Backcountry Skiing Binding Alpine Mode Flex Tests — updated Late November 2010

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Fritschi binding heel 'feet.'

Fritschi binding heel 'feet.' Top is newer Freeride Pro, 69 mm wide. Bottom shows Freeride Plus at 55 mm.

Backcountry ski binding movement animation.
Animation above shows the type of movement this test is designed to evaluate, known to some as ‘rolling deflection.’ All bindings move and deflect during use, the Diamir shown above is average — it has about the same amount of movement as a good quality recreational alpine binding. Please note this test if for bindings and boots that are latched into downhill skiing mode. It does not test side play of binding in touring mode, though such play may be inferred from the tests to some degree.

Here at WildSnow HQ we test randonnee backcountry skiing bindings for how solid they attach your foot to the ski (as when the cuff of the boot is tilted/pushed from side to side, otherwise known as ‘rolling deflection’).

While rolling deflection is not as big a factor in downhill control as some people think, it still makes a difference in how the binding “feels,” and definitely affects how well bindings ski on hard snow or ice, especially if your skis tend to flutter or chatter, and you need a binding that doesn’t exacerbate that effect.

Disclaimer: These results are from our own form of testing and evaluation. Other tests may produce different results.

For this evaluation I use essentially the same test rig as in my preliminary test done a while back. With the general procedure the same as detailed here, though we’re now a bit more careful, and made sure our results repeat.

Backcountry skiing boot flex test rig.

Marker Tour F12 on the test bench. Our binding test rig looks funky because it is. A steel bar welded to a vertical shaft is buckled in to the boot. Tape is there to keep the bar from rotating out of perpendicular. Our results are easily repeatable so we feels this rig is perfectly adequate for comparing one binding to another in terms of how they ski. One might question the influence of boot flex. Yes, the boot does flex, but it flexes the same for each test and is thus normalized in the results. For extra fine scientific divisions in flex, a different rig would be required. Again, we don't feel that going to that effort is necessary. To the unititiated, it's surprising how much any binding flexes. Stick your binding and boot on a workbench, clamp down the ski, then flex the boot cuff from side to side. You may be surprised.

Results below use dashed lines as horizontal bar graph, each dash for one unit of deflection. A “unit” is simply arbitrary and only a basis for comparison, it is not a defined measure of weight or force. What I found fascinating is that the Freeride and heavy duty Naxo Nx21 (formerly known as the “Stomp”) were essentially equal to the Marker alpine binding, while the Dynafit was quite a bit more solid than anything but the Markers, even though it appears incredibly minimal. Our “units” are a fairly fine division of the flex, thus meaning both Marker models and Dynafit are essentially the same and easily fall within any error margin in our testing. Shows you what good design can do.

Marker F12 Tour (2010/2011 model)
—————— (18 unit deflection from vertical, slightly stiffer than Duke, probably due to better AT boot compatibility of toe jaws. We were delighted with these test results. Note we don’t see any reason the F10 model would test any differently, but nonetheless we’ll test it eventually.)

Marker Duke (2007/2008 model)
——————– (19 units deflection from vertical, during some test repeats Duke and Dynafit were virtually identical.*)

Dynafit (Vertical ST/FT and radical are equal in stiffness to other Dynafit models due to toe unit providing most of the holding power direct to boot)
——————– (20 units deflection from vertical)

G3 Onyx
——————— (21 units of deflection from vertical, virtually identical to Dynafit, a bit more noticeable movement in toe and heel units when boot is flexed lead to it being rated ever so slightly below Dynafit.)

Fritschi Freeride Pro (2009 model, white, heel foot is 69 mm wide, 14 mm more than Plus model. Barely discernible difference between this and Plus, so we gave it one less unit deflection.)
————————- (25 units deflection)

Fritschi Freeride Plus (2006 model with black toe wings and red support plate under binding)
————————– (26 units deflection…)

Fritschi Freeride (2004 model with white toe wings)
————————— (27 units deflection…)

Marker M1100 Titanium alpine binding
—————————- (28 units deflection…)

Naxo Nx21
—————————– (29 units deflection…)

Silvretta Pure Freeride
———————————– (35 units deflection, measured virtually the same as other Pure models)

Silvretta Pure Performance
———————————— (36 units deflection, 07/08 model has solid carbon rails instead of hollow, should be slightly stiffer)

Naxo NX01 (All Naxo models discontinued, no more tests planned.)
——————————————- (45 units deflection…)

*Marker Duke/Baron/Tour, when used with alpine boots could possibly be somewhat stiffer than measured here, as we used Dynafit compatible randonnee boots for all tests, and the sole of most such boots does twist more than a quality alpine boot. More, the base support of Duke is wide, and is said to thus give better edge control on wider skis. We don’t know if that’s true or not, but it sounds worth considering and could mean the real-life feel of the Duke is more solid than our chart indicates. Please note that side flex of the binding in tour mode was not tested in this test. Field observations show that all Marker bindings have similar side slop in touring mode, with this limited by how the heel riser “foot” is pocketed by the base plate. When this “pocketing” works, Marker side slop is minimal, but if you push the rear part of the binding to the side and it pops out of the “pocket,” you will experience significant side slop in touring mode in situations such as side hilling. This also holds true for Fritschi, and less so for Dynafit since it’s held by the mechanical connection at the toe.

Due to inherent error in any mechanical testing system, I’m confident in saying the Marker alpine, Freeride and Naxo Nx21 bindings are all essentially equal in lateral twisting stiffness, while the Pure and Naxo NXO1 are clearly much looser. Marker and Dynafit are the clear winners overall — stiffer than the alpine binding and the Freeride!

The “units” above are for comparison only, they have no direct relationship to any unit of distance or weight. My gut tells me a difference of under 4 units would only be noticeable to precision skiers who could switch skis during the same run while using the same boots.

An interesting aspect of this study is the realization that if you use bindings with less flex, you might be able to use a more moderate boot and get the same performance as with a stiffer boot and flexy binding. All you stiff boot lovers might want to keep that in mind when considering Dynafit.

Comments

122 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing Binding Alpine Mode Flex Tests — updated Late November 2010”

  1. William Emerson February 12th, 2008 9:02 pm

    Lou, Thanks you for all the great information on wildsnow.com
    How would the Ramer Universal Binding fair in the above flex test?
    I am 5’10″, 150lbs, and I have a lightly used pair of Ramer Universal Binding that I purchased new in the early 1990s. My boots are a similiar vintage, lightly used lime green Dachstein AT model. I have a new (~2003, yellow) pair of 160cm, 100/70/92, K2 Ascent 1186 AT skis that I am considering mounting the Ramers on. The plus of this is that I will be able to use them for skiing with the Dachstein boots and as an approach ski with climbing boots. Alternatively, I also am considering buying a pair of DynaFit bindings and mounting them on the K2 skis. I would also need a DynaFit compatable pair of boots so things start to get expensive. So, is anyone still skiing the Ramer Univeral Binding? Would you ski them? Would using them be like driving a mid ’80s car compared to a 2008 car, or is the Ramer binding closer to a 1950s vehicle and best left in the garage?

  2. Lou February 12th, 2008 9:32 pm

    Hi William, nope, I wouldn’t ski the Ramers simply because most modern AT bindings are better. But that doesn’t mean the Ramers don’t work. Your choice. In terms of flex, they’re probably somewhere in the middle of the scale.

