that while Vipec won’t lock, you can dial up the RV to 12 and essentially lock out release 100 percent unless you’re a giant.)

Vipec toe in walk mode. The small white plastic tab drops into a slot, thus blocking play in the toe; it is not a lock, the binding will still release.

Vipec toe in walk mode. The small white plastic tab drops into a slot, thus blocking play in the toe; it is not a lock, the binding will still release.

This brings us to clarification of just what the front lever on the Vipec binding does, since it appears to be the same thing as other tech bindings — it is not. The lever has three positions. Pressed down with ski pole, it opens the toe jaws/wings for binding entry — as with most other tech bindings. Once you’re in, the lever automatically attains its downhill skiing position. Again, similar to other tech bindings; only in this case many skiers will be able to tour with the binding toe in the downhill skiing position, thus having the holy grail of safety release in touring mode (for example, if you’re caught in an avalanche while climbing.)

When the binding is open for entry or in downhill mode, the slots are open as well, thus allowing elasticity of the carriage holding the toe wings.

When the binding is open for entry or in downhill mode, the slots are open as well, thus allowing elasticity of the carriage holding the toe wings.

What you’ll notice while touring with the toe in downhill mode is you get quite a bit of side play due to the binding’s elasticity and tolerances. While I did’nt find this to be a problem in testing, Fritschi told me that this movement can influence kick turns and compromise traversing. So they put in a third mode for the toe lever that blocks out most elasticity and side movement (as well as preventing bumping of the boot toe from easily releasing the binding. Safety release is the same (I tested) but you don’t get much play.

Color Clips for Vipec toe. Black one to right is designed to compensate for unusual boot toe shapes, yellow to left is cosmetic and can be left off.

Color Clips for Vipec toe. Black one to right is designed to compensate for unusual boot toe shapes, yellow to left is cosmetic and can be left off.

Along with all the above, Vipec comes with two different plastic covers for the toe lever. One is standard and only cosmetic, while another is intended for boots with toes that can bump into the lever and release you out of the binding accidentally during kick turns. They call these add-on bits of plastic “color clips” since they’re available in different colors so you can personalize your bindings.

Compensation for boot tech fitting is done by rotating threaded "pintech" pin in binding. While Scarpa uses standard Dynafit fittings and thus usually will not require adjustment, other brands who make their own fittings may.

Compensation for boot tech fitting is done by rotating threaded "pintech" pin in binding. While Scarpa uses standard Dynafit fittings and thus usually will not require adjustment, other brands who make their own fittings may need this tweak. Getting it right requires testing the boot for play, release, and ease of entry and exit. Fritschi says that 80 percent of the boots out there will NOT need this tweak. The standard dimension is set at the factory.

Next in line for important Vipec features is the boot toe tech fitting compensation. Of any part of the binding, this has the most potential for confusion — if not abuse. You’ll notice that one of the toe pins on the binding toe wings is threaded and adjustable, with a lock nut on the inside and screwdriver slot on the outside.

While mounting the binding, you must snug up the lock nut on the boot compensation adjustment gently.

While mounting the binding, you must snug up the lock nut on the boot compensation adjustment gently. We like this feature, but it does have the potential to muck up the do-it-yourself binding mount. Know that this sort of thing would be unnecessary if the industry would get their act together and make a standard for 'pintech' boot fittings. Word I hear is don't look for this to happen anytime soon--too much politics.

Boot fitting compensation is adjusted at factory to the defacto standard.

Boot fitting compensation is adjusted at factory to the defacto standard.

The idea here is that most (Fritschi says 80%) brands and models of boots have accurately standardized toe fittings, yet some do not. For the 80% the Fritschi factory settings will work, but the adjustable fitting can be moved up to 1.2 mm to compensate for non standard boot fittings. Important factoid here is that the lock nut on the adjustable pin should be snugged up during the binding mount process after the boot is function tested and verifies that everything is working correctly. If the boot tends to rattle in the fittings, or the binding doesn’t open or close correctly, then adjustment may be required.

So called 'forward pressure in pintech bindings is designed to compensate for ski flex.

So called forward pressure in pintech bindings is designed to compensate for ski flex.

Ok, next on the agenda: “Forward Pressure,” the tech binding feature of 2014 that rivals carbon fiber in esoteric desire. A solution or a non-issue depending on who you are and how you ski, “forward pressure” systems appear to be here to stay. In the case of Vipec you adjust the heel unit with a very small gap between boot heel and binding — there is no big gap as with many other “pintech” bindings. The binding includes an indicator that tells you when adjustment is done correctly (slight movement of a black plastic part “flags” your adjustment) — overall the adjustment is easy. Mainly, avoid the temptation to screw more forward pressure into the system under the mistaken impression that this will somehow make the binding perform better — or in the case of being incredibly tech ignorant, somehow actually improve your skiing.

