Fritschi Diamir To Release Tech Binding — First Look at Zenith 12


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Fritschi Diamir Zenith 12

Fritschi Diamir Zenith 12

In a world where a new tech binding seems to pop up almost weekly, one tends to yawn at each iteration. After all, most are really just copies of one another. Not so the Diamir Zenith 12. This grabber includes a rather intriguing side release at the toe that’s claimed to allow a full 11 mm of elasticity, mode change on the fly, and other interesting features that may perhaps even be innovative. More to expound when we have a tester, for now here is some official verbiage and imagery. Catalog PDF is also available off our server. Catalog weight is a totally competitive 499 grams per binding.

A few Zenith backcountry skiing binding details, from Fritschi catalog.

A few Zenith backcountry skiing binding details from Fritschi catalog. Some of you may be dancing in the streets since this tech binding does indeed switch between uphill and downhill modes without removal of foot from binding. Click all images to enlarge.

Following copy is excerpted from the catalog, lightly edited with a few editorial comments:

SAfeTy TeCH SySTem Tour Diamir Zenith 12 For ski tour buffs with highest demands

The first ever tech binding with defined release (Ed. whatever that means, since there is no DIN/ISO standard for tech bindings). The top of the line ski touring binding for hard use in the high mountains and in difficult conditions. Genuine innovation with state of the art materials and manufacturing methods.

The exclusive look underscores its very special blend of power and finesse. Advantages compared to conventional tech bindings:
•Front lateral defined safety release
•Frontal defined safety release
•Safety release in uphill mode
•Easiest to switch from walk mode to downhill mode
•Easiest adjustment of walk mode levels
•Crampon with consistent traction depth SAFETY TECH and system features For detailed descriptions, see pages 8–11.

With its defined safety release, the Diamir Zenith 12 has introduced a new era of tech binding systems: innovative technology offering an incredible combination of safety, user comfort and power transmission. Trendsetting SAFETY TECH Similar to modern release systems of alpine bindings, lateral release is based on automatic toe release. Active length compensation provides a defined release, even when the ski is bent. In terms of user comfort of tech bindings, the Diamir Zenith 12 with the Easy Switch Concept is playing in a different league. Broad support and maximum system stability ensure direct power transmission. A sophisticated mechanism in the crampon also achieves the seemingly impossible with a consistent traction depth in all walk mode levels. Diamir Zenith 12 – for ski tour buffs with highest demands State-of-the-art binding systems capable of handling continuously increasing requirements and meeting the specific needs of each individual user are in demand.

SAfeTy TeCH SySTem – Safety Tech Lateral safety release Toe unit Similar to modern release systems of alpine bindings, the lateral release in the toe unit occurs in two phases. In a first phase, the carriage with the toe pin unit slides laterally. In a second phase, the respective toe pin unit swivels out laterally to release the boot. After the release, the toe pin unit can easily be reset by hand to its original position. Integrated dynamic range Similar to the Diamir SAFETY ALUBAR SYSTEM the SAFETY TECH SYSTEM also includes a dynamic range. The boot is not released until the dynamic range of 11 mm and the preset restoring force have been exceeded. As a result, the binding will only release when absolutely necessary. This is an important safety feature, especially in uneven terrain. Developing an exceptionally lightweight release mechanism with defined release and fitting into an extremely limited mounting space is a technical masterpiece. For safety-conscious ski touring enthusiasts who prefer a pin binding to meet their personal needs, a defined release, even when the ski is bent, is one of the key arguments for choosing a SAFETY TECH model from Diamir.

To ensure a defined release by the release mechanisms in any skiing situation, the contact pressure of the boot must remain constant at all times. In the SAFETY TECH SYSTEM, a consistent contact pressure is ensured, even when the ski is significantly bent, by the active length compensation through the sliding back and forth of the heel unit on a guiding plate.

Conventional tech bindings are not provided with length compensation within the binding system (Ed. this seeems to be the thing they’re making a big deal out of, and it’s true the normal tech bindings don’t do well with length compensation as the ski flexes). Instead, when the binding is mounted and adjusted to the length of the boot, a small gap is provided between the gripping edge of the boot and the heel part of the binding. This is why the boot is jammed between toe and heel parts when the ski is significantly bent and as a result, a defined release is made impossible.

Comments

87 Responses to “Fritschi Diamir To Release Tech Binding — First Look at Zenith 12”

  1. Dimi January 19th, 2013 3:11 pm

    loving the Active Length compensation, a real innovation indeed, not sure i would trade in my plums for them (no actually i wouldn’t) but looking forward to seeing if this actually works.. I’m wondering how they maintain a precise release/constant pressure on the binding under ski flex.. i suppose the boot heel pieces will have to be locked into the pins with the notches i see there.

  2. Eric Steig January 19th, 2013 3:25 pm

    I hesitate to say this within earshot of Lou but…. I’m excited about the possibility that this or future innovative bindings will provide the adjustable toe release that would make the telemark tech system into a reliably releasable binding. I know, I know, telemark is dead, but I simply still enjoy it.

