Silvretta Pure – Strong Enough?


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Like it or not, consumer testing of new products is a fact of life. When the first production model of Silvretta Pure backcountry skiing binding came out a few years ago, it seemed weak but at WildSnow.com world headquarters we gave it the benefit of the doubt, and adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Once real-life North American skiers began to “test” the first Pure of 04/05, breakage problems occurred. Such problems were prevalent enough to warrant various reinforcements that occurred during that same model year and continue to the present.

03/04 model Silvretta Pure is definitely too weak for all but the most moderate touring and we do not recommend. New models look similar but are improved, though still not recommended by us for hard use. Shop used market with care.

By 06/07 the binding had morphed to three models (see details via menu above), with small improvements in strength and overall the same design.

Since 04/05 to the present I’ve continued to receive reports of broken Pures, witnessed several breakage events in person, and had an overall sense that the Pure was not as strong as other recent model AT bindings, nor as forgiving of user error such as mis-adjustment of length or height of toe wings.

Before I write more about Pure, be it known that all AT bindings break. Dynafit heel units explode, Freerides get smashed, and Naxos snap. Ski touring bindings are always a compromise between weight and durability, with the needle shifting from one end of the scale to the other depending on what part of the market bindings are intended for.

But breakage reports I hear about bindings other than Pure are usually associated with high mileage bindings or harsh beater falls. In the case of Pure (through this year’s models) the breakage I witness or hear of appears to occur more in normal use.

So here is my take based on what I’ve heard from reliable sources as well as witnessed in person these past few seasons. These recommendations for all Silvretta Pure models up to and including this season’s models (06/07). No doubt there are exceptions to the following, if that includes you our comments are open for your opinion.

) We do not recommend Pure for larger skiers, especially if the binding will be used for resort skiing or aggressive backcountry skiing.

) We do not recommend the Pure for resort skiing, but if you must, we say you’d need to be of average or lighter weight build, ski un-aggressively, and fall infrequently.

) We do not recommend the Pure for aggressive ski touring, such as climbing steep convoluted terrain. Likewise, we do not recommend the Pure for any sort of bushwhacking.

) We recommend the Pure as a choice for moderate touring when price of binding is an issue, and the user is an average weight conservative skier who falls infrequently.

) In all cases, we only recommend using 06/07 (grey toe wings) or more recent models. We DO NOT recommend any Pure bindings that are pre 06/07 (red toe wings). Beware the used market and ski shop back-stock.

) In all cases, IT IS ESSENTIAL that the height of the toe wings that hold your boot down is adjusted correctly, length of binding is adjusted correctly, and safety DIN is set correctly for your weight, body type and ability (not dialed to the max).

) We do not recommend using any current model Pure with alpine boots or with stiff “freeride” style AT boots.

All models of Pure have received significant improvements for model year 07/08. Consumer testing will commence when those bindings go into distribution, or possibly before. I examined the new models when I was in Europe, and we’re expecting the new models for WildSnow evaluation though we have no idea what the timing will be on that. Once we get samples the first thing I’ll do is report here about any durability improvements or design changes that prevent stress on the binding.

Maker’s take on one past breakage event.

Comments

81 Responses to “Silvretta Pure – Strong Enough?”

  1. Eric March 12th, 2007 11:31 am

    Lou-

    Although I am sure that you have fully tested the new Pure models, and am in no position to dispute your findings, I have noted over the years that you don’t spend much time on Silvrettas. Prior to the Pure, you have paid very little time to the various other Silvretta bindings.

    My first set was the 500s on K2 AK Launchers. These skis are still in the quiver and have seen 5 seasons of both resort and BC use (avg. 45 days season). We’ve also got a set of the 555s, and this year added 2 new Atomic rigs: Kongur and Kalais with the Atomic version of the 06/07 Freeride (did you know that Atomic re-branded these?).

    Up until this year, I’ve been skiing the older bindings with a fairly aggressive Technica alpine boot. Got the Tornados this season which I have been using with the Pures. My wife is still in alpine boots on all models (we have a very close boot size so I mount them all so we can share as needed).

    We’ve never experienced any problems with any of our rigs: all are used for both BC and area skiing. I noted your comment that all BC bindings are prone to breakage and I have personally witnessed Fritschis explode on 2 occasions, one of which occurred at boot click-in at the top of a run. The other was on easy terrain after a descent of Gray’s.

    The point of this comment is that I’ve pumping up Silvretta bindings for many years simply because they are different than the Fritschis that all my buddies use. There is no question that I’ll be taking a lot of noise due to your review, so I thought I’d better leave a comment.

    One point that I frequently note is that very few people over here use Silvrettas (I’m the only person I know with them), but that I think they are very popular in Europe. I’d be interested to find out some statistics from over there where there may be a larger pool of users to comapre against the other binding choices.

    On another note, a buddy on mine just got the Kilowatts and tested them on a hut trip this past weekend. Ski performance rated great, graphics are a problem (he gets confused by the differing pattern on each ski). Another friend got the Verdicts based on your review and loves them.

    Thanks a lot, and please keep up the good work.

    Eric

  2. Clyde March 12th, 2007 11:39 am

    Sounds like much ado about nothing. Aside from the one case you reported, there don’t seem to be a lot of these blowing up after the first season. The explosion you witnessed sounds like it had more to do with improper adjustment plus using the heaviest boot on the lightest step-in binding (read: user error) than a critical design flaw. If there are more cases of blow-ups, please give details. Why should people fear the 04/05 and 05/06 versions, particularly if using the gray toe and properly adjusted?

  3. Lou March 12th, 2007 11:41 am

    Eric, my blog is only about the Silvretta Pure bindings, all other Silvretta models seem to be in the same realm of durability as AT bindings such as Fritschi.

    Please be aware that I was just writing about Pure, which is entirely different than any other Silvretta binding model line.

  4. Eric March 12th, 2007 11:50 am

    Lou-

    Thanks for the reply-it should help dissuade some of the rhetoric from my buddies on their Fritschis.

    I am aware of the differences, but have noted little coverage of the older models.

    Clyde’s comment echos mine-where can we get more statistics on these Pures? We’ve only been on ours this one season, but will promise to send more info in a couple seasons (or sooner if there is a problem).