Another Vipec feature is you can honestly switch between downhill and uphill modes without removing your foot from the binding. This can indeed be nice, and tested well for us during a ski tour here in Schweiz. It’s a simple matter of moving a lever up and down. Speaking of which, all the ski pole actuated levers on the Vipec heel expect a fairly rigid pole basket or pole grip with a small “hooked” configuration. My pole with a soft plastic powder basket and straight grip did not work all that well, though I was able to get things done when necessary by simply trying a little harder — or reaching down with my hand.

I’d give Vipec medium marks for ease of use. While flipping the heel lifers is intuitive and changing modes is also easy, getting your boot toe to latch in can be hard due to how the Vipec closure trigger works and the absence of any sort of boot positioning feedback. In other words, in this respect we’re back to early tech bindings that require the user to click-in with care. Definitely not “step in.” Saving grace is that you could conceivably click into Vipec once in the morning and leave them on all day since mode changes are so easy. Another thing I should mention regarding easy use is all normal adjustments can be done with a pozi #3 screwdriver bit, thus helping simplify the rather extensive tool kits some of us Boy Scout types have been carrying.

My conclusions after extensive technical orientation re Vipec, as well as skiing it? First, in a humorous vein it’ll be interesting to watch how quickly the country of Switzerland changes over to using a pintech binding now that their national brand provides one. Prior, it’s been amusing to see how nearly all bindings in countries such as Italy and Austria are tech, then you’ll do a tour in Switzerland and you might not even see a pintech binding — everyone will be using Fritschi frame bindings.

Serously, my impressons with Vipec are it 1.) Provides a very alpine-like feel due to the solid heel unit and 2.) May be quite safe for leg protection due to the side release at to having significant elasticity. Beyond those things, biggest differences from most other “pintech” bindings: Easy change modes without removing skis, and no release lockout uphill or down.

Four years, 27 technical prototypes, 52 molds. It all shows in what appears to be a highly engineered machine. Again, garage binding builders move over. Another big kid is in town. His name is Vipec.

Kit for running with no brakes. Black plastic screws on where brake usually mounts.

Kit for running with no brakes. Black plastic screws on where brake usually mounts. Note that changing brake arm widths only involves swapping the actual arms, not the total ski brake. Hopefully that'll make running different widths of brakes cost less and be easier for consumers.

And yes Virginia, we went out and skied the Vipec.

And yes Virginia, we went out and skied the Vipec.

Please see our previous Vipec articles.

Shop for Vipec backcountry skiing binding.

Comments

71 Responses to “Fritschi Visit — Vipec 2014”

  1. Hans January 9th, 2014 4:00 am

    Fameless “Tech” bindings …
    some frame had fame :-)

  2. Billy Balz January 9th, 2014 5:35 am

    Lou, do you know or could you guess what the RVs are for the Dynafit speed and FT toe pieces in ski mode?

  3. louis dawson January 9th, 2014 6:25 am

    Hans, am I still jet lagged?

  4. louis dawson January 9th, 2014 6:27 am

    Billy I don’t understand what you ask

  5. Gentle Sasquatch January 9th, 2014 6:33 am

    I like “pintech” – it sticks rather well. I have already started using it. Nice review/overview Lou. I’m probably picking up my pair today. Looking forward to testing it. All I need is snow. No big deal in boilerplate New England ;-) sigh…

  6. ptor January 9th, 2014 6:46 am

    You’re gonna hear from the International Union of Bowling Lane Technicians regarding the use of ‘pintech’!!!

  7. Billy Balz January 9th, 2014 7:12 am

    Hi Lou, I’m just trying to understand about what level RV the toes in the Speeds and FTs is fixed at in ski mode. For instance, Vipec is adjustable from 5-12 in the toe, whereas Dynafits are set at some pre-determined “RV” based on spring strength. So I’m trying to figure out what those mysterious values really are, I had some pre-release issues on the Speeds in really sketchy conditions (still not sure if it was heel or toe and to be honest, I used the new heel gap adjuster and set it incorrectly), so wondering if the toes of the FT or Vipec would hold better…thus the question about RVs for said binders. Thanks and sorry for my ignorance.

  8. Pablo January 9th, 2014 7:33 am

    Hi Lou,
    I’ve just skied on the vipecs yesterday.
    I leaved a comment on your “Diamir Vipec 12 — New Fritschi Tech Binding” post about some issues I’ve found using it.