  3. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2013 3:40 pm

    Make it stooooooppppppppp (grin)

  4. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2013 3:47 pm

    Dimi, while much of what they seem to tout in the catalog is just basic tech binding function that’s more than 20 years old, I’d agree that the length compensation sounds quite interesting. I’m pretty sure the way it works is that the boot heel and binding have no gap, the boot heel rests against the binding heel unit, which in turn moves for and aft to compensate for ski flex, rather than a gap opening and closing as with most tech bindings.

    It should be said that compensating for ski flexing as a inherent part of the system was one of the genius level things that Fritz Barthel invented with the original tech binding, but on the other hand the release values do change with a conventional tech binding as the heel gap opens and closes. Eliminating that changing RV might be terrific, especially for people who like their safety bindings to be state-of-art safe at chart settings rather than higher settings.

    All that being so, it’s going to be a long time still before anyone can equal the weight vs function ratio of something like a Dynafit Speed or Plum Race binding.

  5. Carl January 19th, 2013 4:48 pm

    Any word on price range? An adjustable toe release and greater elasticity would be quite nice for use inbounds.

  6. Neil January 19th, 2013 5:00 pm

    Looks to have a very flat ramp angle.

  7. Nick January 19th, 2013 5:26 pm

    Release at the toe in tour mode ought to be a big selling point – would certainly win over me if everything else was equal.

    Looks like you might need to open the toe with a pole to step in?

  8. Nick January 19th, 2013 5:47 pm

    Thinking about it I wondered how that toe release would work with 11mm of ‘dynamic range’ when the heel was free. With the heel free simply twisting the boot wouldn’t cause any lateral movement at the toe and so the boot wouldn’t release.

    However looking at the catalog PDF it seems you still have to switch the toe to tour mode. I bet that is to remove the need for the 11mm of lateral movement at the toe before release happens (it says it is to laterally stabilize the boot toe).

    Also the catalog seems to say similar step in to dynafit toe units – no need to hold open with a pole.

  9. Sam F January 19th, 2013 6:55 pm

    this design seems to address the two most common types of pre-release. Also a heel that provides constant foward pressure(maybe) and ONLY has to control foward release, seems as though it could provide a more stable feel.

  10. Dan January 19th, 2013 7:28 pm

    The Zenith 12 info sheet lists the weight of the complete binding with brake and cramp-on attachment thingy as 499 grams. The Wildsnow report on the Radical Speed binding w/o brakes is listed at more than 500 grams. Apparently, the Zenith 12 has a better function to weight ratio than the Dynafit bindings. I have no idea about the Plum binding. BTW: How would a native french speaker pronounce “Plum”?…PLOU?

  11. Greg Louie January 19th, 2013 8:06 pm

    Looks promising, and Fritschi needs badly for this to work . . . thanks for the writeup, Lou!

  12. Greg Louie January 19th, 2013 8:19 pm

    @Dan: Dynafit Speed Radical and Ploom Guide are nearly identical in weight, 357/358 grams with screws . . .

  13. Dan January 19th, 2013 8:51 pm

    @ Greg: Thanks. Apparently, I can’t read anymore either. Although, now I don’t have to buy a set of the Zenith 12s.

  14. See January 19th, 2013 9:21 pm

    As I read it, information regarding how “active length compensation” works is nil. How is the gap maintained without changing release value as pressure on mechanism increases?

  15. Lou Dawson January 19th, 2013 11:17 pm

    See, there is no gap, I tried to make that point above. Lou

  16. JP January 20th, 2013 2:10 am

    Couple observations after studying the catalog.

    There is a philips head at the base of the toe. Looks like adjustable RV at the toe. Toe pins look like they are replaceable.

    Looks like the heel rides in a track and has a forward pressure spring like most alpine binding heels. Also looks like the heel sits against the heel of the boot in ski mode without any gap. They also don’t show any kind of lateral release at the heel. Vertical release only?

    Heel slides back and forth like an Onyx to go from ski to tour mode.

    They mention crampons but pictures.

    If this thing actually performs and comes in somewhere between $400 – $500 they are going to kill it.

  17. Lou Dawson January 20th, 2013 6:44 am

    JP, the lateral release at the heel appears to be a function of the heel pins moving to the side. And yes, I’m pretty sure the binding heel unit move for/aft in a track, and there is no tech binding ‘gap’ between boot heel and binding. Ostensibly, this thing will be very easy to step into, perhaps truly a step-in rather than a fiddly step in (grin). Myself, I’ll stick with lighter options because they all work fine for me, but yeah, there are a lot of hard charging skiers out there who will do better with some sort of tech binding that’s more designed for large forces, as original tech binding never was. So more power to Fritschi with Zenith, Dynafit with Beast, and what sounds like a host of other bindings coming out soon that incorporate tech type touring functions with alpine-like downhill functions.

  18. cseilern January 20th, 2013 6:58 am

    @JP – it looks like the heel release comes from the pins not being horseshoe shaped like in tech bindings, but individually mounted on little longitudinal bars – i.e. each pin can move laterally independently and release.

    what i really like though is the downhill to uphill transition – no need to take the boot out. it seems that diamir has figured out a way to make tech bindings that look and feel like regular bindings, but at tech weights.

  19. Tim January 20th, 2013 8:11 am

    worth waiting for, or just buy a set of Dynafits for the G-friend and upgrade when they come out?

