Dynafit Beast 14 Ski Binding — Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 12, 2015      

Mike Arnold

Overview
The last decade has seen huge evolutionary improvements in backcountry skiing gear. Dynafit Beast 14 binding is a strong example of where things have come, and perhaps a hint of where things will go in the future.

Beast 14 heel is similar to Beast 16, but toe is stripped down.

Beast 14 heel is similar to Beast 16, but toe is stripped down.

Beast 14 is a stripped down version of “big brother” Beast 16. From my experience doing this evaluation, Beast 14 could easily change your mindset about the tech binding universe — it will perform at a high level when you feel the need to “open it up” while inbounds, or in the backcountry. Overall, like Beast 16, Beast 14 fits the skier who resort skis for part of a day, then decides to go for a tour to find more untracked powder. Yet beyond sidecountry, with its weight savings and being frameless, 14 will backcountry tour quite nicely if you like something beefier for your human powered ski adventures.

Ride the tram or break trail to your line. This is a free-ride binding that can be pushed, whether on big cliffs, pillow lines or charging the great faces of Europe.

Installation: Mounting
Beast 14 has some extra steps to installation that adds stability to your existing boot. The horseshoe power bar that replaces the rear pin attachment is a quick install on the heels of your boots. I used the horseshoe power bar as a jig and drilled holes with 1/16in drill bit and used epoxy to secure each screw in the proper location. (Notes: While WildSnow is always supportive of DIY, for all but the most skilled garage technicians binding systems as complex as Beast should be installed by a qualified shop technician. Also, know that Beast 16 and 14 bindings are NOT compatible with “short sole” boots such as Dynafit TLT6.)

Beyond nuts-and-bolts, the key to a proper installation is knowledge of the binding. When you pick up your skis and boots at the shop “grill” the ski tech and gain a full understanding of what your Beast binding has to offer, and how it functions.

There has been some controversy with using the Beast power bar (horseshoe shaped fitting on heel of boot) with other tech bindings. I have been using the power bar on Dynafit Radical ST and Speed Turns. The only issue I have encountered is when the ski flexes while touring using the heel-flat-on-ski position, the power bar gets caught in the heel of the binding and locks until ski is flattened out.

The Beast 14 Power Bar can also work with a frame binding such as the Duke or Fritschi so long as it’s on a boot that fits frame bindings (i.e., not the TLT 6). That said, know that the Beast Power Bar can create wear on the heels of frame bindings, so check your bindings from time to time and make sure the structure of the binding is still intact.

In all cases, if you choose to use a Power Bar equipped boot in a binding other than Beast, be sure to check release functions on the workbench before heading out to the wild.

Beast 14 toe rotates 5mm, similar in function to Beast 16 as well as Radical 2.0. A clever part of the lock lever keeps the binding from rotating while it's open, making it easier to step into.

Beast 14 toe rotates 5mm, similar in function to Beast 16 as well as Radical 2.0. A clever part of the lock lever keeps the binding from rotating while it’s open, making it easier to step into.

Toe Piece
The rotating toe piece of the Beast 14 is an innovative design. It’s stripped down and simplified in comparison to the Beast 16. The 5mm of “swivel” motion in the toe substitutes for the “ball and socket” action of most “classic” tech binding toes. In many cases it is smoother and more reliable, and is said to provide a bit more lateral elasticity as well (in my bench tests this appears to be the case, but it’s difficult to evaluate small differences in binding elasticity without sophisticated testing equipment). The Beast 14 pivoting toe is found on next year’s Radical 2.0 and will continue to influence Dynafit and other tech binding products for years to come.

The toe piece locks for touring mode in a similar way to the rest of the Dynafit fleet and many other brands. You pull up on a locking lever, which locks out the toe release while at the same time locking out the toe rotation.

For what it’s worth, with the classic Dynafit binding I typically lock my toe piece 2-4 clicks on firm piste. Yes, I know here on Wildsnow we question the efficacy of this, and it’s been pointed out that the difference between a few clicks and full lock may only be psychological. Whatever the truth about the mythical “clicks,” those days are over. Beast does NOT have clicks in the toe locking mechanism that vary the release level.

Not having clicks to fiddle with might shatter your world but it is what it is — and it works fine. Instead, while the Beast toe does have one “click,” as soon as you pull up the lock lever everything is fully locked due to the lever blocking out the toe rotation. Thus, the binding is either release locked, or it is not. Considering Beast 14 has better elasticity I was comfortable skiing hardpack without fiddling around with the locking lever, and skiing it unlocked.

(Note: It’s possible that pulling up the lock lever partially (before it clicks!) might reduce the high amount of force needed to release in touring mode, say in an avalanche. But know that even in the partially pulled up position you have blocked out normal calibrated safety release due to locking the toe rotation.)

Heel Piece
Beast 14 heel piece travels on a track under spring load to allow the ski to flex without triggering a pre-release. The binding marked with 5-14 DIN release setting numbers. That’s plenty of range for most users. I tend to run my release setting at 10. (strong skier, weight 170, Height 6′)

Boot in Beast 14 heel, testing for vertical elasticity and release. Smooth and nice.

Boot in Beast 14 heel, testing for vertical elasticity and release using the famous WildSnow ANSI prybar. Smooth and nice. Pictured TLT6 boot is stated by Dynafit to be incompatible with Beast bindings, but functioned for demonstration and testing purposes. We did quite a bit of bench testing and found that all the Beast binding safety and touring functions still work with the TLT6; issue is possible boot damage (see photos below).