    Have you got any issue pairing the vipec with the TLT6?

    Thanks for this review, very interesting, as always!

  9. Oscar January 9th, 2014 7:33 am

    One thing I’m concerned about with the touring mode of this binding is that it isn’t locked out. I have sometimes forgot to lock the toe of my dynafits prior to skinning, and every time I stepped out of the binding sooner or later. Or do the tour mode of the vipec somehow increase the release values, so that it could still release in an avy, while still holding your boot firmly in place while having to punch out “steps” for your skis on icy traverses?

  10. Gentle Sasquatch January 9th, 2014 7:34 am

    ha. you made me google Pintech. Found a bunch of cymbals: http://pintechworld.com/

  11. Eric Steig January 9th, 2014 7:50 am

    Those few folks playing around with the “Telemark Tech System” will get excited about the toe release on the Vipec. Take the Vipec toe, add a heel cable, and you have a light, releasable, sweet-touring telemark system. I wonder if Fritschi will be willing to sell toe units alone.

  12. Lou Dawson January 9th, 2014 7:52 am

    Billy, there is simply no comparison the bindings work in entirely different ways. And, if you have trouble staying in a conventional “pintech” binding without locking it, I’d indeed suggest trying something different. Lou

  13. Lou Dawson January 9th, 2014 7:54 am

    Oscar, as far as I could tell in testing, coming out while touring is not going to be a problem. But then, that’s just me. Lou

  14. Gentle Sasquatch January 9th, 2014 8:15 am

    Eric,

    What’s the heel cable for? Would you even need it to tele?

  15. Gentle Sasquatch January 9th, 2014 9:01 am

    answering my own question – probably side support is needed for the torque during turns but a ‘cable’ is probably too flexible. Perhaps the word cable is used loosely to depict the wire with the tubes (sorry for my lack of proficiency in tele tech terminology)

  16. BCP January 9th, 2014 10:41 am

    @-Gentle Sasquatch: the cables (tubes, springs,etc) on a telemark tech system provide the tension in the system. If you tried to make telemark turns using just the tech toe piece, you would have no pressure being transfered to the ski.

  17. Greg Louie January 9th, 2014 10:53 am

    Still think “Pintech” is overkill and will not attain general usage status this side of the Atlantic – must they put schlag on everything?

    It’s hard to imagine when I’d want my ski to detach by having the boot contact the toe lever – I’ve always gone to lengths to assure this won’t happen (grinding toes of several boots) as it’s usually when you’ve just lost traction and smashed your knee into the ski topsheet and don’t want the ski flying off down the hill.

    Lou, did they show you the block that replaces the brake if you choose to go brakeless?

  18. Charlie Hagedorn January 9th, 2014 11:42 am

    Like the pintech term. Retains the TLT heritage, but is descriptive ,”those bindings with the pin things”.

    Lots of crenulated plastic to catch snow – any thoughts on the more-industrial shapes?

    Big fan of the horizontal toe elasticity. Played with one at NSAW, and was impressed.

    As with the G3, presumably the bolt pattern is entirely novel and incompatible with everything? Does it match other Fritschis?

    Does Fritschi provide release torque-testing specs to go alongside the adjustable toe-pin spacing?

    Thoughts on whether or not the adjustable toe pin will stay tight? Getting rid of adjustable pins is one of the few important changes from the original TLT design.

    Re: click in once, stay clicked in all day – how often do you reapply skins with your skis on? I’ve never seen it done in the backcountry, though I’ve tried it at home.

  19. DP January 9th, 2014 11:43 am

    Telemark is not a necessity… it is a choice leading to glory and exaltation ;-)

    I hope to see some development with this and TTS

  20. Tom Gos January 9th, 2014 11:56 am

    Lou, I’m curious how the Swiss pronounce the name of this binding – vee-peck, v-eye-peck. etc.

    It looks like a winner to me. If I were shopping for new bindings this winter this would be my first choice.

  21. Dirk January 9th, 2014 12:42 pm

    “We combined the words ‘Virus,’ ‘Peak,’ and ‘Scenic’ to come up with ‘Vipec.’” Are you making that up Lou? Using those words, how bout next years model model be the “PeEniUs”

  22. OMR January 9th, 2014 12:54 pm

    Real men learned to ski on 3-pins, no cable or tension required. But I’m old and still own a VCR.

    Thanks for the review Lou; think I’ll stick with my Speed Radicals for now. Even with there pin issues they’re still a great binding.

  23. louis dawson January 9th, 2014 1:39 pm

    Tom, they pronounce it with a soft VW and eye peck.