  3. William February 14th, 2008 1:47 am

    Hi Lou,

    Not sure if you have seen these lighter weight Dynafit syle race bindings yet… I read today that they are the rage in European AT races.

    For more info http://www.atkrace.com/

  4. Lou February 14th, 2008 7:56 am

    William, I have seen that ATK product. The binding is not as nice as the Dynafit Ti toe combined with the Dynafit race heel unit. But both models seem to be hard to get here in the States. The Dynafit race heel has side release, while the ATK does not. We might review someday (we have the Dynafit version), but we don’t put much energy into reviewing products that are hard to get for most of our readers.

    The lightweight probe they sell looks nice, but their “shovel” is an insult to your skiing partner. Perhaps it’s appropriate for racing in Europe, as you’ve got 1,000 other people around with the things so they’d probably be able to dig you out pretty fast (grin).

  5. Joe Denham February 25th, 2008 11:29 pm

    What’s the difference between the Naxo 21, Naxo 11 and the Dynastar Legend?

    One shop told me that the Legend was te same as the 21 and another shop told me the Legend was the same as the 11

  6. Lou February 26th, 2008 8:32 am

    I’d call Backcountry Access to get clear on that. We hate rebranding, what a great way to confuse and discourage your customer base…

    303.417.1345

  7. AJ February 26th, 2008 8:38 am

    Hi Joe,

    The 21 is sold by Dynastar as Early Tram, the 11 as Legend. According to Naxo the 11 is for “casual touring skiers” and the 21 for “sporty, aggresive freeriders”. Choose your weapon :-)

  8. AJ February 26th, 2008 9:40 am

    and Rossignol sell the 21 as the Bandit Free Rando binding…

  9. Joe Denham February 26th, 2008 10:46 am

    Thanks guys.

    I’ve had quite a time of learning about AT gear.

    The only Shop I know of in the SF bay area that has rando gear rented me a set of skis with a freeride bindings that kept insta-teleing every time I dropped off a little log or rock.
    Also of note, the deposit was $1400.

    From what I’ve found this was probably from have the rear half of the binding mounted a forward or maybe the flex from my 220lbs.

    Any Ideas about the best place to buy the 21, Early Tram, or Bandit?

  10. Dave Giese March 20th, 2008 4:54 pm

    Lou,

    What are your thoughts on mounting dynafits on very fat skis (i.e. Pontoons)? My concern is that the torque generated by such a setup might cause the boot to pop out of the toe piece even in soft snow.

    Separate question: anyone know where I can get the dynafit manuals online? Dynafit official site does not seem to have them. The info I want is the DIN setting table which takes into account boot size and skier type.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dave

  11. Lou March 21st, 2008 12:25 am

    Dave, I don’t see why you’d pop out of a Dynafit any more easily than any other AT binding.

    DIN chart is here:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/naxo-mount/naxo_mount_5.html

  12. Stefan September 17th, 2008 7:42 am

    I just wanted to make you aware that there is a simple modification that can be made for the Naxo bindings to make them more direct and decrease flex.
    It would be fun to see what this mod/tweak would change your flex test!

    ref: http://hem.bredband.net/evapeva/skigear/

  13. brian October 6th, 2008 3:01 pm

    hi lou.im from argentina weight 230 lbs and bought a pair of BH shoots 191 cm stiff flex 149-128-133 specs.Didnt know which randonee binding to put them,I thought about dynafits but here nobody mounts them and is impossible to get the spare parts if broken.So i thought about easy mounting of freerides plus or marker duke.I will be doing considerable skiining to other mountains beside the ski area plus heli approach then skiining (usually testing new mountains in the andes) and need a good secure performance.ALso have to buy boots.I had decided for dukes but dont convince me for the heel elevation is not enough maybe although they are quite stiff and burlier than freerides plus.Please let me know your opinion.
    Thank you. great site, greetings
    brian

  14. Robb October 6th, 2008 4:37 pm

    I find somewhat amazing that you’re discussing Dynafit in the same breath as the Marker Duke and Fritschi Freerides. In SW Montana these bindings serve two completely different end user groups-.

    Fritschis have gained a reputation as bomber options for in-area as well as side- or back-country use. Many at Bridger and Big Sky have them on the daily drivers. The Markers seem heavy for big backcountry approaches but provide the hucksters with security on super-fat boards in-area and in the side-country. Both drive fat boards with ease and work with normal downhill gear.

    On the other extreme, Dynafits around here are used almost exclusively by those who value light weight over downhill performance, and are generally seen mounted on tiny skis by the huge-lung crowd who can sprint uphill for hours but then mince (or crash) their way down. Seems like nobody skis fast or hucks with Dynafits, from my limited observations.

  15. Lou October 6th, 2008 5:08 pm

    Robb, while there is definitely a difference between Dukes and Dynafits… I think you guys are selling yourselves short if you think Dynafits can’t hold up to some fairly agro skiing. They’re not Fritschi or Duke, but they’ve been used for some incredibly extreme stuff all over the world.

    What’s amazing about FT12, even if it’s not a Duke, is that they’ve given DIN 12 in that lightweight of a package.

  16. brian October 7th, 2008 6:04 pm

    Lou please help me for choosing between fritschis plus or marker dukes..
    Are there crampons for such a weight of 128??dont tkink so…and dont think diamir sells a brake that can be bend that much instead marker duke does..I will definitely need the binding to toru up well and will be doing 6 hours hike skinnings several days..But the dukes have very wide brakes that definitely will fit 128 mm waist without defroming that much and laterall stiffness but lucks the heel height maybe i will need
    LEt me know your opinion.
    Greetings from argentina
    brian

  17. Lou October 7th, 2008 6:33 pm

    Brian, the wide Fritschi brakes go to 120 and I’d imagine it would be trivial to bend another 8 mm. Since you’re really touring, I’d say that less weight of Fritschi combined with the well designed heel lift makes that binding the winner for your application. ‘best, lou

  18. Ernst November 20th, 2008 2:21 pm

    Hi Lou, two questions: First, any news on the Naxo NX22 yet? Second: I noticed that the Naxo bindings from 06/07 have an extra feature under the toe section, near the first hinge. Do you know what this feature does?

  19. Karl Birkeland December 15th, 2008 4:51 pm

    Lou (and other Dynafit binding owners) -

    All my friends and colleagues have been raving for years about Dynafit bindings and I finally bought a pair. I had them out for the first time last week, and skied some terrible breakable wind slab and they worked just fine. But, when I went back into the ski area I cruised one run on a groomed trail and brought my skis up to speed and cranked a big GS turn and blew right out of the binding.

    Admittedly, I like to set my bindings loose. I have my alpine bindings set at a DIN of 7.5 and I set the two DIN settings at 7 on these bindings. I rarely, if ever, pre-release out of my alpine bindings (Markers).

    I’ve got the bindings on a pair of Volkl Polar Bears (130/94/113 or something like that) and I’m skiing a Garmont Radium boot.

    Any advice from folks? I guess I need to crank up the DIN on these, but how high do I need to go? And, what are the two different settings for? Also, some friends lock their toes into touring mode, but I’d rather not be doing that except if I’m really in a situation where I don’t want to loose my skis (i.e., some steep descent).

    Thanks!

  20. Lou December 15th, 2008 5:00 pm

    I’d first ski again and make sure you didn’t have ice in your toe sockets or under the middle of the binding wings. Also, I’d go ahead and set the DIN of the mode you blow out in at the same you use for your alpine bindings. And check the gap between heel of boot and binding. Cranking up your DIN is the last thing you do, not the first.