Reason why Beast model bindings are incompatible with short sole boots, the red circled metal prongs press against the boot shell causing possible damage.

Reason why Beast model bindings are incompatible with short sole boots, the red circled metal prongs press against the boot shell causing likely damage.

Heel area of TLT6 showing slight damage caused by Beast binding.

Heel area of TLT6 showing slight damage caused by Beast binding, in our opinion this is the reason for “official” incompatibility of short-sole boots with Beast model bindings. If desired, should you go ahead and use such boots with this binding? Take at WildSnow is if in a pinch you can do it if you’re willing to accept the small gouges in your boots. Otherwise, don’t. Indeed, with a binding this beefy it’s a bit silly to be using a light touring boot. Pairing is not only for wine and cheese.

Skiing and Touring
With eight days of touring and skiing the Beast 14, I was convinced of the relevance of having a binding like this in nearly any quiver — and most certainly in mine. Essentially, it does everything, with an edge for the more aggressive side of the sport.

Mike’s info: 170lbs, 6’0, Aggressive skier/IFMGA Ski + mountain guide

Beast 14 construction: Forged aluminum 6082, CrMo steel, stainless steel, titanium, high-strength plastic

Maximum DIN: 14 (Tester DIN @ 10)

Weight of bindings:

  • Heel unit (with screws) 598 grams, 20.4 ounces
  • Toe unit (with screws) 254 grams, 9.0 ounces
  • Total (with screws) 852 grams, 29.4 ounces
  • .
    Terrain: Tested in the heart of the Rocky Mountain Elk mountains, Colorado: (groomers, powder, breakable crust, steep couloirs, ski touring)

    Days tested: 8

    Shop for Beast 14

    (WildSnow.com guest blogger Mike Arnold is an IFMGA mountain guide who works internationally for Aspen Expeditions. When he’s not sleeping in his Sprinter van or some hut above Cham, he lives in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado.)



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    Comments

    85 Responses to “Dynafit Beast 14 Ski Binding — Review”

    1. Mike March 12th, 2015 11:39 am

      What’s the difference in MSRP between the 14 and 16?

    2. Lou Dawson 2 March 12th, 2015 4:02 pm
    3. Robin March 12th, 2015 6:54 pm

      Height 6 inches? Pretty dense guy – must be hard to see over the boot top! (grin)

    4. Lou Dawson 2 March 12th, 2015 6:59 pm

      wait, I don’t see that typo, help, 6’0 means 6 feet re our style sheet, perhaps it should be 6’0″ ?

    5. See March 12th, 2015 7:41 pm

      First paragraph under “Heel Piece”, in parentheses.

    6. Lou Dawson 2 March 12th, 2015 7:48 pm

      thanks you guys, fixed

    7. wyomingowen March 12th, 2015 10:10 pm

      I’m leary of any binding other than tech binder as an alternative to beast 14/16 with the “horseshoe” installed…the mrs. mounted some salomon wardens on a pair of old skis just for ski schooling (freedom sl boot) and hasn’t skied them..after a discussion with several different techs sentiment is unanimous that the metal will tear up the heel piece and likely compromise a smooth release.. so decided to swap out the heel for rad2.0 next year on her side country boards.

      I’ve put 25 lift days on them wailer 112 and freedom sl. with side country ventures. SO far so good. again if the ski is on any side hill it’s easy for toe to swivel at engagement before clicking heel that leads to a false entry at the heel….caveat emptor

      Mike, why show a boot with disclaimer to not use????? weird at best

    8. Lou Dawson 2 March 13th, 2015 8:20 am

      Wyoming, we showed the photos because Mike had set up those boots, skied them, and we used the for the photos. Simple as that. I’d agree it would probably be better not to show the TLT6 boot in the photos. I did edit a few out. Perhaps I should take out that last one (with the prybar) to prevent confusion. I’m checking a bit more on whether we need to do more testing with different boots, but I think we’re ok.

      In terms of how the binding skis downhill, I’ve gotten plenty of positive feedback from other skiers so Mike’s take (that it worked well) is valid.

      Nonetheless I’ll double check today on all this. Perhaps I can get clear on why Dynafit doesn’t recommend the short-sole boots for Beast. They said it’s something about those small prongs on the upper part of the binding. We shall see.

      Lou

    9. wyomingowen March 13th, 2015 9:15 am

      Thanks Lou,
      Agreed on the ski performance of the Beast 14. Ultimately, I’m more concerned about “crossover” i.e. how do frame and adjustable toe height bindings perform with the horseshoe installed on the boot. Seems like this circumstance could use more research & discussion.

      To add to the above, my wife is 30 days+ with horseshoe on freedom sl skiing on radicals, obviously need to adjust/check heel gap w/ horseshoe installed.

    10. Lou Dawson 2 March 13th, 2015 10:33 am

      Wyoming, my take at this time is that the “horseshoe” can cause unacceptable wear in the heel jaws of some (if not most) frame bindings. On the other hand, it seems to work fine with any classic type tech binding so long as the setup is bench tuned for heel gap and release check.

      I’ll do more eval, since we’ve got all the stuff here to do so.