  24. louis dawson January 9th, 2014 2:37 pm

    Greg, I guess I was unclear, the toe lever option is indeed to prevent accidental release. Andyes they had the brake block, it looked fine. I’ll publish photo when I have better connection. Lou

  25. Greg Louie January 9th, 2014 3:04 pm

    Got it, Lou – it looked like the black toe lever insert with the raised area would amplify problems with toe-lever autoeject rather than eliminate them, but I never actually installed one, just conjecture after pivoting a Scarpa Maestrale in the Vipec toe and looking at it . . .

  26. David B January 9th, 2014 4:05 pm

    Thanks Lou, great review.

    I like this. I own several earlier version Fritschi frame bindings as a tech set up was way too expensive in my neck of the woods for many years. This is slowly changing and people are catching on. I’ve always been impressed with Fritschi’s quality and the Vipec appears to maintain that high level of craftsmanship.

    Whilst other may disagree, the ability to release the heel on the fly is handy. Any chance of a bit on the heel functionality as well Lou?

    Might be time to retire the radicals.

  27. Henrik January 9th, 2014 4:25 pm

    It would be interesting to compare the mounting hole pattern between Dynafit Radical / Speed Radical and Diamir Vipec. Will it be possible to switch from Dynafits to Vipec without problem? Or will the mounting holes overlap, forcing the bindings to be moved forward / backwards.

    Did you feel that the increased stand height affected the “feeling” during the descents? The boots sits taller than on a Marker Duke and all other tech bindings except G3 Ion I believe?

    Thanks for a great review Lou!

  28. kyle tyler January 9th, 2014 6:39 pm

    sounds like you guys are trying to land a plane on a aircraft carrier some where in the south pacific

  29. Joe K January 9th, 2014 7:08 pm

    Well at least their website is quite pretty :)

    I haven’t seen the range of BSL that these can accommodate. Anybody know? I’m intrigued, but it’d be a bummer if it couldn’t handle beef boots with DIN soles along with a shorter TLT6 class boot on the same mount.

  30. John Ellsworth January 9th, 2014 10:19 pm

    Lou,
    How easy was it to adjust the toe release with the adjustment screw location on the inside?

  31. Lou Dawson January 9th, 2014 10:21 pm

    Greg, it has some tricky geometry to defend against the boot toe opening the binding.

    Joe, the bindings I worked with in previous reviews had plenty of range. I’m sure if you were careful how you mounted they could easily accommodate both DIN and TLT6 type boots in the same internal size.

    All, yes, the static level is high right now due to poor web connection. Like landing an airplane in the fog with no instruments (grin).

    Lou

  32. dmr January 10th, 2014 2:14 am

    A couple of quick points/comments:

    1) Lou wrote, “in this case many skiers will be able to tour with the binding toe in the downhill skiing position, thus having the holy grail of safety release in touring mode (for example, if you’re caught in an avalanche while climbing.)”

    To provide one data point of information, I ski on the classic TLT Speed and have had the to release, in lockout mode, when I feel skinning uphill. I was doing my best to cross a steep stream in the spring, and long story short I fell, torqued my uphill ski pretty hard and the ski popped off just fine, no knee or leg injury, just a few scrapes on my arms. (I’m 5’3″, 140lbs guy). Had the leashes on so ski stayed with me. Leads me to believe that in an avalanche the skis would come off.

    2) TLT Speed RV for the front piece: I’ve by a couple local shops and one engineer that the RV for a Dynafit front piece is 7 for a 75kg individual.

    3) If anyone cares, in France “inserts” is the generic term now for tech bindings (fixation à inserts), and the Vipec is pronounced “Vee-peck”.

  33. Lenka K. January 10th, 2014 6:00 am

    @dmr 1)

    This is my impression too. If you get avalanched, the snow is going to push down the front lever and the ski comes off pretty quickly, I’d say. But perhaps Lou has anecdotal evidence of people getting avalanched while skinning with their Dynafits and the skis staying on?

    In any case, there are lots of people around who believe this to be a problem and now have a binding that addresses it. And I know a bunch of people who refused to buy Dynafit because it is not “TÜV-certified” and are now raving about the Vipec. Well, apart from the fact that it’s a SWISS PRODUCT :) . But that’s another story that Lou has already hinted at in his post.

    Lenka K.

  34. Pablo January 10th, 2014 7:25 am

    @Lenka K
    If you get avalanched, the snow is going to push down the front lever, or not.
    Why the flooding snow of an avalanche is going to push that lever??

    The snow flows and enter in every small gap avalaible, so its over the lever and below the lever. This made almost imposible to the lever to be pushed down by the snow.

