Comparo — Toe Jaw Closure Strength re Marker, G3, Dynafit, Plum


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 21, 2015      
Our latest test rig uses a digital pull force gauge.

Our latest test rig uses a digital pull force gauge. Better accuracy makes for fewer test cycles. Computer interface has potential.

Notes
Please know that this project measures the resistance of the binding toe wings to opening, or what you could call the toe closure “strength.” It is tempting to call this the “spring strength” in lay terms, but that’s utterly wrong terminology so I’ll attempt to refrain. To get more specific, what is often called spring “strength” or “stiffness” is technically called “spring rate.” What I’m measuring is the force, in newtons, it takes to overcome the spring rate and open the binding.

In theory, the variations of binding opening resistance visible in my test results are from a combination factors, everything from the geometry of the binding wings to yes, the spring rate. For example, all tech binding toe springs have 3 “active coils,” but the wire diameter, length and overall spring diameter changes between brands and models. In the case of our binding with the most opening resistance (Plum Yak), the springs are clearly longer than others, thus allowing room for thicker wire.

The test involves beginning with the toe unit in the closed position, with a spacer (wood block shown in photos) to hold it in the same position as if clamped to a boot. The toe is then pulled open to the point just before the jaws spring open “over center” (as if you were opening the binding to step in or out). I also set my testing machine to fully open the jaws and the results were similar, though more variable due to the difficulty of preventing an extra jerk during the pulling open process. So again, the jaws are pulled open to just the point before they “trigger” open. We control this “pull distance” with a steel cable limiting strap, adjusted with a turnbuckle.

Our test machine uses a 2/1 pulley system, hence the sampling values in the chart are about 1/2 actual pull force (friction, acceleration of the pull and instrument tolerance causes variation). I included a set of spreadsheet cells with the newtons multiplied x 2 for those of you who are interesting in the actual force it took to pull the binding wings open. Quite a bit for bindings such as Yak!

Feel free to copy/paste our data but please don’t publish it, as it’s subject to revision as we refine our test methods and instrumentation. If you’ve got a spreadsheet formula you’d like me to try plugging in, please feel free to share.

Another thing this testing suggests is it’s good to store your tech bindings with the toe wings closed and the springs at their most uncompressed state, so the springs are less likely to take a “set” over months and years. According to my studies of coil spring physics, this is not as much an issue as some folks would have you believe, so don’t fret on it.

Lastly in terms of notes, you newcomers to WildSnow might wonder why the heck we’re going to the trouble to measure this? Two reasons. Most importantly, we have a theory that a certain kind of accidental binding release (pre-release!) can occur due to the tech binding toe wings opening while downhill skiing due to. Also, in our opinion you can enhance your safety in avalanche terrain by ski touring uphill with bindings that don’t require locking the toe unless you’re doing stressful maneuvers such as steep kickturns. In our field testing, bindings that rate higher in terms of opening force can in many situations indeed be toured without the toe locked, and we theorize they are less prone to pre-release.

For more, see our post listing 10 Tips to Prevent Pre Release, also see this post with a video explaining the issue.

I’m assuming the “classic” tech binding toe design will stay viable for a few more years (heck, it’s been what, 30 years now?), so we have refined our measuring system by acquiring a better instrument (digital pull force gauge). We desperately needed to figure out if 1.) Marker 10 & 13 are different from each other (they are) as well as how the vaunted Marker “6 pack” springs compare to a variety of other bindings (interesting, to say the least).

Bear in mind that consumer testing is showing that, Kingpin, ION and other high quality tech bindings appear to have adequate toe retention (with regards to accidental release due to toe wings/springs opening). But our testing reveals that larger aggressive skiers may want to pick the higher DIN version bindings simply because the toe spring strength is indeed higher, thus preventing pre-release due to the toe springs opening. For example, you can ski the Marker Kingpin 10 or 13 at a release value of 8, but the toe of the model 13 will have more holding force.

Indeed, the last sentences above might be the operative conclusion from all this work. Again, if you’re a larger aggressive skier, even if you don’t need the top highest DIN settings of the Kingpin or ION, you should consider using the higher DIN versions of these bindings simply because the toe wing closure will be more resistant to opening up and causing accidental release. And if you want a massive amount of force, Plum Yak is there for you (though I think it’s probably overkill for most people).

First surprise here was how much force it takes to pull open the Plum Yak. My system uses a muscle operated lever with 2/1 mechanical advantage to actuate the pull test, and believe me you could easily feel how much more the Yak resisted opening! I’m pretty sure this is a good thing, but with more than twice the closure pressure as most other tech bindings, one wonders about possible wear — and man, don’t get your finger in there when the Yak chomps down on your boot fittings!

Another surprise was the Marker Kingpin 10, with six springs, measuring as low as it did.

I measured each binding 5 times, threw out the lowest and highest numbers, then averaged the three remaining result numbers in the spreadsheet. The three numbers I used to calculate the average are displayed. Since this is intended to be a comparison I did not measure multiple toes from the same model. I did experiment with this and the measurements do vary a bit, and thus could be a tie breaker, but in my opinion the bindings are different enough not to need excessive attention to averaging multiple tests. Perhaps during summer we’ll triple the sampling.

Regarding variations of spring rate in same model binding, what that should tell you is, yes, if you want to run your bindings as “safety release” bindings, you need to test the release on a shop machine as variations in the toe opening resistance (as well as variations in the actual release machinery springs) will cause variation in the actual “DIN” settings. This is a known issue — even the DIN/ISO standards allow what I feel are rather extreme variations in release values compared to the numbers printed on the bindings.

Latest version of test rig, uses digital force gauge that is a real scientific instrument.

Latest version of test rig, uses digital force gauge that is a real instrument.

 Test rig pulls the binding open with a hand operated lever.

Test rig pulls the binding open with a hand operated lever. I got much more repeatable results by pulling the binding open to just before it pops open ‘over center’ so I added the steel cable limiting strap to prevent the binding from fully opening. The strap is adjusted for each binding so the test pulls the wings open to a point very close to the binding ‘popping’ open over-center. I also did the test by pulling the bindings fully open. The force required to open them was similar, but less consistent due to the jerking motion.

Latest version of test, reflected in spreadsheet above, pulls binding toe wings apart without using the faux boot sole.

Number two version of test rig, pulls binding toe wings apart without using the faux boot sole. We were uncertain if it was necessary to hold the wings in a standardized width as if the binding is clamped to a boot toe, but after a few hours of experimentation I figured out an easy way to position the binding wings by inserting the block of wood, worked well. I compared numbers with the wood and without, they were slightly more consistent with the wood spacer used so I made it a standard part of the test. Thing is, some of the bindings “close” much farther without a boot inserted and thus possibly require some additional force to open. The idea with this test is to figure out which bindings have the most “retention force” when the boot is in the binding. Thus, simulating a boot in binding is probably wise. This rig has been supplanted by our rig using a digital force gauge, pictured at beginning of post.

