ION G3 Tech (Pintech) Binding 2014 — First Look Review

Post by blogger | January 6, 2014      

Shop for G3 ION

G3 ION tech ski binding, copy of the standard tech binding with enough added features to set it apart.

G3 ION tech ski binding, based on the standard tech binding but with enough added features to easily set it apart. Click images to enlarge.

Look out garage entrepreneurs — G3 is in town and they have a really big garage. Indeed, the days of essentially copying tech bindings and selling them out of your workshop are probably over for good. Today’s proof: Witness G3 ION — a backcountry skiing tech binding with a long list of supremely innovative features that you’d be hard pressed to develop without extensive materials and mechanical engineering skills.

Note: It’s becoming common among some Europeans to call tech bindings “pintech.” We had a lot to do here at WildSnow with the word “tech” coming into use to name these types of ski bindings. If the trend is to use the word “pintech” we’ll support that as well. Thus, we’ll use the word “pintech” occasionally to see how it lifts off the tongue.”

Our bloggers have skied the ION; I’ve given it a once-over clinical exam that even included digital methodology. Results are in two blog posts: Below, as well as Louie’s on-snow ION abuse.

Looking down at ION from user perspective, the Toe Stops are the most obvious difference.

Looking down at ION toe unit from user perspective, the Toe Stops (indicated by red arrows) are the most obvious difference. They rise up when binding is set to receive boot, then move down when the boot is inserted. Quite nice, though they only work for standard DIN boot soles, not for trimed toe boots such as skimo race shoes and lightweight touring optimized boots.

ION PR claims and more, with comments by Lou:

Partial heel teardown reveals typical tech binding construction. Improvements are subtle.

Partial ION heel teardown reveals typical 'pintech' binding construction. Improvements over the standard and ION's unique features are subtle.

Another view of heel post with brake system. Everything has a nice finished appearance.

Another view of heel post with brake system. Everything has a nice finished appearance.

“Lightweight.” ION catalog weight of 585 g, 20.6 ounces per binding (1/2 pair) with 115 mm brake and no screws is claimed. That’s not particularly light for a “pintech” binding (competitor major brand with similar features weighs slightly less though exact models and brake widths cause apples/apples comparison to be tedious), but if the heavier duty toe wing springs and heel fore/aft elasticity help with reliable retention, the added weight could be worth it. As we advise time and time again, “if your tech bindings work for you, added features will not change your life, but if you have problems with current tech bindings these new features could be answered prayers.”

Our pre-production binding weighs the following with no screws:
ION toe: 6.1 ounces, 172 grams
ION heel with 105mm brake: 14.8 ounces, 420 grams

Total pre-production ION 20.9 ounces, 592 grams

“Class leader; no other binding with RV12 and brake is lighter.” True to the extent of comparing to complete stock bindings, but remove the pretty much cosmetic connector plate between toe and heel of Dynafit Radical FT and it weighs in at 552 grams (new model with heel spring elasticity), ST model is similar in weight and goes to RV 10.

“G3 ION jaw retention is industry’s best.” Could be, as G3 started their quest for this with the Onyx binding by using strong springs in the toe wing mechanism. We continue to try and measure this on the WildSnow bench, but field testing by aggressive skiers is probably the best way to evaluate. That being said, G3 does have the electronic equipment to test toe jaw retention in a controlled but dynamic fashion. I’ve seen the charts with the graphing and I’ve also seen the test machinery in action. It’s not child’s play but rather the real deal. Their values are consistent and high. Of any feature in a tech binding, this could be the most important as it allows the binding to be skied unlocked, aggressively, with less chance of accidental release.

“Wide freeride mount.” ION is said to be “30% wider than traditional tech bindings, with 40 mm spacing of all the toe unit screws. We continue with the opinion that most people will notice no difference between this and a traditional tech binding screw hole pattern. Nonetheless, some of you do need more strength in this area and you prove it by pulling bindings out of skis. In that case, ION may deliver your desires. (Wider screw patterns and binding base plate widths probably come into play more realistically with skis over 110 mm wide at the waist, combined with stiff boots and larger more aggressive skiers. But wait and watch, just about the time most tech bindings get wider, I’ll bet the touring skis market will stabilize at more the sub 110 mm width due to weight concerns and such. Funny if that happens. Dog chasing tail and all that.)

