Atomic Salomon Backland-MTN Binding Heel Breakdown

Post by blogger | March 28, 2017      
Backland-MTN heel unit, in this case the Atomic version in orange and black.

Backland-MTN heel unit, in this case the Atomic version in orange and black.

Break it down! The Backland-MTN is a beautifully executed classic tech binding that combines both vertical and lateral release under the control of one U-spring. How do they do it? We dig in.

Atomic Backland Binding and U-spring.

Atomic Backland Binding with U-spring installed, as well as an example U-spring to left.

We just happened to have a damaged pre-retail Atomic MTN binding heel unite here at WildSnow HQ, shown here with lifter pin driven part way out and the length adjuster ground off.

We just happened to have a damaged pre-retail Atomic MTN binding here at WildSnow HQ, shown here with lifter pin driven part way out and the length adjuster head ground off. U-spring to right.

Pin out of top, lifters removed, U-spring to right.

Pin out of top, lifters removed, U-spring to right.

Heel lifters off, but, tower still wouldn't come apart.

Heel lifters off, but, tower still wouldn’t come apart.

Aha, looking underneath tower, hex head machine screw.

Aha, looking underneath tower, hex head machine screw.

Boot length adjustment rod removed, hex fastener easy to access.

Boot length adjustment rod removed, hex fastener easy to access.



Off comes the top.

Off comes the top.

Exploded view of heel unit center tower.

Exploded view of heel unit center tower.

Top of tower with spring installed, showing what are clearly hardened steel glide surfaces.

Top of tower with spring installed, showing what are clearly hardened steel glide surfaces.

This depicts how the U-spring rides on the steel gliders.

This depicts how the U-spring rides on the steel gliders, on the tower ‘lobes’ that create release resistance by expanding the U-spring rods as the U-spring rotates.

Simulated lateral release.

Simulated lateral release.

When I busted the pre-retail tester (my fault) I was bummed, but every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, I had a binding to dissect! The Backland-MTN can probably be taken apart in a way that would allow reassembly, but I obviously didn’t bother with that here. In terms of wear and tear, it’s obvious this simple machinery could be quite durable. On first glance, you might wonder how well the housing rides on the center post, and how durable that assembly is. The machining on this part of the binding is impressively tight, and everything appears durable, but consumer testing is obviously key. We’ve got a couple sets of Atomic-Salomon bindings that have seen a number of days and don’t exhibit any problems. But the history of tech bindings as many of you know firsthand is fraught with disappointment. So we be watching things such as how the aluminum heel lifters interact with their steel axle pin.

More, we’d like to see one more spring option for fine-tuning release. We’re not sure if the spring is tunable as it is on some other U-spring bindings. Research is ongoing.

U-spring is basic, same as used on many other tech bindings over the last three decades.

U-spring is basic, same as used on many other tech bindings over the last three decades. The plastic housing snaps on, is screwed down to anchor the rear of the spring.

Related Links

FAQ for Backland MTN ski touring binding.

A few tech bindings compared.

Another one.

Low Tech



88 Responses to “Atomic Salomon Backland-MTN Binding Heel Breakdown”

  1. Eric Steig March 28th, 2017 7:51 am


    What keeps the plastic housing, which holds the U-spring, from blowing part during a release, and causing the whole U-spring assembly to come out of the binding? Obviously, you haven’t seen that happen, but it seems like a weak point. Perhaps this question applies to any U-type tech binding, and I’m just overestimating the forces involved.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 March 28th, 2017 7:55 am

    Eric, the plastic housing on the rear of the spring is strong, and doesn’t have to resist much movement of the spring. Now, if the binding was not adjusted correctly, especially in the case of the tech gap at the boot heel being too small, the spring could be forced back against the plastic and blow it up. All tech bindings have to have the correct tech gap set for this and other reasons. Lou

  3. Matus March 28th, 2017 8:55 am

    I am switching from ATK to this Atomic next season. It looks like and ideal binding: great brake (will not probably use it), wide mounting pattern, full metal body, relatively OK price, good weight, spare parts available, simple operation. I think that Dynafit missed the train with bindings (they just cannot match what we really want).