    Its, more realistic to think that maybe yo hit the lever with tue other ski when you are tumbling in the avalanche.

  35. corey January 10th, 2014 7:36 am

    Any word on the mounting hole pattern? Is it unique to just the vipec? Or comply with some existing mount pattern. Thanks!

  36. Bill Balz January 10th, 2014 7:36 am

    @DMR – thanks…do you have any idea what the RV is on a Dynafit FT toe piece?

  37. dmr January 10th, 2014 8:16 am

    1) I’d first like to apologize for the poor spelling, typos, left out words, and in general poor reread of my post above. It’s “toE release,” and not “to release,” , and I “fell skinning,” not “feel skinning.”

    2) @Bill, it was my understanding that the value was for all Dynafit toe pieces, but the topic of discussion was the TLT Speed and tech racing bindings in general. I just extrapolated on my own to the other toe pieces in the Dynafit TLT binding range.

    3) Lou thanks for the thorough review.

  38. Adam Olson January 10th, 2014 3:43 pm

    Lou,
    Great review. I’m sold where do I get a pair? Seriously……..

    I read one of the comments here where someone took an unexpected spill do to unexpected Dynafit release, and read a crazy editorial today in the Aspen Times (I think it was the times) telling in print, about there spill in Highlands Bowl due to an unexpected Dynafit release. The author said straight out “do not use these to go downhill in steep terrain’.

    Crazy, but it seems every Dyna Fit post lately has some story of somebody getting slammed by an unexpected release. WTF………..had a bad time last week in Harris’ myself, could just slam the tail down on the powder and the binding would release. Please tell me what I am doing wrong? It comes off with moderate effort and I am just standing there slapping the tail. Think of a cornice drop kind if kick…….

    Sincerely,

    Stupid bindings… :(

  39. Andy M January 10th, 2014 4:53 pm

    Adam, there’s tons of websites stocking them now. MSRP appears to be $600 but I found a couple spots selling them for $560.

  40. Ed R January 11th, 2014 1:04 am

    Two days on my Vipecs so far, after demoing Dynafit Radicals three days. My first pintech boot the TLT6. My thoughts:
    1. After years with the ease of Fritschi frame bindings, the fussy Dynafit “hold the useless ski brake up to spin the heel” thing along with no on-the-fly switch to walk mode (use it all the time) made them unappealing to me.
    2. The heel works great on the new Vipecs and the brake extends below the ski the same as my Fritschi frames.
    3. Getting in the toe has been tricky, I’ve had no experience other than those three days on the Dynafit. I’m developing a method. I get the toe lever all the way down with the tip of my pole and leave the pole tip there. I slide one side of my boot toe onto the pin and rotate my boot onto the wire loop until the binding activates. If it clamps shut in the wrong place, usually a light push with the pole opens the clamp and allows readjustment.
    4. After first run on Wed, I looked down to see the adjustable pin backed way off while climbing for another run. It fell right off when I released the toe. Luckily I found it in the light pow. This one had no threadlock, whereas the binding on my other ski had some blue in the pin threads. My take is do not rely on the lock nut to keep the pin from backing out. Make sure both threaded pins are adjusted with locktite in place (blue or red?) to keep the setting constant. Be aware that the pin has VERY fine threads and the wing itself is aluminum. Carry replacement and tools.
    5. My dealer just returned from an industry show and believes that the toe lever option is there “so that” a full release from the ski is effected in a heel release in ski mode. Lou, have you tested for a straight forward release at the toe (ie no twisting) from both walk mode and ski mode? With the highrise option the boot toe easily pops the lever from walk to ski to release. Without it, I have not been able to hit the system hard enough to make it release. I’m aware of the trade-off between full release in ski mode and not releasing if you slip while skinning and don’t think it is fully addressed here.

  41. Adam Olson January 11th, 2014 9:07 am

    thanks Andy and Ed.

  42. Harry January 11th, 2014 10:31 am

    Just torqued my Vipecs. First impression on the bench was that the toe release was sooth and produced consistent results at the higher end of the acceptable range for the setting.

    The heel tested within norm for an alpine heel as well, while producing consistent results.

    Super easy to install and set up. I double checked my jam nut. I recommend checking your own jam nut after you have it installed.

    The RV in the toe seemed to increase 20 to 30% on my Vermont Ski Safety torque tester when switched from ski to walk.