  20. See January 20th, 2013 11:09 am

    Sorry. Looks like my comprehension was nil.

    Still wondering, like others, if there’s a forward pressure spring, “notches(?)” that keep boot and binding engaged as ski flexes, “collars” on the pins that fit inside the cavity in the boot heel (might require minor Dremel mod), or what.

  21. JP January 20th, 2013 1:47 pm

    Still betting the heel is only vertical release like an alpine binding. Each heel pin looks like it can only move laterally to the outside. Doesn’t look like they can both move left to right. Heel itself doesn’t look like it rotates. That ads up to no lateral heel release. Vertical from the heel and lateral from the toe. Just like an alpine binding.

    Not having to take your boot off to switch from tour to ski is $$$$.

    They only mention 85mm brakes. If they don’t offer up to at least 110mm it will be a deal breaker for me and my friends. Fingers crossed.

    My gut tells me the Zenith will be affordable. $400-$500. They seemed to have nailed all the functional hot-buttons. I bet hitting the price-point sweet-spot was a mission critical part of the design criteria.

    In my circle, which includes a few that break everything and are not afraid to spend money, the $1K admission for the Dynafit Beast is out of the question no matter how awesome it turns out to be. The weight and the Goldberg’esque complexity is not very inspiring either. Also questioning the failures and consequent band-aids that had to be applied to the Radical which makes me question how well thought out the Beast is going to be.

  22. cseilern January 20th, 2013 3:16 pm

    @JP – good observation on the heel unit! i am not sure though that pins need to move in both directions – i would not be surprised if only one moved outward, and that the “non moving” pin releases through the horizontal notches left and right of the heel tech fitting.

  23. See January 20th, 2013 7:59 pm

    Ok, I just got around to reading the catalog pdf. I’m guessing the heel has forward pressure and collars on the pins that keep the insertion depth constant, with a couple of bumps on the binding body to share the forward pressure load and reduce friction from extreme flex and/or dirt.

  24. etto January 21st, 2013 7:54 am

    Looks very interesting, and deserves just as much attention as Dynafit’s Beast, as many has pointed out, most of us don’t really nead RV/DIN 16… A less complex and lighter construction that addresses some of the important shortcomings of today’s tech bindings, without changing the interface at all! Let’s hope this is the real deal, and that Dynafit get’s som real competition, that can only benefit us, the skiers :)

    But for the non-racing crowd, is it really important to switch from walk to ski mode without getting out of the skis? I mean most of us use skins that we can’t just rip off with the skis attached anyway, don’t we?

  25. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2013 8:00 am

    Etto, a very vocal minority constantly howls about being able to switch between modes without taking skis off feet. Apologies to you guys in that vocal minority, but yes, for most skiers this option is simply not important. Nonetheless, if they provide it then more power to them, and let the howling stop (grin).

  26. Scooter January 21st, 2013 9:14 am

    Etto,Lou
    I one who sees the major downfall of the tech category as well as the Duke is that you can not switch modes on the fly. It is not a feature I would use while changing out to head downhill . It is useful to have in the long flats back to the trail head.

  27. Lou Dawson January 21st, 2013 9:38 am

    Thing is, it takes about 20 seconds to pop a foot out of a binding, rotate heel unit, and pop back in. Really, it’s more a psychological detriment than anything else, unless you’re in a race that requires shifting quickly to touring mode from downhill mode. Of course, some folks tour like it’s a race… that’s ok if it’s your thing, but most people can stop for a total of 40 seconds to change modes…

  28. Scooter January 21st, 2013 11:20 am

    It’s a convenience thing Lou, I’m not worried about adding 40 seconds to my slide back to the car. (the slide out to the TH has maybe 3 sections where it would be nice to free the heel for 50m or so) My Dynafit FT 12 works just fine, but if the Zenith 12 can make it through its first year without any breakage issues and perform as good or better than a Dynafit, like it or not there could be new leader in the tech market IMO.

  29. Carl January 21st, 2013 9:11 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqBaHPcgtAM

    Scooter,

    For those worried about heel release without taking the toe out, have you seen this? I use it regularly. Has not hurt the binding yet. Very useful trick.
    Carl

  30. Corey Gagnon January 22nd, 2013 12:44 pm

    I don’t really see the need for a binding to be able to switch to walk mode without having to remove your boot. I mean, you still have to take your ski off to put your skins on. Unless you have exceptional balance and flexibility!

  31. Corey Gagnon January 22nd, 2013 12:56 pm

    Also, I am a little concerned about the lateral release in the toe. In an alpine binding, if you put pressure laterally on the toe, it can pop itself back to center with ease when you don’t have a full release and you can continue skiing. Doing that with a tech binding, if your boot shifts to the side and doesn’t release, what are the odds that the pin on the opposite side will find its way back into the tech fitting.

  32. Nexus6 January 22nd, 2013 2:03 pm

    Corey, from the diagram it appears that the both wings and pins slide from side to side as one unit on a carriage. When you reach the end of the side to side travel then the outside toe wing pivots down and out to allow release. This is how they’re achieving the lateral elastic travel in the toe. Overall the entire design seems very well though out. Time on snow of course will tell how well all this works.