    Thanks again, and I can say that your opinions & reviews are highly regarded among my group of friends in Lawson, CO.

    Thanks, Eric

  5. Lou March 12th, 2007 12:04 pm

    Clyde, perhaps it is much ado about nothing, as indeed there are bigger things in life… like ski helmets ?

    I didn’t say there were a lot of Pures blowing up, I only said I recommended them for more moderate use — that the type of damage I’m seeing is different from what I’ve seen with other bindings. I’ve been asked numerous times if they are strong enough, just trying to answer that question.

    As for specifics, unless I’m on the scene I can’t report in public because I have no way of evaluating for certain what happened, how binding was adjusted, etc. Can only work with probabilities based on what people tell me or show me, supported by what I do see in person, inluding testing a 05/06 Pure to destruction on the bench.

    I also ski on Pures for several days after every model comes out, but only in moderate terrain doing moderate skiing, so my take is based on that as well (that they work for such). I have no desire to try and break a binding while skiing, I’ll leave that for younger more crazy guys.

    As for mis-adjustment, a binding needs to be a bit tolerant of that since ice or snow on your boot throws everything off.

  6. Lou March 12th, 2007 12:35 pm

    Eric, stats on binding breakage in consumer use would be difficult if not impossible to obtain. Warranty numbers are in someone’s computer, but for comparison you’d have to know numbers for all other bindings, as well as total sales so a percentage could be pulled out. Also, I’m not saying there are more broken Pures, heck, perhaps people have used them more conservatively over the past few years and there are actually less! What I’m saying is that according to my research and observations they break differently, and are better for less aggressive, average sized skiers. I’m trying to answer the question, “are they strong enough?”

    As for you, Eric, I assume you’re on Pures now, since that’s what were speaking of here. What model? What year? And what type of skier are you, weight, type of terrain, etc.? Lets get some stats!

  7. Eric March 12th, 2007 12:53 pm

    Lou-

    I’m on the rebranded Atomic verision of the Freeride 06/07 (Atomic MX412). I’m about 180 and ski most any terrain, but would consider myself only a moderatly agressive skier. Actually, your review recommendations pretty much describe my usage although I have skied them several times on area, and the same for all my older models. I also have a hard time getting rid of older gear, and tend to move around a lot between rigs. I’ve got maybe 15 days on the Pure rig this season-been snowboarding too much (new Flow bindings).

    The main reason I felt compelled to comment is not to dispute your findings, but rather to defend the Silvretta line all together. Maybe the Pures are an issue, but I have had very good luck with the other models to date. I’ve also just spent the last 4 days defending them at the hut and I know my buddies will see this post!

    Thanks, Eric

    http://www.atomicsnow.com/atomic.php?id=39&s=24

  8. Lou March 12th, 2007 2:31 pm

    Indeed, I’ve used almost all models of Silvretta bindings since the 1960s, and most have supported me on hundreds of touring days. All I’m writing about in my blog post is the Pure models, and I support those as well in my recommended use, or if they work for you out of those parameters I support that as well. FYI, There are bindings I 100% do not support, such as the discontinued Silvretta SL.

  9. Lou March 12th, 2007 4:59 pm

    Stuff that Works – Guy Clark

    I got an old blue shirt
    And it suits me just fine
    I like the way it feels
    So I wear it all the time
    I got an old guitar
    It won’t ever stay in tune
    I like the way it sounds
    In a dark and empty room

    I got an old pair of boots
    And they fit just right
    I can work all day
    And I can dance all night
    I got an old used car
    And it runs just like a top
    I get the feelin’ it ain’t
    Ever gonna stop

    Chorus

    Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
    The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall
    Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel
    The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall

    I got a pretty good friend
    Who’s seen me at my worst
    He can’t tell if I’m a blessing
    Or a curse
    But he always shows up
    When the chips are down
    That’s the kind of stuff
    I like to be around

    Chorus

    I got a woman I love
    She’s crazy and paints like God
    She’s got a playground sense of justice
    She won’t take odds
    I got a tattoo with her name
    Right through my soul
    I think everything she touches
    Turns to gold

  10. Derik March 12th, 2007 4:47 pm

    All-

    As for isolated failures of the silveretta pure, I was in an Avy class last year and as the instructor was leading us into the BC, he did a kick turn and kicked the end of the binding off! Much like the failure on the Trooper Traverse that Lou mentioned.

    So, let me see, I’ve read about failures on the internet, I’ve seen them in person, so what is a consumer to believe?

    Our family uses the Fritschi Freeride and many sets of Dynafits. No problems with ANY of them in ANY temps at ANY time. I am only one consumer, but I’m also the average skier that these companies are shooting for.

    Until something better than the Dynafit system comes along, you won’t see me buying anything else. Its alot like buying a Chrysler, I just won’t do it until I see much better QC from the company, Ford either. Now Honda and Toyota, yep, they’ve proven themselves time and again. And that is what our family drives.

    Is this fickle or close minded? Maybe, but I see it as consumer’s perogative. As the Guy Clark song says, “I like stuff that works!” Maybe somebody should send this song to these manufacturers that keep putting junk on the market.

    Just a thought.

    DG

  11. Chuck Leaghty March 12th, 2007 6:05 pm

    I bought the Pure Freeride bindings for backcountry use, but I usually, if not always, check out my gear prior to any tour.

    I finally had my bindings mounted on new skis, and I visited the nearby ski resort Snowbasin to try the new set of skis out.

    On my very first run my toe soleholder piece disintegrated, and I fell. Two skis and I were sliding down the hill. I was skiing fast on a regular piste, and I fell hard breaking both 100mm ski brakes on both skis and busted the snow blade on the uphill ski. The toe soleholder broke on the uphill ski, and this ski hit the downhill ski putting a gash in the ski and busting the snowblade.

    I verified all adjustments and settings prior to use; this is my second Silvretta product. I also have the original Pure, but I wanted something stronger for backcountry use. I am a lightweight at 158 pounds!

    I visited my local ski shop, Ski Mania of Riverdale, Utah, as I do a lot of business there, and Kriss, the owner, contacted a Silvretta representative, as Ski Mania also sells the Pure Freeride bindings.