“Neutral delta (ramp) angle matches freeride alpine bindings.” In any case, center of binding/boot pins from top of ski: toe 40 mm, heel 53 mm, difference of 13 mm which is virtually same as early Dynafit TLT and our favorite binding delta angle. (Also, virtually same as G3 Onyx). This is not what I’d call “neutral,” though it is said to match that of alpine/tour bindings such as Duke which are known to have less delta than some of the harshly tilted tech bindings on the market. See our ramp angles post and chart here.

Snow clearing channel is a function of the binding toe being raised up to reduce ramp angle.

Snow clearing channel is a function of the binding toe being raised up to reduce ramp angle. This in turn allows G3 to include lots of space under the toe wings where snow or ice can block proper function of the binding. All tech bindings require great care with this, as ice blokage may cause your binding to appear closed on your boot toe, when in reality you can ski out of the binding and take a nasty fall. Anything to help with clearing ice and snow from this area is a welcome improvement.

“Snow Clearing Channel” Is an excellent idea. G3 molded in a lateral (left/right) space under the binding wings that drops close to the ski top and is big enough for a ski pole tip. One of the biggest problems with tech bindings — and something that in my opinion has probably caused a few deaths — is that the binding wings will not close fully if ice gets jammed underneath. But, in such situations they may close just enough to give the illusion of full function, only after a few turns you can pop out of such an ice jammed binding and take a nasty fall if you’re in high consequence terrain. Addressing this issue at retail, without consumer modifications, shows that G3 is in the real-world with their product engineering.

Snow clearing area accepts a ski pole tip. Could this be the best feature of ION?

Snow clearing area accepts a ski pole tip. Could this be the best feature of ION?

Ice clearing channel under binding wings. Another view. We really like this.

Ice clearing channel under binding wings. Another view. We really like this.

Boot toe stops are the black prongs sticking up in front of the boot sole.

Boot toe stops providing what G3 calls 'Step-in Guidance' are the black prongs sticking up in front of the boot sole. I'm impressed by this feature, though its effectiveness is reduced by ice or snow getting in the way, and it doesn't work unless your boot sole is the standard DIN shape at the toe. What's slick is that the prongs raise and lower as you exit and enter the binding. They're 'active.'

“Step-in Guidance.” This cool feature is probably not 100% effective, but attempts to address the buggabear of getting your boot toe in position to snap in the toe wings — a particularly heinous challenge for the newbie and what makes tech bindings demand superior athletic ability. Basically, the two black plastic towers rise up when the binding is open, help index your boot toe, then lower down when the binding closes. I know for a fact that other companies have been working on similar systems. Other than the major brand’s “Power Towers,” I know of none that made it into retail.

Looking down at ION from user perspective, the Toe Stops are the most obvious difference.

The toe stops again... an excellent feature. They appear to be easily removed by advanced users seeking to make the binding lighter.

“Stow BRAKE on first step or in your hand.” This deserves exposition. When you rotate the heel unit to touring position it engages a series of catches to hold the brake up,on ly the brake does not rise and stow automatically, instead you either step on it (in heel-flat-on-ski mode) or squeeze it closed with your hand. When done correctly you’ll hear a satisfying click and the brake is ready for touring. Worth mentioning again that the brake could be left deployed as a climbing aid or to save your skis from running away while you’re messing around clicking in. It’ll be interesting to see where that idea of brakes as climbing aid goes. Oh, also, G3 says their brakes are heavier duty with engineered tips to increase stopping performance. We’ll see if they’re really much different once consumer testing commences. To me this is a non-issue, but ski brake performance (or lack thereof) is indeed a constant thread in discussion of tech bindings — perhaps ION will be the standard setter?

Additional observations: The bi-directional heel unit and climbing lifters are impressive. Simple. When changing modes, you can rotate the heel unit either clockwise or counterclockwise — the flip-up heel lifters work either way. This results in a much more ergonomic and intuitive feel to the system. Just reach down and turn the heel unit, don’t bother remembering which direction. Anti rotation? Taken care of by the brake interlock. Ah, and lastly, can the brake be removed for weight savings? Not easy, but we think it’s possible.

Medium 'regular' climbing lift is a simple flip-down tab that works either direction depending on which position you rotate the heel unit to.

Medium 'regular' climbing lift is a simple flip-down tab that works either direction depending on which position you rotate the heel unit to.

High lift, same deal. Aftermarket could easily make an extension add-on.

