G3 ION Family Plan — Good Looking Cousins Join the Party

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 5, 2015      
Graphics and look.

Check out the LT12, a full-on touring binding, brake and a few other parts stripped off. I’ll admit we’re tired of “freeride” touring bindings, so it is nice to see G3 going back to the roots of frameless backcountry skiing bindings.

ION12 with 2015 look.

ION12 with latest graphics look.

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)

Shop for G3 ION ski touring bindings.

G3 ION LT 12 is a stripped down version of their ION.

G3 ION LT 12 is a stripped down version of their full-on tech ION binding. All ION bindings are said to have better toe retention than the classic tech binding design, due to stronger toe springs as well as different geometry. While testing binding for retention is a job better left to machinery, one test you can do with tech bindings is try touring without the toe locked. Not only is that a good evaluation, but also adds some safety in avalanche terrain. With a bit of care, I was able to stay in the ION toe during numerous ski tours, some with plenty of switchbacks. I came away impressed.

Heel underside, same spring loaded track as all ION offerings.

Heel underside, same spring loaded track as all ION offerings. The beautiful engineering here is that when the binding is in touring mode the heel is locked from fore/aft movement, preventing undue wear and weird behavior. Once in downhill mode the heel unit moves to compensate for ski flex.

Graphics and look.

Graphics and look.

G3 is no stranger to leashes. These have nice thin cable and beefy hooks; I'd like to see an optional breakaway system as well, perhaps next year?

Due to their roots in telemark binding development, G3 is no stranger to leashes. These steel thongs for the LT12 have nice thin cable and beefy hooks; I’d like to see an optional breakaway system as well, perhaps next year?

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.

Shop for G3 ION ski touring bindings.


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51 Responses to “G3 ION Family Plan — Good Looking Cousins Join the Party”

  1. Scott Nelson January 5th, 2015 6:46 pm

    The LT12 does look pretty tasty. I like the more ‘minimalistic’ theme of the bindings. I’m curious to try them out. Hope you’re getting some snow……

  2. Justin January 5th, 2015 8:18 pm

    How about an Ion vs Vipec head to head shoot out? Pros and Cons of both, since they are the new direct competitors (Radicals would be in the category as well, but have obviously been around for a while and so are much more known to most folks).

  3. XXX_er January 5th, 2015 9:24 pm

    Instead of wood screws going into delrin plastic I see machine screws into the aluminum top plate from below holding the heelpiece together

    I am pretty sure Lou is working on a comparo!

  4. Lou Dawson 2 January 6th, 2015 12:07 am

    Xer, I tried to be fair in this first look and be clear that while the ION functions in most ways as a classic tech binding, it is indeed a state-of-art version with improved strength and configuration. The way the screws hold the top plate is indeed good.

    I’ll probably do more comparo in another review or post. Main thing to remember is that Dynafit’s iteration of the classic, the Speed model, is lighter, and for many people weight trumps many other things. I like most of what they did with the ION but in my opinion not everyone needs the fore/aft heel unit movement, though the way G3 implemented this is super smart (it locks out when you rotate to touring mode). To me, the best thing about ION is the toe unit retention, really cool you can tour sometimes with the toe unlocked, and the claim that it has better retention in downhill mode is important.. It all leads one to wonder if you could pair an ION toe with a lighter heel unit. It never ends (grin).

  5. Dan January 6th, 2015 8:42 am

    If you’re going to give up the brake and you’re not hucking, the Dynafit Speed Superlight is my pick. Less than half the weight for nearly all the functionality (slightly lower DIN, no length adjustment, no flat step). It’s an elegant minimalist design.

  6. gringo January 6th, 2015 9:21 am

    Hi Lou,

    I am purposly putting this off topic here so hopefully it gets seen soon.
    I am surprised that you have not said anything about the ABS recall, just a little twitter tab. I realize that you are US based but not all of your readership is.

    From what I see this ABS recall is HUGE and does have safety consequences, and therefore deserves a headline spot as a PSA I would think.

    Every single ABS twin bag ever used or tested with a EURO steel cartridge needs to be sent back…..that’s not small news!


  7. Lou Dawson 2 January 6th, 2015 9:39 am

    Gringo, I agree it’s huge and I recall we had some comments about it on our airbag overview post.