    To clear ice from toe sockets when going to alpine mode, before snapping your heel down make a stationary touring stride (do it about 6 times per ski) to rotate the toe pins in the toe sockets and thus cut out any ice.

  21. Keith Roush December 15th, 2008 7:53 pm

    Karl
    Lou’s right on the setting procedure. I’m surprised you don’t have your settings a little higher on your other rig, considering your strength, power and Tele background. But first on the Dynafits is always to check the heel-to-boot clearance and then contamination in general.

    I ski on 7-8, and although I’m older and slower than you, I’m also heavier.

    the upper (very small) screw is the forward release adjustment and the very large lower screw is the lateral adjustment. These should match, as with all bindings, according to DIN, TUV and who knows whatever other standards might be involved.

    Hope this helps.

  22. Ed Saget December 20th, 2008 11:31 pm

    Hey Karl and Lou,

    Karl, you happen to have the exact package that I am looking at getting: Radium, Polar Bear and I already have Dynafit bindings not yet tried.

    2 things: How are the polar bear? I am a fan of the mantra but some skeptics told me that the real mantra would be too much for a pair of dynafit to handle. So i figure i ll take something softer and lighter…thus Polar bear looks like ideal choice! But is it? hearing mix reviews.
    Second, I wanted to ask: Can I just mount my last year TLT vertical on a pair of std mantras?

  23. Karl Birkeland December 31st, 2008 5:58 pm

    Lou, Keith, and Ed -

    First off, thanks to both Lou and Keith for the tips. I conferred some more with Keith and he convinced me that it was likely operator error from a newbie dynafit owner. I have since skied pretty hard at the ski area in a variety of conditions on the bindings and have not blown out again. I still am a bit leery, but my confidence has been growing with every additional day. I am now VERY careful about making sure that the toe is entirely clear of snow when I put them on and I also rotate the skis (as if touring) about a half a dozen times as suggested by Lou.

    Ed, the set up is – for me – perfect. I also have the Mantras and love them, but went with the Polar Bear to get something a bit lighter. It’s still a lot more of a ski than many alpine boards, IMO. Carves through crud just fine, hold an edge reasonably well, and plenty of float for a guy who was on skinny boards not long ago. Just what I was looking for in an AT board.

  24. Larry February 22nd, 2009 7:13 pm

    I got a pair of early trams (Naxo21); mounted according to instructions (will retry with yours). The problem I am having is the tails won’t lift when side stepping (older vokyl snowranger lites 190). The skies pivot on the front pivot which is too far forward to lift the ski balanced. They ski well though. Would you recommend moving the binding back or modifying with a retrun spring like a small bungy or something?

  25. krisopf February 25th, 2009 10:29 pm

    Lou

    Have you tested (or noticed) any improvements w/ the current Naxo NX02′s and NX22′s? The 01 seemed like a binding that tried to be everything to everyone and failed. I know a few people that still have a bad taste in their mouth from the 1st gen Naxo and wondering what your experience has been w/ the current evolution of NX product.

  26. Joakim April 6th, 2009 6:53 am

    I’ve been skiing with setups like Dynastar Legend Pro Rider, Racing Alpine bindings an Racing alpine boots (140 flex index +). This is a stiff setup, but i like the control.

    How would it be if I try a setup with Garmont Radium boots and Dynafit TLT Vertical FT 12 on skis like the Dynastar Legend Pro rider (beefy/heavy skis)? Will I loose much of my feel with the skis or?

  27. Sean April 6th, 2009 7:38 am

    Joakim,

    I have found it hard to make the transition from stiff & burly alpine gear to lightweight AT gear, mainly due to the very soft fore/aft flex of AT boots. The stiffest AT boot I have tried is the Dynafit Zzero 4CF, which I found very solid laterally but extremely soft fore/aft when compared to my alpine boots. I would not expect to be able to drive my Head Monster 88 skis with the Zzeros, unless I was World Cup racer precise in my technique. There’s just not much boot to drive the ski.

    If you match the softer flex of an AT boot to a softer flexing ski, the combination starts to make more sense. The Zzeros drove a Volkl T-Rock just fine. I would imagine they could drive a Fischer Watea 94 or 101 just as well. I haven’t skied a Dynaster LP but I imagine it’s similar to my Monster 88 skis and would want a boot like a Dynafit Zzeus, Black Diamond Factor, Garmont Radium

  28. Joakim April 6th, 2009 2:27 pm

    Thanks, that confirms my suspicion.

    I’ll probably go for one hardcore alpine setup and one AT setup and not mixing the two.

  29. Frank R April 6th, 2009 11:03 pm

    I have skied the entire winter on Radiums and Fritschi mounted Line Prophet 100′s and BD Zealot 110′s. The Radium does both proud. If there is a beefier and stiffer ski out there than the Zealot I wanna ski it, with Radiums of course. What I will say is that they are not race stiff. But I can carve tight radius turns on 100mm waisted Lines as easy as I can with my race boots and Head 78mm waisted race ski. I’ve skied both setups inbounds and out. (The Zealots are great for coming down, not so much for hiking up.) I can’t carve anything on the Zealots other than at mach speed just because they are a freakishly stiff ski, however the Radiums are more than up to the challenge and I have never felt nervous that when I leaned into a turn that the Radium was going to go all mushy on me.

    Everything Lou has done on this site to explain the safety, engineering and burliness of Dynafit bindings should be answer enough pertaining the bindings. If you need more conclusive answers to your questions I believe FT 12′s were just used to ski Capitol pushing BD Kilowatts. And Davenport drives his skis with Radiums and as memory serves just switched over to some FT12′s. It’s all about preference. I don’t mind exchanging SOME stiffness for hikeability and overall comfort. If you absolutely have to have a Race boot then the Radium is definitely not for you. But give some a test drive, you might be surprised.

  30. Adam December 28th, 2009 4:48 am

    I’m looking for a review of the Volkl Nanuq. Would like something that can be used as a 50/50 backcountry/slopes ski (i.e., Alpental).

    I think the Nanuq is basically just an updated Volkl Polar Bear. Karl and Ed, what are your thoughts on these?

    Lou, have you reviewed the Volkl Nanuq? I can’t find anything on them… your advice for my interests is much appreciated. Thanks…

  31. Adam December 28th, 2009 4:52 am

    @Frank R:

    How have you liked the Line Prophet 100 for an AT board?

    I bought some Fritschi Freeride Plus bindings already, and was looking for something that could do either resort or backcountry (not planning on doing any crazy tours this season… will get a light setup later if I do). Have these bindings been good for you for this purpose?

  32. Mark December 28th, 2009 9:14 am

    I believe the Nanuq, if it is a renamed Polar Bear, is actually a previous incarnation of the Mantra. Mantra is a metal sandwich ski that has gotten rave reviews for years. Solid, stable, busts crud, decent in soft snow–you name it. I skied it and agreed it is great.

  33. Peter January 3rd, 2010 7:29 am

    I just mounted up a pair of the Naxo (Rossignol Bandit) binding on my Elan 888 skis. I have a pair of the new Dalbello Virus boots 110 flex. My question is I noticed I was having a hard time carving a turn. The tails seemed to wash out on my turns. I also noticed that when I flexed forward the tails of my skis lift up starting from under the ball of my foot. Was this a known problem with the binding? I know they are no longer being produced but has anyone else noticed this?