High lift, same deal. Aftermarket could easily make an extension add-on.

ION heel-flat-on-ski mode rests on brake and moves it a bit each step. Not sure that's ideal but time will tell.

ION heel-flat-on-ski mode rests on brake and moves it a bit each step. Not sure that's ideal but time will tell. Perhaps production version will have some sort of solid heel support in this mode.

Once binding heel is rotated to touring mode, the brake lock also takes care of blocking accidental rotation.

Once binding heel is rotated to touring mode, the brake lock (indicated by arrow) also takes care of blocking accidental rotation. In our view, nearly any tech binding can 'auto rotate' on ocasion, but ION appears to be nicely secure in this way. Consumer testing will render the final verdict.

“Forward pressure.” Energy absorption (ski flex compensation) in the heel of tech bindings is the latest craze. Is this a solution without a problem? For myself that’s most certainly the case. But the aggressive skier with big boots and skis could benefit from the binding heel unit sliding fore-aft a few millimeters under spring load to compensate for the ski flexing. Yet any new mechanical system introduces issues. For example, if the system moves with every step, will it wear out prematurely? Or is it durable enough from the start?

Consumer testing will answer those questions, but one thing we like about G3’s “energy absorption” solution with ION is that the fore-aft movement of the heel is locked out when you’re in touring mode. My guess is that high mileage individuals may find the lockout be a highly desirable feature to prevent wear. Just a guess, however. We’ll know the reality by springtime after some of these ‘heel spring’ bindings have several hundred thousand steps on them.

Important thing to know is that these “forward pressure” systems have NOTHING to do with release elasticity, their sole function is to compensate for ski flex and keep release values consistent. Thus, they may have little to no effect on accidental release behavior of the binding.

(Note that boots that flex at the ball of the foot are verboten for this system, due to the sag of the boot interacting in unacceptable ways with the heel unit movement.)

So called 'forward pressure' spring is visible underneath on the demo board. Six millimeter of travel.

So called 'forward pressure' spring is visible underneath on the demo board. Six millimeter of travel. Our seat-of-pants engineering side has to ask how a tiny spring with only 6 mm of travel can really make any difference in how a binding skis. Getting it on snow for extended use will tell the tale -- though one has to suspect that this sort of thing is more for the purpose of getting the binding certified by TUV to the DIN touring binding standard, rather than any revolutionary real-life quantum improvement in tech binding technology.

Forward pressure system allows the binding to be mounted with no 'tech gap' behind heel.

Forward pressure system allows the binding to be mounted with no 'tech gap' behind heel. Most tech bindings compensate for ski flex by the heel pins sliding fore-aft in the boot heel fitting. This is an innovative and incredibly simple solution, but has the problem of unpredictable friction as well as limited range. We've always felt the system could be improved by adding longer pins with a slightly wider tech gap, but binding engineers seem to be going the other direction by closing up the tech gap and building the shock absorption and movement into a spring loaded heel unit.

A few points specific to the so called ‘forward pressure’ of ION binding. First, when the binding and ski are at rest, the heel unit is adjusted so it just touches the heel of the boot. In this situation there is NO forward pressure. When the ski flexes and the boot presses back against the spring loaded heel unit, then yes, something you could call ‘forward pressure’ exists. In other words, this is not the ‘forward pressure’ of the type you adjust a conventional alpine binding for — those usually have some pre-load. More, as mentioned above it bears repeating these sort of “pintech” binding ‘forward pressure’ systems do not provide release elasticity, meaning they’re not providing any sort of return-to-center help with vertical (upwards) release. Instead, they’re simply there to allow the ski to flex and possibly make release values more consistent depending on ski flex.

With ION and most other tech bindings, despite the heel springs the amount of vertical elasticity in the release system remains the same: minimal. Thus, we still wait for tech 2.0 — though don’t forget at least one tech type binding does exist that provides additional vertical heel release elasticity — and more may be coming.

Another view of toe unit. Left arrow points to a nice PU pocket for your ski pole tip. No more shattered plastic?

Another view of toe unit. Left arrow points to a nice PU pocket for your ski pole tip. No more shattered plastic? Right arrow points to the boot toe locators. The front lever locks and unlocks the release as with most other tech bindings.

Underside, with hand for scale.

