You have to hand it to G3. While tech binding innovation goes crazy on the “beefy” side, millions of skiers on classic tech bindings can’t be wrong. Taking that to heart, with their ION line of bindings G3 somewhat cloned the original tech binding design, only with beefed parts, added features, and what they claim is improved retention. I think it’s a cool combo. (Note, we’ve done quite a bit of blogging about ION, news here is they’ve expanded the product line.)
Whoops, did I say “clone?” G3 might whip me with a cable binding for that verbiage, as the ION is not a clone of the Barthel binding any more than a BMW is a clone of a Porsche. In other words, the tech binding has become a virtual standard. Once such a standard is inculcated, items extrapolated can be the “same” but so much different. Witness the vast array of tech bindings this season, and G3 in particular.
The family works like this:
ION 12 – identical to the ION from last season, only with dark top on rear housing and the number “12” printed on housing. If you go to 11, you should shout it to the world.
ION 10 – identical to the ION 12 (including weight), but with an RV from 4-10. Identical might indeed be the right word because the 12 model adjusts down to 5, and as RV values are allowed to vary somewhat by existing standards, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find an ION 12 that went down to 4. Lesson, if you want an ION with low release values, shop by price and availability for either the 10 or 12 version, and get your release values checked at a ski shop. On the other hand, if you need more than RV 10, enjoy the 12 — it goes to 11.
ION LT12 — This is the sweet spot for ski touring in the G3 group of sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. Simple, it’s an ION 12 with the brake missing and boot toe “step-in” indexers removed. We’re not a big fan of the toe guides (a matter of taste), and can do without brakes, so yes, tasty.
(Single binding weighed with screws, without safety leash. See other binding weights.)
ION LT12 toe 178 grams (6.3 ounces)
ION LT12 heel 298 grams (10.5 ounces)
ION LT12 total 476 grams (16.9 ounces)
Use report. I skied the full retail ION this early winter for about 20 days. While they’re a bit heavy for my taste, I was nonetheless impressed and concluded the whole ION line is a viable option if you’re shopping for tech bindings. I had zero durability problems. Uphill and downhill modes felt solid. Once in a while the brake would come unhooked and deploy while uphilling (usually easy to remedy by flipping up the heel lifters and stomping your heel down to re-hook the brake). Rotating the heel unit by hand is a bit tricky, as your fingers can get caught when the brake AFD pad pops up. If you learn the binding and use is correctly, you’ll experience very few of these issues. (Above all, remember that hidden icing is the root cause of many tech binding problems, so develop good “clearing” habits for your transition from touring to downhill mode.) G3 did a good job covering all this in their user tips video, embedded below.