  33. Ryan January 23rd, 2013 7:45 pm

    Between the plums and these, dynafit should finally lose the privilege of coming out with over hyped and over expensive bindings that don’t work.

  34. James B January 27th, 2013 1:42 pm

    With respect, Lou and Corey, switching modes without taking off the ski is an important feature for those of us who tour in places like Rogers Pass, where the snow is often 20 feet deep and hasn’t been compacted by a skier all season. It’s not a time-related thing, it’s about sinking into the snow up to one’s crotch without skis on and wallowing around like a beached walrus. Sometimes one can find a firmer spot in the lee of a big boulder to stand when taking off skis to change modes, or you can stand on your backpack, or you can try to prepare a changing platform by stomping around some, but that often doesn’t work and you fall through into the fluff like an out-take from a bad action film.

    For me it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s a nice option to have.

  35. etto January 27th, 2013 1:53 pm

    With snow like that you don’t get to complain! :)

  36. Lee Lau January 27th, 2013 2:40 pm

    James,

    Corey is from Whistler. I tour a lot in the Pass. We’re both no stranger to deep snow packs. It’s not hard to switch modes from ski to walk without taking the skis off. Video here https://vimeo.com/8925420. Download and slo-mo it if you can’t see what’s going on

    I’ve done that for 7 years without the bindings exploding.

    In deep pow I transition uphill to downhill and vice-versa by doing it one ski at a time. Even in Selkirks snow. If you take off both skis at a time in deep snow to transition then good luck to you

    So yeah I agree with Lou (it’s getting to be a habit). I don;t see this as an issue. It’s a nice to have at best

  37. Lou Dawson January 27th, 2013 5:16 pm

    Etto, really, it’s a hard life for those Rogers Pass guys in 20 feet of cold smoke (grin).

  38. Corey Gagnon January 28th, 2013 11:52 am

    Going from walk mode to ski mode without taking your skis off has always been easy with tech bindings. Turn your heel, step down, rip the skins off. But unless you can put your skins on without taking off your ski, going from ski to walk mode without removing your boot is not a huge feature.

    And I am with Lea on the whole transition thing in deep snow. One ski at a time. So much easier!

  39. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2013 12:26 pm

    I’ve been doing the one-ski-at-a-time routine for years. Also, I take both off at once almost every time and rarely find that the snow is too deep. I wish I could say otherwise. But reality is that most people out ski touring are not going to have any trouble taking both skis off during a transition when they’re placing skins back on their skis after a downhill.

    What is more, we’re getting some confusion injected here. IF you can put your skins on your skis without taking them off, in that case being able to change binding from ski mode to tour mode without taking the skis off might be more attractive. But the deal is, skins are part of the equation 99.9 percent of the time and 99.9999 percent of people have to take their skis off to get the skins on. Thus, again, this whole thing about switching modes from downhill to up without removing skis is such a non-issue for most skiers, it only causes confusion when it’s touted as a “feature.” Indeed, it’s what I’d call a red herring.

    To be fair, some people have a legit need for the feature. But very few.

  40. Phil January 28th, 2013 1:48 pm

    re. easy ski-to-tour mode switch with tech bindings

    Hmmmm… I have to disagree with Lou’s comment that an easy on-the-fly, ski-to-tour mode isn’t a useful feature.

    Lou is correct if you are in a location where you simply repeat: long climb, then a long ski down, etc. Then you’ll be putting your skins on at the bottom anyway; having an easy ski-to-tour switch isn’t a big deal at all.

    But…. how often does that happen?
    Pretty much every tour I do involves at least a little bit of rolling terrain, wiggling through trees to get to/from the alpine, perhaps even with skins on for the rolling terrain, logging road up and downs…

    I would say that it is a rare day touring where tech users (or Duke users, etc.) aren’t locked in and shuffling away (or stopping again and again to swap) when their friends are happily striding along and locking back in as needed. As every person who telemarks and also uses tech bindings – having your heels locked in those situations is frustrating and uncomfortable when you know the alternative.

    [I realize that you can (usually) do the locked in switcharooney with the older Dynafit volcanoes - but not with the Radicals... (?)]

    So…. I’m happy to see some lighter (although not superlight) tech bindings building in an easy switch feature. Just hope it is reliable!

  41. Harry January 28th, 2013 2:03 pm

    If the terrain is such that I feel comfortable skiing down it with skins on my skis, I also feel comfortable skiing down it with my heels free.

    Voile Vector BC with a tech binding tour ski switch? That is a yo-yo tour dream.

  42. Lou Dawson January 28th, 2013 3:02 pm

    I think what you guys need to be considering is the trade offs. If you want a heavier and more complex binding just so you can switch from down to tour without taking skis off, you already have options (Onyx) and will soon have more. If you want to stick with the elegant and simple state of tech bindings, which literally hundreds of thousands of people are presently enjoying, then that option exists as well.

    To me, the true tech 2.0 would be a wider heel unit and boot heel fitting, thicker heel pins, and wider binding base plates, along with constant attention to durability. Pretty much the same binding as most are today, only mechanically wider. Mode switching on the fly? Nah.

  43. James B January 28th, 2013 7:29 pm

    Lee – thanks for the tip. I’ll go out to the garage and give it a try.