Test rig uses hand strength dynamometer and windlass operated by cordless drill.

Our original test rig uses hand strength dynamometer and windlass operated by cordless drill. I felt this offered good comparative of toe unit “retention” and spring “strength,” but having the boot fittings add friction to the equation did not sit well with me, so I set up something (other photos here) that pulls the binding toe wings apart without the faux boot and fittings.

Tester in action, cable at top is a limiter strap to fine tune how far we pull apart each binding. Instrument is a hand strength dynamometer, hooked up as a 2/1 pulley system.

NUMBER TWO version of tester in action, cable at top is a limiter strap to fine tune how far we pull apart each binding. Instrument is a hand strength dynamometer, hooked up as a 2/1 pulley system. While the values measured with this rig were a bit different than results from our scientific force gauge, the relationships between the bindings remained the same.

Apologies if any of my math is off or spreadsheet messed up, corrections appreciated. Please bear in mind I am not an engineer and this is a totally amature endevor with quite a bit of opinion involved in how I set things up for testing and interpreted the results.

Thanks goes to Cripple Creek Backcountry here near WildSnow HQ, they supplied some of the bindings for testing.

This data is subject to revision as we improve our test methods. Apologies to engineers out there for our bastardization of terms such as “force” and “strength.” We do study up on this stuff but we write in lay terminology using terms of art. For specifics about the physics of “force,” check out http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-2/The-Meaning-of-Force


Comments

104 Responses to “Comparo — Toe Jaw Closure Strength re Marker, G3, Dynafit, Plum”

  1. Matt N November 20th, 2015 5:36 pm

    I’ve got an amp that goes to 11, and now Wildsnow has scientifically proven my new Ions go to Yipee?!!!
    Confirmation as a consumer just doesn’t get much sweeter than that!

  2. Lou Dawson 2 November 20th, 2015 6:17 pm

    Hah!

  3. Tay November 20th, 2015 7:00 pm

    Lou,
    One area that I noticed that affects toe pre-release and needs to be considered is the depth of the sole below the boot inserts. I had a pair of Tecnica Cochise’s and simply giving a hard stomp on the skis whilst at standstill would cause the toe to open due to the extra material below the inserts of the Cochise. Something you pointed out with your review when it destroyed your test bench . Cutting a deep groove in the soles to reduce the depth of the material and giving a larger clearance between the boot and binding wings fixed the issue. Interestingly I have not had any similar experience when using Dynafit boots which have much less material from the inserts to the bottom of the sole.
    Just something to note, that the boot could be a cause of some pre-release issues and not the toe springs.

  4. Lou Dawson 2 November 20th, 2015 7:14 pm

    EXCELLENT point Tay. Super import to tune boot soles with tech bindings. Another thing that shows how the lack of an ISO/DIN standard for the shape of the sole for tech bindings is problematic. It’s a jungle out there… Lou

  5. See November 20th, 2015 8:12 pm

    I described this before, but (fwiw), I found that making a socket for the binding pins with a conical counter sink in two short pieces of Delrin, stringing some line through holes in the ends of the Delrin pieces to make yokes, anchoring one and attaching the other to the measuring device, and letting the (mounted) binding “float,” worked pretty well for pulling on the wings directly.

    Whatever you think of this suggestion, all credit to Lou, who showed the way.

  6. See November 20th, 2015 8:17 pm

    The trick is to stop pulling the instant the binding releases. I’m not sure any one cares to know what I think, so I leave it at that.

  7. Ben W November 20th, 2015 8:40 pm

    Thanks Lou. Good stuff.

  8. Rod November 21st, 2015 6:54 am

    Lou, any idea how the radical ft12 compares with the superlight in treks of jaw pressure?

  9. apingaut November 21st, 2015 6:55 am

    Hey Lou, didn’t you do this last year for an assortment of bindings? I searched and didn’t find it but seem to remember it.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2015 7:05 am

    See, my system that pulls the dummy boot sole “stops” pulling as soon as the boot releases, and measures the maximum force due to the use of dynamometer. I’ll makes some improvements and also try your method of floating the binding on the pull cord/cable. Also, I think I can rig something up that pulls the binding open but slacks off just as soon as the wings open fully, that would be ideal. Lou

  11. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2015 7:17 am

    For those of you who have the skills to calculate torque, the distance from binding pin to the pulling point on the boot is 200 mm. (If you want to play around with how this would translate to a DIN binding setting, this is the equivalent of about a size 23 boot with about a 260 BSL.)

    Or? http://www.calculatoredge.com/new/torque.htm

    Thus, for example Kingpin 12 with my test system, 66.80780332 N x 200 mm = 13.3616 Newton-Meter?

    As we know, the “DIN” of any tech binding toe independent of the heel unit is quite low… but in my experience both Kingpin and G3 can be used for non-twisty uphill skiing without being locked. Haven’t tried that with the Dynafit S-2 yet, but I suspect it’ll be pretty good as well.

    Lou

  12. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2015 7:30 am

    Apin, I did do so but didn’t have the latest retail of Kingpin versions and G3 versions, which are the most comparable in terms of toe wing pressure, as well as needing to see if the Kingpin “6 Pack” is somewhat cosmetic or not. Also, I was being more generalist in previous test and didn’t average so many test cycles.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/16117/g3-ion-strong-testing-tech-bindings/

  13. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2015 7:35 am

    See, can you email me a photo of your rig? I might as well not re-invent the wheel but I’d like to improve my system if possible. Due to use of dynamometer I need to rig something up that “slacks” when the wings open up, so I don’t mess up my measurements with additional pulling tension after the wings open. This is why I release the “boot” out of the binding, but I’d love to eliminate the boot and just pull the wings open. Thanks, Lou

  14. See November 21st, 2015 9:19 am

    Sure, I’d be happy to. It won’t be exactly the rig I used when I tried to reproduce your earlier test (I doubt I’ll be able to find the pieces). But I’ll try to rig up a reasonable facsimile and send you a picture. Can’t promise I’ll get to it today, but thanks for your interest.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2015 9:51 am

    Hi See, unless your rig slacks off once the binding opens, it’s probably pretty similar to what I’m doing, as I do have a fitting I made that pulls directly on the wings. I have an idea for another fitting that’ll actually pop off when the binding opens, thus slacking off and allowing the dynamometer to register a valid reading. I can do somewhat repeatable measurements by finessing the cordless drill, but not good enough to publish. Lou

  16. Kristian November 21st, 2015 4:54 pm

    Thank you! Very useful.