  43. Ed R January 11th, 2014 11:45 pm

    I toured today with the high-rise option on the toe lever. No No, that doesn’t work!! Couldn’t break out a kick turn in deep snow without the ski dropping right off! If I stride too far the boot toe hits hard enough to drop the lever from walk to ski mode. In either mode, I cannot effect release either by rotating vertically forward till my knee hits the ski or by rotating my heel horizontally (pivoting at the toe). There seems to be some elasticity on the latter but no release. I can kick my toe out, in either mode. I checked out Diamirs website and finally got the translater to put it in english but it was of little help in figuring their intent on these options. A small instruction sheet was included with the optional pieces but it is ambiguous on this issue. It refers to a service manual that hopefully will be arriving soon at US dealers..

  44. Harry January 12th, 2014 7:46 am

    We received the service manual with our shipment. It seems like it was written in German and run through google translate w/o any editing afterwards.

    That being said we had no trouble with the mounting and adjustment, though following the steps in the correct order and not jumping ahead helped greatly.

    We tried it with 3 Scarpa, 2 Dynafit, and 2 BD boots, all with 300mm to 310mm boot sole lengths. Only one required adjustment of the pin, an older BD Prime.

    Noen required the use of the higher toe clip to initiate release using the recommended test. Out speculation is that it would be needed on small boots, boots with very low profile toe heights, or a combination thereof. We might be wrong.

    We havn’t encountered any issues with engagement of the brakes yet, but all the boots with tested with were new or without significant wear on the sole.

    The test and adjustment of the pin was straightforward and requires no special tools, just following the directions.

    Due to heavy rains I don’t think I will get out of the binding until Tuesday to actually ski it, and even then it will be at the resort as its all dirt here now.

  45. Mark January 12th, 2014 10:42 pm

    Good for Fritschi! Have always liked the plate bindings, but can’t take the weight. Vipec will undoubtedly be seen throughout the land of Switzerland soon enough.

  46. Lou Dawson January 13th, 2014 2:22 am

    Fritschi sent out a white paper about Vipec boot compatibility. I just added to this post, near the beginning. Lou

  47. Scott January 13th, 2014 2:52 pm

    Hi Lou -

    Thanks for all the new Tech info! Love it.

    You might not have time on your trip, but can you explain further (maybe with sketch) on the how toe of the TLT6 could hit the binding and release it? The raised ‘hump’ on the black clip looks like it would actually make matters worse, by allowing the toe to hit the front lever sooner.

  48. Charlie Hagedorn January 13th, 2014 3:01 pm

    Discouraging to see Fritschi try to force boot toes to match the AT DIN standard. IF you only ski Dynafit/pintech bindings, that extra toe material is useless. A pintech standard is the right way to go, not a merged standard.

    Climbing/scrambling was far more dextrous with TLT4s than ZZeros and ONEs.

  49. Joe K January 13th, 2014 3:47 pm

    Are there any paper templates (pdf) floating around for these yet?

  50. louis dawson January 14th, 2014 12:52 am

    Scott, it’s all about what angle the boot hits at, not just it hitting.

  51. Lou Dawson January 14th, 2014 3:43 am

    Someone asked about available parts for running with no brakes. I added a photo at the bottom of the post showing available safety strap and heel block system for use if brakes are removed. Lou

  52. Greg Louie January 14th, 2014 8:39 am

    I found out yesterday that the Vipec toe lever with “safety” black insert in place will crush two indents in the toe of a Vulcan boot before pushing the lever out of tour position. Fixable with some heat, but a little surprising . . .

  53. Lou Dawson January 14th, 2014 10:12 am

    Greg, I’m with you, I’m finding it a bit odd that they didn’t test the binding with a few common boots. On the other hand, it’s possible that due to their corporate culture the Fritschi folks only paid attention to boots with DIN/ISO shape of toe, and figured they’d just not worry about non standard boots. That of course is probably not the best way to sell bindings. Solution is easy as they can just make some different ‘color clips’ that work with different boots. Or yeah, you can mold your boot toe. Lou

  54. Joe K January 14th, 2014 2:11 pm

    “Hopefully that’ll make running different widths of brakes cost less…”

    Only if $79.95 counts as “cost less” (BD website).

    All these parts, clips, etc are currently unavailable anyways.

    On a different note. Be careful if you’re playing around with these unmounted. It’s pretty easy to inadvertently disassemble the whole toe piece. Did it this morning.

  55. Joe K January 14th, 2014 2:14 pm

    And how about $39.95 for the color clips? Yikes, must be some fine imported plastic.

  56. SurreyHighlander January 19th, 2014 9:31 am

    Lou,
    As the “proud” owner of some Garmont Cosmos, I read with interest your review of the insert issue that they had with dynafit bindings, and whilst modifying the boot is an option I wonder if toe release capability of the Vipec’s will actually be a positive thing for these boots. I reckon it might, but would be interested in your thoughts.