    There’s a clear-cut solution here – piezoelectric ski bottoms. Hit the green button and you’ve got skins. Hit the red button and you’ve got slideys.

    Now we just need somebody to invent them.

  44. Hank January 28th, 2013 10:28 pm

    What Phil said!!! As a long time telemarker, I have been totally frustrated, maybe even pulled some muscles and hurt my pride shuffling around on my AT gear in rolling terrain this season! So excited about this binding…

  45. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 7:04 am

    Hank, pray tell why you’re not using Onyx. Thanks, Lou

  46. Frank K January 29th, 2013 8:17 am

    I hope whoever develops tech 2.0 doesn’t share your vision, Lou. The lack of mode change on the fly is indeed a major downside. I spend enough time switching back and forth from a Fritschi setup to a Dynafit one to notice it every time I get back on the Dynafits. On certain rolling tours my Fritschi friends will be a mile ahead of me before I can even say the fiddle in dynafiddle. I’ve had too many problems with G3 products in general to consider anything they make- so I hope this Fritschi tech binding works out.

  47. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 8:49 am

    Frank, you’re the exception not the rule (grin). Seriously though, if they can build in the mode change feature nicely, then why not? The question is, will you haul a bunch of weight and complexity around for just that feature? More, I’m wondering how well this will work in real life on both Beast and Zenith. The mode change involves a complex mechanism that folds the brake up as your foot stomps down on the binding, any snow or ice in there and jury is out. Field testing by you, I hope, will tell the tale. There are Beasts floating around getting skied, but they’re so pre-production they’d be difficult to review. Nonetheless, mode change and other issues will get more clear as the winter progresses. Lou

  48. Buck January 29th, 2013 8:52 am

    Frank, If its such a big deal, and you notice every time you switch from Fritschi to Dynafit, why aren’t you staying full time with the Fritschi?

    If one can’t keep up with a Fritschi user, even after stopping to fiddle with their Dynafit, take a pee and put on some sunscreen, the problem isn’t with the Dynafit.

    I’ve toured with a Fritschi on flat & rolling terrain. I’d take a mandatory 5 minute break every time I had to change modes on a Dynafit, than ever subject myself to that torture again. My god, that frankenstride, that clunk clunk clunk, that stiff and inefficient gait – it still haunts my ski dreams.

    Another vote for leaving the Dynafit simple. Let the users that can’t handle the “fiddle” self-select themselves out. It’s such a mindlessly easy thing to do, it should almost be a backcountry entrance criteria – if you can’t manage that, how can you manage route finding, operating an avy beacon, assembling a probe pole, measuring slope angles, choosing the right clothing to keep you warm?

  49. Dan January 29th, 2013 9:44 am

    Switching modes on the fly: I am 67, arthritic and was not all that flexible even when a lot younger. I do not practice Yoga or Pilates. Still, I have been switching modes on the fly for years using the technique described by Lee in the video clip above…for Comfort, Vertical and Radical heels. Check it out. Its a lot easier than route finding, operating an avy beacon, getting your pack ready, etc. You will only forget to lock your toes once before rotating the heel out of ski mode. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to the piezoelectric ski bottoms…

  50. powman January 29th, 2013 9:49 am

    People still ski on Fritschi? :wink:

  51. Dan January 29th, 2013 11:19 am

    @powman: Apparently. There are still people skiing in wool knickers too.

  52. Patrick January 29th, 2013 1:55 pm

    Dan — you bet, tight-knit wool. For decades, I’ve worn thrift-store wool suit pants ($5-10 bucks), with gaiters. Big at the waist so I can tuck in 2 wool sweaters (a Merino layer and a medium weight) and I sew on buttons for suspenders – that might qualify as an equipment mod.
    Comfy and loose at the waist. During ascents, I sometimes undo the fly and button to catch a little breeze (that may be too much information (or too ‘daring’) for some readers).
    Be sure to choose a tight-knit pant,,,, with s sweep of your hand, you can remove any powder that swirls up when you’re descending. Pow tends to cling to a wool with a fuzzy nap.
    On the other hand Dan, maybe you’re into supporting the US economy by buying the “pants of 2012-13″ (the flavour of the year), or maybe you’re just keeping up with the Jones. (grin)

  53. Dan January 29th, 2013 3:13 pm

    @Patrick: The only thing I ever liked about wool is that it really sticks well to ice and hard snow, which in many instances was not trivial…sort of analagous to velcro for the entire body. I figure that is why all those Scottish ice climbers wear wool everything. That and the fact that it is warm when wet, which was good because it took forever to dry. I discovered (for AT skiing) Scholler fabric pants about 2003. Pricy, but worth it. I still wear that first pair (Marmot) about 30 days/year. I have a lighter weight pair of Mammut and ancient BD Scholler pants (originally purchased for climbing in the dark ages) for milder weather skiing. Now stop crawling through dumpsters looking for wool clothing, get a part time job at least at Starbucks and buy some Scholler fabric pants. You will never go back to wool (GRIN). By any chance do you wear one of those peruvian wool hats with the floppy ear flaps and teleski? BTW: I guess I am doing my best to support somebody’s economy because over the last 15 years or so I have noticed that every time I buy the latest AT boot, or shape ski or Ascension skin…guess what? My skiing improves and so on. If I thought wearing wool knickers would improve my skiing, I would be hitting the dumpsters too.