    I got slagged a bit for my take on ABS being a bit old fashioned in terms of their pyrotechnic trigger system. Perhaps in my subconscious I didn’t want to appear to be piling on their problems.

    Not sure what you want me to do. It seems that every other panting blogger out there has covered it and the PSA is taken care of , should I do a blog post in all caps and bold? Happy to do so if you really think that’s necessary.

    If I didn’t tweet it then my bad, I should have and will do so.

    When you share something like that, provide an information link!


  8. Jailhouse Hopkins January 6th, 2015 11:15 am

    Very little reports of binding failure and/or breakage, even from the TGR crowd. Granted its still early in the season.

  9. Tucker Cunningham January 6th, 2015 12:54 pm

    Hey Lou, it’s a bit tough to see from the photos, the LT12 has metal in all the same spots as the full meal deal ION (save the brakes and alignment block, obviously)? Seems like a winner, I waited on getting a pair after learning from the rep that removing the brakes would void the binding warranty, being a first year product and all. What’s with the trend for non-removable brake assemblies anyway? My calculation is that the brake assembly is 22% of the weight of an ION12!

  10. Lou Dawson 2 January 6th, 2015 1:11 pm

    Tucker, same materials as ION, and ION is not all metal. As for the non-removable brakes, they just simplify the design, it’s really tough to design and get these things manufactured, not much room for error. Trying to make brakes removable is just another thing to raise costs and introduce error. Also, I’m not sure but it’s possible the brake performance test in the ISO standard might make trouble with removable brakes, when TUV DOES THE TESTING TO CERTIFY BINDINGS TO THE ISO STANDARD (Rick, is that clear enough?) Lou

  11. John January 6th, 2015 1:21 pm

    Does the Ion have a ski crampon slot? I don’t see one in these photos.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 January 6th, 2015 1:30 pm

    John, yes, its optional and fits on the binding. Quite nicely, actually. Also, the LT has a small clip for attachment of the leash, this isn’t shown in the photos.

    P.S., I just went over to the G3 site to see if their ION product video illustrated their slick crampon. Lots of video of a guy skiing, probably on IONs, but I didn’t see anything about the crampon attachment. My bad, I should have detailed it.


  13. Bryan January 6th, 2015 4:37 pm

    I’ve been skiing this year’s ions. 6-8 days in bounds, 4-5 touring. Super impressed with the heel and forward pressure, although it’s less of an issue in the backcountry, the binding performs really well in bounds.

    I have concerns about the heel lifters breaking, but nothing to report yet. I also have a very very small amount of slop developing in the toe piece (baseplate). Likely due to an issue with the mount, but could be due to slight intolerance with the plastic base plate and metal upper toe piece assembly.

    In any case, I’m thrilled the binding so far. This is the binding Dynafit needed to release for the 13/14 season.

  14. Phil January 6th, 2015 5:15 pm

    I now have 3 days on my ION bindings and am impressed with the design and build quality. I’m a fan of the toe guides, unlike Lou. I also like the feature allowing the brake to stay down until you steep in after rotating the heel unit to ski mode. Watching skis go downhill without you is no bueno. Lou means it when he says that rotating the heal unit by hand is “tricky.” I have badly pinched fingers and thumbs to vouch for his words of warning. Here’s my question. Has anyone had the heal unit rotate unintentionally while in touring mode? I’ve had it happen twice. (Visions of my old Dynafit Comforts). My first thought is that I failed to fully rotate the heal until it “locks.” Any feedback?

  15. Colin January 6th, 2015 5:32 pm


    Thoughts on the vulnerability of the flat touring tab on the heelpiece sheering off, a la my pair of Verticals? Seems built the same and is smaller than the same tab on the Verticals.

  16. Travis January 6th, 2015 8:59 pm

    From my experience mounting this years ion in the shop, about 6 pairs, that piece would not be taking any foot loading. It is the catch for the rotation and it is present on both sides. I think the dark grey plastic piece would be taking all of the load for flat on ski touring, kind of a replacement foot bump instead of the brake on this years model. Lou am I totally wrong about that? As a skier who has sheared 3 vertical flat on ski plastic pieces I would like to know too!