  17. Kristian November 21st, 2015 4:57 pm

    Could you please do the ATK Raider 12 and 14 as well? 😀

  18. Lou Dawson 2 November 21st, 2015 5:49 pm

    Hey Kristian, I’ll wait till I configure a better test rig. I don’t want to get too deep in this till I do that. Thanks for asking. Lou

  19. Matus November 21st, 2015 9:33 pm

    @Kristian, I used ATK Raider 12 with Scarpa Maestrale last season. I never locked up the toe and never released while walking. In my view they hold the toe much stronger than Dynafit FT 12 (not the Radical). I am in total love with ATKs – after 14 years with Dynafit.

    @Lou, in the skialper buyers guide 2016 they measured some forces of the wings too and as far as I understand they got different numbers when the Dynafit quick step in inserts were used. Maybe my understanding is poor as I did not study their methodology. Just curious if you considered this (I am sure you did:).

  20. Kristian November 22nd, 2015 2:42 am

    @Matus Do you think there is a difference between the toe of the Raider 12 and 14 except that the 14 has a wider mounting pattern?

  21. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2015 7:32 am

    Matus and all, Skialper indeed went to great effort to get some measurements. Most importantly they put all bindings on a state-of-art release test machine. I could have predicted what happened: the release forces varied quite a bit according to which boot inserts were being used, and bindings with rotating toe had excellent characteristics because they pretty much eliminate performance of the boot toe fittings from the release system. But some of the other bindings also did well. As I’ve stated many times, small differences in the shape of the toe pins and boot fittings make a big difference. Some of these combinations are “sticky” and have either high resistance to release, or inconsistent release forces, or both. The basics of this are easy to check on the bench without a machine.

    One of Skialper’s conclusions: “The clear message which emerges is that, when you mount a pin-system binding, you should not think that you are buying a safety binding (apart from rare exceptions). ”

    I’d disagree with that (perhaps their translation is off). From what I see in the Skialper test results as well as my years of experience in this arena, quite a few bindings were in the “green” zone in terms of getting results that conformed to DIN standard on the test machine, while many other bindings were in the “ok” zone. But many bindings also did poorly. My conclusion would be that if you want to buy a “safety” binding you need to get your binding and boot combination tested on a test machine and set your bindings to the correct tension (“DIN”) settings, with a nod to the fact that some tech bindings could be more prone to accidental release than an alpine binding, so you might still compromise by using DIN settings at the upper end of the chart indication for your height, age, boot length, etc.

    It’s also important to remember that most tech bindings have side and vertical release settings that work independent of each other. So you can, for example, set lateral release a little lower and vertical release a little higher if you tend to pop your heel up and out of the binding at “normal” settings.

    Lou

  22. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2015 7:36 am

    Regarding my own testing: I am simply measuring the force it takes to open the toe wings. It has little to do with “safety” release but rather is a factor in accidental binding release as well as being able to ski uphill without locking the binding. In our view, the stronger the toe wing closure pressure is, the better, though there is a practical limit due to size of springs, wear on the binding toe fittings/pins, etc.

    I attempted to eliminate the boot toe fittings from the “equation” by chamfering them so the boot pulls out very smoothly. I also re-check periodically to make sure wear on the fittings isn’t changing my measurements. Everything has looked ok, but I’d rather totally eliminate the boot fittings from my measuring system so I’m working on that.

    A magazine such as Skialper is much better suited to actually taking the bindings to a release testing machine, as doing so requires quite a few man-hours as well as access to state-of-art equipment.

    By the way, Skialper did an impressive job with this, worth the price of the magazine for sure.

    Lou

  23. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2015 12:19 pm

    Stay tuned, I might have figured out a more accurate test rig that seems to have one percent variation, that’ll make things much easier. Not sure how soon I’ll have it ready for prime time, am working on it. Lou

  24. Drew Tabke November 22nd, 2015 12:29 pm

    Nice stuff!

    Have you tried using any of the tools from Vermont Ski Safety? Probably not as accurate as your digital meter, but has the mechanism to show max force at time of release. Wintersteiger has some serious torque tester machines, too.

    +1 for testing Plum 175 race toes.

  25. Drew Tabke November 22nd, 2015 12:33 pm

    *170

  26. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2015 1:53 pm

    Success! Stay tuned for new numbers and more bindings.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 November 22nd, 2015 2:12 pm

    Drew, as always thank for your comments. I’ll leave that up to Skialper for now, what I’m interested in here is a numeric measurement of how strong the toe springs are, as I believe this is important for people who actually want to ski without locked toes, as well as concerns about how much the Marker 6-pack does other than adding weight. Apparently, while the 6-pack isn’t as strong as expected, perhaps it does “absorb” energy better than 4 springs. Research is ongoing. Plus, perhaps my new , accurized system will show things a bit differently. Lou

  28. Andrei November 23rd, 2015 12:06 am

    yes… you’re amazing at all the tests… However, I’m 285 lbs and Dynafit Radical ft does the job really well… all of this “will it make me a better skier” crap pretty much can enjoy sucking my wonderful thumb… At this point, you pick Tech bindings because you like the color not what your retention value is or what your little pansy ass cry baby expectation is… Just go out there and ski the thing that matches your jacket… LOL

  29. Kristian November 23rd, 2015 12:48 am

    Andrei, you seem to miss the point. When there is no industry standard in how a boot sole of a touring boot is supposed to be like, different insert and then of course all kinds of different bindings. Its just interesting to see how different bindings preform. We all know that the Radical FT is a good binding, its just interesting to how the toe of that binding preforms compared to a lighter one for example. Because, why not? 🙂

  30. Michael November 23rd, 2015 7:41 am

    Very interesting ! Thx a lot Lou for taking the time doing this !!!

  31. Lou Dawson 2 November 23rd, 2015 6:26 pm

    Just did some testing of the testing, on Plum. They appear to have super stiff springs. More soon. Lou

  32. BS November 25th, 2015 2:08 pm

    Cool Comparison Lou, How does the retention of the radical 1.0 series compare to the vertical series, is it the same?

  33. JN November 26th, 2015 12:19 am

    wow, fast update, but I cannot stop looking at your “% below” column. surely something is wrong here?.
    ex. YAK vs. Superlite 2.
    Average Kg difference is roughly (15-7=8kg) where 8 equals 53,33% of 15.
    your chart claims almost 117%??
    Please enlighten me

  34. Matus November 26th, 2015 12:59 am

    Lou, it would be great if you could provide us with the link to the google sheet (viewing permission only). On my notebook, I cannot see the whole table and have to scroll left and right – too much work 🙂

  35. Lou Dawson 2 November 26th, 2015 6:26 am

    JN, spreadsheet formulas probably have a typo, I’ll back check, sorry about that. I was probably fooling around with the spreadsheet too much (grin).