  34. Lou January 3rd, 2010 8:35 am

    Naxo has a bunch of slop, sometimes hard to get used to.

  35. Peter January 3rd, 2010 8:49 am

    Thanks! Not so much slop but more of a lifting/hinging of the ski when I flex forward. Made the ski feel strange at the end of my turn.

  36. Lou January 3rd, 2010 6:29 pm

    Peter, no idea what that would be, perhaps vertical slop combined with vertical elasticity of the heel unit?

  37. Bob Davey February 23rd, 2010 3:04 pm

    Hello Lou.
    I am 5’9″ 165 lbs and ski in and out. Mostly In bounds. Hard on my gear. Ski fast, bumps and jumps.
    Is money the only reason not to buy Dynafit bindings?
    I want a pair of DPS Wailer 105 skis for my dozen western days and handful of soft eastern days including Tuckerman. They are so light, I was wondering if the Dynafit would be a great all around binding for them. I have Garmont Megaride boot.
    Thank you.
    Bob

  38. John February 23rd, 2010 3:36 pm

    Bob,
    I love my Wailer 105s Flex 3 188s for BC skiing, they ski well and have a very sturdy construction. I keep a pair in CO, and another in UT. Both have FT-12s. I have no complaints about the bindings, I use FT-12s on my Atomic RT-86s for bumps or sidecountry stuff, or sometimes the Volkl PolarBear/Nanuq for the same, more stable but not quite as quick and light.

    I think the Wailer 105 is a wonderful ski both up and down, but you might look at the 95 as a quicker edge to edge ski.
    John

  39. Bruno March 5th, 2010 10:09 am

    I own Fritschi Freeride plus, Freeride and Titanl II bindings. And the Freeride plus has way less deflection than the Freerides (much less than the 4% difference you measured). It may be that my Freerides are more worn than yours, and that is an important point to note. As the Freeride lock-down wears it is much more prone to deflection whereas the Freeride plus relies a lot on the ridges in the red base plate to prevent twisting. That said, the plus version tends to hold up against deflection with many days of use.

  40. Lou March 5th, 2010 10:41 am

    Bruno, I did my test multiple times and that’s what I got. Perhaps we’re measuring a slightly different type of deflection.

  41. Nogue March 8th, 2010 1:23 pm

    Hi from Spain.
    First of all, excuseme for my poor English, I Hope U can understand me.

    You talk all time about the torque stiffness and says that a stiff boot equalizes the transmision when combined with a soft binding.
    and the opsite, soft boot and stiff binding.

    But I think it’s also important to comment the fact that a stiff boot in combination with a stiff binding could be little dangerous.
    In fact, a Carbon made boot, with a dynafit could make a ligth(and soft cored) ski break by the screw holesbecause of a excesive energy transmission.

    Congrats by this web I find it very interesting.
    Bye!

  42. Lou November 2nd, 2010 9:31 am

    Nogue, that is a good point!

  43. Ben November 4th, 2010 9:48 am

    Lou and Jonathan,

    Your reviews are excellent especially in a sea of other “reviews” that basically reorganize and compare manufacturers’ specs within product categories. Thanks!

    Quick question:

    I’m thinking hard about getting Dynaduke plates so I can ski dukes inbounds/sidecountry and dynafits backcountry. My other option is Freeride Pros.

    How are the Freeride Pros for torsional deflection?

    Thanks,

    Ben

  44. Lou November 4th, 2010 10:16 am

    The pro is slightly better in torsion (force generated when pushing boot cuff left to right), but not much. That said, they did make an effort to provide a wider stance for the binding feet under your boot heel. That probably makes a difference in how they feel while being skied.

    Let me say that most people have no need to worry about the torsional difference between a Duke and a Fritschi. All systems have flex, play, and slack, and your body makes up for it with slight changes in timing and position. There is a limit, however, and some bindings do flex so much they’re hard to get used to, especially for larger stronger skiers. But Duke and Fritschi are way out of that class. I’d base my decision on weight, and/or need for durability for multiple lift served days. Duke has edge on durability, Fritschi has edge on weight.

    Dukes or Barons are of course the latest thing you want to be seen on the chairlift with, but that criteria is not something anyone on WildSnow would ever consider, right?

  45. Ben November 5th, 2010 4:52 am

    I actually care quite a bit about how people perceive my appearance.

    That would explain all the duct taped gear and non-matching apparel I own. ;)

    Thanks for the beta!

    I think I’m going to with the dynaduke setup and look forward to swapping the bindings among a few sets of skiis plus I’ll be skiing a number of inbound days too.

  46. Lou November 5th, 2010 6:29 am

    Ben, let us know how the Dynaduke goes!

  47. Keith November 7th, 2010 2:27 am

    So with the dynaduke plates you can switch between dukes and dynafits on the same ski correct? Is the stack height going to be alot more?

  48. Ben November 7th, 2010 7:17 pm

    from http://www.bindingfreedom.com

    “4 swap plates (enough for a pair of skis) machined from billet aircraft grade aluminum and anodized a brilliant orange color, mounting screws for plates, metric screws for all versions of Dynafit and Duke/Baron bindings, allen wrench, loctite threadlocker, and mounting template.

    These swap plates mount easily on any pair of skis, using standard mounting tools and have extra-durable threaded holes which match the pattern for Marker Duke or Baron bindings, as well as all versions of Dynafit bindings. They are also compatible with Dynafit brakes and/or crampons. It takes about 5 minutes to attach either style of binding using the included screws and tools. If care is taken to avoid cross-threading the screws, these plates will last through 100′s of swaps.

    These plates add about 130grams per ski, and 7mm of stack height to your bindings. They are specifically designed to minimize to effect on the flex pattern of the ski. The wide mounting pattern is designed to maximize torsional stiffness even on the widest of new-school skis.”

  49. Keith November 7th, 2010 8:46 pm

    Ben
    Have you used plates? I am just wondering if the added stack height will effect the way I ski. Thanks

  50. Ben November 8th, 2010 12:22 am

    Keith,

    The Dynaduke plates just shipped today. I’ll let you know how they work sometime in December. I’m OOT (tryin’ to sound cool here for out of town down south until then.

    I doubt the 7mm stack height will change ski dynamics much. not really sure.

    b

  51. Jonathan November 11th, 2010 1:36 pm

    Hi Lou-

    If I could bother you for some advice: I am getting my first AT setup going. Trying to decide between Duke/Freeride +/Dynafit for bindings. I just got some Scarpa Spirit 4′s and BD Aspect (186cm).

    A little background:
    I live in N. Idaho, close to a bunch of resorts and good backcountry. I grew up on Nordic skis, but have not spent any time alpine, except for some trips snowboarding. This year I plan on splitting time pretty evenly between in and out of bounds, as I need some time to practice. As I get better I will be going out of bounds more and more.

    I am a 6’3, 215lbs. For now I will not be super aggressive on the DH, but as I get better I will push it. I have been a high-level athlete all my life and enjoy the challenge of ascending. Don’t plan on rando racing this season but I could easily get sucked in.

    I want a binding that will not be a huge compromise in bounds, as I have a young family and we will be heading to the hills regularly, but also I would like a capable touring binding that won’t be a massive energy suck out of bounds, uphill. Weight is secondary to performance at this point.

    Concerns with the Marker are efficiency (boot out to switch and does the pivot point hurt stride?)