  17. Lou Dawson 2 January 7th, 2015 1:01 am

    Phil, I had one “auto-rotation” during my ION testing, come to think of it. I was on a sidehill with sun affected snow that was sticking to the binding. It was an outlyer event that in my opinion had nothing to do with any sort of flaw in the binding. If you experience much of this, get your boots and skis on the bench and check how the lugs of your boot sole interact with the heel risers on the binding. Sometimes the heel riser gets nudged over by the lugs, which can trigger the auto rotation process if there is extra snow encouraging the process. I suppose it’s also possible we both didn’t fully “lock” our heels into touring position.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 January 7th, 2015 1:05 am

    Colin and Travis, I don’t have the bindings in front of me here in Europe, but I do recall that the “bump” you refer to has nothing to do with supporting boot heel, it is indeed the “catch” for rotation. Further, these bindings have now been beta and “double beta” tested, if there was a problem in that area we’d know about it by now. As someone else mentioned, the lack of reported ION problems/breakage is very refreshing. It’s like a cool alpine breeze caressing your face as you brew coffee next to a trout filled lake in Wyoming. Peace.


  19. Tricerabottoms January 7th, 2015 9:28 am

    Sorry to drift the thread…. But I have two verticals w sheared off flat touring tabs as well. Was that a common issue with the Verticals?

  20. Zed January 7th, 2015 10:16 am

    I have used the Ions 7 days now, and I have only auto rotated once, during the first day I used them. It happened 15 steps after a transition due to the fact, I think, that I did not turn the heal unit around enough. It has not occurred since, and I have used them in variable conditions (snow build up etc., side of the hill).

  21. Phil January 7th, 2015 10:23 am

    Zed, come to think of it the auto rotation happened to me just after transition as well. I think you’re on to something – make sure the heal units are “clicked” into place.

  22. Rick January 7th, 2015 1:13 pm

    Hi All,

    anyone know if these stripped down G3’s will be available this season ?

    Thanks !

  23. Colin January 7th, 2015 2:53 pm
  24. Lou Dawson 2 January 7th, 2015 2:55 pm

    Rick, 2015-2016. Like most backcountry skiing bloggers we start panting and stand on our hind legs and beg when we get to report on new gear, even if it’s a year out. We also pant and bark loudly when we can report on broken gear, but for some reason we just don’t break gear that often. Lou

  25. Skyler January 7th, 2015 7:50 pm

    Ramp? The toe pieces look taller than Speed Rads, which is promising…

  26. Andy Mason January 7th, 2015 8:41 pm

    Hi all, looking for an answer to an unanswerable question: Ions or Onyxes? Background: I live in the east, and occasionally tour here, but it always sucks, and I just got some Altai Hoks http://us-store.altaiskis.com/product/hok-ski/ for mucking around here, so forget that part. My main use case is flying to the goods and skiing at resorts or touring, depending on snow conditions. I take 2 pairs of skis (195 Kuro and 188 Convert) to cover most conditions, and have spares in case I break anything (less and less of a concern as I get older and smoother).

    The spares thing is where it gets interesting. I currently have one set of Onyxes and a plate on each ski (and crampons for the narrow ones, and various size brakes, etc), and was planning to get another set, ’cause I like them well enough and it would mean having spares with me wherever I was (I could even take a spare heel and maybe toe with me on a tour!). They’d come with another set of plates, so I could buy even more skis someday :). I’ve broken a heel piece before, but that was during testing, maching on chattery hardpack, I don’t worry about them the rest of the time (I didn’t break my Naxos, so I should be ok). Hucked some medium sized stuff on the Kuros, all good. One last thing: the ones I have are the older, 5-10 vertical release models (with replaced toes and heel lifters), and they popped off when I pretended I wasn’t over 40 and jibbed that tree. If I get new ones, I’ll move the old ones to the primarily touring skis, and put the new ones on the primarily alpine skis.

    Having said all that, Ions look neat, and the springy heel looks useful, and if I should eventually have all Ion stuff, might as well start now. Someone save me from my over-analyzing self!


  27. Ken January 7th, 2015 8:52 pm

    I have over 50 days of guiding ski touring and ski-mountaineering on a couple of pairs of Ions. SUPER happy and impressed with them.

    Although I am a big fan of light, I feel the extra weight of brakes are well worth it. Love how I don’t need to hold them down while rotating the heel piece to tour mode.

    The brakes have popped down on me a couple of times. Every time I realised I hadn’t completely rotated the heel piece to tour.