    The binding broke on February 12. Kriss called Silvretta on February 13, and the representative told us the replacement parts would be on the way with a delivery date of February 20.

    The parts never came, so Kriss called again and got a delivery date of February 28. The parts still have not arrived.

    I emailed Silvretta, but I never received a reply.

  12. steve March 12th, 2007 9:06 pm

    Ouch!

    Isn’t Salewa the US distributor Silveretta and Dynafit next season?

  13. Lou March 13th, 2007 5:26 am

    Steve, yes, Salewa is parent company of both Dynafit and Silvretta, and both product lines are distributed in North America by Salewa North America.

    I was told by a top guy in the companies that Dynafit (whole product line) is the “Ferrari” of their ski offerings, while Silvretta ski gear is more the budget line, for ski touring that’s less a day-to-day activity and more of an occasional vacation activity.

    The issue of binding durability would have been easier for me to handle as a journalist if the Silvretta line had been marketed that way here in North America, instead it was marketed as a substitute for Dynafit or Fritschi, with one Pure model even marketed as a “freeride” binding which implies it can be used reliably for cliff hucking and such. While some of my take is no doubt debatable, I don’t think using the Pure for cliff hucking is something anyone who knows bindings would think it was appropriate for.

  14. steve March 13th, 2007 6:13 am

    Or any AT binding for that matter.

  15. jon March 13th, 2007 9:25 am

    I broke my Pures on Saturday climbing Mt. Antero, so it’s interesting reading this post today. The plastic wings (beefed up red version of the binding, i think the last model before they switched to grey) broke on one of the bindings while skinning up a gulley on the west side of the mountain. I was able to still use it touring/skiing gingerly with half a wing still installed, so it didn’t completely ruin the trip, but once I was back at home, I pulled the wing off and found the metal underneath to be cracked around the screw. The plastic wing I wasn’t too worried about, since it’s cheap and easy to replace, but the metal being cracked is a huge bummer. I’m hoping they’ll be warantied, because I love the light weight of these bindings, but they definitely are a bit fragile.

  16. JohnHemlock March 13th, 2007 11:46 am

    I weigh 240 and have always sworn by Fritschi. This year I moved to Dynafit for my long-tour setup.

    My only experience with Pures were demos on a pair of Goodes. Besides the slop I felt in the binding torsionally, I broke a heel lift moving it into an elevator position.

    That was the end of my Pure experiences. I know all of this stuff is anecdotal and doesn’t amount to a “study” but it it enough to cause me to stick with Fritschi.

  17. Lou March 13th, 2007 4:47 pm

    If someone wants to fund a study I’m game (grin), till then I have to go on my perceptions and experience as well as listening to what others say. Kind of like life.

  18. al March 14th, 2007 5:15 am

    Over here in Scotland we do what some call ‘mixed skiing’ – on snow as well as ice, rock, grass etc. I’ve had a few tumbles (i.e. ‘knee falls’) while skinning when the ski tip gets caught in heather or a patch of windblown snow – even fallen flat on my face – with no sign of the binding exploding (yet). I’m 6′ 4″, weigh about 190lbs and have the 05 Pures with the beefier metal toe casting but still with the red ‘wings’. Are the newer wings materially different, apart from being grey?

    Could you give any more details about the other breakages you’ve seen, or the bench test?

    I’m also unsure about where exactly Dynafit is marketed as the ‘Ferrari’ of bindings. In most shops here, TLT Speeds cost £20 LESS than the Pure Performance. Agreed the X-Mountain is more of a budget/rental binding.

    Cheers, & keep up the good work

  19. Lou March 14th, 2007 6:46 am

    Hi Al, the “Ferrari” word was just spoken to me by someone, not something in print adverstising. As for price, I was told it was supposed to be less than the top, which now would be the Dynafit Comfort, ST etc. I shouldn’t have just written “Dynafit” as indeed there is a price range in Dynafit bindings. I was just trying to convey a general point that was communicated to me by Salewa/Dynafit/Silvretta. That point being that the Dynafit bindings are the top of their line, with Silvretta intended to be perceived as second to Dynafit, though of course still functional.

    If your binding is holding up, then fine. You’re the exception to my general take.

  20. Eric March 14th, 2007 9:15 am

    Lou-

    Let’s be fair-Al is not the only execption. I’ve just scrolled thru this blog and there are 3 positive reports and 4 negative reports, plus your own experience. Still a negative tilt, but there do seem to be some folks happy with them.

    I think you’re original premise that all AT bindings are prone to breakage is key. Perhaps and probably the Pures are more prone to such problems, but some people’s take that other bindings such at the Fritschi work flawlessly in ALL conditions is plain false.

    I’m sure that many people have stuck with one binding brand for many years without problems (including myself on several Silvretta models), but the fact is that they all can break as you noted. I’ve personally witnessed 2 Fristshci explosions under condtions where you would not expect any problem (boot click in for one!).

    Thanks, Eric

  21. Lou March 14th, 2007 9:52 am

    Eric, yes, I should have said “Al, you are one of the exceptions to my general take.” I used the singular as a term of art, not literally. To say he is the only exception is obviously false if taken literally..

    Gad, you guys think I have an editor looking at this stuff or something! I try hard to keep my writing clear, but I fall short. Sorry.

    As for binding breakage, I believe with all brands it’s frequently caused at least in part by user mis-adjustment, especially that of toe wing height when that adjustment is available.

    That said, a binding has to be tolerant of a certain amount of mis-adjustment, as people aren’t perfect and boots get snow and ice on them.

  22. Hamish March 14th, 2007 3:02 pm

    I broke a pair of Pures on the skin up. I knelt down to mess with my skin tip and, when the toe piece came all the way forward to the deck of the ski, the force of leaning forward blew the heel piece off like a champagne cork. It didn’t take any force at all, just a matter of no room for give. So be careful when you kneel while in tour mode and do not go past the range of the binding.