  54. Lou Dawson January 29th, 2013 3:17 pm

    Wool clothing, especially pants, has saved my life several times during slips on steep snow. I wish someone would bring back a beautiful spring skiing pant that was a wool blend, mainline brand. Probably something out there but I don’t know what it is. Ortovox had something for a while that I used, but it was not stretch woven nor very dense, like the old Schoeller ski pants. They were perfect. That’s what I used to wear during springtime descents.

  55. Carl (the other one) January 29th, 2013 3:28 pm

    @ Lou – Ibex still makes a Climawool pant, not sure if that’s close enough though. With the popularity of knickers (sorry “3/4 length”) pants and tights for cycling doesn’t seem unreasonable for them to come back too.

  56. Dome January 31st, 2013 6:18 am

    Is there a Price, already? would be very interessting. I heard some roumors about the Dynafit beast, which could be about 1000 USD, w´hich is in my point of view just not affordable at all…

  57. Mike January 31st, 2013 7:24 am

    I watched the video of this binding on Dostie’s site and it looks like you need to remove the ski to switch from tour mode to ski mode. In the video (after the brake plastic bits explode), the guy has to push down on the brake to move the heel back into ski mode. I guess you might be able to accomplish this without taking the skis off, but I think the dynafit heel is easier in this transition.
    That said, this is clearly a rough prototype. Maybe the final product will prove me wrong.

  58. Mike January 31st, 2013 7:28 am

    Never mind. I watched it again and I think I understand how it will work (once they get the plastic parts to stay in place).

  59. Lou Dawson January 31st, 2013 8:36 am

    Dome, yes, price point for Beast will be around $1,000, Fritschi will be less I hear. All these things won’t be retailing till at least next fall, then they’ll need at least a season of consumer “testing.” Personally, I’m finding the whole deal a bit of a yawner since they didn’t widen the boot heel fittings, which I believe is the key to the true tech 2.0. In other words, so what the binding has a wider base. The boot fittings are essentially the same width. Think it through. Lou

  60. Lee Lau January 31st, 2013 10:03 am

    To be clear the binding in Dostie’s video (thanks for the video Craig which was very useful) had a few parts that were from a 3d printer and like someone said, very much a prototype. Per some other person’s comments it had been manhandled through the entire show and subject to many demos

  61. Lou Dawson January 31st, 2013 10:08 am

    Indeed, practically the whole thing was made from printed parts, and according to the family expert on that stuff, parts made that way are pretty delicate.

  62. Corey Gagnon January 31st, 2013 10:32 am

    Using a 3d printer for a demo at OR just shows how far behind they are from production. We heard from the show that they are hoping for a December release, but if they don’t even have a working model at the moment, I highly doubt they will have a release next season. If they do rush it, they will just have another Onyx situation where the first year models don’t hold up and will develop such a bad reputation that people will just stay away.

    With regards to Dostie’s video, that toe piece slides back and forth pretty easily (I know, not a production model) I am curious how easy it will be to slide that back and forth while skiing. Part of the reason I love my Dynafits so much is that the toe doesn’t move. There is no power loss from your leg to the ski giving you more control.

    Also, with the heel piece sliding front to back, there is potential pre-release issues that can arise that you don’t get with Dynafit because they rotate.

  63. Dome January 31st, 2013 10:33 am

    Lou, thanks for the answer. I totally agree with you about the issue with the too small heel and front pins. All the upcomming new Bindings like Beast or this one have nice new things but a real revolution of the tech system would be nice.

  64. Bob January 31st, 2013 10:50 am

    Lou, does it worry you that if the heal pins are wider then they are further forward and on the less flat part of the heal (if that makes any sense). Because of this the rotating release in the heal may be less safe (since the pins may be more likely to get hung up). Totally guessing here but it seems to me that making it wider is not as straightforward as you imply.

  65. Corey Gagnon January 31st, 2013 11:09 am

    I am still at a loss to understand why we need a new Tech 2.0. I have been selling tech bindings for the last 6 years in Whistler and haven’t seen any boots come back that were destroyed by the current system. I also ski my Dynafits inbounds at WB all the time, seeing as how I got rid of all my alpine boots/bindings.

    I have seen numerous Onyx bindings come back broken, I have also seen numerous Plum bindings come back broken. Very few Dynafits come back and when they do, it is mostly user error like breaking the volcanoes on the Verts/Conforts. (Not counting the pin recall issue in the radicals)

    Dynafit seems to be doing the right thing. Their system has been working for the last however many years. The only changes they have made are minor tweaks here and there. New hole pattern, wider base plate, different heel levers, and the boot toe stoppers for easier click in. The fundamentals haven’t changed, rotating heel piece and their toe wing design. Plum was smart enough to stick to these concepts although their parts aren’t strong enough causing them to break. Plum’s other downfall is they haven’t been able to come up with a brake system.

    To me, it just seems that all these other companies are trying to re-invent the wheel. Every time I ski another binding, it just makes me realize how much I love my Dynafits.