  4. See March 28th, 2017 9:03 am

    Interesting post, Lou. Thanks. Now if you could only break some Vipecs…

  5. Lou Dawson 2 March 28th, 2017 9:07 am

    See, I have some older Vipecs I can do a take-apart of, been meaning to, but they’re highly complex so I’ve been waiting till I had time. Am using the Tecton now as well, talk about complicated! The toe is the Vipec, but the heel is not only an alpine step-in but has the mode-change-on-the-fly feature that includes a brake lock. It’ll take 25 photos and 2000 words to try and explain it all! And video won’t be easy either. Stay tuned. Lou

  6. Matus March 28th, 2017 9:32 am

    Lou, video is always easier for us to understand. Step by step photos of disassembly are good but still require more 3D imagination than video. More videos please!

  7. Greg Louie March 28th, 2017 10:21 am

    Thanks for the look, Lou, and hats off to Amer for taking the “Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t” approach on this binding!

  8. Alex March 28th, 2017 10:39 am

    So if you are using the expert spring on this, to rotate the heal piece for flat touring, you basically need to overcome an ~11 “din” setting? I.e., to twist the heal, you are manually performing a lateral release, at the release value given by the combination of the chosen spring and the heal tower?

  9. XXX_er March 28th, 2017 12:00 pm

    a generic question on minimalist tech bindings, how is the up and down retention adjusted because on Rads and Verts I have to run the little screw for up/down retention 1 din (like) more than the Din like setting on the big screw or I get pre-release

    I am assuming on these minimalist bindings nobody worries about it?

  10. Lou Dawson 2 March 28th, 2017 1:13 pm

    Xer, I guess I did need to do a video (smile). The spring controls both side and upward release, the two are not adjustable independent of each other. That’s a downside of this type of binding.

    Alex, yeah, when using heavier springs you can definitely feel it when you rotate the binding heel, but it’s not a big deal.

  11. Lee Lau March 28th, 2017 4:16 pm

    Alex – the downside to using the Expert spring is that you can’t easily whack the heelpiece with your pole to rotate it from walk mode to ski mode as easily. Not a big downside but just means you have to take your skis off to transition or bend over to rotate with your hand. Guess I’m just lazy

  12. Lou Dawson 2 March 28th, 2017 4:25 pm

    Seems what folks need to know is that if you do not need heel flat on ski, you can just leave the Backland-MTN heel unit in downhill ski position (pins forward) with the lifter holding your heel above the pins. Want ski mode? Just flip the lifter up out of the way, step down, and you’re clicked in. Actually pretty cool though personally I don’t need this as a feature.

    As Lee says, if you’ve chosen to rotate the heel pins out of the way for heel-flat-on-ski, then yeah, you can try whacking the heel unit to rotate it if you want to make a mode change on the fly. Me, I hardly ever need to do that and also find that reaching down to bindings isn’t all that bad once I’m used to doing it for a particular setup.


  13. See March 28th, 2017 6:05 pm

    I’m probably not understanding something, but it looks to me like the U spring bears directly on the aluminum center post at the corners of the squared-off part at the rear (second to last photo). If so, it seems like this would wear rapidly and possible contaminate the mechanism with metal shavings.

  14. XXX_er March 28th, 2017 7:55 pm

    ” The spring controls both side and upward release, the two are not adjustable independent of each other ”

    yeah I kinda guessed that just looking at the pictures so I wanted clarification, too minimalist for me, maybe if I was running up hills in lycra I would feel different

  15. paulb March 29th, 2017 1:21 am

    Any thoughts on how these will mount on the volkl bmt h-mounting zone? Thanks for providing a mounting jig. Looks like these are too narrow in the heel?

  16. Matus March 29th, 2017 5:11 am

    The heel is not stressed so much (the rotation forces cannot be effectively transferred through the rear pins) so I think there is no point making it wider. This is what I like about Atomic/MTN: no unnecessary gimmicks and features that no one needs (well

  17. Lou Dawson 2 March 29th, 2017 7:19 am

    See, the U-spring steel bears on the shiny steel gliding surfaces. I exaggerated the release angle a bit in the photo, but did make sure it was still steel-on-steel. The photo distorts things a bit. If the U-spring did ride on aluminum you are correct in that it wouldn’t last very long, to say the least!

    I was actually hoping I’d find a way to easily modify the binding to reduce lateral (side) release, but no such luck.


  18. Lou Dawson 2 March 29th, 2017 7:27 am

    PaulB, yeah, the Backland-MTN toe screws are on a 40 mm wide pattern, industry standard, and they fit nicely on the Volkl “H” mounting reinforcement pattern. The heel screw pattern is a bit narrow but falls just to the good side of the pattern on my VTA 88s, but not on my earlier BMTs. There are two different Volkl reinforcement patterns, the one on the VTAs is a bit more forgiving of narrower heel screw pattern.