      Lou

    11. dave March 13th, 2015 11:48 am

      I have both, the 14 and the 16. While the 14’s simplified toe unit seems appealing, I decide to get rid of the smaller one. the weight saving is vs the 16 is small and there is a major difference to the 16. The 16 locks automatically in ski mode and can release. You buy this with a small weight increase and the fact that the 16 toe piece is prone to break (I had to send in my 1st series 16 to dynafit for replacement. The way it’s designed I am afraid it will come loose again over time, but as long as dynafit replaces it I am fine)

    12. Paul March 13th, 2015 2:30 pm

      Dave, what do you mean by the 16 toe locks automatically in ski mode?
      I am on the 16 as well but have not yet gotten the hang of flipping the elevators as quickly as other bindings. That, combined with no flat mode is making me want to switch to the kingpin. But, if the 2.0 skis close to as well as a beast, I may have to consider that.

    13. Aaron March 13th, 2015 8:41 pm

      I couldn’t help but read “horseshoe shaped power bar” as “horsepower bar”. This seems like a much more euphonious marketing name.

    14. Lorne March 14th, 2015 3:18 am

      Where’s the review?

    15. etto March 14th, 2015 8:12 am

      Kingpin skis great. No fancy rotating toe, but the heel piece is magic. Total weight far below any Beast incarnation. Could still be lighter though, too much unnecessary ‘beef’ plastic. Toe has a tendency to gather snow making putting it on/of in sticky conditions harder than Dynafit classic techs.

    16. etto March 14th, 2015 8:15 am

      Oh, and no boot modification necessary, gotta love that.

    17. GeorgeT March 14th, 2015 9:01 am

      Lou: Which pin binding do you think is the safest (releasing) alternative inbounds/outbounds to the heavier frame bindings at this point? Beast, Kingpin, Vipec or skip pin bindings and stick with Fritschi Freeride or Marker Dukes?

    18. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2015 10:33 am

      Lorne, we just added some photos and information about boot compatibility, that seems to be one of the main points of Mike’s review, though it took us a few days to get there (grin).Perhaps “Review” is the wrong term… Lou

    19. Lou Dawson 2 March 14th, 2015 10:46 am

      Etto, you actually do have to mod the boot if you’ve got a short sole, such as TLT-6, otherwise, use, stock DIN touring sole works fine with Kingpin.

      George, First, I’ve never been convinced the frame bindings were as safe as would be assumed. They seem to be commonly used while poorly adjusted, and they’re sensitive to boot wear, dirt, and that sort of thing. Second, you know I can’t just fire both of my guns and state which binding I think would be “safest,” as factors such as boot toe fittings come into play, as well as your skiing style.

      Main thing with tech bindings is if you want any leg protection you need to ski them unlocked, in other words that would be the first criteria for the “safest.” But, and it’s a big “but” if you pick a binding and discover you have even the slightest tendency to pre-release, then that’s a huge black mark against “safety.”

      If you need ultra safety inbounds with something that tours, yes, something like Marker or Solly frame bindings, with an alpine soled boot, bench adjusted and tested, are probably better alternatives on average. But if you really want to protect yourself to the latest levels of engineering, ski newish alpine bindings with an alpine boot, again properly adjusted.

      Happy to talk about it in person some time. I’ve hurt myself a couple of times skiing touring bindings at the resort. It concerns me how many folks are just giving up on modern alpine bindings and using pintech bindings as daily driver resort bindings, when they are not even going sidecountry, don’t carry skins, and have no intention of unlatching their heel for a walk. Perhaps good for the industry in terms of sales? But what happens when someone gets hurt and their attorney discovers they’re on bindings that might not even be certified to an ISO norm?

      BTW, now that we have touring bindings certified by TUV to DIN/ISO 13992 (the touring binding standard), I wonder which will be the first pintech binding certified to the alpine binding standard ISO 9462 and used in a World Cup superG?

      Lou

    20. etto March 14th, 2015 3:54 pm

      The TLT6 and similar won’t work in a frame binding anyways. And matching the Kingpin with such a boot is just plain wrong 😉

    21. Buck March 14th, 2015 4:30 pm

      @Etto – “Oh, and no boot modification necessary, gotta love that.”

      what about when one or both of your kingpin toe pins backs out while you’re traversing a late spring frozen sidehill above some rocks and air? You might then need to modify your boot so that it can still fit around your reconstructed and titanium-screwed tibia without causing extreme pain.

      gotta love that

    22. Bernhard March 15th, 2015 10:37 am

      Got a Great Deal for beasts with 120 mm brakes. Do you think these would work properly with a convert/105 mm ski under foot?
      Greets from Innsbruck bernhard

    23. Lou Dawson 2 March 15th, 2015 1:19 pm

      Hi Berhard, I’d think they would work, but you’ll have to see how they look once they’re on there. Lou

    24. etto March 15th, 2015 2:15 pm

      @Buck You could try getting the new fixed toe pieces… Otoh titanium is rather cool. Think I would get rid of the bad foot and replace it with a direct tech fitting 😉

      (If I’m not mistaken others here have written about their broken Beast 16 toes.)

    25. Nathan March 15th, 2015 4:41 pm

      I’m debating between the Beast 14/16 for next year. Can someone please tell me exactly what I would be giving up by choosing the 14 instead of the 16 (release value aside)?

      I’ve searched a fair bit for this information but cannot find anything definitive.

    26. Lou Dawson 2 March 15th, 2015 5:35 pm

      Nathan, your wish is my command. You are really giving up nothing, or perhaps you are, glass half full or half empty.