  66. Lou Dawson January 31st, 2013 11:30 am

    Cory, that’s indeed a point I’m constantly trying to make. Hundreds of thousands of skiers are perfectly happy with existing tech binding systems, mostly Dynafit but other brands as well. Again, the way I’m understanding these new heavy and expensive tech bindings is they’re for a market that doesn’t yet exist, but has to be “developed” by first making the products available, then converting/convincing skiers to use these types of binding.

  67. Frank K January 31st, 2013 12:57 pm

    Ugh, Lou. Hundreds of thousands of eaters are perfectly happy eating big macs every day, too. Doesn’t make it a good thing.

    Toes that release more like alpine bindings, on the fly mode changes, elasticity within the binding system — that isn’t a yawner, that’s the holy grail. If, of course, it works.

  68. Lou Dawson January 31st, 2013 1:13 pm

    Frank Hmmm, you have a good point, I am being a bit reactionary… If the binding didn’t get heavier I’d give it he Grail award, as it is, I think it’ll be wonderful for folks like you but totally unnecessary for the vast majority of backcountry skiers. Weight is just such a huge issue in the market, logical or not, it’s just a huge factor. I’ve been wrong before (grin).

  69. Matt January 31st, 2013 1:37 pm

    an easy ski to walk switch on dynafit style bindings would be nice to have – but but the lack of is not a deal breaker for me. Definately something I miss from the 404′s, emerys and fritschi’s I have in the past, but Dynafits have enough checkmarks in the PRO’s column that I’ll stick with them.

    recently saw a film called ‘The Denali Experiment’ at a showing of the Best of the Banff Film Fest. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa was going pretty huge on his dynafit’s so I wonder if beefier tech bindings are a real need or a percieved need

  70. Gentle Sasquatch January 31st, 2013 1:53 pm

    I’d buy them if I was in need of a touring binding. The product looks good so far.

  71. Neil May 21st, 2013 3:07 am

    Has the Zenith fallen off Fritschi’s radar? It was on their website but no more.

  72. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2013 6:56 am

    Who knows. These companies get into this weird syndrome of releasing info about products in development, essentially to get bloggers going, create PR buzz and booth traffic at shows and to take some attention away from competitors. They often get bit when the product is too hard or expensive to develop and gets either delayed or shelved. I’ve seen it a bunch of times, pretty used to it.

    The panic that bloggers get in to when they hear about something like this is laughable, and I’m as guilty as anyone. Gear blogs are easy, they’ve become the lowest common denominator of blogging. But since gear blogs are easy we bloggers tend to glom on to zesty product “releases” such as Zenith. I almost always end up regretting doing so, as the blog post hangs out to dry, essentially.

    Zenith was probably taken off website because it’s not a retail available product, and thus having on a website is confusing.

    After all, they might have a dozen products in development. What are they going to do, put them all on their website? That would be interesting at first, but get old fast.

    One thing about tech bindings. When built well, existing designs work. But as Plum has discovered, building a tiny piece of machinery that’s asked to do what a tech binding does is not exactly easy.

    Overall, these beef bindings take attention away from the fact that hundreds of thousands of people around the world do perfectly fine backcountry skiing on existing tech binding models. When those models are refined by doing in-line changes for components that break, they become the type of reliable equipment that we could only dream of 30 years ago.

    I’ll also repeat that a big reason these companies are throwing money at projects such as Beast and Zenith is that they see a large untapped market of skiers who want a sidecountry binding that’s mostly a resort binding, but something that tours better than frame bindings such as the Markers (lighter, less twisty, etc.)

    Whether that market becomes reality or not is an open question, as those same skiers will all have to acquire tech compatible boots, and still fiddle with tech binding issues such as icing of the toe sockets and dirt in the heel fitting. Frankly, I’m just not seeing it happen to any great extent. But perhaps the companies have done their demographic homework and know they can sell enough beef tech bindings to make it worth developing them. If so, terrific.

    Lou

  73. Neil May 21st, 2013 7:14 am

    Thanks Lou. Look like the TLT Verticals will have to suffice for the time being :)

  74. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2013 8:11 am

    Neil, the Verticals are good bindings but the sweet spot is that FT with the wider brake, that comes with the stronger toe springs. Use that with the power blocks under the toe, and you could possibly have the best tech binding ever produced. The ST model has better toe support but doesn’t have the stronger toe springs. Overall, the stronger toe springs are not an issue unless you are a very aggressive skier at average or more weight. And many of those guys do fine without the stronger toe springs as well (perhaps because they’re just locking the toe, as many do.) Lou

  75. Frank K May 21st, 2013 8:30 am

    Lou, I don’t get why you’re calling the Zenith a beef binding and lumping it in with the Beast. Reported weight w/ brakes is 1140g/pr -very much in line with radicals. (yeah, yeah- I know you can’t trust those weights at all this early in the game- but still, this binding seems much more like competition for radicals and verticals, not the beast).

  76. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2013 10:09 am

    Frank, good point. To me it’s in the “beef” class due to what I can guess will be weight on the heavier side, but yeah, probably debatable. Once it comes out we’ll know for sure. Reported weight has no basis in reality on this, the proto was a barley functioning model printed in 3-d plastic.