    Concerns with Freeride pro/+ center around durability/downhill control for a novice

    Concerns with Dynastar are durability (can it handle 3-4 days a week in bounds?)

    Or maybe the NX21?

    Money dictates that I must have a quiver of one ski for the next few years. Any thoughts/advice would be appreciated before I drop 400-800$ on bindings.

    Great site BTW. Thanks

  52. Lou November 11th, 2010 6:47 pm

    Jonathan, just get a Marker Tour F10 or F12 and you’ll be a happy camper, both inbounds and out of bounds!

  53. Jonathan November 13th, 2010 1:55 pm

    Thanks Lou!

    I’ll go with the F12, since I weigh so much. Maybe next season I’ll get a dynaduke set up for racing…

  54. Dimitar November 15th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Lou,

    any plans to test the Onyx soon?

  55. Lou November 15th, 2010 2:49 pm

    Dimitar, it should be virtually identical to Dynafit due to both binding having rigid mechanical connection at toe. But I’ll test to be sure.

  56. Mike November 15th, 2010 3:27 pm

    I’m surprised at how stiff the new Markers tested out. Impressive. I know it’s largely a moot point due to the discontinuation of Naxos, but they flex FAR more than your test rig will allow. When the ski flexes, the entire binding lifts off the ski, and is free to rotate. I tested and blogged about it a couple years ago, and immediately sold off my Naxos (I think I had them gone that same night, might’ve been the next).

  57. Matt November 15th, 2010 3:30 pm

    Great info, as always. Thanks. Any chance you can throw a Freeride Pro on the bench to see how much stiffer they made it (or not) ?

  58. Lou November 15th, 2010 3:48 pm

    Mike, I just tested Onyx, I’d give it one less “unit” of stiffness than the Dynafit FT/ST, making it virtually the same. The Onyx has a bit more noticeable movement in toe and heel, no doubt due to the extra interface and material of the swap plates. Again, for skiing I would call them identical.

    All, please don’t obsess on this. All the bindings in the Dynafit/Onyx/Marker range are incredibly stiff, and while Fritschi has a bit more flex, it still works fine for thousands of skiers doing all sorts of amazing descents. Main thing is to be aware of bindings that fall on the more flexy end of the scale Those can be so loose they feel weird in downhill mode, and may flex too much while touring as well.

  59. Mike November 15th, 2010 4:25 pm

    Hey Lou,
    This is a bit off topic, but I’d love to see a tour of your shop. I’m unsure if you’ve done this post before?

    Thanks

  60. Lou November 15th, 2010 4:41 pm

    Mike, I want to do that, but the videographer I had in mind got too expensive. Perhaps I can get him to still do it… we’ll see. The shop is pretty funky, not that polished, but that will make it even more fun.

  61. Dostie November 15th, 2010 5:17 pm

    re: lateral twist stiffness of a Ramer binding.

    Lou you said you thought they would be in the middle of the scale.

    I beg to differ. You know I’ve always been an advocate of Ramer bindings, but the way the boot is held to the plate makes your comment seem rash. I know from experience that there was always a noticable amount of twistability in this binding which left a LOT of alpine skiers leery of using the Ramer. It never bothered me, but then I switched to the ultimate system for slop (telemark).

    I’ll bet if you took the time to actually measure the results you would find the twisting flex limits of Ramers were closer to the NAXO, not the middle of the scale.

  62. Lou November 15th, 2010 5:38 pm

    Dostie, good point, but I won’t be testing antique bindings any time soon. Perhaps next summer.

    Also, be aware that the middle of my scale is pretty twisty…

    I’d add that in my experience the big problem with Ramers was lateral instability from the release mechanism springing open while in touring mode. That is not something I’m testing for, and I’d have to lock that out by setting a high RV on the binding, as many users did back then. Ramer provided a touring lockout clip, but most people I knew didn’t bother with it as you had to take the ski off and insert the clip. Nonetheless, a touring lockout, yeah, more forward thinking from the man who invented the precursor to the Dynafit — which has the first integrated touring lockout provided in an AT binding.

  63. Brandon November 15th, 2010 7:09 pm

    Lou,
    In your testing about how much deflection do you think the new Fritschi Pros would have?

  64. Frank K November 15th, 2010 7:11 pm

    Lou said “An interesting aspect of this study is the realization that if you use bindings with less flex, you might be able to use a more moderate boot and get the same performance as with a stiffer boot and flexy binding. All you stiff boot lovers might want to keep that in mind when considering Dynafit. ”

    I’d like to see a companion piece to this post measuring the sloppiness of AT boots themselves. My zzeus AT boots and my Tecnica alpine boots are somewhat similar in stiffness, but the alpine boots ski far better, and a lot of it has to do with the inherent sloppiness of any AT boot, which is caused in large part due to the ski/walk modes of AT boots. (With a pair of Dukes, it’s easy to switch from one boot to the other and feel the difference) As much as anything else, I choose stiff AT boots to counteract their sloppiness.

  65. Lou November 15th, 2010 7:34 pm

    Brandon, I can guess they’d be similar, but I could be wrong. I’ll be testing in a few days.

  66. Lou November 15th, 2010 7:39 pm

    Hi Frank, boot flex can be measured and compared, but doing so is a nightmare. First, one has to obtain all models of boots in a given size, then, they’d have to figure out a way of standardizing the liner and the buckle tension. Height of the boot also would make a difference in how the measurement turned out.I think subjective testing on the carpet in a shop is good enough.

    As for you personally, much of what you feel in an AT boot might be the extra compression in the warmer, less dense liner. The only way to do an accurate comparo would be to use the same liner in both boots, as well as making sure both boots had the same ramp angle and the same cuff lean. If the ski/walk mech has little to no play, I don’t see how it would be a big deal. If it has much play, then yes.

  67. Arch November 16th, 2010 2:58 am

    One little word of warning for those of us not lucky enough to have a good local ski shop. I bought a pair of Naxo Nx 21 on the web a couple of years back. Local ski shop had no mounting jig, so they mounted them by hand and completely botched it. Ended up remounting them myself (with the help of Wildsnow, of course!) which worked out fine, even if my skis now have more holes than your average tea bag.
    At the time, I wished I’d gone with the flow and bought the more common Fritshis.
    In other words, make sure you can get the bindings mounted straight before you worry too much about which model you buy!

  68. Lou November 16th, 2010 7:45 am

    Arch, good points. And I’d add to that that being an early adopter of first generation gear is fun and exciting, but frequently has consequences.

  69. Chester Tartsnatcher November 16th, 2010 11:22 am

    I gave the new FR Pro a scan and it looks like there’s some new engineering tweaks.

    Aside from a slightly wider underplate and stabilizer wings on the new FR Pro heel unit, the bar is clamped on the underside as well as the top (the older FRs used to clamp only on the top).

    I looked at the F12s, but I so disliked the climbing bar setup in the Markerselative to the FRs. Plus there appears to be even more plastic on the F12 than the FRs.

  70. Kelly November 16th, 2010 11:32 am

    Keith-Ben,
    I mounted a set of Dynaduke plates to Line Prophet 100′s last summer and skied them with Marker Barons. I think I skied them about 7 or 8 days and didn’t notice the additional 7mm stack height. (I ski with Radiums). They seem to work fine. You will lose a little bit of bite with ski crampons, but not a deal breaker as far as I’m concerned. They were also easy to mount using the templates provided.