      16 toe has a very slight amount of spring loading in the turntable, very slight, to possibly add a hair of elasticity. To get this going there is quite a bit of machinery in the 16 toe, perhaps a complex solution without a problem?

      By the same token, the 16 toe has nearly twice the rotation of the Beast 14 before your boot pops out during bench test without heel engaged. Problem is, the heel pins come out of the heel in lateral release beyond a certain amount of rotation so I’m not sure the added rotation adds any significant amount of lateral elasticity, but it probably adds a bit. Hard to measure. I’ll have to take Hoji at his word, but, I think he goes to eleven?

      I’m actually guessing that the radical amount of rotation in the Beast 16 toe might have been designed to go with a different heel unit that never made it into retail.

      Beast 16 toe locks in rotation when you flip down the front lever, making it somewhat easier to get into, in my opinion. But only when you’re not used to either binding.

      Both have exactly the same heel machinery, other than the springs being slightly softer with the 14.

      Beast power towers are more effective at blocking perpendicular pre-release at the toe. In fact, with some boots they block it 100%. I bench tested. That’s nice.

      IMHO, unless you need to go to “eleven” I’d think the 14 is good.

      Know that both heels can have upwards (vertical) release that’s fairly stiff. Be sure to check your settings on a release check machine, that is unless you just go to 16 and don’t look back (at your foot that is, that’s stuck in that tree branch up the hill a ways).

      Lou

    27. Nathan March 15th, 2015 5:43 pm

      Thanks Lou!

      I’m thinking the 14 will be fine as I only go to 8 on the RV and if I’m not giving anything up on the free ride end of things, the weight savings is good.

      I’d prefer the extra weight be from burritos rather than unnecessary bindings.

    28. Lou Dawson 2 March 15th, 2015 6:00 pm

      Nathan, that sounds right. If you can ski at 8 unlocked you don’t need the Beast 16. Be sure to bench check everything. Lou

    29. Paul March 16th, 2015 10:28 am

      Any comparison to a Radical 2.0? Based off the article posted on the 2.0s, it sounds like the Radical 2.0 will have downhill performance closer to a beast than the current Radical.

      Are there some cases/uses where you would have recommended a beast 14 over Radical (1.0) but now would suggest a 2.0 for a beast?

    30. Lou Dawson 2 March 16th, 2015 11:17 am

      Paul, indeed, I’d recommend Beast 14 if you are concerned about vertical elasticity at the heel. For example, you may have discovered you can’t ski bumps on a normal tech type heel unit (Radical, e.g.,) without coming out vertically, at normal release settings. In that case Beast will be a possible solution (as will an alpine binding and boot).

      The defining factors in all this:
      1. Do you want to ski your tech bindings unlocked?
      2. Do you want to ski at “normal” release settings?
      3. Do you ski quite aggressively, with beefy boots?
      4. What is your percentage of resort vs human powered backcountry?

      Fact is, it’s becoming quite common for folks to ski large amounts of resort days on tech bindings. I’m not a proponent of that but you can’t fight reality. So if you are going to use a tech binding as a resort binding, and you charge hard, pick one that’s designed for that kind of use. An have ALL bindings release checked at the ski shop. You will be surprised.

      Lou

    31. Paul March 16th, 2015 9:01 pm

      Thanks for the reply, Lou. I was under the impression the 2.0 did have vertical elasticity. Appreciate you clearing that up.

    32. Mark Worley March 17th, 2015 7:31 am

      The Beast’s metal heel part that screws into boot heel will not work with some AT boots that normally will interface correctly in plate and tech bindings, i.e. Black Diamond boots, some Scarpas, and others. The horseshoe-shaped plate simply won’t fit right. Tried to install them on some Scapra Matrix boots for a customer; no go.

    33. bob hughes May 14th, 2015 8:53 am

      Some what off subject ,for occasional ski mountaineering are brakes a good idea or is it fine to go without? Thinking of whether to buy the Speed Turn or the TLT Radical.

    34. Lou Dawson 2 May 14th, 2015 10:06 am

      Bob, we really like brakes but we don’t always use them as they’re heavy and prone to various failures. My usual advice is if you’re only running one setup and choosing between brakeless or brakes, get the binding with brakes, in other words a Radical. Lou

    35. Ben W July 20th, 2015 10:21 am

      How does the loweest heel riser setting on Beasts compare to race bindings with no flat walk mode?

    36. Dane August 31st, 2015 9:55 am

      is the new TLT 6 compatible with beast heel fittings?

    37. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2015 10:10 am

      Dane, good question and I’m sure amongst us all here we can get an answer. But why? That seems to be a good question as well (grin). Lou

    38. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2015 10:25 am

      Official word is no. Perhaps some mods could be done. I’d ask why, but mods don’t really need a reason (grin). Lou

    39. Dane August 31st, 2015 10:45 am

      I’m glad, just wanted to prevent buyers remorse. I got the TR2’s in anticipation of using the Sideral 2.0 as a 1 boot quiver. as it is also compatible with pintech. TR2 for resort and more downhill oriented touring, and speedturn or superlight for longer flatter stuff.

      But the new Sideral is going to be $900+ by the time shipping and exchange rates are tallied. It would be far easier to get a better deal on TLT’s as they are much more abundant/ could be bought from MEC to avoid USD problem. If they were compatible with beast w/o mods that might’ve been a better answer than the trab/sportiva combo. Maybe radical 2.0 is the answer anyway?