    I wasn’t too worried as the bindings came already mounted on some demo skis for $240 complete. I called Garmont, which is still servicing the bindings for the time being, and they will warranty them. Interesting part of the conversation tho was an admission by their CSR that this failure was the result of an acknowledged design flaw. It’s not exactly a gas tank rupturing like on the old Ford Pinto, but it still ruins your day. As for me, I had to strap my boot to the binding with Voile straps and descend from way up in Cabin Creek on Berthoud Pass. I say: Caveat Emptor

  23. Jose March 14th, 2007 11:06 pm

    A friend just blew an ACL on Pures- DIN set to 4, and it just never released at all. End of season, and surgery. There is also a report on the Couloir forums about a spiral tib-fib fractures on Pures. Seriously, has *anyone* done that kind of damage of Fritschis? The toe release on the Pures seems to have a bad (rotational?) angle. The whole release set-up just seems goofy to me.

  24. Lou March 15th, 2007 6:11 am

    Jose, I know people who’ve hurt themselves on just about any binding you can name. While I’ve seen a trend in Pure durability issues, I’ve not felt there is a trend in any problems with release. Nonetheless your experience concerns me and I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks for being here and leaving your comment.

  25. Tom Williams March 15th, 2007 7:17 pm

    Hello all, I have about 20 or so days on my Pure bindings with no breakage. I had my bindings mounted by Marmot Mountain Works/Bellevue, a shop with a terrific reputation that I think is well founded. The point: Could some of these problems be related to improper installation/adjustment? I will say my next bindings will be Dynafit, but not because of any reliability problems I have encountered.

  26. William Finley March 19th, 2007 2:36 pm

    Just wanted to leave a comment; last weekend my brother was visiting and borrowed a pair of Pure’s for a day or skiing. He is a big guy and we weren’t out of the parking lot 10 minutes before I began noticing the stress he was putting on the binding. I however ignored it thinking that normal usage wouldn’t break a binding. By mid-afternoon he had broken the heel piece while trying to step into his bindings. While i realize that all AT binding break I was a little amazed that Silvretta would sell something with such obvious weak points. I’ve used and been a fan of the 300s, 404 and 500s for years and continue to love their simplicity and architecture. The Pure, however, does not seem to be in the same league.

  27. Don Jeffery December 3rd, 2007 10:47 am

    This is my first time visit to your website. I am a buyer for a ski shop and have accumulated several Pure bindings, size medium. We have been successful at selling small Pures to light weight/lady skiers for piste and off-piste use. I have heard there is a procedure for shortening the rails on a Pure binding. Can you inform me? Thanks, Don

  28. Bill March 18th, 2008 12:19 pm

    Any report on the 07/08 Pure?

  29. Lou March 19th, 2008 12:19 am

    Bill, you mean the 08/09 Pure? Our initial report on the 07/08 is here http://www.wildsnow.com/?p=723

    From what I’ve heard, the 07/08 has been working fine. I’ll check, but my recollection is that the improved binding is little changed for 08/09.

  30. Monica September 29th, 2008 1:53 pm

    Hi,
    have a pair of Black Diamond Crossbow, but no bindings mounted yet. Can choose from Fritschi Diamir Freeride and Silvretta Pure (probably 2007/08 model, carbon tubes). (Yes, there was a sale with 70% off, so… yes, you can guess what happened. Plus a pair of Scarpa T2X . And… )

    Data:
    Female. lousy but speedy skier, 150 lbs (70 kg). (Bad technique, but seldom falling.)
    Skis will mainly be used for touring, but should be able to work for weekend pist-skiing 2-3 times/year.
    Boots: Scarpa Denali (must be from 2000-01, fairly soft).

    Silvretta or Fritschi? Safe or sorry?

  31. Lou September 29th, 2008 3:57 pm

    I’d say if it’s the 2008 model Pure and you’re not on pist more than a few days a year, the Pure would work fine. It has more lateral play than Fritschi, but all bindings have play so one with a bit more isn’t a deal breaker. In terms of durability you should be fine if you’re using 20072008 model.

  32. Bill November 14th, 2008 12:42 pm

    I have a question boots. I read somewhere that the pure only accepts AT boots and soles. Is this true. Can I not use regulare alpine boots with the Pure?

    Usuualy it is the opposite. Can use alpine boots but not AT boots.

    I have had a pair of 555 for the last 5 year. I am sure they have seen over 200 days, mostly resort with alpine boots. Other than the non-step in an leashes, i love them. Looking to graduate to a pair of Pures to ease my 555 blues.

    I do have to say that after all these years my 555 are seeing a bit of wear and are really wobbly. Some tape in the heel peices has helped.

  33. Gianluca February 1st, 2009 7:20 pm

    Tore my ACL with silvretta pure performance. I bought the silvretta pure performance January 2007. I liked the fact that it is lightweight. I skied one week in January 2007 in Switzerland and everything went fine. I did fall a few times and the bindings released correctly. Last winter, in March 2008, I went skitouring for a week in Switzerland. The last day I fell on an icy slope. The binding did not release on time and I tore my ACL. I don’t know whether I can blame the bindings or not. I had fallen exactly the same way with Marker downhill bindings and an old heavy Fritschi binding but the bindings always released on time. Silvretta released after the ACL was torn. The binding should have released laterally. The DIN setting was set to 7 and I am 85kg heavy and 180cm tall. I plan to buy new skis with Fritschi Diamir. I did not get surgery but a lot of physical therapy and massage. My knee has never given way since the accident and I am able to ski and dance with no problems.

  34. Lou February 2nd, 2009 9:02 am

    Gianluca, sorry to hear about your injury. People blow out their knees all the time on all sorts of bindings. That’s a sad fact and doesn’t reflect well on how bindings are being designed — but I don’t know of any problem with this that’s specific to the Silvretta Pure.

  35. Snorky February 2nd, 2009 9:33 am

    Gianluca

    Sucks about yer knee. Alpine skiing usually results in such an injury.

    Lou, I have yet to meet a telemarker that blew out their knee. Maybe all you need to release is your heel. Of course, you’ll be slower than others in your group, always out of breath, and look ungainly in technical terrain, and you will need a beard. But at least yer knees will probably stay healthy.

    I’m curious. Any telemarkers reading this that have blown out their knee telemarking??? Just curious.