    BTW, due to the Radical binding toes have the power towers, they’re harder for me to test this way so I’ve not yet done so, and may not since the towers help with pre-release due to toe jaws opening. Along the same lines, Dynafit Beast toe is not “classic” and would not be appropriate for comparo in this test. Lou

  36. Lou Dawson 2 November 26th, 2015 8:24 am

    JN and all, I realized that trying to express as percentage difference was too confusing so for now I just went with a column simply showing Kg below the highest, which at this point is Plum Yak. If anyone has a suggestion on other ways to interpret let me know, perhaps some fancy statistical formula you’d like me to plug into the sheet. Thanks, Lou

  37. Lou Dawson 2 November 26th, 2015 8:28 am

    Matus, yes, it’s set up to where probably everyone has to scroll left/right due to width of content area on WildSnow. I’ll check out providing access but I make it somewhat of a rule not to be sharing my Google Drive stuff as it’s too easy to make mistakes and open up access by accident to private stuff. That’s one of the big problems with Google Drive/Docs.

    Perhaps instead I can just do a pop out.

    P.S., I mentioned in the blog post but should mention here that I didn’t test Dynafit Beast as it doesn’t open the same way as classic tech bindings, and I didn’t test Dynafit Radical due to power towers. If the power towers fit fairly close to your boot sole toe they can in my opinion prevent the type of accidental release that additional toe spring strength can help prevent. Nonetheless, I might figure out a way to test in spite of the power towers just out of curiosity. I’m also happy to test other bindings but I’ll wait till I have my new push/pull gauge, which hopefully even links up to computer so I can feel like a real scientist instead of a hack (grin).

    Lou

  38. PieterG November 26th, 2015 10:43 am

    Interesting test set-up and data!

    Got me thinking about length of arms/levers (distance centre of pin to pivot) and spring tension. Are you measuring opening force from centre of pin?

    I dont know if length of wings (pivot – centre of pin) differs much between models… But to measure spring force/opening force: wouldn’t it make sence to close binding, attach string to centre of springs, And pull up with your scale untill it opens?… (While securing the binding) 🙂

    Just a thought!

    Keep up the interesting work!

  39. Robbie November 28th, 2015 4:54 am

    Lou,
    Can please say something about the difference between the Radical 2.0 ST and FT toes?

    In April, I lost a ski due to toe pre-release, which very nearly killed me. That was after taking all the usual dynafit step-in precautions that you advocate. I weigh 176lbs (80kg) and had my bindings set on 9, toes not locked.

    I’m seriously doubting if I should ever ski on Dynafit again. Is the ION 12 much safer for toe-prerelease?

    Many thanks!

    Rob

  40. Lou Dawson 2 November 28th, 2015 6:17 am

    Robbie, since the Radical 2.0 toes rotate as well as having the power towers, they are quite different than “classic” tech binding toes. I’m not sure if they are more resistant to pre-release, but they could be. In terms of comparing the 2.0 ST to the 2.0 FT, I’ve not tested them on the spring strength tester as the power towers get in the way of my test fixture.

    Whatever the case, as I stated in the blog post above, in my opinion for larger skiers it’s worth skiing the “higher DIN” bindings simply because they have stronger toe springs, even if you set your release value to numbers such as 9 that do not require the higher range. Oh, and if you’re going to ski with bindings unlocked it’s worth getting a release value check at a ski shop with a good machine. That could be enlightening. It’s very possible that with your bindings set at “9” using the printed scale on the bindings, you were actually at “8” or even lower.

    The ION 12 has a very strong toe spring and the geometry of the toe wings is such that they have a very nice range of motion while under the spring load. I’ve quized quite a few users about them and on the whole I hear good things. Our testers have worked well for us.

    What exact Dynafit binding were you on when you pre-released?

  41. Lou Dawson 2 November 28th, 2015 6:28 am

    For those of you who want to really get into thought experiments, remember that the springs in the tech binding toe are simple coil springs without any damping other than friction within the system. They oscillate. One of my theories is if a ski is chattering and some of the chattering gets close to or matches the resonant frequency of the binding to springs, bam, no way the toe can stay closed unless the strength of the springs or geometry can resist the toe wings popping up over center and opening.

    From the internet: “Springs, like all things physical, have a resonant frequency or a rate at which they will tend to naturally oscillate. If a car with no shock absorbers drove over a bump in the road, the spring would first compress as the wheel rose over the bump, then the spring would rebound back to the road. However, uncontrolled, the spring would continue to compress and rebound indefinitely, limited only by the friction of the car’s suspension…”

  42. See November 28th, 2015 8:11 am

    For what it’s worth, the resonant frequency chattering situation you describe matches my own experience of toe prerelease on a set of Comforts exactly. It occurred repeatedly on a large section of ice which had a consistent texture at the resort. It was not very steep, and I was skiing relatively slowly with a group including kids. I was on my touring skis because I thought the shorter length would be better given the situation. And I’m glad I was on those skis that day because I learned something interesting about possibly suboptimal binding performance on moderate terrain.

  43. swissiphic November 28th, 2015 1:36 pm

    Resonant frequency too high? Kick it old school Canadian style and lower it by taping a hockey puck onto each ski tip…talk about damping… 😉 I call it the Gret-ski.

  44. Lou Dawson 2 November 28th, 2015 1:44 pm

    In high school my resonant frequency was way too high. Been dialing it back ever since (grin).

  45. Robbie November 28th, 2015 4:23 pm

    Lou, thanks for your further clarification on the toe release values.

    When I lost a ski last spring, I was on Radical FT, on Salomon Rocker2 115, with TLT6 boots.

    You might be onto something with your theory about toe spring resonance. My ski released when I was going quite slowly, sliding down a large area of rough ice. So ski chatter could well have played a role here. I don’t remember hitting anything hard, the ski just disappeared.

    This raises the question, could one add more damping to the spring system? For example by inserting rubber “sticks” inside the springs, to increase friction.

  46. Lou Dawson 2 November 28th, 2015 6:45 pm

    Hi Robbie, that’s indeed pretty unusual on a Radical FT due to the power towers and fairly strong toe springs. But it happened… fact is the springs don’t “damp” they absorb/store energy but that energy doesn’t disappear. It has to go somewhere… Lou

  47. Codey November 28th, 2015 9:31 pm

    +1 on the icy ski hill chatter pre-release

    One of the few times my tech bindings released when I didn’t actually want them to was this past season in that exact situation.