    40. Dane August 31st, 2015 11:10 am

      It’s also possible that the Vulcan/Mercury have been the answer all the long. I guess I thought they were overkill for my 6 ft, 155 lb frame and also assumed they wouldn’t tour as well (as TLT 6 or Sideral) which might be completely wrong. They all have one buckle walk modes right?

    41. Lou Dawson 2 August 31st, 2015 11:11 am

      Is Rad 2 the answer? We’ll all know in about 5 to 24 months, if other brands/models are any guide to how long it takes for the public to truly vett out a magazine “editor’s choice.” Lou

    42. Sjur December 5th, 2015 5:01 am

      Just picked up a pair of MTN labs and was planning to use them with Beast 16s for sidecountry/inbounds, secondarily with ft12s for backcountry, and if possible with Warden MNCs inbounds.

      First of all the power bar sits ~1mm above the plastic on the heel. Any thoughts on this? If there is a problem I guess it’s related to the prongs catching on the metal edge if the boot/binding moves laterally.

      And do you have any updates regarding Beast power bar compatibility with alpine bindings / Warden MNCs?

    43. Sjur December 5th, 2015 5:18 am

      I forgot half my question…….
      The reason I’m thinking that the Beast power bar should work with an alpine heel is that the heel insert Marker makes for use with the Kinpin heel look pretty much like a Dynafit power bar….
      But then again; it might be made of plastic, and the holes on the sides of the insert doesn’t rise above the rest of the insert like they do on the Dynafit power bar.

    44. Lou Dawson 2 December 5th, 2015 7:40 am

      Sjur, we don’t do much with alpine bindings. Pretty easy to evaluate, however, just put the power bars on the boots and take them to a shop with some demo gear you can snap the boots into. Another solution is to get Kingpin for your touring binding, then you don’t have to mess around with boot mods. But you probably already thought of that… Lou

    45. Sjur December 5th, 2015 10:09 am

      Thanks. Yeah, I’ve considered the Kingpins, and also demoed them last year. Great binding, but for some reason the Beasts seem to be a better choice for inbounds pow. There is something about the toe that just seem more reliable….

      Regarding the part about the power bar not sitting even with the plastic on the MTN Labs, do you see any problem with that when using Beasts? I also checked how they fit on a pair of Cochise Lights, where they ended up 1mm below the edge of the plastic

    46. Lou Dawson 2 December 5th, 2015 2:05 pm

      Sjur, you are experiencing the fact there is no boot standard (yet, but it is coming, eventually) for Beast or other tech bindings. I’d suggest using Dynafit boots with Beast if you want the best fit. Lou

    47. Derekt February 22nd, 2016 7:43 am

      Been running the beasts for most of the season. I’ve started to get some aft heel movement when snow builds up in the walk mode void while hiking. Has anyone experienced this? If so is it an issue? It appears to be where the binding compensates for ski flex but I don’t feel it should be happening while just walking. Thoughts?

    48. Dave Farrell March 26th, 2016 8:06 am

      HI Lou.

      Thanks for the review. I’m skiing K2 Coombacks with last year’s G3 Ions. I love the performance of the ski so much, along with the light weight of the bindings and boots (Scarpa Maestrale RS) that I’ve pretty much ditched my alpine set up at the resorts and just ski with the above. I do tend to ski aggressively, and at times the Ions pre-release.

      Judging from your responses to the above comments/questions, it seems your not a
      fan of tech bindings of any kind as a regular resort binding, but if you must do it, the Beast 14 is as good a choice as any. Fair enough. However, what’s seductive to me about my setup is the light weight. I’m not getting any younger, and I do a whole lot better skiing a full day at the area without my clunky resort boots and bindings.

      Here’s my question then: How do you compromise between performance/safety at the area with the light weight of backcountry set-up? It seems to me that’s really what’s going on here. It also seems to me that the Beast 14 is an intended solution to the above question. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious. I’m new at the AT game, and just getting back into backcountry skiing after raising two children, and I’m just trying to process all of this. One thing I’m sure of though. Light is good. Thanks again for all you do.

      PS-I met you once years ago (early 90’s) on the Castle Creek drainage on my way up to the Tagert Hut. You were on a snow machine with a Chrysler Hood ornament mounted up front. Very cool.

    49. Lou Dawson 2 March 26th, 2016 9:00 am

      Hi Dave, good to hear from you! Cool you saw the old Enticer sled, it’s a good memory…

      The eternal quest for a tech binding that’s as safe as an alpine binding does continue. But no, in my opinion there are very few options that come close or are there. For example, Kingpin has vertical elasticity at heel but toe is nothing new, still has blocked side release at toe… Vipec has good toe release and elasticity, but nothing different vertically at heel and actually does not have side release at heel. Beast has more vertical elasticity at heel but is still blocked to the side at the toe.

      Essentially, if you really want to answer your question you need to study binding engineering. The simple answer to “how do you compromise” is to know that your tech binding is not protecting you to the degree a well adjusted alpine binding will if it’s in good condition and used correctly. What’s that mean? First, you have to ski the tech binding more conservatively. In other words, the compromise is in how you ski. Next, it is essential to get to the point where you are not pre-releasing. Pre release can kill you or injure you. It’s like, do you want a broken neck or a broken leg? So, if your tech binding is pre-releasing during normal use, for a good smooth skier, you may need to a.)learn how to clear ice and such things that can compromise performance, b.)bench test, c.)dial up settings d.)change model, e.)get over the fantasy that one binding can do everything, which is like thinking one kind of shoe can do everything, or one kind of car tire can do everything, or one kind of beer can do everything… Frankly, I don’t know where this thing comes from, it’s gotten a bit ridiculous. I mean, drink one type of beer whether you’re in Germany or Texas, use all season tires for driving to Mexico in summer, but run a few different ski setups if you do a lot of skiing of different types.