  57. Gary January 20th, 2014 3:24 pm

    I don’t understand which boots do and don’t work with this binding. Will Scarpa Maestrale RS work?

  58. Lee Lau January 20th, 2014 3:42 pm

    Gary

    Yes

  59. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2014 3:43 pm

    Gary, any boot with tech fittings. You’re over thinking it.

    Surrey, yes, I’d say you’ll probably be able to get original Cosmos working fine due to both the toe pin width adjustment as well as the way the Vipec does safety release (toe wing folding open). Get ‘em and test on the bench.

    Lou

  60. Gentle Sasquatch February 8th, 2014 11:51 am

    So. I have just completed my first tour with the Vipec. Wow. What a great binding. I have nothing but praise and one concern. :-) Let me praise first.

    Getting into the toe pins is just as easy as into any other pintech binding I own (plum,dynafit,lasportiva). Nice touch with the ski/walk label automatically appearing when handling the front lever.

    Sliding the heel pins out of the way to tour was easily done with the grip end of my ski pole (BD). Actually the grip end of the ski pole seems to be ideal also for flipping the elevators in and out of the way during touring. The shape of the rear part of the elevator seems to complement the shape of my ski pole handle as if by design. I was also able to slide the heel piece back into ski mode easily with my ski pole.

    Here is one observation that I am concerned about:

    If I pull the heel piece all the way back into tour mode, it locks the ski brake in an upward position to be out of the way during the tour. Good. However, if decide to get out of the toe to remove my skins or for any other reason, I really have to be aware to slide the heel piece in to reengage the brake. If I don’t do that I risk the ski running away from me and nothing is going to stop it because the brake is locked out of the way.

  61. ph March 18th, 2014 2:58 pm

    Vipec wth high-rise plastic toe piece appears to be necessary and work as intended with La Sportiva Spectre boot. Prevents accidental release in walk mode if boot rotates too far forward and when in ski mode opens binding if boot rotates all the way forward.

  62. Joe K March 20th, 2014 12:24 am

    My experience is the same as others, with the high rise clip and TLT6′s I can’t stay in “walk” mode at all, even on pretty mellow terrain. “Interim solution” is inadequate. Boot interface (both pins and toe area) really is the achilles heel of this binding.

  63. Ed Mannix March 26th, 2014 1:42 pm

    Having skied/climbed Vipecs intensively for over three weeks on a pair of Movement Responses (very nice!), I think I’ve now got the measure of what, on-paper, appears to be a pretty ideal tour/freeride binding.
    1) I understand that getting into the bindings is causing problems for almost everyone and whilst there is a knack to it (keep your heel as low as possible), it’s far from easy and after a lot of practice, I estimate that my average “hit rate” is still no better than 1 in 4 which compares badly with modern Dinafits where I can expect success on the first attempt, most of the time. In any case, the indelible pen marks indicating the exact position of the the pin-holes on my Scarpa Maestrales have beena useful aid.
    2) Getting out of the bindings is no easier than getting into them. The technique that I have developed to release the toes of my boots involves inserting a ski pole into the appropriate “pan” on the front binding’s lever, leaning on it very hard and wiggling my foot around and even then……. . If you apply the gentle pressure needed to release the toe on a Dynafit, you’ll get nowhere so a certain amount of force and determination is required although as I discovered just this afternoon, caution must be exercised as too much force can result in the front lever breaking off!
    I have tried to ascertain the cause of this major inconvenience (there are times when you need to get out of your bindings reasonably quickly) and whilst I have heard that in some cases, micro-adjustment of the rear binding’s position can help a little, my own conclusion is that ice is the culprit. In the confort of a workshop, the release seems to work reliably but once snow has been forced into the front of the binding, as happens when skiing, the problem is all too evident.
    3) Although the ski brakes appear solid and work admirably in the warmth of a workshop, a short spell in the cold renders them unreliable as they stay blocked in the up position once the binding has released in case of a fall or more usually, after I have finally managed to get the skis off my feet (NB – this has nothing to do with the system that locks the brakes up in walk mode which works well).
    4) Whilst the concept of the dedicated ski crampons for these bindings is well developed, attaching them is a very fiddly affair which is impossible with gloves on. It is sometimes difficult to locate the sprung pins in the right spot. Also, and of less importance, there is no hole on the crampons large enough to insert a carabiner (even the light-weight Pezl ones) so facilitating attachement to a harness in readiness for use.
    Finally, I’d like to thank Martin Julen at Julen Sport in Zermatt for his assistance, good humour and openness is trying to resolve the issues encountered.