  36. Lou February 2nd, 2009 9:52 am

    I’ve met a number of telemarkers who’ve blown knees, spiral fractured their legs, etc…. for what it’s worth…

  37. Gianluca February 2nd, 2009 10:20 pm

    Lou, you are right that I cannot draw any conclusions about the safety of Silvretta Pure from my injury. I know a mountain guide who tore his ACL with Fritschi, he had a DIN setting of 10 though. One should have a statistics: of all backcountry skiers who tore their ACLs one should record what brand their binding was and see if there is a correlation. Of course, the sample has to be large enough and reflect different ages, skiing abilities etc. It’s hard to draw conclusions if such a statistics is not available and we will have to keep trusting manufacturers. However, after my injury I’m debating whether I should replace my Silvretta binding with Fritschi which is stated as being “as safe as a downhill binding”. My downhill skis have revolution X bindings (site in German): http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/verfahrenstechnologie/bericht-7727.html which provides a higher safety than normal downhill bindings. Unfortunately, there isn’t such a thing for AT and Revolution X never made it to the market. I wonder whether one day there will be a statistics showing which AT binding is safer.

  38. Lou February 3rd, 2009 8:06 am

    Snorky, haven’t you seen the Telemark Injury Study?

    http://faculty.washington.edu/mtuggy/geninfo1.htm

    IMHO, to think that skiing in today’s tele bindings and plastic tele boots is much (if any) safer than using properly adjusted randonnee bindings is pure mythology. Notice I said “properly adjusted.”

    One of my “favorite” examples of tele injuries is a guy I know who had both skis go under a log while using telemark cable bindings. Something had to give and it wasn’t the cables that let go. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

  39. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 9:56 am

    Lou

    That study analyzes frequencies of various types of injuries to telemarkers. It doesn’t compare injury frequency between telemarkers and alpine skiers. I never claimed that telemarkers don’t get injured. I merely speculated that they do so at a lower rate than alpine skiers. We can always find “examples” of gruesome injuries. The log incident you mentioned probably could have happened to any skier. I am looking for RELATIVE RATES of injury between tele and AT, and snowboarding too.

    I’m still confused at why snowboarders don’t need releasable bindings, but telemarkers do. The fact is, in a falling situation, telemark bindings DO release, more than halfway. That’s kind of what tele bindings are, half-releasable. The ability of the heel to leave the ski defuses a great deal of energy that is released during a fall. That is why I am able to fall thousands of times with no injury. Falling on alpine skis is simply a much bigger deal. I’ve heard so many stories about failed or premature releases resulting in problems, many on this blog, that the ability to release doesn’t seem so attractive.

    That said, I know I am still at risk of leg injuries. But I am totally unconvinced that telemarkers get injured more often than AT skiers. I think your opinion that telemarking is less safe than AT is “pure mythology.”

    Lou, you have unique access to the ski community. Can’t you get a real answer on this from your product-developing, randonee technician friends? Do a survey on your blog, crunch some numbers, find out who is actually getting hurt and why. If telemarkers are getting hurt at a higher rate than AT skiers and snowboarders, I will gladly buy some ad space in your sidebar.

    If it turns out you’re wrong, and telemarking is relatively safer for legs, then you can tone down your “fun=100% safe” stance, and just admit that it’s OK for telemarkers to ski on whatever gear they choose. You can admit that it doesn’t affect you if my ski releases or not. You can admit that its OK to accept risks. It’s like wearing a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet. Why do you care if I do or don’t?

  40. Lou February 3rd, 2009 10:37 am

    Snorky, when you wrote “but at least yer knees will probably stay healthy,” I thought you were implying that telemarkers don’t hurt their knees. If you’re looking at relative rates of injury, I have no idea where you could find that. Perhaps someone else here knows where that data is presented. I seem to recall seeing something a long time ago that said leg injuries are less common with telemark, but upper body injuries are more common. But I cold be dreaming that up.

    At any rate, if someone telemarks because they think they’re less likely to get hurt, that seems to me to be a bit out there. Telemarking as an excuse to grow a beard makes a lot more sense.

  41. Paul S. February 3rd, 2009 10:59 am

    Of the skiers I work with on ski patrol, the split between alpine and tele is close to 50/50. Based on the ones I know that have blown out knees, injury rates seem to be pretty similar between the two. As a snowboarder, a single stick protects me from “third foot” falls, where, while falling, I drag a hand behind me, and one leg continues forwards, popping the ACL. With both legs attached together, indirect-force and twisting-force falls may direct the force partly through both legs. On the other hand, we snowboarders do get a good share of the wrist injuries.

  42. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 11:06 am

    Yeah, I’ve taken some spears to the chest. That’s just part of war.

    You say “if someone telemarks because they think they’re less likely to get hurt, that seems to me to be a bit out there.” Substitute “telemarks” with “uses AT bindings” or “sleeps with prostitutes,” and you will see the reflexive conundrum in your statement.

    I saw some AT skier with a beard in Temerity the other day. Then I saw that he shaved just his neck. And I was like, “what a poser. He WEARS his beard like make-up.” Shaving the neck is like skiing AT at the resort. It makes you look like you could be rugged, but don’t want to be mistaken for a stoner.

    Isn’t being “less likely to get hurt” what all your posts about binding technologies are about? If that seems “out there,” why do you devote so much time to discussing the safety merits of different bindings. If telemarking did turn out to be “safer,” you wouldn’t be able to dismiss it as an inferior method of snow-sliding. You need telemarking to be unsafe to protect your ego, now that you have invested so much energy into tele-hating. You dismiss tele gear and the tele turn as some sort of joke. Right now, the “safety” argument is your main tool in tele-hating, and I’m thinking that tool doesn’t work.

    Telemarkers are jibbing, skiing big mountain, hucking cliffs, hitting bumps, in the BC, on piste, whatever. Accept it. They obviously do it because they like it better than alpine skiing. Although you think that can’t be true, just admit that you simply don’t understand telemarking. (Why would someone climb trad, when there is so much “safe” sport climbing around? Are trad climbers just inferior people, like telemarkers?)

    And what about snowboarders and their silly gear? Are they exempt from the criticism you cast at telemarkers?

  43. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 11:15 am

    Paul S.

    Thanks for attempting to provide some real-world comparison between tele and AT safety.