  48. See November 28th, 2015 9:50 pm

    Hmmm… if Marker got rid of 2 of the 6 pack and replaced them with dampers (and made the remaining 4 springs heavier) that might do the trick. Might have helped back in high school too.

  49. Robbie November 29th, 2015 2:22 am

    With regards to resonance of the springs due to chatter, e.g. on ice: It’s not easy to change the resonance frequency of the toe spring system, as this would require changing the spring stiffness, or the mass, or sgeometry of the toe wings.

    But introducing more damping in the system might be a easier. With rubber rods/sticks that sit tightly inside the springs, the increased friction as the spring rubs along the rubber provides damping of the springs and could prevent the toe to open due to chatter induced resonance.

  50. Lou Dawson 2 November 29th, 2015 7:38 am

    Robbie and all, I’ve felt for a long time that something similar to what you’re mentioning would have been a good thing for tech binding toe units. The Marker indeed has room for it. They could put two stronger springs in (witness Plum, for gad sakes) and indeed put two PU dampers in the other position. Problem is, I’m not sure how much energy dampers that small could actually convert to heat, but it would be worth experimenting with. I don’t know if any of you remember, but to Dynafit’s credit at least they tried, but the system they came up with didn’t really address any problems, though it was kinda clever…

    https://www.wildsnow.com/6468/dynafit-ft-12-radical-binding-damper-stiff/

    Bummed me out, actually, that Dynafit doubtless spent a bunch of money on the vibration damper plate when they could have been fooling around with something that would damp out the action of the toe springs. Someday I’d sure like to get the inside story on how the FT plate came about. But that information is probably already long forgotten as the torrid pace of the ski touring binding wars picks up to levels we never could have imagined ten years ago…

    Lou

  51. See November 29th, 2015 12:01 pm

    I suspect that even a small change in the binding toe resonant frequency would be a big improvement.

    Also (just in case any one was wondering), damping the ski and damping the binding are not the same thing, although they’ve both been mentioned here.

  52. Lou Dawson 2 November 29th, 2015 12:57 pm

    I cut the power towers off an older pair of pre-retail Radical 2.0, and tested. For comparison only, as the power towers do help. See spreadsheet. No big surprise. Lou

  53. Ben W November 29th, 2015 7:22 pm

    Thanks for the great work Lou. The whole ski touring world is watching. Would love to know if Radical 1.0 and 2.0 toe springs vary from Speed to ST to FT.

  54. Lou Dawson 2 November 30th, 2015 11:25 am

    I did some experiments with how much friction is influencing results, indeed a bit, when I get the new 200 N pull force gauge hopefully we’ll do a direct pull without friction of pulley. If necessary I’ll re-test everything. But like I mentioned above, we can feel the difference between the extremes even without the dynamometer, so I’m confident the spreadsheet above gives a good idea of the relative toe wing closure strength between bindings. Lou

  55. Lou Dawson 2 December 21st, 2015 10:11 am

    BTW, in my opinion there actually should be a few DIN/ISO standards for tech bindings, one of which should be how firm the toe springs are. Perhaps a minimum. Of course the universe will retract back to the singularity before that ever happens (grin). Lou

  56. Jeremy C December 21st, 2015 10:20 am

    It is interesting that the Plum Guides tested with a high opening force. There was always anecdotal evidence that they offered better retention, and your test seems to confirm that.

    I would be interested to see how the Beast 16 toe tests using the same rig. For example is the DIN 16 rating purely due to the heavy duty heel piece, or is the toe giving additional retention?

  57. See December 21st, 2015 11:51 am

    Just a thought, but it looks to me like the limiter would work better if you adjusted the lines and anchor points so that the lever was more nearly vertical when the binding was near the release point. (Blue line on the gauge looks good.)

  58. Toby December 21st, 2015 2:08 pm

    Lou, I was so inspired of this article that I ended up to replace my old thrusted TLT speed toes with ATK RT toes, even ATKs has not been measured (yet). RT jaws definitely feel few grades harder to open vs my old TLTs. My good guess is that RT would be somewhere in the middle of your scale. My short test on the snow showed that even (carefully) skinning was possible without locking the toes. Now I’m crossing the fingers for durability.

  59. Lou 2 December 21st, 2015 3:37 pm

    See, I could indeed improve the geometry, but the main thing is it works fine as-is. I can adjust the limiter so he binding gets _very_ close to popping open. It’s probably not necessary to be so careful as I got pretty consistent measurements when just barely pulling the binding open. The force gauge does have a “break” setting that’s supposed to help measure breaking force, this would probably work for popping the bindings open, but I didn’t feel messing around with that was necessary. Like I said, you can even feel the difference between some of the bindings.

    Question is, how strong does tech binding toe closure force/pressure need to be? There is a practical limit in the classic tech binding design due to the room for spring length and diameter, but Plum clearly shows that by using the classic design only with some small tweaks, pressure can be increased. G3 as well.

    Lou

  60. Mike December 21st, 2015 4:12 pm

    Well, now I”m in a quandary. I got the Kingpin 10s because I’m a tiny cheapskate and don’t need a release setting much above 8, but I wouldn’t have gotten Kingpins at all if I weren’t planning on skiing them fast inbounds, and now I’m not sure I can trust them for that. For context, I’m pretty OCD about clearing the toes, and I’ve never had pre-release issues in the past, but those numbers are not particularly encouraging. Anybody actually used them? Should I mount them or not?

  61. Paddy December 21st, 2015 5:45 pm

    Mike, I’d say, “mount ’em!”
    The whole point of a DIN certified tech binding like the Kingpin 10 is that it releases at exactly the release value you set it at. Regardless of the fact that it doesn’t have the “strongest” toe clamping strength, it still has plenty to keep you in skiing them at an “8” (well within the release range of the binding).

  62. Hallvard December 21st, 2015 5:56 pm

    Want to up the difficulty and coolness and add dynamic tests? I think that would resemble the action better. And it might change the result list.

    A way of testing could be to fix the toe on a bench. Then hit it with a pendulum weight. Increase drop height until toe releases. mass*height is your impact energy. I guess you might need to put a block in the binding to keep it open and hit that.

  63. Scott Nelson December 21st, 2015 7:28 pm

    Ahh the mad scientist at work. Love it! Glad to see the Vert ST has a decent number, since I have like 4 pair of them LOL.

  64. See December 21st, 2015 7:38 pm

    Very cool, Lou. Not only that, but I think it’s actually important. And (as far as I know) you’re the only one doing this analysis and sharing it. Thanks.

  65. jasper December 21st, 2015 7:56 pm

    Where does the speed radical toe fit in? In particular as a compare on the lines of plum guide and superlite 2.0.