  64. Adam March 26th, 2014 2:58 pm

    Has anyone tried these with Scarpa TX Pro’s or any other NTN boot with tech fittings?

  65. Greg April 7th, 2014 10:04 am

    Does the elasticity of the binding affect the feel for skiing? What I’m really trying to get at is does it smooth out the harsh ride I hear about when skiing Dynafits on firm or icy snow? Does the elasticity somehow absorb some of that harshness? My knees complain when I ski hard snow even with frame bindings, I can only imagine how they will scream at me on Dynafits. I don’t want to buy a first year binding if I can avoid it, but I do love a couple features of the Vipec and if it is easier on the body, that would seal the deal for me. Thanks.

  66. Lou Dawson April 7th, 2014 5:11 pm

    Greg, the Vipec difference in elasticity (vs a conventional tech binding) is only sideways at the toe, it has nothing to do with the kind of vibration that would bother your knees. It’s just as solid as any other tech binding when it comes to transferring input from the snow to your feet (which is usually a positive thing). In fact, since the heel doesn’t rotate to the side, it’s actually more solid in terms of “heel thrust” forces than other types of tech bindings. I don’t think that would make it more harsh, but it certainly wouldn’t be any less harsh.

    If the slop and such in a binding is necessary to save your knees, I’d offer that perhaps it’s time for new ones. Knees that is.

    Lou

  67. Greg April 7th, 2014 6:50 pm

    Lou, you are correct it is almost time for new knees. Almost. For now I just need to focus on skiing more powder since it doesn’t hurt (and it’s more fun). Backcountry also doesn’t hurt as for me it is usually untracked soft snow, and on those rare occasions I get into firm frozen stuff I can just slow down so it doesn’t hurt. It is that firm stuff in resorts that hurts as I end up skiing too fast and getting lots of vertical.

    Usually I wouldn’t care how my bc skis/bindings do on frozen stuff ( see slowing down above) but I’ve got some trips coming up to Argentina and Canada where I will want to only take one ski to ski both resorts and backcountry.

    Is the Vipec ready for prime time yet? Meaning, would you buy it for yourself at this point or does it still need some serious refinement? Any big changes coming for the Vipec for next season? Or should I just set the skis up with Speed Radicals as they will mostly be used in the backcountry outside those few trips.

  68. Doug Heirich April 12th, 2014 9:18 pm

    I mounted up a set of vipers on my cooombacks this spring, here are my impressions:
    entry can be difficult if you go toe first ( I wasted twenty minutes one afternoon trying to get the ski back on) however there is a better way as shown in youtube video,, if you line up the heel end of the boot with the start of the heel pin receptacle first, then push the toe down the step-in feature works beautifully

    I’ve decided the easiest exit from the binding in ski mode is to pull the lever to move the heel piece to tour mode, then release the toe.

    I used medium loctite thread locker on the pin piece, no problems with it coming loose. I found the pin width setting as delivered from the factory did not fit my dynafit z-zeros properly, required adjustment
    Overall, a nice binding , works well with my coombacks, feels reassuring downhill, the elasticity feels more like an alpine downhill binding. . For traveling light, I use my other setup though, the plums on my TRocks are a little easier to use and a bit lighter uphill.

  69. Richard Elder April 13th, 2014 8:07 am

    Greg,
    If you want all the retention and compliance benefits of a real alpine binding AND the ability to tour with a pintec binding the CAST system made here in my home town is the only system that delivers both. It would be especially appropriate for traveling where you anticipate a mix of resort and touring and are limited to a one ski quiver.

  70. Frame April 14th, 2014 6:45 am

    Richard, I’ve pondered the CAST system. What do you reckon if they develop/produce a heel plate with the same easy swap system as the toe so you can go fully alpine binding or fully pintec or mix? Would make traveling to the mountains easier with one pair of ski’s and seems a bit easier to operate then mounting plates with flexibility to use as the system is now or as a pure touring set up on those type of days.

  71. Lou Dawson April 14th, 2014 7:19 am

    Richard and all, we mounted a CAST system recently and it’s out in the wild being used. I was impressed, though the mount required several sessions of fastener shopping and modification. It was not for the casual DIY. My take is that if you really really need an alpine binding on touring skis, or yes, want to configure your skis for resort skiing, it’s a nice system. But for most people it’s way way more than needed. While I don’t recommend pintech bindings for heavy resort skiing, it’s reality that literally hundreds of thousands of people all over the world using pintech bindings day-in and day-out for everything, and seem to have great success with doing so. Thus, before going to the complexity, weight and cost of something like CAST I’d think long and hard about if you really need it. Truly, it’s so much simpler just to have two pairs of skis. Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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