    Got rid of all my Dynafit Radicals. Saw too many of the heel pieces blow up. Up here in BC bc, one can’t afford to take the chance of walking out 10km because your binding broke.

  28. Harold January 7th, 2015 8:53 pm

    Andy: neither. Get plum guides. You can’t go wrong.

  29. Ken January 7th, 2015 9:00 pm

    Unfortunately the Plum Guides suffer from reliability issues. Many of us (ACMG Guides) wanted to like them – but too many instances of breakage. Now you don’t see them on any professionals’ skis up here. And we ski tour. A lot.
    I really tried to like them – heck, I’m French-Canadian and lived in France for 8 years.

  30. Lou Dawson 2 January 7th, 2015 9:22 pm

    Andy, I’ll help you from paralysis by analysis, just go with ION.

  31. Wookie January 8th, 2015 6:12 am

    Hey Lou – I read and re-read….but I didn’t find: These new ION additions are coming out when? because I couldn’t find them for sale. Next season? Someday? After Columbus Day but before National Secretaries Week?

  32. John January 8th, 2015 2:44 pm

    If you mount too close to the reinforcement edge, or partiatially through the edge, you will loose the integrity of the mechanical interface of the screw threads. You will then have to rely on a chemical interface (I suggest a high strength epoxy) to hold the threads of which ever threaded fastener you choose. Unfortunately, the threaded interface wins in strength. Further complicating mounting to the BMT is hollow channels running the length of the ski. I have found the VWerks reinforcement to be one of the strongest for screw retention. By moving off center you will weaken the H pattern reinforcement plate.
    I threw away my Volk reinforcement pattern after I found some Kingpin bindings, so I don’t have the measurements.
    My next choice was the G3 Ion,because the hole line up better.

  33. Andy Mason January 8th, 2015 4:41 pm

    Harold, thanks, but although price isn’t the only factor, it’s still a consideration, and unless I can find another source, Plums will cost twice as much as G3s around here, and I’m frugal.

    Lou, I just saw the phrase analysis paralysis on another post here, and thought it was quite applicable to me. Thx, done 🙂

  34. Rick January 8th, 2015 9:01 pm

    edit for incorrect e-mail address pertaining to thread subscription 😉

  35. Rick January 8th, 2015 9:03 pm

    dagnabbit !

  36. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2015 9:19 pm

    Wookie, sorry about my not mentioning the timing. They’re announcements for what’ll be available 2015/2016 season, per the usual practice of releasing such information before the OR and ISPO shows to encourage retailers to order for the next season. Lou

  37. Harold January 8th, 2015 9:24 pm


    Plums do not cost twice as much as G3s… Only slightly more if you want brakes.
    These things are awesome.
    ken, you must be referring to the first two years of this model. I have last years model and it works perfectly in all skiing situations. The bugs are worked out! Plus , remember : Glen Plake also skis with these bindings currently and he is ten times the skier you are.
    But that being said, looking at the g3 ions in the shop, they certainly look good and are worth a shot. Certainly a huge improvement over their previous binding. I would give them a try too.

  38. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2015 10:16 pm

    It should be pointed out that for aggressive skiing the spring loaded ION heel unit with “forward pressure” could perform much better than conventional tech binding heel design such a Plum that depend on the boot heel fittings sliding on the heel pins to compensate for ski flex.

    With a conventional tech binding such as Plum, if your ski is heavily flexed the boot heel can impinge on the binding heel, and with no give in the binding, something else has to give, perhaps resulting in pre-release.

    Sliding heel units such as that of ION have other advantages (and a few disadvantages), but compensating for ski flex and preventing pre-release is in my view the main thing.

    Yes, Plum makes beautiful bindings, but they’re essentially a tech binding copy with little in the way of mechanical innovation.

    What is more, the brake system of the ION is quite well engineered and integrated.

  39. Mark Worley January 8th, 2015 11:01 pm

    Nice Ions, and nice leashes too. By the way I accidentally skied my new Speed Radicals sans toes locked for touring and never clicked out. Nice.