    I didn’t understand the “third-foot falls” description. I know of several snowboarders that tore the ACL on their front leg after hitting a depression or landing on a flat. The sudden force comes laterally when snowboarding, automatically exposing knee ligaments to stretching and tearing. But that is, again, very anecdotal.

    And I admit to having suffered a thumb injury while telemarking almost every year, due to punching the snow with fists during falls or to avoid falls. But knee problems, never.

  44. Lou February 3rd, 2009 11:20 am

    Jeez Snorky, lighten up! I wrote “think” they are less likely to get hurt. If telemarkers were truly less likely to be hurt, I’d be all for that as another valid reason to take up the method of turning a ski. But I see no evidence that’s the case.

    As for free heel being valid, I get out skied by telemarkers all the time, so I certainly know it works.

    As for joking and taking stabs at sacred cows such as telemarking, I’ll keep doing it as long as my brain works. Humor is key to this whole deal. Otherwise we’d take ourselves WAY too seriously.

    As for hating, believe me, if I was a hater I’d find more important things than a ski turn to direct that emotion towards!

  45. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 11:27 am

    How could you possibly get outskied by telemarkers all the time if their gear sucks so bad? On ultra-light, robust, DIN-set, factory-tested, industrial-strength, AT bindings, you should have little difficulty exceeding the performance of some baked hippy on nordic gear.

  46. Lou February 3rd, 2009 11:29 am

    Because they’re usually 1/3 my age. But seriously, nordic gear? Last time I saw someone telemarking on nordic gear was twenty years ago.

  47. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 11:30 am

    No way Santonio Holmes makes that catch if he’s wearing AT bindings.

  48. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 11:33 am

    You write as though telemarking is for nordic woodsmen from Vermont with super-long bamboo poles. I’m just reminding you that it has grown up. I was trying to adopt this “humor” that you advocate.

  49. Lou February 3rd, 2009 11:34 am

    Hmmm, you do have a point.

  50. Lou February 3rd, 2009 11:36 am

    And…. it is indeed tough to make sure people see that you’re trying to be funny in things like blog comments. I should throw in more (grin) statements. Perhaps you should too.

    Is “baked hippy” something they serve in Vermont (grin)?

  51. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 11:50 am

    Simplest to make blog posts funny. Have random words that hot link to photos of people in fat-suits. Better yet, every time you write “telemarker” have it link to this: (http://bp2.blogger.com/_r7sRAEiPKm8/SFGpGRpycZI/AAAAAAAAAXM/TtrvyE2NL_c/s400/environmentalist.jpg). Every time you write “AT skier” have it link to this: (http://gozinger.com/images/Baby%20Brax%20Pics%20013.jpg). And every time you type “Lou” have it link to this: (http://www.muscularbadass.com/images/badass.gif).

    Cheers

  52. Tony February 3rd, 2009 1:28 pm

    Of all the skiers I know, the most uptight and defensive are tele skiers like snorky. What is your problem? Worried about where on the neck someone shaves? Unbelievable. Obviously the “free your heels free your mind” mantra is not working for you, at all.

  53. Scott February 3rd, 2009 3:06 pm

    A good Alpine vs Tele vs Snowboard argument is always entertaining. Two of the tools have been proven on difficult first descents all over the globe. The thrid has some sort of inferiority complex.

  54. Snorky February 3rd, 2009 5:51 pm

    OK
    I have an inferiority complex. It comes from my inability to keep up with you guys. That’s the truth. I do my best, and I gasp, but I can’t keep up with alpine skiers or snowboarders. My God, the way you guys take off on those fatties, all I can see is your tail-spray as you calmly descend the mountain with cool elegance. I have to jump around like a maniac to make any turn at all, I tumble onto my head like a pogo stick, I stop to pant in the middle of exposed gullies. Honest. And then I get on this blog to neck-shavers that they are posers. The most extreme stuff I’ve skied was off the back of Buttermilk. I saw some extreme skiing at the Wheeler once though, so I know what’s up. I even skied with Kreitler once, he was like “yo!” And then I talked to Jeremy Jones at the Reno airport, I was like “you’re the shit,” and I meant it. I feel like I’m the best skier in my family, but I’ll probably never be good enough to ski Hayden. I tried to ski AT once, but it freakin’ hurt when I dropped my knee. Does anybody know of a recommended ski therapist so I can work out all this anger?

  55. Lou February 3rd, 2009 7:48 pm

    I thought you might have been Nick Devore in disguise, but I guess not (grin).

  56. Brandon March 2nd, 2009 10:24 am

    Back to the bindings discussion. Have pure freerides that I have used probably ten times so far. Yesterday hit some hard crud and attempted a hard turn and the toe piece on the binding blew up. Ended up in 4 pieces leading to a nice crash. Amazing day and was able to keep skiing thanks to 3 straps borrowed from fellow skiers. Needless to say I was not impressed by my binding breaking on what should have been a routine turn. Now I am trying to figure out how to get service from the company that has no local distributor (Alaska).

  57. Bryce March 2nd, 2009 10:43 am

    Salewa NA in Boulder, CO distributes Silvretta (and Dynafit) to North America. Their phone number is 303-444-0446 and they will take care of you.

  58. Sam Reese March 2nd, 2009 11:26 am

    @Brandon:
    Silvretta and Dynafit are both now distributed in NA by Salewa if I remember correctly, but that is irrelevant. If you were able to post here, you are able to go to the silvretta website, and fish around until you find an actual phone number. (It’s below.. I’ll save you the trouble and still mock you, because I’m squandering time at work) I’ve not contacted silv US yet, but dynafit US distributors are really great to talk to. Contact them…
    … so ask for a refund or exchange for set of Vertical ST

    Silvretta North America 4730 Walnut Street
    Suite 200
    Boulder, CO 80301

    Phone area code: 303
    phone number 444-0446
    email: info at. silvretta dot u s
    http://www.silvretta.us

  59. Lou March 2nd, 2009 12:08 pm

    In all fairness, it’s not obvious that Salewa NA would provide support for Silvretta… but now Brandon knows. I would add that there is a banner for Dynafit in our header, and that will lead to Salewa NA. More, here is a blog post about same:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/693/psa-dynafit-north-america-is-available-to-help-you/

  60. Brandon March 3rd, 2009 11:43 am

    Thanks for the info, found it shortly after I posted. Contacted them and support was great, part is on the way. I’ll post again if I have any other problems. Besides the one bad experience bindings have been excellent on ups and downs. Would recommend a couple of straps in pocket just in case though… FYI, I am 180 pounds.