    I have a pair of Dynafit FT12′s that are ready to go for this fall. I carpet skied them with the Dynadukes and they also feel solid and I’m looking forward to skiing them with the plates this winter. I can swap the bindings out in about 15 minutes. The quality of the machining is really top notch.

    It would be great to get a pro review on the Dynadukes from Lou ???

  71. Lou November 16th, 2010 12:09 pm

    Dynaduke review is in the works!

  72. rod georgiu November 16th, 2010 1:51 pm

    I saw that DYNAFIT came up with two support pieces that mount under the sides of the FT-12 toe piece, presumably to suuprt the binding when edging hard??

    Has anyone tried these? I ski BD Factors, K2 Hardside and FT-12s.

  73. gonzoskijohnny November 16th, 2010 5:03 pm

    thanks for the good work Lou.
    I noticed that the demo clip hsow deformation in both hte binding (mostly mmounting bracket) and the ski cap! It almost looks like the ski is de-laminating!
    I am interested in knowing how much uncertaintiy exists in the flex from the ski alone- and if consistent among the tests.
    My guess is for best test results, for flex only in binding, is to mount the bindings into a 2″ x 6″ chunk of maple or similar, and this will likey negate other flex.

    PS -i have been on dynafit for 8 or so years, in and out of bounds- I have noticed that the biggest drawback to Dynafit is it seems to lack much self-centering, if you get sloppy smacking bumps or icy chunks, or carving into ruts, compared to a good alpine binding.

  74. dave downing November 16th, 2010 5:57 pm

    I love that Kelly “carpet skied” to test new equipment. Is that term in our vernacular now? :)

  75. Lou November 16th, 2010 6:09 pm

    Gonzo, I clamp the ski very near the binding, and don’t yard on it as much as the vid clip, which is meant as illustration of type of flex, not how extreme the test is. Also, I frequently mount two different bindings on the same skis (for example, all Markers have been tested on the same ski pair). I’m aware of ski flex when I do my testing, and watch carefully to make sure it’s not influencing the results too differently from binding to binding. Luckily, for the purposes of my testing, all the skis seem to be pretty solid and flex very little.

    But yeah, when you really lean that ski over, everything flexes.

    If I was measuring the exact force required to flex the binding, I’d indeed need a whole other setup. It would take two weeks to build and cost around $5,000. I’d start by screwing the bindings to a chunk of steel, and go from there. But I see no point in getting that extreme. All I’m doing is comparing one binding to another.

    I do plan on making a “boot” that’s mostly steel. That won’t make the test any more accurate, but it’ll make it faster as I won’t have to do as many repeats to check my results.

    I’ll be the first one to acknowledge that my test is crude “ghetto” has been used as a descriptor (grin). But I’m confident it compares the bindings to each other in a meaningful way.

  76. Lou November 16th, 2010 6:12 pm

    Davenporting, carpet skiing, wild snow, yeah, we can coin a phrase now and then around here!

  77. Keith November 16th, 2010 10:54 pm

    Kelly
    I just got two sets of Dynadukes for Dukes and FT12′s. Mounting on Coombas and Lhasa Pows. They are beautifully machined and quite light. Will mount soon and give my 2 cents on performance with extra stack height as the extra weight will be negligible in my opinion.

  78. Kelly November 17th, 2010 11:43 am

    Wish I could take credit for the phrase ‘carpet skiing’ but I think It’s been posted here long before me by several others including Louie :-)
    OK, a bit off topic (sorry Lou) …is the correct pronunciation d i nafit or d ee nafit? Even on the official website Greg Hill and others use both pronunciations. I also find myself saying it both ways depending on who I’m talking with and It’s driving me nuts….!

  79. Kelly November 17th, 2010 11:56 am

    Keith – let us know what you think about the mounting process too. I had a laptop next to my bench and watched the utube videos that Jondrums made which I thought were helpful (I think he’s even mounting them to Lhasa Pows). There are four videos in sequence.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ-Cp1Wrb_c

    He uses carpenters glue with the mounting screws, but you might want to use epoxy instead.

  80. Frame November 18th, 2010 7:49 am

    Excuse my ignorance and inability to find something on Google, but what’s the issue with Stack height? I thought racers loved a bit of height, but I may be a few years out of date and do realise this isn’t an alpine racing sight ;o)

  81. Lou November 18th, 2010 8:04 am

    Frame, it’s simply one of those fad things that comes and goes over the years. But it had some practical application. For example, before wider skis, telemarkers really got into it so they could prevent “boot out,” meaning the binding hit the snow during the turn and caused the ski to loose edging. And of course alpine racers experiment with stack height to see if they can shave hundredths of a second off their runs.

    My feeling has always been that AT binding/boot combinations always jack your foot up off the ski, so adding more stack is a non issue. As for getting lower than say, a Fritschi, that also seems to be a non issue.

    Some of the risers seen on ski hills over the years really looked quite clownish. I’m glad it’s over. At least it is for now, but give the fashion pendulum a decade and perhaps risers will be the thing again!

  82. Eric November 21st, 2010 2:10 am

    Hello, just wondering if there is any way I can adapt my Gamont Endorphine boots to work with Dynafit bindings? I would love to try them out but cannot dream of changing boots now.

  83. Lou November 21st, 2010 10:31 am

    Eric, nope, Dynafit fittings are difficult to impossible to install in boots aftermarket. It’s been done, but never to perfection. Be considering other boots. Lou

  84. Anthony November 26th, 2010 3:14 pm

    Lou

    Is it possible to give an ETA for a flex review of the Fritschi freeride pro?

    I have freeride plus at present (red / black) and am considering upgrading, but I am booked to go to Chamonix in mid January.

    I am not keen on the Marker and do too much piste skiing for the Dynafit.

  85. Lou November 26th, 2010 3:55 pm

    Anthony, if the Pro is a bit stiffer, it’s still not going to make you into Pierre Tardival (grin), but yeah, they’re sitting on the workbench back at HQ and I’ll be getting to that next week. I’ll keep it simple and honest, and basically put both on exactly the same platform so it’s apples to apples. Am looking forward to it. Lou

  86. gillesleskieur November 26th, 2010 5:29 pm

    Tardivel skis Dynafits anyway ;-)

  87. Anthony November 27th, 2010 5:22 am

    I am just an everyday ski tourer- but having been on a 2 week ski camping expedition in Canada’s coast range (Mt Waddington) carrying a big pack but with Naxo 01 bindings I recognise the value of a stiff binding!

  88. David November 29th, 2010 8:55 pm

    Lou, thanks for the Fritschi Pro results. I thought they would be considerably stiffer than the Plus. Not to be.

    My Garmont Endorphins don’t have tech fittings so until I upgrade them I won’t be moving to the tech bindings. Suffice to say until Marker change the switch mech so that I don’t have to take my ski off I will be staying with the Fritschis. they’re the best option for the skiing I do in the places I ski.

    I suppose the moral to the story is “fit for purpose”.

    Love your website!