Underside of rear unit, with hand for scale. The screw pattern of the rear is about the same width as other tech bindings, but is designed to mount over other hole patterns without unacceptable overlap of screw holes -- a smart sales touch for the 'new kid on the block.' More, if a shop has demo skis mounted with the rental ION version, they can re-mount with the regular ION and the rental holes will be covered up. Perfect for selling out those rentals when the time comes.

More specifications:
•Release value (RV) range: 5-12

•Boot length adjustment range: 22 mm (similar to other major brand)
–(62mm for Demo/Rental Version)

•Brake sizes
–85, 95, 115 and 130mm

•Ski crampons
-85, 110, 130mm, can be mounted to any backcountry ski by using available hardware.

– Street price will probably be around $500.00 once the initial buying panic is done. Actual MSRP is $549.00 USD

And get this: G3 even has as an accessory a set of M5 mount screws to use with insert kits, at the correct length and with thread locker already applied. How excellent is that?

In all, we are highly impressed by ION. This machinery appears “mature.” Unlike virtual copies of the original tech binding hailing from Fritz Barthel’s mind nearly 30 years ago, ION has a long list of features setting it apart from nearly any other “pintech” product. The bi-directional heel unit alone is enough to cause extreme joy (rotate either direction for touring mode!). Add the boot toe location system for your tech-virgin friend, along with what may be supreme durability, and yes it can.

Oh, and don’t forget the cosmetics. Industrial design is important. Things should look good and finished when you’re using them for an aesthetic activity such as ski touring. With its anodized aluminum parts and nicely molded plastic, ION has a completed appearance that’ll have you enjoying just looking at it — at least when your eyes are not drawn to the sublime alps this equipment is allowing you to enjoy.

Shop for G3 ION


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


61 Responses to “ION G3 Tech (Pintech) Binding 2014 — First Look Review”

  1. D. January 6th, 2014 3:30 am

    Nice review Lou. One comment – forward pressure is definitely not solution without problem. The numbers in stats about tech bindings rip-off by aggressive skiers is growing and growing.

  2. Macharza January 6th, 2014 4:59 am

    Very interesting solution, thanks for review

  3. Frame January 6th, 2014 8:24 am

    Cheers Lou. Any abiltiy to use the onyx swap plates or are there iON swap plates? I don’t have the quiver and it doesn’t appear that way, just interested.

  4. Lou Dawson January 6th, 2014 9:58 am

    Frame, the answer is nein, but they’re optimized for inserts by the OEM machine screws available for inserts. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson January 6th, 2014 10:15 am

    D., yes, perhaps the heel spring will prevent binding damage in extreme situations. Good point. But let’s not mistake it for something it is not.

    Be clear. If the heel spring machinery has 6 mm of travel, and the tech gap used to be set at 5.5 to 6 mm and is now near zero (as it is with ION), you have LITTLE TO NO net gain in how much the ski can flex before the boot heel bottoms out against the binding heel. With the new Dynafit Radical heel spring, you combine a tech gap with the heel spring travel, so there might be more allowance for movement. But I’m not sure about that. I have to get both bindings on the bench to really evaluate this. Don’t just blindly assume that in either binding this tiny spring with just a few mm of travel is some kind of answered prayer. I believe some of this is simply an effort for TUV certification and may have little to do with real-life (proof being the zillons of vertical feet skied every day on tech bindings without heel springs).

    We are delighted at how the ION appears to have turned out, but on a scale of 1-10, I’d rate the heel spring feature as a 1 and the bi-directional heel unit with anti-rotation brake lock as a 10. The colors? Probably 11. Lou

  6. zeaphod January 6th, 2014 11:04 am
  7. slcpunk January 6th, 2014 11:35 am

    I don’t see any info on crampons ( or an obvious place to attach them to the toe) … deal killer for me?

  8. Charlie Hagedorn January 6th, 2014 12:12 pm

    Very cool, and a very quick Wildsnow review.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this crop of springloaded heelpieces holds up from a durability/function standpoint. It’s easy to imagine snow getting packed into the volumes that must be clear in order for the heelpost to slide. In summer, at least in Washington, that area may be a magnet for volcanic pumice, too.

    G3 offering an insert screw kit is a nice touch. Sourcing insert screws of the right size and length is annoying for the community and for individual skiers.

    For a binding offered with inserts in mind, a quick-change/removable brake will be important. I have inserts in skis that span 70-125 mm in width, and regularly swap bindings across them.

    Nice work, G3!