  61. Roger April 4th, 2009 8:25 am

    well im no expert by any means but I have been skiing on my pures in and
    out of bounds for two years, they are mounted on goode carbon 82′s and yes
    I learned not to overdrive them nore to expect too much from them as far a
    preformance early on …

    The only issues I have had is the slop in the heal piece connection I brought them back and showed the guy’s at the shop and they contacted silvretta who
    said they would send a replacement and when they did it was only for the one
    heal piece , ok kinda strange but oh well no biggie I thought that is untill the
    other one decided to do the same thing the very next year …..

    I like the lightness of the set-up and just wish I could get over the way the
    Dynafit toe connection freaks me out , yes Ive bought and tried to become
    one with the TLT Comfort and prehaps someday I will because I truly beleave
    that with this binding and my tried and true Garmont Mega rides I might one day
    enjoy some long tours w/ my tele friends who BTW don’t mind an old AT fart
    tagging along esp when I catch them doing parallel turns down the steep
    .
    And what’s the difference now between NTN and AT seems like one and the same to me anymore, might as well by a cheap pair of alpine boards an an
    alpine trecker.

    I have owned several binding’s in search of the holy grail : Fritschi,silveretts,
    Dynafit , Marker. but by far I think my worst choice to date has been the pure.

    So now I ride Dukes and suffer, albet not too much

    BTW I have a beard, shave my neck, listen to Jerry, drink micro brew or a good single malt and quaif the gnar SOOOOWHAT…

  62. Andy February 1st, 2010 4:56 pm

    I’ve been a Silvretta Pure Performance skier for about three years now, and just had my first issue with the binding.

    I’ve used them exclusively on an extremely light pair of Dynastar Altirides for both backcountry and on-piste skiing.

    I was skiing some glades on Jay Peak in Vermont this weekend, when I popped out of the binding. I looked down to see that the toe piece had split in two on one of my skis.

    This was mentioned as a common problem with the later model skis, however I have been using a newer (grey toepiece) version of the Pure Performance.

    I should admit that over the last few years I’ve skied icy moguls, hucked some short ledges, and hit my share of submerged rocks without incident. Generally, I’ve found these to be very lightweight, have a reliable release and comfortable touring pivot, and hold tight when I’m chattering across steep crust.

    I’ve got a request into Silvretta for information on replacement parts, and so I have yet to form an opinion on their service. I suppose the results will determine if I remain a customer.

    I just wanted to say that I thought the recommendations on use of the Silvretta, and its potential weaknesses on your review and in this discussion thread are spot on.

  63. Darrell March 11th, 2010 6:04 pm

    Lou – I am new to this site. Great info. I noticed, on a related Silvretta thread of your’s, that you told one of the guys that the Pure’s do not work with climbing boots.

    I do want to add that I use my Pure Freerides with climbing boots all the time – no problems. I have a pair of leather Salomon Super Mountain 9 Guide boots as well as Scarpa Alpha Plastic boots and the bindings work with both.
    All I had to do was adjust the heel piecs screw a bit. These 2 boots have different height rear rands, but the binding is able to adjust automatically to fit either. The red plastic part juts doesn’t slide quite as far on the higher rand. Locks down secure on either pair.

    Take care,
    Darrell

  64. Lou March 11th, 2010 6:18 pm

    Darrell, I should have been more clear. Sure, you can stick a climbing boot with a heel shelf in nearly any binding actually, but any consistent lateral release is out the window unless it’s a toe wire binding such as the older Silvrettas.

  65. Darrell March 11th, 2010 6:58 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I respectfully disagree. A climbing boot will not fit in most AT bindings, to my knowledge. Of course, when skinning with climbing boots, the real goal is to ski in for access to the climbs, and not really to do any high performance skiing at that time (as the climbing boots leave lots to be desired in terms of support to drive the skiis). I could use the older Silvreatta 500s, which would be fine for access to the climbs, but I would think they would not do well in resort skiing.

    In using the Pure bindings, I have one ski/binding setup that lets me access the climbing areas easily with climbing boots, as well as performing well in the backcountry or resorts with my Endorphins.
    I have not found another binding that will do both of these. please let me know, if you know of others that will, as I am looking to buy bindings for my wife – so far the Pure is my only choice, as I see it.

    Re: lateral release, I can kick the side of my climbing boot, and watch it release laterally, as the toe slides on the plastic slider, and the heel kicks out. Am I missing something?

  66. Lou March 12th, 2010 9:20 am

    Darell, we’re both making generalizations. Sorry about me doing that. I should have said that one could make most rigid soled climbing boots clip into (not necessarily “work”) in just about any AT binding if they do some mods such as reducing the height of the heel, but that doing so is highly unrecommended due to inconsistent release and retention. If your particular boot seems to work with a particular binding, then good, but know that safety release values may be inconsistent, and no AT binding is designed to have reliable safety release with climbing boots because a non-rigid boot simply does not transfer forces to the binding the same way a ski boot does.

    I guess what I’m saying is more power to you, but everyone, don’t get the idea you can run out and buy a set of Silvretta Pures and be certain they’ll work correctly with any old climbing boot.

    As for resort skiing in Silvrettas, I really don’t see why the Pure would be any better than any other model, other than that it has step-in feature.

    I should add that in terms of the Silvetta binding heel or any other brand adjusting automatically to different heel heights, a small amount of that is built into most AT bindings, but most of what you’re calling “adjusting” is actually the safety elasticity that’s there to keep make the safety release work correctly. If you’re using that to compensate for a non-standard boot heel height, you may be compromising the safety performance of the binding.

  67. Mark O May 1st, 2010 10:42 pm

    Lou,

    Do you have any info on the newly designed Hagan Z01 Touring Bindings? Would love to know if they will accept mountaineering boots as the Silvretta 500′s do.