    The weight is a moving target, that’s for sure. I tend to think of the dividing point at this time being 13 ounces (369 grams per binding). If a binding is under that weight I’d call it light, such as Dynafit Speed and Plum Guide. It’s the weight I like to have if I’m indeed trying for a lightweight setup. These tend to be the simple, brake-less bindings one sees the vast majority of ski touring being done on in Europe.

    I know your’e probably itching to get on the “beef” bindings. Me, I feel like incremental improvements could be made to existing designs that would make them perform better and be more reliable, with little if any weight change. A good example of this being done is Plum beefing up their heel pins and being more careful about quality of top-plate screws. In the case of Dynafit Radical, the heel post base could be stronger and made to sit on a thin pad of metal instead of the ski’s topskin. Simple things like that.

    Also, the constant occurrence of boots with incompatible tech fittings is a concern we’re all forgetting about. Until there is a DIN/ISO standard for the boot fittings, including extensive testing by TUV, we can have the coolest bindings in the world and they may perform poorly or be dangerous simply because of how some factory in China or Thailand does their metal work.

    Lou

  77. Corey Gagnon May 21st, 2013 10:29 am

    Keep in mind, the weight listed for the Zenith is probably just a guess. At the time of the show when they introduced the binding, they didn’t even have a working prototype. They were displaying a binding that was produced on a 3D printer. And it actually broke in one of the videos. I am a little surprised they actually decide to unveil it when they did considering they had only made a single mock up of the binding. (not even a pair) Who knows if that sliding toe plate is actually going to work. From the looks of the binding, all I can picture is every time you edge your ski your toe is going to slide back and forth.

  78. Hatch May 21st, 2013 10:49 am

    Is there anything goin on this weekend at Indy Pass for it opening, like in years past?

  79. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2013 10:51 am

    Hatch, Saturday morning at 10:00, usual spot. Rain day Sunday. Lou

  80. Frank K May 21st, 2013 12:44 pm

    Fair enough if 13oz is where “beef bindings” start, but I guess I’ve missed where you called radicals or verticals “beef bindings”. Which I guess means that I’m already on beef bindings, rather than looking forward to them.

    My understanding is that Fritschi is much further along in the process than the 3D model they gave to their distributor (BD) to show at the shows. So I think there is actually some basis in the weight reported and the conjecture on your part that the weight will somehow balloon up the that of the beast is a bit unwarranted. Time will tell.

    You seem to think that I’m in the market for something like the beast, which I am most certainly not. I am in the market to replace my FT12′s at a similar weight but with better performance. I think the Zenith may be that binding, but we’ll have to wait and see.

  81. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2013 12:51 pm

    Yeah Frank, in terms of tech bindings I’d definitely call the Radical a “beef” binding. Just semantics and a moving target. I did think you’d want the Beast, my mistake! What’s going on with your FT12s that the Zenith will cure, in your estimation?

    BD didn’t “give” a binding to show, there was a Fritschi guy, or actually two of them, who were showing it and pretty tight and possessive about it. Was actually a pretty funny scene with some good laughs, like this one overweight bossy type (whoops, lou edit) who claimed to be some kind of legal council for BD and thus had a right to play with the binding hand’s on, while the rest of us were politely standing there watching the Fritschi guys… always a good show at ze show.

    Lou

  82. etto May 21st, 2013 4:48 pm

    It’s only rumours, but I’ve heard Fritschi has been testing prototypes/samples on snow, and hopefully for the testers those were a bit more solid than the show model :)

    Regarding “beef” or not, if we accept the stated weight of <500g/binding that's about 100g less than the Radical FT12, and with several added features! No other tech binding comes close to that weight with the same feature set. It could be a winner.

  83. Lou Dawson May 21st, 2013 5:30 pm

    Etto, I totally agree, if the thing is lighter than Radical and it works, super! Even if it’s the same weight, then fine. What bugs us here is the bindings that keep getting heavier and heavier… though as I always say, some people need more beef and that’s fine.

    As for on-snow testing, I assumed they’d be doing that by now or even sometime last winter. So your rumor is probably fact.

    Lou

  84. mr haley August 19th, 2013 12:35 pm

    any word from BD when these will hit the US retail market?

    need to make fall/winter buying decisions soon.

  85. Lou Dawson August 19th, 2013 1:11 pm

    I’d imagine they might be taking retailer orders at Winter OR show in January… so it’ll be a while yet.

  86. Pieter Groen September 15th, 2013 12:11 pm

    I’m currently reading everything there is to know about tech bindings and absorbing everything related to Dynafit. Not sure if you have already seen this Zenith 12 clip. Hope you understand German. In this clip they also show the crampon functionality, and a bit more zoom-in on the toe and heel parts. Still looks like 3d printing, but I think it’s interesting.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XBHClEW7bHA&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DXBHClEW7bHA

    Maybe a good idea to drop by the factory in January when I’m driving to Switzerland. :-)

    Pieter

  87. Lou Dawson September 15th, 2013 12:21 pm

    Hi Pieter, indeed, we checked the proto ones out in person at OR show last winter here in the states. The idea looked good but they really should not have shown the fragile proto. I guess they were trying to defend a bit of market share from Dynafit/Beast.

    They really do look good, but I’d say we all need to quit hyperventilating on prototype gear.

    Lou

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