  9. Lou Dawson January 6th, 2014 12:20 pm

    SLC, I thought I mentioned the crampons somewhere? The fitting goes under the toe unit, and can also be used on any ski independent of the ION. Rest assured they DO have available crampons. Lou

  10. Charlie Hagedorn January 6th, 2014 12:44 pm

    Whoops – forgot to ask: Are they holding true to one of the Dynafit-standard bolt patterns?

  11. EasTim January 6th, 2014 12:55 pm

    Interesting idea to use the ski brake as a poor man’s crampon. I hope it’s burly though; the loads from taking a skier and his gear on one little brake arm (either laterally or forwards) are a lot more than it takes to stop a runaway ski!

  12. Lou Dawson January 6th, 2014 1:26 pm

    Charlie, NO, but they are designed to offset from such holes so a remount is easy.

    Tim, it’s just a thought, you are correct, it might need to be a much beefier brake!


  13. dimitri January 6th, 2014 2:33 pm

    i might of missed it from this extensive write up, but the black toe stop levers/locators, what material are they made out of? do they actually actuation the toes to crimp down or do they just stop the boot and act as a guide?

  14. louis dawson January 6th, 2014 2:44 pm

    D they are made of plastic and just act as a guide. Can easily be removed.

  15. Phil January 6th, 2014 3:12 pm

    I ran into a G3 group doing a photoshoot behind Whistler a few weeks ago and was talking with Lars Andrews about the Ions he was using. He was obviously quite amused by how easy they were to get into. As we were talking about it he was stepping in/out/in/out/in/out very easily/quickly. Not everyone cares about something that makes that easier – but it did appear to work very well.

    [While not surprising, G3 will continue their extremely light ski progression (e.g., ZenOxide105CS) into fatter/rockered skis next season – Lars was pretty happy with the prototypes he was on… I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about those later in the spring!]

  16. Charlie Hagedorn January 6th, 2014 4:24 pm

    Whoa, the bolt-pattern thing is a bummer. An understandable design choice, but with a bunch of Dynafit-pattern-inserted skis, it’s hard to switch.

  17. Michael January 6th, 2014 5:14 pm

    Good looking product. If it’s durable I think G3 will have a winner. Reasonably low ramp angle (at least compared to current tech binders), easy to use heel risers, some elasticity in the heel, weight on par with dynafit FTs, etc.

    Compatibility with dynafit mount would be awesome, but understandably not the case. Hell, dynafits have 2 different toe patterns already, and that doesn’t count the beast, which is probably a 3rd. Oh well.

  18. B632 January 6th, 2014 8:10 pm

    Prices are high on a lot of this stuff, I currently ski dynafit radicals. I am putting a new set up together and am looking at Plum, Diamir Vipec 12, and the ION. What do you think? Face value the ION seems to be a good choice. Is there a head to head comparison ??

  19. Jailhouse Hopkins January 6th, 2014 9:20 pm

    Hey Lou, is a remount possible with an existing Vertical mount? Thanks in advance.

  20. Bjorn Naylor January 7th, 2014 12:34 am

    Orange is my favorite color.

  21. Lou Dawson January 7th, 2014 1:27 am

    Jailhouse, you’ll drill new holes but probably doable. G3 told me they intentionally made their hole pattern so it’ll offset from most other pintech binding mounts to avoid screw hole overlap. Lou

  22. Werner Amort January 7th, 2014 1:37 am

    ““Class leader; no other binding with RV12 and brake is lighter”” ?

    I´m lucky to live here in Italy. Here can I buy the ATK Raider 12, with Skistopper RV12 and as optional a realy wide plate for Skis wider than 100mm.
    The binding weights only 330gr. and does a very good job for me.

    I use It for everything, aggresive resort skiing an freeriding.

    works great.

    Greets Werner

  23. Lou Dawson January 7th, 2014 1:54 am

    Werner, true. I should have written my commentary slightly different in that I agree ION is indeed light weight for a “freeride” tech binding with brake, but not necessarily the “leader.” In fact, it would be hard to pick a “leader” since the definition of “freeride” is not any sort of standard, so the word “class” is ambiguous. Main thing is that ION weight is totally reasonable for what you get. Lou

  24. dimitri January 7th, 2014 4:04 am

    hole pattern makes sense i suppose to avoid overlap, but would have been nice to see some compatibility there.