  40. Greig January 10th, 2015 4:36 pm

    Hi Lou/all,

    Just recieved my new ION’s- they look great. One (possibly terrible/silly question) I have is why when in touring mode, the heel unit sits at a pronounced angle that is past or short of 90 degrees from the ski position? Further to this, I am worried that the heel of the boot does not sit squarely on the heel lifter causing potential damage to the lifters during use?
    Once again, please accept my apologies if this is a crazy question. These are my first set of tech bindings and so I have a lot to learn!



  41. Kasper January 30th, 2015 12:59 am

    Does anyone know where the boot center line is on a Volkl Nanuq 2014/15 ski? There is a small vertical mark on the sidewall, a little bit towards the ski tip from where the ski lenght is printed. Is this it?

  42. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2015 1:42 am

    Greig, do you have them on skis yet, in use? All should be obvious when you do, but know that the heel unit has to be rotated into a certain position to actuate the brake catch/holder for touring, as well as allowing you to use the binding with your heel flat on the ski instead of on the lifters. As for the angle of the lifters, just use the binding and see what happens. Lou

  43. Eric B February 3rd, 2015 11:29 am

    Have had the IONs since Dec, done several tours on them and super happy. Easy to use, like the toe guides (fewer mis-hits), real ski brakes, nice channel under the toe for clearing snow, solid heel lifters, ski crampons easy to snap on/off. Only had one “auto-rotation” out of tour mode and it was probably my bad for not clearing snow or fully locking the heel. Only other issue is remembering to step down on the brake to click it up before dropping the heel lifter (went off dragging a brake once – took me a bit of time to realise, just thought my legs were tired!). As Lou noted the binding has forward pressure to maintain contact as the ski flexes. This and the wide drill pattern gives it a strong connected, responsive feeling on the down – easy to forget you’re on a light tech binding. Its a new binding so some bugs may yet appear, but so far so good…

  44. ZH February 5th, 2015 8:53 pm


    First time / long time, thanks for your work. Seems foolish, but I do not want to assume, is the hole pattern of the LT 12 the same as this year’s ION? Thinking of inserts.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 February 5th, 2015 10:18 pm

    ZH, yes, the bindings are identical other than the brakes. Lou

  46. glenn brady February 26th, 2015 9:02 pm

    Vipec Vs ion comparison. .i have the latest g3 ion and had…last year’s vipec..i feel their is no comparison. .vipec toe piece is challenging to get into (even after b diamond graciously added the new guides for free..they did nothing)..ion is very simple..vipecs many plastic parts broke on me multiple times…ions are rock solid after same number of uses. Vipecs brakes jammed on me many times and would not go into ski mode and vipecs toe piece often would not release when depressing the release mechanism…ions was always 100 percent rock solid..sorry vipec..this model was weak

  47. Jon July 16th, 2015 9:55 am

    Any news on when the Ion LT will be released for the consumer market?

  48. Dan October 27th, 2015 1:43 pm

    The G3 LT 12 looks like it hits a sweet spot in terms of performance, release and weight. I’ve been thinking about the Beast 14 but have been a bit put off by their weight…would the G3 LT 12 be comparable in terms of downhill performance in the backcountry?

    I’m looking for something to mount on my DPS Wailers for Japan, and I definitely don’t mind the extra weight if it is a marked improvement for the downhill (I want to start hucking cliffs and all that stuff). At the same time I do love the lightweight gear on the way up!

    Any advice would be appreciated!

  49. Jon October 27th, 2015 3:51 pm

    Dan – The ION LT and the Beast are in TOTALLY different classes and aimed at totally different uses. The ION LT is definitely not meant for hucking cliffs. You’ll eventually break something (probably your legs).

    If you want to huck cliffs, get the Beast. Better yet, get a CAST system binding that will allow you to use the tech toes on the way up but swap for a proper alpine binding on the way down.

    I think you’re asking too much of pin tech bindings.


  50. Lou Dawson 2 October 27th, 2015 4:39 pm

    Jon, thanks, I couldn’t have said it better.

  51. Dan October 27th, 2015 5:48 pm

    Thanks Jon!

    Sorry for sounding like an ill-informed loser, but down in Oz you can’t just go to the local shop and have a play – one of the local stores still sells TLT4s! It’s kind of hard to get info as a result.

    I’ve also heard good things about the ATK Free Rider binding – apparently you can drop cliffs in those things as they have a high release value and still lock you in pretty tight.

    I’ll probably end up on a Beast 14, but it was worth trying to save a bit of weight if I can!

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