  66. Lou Dawson 2 December 21st, 2015 8:29 pm

    Speed Radical toe is just a Radical… but no I did not test due to need of cutting off the Power Towers, which I did do with Radical 2.0.

    I’m trying to figure something out that will work around the Power Towers.

    On the other hand, remember that the Power Towers can make pre-release less likely if they’re fairly close to the boot sole. They’re pretty smart on the part of Dynafit, under appreciated…

    Lou

  67. etto December 22nd, 2015 3:17 am

    Mike: Keep up the OCD and you’ll be fine. I’ve had a couple of prerealeses on mine (set to 7), but it’s always been due to not cleaning the toes properly. Unless you plan to tour those skis extensively mount the Kingpings (they’re way too heavy for touring)

  68. Hippie December 22nd, 2015 7:36 am
  69. Kyle December 22nd, 2015 10:17 am

    Hi Lou, I’ve been skiing the Onyx for the second season now, I know it’s kind of obsolete with the ion out, but do you have any thoughts on Onyx release value? Any chance you’ll rig it up here? Thanks, KT

  70. jasper December 22nd, 2015 12:24 pm

    Thanks Lou. I really like the power towers on my radicals, for both clicking in and retention. It’s to bad they are not standard.

  71. Nelson1111 December 23rd, 2015 9:41 am

    I’m not optimistic about getting an answer here, but in the article it says if you are a larger aggressive skier, even if you don’t need the highest DIN setting you should consider buy the higher DIN version to prevent pre-release. I realize DIN is a complex formula, but could there be any rough guide to compare the toe closure strength in N to DIN? ie. would the Marker Kingpin 10 be closer to a 4-6, while the Marker 13 closer to 7-9, and the Plum a 8-10? Or alternatively, what is the definition of a larger aggressive skier in your mind – relative to their DIN? In my mind a larger aggressive skier would already be at 9 or 10 DIN – but in that case they’d already be on the Kingpin 13 – as I you don’t want to run your DIN with 1 of the max or min of the range of a binding. So, would your larger aggressive person be running DIN as low 7 or 8?

  72. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2015 9:54 am

    Hello Nelson, in my opinion you are over thinking all this, but I’ll give a shot to clarification.

    One could do a rough correlation of toe spring rate to the binding “DIN” with the heel unit disengaged. In other words, what you’d encounter with your boot in the binding toe, toe unlocked, and heel disengaged as in touring mode. This “DIN” is around 3 or lower on traditional tech bindings, and probably up to around 5 or more on ones with stronger toe springs. Wrinkle is that properly designed boot toe fittings _sometimes_ actually have a very sophisticated geometry that causes them to have higher resistance to coming out of binding depending on angle of boot, so they work better in touring mode. That’s a really cool thing, but the trend has been to not do tech fittings that way (it’s been hard enough for third-party makers to get them to work correctly at all…) The variation in boot fittings would cause the “DIN” to vary, so trying to standardize would be worthless. That’s why I did my toe spring testing by pulling to the side without involving a boot and fitting.

    Things is, a “DIN” number correlated with toe spring strength would have no real meaning. It’s like, why would you need it? You expecting to ski downhill without heel units?

    As for definition of larger aggressive skier, that would be someone above average in weight and who skis with aggression. You know who you are.

    As for the true release value of tech bindings, the “DIN,” it varies quite a bit from the numbers printed on the bindings. If you want to get it right, it is essential to have your binding/boot combo tested on a machine. This can be true of alpine bindings as well. The numbers printed on ski bindings are just a rough guide. Inconvenient truth.

    Skialper magazine’s testing reveals the above, and it’s right there in the DIN/ISO standard 13992.

    Lou

  73. Jason December 23rd, 2015 10:06 am

    That link from HIppie can’t be right real, there’s no toe welt for crampons.

  74. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2015 10:10 am

    BTW, everyone, much of the reason for the effort I put into this test is I was getting tired of PR spew. Like Cam from G3 says, measure it if you want to talk about it. So I at least tried (grin). Lou

  75. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2015 10:13 am

    Jason, it is true. I agree kinda strange… they probably have a crampon that uses the toe tech fittings… I like seeing some rad innovation coming from Dynafit.

    BTW, that website stole proprietary intellectual property from Dynafit, to try and be “first” and get a scoop. Take that as you will, but as a content creator myself I’m not impressed by that kind of mouth breathing gear blogger behavior.

    Lou

  76. Nelson1111 December 23rd, 2015 9:49 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Yes, maybe overthinking. I don’t have any experience with “ech”/pin bindings, the Marker Kingpin has me curious about switching from a Marker Baron. But I’m curious about your comment:
    “Things is, a “DIN” number correlated with toe spring strength would have no
    real meaning. It’s like, why would you need it? You expecting to ski downhill
    without heel units?”
    Coming from an alpine background, all my bindings have DIN settings for heel and toe. Why would you need DIN on the toe you ask? First thing that comes to my mind is backwards, twisting fall. Sure beats a torn acl. Or, conversely, to avoid premature release in that sort of position. Seems shocking you could go up to DIN 12 on the rear on a Marker Kingpin, but have only 5(?) up front – you’d never do that on an alpine set up, or Marker Duke. Must be missing something. Sorry, just curious.

  77. See December 24th, 2015 4:57 am

    Nelson, maybe I’m missing your point, but you do understand that the lateral release value on a tech binding is set by adjusting a spring in the heel? Unlike an alpine binding, the boot heel is meant to twist out, not the toe. Stiffer toe springs on a tech binding should make it more resistant to a type of prerelease where the boot toe comes out without the heel piece rotating. Climbing is another matter.

  78. Nelson1111 December 24th, 2015 9:34 am

    Hi See,
    Thanks, but question – doesn’t the marker kingpin virtually have an alpine heel?

  79. Nelson1111 December 24th, 2015 9:49 am

    Hi again Lou,
    I really must be missing something the more I think about it your comment:
    Things is, a “DIN” number correlated with toe spring strength would have no real meaning. It’s like, why would you need it? You expecting to ski downhill without heel units?
    Wasn’t the point of this test to determine toe spring strength? And you’ve concluded that on a larger aggressive skier may want the Marker kingpin 13 vs 10 to avoid prerelease based on your numbers – so it sure seems as if you’re correlating it to some DIN scale, or…? My questions comes from the fact I haven’t used any tech/pin bindings yet, so have no basis to compare the bindings. In a vacuum (if you will) a 65N or a 95N doesn’t mean anything to me. If I used a plum, for instance and had a sense of it’s strength, the relative numbers would be useful and I could conclude – I see, a Kingpin 10 may prerelease more easily. But if my only experience is from an alpine or Baron binding- how do I know whether the Kingpin 10 is too soft, or a 13 too stiff in the toe springs – relative to what I accustomed to in DIN? What’s the point of a measurement in N if it can’t be put into a useful applicable scale?
    Sorry, I’m sure everyone here has experience with all sorts of bindings so these questions seem irrelevant.