    B632: if you are looking at PLUM, i can highly recommend them. the newest incarnations have a lot of improvements over the first couple of generations that had some toe breakages and heel unit plastic issues. i suppose im most happy about never have had any pre-release issues with them (86 kg), so they at least work for me.

    I’m really liking the look of this binding though and their latest video is very well done too, i think G3 have a winner here if testing doesn’t uncover any drastic issues. few questions thou, is this die-cast aluminum? what type if so?

  25. werner amort January 7th, 2014 4:15 am

    i totaly agree with you 🙂
    Anyway if someone maybe is interested in the Raider 12.
    I wrote a mini review in the austrian forum in german, with many pictures


    Hope the link is ok

  26. Geoff January 15th, 2014 9:34 am

    A minor quibble: after 8 years of backcountry skiing in the German-speaking Alps (including working at a Dynafit Test Center in Tyrol for a spell), I have never once heard the term “pintech” used.
    Most Europeans I know refer to all tech bindings as “Dynafit (style),” similar to the way we in the U.S. often refer to all facial tissues as Kleenex. I always thought this was a nice (if unconscious) tribute to the original inventors of the binding, especially now that the patents are long expired, and think it would be a shame for that subtle gesture to be replaced by such a contrived-sounding word.
    Then again, maybe my European ski pals and I are just a bunch of fuddy-duddy paleoliths who aren’t tapped in to the dynamic, fast-changing world of backcountry ski lingo.

  27. Lou Dawson January 15th, 2014 9:51 am

    Geoff, indeed, I’m not sure the word ‘pintech’ is going to fly, but I can tell you that using the word ‘Dynafit’ to speak of any tech binding is something that will fade due to dozens of binding makers who are NOT Dynafit speaking about their products in a small community of skiers. Believe me, the marketing branding guys are going to be working overtime on all this now. Lou

  28. Mat January 25th, 2014 8:08 pm

    Are the brakes removable (i.e. can the bindings be used – are they functional – w/o brakes)? Can’t seem to find this addressed anywhere. I’m not a race binding type of guy (don’t trust them for the way I like to ski), but like to lighten my load as much as possible and prefer tech bindings w/o brakes. The ION’s seem like they’d be nice, if possible to drop the extra weight of brakes and still maintain functionality.

  29. Marc February 16th, 2014 8:58 pm

    Thanks for the review Lou. Looks like G3 might be on to something here, which would be great in light of the Onyx flop. Like you, I’d be interested to see if the brake was removable, as I don’t tour with brakes on any of my tech bindings – Dynafit or Plum. I am curious about the ski crampons and how they attach as well and whether other brands of ski crampons are compatible. I’m looking forward to learning more.

    As far as “pintech” is concerned, I’m with Geoff… double thumbs down! I feel like “tech binding” is just starting to be used and understood here in the States, rather than always calling them Dynafits (even if they aren’t Dynafits) – why do we gotta start calling them something else, specially a wimpy name like “pintech”!

    Cheers, Marc

  30. Mike May 7th, 2014 9:06 pm

    Any idea how much weight the ski crampon attachment will add?

  31. Tall Hall July 29th, 2014 4:38 pm

    Can I stretch (bend) the 110mm crampons to fit a 112mm ski (Wailers)?

  32. Mark W August 9th, 2014 9:25 am

    Tall Hall,
    Most brakes and some crampons are about 2-4 mm wider than labeled, so they should work. If you need to bend them, this is often workable too.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 August 9th, 2014 9:49 am
  34. Brian August 19th, 2014 9:00 pm

    “though don’t forget at least one tech type binding does exist that provides additional vertical heel release elasticity”

    Which binding does this? Beast?

  35. Lou Dawson 2 August 20th, 2014 5:53 am

    Hi Brian, yes, Beast does have more vertical heel elasticity. Also, while Trab TR2 is not a true “tech” binding (it uses its own proprietary boot fittings) my evaluation indicates it has slightly more vertical heel elasticity than the normal tech binding. Lou

  36. Tom September 13th, 2014 3:25 pm

    Any info on how are these holding up and skiing in real life? Any info on how they are on the snow when compared to the vipecs?

  37. skiin'IanF September 22nd, 2014 9:44 am

    I, too, am interested in removing the brakes. I did so on some onyx’s for better ramp angle and less weight, worked perfect, though what a joke the design of those brakes were, couldn’t believe it when I tore ’em apart! So, what’s the story? Can we remove the Ion’s brakes? Thanks!