      Whoops, sorry about the rant… The holy grail binding will probably come eventually, but it’s not here yet. Sorry about the rant, but those of us who ski touring bindings at resorts need to be realistic. Lou

      P.S., Anyone who insists on using tech bindings as alpine resort bindings should do one thing if nothing else: Have binding tested on release check machine. You may be surprised at the results. Also, some of you may ask “Lou, what the heck is the difference between resort skiing and backcountry skiing?” Mostly, it’s just that in cable ride skiing you do a heck of a lot more vertical, more hours, more chances of falling etc., this applies to cable accessed sidecountry as well. But also, many skiers tend to ramp up their level of aggression and speed at the resort and ski a bit more mellow in the backcountry. Two big factors.

    50. See March 26th, 2016 9:13 am

      Dave— AT skis, Scarpa boots with piste soles, Salomon z12 ti bindings.

    51. See March 26th, 2016 9:34 am

      Lou, I don’t have Freedom boots because I already have more gear than is reasonable and I don’t need them, but Dave’s question and your answer are why swappable soles aren’t going away (imo).

    52. Lou Dawson 2 March 26th, 2016 9:36 am

      See, you I concede you may be right, but on the other hand swap soles are like adjustable poles… (grin). Lou

    53. See March 26th, 2016 10:01 am

      Yeah, I don’t have any boots with swap soles, but I’ve been thinking about dusting off my old adjustable poles for spring approaches (big grin). Any insights into the durability of sole mounts? Given that tech binding heel gap is somewhat critical, if the mounting hardware gets sloppy after a lot of swaps, might not be good.

    54. Dave Farrell March 26th, 2016 10:43 am

      Thanks for feedback, See. I actually had been thinking of buying a pair of Scarpa Freedom RS’s for other reasons, but the idea of swappable soles makes sense and almost seals the deal in my mind. Lou, any other suggestions for a lightweight in-bounds alpine binding? I think it’s time to stop ripping it up on the Ion’s. Seems like I’ve been playing with fire.

      Oh, and by the way, what’s wrong with adjustable poles? 🙂

    55. See March 26th, 2016 8:45 pm

      Actually, I have some old Scarpas with swappable soles that were screwed directly into the plastic boot shell. Looks like current generation boots have metal inserts for screws. My guess is they would hold up to a fair number of sole swaps.

    56. XXX_er March 26th, 2016 11:13 pm

      my take on swappable soles based on my experience with some garmonts

      I could spin 9 screws out with a drill but I would restart and tighten the screws by hand taking about 15min, if you are careful they don’t strip even in plastic, I didn’t really want to do it very often and maybe you won’t either, eventualy the more I skied the more it made sense to get designated AT & alpine boots

      Also its my impression that usually swapable soles are on the heavier AT boots ?

    57. See March 27th, 2016 8:23 am

      The real question is, what touring type boots— lightweight, with walk mode— are fully compatible with alpine bindings?

    58. Greg Louie March 27th, 2016 11:50 am

      @See: Next year’s Marker Royal Series bindings (except Jester Pro) will have enough toe height adjustment to use any ISO 9523 boot you want. The already available Lord SP and Warden bindings will also work. What is your definition of “lightweight?” Tech boots with walk modes and flat, ISO 5355 soles are coming from several manufacturers, but I wouldn’t exactly call them “light.”

    59. See March 27th, 2016 6:23 pm

      Thanks, Greg. It’s interesting that AT boot compatible alpine type bindings are becoming more common.

      Dave F’s original question and Lou’s response were of interest to me because (among other things) I like light gear for “sidecountry” use, and I’m not convinced that tech bindings perform as well as alpine bindings for going downhill (not to mention the convenience of being able to step in and out easily).

      I’ve been happy with a setup like I suggested to Dave, which (imo) fulfills his requirement for “performance/safety at the area with the light weight of backcountry set-up.” Since we’re basically talking about a light resort setup, my definition of “lightweight” is (for example) Scarpa Freedoms not Gignoux Morpho boots. So (going by listed weights obtained from a quick search), I’m talking about 1990 grams for one boot (Freedom RS) + 937 grams for one binding (Salomon Z 12 ti) = 2927 grams. Maestale RS and Warden: 1560+1132=2692 grams. I’m pretty sure I know which combination I’d prefer for use “at the area.”

    60. See March 27th, 2016 7:05 pm

      Actually, I’d probably go with Freedom SL (1799 g) + Z 12 ti (937 g) = 2736 grams.

    61. Greg Louie March 27th, 2016 8:20 pm

      If you’re happy with the weight of the Freedom SL and like the fit, you’ll be able to use that combination if you buy the optional ISO 5355 sole blocks. Otherwise, I’d suggest trying on one of the newer, relatively stiff four buckle boots coming for the 2017 season like the Lange XT 130 Free Tour (1795 grams/26.5 mondo) or the Tecnica Zero G Guide Pro (1508 grams/26.5 mondo) – IMO either will offer excellent skiability with a closer fit around the ankle/heel.