    I understand that they will weigh approx 1700gms so obviously not light compared to Dynafits but I am looking to use them on a pair of 130cm Hagan Extreme Tour Skis with a pair of La Sportiva Nepal Evo’s for approaches to mountains to climb as well as with AT boots at other times.

    Also, do you think anyone will ever produce a pair of ‘mountaineering boots’ rather than ski mountaineering boots with dynafit capability? Guessing too small a market but would LOVE to see this.

    Many thanks, Mark

  68. Lou May 2nd, 2010 7:10 am

    Mark, it doesn’t look like the Hagan Z01 would accept mountaineering boots any better than other such bindings. It appears to be a Fritschi me-to. We’re not panting over it as it’ll of course be released into the worldwide consumer testing program for this coming season and we see how that goes. You can google it for photos etc.

    Dynafit used to make some incredibly cool boots for hybrid use, specifically the “TLT” models. You can still find them here and there on the used market… The beefy stiff boot fad will of course reverse in a few years and we’ll again get more lightweight climbing oriented boots to choose from. Meanwhile, the race inspired boots do tour well but without liner thickness for warmth and without better and thick sole rubber they hardly could be called a true mountaineering boot.

  69. Jonathan Shefftz May 2nd, 2010 10:21 am

    The hybrid Dynafit boot was the MLT4 — essentially a TLT4 but with an upper cuff more like a climbing boot.
    The MLT4 is very hard to find, but you can create the same thing by taking an old used TLT4, removing the upper cuff, and then attached a climbing boot’s upper cuff.

  70. SB May 2nd, 2010 10:31 am

    If you are trying to ski in your climbing boots, more support helps immensly.

    What ever happened with the “Alp Control” from here ?http://www.wildsnow.com/929/want-to-ski-in-your-climbing-boots-alp-control-might-be-ticket/

    I built a homemade version that only has the strap which keeps you from falling backwards as Colin Haley describes somewhere on his blog and it worked pretty well for cruiser skiing down mellow terrain in the spring snowpack. Total cost was around $4. Completely dusted my partner who had snowshoes on the way out. It worked well enough that I’m going to add some cushier knee straps to make it more comfortable. I was using a Silvretta 500 and some La Sportiva Spantiks.

  71. SB May 2nd, 2010 10:38 am

    Here is the link to Colin Haley’s description of the device. It isn’t too detailed, but it really wasn’t too complicated. Somewhere I saw a picture of him skiing down a steep couloir near Chamonix with Sportiva Trangos, which surprised me because they are a super light and flexible climbing boots with little support for skiing.

    http://cascadeclimbers.com/alpine/colin-haley-alpinism-hardware-part-three

    I used some 1″ webbing with buckles for the knee strap. It wasn’t too comfortable. I think I will get 2 or 3 inch padded straps made for weight lifting at Sports Authority for more comfort.

  72. Elam May 5th, 2010 11:25 am

    On Sunday I broke the top toe piece of one of my Atomic MX310 bindings while descending Shavano (Angel). I hit an icy spot while carving at speed on hardpack and my inside ski ejected by way of breaking the top toe piece (the blue piece on the MX310, red piece in the picture on this site.) This was day 31 on these bindings. I was able to continue skiing cautiously with a velcro strap over the toe of my boot and under the two bars of the binding.

    I know the MX310 is basically a Silvretta binding, but does anyone know what model it matches or if the toe piece is the same?

    Has anyone had any luck getting a replacement toe piece for the MX310 or any of the similar Silvretta bindings?

    Thanks,

    -Elam

  73. Lou May 5th, 2010 1:03 pm

    Elam, thanks for letting us know, I hope you find a part. I’m not highly impressed with those bindings…

  74. Arrphman March 12th, 2011 10:13 am

    My wife has been skiing on Pure x-mountain since they have been available in Calgary. They have been skiied on alot and work as they are supposed to for anything other than hard abusive use. I would not recommend them for things such as cliff-hucking, etc. But it should be obvious that this lightweight step-in binding is well designed for what it is good for and that is touring by a competent skier.

    Most problems with any binding occurs with mal-adjustment and mis-use and abuse. Downhill bindings are for hard use and abuse – you cannot expect a touring binding to stand up to the same abuse as a downhill binding.

    The most dominant factor is skier competence and all I can say about this is learn to ski better. There is absolutely no reason to have a binding set higher than it should be – I repeat, learn to ski better. Comments I have read here as to having bindings set say at Din10 just proves incompetence. Settings like that belong only in the racing realm -period…

  75. Christian March 12th, 2011 11:53 am

    Arrphmann: Just how does skiing incompetence increase the need for higher din setting?

  76. ken holmes April 22nd, 2011 12:25 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I was touring last week with a lady who was using Silvretta Pures. She had frequent problems with her bindings releasing. I noticed that when the forward release is set at DIN 6 with no boot in the binding, the setting drops to below 3 with the boot in the binding.
    When it is set at DIN 6 with the boot in the binding, it shows over 10 with no boot in the binding.
    I have since read the Silvretta manual and can’t find any reference to adjusting the forward releass setting with the boot in the binding.
    Do you have any comments on this?

    Ken

  77. Lou April 22nd, 2011 12:33 pm

    It should be done with the boot in the binding, after you set correct forward pressure/length.

  78. Jay June 27th, 2011 10:05 am

    What a great resource thank you for all the information. The last post saved me allot of searching as I was experiencing the same issue as Ken Holmes above thank you Lou that did the trick.

  79. Clint June 27th, 2011 10:12 am

    Well developed article, and it is really helpful thank you for the information. I appreciate the comments also answered a few questions I also had.

  80. Gary Slats August 2nd, 2011 8:12 am

    Thank you for sharing with us.
    But i really dont like them,
    they are really not safe and there is a chance of getting an injurey.

  81. peter mcmanus October 30th, 2013 5:23 am

    Hi, as its autumn here in Scotland its the time for ‘old chestnuts’ like silvretta pure discussions.

    I’ve come across a cheap pair of atomic mx412 bindings on ebay. I understand these are rebranded silvretta pures but I’m wondering if they are likely to be the suspect 06/07 version?

    Did atomic continue to rebrand these bindings once they were improved in later generations? I guess the cheap price might be a clue. Any thoughts would be welcome.

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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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