  38. Lou Dawson 2 September 22nd, 2014 9:56 am

    Hi Ian, yes, the brakes can be removed. I took one off my test bindings. Doing so required some hardware hacking — I drove out a pin and pried on things with a screwdriver, super high tech.. I hope G3 provides instructions for brake removal as well as a cover for the binding under the boot heel after the brake is removed. Bear in mind that as with most tech bindings the boot heel is held suspended by they heel unit pins. While it may appear the heel of the boot is supported by the brake pad, it is not supported to any significant degree. I’d also offer that the binding vertical release is probably calibrated with the upward pressure of the brake actuator pad, so if the brake is removed the vertical release value might actually be slightly higher than the numbers indicate. Likewise, without any side friction the side release might be slightly lower in value. Lou

  39. Kyle October 10th, 2014 12:51 pm

    Hey Lou,
    Wondering about the toe-jaw retention on these. You say the retention is “consistent and high”. Any idea how it compares to the Dynafit Radical toe? Any idea what an approximate release value would be? I ski my alpine bindings at DIN 9-11, I know it’s apples and oranges but just trying to decide if these will hold me in at the toe.
    Thanks for any insight.

  40. Lou Dawson 2 October 10th, 2014 12:55 pm

    Kyle, I know from a visit to G3 facility in Vancouver that they are serious about the spring tension on the toe jaws being consistent and as strong as is practical. There is no DIN or release value rating for the strength of the springs in the toe jaws, they have to work in conjunction with the heel. On most tech bindings, if you have your boot in the toe jaws and not in the heel, the release value is about 2.

    What do you weigh, what length ski do you ski, where do you ski?


  41. Kyle October 10th, 2014 1:30 pm

    Awesome, thanks Lou. I’m 6’1″ 170 lbs and live in the Seattle area. It’s tough to rate myself as a skier (I know “expert” is very relative) but I will say I come from a racing background and like to go fast, will ski pretty much anything. These bindings will be going on a 186 cm ski. I’ve never owned a tech binding (I have been skiing Dukes but want something lighter) but have a friend who is a similar skier to me and a bit smaller, 5’11 ~150, and he’s had a lot of issues with prerelease with his Dynafit Radical FTs which worries me. Let me know what you think, and thanks again.

  42. Stuart November 25th, 2014 5:55 pm

    Any idea what the weight reduction will be if the ‘step in guidance’ towers are removed? And how exactly would they be removed? Just push that pin through and out??

  43. Codey November 25th, 2014 7:50 pm


    Lou has stated in other Ion info posts that removal of the guidance towers results in a savings of ~8 grams per binding.

  44. Richard L December 2nd, 2014 10:48 am

    All the reviews i can find for the ION are “first-look” or short term tests from Jan-Feb 14. Does anyone have any experience for a full season?

    New designs tend to have teething issues. Does anyone know how these held up for a season?

    The risers look like they could be kind of flimsy and in the high position the overlap with the boot heel looks small enough that there could be a chance of slipping off.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 December 2nd, 2014 11:55 am

    Richard, the pre-production models last winter had some issues that prevented us and probably others from making them a daily driver. Nothing that was a big deal, just some play and perhaps brake retainer issues that got taken care of in the retail version.

    We did use them last winter and reported as much as possible.

    You are experiencing early adopter angst. Patience, Grasshopper. The only full-season test worth beans is what happens on the production retail version of these products. A full-term test last season would not be useful in that sense.


  46. Jamy December 3rd, 2014 12:55 pm

    I have crampons from a pair of ONYX. Will they fit the new ION?

  47. Tall Hall December 3rd, 2014 5:00 pm

    Marker Kingpin VS G3 Ion. Your thoughts re pros and cons of each


  48. Lou Dawson 2 December 3rd, 2014 5:57 pm

    Tall, the nut of the matter is that Kingpin (to my understanding) has more vertical elasticity/travel due to it not being a conventional tech heel but rather similar to an alpine heel. ION pretty much stuck with the conventional tech binding “standard,” the quality might be top notch and the colors cool, but under the wrapper it’s not much different than a Plum or a Radical. Both Kingpin and ION have step-in-guides and strong springs in the toes. Lateral elasticity is the same, due to them using the same mechanism at the toe to yield release. If Kingpin performs as intended it could have the edge in freeride downhill performance, but for most skiers I feel the bindings are way more similar than they are different. Biggest factor is perhaps that ION is readily available and Kingpin availability is limited. Oh, and the jury is out in my opinion as to which binding has the better brake system. That’ll have to come out with lots of consumer testing. Lou

  49. Sam January 28th, 2015 5:52 pm

    Would this “forward pressure” fix the problem of the Scarpa F1 Evo going into walk mode while locked into a Dynafit binding?