  89. Olov Nyman December 11th, 2010 4:30 pm

    Hi
    Last week, after reading Wildsnow, I bought Dynafit TLT FT 12 bindings, and a pair of Dynastar Sultan 94 skis. Today I took them to the slope for the first time, and it ended up in a smaller disaster. At the first stop in the slope, the binding released, and I fell. Let me tell you that I had my doubts about the strength of the binding before I bought them, especially in the slope, and therefore I had decided to take it easy the first day. After the first snap of the bindings I ran a few slopes in medium pace, and suddenly in the middle of a curve the bindings released again, and I crashed. When I got up I couldn’t get the binding on one of the skis to click properly. To my big surprise, when I investigated the ski, I discovered that the first layer of the ski under the binding had split up, and the ski was ripped apart! I had the bindings in Din 11 since I weigh 299 pounds/95 kg. I will of course get new equipment, but I´m really confused what caused this, and If I can trust FT12 in the future. If you have any theory about this it would be very helpful to me if you could share your thoughts with me.
    Best regards
    Olov, from Sweden

  90. Christian December 12th, 2010 11:51 am

    Seems that your ski was mounted at a bad shop… Dynafit bindings can only be judged correctly when they have been mounted correctly.

  91. Lou December 12th, 2010 9:44 pm

    Olov, I have to say, if you really weigh about 300 pounds (or more with backpack), you could have problems with any binding, especially if it’s not perfectly mounted on a strong ski to begin with. I’d say you need to try perhaps give the Dynafit one more try, and if it still doesn’t work for you try some different brand bindings, and once you find one that works for you stick with it. Dynafits are not for everyone. Lou

  92. Dave Cramer December 12th, 2010 10:49 pm

    95kg is 209 pounds, not 299 pounds… I think it was a typo in Olav’s post.

  93. Olov Nyman December 13th, 2010 1:11 am

    Thank you all for your comments. I´m gonna give Dynafit another try, really like the concept, and enjoying backocountry skiing more and more. /Olov

  94. Lou December 13th, 2010 8:43 am

    Dave, thanks, I was in a hurry and didn’t do the math. My bad. Olov, get some help with proper use of the bindings, and make double sure they are mounted correctly. Lou

  95. Jon Rhoderick December 30th, 2010 10:55 am

    Hey Lou
    Would it be too much trouble to see how a Silveretta 500 compares on this scale?

  96. Lou December 30th, 2010 11:49 am

    Well, since I’m on my way to Europe, it might take a while (grin).

  97. Shasta Dave January 1st, 2011 9:03 pm

    Hi Lou- I have been following your website since you published Wildsnow….great job!
    Anyway, I have been BC Ski guiding for about 10 years now, and like everyone out there, I am looking for the perfect rig. The one that will suffice at the ski area, BC, Ski Expeditions in all sorts of snow.
    My first BC set up was Hexcel Honeycomb with Ramers as a hand me down from my father…I was 13 yrs old.
    I have gone through every biding out there. Thus far in my experience, I think that the Dynafit system is the most solid BC binding out there. However, I am finding some limitations and have formulated a hypothesis that I would like your comments:
    In recent times, we have heard of tech bindings failing due to pre-releasing leading to deaths and or serious injury. I sustained an injury last May from a pre-release and in recent times I feel that dynafits are limited by fat skis.

    Obviously you dont want to find yourself on fat skis (105mm+) on a firm snow surface……but it often happens. skin tracks on wind effect styrofoam, early spring days harvesting corn, the occassional rain layer.
    With a wider ski their is more distance from the toe wings to the actual snow surface. When you put a significant force down onto the boot/binding I think that further distance causes a significant strain on the opposite of the edging wing. The wider ski acts as a lever arm upon the opposite wing causing an upward force that the binding cannot sustain. I have seen this happen quite often when someone or myself edges into the slope while ascending a hard snow surface traverse. Obviously this is when the binding is locked.
    This happens equally as often with the G3 Onyx.
    Also I have found this happening (only testing) when skiing as well (even when the toe mechanism is locked). And happens much more frequently with the dynafits compared the G3 (due to the heel mechanism differences).
    Would love to hear your thoughts on this……
    Totally agree and see the limitations of the Fristchis but understand that a wider platform is always better for reducing deflection with an obviously inferior product to tech bindings.

  98. Lou January 2nd, 2011 1:28 am

    Shasta, it’s a fact that all ski bindings (and all equipment, for that matter) has design and engineering limits. In the case of Dynafit, there is indeed a limit to how much force they can hold, and indeed a certain angle and mode where the binding toe will open while skiing given enough force and the right angle, irregardless of normal safety release needs. I show this mode in my post of a while back:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/3976/dynafit-ft12-ftz12-toe-pincer-springs/

    What is ironic is that the Dynafit concept was originally an inversion of the Ramer toe pivot mechanism, and the Ramer had exactly the same problems as some of you are reporting, e.g., pre-release in both touring mode and alpine mode. When coming out in touring mode, we’d call it “ramering out.” Ramer even sold a release lock-out for touring, that was a simple clip that fit down over the toe bars to keep them from spreading and thus coming off the ball-socket touring pivot.

    At any rate, things are developing in this area. Main thing is to just know that not everything is for everyone with every style of skiing…

  99. Jonathan Shefftz January 2nd, 2011 8:59 am

    “In recent times, we have heard of tech bindings failing due to pre-releasing leading to deaths [...]”
    – We have?!?

  100. Lou January 2nd, 2011 10:15 am

    Um, good point there Jonathan! I was too jet lagged to respond to that zinger. Shasta? Come up with statements like that it would be nice to hear some backstory…

  101. Shasta Dave January 2nd, 2011 12:09 pm

    There is a professional skier from Tahoe who was skiing dynafit bindings that pre-released which led to his death. At least that is what I gathered from the official report.
    He was a personal friend and thats all I want to say about it.
    And moreover, I want to make it a discussion about possible thoughts and solutions regarding this issue with nearly all AT bindings.
    Cheers

  102. Jonathan Shefftz January 2nd, 2011 12:13 pm

    Setting aside for the moment that this would make one death (not “deaths”), where is the official report?
    (And I’m sorry if this is getting into personal territory here regarding your friend, but if you’re going to make alarming statements like “In recent times, we have heard of tech bindings failing due to pre-releasing leading to deaths [...]” then you should be prepared to offer the evidence.)

  103. Jonathan Shefftz January 2nd, 2011 12:34 pm

    I went back and re-read the report “approved by the family and written by those involved in Peru” (which although a self-described “official accident report” is not at all official):
    “Arne attempted to traverse onto the S Face to what appeared to be softer snow. Conditions on the face remained firm and the team noticed Arne accelerate. His downhill ski released causing Arne to fall out of Kip and Dave’s sight.”
    No confirmation or clarification has been provided regarding the binding model except for something other than Marker.
    And as has been noted by other commenters, those two key sentences are written in such a way as to allow for interpretation (or just plain confusion) as to whether the binding prereleased when the skier was entirely in control, or whether the binding released only after the skier “accelerating” (which could mean many different things).

  104. Lou January 2nd, 2011 12:36 pm

    Dave, can you at least give us a clue as to where we see the official report?

    Also, any binding can pre-release. One of the first things any serious and extreme skier does is figure out a way to rig their bindings so they pretty much do not have any possibility of pre-releasing. Some European skiers over the years have actually rigged bindings that had no release, by using things such as toe wire bails and heel clips from crampons.

    I do not doubt that some skiers have died because a binding pre-released. However, I wouldn’t mention any specific binding brand being any more involved in this than any other, and not to be judgmental but rather trying to be helpful, I’d remind anyone skiing fall/die terrain to somehow rig their bindings so pre-release is virtually impossible. For example, back when I dabbled in extreme skiing and did use Dynafits, I’d of course lock out the toe, but I’d also dial up the vertical release to max, which for my size and style effectively locked the binding. After that, it was a matter of making sure I didn’t have ice issues, then, launch.

