Onyx Backcountry Skiing Bindings — FAQ & Index

New G3 Onyx binding.

G3 Onyx binding.

Since its debut during winter of 2008/2009, the G3 Onyx ski binding has made slow but steady inroads as a desirable tech-compatible machine that fills a gap between Dynafit brand bindings and non-tech bindings such as Fritschi and Marker. We hope you find this FAQ and blog post index useful, it references many of our Onyx blog posts, as well as adding a few questions and answers.

Click here for G3 information about replacing older Onyx toe units that could be prone to breakage.

G3 Onyx backcountry skiing binding.

G3 Onyx backcountry skiing binding at home in the mountains.

Please leave comments and suggestions for this FAQ here.

First, please know that G3 has done an exceptional job of providing information on their website. Indeed, G3 has easily surpassed any other ski binding company in providing how-to information. For example, where else can you find a video about how to use a ski product, with said vid being made by the engineer who developed the product? Thus, please use their website in conjunction with anything you find here on WildSnow. G3 website binding section.

When was the Onyx first announced and released?
January 6, 2009. (Blog post covering release)

You got instructions for mounting?
Use the general procedure for home mounting Dynafit without a jig, combined with the specific instructions here. (yes, it uses same hole pattern as Dynafit.)

Onyx weighs more than Dynafit, how much does it weigh and why not use Dynafit, or for that matter a Fritschi?
Onyx: 879 gr (31 oz) per binding with brake, screws and baseplates.
Dynafit Vertical ST: 512 gr (20.2 oz) per binding with brake and screws.
Onyx toe unit, with screws and baseplate: 333 gr (11.7 oz) per binding.
Onyx heel unit, with screws, brake, baseplate: 546 gr (19.3 oz) per binding.

Reason 1. For that extra ten ounces or so on each foot you get a couple of things. In our view, the main reason to pick Onyx over Dynafit for backcountry skiing could be that at certain angles the toe jaw retention on the Onyx is firmer than that of Dynafit. If you find yourself skiing Dynafit with the toe locked and thus possibly dangerous to your leg health, you might want to try Onyx and see if you can ski them unlocked. Please do not obsess on this. Hundreds of thousands of users (including most folks associated with WildSnow.com) use other brands of tech bindings unlocked and are perfectly happy with them. But, if you are a large aggressive skier and find you need to ski with your tech binding toes locked, consider Onyx.

Reason 2. Another possible advantage of Onyx for backcountry skiing is you do NOT have to exit the binding to easily change from downhill to tour mode. For some skiers this is a non-issue. Others, who encounter lots of mixed terrain, may find this to be very important.

Reason 3. Onyx bindings include a “swap plate” system that allows you to mount a set of attachment plates on any number of skis so you can swap one set of bindings around.

Reason 4. Even though Fritschi weighs only a few ounces more than Onyx, with frame/plate bindings such as Fritschi you are lifting most of the binding with each step. With tech bindings such as Onyx or Dynafit you only lift your boot off the ski when you stride. The difference in efficiency is small but noticeable, and makes a difference over the course of a day.

Ok, perhaps I don’t have to lock the toe of the Onyx when I ski it, but does it have a lock?
Yes, you pull up on the lever in front of the toe to significantly increase the lateral release resistance, thus “locking” the binding. You do this during the touring (uphill or flat) part of backcountry skiing to prevent inadvertent release, just as you do with other tech bindings. Lighter weight skiers in moderate terrain may find they don’t need to use the “lock” while touring. As with any other tech binding, the “lock” on the Onyx does not affect vertical release at the heel.

Following is an example of the excellent how-to videos that G3 has published on YouTube, and are nicely indexed on the G3 website.

How high does the release setting go on the Onyx?
You can crank it up to what G3 labels as “12,” which is similar to setting “12″ on other brands of ski bindings. Details here.

What height is your boot above the ski when using Onyx?
Boot height above ski in Onyx binding is 30 mm at heel, 26 mm at toe, giving Onyx virtually the SAME RAMP as Fritschi (4 mm). By comparison a boot in a Dynafit ST/FT binding has 30 mm heel stack and 20 mm toe stack, which as many of you know at one centimeter is more ramp than just about any binding, and is well liked by some backcountry skiers though a bit much for others.

I’ve heard Onyx are hard to put on, true?
For people used to bindings that click on in a conventional sense, Onyx does have an unusual method of attaching to your boots. Simply put, you must hold the binding toe jaws open by pressing down on the front of the binding with a ski pole. Once your boot is lined up, you release the pressure on the pole and the toe jaws close and insert the tech binding pins in the sockets on your tech compatible boot toe. While relatively easy to accomplish given a firm snow surface and sold stance, the same process can be difficult in certain situations (such as on a steep slope). The same can of course be said of Dynafit bindings or any other ski binding for that matter, but is definitely an issue that anyone considering Onyx should be aware of.

How durable is the Onyx?
Here at WildSnow.com we keep our ear to the ground and generally have a good sense of what’s going on out there in the real world of backcountry skiing. While we have heard of some Onyx breakage (see this post about toe pin replacement program for older Onyx), we’ve not heard any more reports of such than with any other binding system. Thus, other than older bindings that may be prone to toe pin breakage, we’d give Onyx a pass in terms of durability. Because of its design and lack of shyness about weighing a few extra ounces, Onyx does have the potential of being the most durable tech type binding on a the market. Whether or not the binding takes that honor is something that needs a few years for consumer consensus to develop.

Where do I get G3 Onyx bindings?
Shop for them at Backcountry.com or Altrec.

Do Onyx bindings ever need lubrication?
Sometimes, but only rarely. A complete lube job and internal cleaning is probably best left to either experienced binding mechanics or the well tooled home shop, but some Onyx lubrication is easy to execute. More here.

Please leave comments and suggestions for this FAQ here.

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.

All material on this website online magazine is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked.. Permission required for reproduction, electronic or otherwise. This includes publication and display on other websites by whatever means. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

Switch To Mobile Version