  80. Nelson1111 December 24th, 2015 10:22 am

    Anyone else think it would be useful if on a Marker Kinpin you could adjust the tension in the toe springs, so you could tune it to reflect where you are relative to the tension on the heel (ie. if you’re a 7 din vs a 12 din in the rear)? Just seems silly to have the toe tension the same for everyone – when you’ve got such a range of DIN on the heel.

  81. Codey December 24th, 2015 11:27 am

    @Nelson On an alpine binding (and a Baron) the vertical release is adjust at the heel, and the lateral release is adjusted at the toe. In tech systems, both the lateral and vertical release is at the heel (with the exception of the Vipec). So in the case of the Kingpin, toe spring strength has no correlation to setting your release value, but it may have an effect on mitigating pre-release, as alluded to by Lou and See

  82. Codey December 24th, 2015 11:31 am

    Also, it is in this way that the Kingpin heel is quite different than an alpine heel. Alpine heels do not twist, while the Kingpin does (to allow lateral release)

  83. Nelson1111 December 24th, 2015 11:33 am

    Hi Codey,
    Isn’t that semantics? If the toe spring strength affects pre-release – that is a function of release value (just the lower end)? Obviously a guy with 12 DIN in the rear would pre-release sooner/more often than a guy setting his DIN at 7 (almost half).

  84. Codey December 24th, 2015 11:50 am

    Nelson,
    Sorry, I don’t follow your question. A “pre-release” is a release when the skier would prefer it not to (or felt it was not necessary). In my own skiing experience, my only pre-release with tech bindings was skiing down a very iced up groomer at the resort. I suspect that the vibration was too much for the toe/fitting interface and the opened up. Relative to alpine bindings, tech systems have far less elasticity in the binding. So in this example, I may have benefited from stronger toe springs, however, those tow springs would not have effected by release value settings.

  85. Nelson1111 December 24th, 2015 12:33 pm

    Hi Codey,
    Sorry, to clarify: when I set my alpine bindings with a DIN of 8 – that is designed to ensure that if I fall my skis release as required, but it’s also designed so that I’m not cruising down the hill, hit a rough spot and walk out (pre-release) prematurely. So, it sets me in the sweet spot. Thinking of a guy that buys the Kingpin 13, sets it at 12, and another smaller guy sets it at 7. The guy at 12 would experience more pre-releases than the guy who uses a DIN of almost 1/2. Conversely, the guy at 7 DIN might be concerned the closure strength of the Kingpin 13 may be so much it almost acts as if it is locked, and the pins catch/don’t release when they should (even with the rear DIN at 7). I find preventing pre-release (by having a sufficiently high DIN setting) is as big a concern as not setting the DIN too high (and my skis not releasing in a fall). Just seems crazy there is no adjusting (other than buying up a model) for pre-release, it’s like 1/2 the equation is missing. Whether you are a 7 or 12 DIN, the pre-release force is the same – meaning – what’s the point of that much range in the DIN, if that means the people at the high end have to choose between risking pre-release or forced to ski with toe in locked mode and risk not releasing reliably?

  86. Codey December 24th, 2015 1:00 pm

    Nelson,
    I see what you are getting at, but I think that you are missing something. Firstly, your DIN setting has no direct relationship with the number of pre-releases that you experience. So long as your DIN is set “correctly” (accounting for ability, weight, BSL, etc.) you should experience the exact same amount of pre-releases (hopefully: 0).

    As you have mentioned that you do not have much experience with tech systems, I suspect that the confusion would likely be cleared up by playing with a system (specifically the toe/boot interface). While skiing, the toe pins hold the boot in place, and pretty much the only way to come out of it a twist at the heel. In this way, the whole system, in terms of release is entirely dependent on the values set at the heel. However, there is a tiny bit of elasticity built into the toe pin/boot insert interface, that will sort of act like a ‘suspension system’ absorbing shock and forces that happen while skiiing. Sometimes these forces will be too much (as what happened in my case) and you will pre-release. It is in these cases, that some people may benefit from stronger toe springs. However, given the distance from my toe to my lower leg, combined with the relative high strength of leg muscles, makes it very easy to twist out of any of these toes while in touring mode (nothing holding the heel) which is why you lock the toe on the up.

    Also, with the talk of DIN and difference sized riders, I feel that the effect of BSL often gets lost in the shuffle. Larger people tend to have larger feet, which lowers their recommended DIN. Just because you are 6’5” and 250lbs doesn’t mean that that you should have a higher DIN than all of your buddies that are smaller than you. It is about safety release, not a competition. I am 6’2” and usually around 205lbs (not huge by any means, but larger than average), and wear a mondo 30 boot. If I follow a DIN chart, I get a range of 4.75 to 11 depending on the chart used and differences in ability. Even if I consider myself a Type III+ skier (and I do not) the recommended DIN is 10-11 (again, depending on the chart). But, as Lou has said many times over, DIN does not transfer 1:1 with tech binding RV. It needs to be properly bench tested for accurate numbers. That said, I ski around a 7.5 setting have only had the one above mentioned pre-release.

  87. Lou Dawson 2 December 24th, 2015 1:14 pm

    Thanks Codey.

    Nelson, I hear that you want some kind of comparison of the toe strength numbers to real world. All I can tell you is that the weaker toes can indeed tend to pre-release in heavy vibration with aggressive skiing, while the strongest toe (Yak) probably has a higher spring rate than is necessary for 99.00 percent of the population. Also, the geometry of the toes does have an influence as well, and we did not do much with that other than let it influence the opening resistance.

    Essentially, I would ask that you don’t over-think on the information I’ve presented. It is more along the lines of something to compare one binding to another for aggressive skiers, as well as debunk certain claims about binding toe spring strength. And, something fun to measure and talk about!

    Regarding “DIN” specifically. DIN only applies to bindings certified to ISO 13992 DIN/ISO standard. Furthermore, it is a measure of torque on a ski boot twisting/rotating out of the binding, with recommended levels based on scientific studies of cadaver leg bones. When I pulled the binding toes open, I was not applying torque, and again, any numbers I developed have zilch to do with any sort of “DIN” number.

    That said, yes, when you place a boot in a tech binding toe without engaging the heel unit, the boot requires torque to twist out of the toe and thus could have a faux “DIN” number, but again, it would have no real meaning other than as a rule of thumb. For example, as I stated before, a classic tech binding with a boot in and heel not engaged might require something similar to “DIN 3” to twist the boot out of the binding toe.