  50. Scott February 3rd, 2015 1:17 pm

    Hey Sam

    That WAS my setup. I think you might be right. the heel would have to travel a LONG way to disengage the walk/ski system. That being said the metal chunk on the back of the book really did mar my pretty bindings.

  51. Mark W. March 22nd, 2015 7:56 pm

    Just spent a week back country skiing the G3 IONs on BMT 94s in the Dolomites. When in touring mode the heel piece unpredictably & frequently (sometimes over a dozen times in a six hour day) would spin around, lock the heel, and the brake would engage. This happened in all kinds of snow conditions, including dry powder and heavier, wet snow. I was careful to keep snow out of the bindings but it did not seem to help. The problem was definitely worse when using the risers. It was so bad I plan to contact G3 and return the bindings to

  52. Jim Knight March 23rd, 2015 11:06 am

    Mark W, fwiw I’ve had heel spin while in tour mode until I started turning both units so the pins faced inward. But I have the same problem with my old TLT doing it too, mostly on one side, due to foot turnout in my right stride.

  53. Lou Dawson 2 March 23rd, 2015 11:19 am

    I mentioned somewhere that I had a couple of unintended brake deployments when I tested the ION binding, but they were rare. Sorry to hear it was happening frequently, definitely unacceptable in that case. I just wish the bindings makers would divorce the brakes from their bindings, and do 100% reliable anti rotation. As mentioned before, at ISPO I saw a Plum brake that appeared to be detached from the heel unit, with it’s own button/catch system to keep it stowed while touring. An extra step while making transitions, but perhaps 100% reliable? We shall see. Lou

  54. scott March 23rd, 2015 5:46 pm

    I found that if I did not fully turn the heel post I would have issues. Or if I was stomping steps I would also have issues with the heel post. I feel like the heal post needs to be fully turned by hand and not just let it slide into place

  55. Mike December 5th, 2015 5:07 pm

    Lou or any other here … I was wondering about the Demo version? I need to accomodate few different BSL quite far appart 320 to 299, that would be very tight on the 22mm range, I would need about 30-35mm to be on the safe side! I was thinking about asking my local shop to order a Demo version…. Is there anything different in the heel piece beside a longer track and some extra weight? Any idea on weight difference between a regular heel piec and a demo ?

    Thanks !!!!!

  56. Lou Dawson 2 December 6th, 2015 4:55 am

    From what I’ve seen the demo version is quite nice, and it’s the same heel unit only with a longer track. I don’t know the weight difference, but with tech bindings the weight of a demo track is significant, in terms of percentage difference. Lou

  57. Mike December 7th, 2015 6:51 am

    Thanks Lou !

  58. Michael December 18th, 2015 9:16 am

    Here’s an update on my question for the G3 Ion Demo binding, I figured some here might be interested. I went to my local ski shop and they talked to G3, nice thing is for about a 100$ they were able to get only the heel sliding track with instructions on how to remove the original and install the demo track. So basically, I was able to keep the original bindings, just swapping the sliding track under the heel piece … problem solved! Oh and BTW, I got this mounted on Volkl BMT 109…. I truly LOVE this setup !!!

  59. Lou Dawson 2 December 18th, 2015 9:46 am


  60. Steve G January 5th, 2016 2:10 pm

    You note that boots that flex at the ball of the foot are verboten for this system, due to the sag of the boot interacting in unacceptable ways with the heel unit movement.)
    Does that mean Scarpa F3s won’t work with this binding?

  61. Mark W. January 5th, 2016 3:05 pm

    My AT boots are Tecnica Cochise Pro Lite – not sure, but I don’t think they flex at the ball of the foot. Bye-the-way, since my original post I had the spring on the heel lifts brake on one G3 ION heel piece, so the two heel lifts flop around like a fish out of water. G3 is sending me a replacement heel turret.

  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. 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. Due to human error and passing time, 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 templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version