    62. Greg Louie March 27th, 2016 8:27 pm

      PS You’ll still have to be selective about your “alpine” binding, though. In the case of the Lange, you’ll need a WTR (Walk to Ride) binding, in the case of the Tecnica (or the Dalbello Lupo Ti Carbon) you’ll need a Marker Royal/Lord or Salomon/Atomic Warden until you can find a flat ISO 5355 sole block for the boots (reportedly both should be available).The Z12’s auto-adjusting toe won’t accommodate an ISO 9523 toe.

    63. Bar Barrique March 27th, 2016 9:06 pm

      My solution was to buy an alpine set up; boots, bindings, and, skis in the spring/summer at 70% off retail. I am real fussy about light weight AT stuff, but the alpine gear, not so much, though it is fun to make “slalom” turns on the alpine stuff.
      One more thing; I find that it is a good thing to take my AT set up, and, ride the lifts, especially if it is new, in order to acquaint myself with the skis characteristics (skiing in a restrained way of course).

    64. See March 27th, 2016 9:10 pm

      Greg, personally, I like soft boots. Some lighter boots actually feel too rigid/“unprogressive” for my taste.

      I’m a bit mystified by this apparent third standard between alpine and alpine touring— WTR. What is the point?

    65. Greg Louie March 27th, 2016 11:03 pm

      Good question, See. WTR is a spec (not an ISO/DIN standard) devised by Salomon probably in an attempt to sell more of its own product to the crossover touring crowd. They managed to convince several other manufacturers to adopt it for certain products, but the compatibility issue Is confusing and frustrating to both consumers and customers. I’m guessing the other major alpine binding manufacturers will eventually follow Marker’s lead and offer their most popular models with adequate toe height adjustment and sliding AFD’s so any ISO spec alpine or touring boot will work with any alpine binding, but it might take a few years.

    66. Greg Louie March 27th, 2016 11:12 pm

      PS I like boots that are predictable, and offer progressively greater resistance as they flex further forward. There’s a move toward that goal afoot in the touring world (witness the Khion and MTN Lab) and I think it’s a good thing. As for the Lange and Tecnica boots I mentioned, neither seems especially stiff to me (the 130 flex rating printed on the cuffs is inflated for both boots). I’d try them on before dismissing them as too stiff.

    67. Lou Dawson 2 March 28th, 2016 8:09 am

      Easy to make an overlap cuff boot less stiff…

    68. Andrew October 23rd, 2016 4:20 pm

      Looking at Beast 14 ad my first tech bindings. Can they be adjusted to fit different BSL. Currently I’m on Tecnica Cochise Pro, but probably will switch to some more touring specific boot.

    69. Lou Dawson 2 October 23rd, 2016 5:29 pm

      Sure Andrew, I’m pretty sure they have about 30 mm of BSL adjustment. When mounting any tech binding, you can fudge the heel forward or back so that you insure accommodating a larger or smaller boot you would use later, but that’s usually not necessary as most tech bindings have quite a bit of BSL adjustment. Lou

    70. Henry November 3rd, 2016 12:22 pm

      Hi, looking at replacing my go-to ski set up with an setup that can tour if I wish. I own a light weight touring ski so this would be predominately lift accessed skiing rather than touring. Considering the DPS wailer 106 pure. However not sure on binding; split between kingpin 13, beast 14 or 16. I don’t need a ‘din’ of 16 but i do want the most durable binding that can cope with plenty of variable conditions, hardpack etc that you find in the Alps. I like the kingpin as weighs less and can tour flat but does the beast offer much better durability? I’m 6,4″ and around 180lbs. Thanks.

    71. Nekaj November 22nd, 2016 3:54 pm

      Hi Lou,

      This is great article and discussion.

      I’m also split between Kingpin, Beast 14 or 16. I’m looking for safest of the 3 options. I already have some skies with Guardian whic I’ll use for resort and I’m adding 2 pairs – one super light (bc navis freebird) and one beefy 122 mm ski. One option is to put kingpin on touring and Beast on “wide” skies (which will be used for shorther hikes uphil). I do not want to use Guardina for anymore… tired of heavy waight …

      So which of the 3 is safest? Or what is the rank order from safety and downhill (skiing) perfromance ?

      And if I combine beast and kingpin on different skies with the same boots. – how much will the heel mod impact Kingpin performance re safety?

      Did you tray all 3 ?

      Thanks in advance.

    72. Robert February 6th, 2017 8:34 pm

      Are the “beast adapters” required? Or an option?
      My beast 14’s did not come with them and I am wondering if they are just to beef up the interface long term.

    73. Tor March 2nd, 2017 12:38 pm

      I have just mounted Beast 14 on my Gotama skis, and Beast inserts are indeed required. If not mounted, I think the back binding will no move far enough backwards to clear the pins when boot are inserted. Bargain prizes these days since Dynafit will stop Beast production.
      They replaced Vertical FT12, which I have had a fair amount of pre-releases with. Beast 14 adds side towers, rotating toe piece and elasticity at the back. HUGE UPGRADE. Pre-release problems are totally gone!
      I have friends on Kingpin 13, but due to side towers and rotation in toe piece of Beast, Dynafit is still powering my Big skis.
      For reference I use Radical FT 2.0 on semi light setup with Nanuq skis. Very good binding but lacking elasticity in the back. Forward pressure on back binding is nice, but not a replacement for Beast elasticity.