  105. Lou January 2nd, 2011 12:47 pm
  106. Matthew January 3rd, 2011 9:49 am

    The report is far from complete. I’d like to know exactly what happened, what kind of skis bindings and boots were used, and what mods were made. I hear that Arne was a tinkerer, so he might have changed something. (BTW I think being a tinkerer is a good thing). I understand its painful for his friends to write it all down knowing they might get armchair quarterbacking but it could help prevent other accidents.

  107. Lou January 3rd, 2011 10:23 am

    The problem here is that no where does anyone say that a pre-release caused this accident, so thus equipment is a non issue. Thing is, just as Hans did in Europe, if you ski onto 50 degree (or not even that steep) ice on a steep long mountain face, you will probably be killed in the subsequent fall. Seems like our community is in a bit of denial about the limits of human skill, and we want equipment issues to talk about so we don’t have to face reality.

    What we should focus on is the danger of ice when you haven’t climbed first and reconned your route.

    In the old days of extreme skiing, “climb it first” was a big deal we all spoke much about. The culture has changed, much due to heli skiing in my opinion, and now it is routine for extreme skiers to drop into things they have not skied.

    If that’s the way it is, fine, but it seems like one should be super super careful of ice, and especially wary of ‘white ice.” that is frozen snow or looks like frozen snow.

    One reason we didn’t get to ski Messner Couloir on Denali was that it had so much ice in it, and in my opinion probably even had some white ice. Would we have skied it without climbing it? Probably, but it would have had to have been looking pretty darned good, and perhaps we’d have even climbed part way up for acclimation and recon. Even then, skiing it without climbing first would have scared the heck out of me and seemed mighty strange.

  108. Ben W January 3rd, 2011 11:14 am

    I took a nice fall a couple days ago because of ice under the toe piece. I always check for this issue, and do a quick lock-unlock of the toe to double check- except this time. It was warm all day and icing was a non issue, until I stopped for bowl of goulash at a rifugio on the way home. The sun started to dip and some slush under the toe froze up good, but I didn’t notice. My left ski popped off when I was moving at a pretty good clip, and I was lucky not to get smashed up.

    It pays to be paranoid about these things. I think my fall has scared me into greater caution, but no one else is going to change their behavior because of what happened to me. The discussion of fatal falls and avalanches, however, can rekindle a healthy fear that saves us from overconfidence in our ability AND our equipment.

  109. Dave January 3rd, 2011 11:47 am

    Good healthy discussion, but again was just wondering about possible thoughts and solutions to this issue. Yes, skiing ice is dangerous, I have been on Denali 9 times and the Messner has been unskiable (in my opinion) but this is always someone who is willing to accept that risk.
    Anyway, I withdraw my comment about dynafit pre-releases resulting in deaths, I guess, I look into incidents too much and should just take the accidents reports for what it is.
    However from personal experience, I had a life-threatening incident on a moderate 35 degree slope on hard pack, spring conditions. I know for a fact that everything on the bindings were used correctly. I have been skiing on the bindings for over 8 years and am always weary of the mechanics of it…..still I trust it but am meticulous whenever I step into them, because based on experience, I have seen some interesting things happen to them under load (the point of my initial comment).
    Futhermore this is a post regarding binding mechanics not personal judgement correct? In many instances, ascending a route that you intend to descend is not advised due to rockfall, icefall, temperatures, etc……I cant imagine climbing the Messner when it is ready to ski!

  110. Lou January 3rd, 2011 12:05 pm

    The post might be about mechanics, but the comment thread goes some other places! And that’s ok.

    Dynafit bindings are not for everyone. I keep saying that over and over again, my throat is getting sore.

    Any problems with a binding “under load” should be pretty easy to replicate in a test workshop or even on your carpet or garage workshop. More, anyone who’s using ANY binding for extreme skiing should first vet that binding by getting out on steep icy terrain where a fall has less consequence. Even the icy steepside of moguls or cornices at the resort can be a good place for testing. Much of the issue of binding performance has to do with the size of the skier and the style of skiing. We focus much too much on the size of the skis, probably because skiers these days appear to be obsessed with size (grin).

  111. Sully March 16th, 2011 10:37 pm

    I wondering if it’s time to retire my Fritschi Freeride bindings from about 2003. They have never had any problems, but I haven’t been using them much at all these last few years. I ski in the sidecountry mostly, but I definitely ski inbounds, and want to feel safe on long tours. I ski aggressively/fast, but I don’t drop off of anything. Second question, do 2003 Fritschi Freerides have the same mounting pattern (screws) as the new Fritschi’s (2010/11). Thanks.

  112. Western Canada November 2nd, 2011 12:09 pm

    Folks that are pre-releasing from their dynafits need to really be careful that they are properly engaged. Although they look rather tiny.. that point of contact that you get from the pins is very significant and rivals other bindings. Not to mention they are obviously the lightest of the bunch being mentioned here. If you have a Dynafit compatible boot, it’s hard to come up with a decent reason not to ski the bindings. Eric does the majority of his skiing on Dynafit, with wide skis, and pushes them. http://www.skimovie.com/index.php/athlete-edits/ ;)

  113. Christian November 3rd, 2011 2:04 am

    One thing you might be forgetting is that Eric is skiing with the toes locked. The problem with prereleasing is when skiing with the binding in ski-mode.

  114. Ben R November 3rd, 2011 11:59 am

    What are the black hinged parts on his dynafits? Crampon attachments (I don’t have crampons)?

  115. Greg Louie November 3rd, 2011 12:38 pm

    “What are the black hinged parts on his dynafits?”

    They appear to be Scarpa shims intended for F1 and F3 bellowed boots.

  116. Greg Louie November 3rd, 2011 12:49 pm

    Hard to imagine his Franken-Titans’ soles bending much, but maybe he thinks using the shims puts less force on the heel pins when dropping those 60 footers . . . love watching that guy ski.

  117. Lou November 4th, 2011 9:19 am

    Another thing being done by agro skiers using tech bindings is they add a support block under their heel (assuming they’re not using brakes) that basically holds their heel at the level it would “float” otherwise. The idea being that this provides more solid support as opposed to your boot riding on those two tiny pins which in turn exert huge leverage on the heel unit. More, there is a rare but real type of inadvertent heel release with tech bindings where the boot heel actually drops down _below_ the pins. Having a block under the heel prevents that as well. Downside is blocking up the heel adds friction to lateral release, and you can’t use brakes.

  118. Dimi November 4th, 2011 12:23 pm

    Lou, are people using any specific type of blocks/method to support their heel? or is it just a find what works system?

  119. Lou November 4th, 2011 12:56 pm

    Just a chunk of HDP from whatever…. only seen it once or twice. Really not a big deal.

  120. Pierre G February 8th, 2012 7:02 pm

    Lou,
    If i understand well, binding can hold on prettty tight. But in some case, like a rapid chatter or vibration (for example : skiing in a race course or over an icy patch) could lead to dynafit type of binding to pre release. That condition would be “the achille heel’s” of the systems.

  121. Lou February 8th, 2012 7:18 pm

    Pierre, you’re right, and Bode Miller has experienced that as well…

  122. Timmyp November 7th, 2012 9:20 am

    Hey Lou,

    Any chance you have gotten to testing the F10 or the new “wider” dukes? Would be quite interested to see if the cheaper and lighter F10 is in fact as stiff. Also curious how much the “28%” wider actually matters.

    Cheers,
    ~Tim

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