  88. Lou Dawson 2 December 24th, 2015 2:11 pm

    BTW, just for backstory, I’m recalling that the “DIN” torque scale printed on bindings might possibly be logarithmic instead of linear. Am trying to look that up…. I do know that the 13992 standard allows something like a 10% variation in measured values as compared to what’s printed on the binding, in the lateral release anyway… meaning you could have your binding set on 10 and it’s actually on 9. What is more, as the boot slides fore/aft on the tech binding pins the binding release values are constantly changing, that’s why some of the bindings are now designed so the boot always stays close to the heel unit…

    In any case, Nelson, you might want to look at this:

    https://www.wildsnow.com/14843/din-iso-13992-binding-release-safety-testing-summary/

    And this:

    https://www.wildsnow.com/more/backcountry-glossary/

    Lou

  89. Slim January 9th, 2016 7:36 am

    For ease of reading, could you set a fixed number of decimal points (I’d say none, just whole numbers) for all the columns?

  90. Mike February 10th, 2016 2:46 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I think Cam did a really good job on the ION12 toe and was thinking of using the ION toes with the Kingpin 13 heels. I dislike the kingpin toes that much. The heels on the other hand are pretty amazing. It looks like the forces are pretty much equal between the ION12 and Kingpin 13. Any other reasons why this wouldn’t work/ be advisable? To me it seems logical.

    Mike

  91. See March 19th, 2016 8:47 pm

    Why no numbers for the Vertical FT12? The ST comes in a respectable fifth place and I thought the FT had stiffer springs.

  92. Lou Dawson 2 March 19th, 2016 10:26 pm

    I don’t have any around here right now, and they’re discontinued anyhow… The important bindings on the chart are the ones that are available, the older ones are there for comparison. Lou

  93. Lou Dawson 2 March 19th, 2016 10:27 pm

    Mike, it would probably work, but what’s wrong with Kingpin toes in your opinion?

  94. See March 20th, 2016 8:24 am

    Thanks Lou. I was mostly just curious because I plan on mounting up some FT 12’s (with ST toe plates) today. But there are probably quite a few other sets out there gathering dust in garages. For those of us interested in this whole toe spring issue, it would be nice to know if those old bindings might offer performance comparable to some of the new models in that regard. Not to mention saving 400 bucks.

  95. See March 20th, 2016 8:28 am

    In case anyone out there is getting any ideas…

    https://www.wildsnow.com/4683/dynafit-power-plate/

  96. Lou Dawson 2 March 20th, 2016 9:47 am

    Hi See, thanks for sharing the link, it’s super helpful when you guys do that, sort of a “human filter” indexing system.

    As for the Vertical FT, if Louie ever shows up here with one of our pair I’ll test but I know from previous more informal testing that the grey toe springs on the wider brake version are stronger, and from what I recall are similar to the G3 stronger ones, and are what I’d call “adequate” and perhaps even the best mix of strength without undue pressure causing wear. Main thing is it’s super important to use FT with the Power Plate and when doing so bed the toe plate in epoxy to take up space between it and Power Plate.

    Lou

  97. See March 20th, 2016 10:03 am

    Thanks again. Will bed with epoxy.

  98. See March 20th, 2016 10:42 am

    I don’t want to belabor the point, but if anyone is considering skiing with a set of FT12’s that may have seen heavy usage without the support of the “power plate,” fatigue could be an issue.

  99. See April 3rd, 2016 8:50 pm

    Hi, Lou. Since I said I was going to be using a Vertical FT toe/ST base combination in an earlier comment, I figured I should report that it isn’t really satisfactory, imo. While the bindings seem to work OK, the walk/ski lever doesn’t engage with any significant resistance until the second to last detent or “click.” I think I’ll probably remount with the original FT bases, but I’m wondering if maybe something else is going on, since you said “an ST toe baseplate will work fine for an FT toe.”

  100. Lou Dawson 2 April 4th, 2016 8:02 am

    Hi See, that worked for us several times. What’s probably going on is manufacturing and wear variations. Like any mod, mileage can vary since there are so many versions and vintages of these bindings kicking around. Try to get some Power Blocks to use with your FT toe if you’re going back to the non supporting base. In my opinion once the FT toe gets old it can get dangerous due to potential breakage, unless it’s been suported by Power Blocks or an ST base. When mounting FT be sure to put a dab of epoxy under the steel toe base “wings” between the wings and the base support, to prevent any micro movement. Lou

  101. See April 4th, 2016 9:25 am

    Thanks Lou. A quick update. The bindings and the bases are new/unused. I bought them a few years ago when I was planning to get some new spring touring skis, but the lack of snow here in CA put that plan on hold until this year. I did a test mount on a piece of scrap with the original FT 12 bases— same thing.

    Last weekend I was skiing with a bunch of people on different bindings— well used teles, older Fritschi plates, new Radicals 2’s, old Verticals… guess which ones had a broken AFD on the brake? I’ve had it. Ordering some G3’s.

  102. Lou Dawson 2 April 4th, 2016 9:49 am

    Oh well, probably manufacturing variations.

    As for what bindings, man, it is most certainly a jungle out there. If I was a consumer I’d indeed be fed up. As a blogger it keeps me busy, but I’d rather be writing trip reports and working on personal projects. Perhaps it’ll all calm down in a year or two.

    I did predict that this winter would be the true Binding War and that’s proved to be the case. Benefit for you guys out there is wow, look at the options now! It’s amazing, From Kingpin through Dynafit, Plum, ATK, Fritschi on to those Canadians with their Ionization.

    Lou

    Lou

  103. See April 5th, 2016 8:29 am

    Another quick update. After removing the binding on one ski to try a different toe piece base, I checked the other ski and discovered it was locking in tour mode totally normally— the lever no longer needed to be nearly vertical to lock the toe. I used these skis for about 6000 feet of climbing last weekend and the lever needed to be pulled all the way back to lock the toes on both skis the entire time. Suffice it to say I’m confused.

    The reason I mention this is because I think my earlier implication that the hardware is somehow defective might be incorrect. I’m starting to suspect I mounted the bindings with the bases not flat against the top sheet due to to overtorque/volcanoes/stupidity, but, if that’s the case, why the binding I haven’t touched since last weekend is now sitting flat is beyond me. (Still interested in trying Ions, or maybe Vipecs).

  104. Lou Dawson 2 April 5th, 2016 9:22 am

    Sometimes you can put a shim under the base plate, under the part that the lever locks on, just a hair like a small chunk of beer can. And yes, very small differences with the Vertical ST/FT make a difference, not so much with Radical as the lock lever notches on the actual binding aluminum, not a plastic base plate. Subtle difference. Lou





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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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