    74. Paul Hudnut April 9th, 2017 7:34 am

      I have been skiing Marker Barons on resort oriented skis (old Mantras and Rocker2s) and G3 Ions for touring. Boot for both is Scarpa Freedsom SL with AT sole. I like the flexibility of being able to tour on all my skis, so not looking at a pure alpine binding.
      In shopping for new bindings for a resort oriented ski (Volkl 90Eight) this spring, I have been advised by several knowledgable shops in Colorado to stay away from the frame bindings due to new info/studies coming out on their safety with an AT sole. Even though there is height adjustment in the toe piece. I would imagine this is a controversial issue for Marker and Salomon, as they have a number of these out in the field and have said they are OK for AT soles.
      I haven’t been able to find this info- can WildSnow add any light to this topic (which is discussed throughout this thread, but based on several years ago information)?
      If what the shops is saying is true, then those of us that want to keep it to one pair of boots are going to need to stay on tech bindings for resort too. The advice I am getting is to wait for next fall’s new bindings (particularly new Diamir).
      BTW, REI is selling Beast 14s for $450 now.
      Any light you can shed on this topic?

    75. Lou Dawson 2 April 9th, 2017 10:19 am

      Hi Paul, all ski bindings, alpine and tour, are questionable in terms of how they really perform in terms of “safety” in real life. Literally millions of blown knees, bashed upper bodies etc. testify to that. I have a friend who recently was nearly killed due to an alpine binding accidental release — a binding that was properly adjusted and had been skied quite a bit prior. And yes, frame touring bindings can have issues, as well as tech bindings.

      https://www.wildsnow.com/21152/ski-binding-release-avalanche-safety/

      A company or individual can say a binding is “OK.” That really has no meaning other than a certain number of test bindings performed under some standard of performance that is often confusing or even unknown to those listening to the word “OK.”

      Lou

    76. Paul Hudnut April 10th, 2017 9:10 pm

      Thanks, Lou.
      After many years of alpine skiing, I spent several decades primarily skiing tele and snowboarding. I “came back” to Alpine a few years ago with wider skis and touring bindings (though I still tele and snowboard some days).
      I guess I view the release of AT bindings as a glass half full, compared to tele and snowboard bindings that don’t release at all. As with many things we use and do in the backcountry, I guess AT binding safety/release/retention goes into the category of uncertainties we need to be aware of- like weather, snow, routes, ski partners, etc.
      Still, sliding on the snow is the most fun I know how to have, and this is my 40th season in the Colorado backcountry. Guess I will just try to keep the P-tex side down and keep climbing and turning,
      Paul

    77. Tor October 14th, 2017 3:42 am

      I have the same background from Telemark and some snowboarding. These days my two AT skis get most attention. Summit trips on semi light setup, resort skiing on big heavy skis. What I like, is that I can hock up skins and reach untouched powder in the resort as well with heavy AT setup.

      Most fun… definitely snow kiteing when wind picks up… Z axis movement is killer! High jumps moves into a whole new level… and super soft landings… My knees do not like cliff drops anymore unfortunately…

    78. Alex Trebec November 22nd, 2017 3:29 am

      Can anyone tell me what the Beast 14’s went for when they were first released? Can’t find that info ANYWHERE on the net. Cheers

    79. Tor December 10th, 2017 1:09 pm

      Beast 14 sold for approx 600 EUR here in Europe. I paid 200 EUR on bargain sale… Awesome tech for the money!

    80. Dabe December 10th, 2017 6:17 pm

      Nekaj,

      Your desire to shave weight on your fat slack country setup and corresponding choice in bindings is a bit baffling to me. Kingpin is logical, but beasts are discontinued for a reason. Pivoting toe is 95% to correct for insert defects as it offers no return to center others than what the heel unit can yank back. So offered no practical elastocity or retention benefit, only a release benefit.

      Plus if your trying to save weight, why not look at something actually light? See Vipec Evo, ATK free raider, or just the tried and tested radical FT?

      If youre looking at 1500g bindings why not just get a lighter frame??

    81. Aaron Schorsch December 10th, 2017 7:16 pm

      Is there a paper mounting template for the Dynafit Beast 14s from Wildsnow? I can’t seem to find it…Thanks!

    82. Kristian December 10th, 2017 7:27 pm

      Release bindings are high precision mechanisms with tight tolerances.

      So I am amazed that simple auto ski racks are still used that subject bindings to large amounts of grime, dirt, sand, and various road de-icing chemicals.

    83. Deniski January 1st, 2018 5:04 am

      The Salomon/Atomic binding the Shift is the game changer.
      It is a certified alpine binding that transforms into a pin touring binding.
      Brilliant.

    84. Lou 2 January 1st, 2018 8:52 am

      Could be, but then, how about we wait ’till it’s in full retail consumer use before we rewrite the words to Handel’s Messiah?

      Also, please check out our Shift coverage and perhaps leave Shift comments on those posts.

      https://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry-skiing-search/?cx=partner-pub-8093284038752434%3Ayxtlw7-4zut&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=shift&sa=Search

    85. Duncan May 31st, 2018 1:57 am

      Yo any news regarding the fit of the beast 14 ( i own the fischer freeride 14) with the new marker griffin SOLE ID. I’ve been skiing it on a older pair of books fitted with the POWERBAR. But hopping it’ll fit my new Nordica Strider 130’s so I can change from my alpine set up to my touring set up without boots being changed??

      Cheers!!





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  • 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.

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