    Confusing. I wish Volkl would just get past this and put a normal binding reinforcement area in their skis. If I had a nickle for every time I’ve gotten up from this desk and fiddled around with a given binding, matching it up to the Volkl mount pattern, I’d be rich (smile).


  19. SteveR March 29th, 2017 7:54 am

    I believe that Kreuzspitze have set their non-adjustable race binding up to have a higher release value for vertical release than for lateral release. Maybe Atomic have done the same with this binding?

  20. justin March 29th, 2017 7:55 am

    What’s the expected MSRP on these babies?

  21. slcpunk March 29th, 2017 7:58 am

    I was actually looking at these from one of the euro web sites (telemark-pyrenees, and at a good price too) but since then, they have been sold out. Now I can’t find them anywhere. Any info on availability state-side?

  22. See March 29th, 2017 9:06 am

    If Atomic chose to provide more options for lateral and vertical release values without adding weight and complexity, they could make two versions of the toe with different spring rates. That seems like what G3 and Marker have done with the Ion and the Kingpin.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 March 29th, 2017 9:09 am

    See, yeah, all they have to do is increase toe spring rate and can thus end up with higher lateral release value while keeping vertical the same. Thing is, there is a practical limit on how strong the toe springs can be, and Atomic’s are already very strong and perhaps near that limit. I usually uphill without locking them, as a test. Lou

  24. Dan March 29th, 2017 9:25 am

    @slcpunk: Check out Mountain Equipment Coop in Vancouver, BC.

  25. See March 29th, 2017 10:45 am

    In my opinion, Wildsnow would be providing a very valuable service by doing quantitive release tests of all bindings reviewed. Is the vertical rv approximately the same as horizontal for fixed release models? What is the approximate rv of the various springs available for such bindings? Are bindings performing anywhere near their rated rv’s? Are boot fittings getting more standardized and yielding more consistent release performance? This sort of data seems of obvious interest but not widely available (although Skialper seems to be giving it a shot).

  26. Lou2 March 29th, 2017 11:58 am

    See I’m leaving that to Skialper for now. Bear in mind that to be fair to the binding company we’d need to test a half dozen pair of bindings as well as dealing with the issue of standardizing boot fittings. Much better is for each user to have their boot binding combo tested at a shop. How many times have i written that? (Smile)

  27. Matus March 29th, 2017 12:28 pm

    What about just trusting that normal combinations work. And they do.

  28. See March 29th, 2017 1:19 pm

    Matus, I have some bindings that I don’t consider entirely trustworthy. I think others have had similar experiences.

    Lou, I wonder how often people actually take that advice?

  29. Lou Dawson 2 March 29th, 2017 1:27 pm

    The entire DIN/ISO standards for both touring and alpine bindings are based on the bindings being individually tested and certified by a trained testing machine operator. Whether people take advice or not is their choice. Just because the majority of people do not doesn’t make it somehow ok… but sure, there might eventually be a better way. Indeed, testing _every_ binding combo is in one sense an onerous concept. It would be like asking us to somehow test every car tire we buy before driving the car… So in that sense it’s a rather immature and impractical system that appears to have been conceived by a bunch of people who had little sense of how real-life works. Better would have been to require higher manufacturing standards for ski bindings — that’s why you can buy tires and they usually work fine, and don’t need to be tested individually, they’re made to adequate standards that probably make them more expensive… Lou.

  30. Lou Dawson 2 March 29th, 2017 1:29 pm

    BTW, if car tires failed as often as tech bindings have over the past twenty years, there would be people in jail. Lou

  31. VT skier March 31st, 2017 6:01 am

    justin, slcpunk
    I just picked up a set of the Salomon MTN version in Val d’Isere at the end of a week of skiing . Price was 315 Euros, at end of season. Still hoping to get the 12% VAT refund back, which would drop the price to about $277 US. Mine do not have the ski brake but came with a set of (heavy ) leashes..

    I bought mine at Intersport in Val.
    You could also try the MountainProshop in Val.

  32. See March 31st, 2017 9:06 am

    I’m all for higher manufacturing standards, Lou, and (maybe more important) providing consumers with information about the limitations and proper use of their equipment. I think too many newcomers don’t appreciate that touring bindings are not just light alpine bindings with a walk mode. So where is the pressure to raise standards and provide better consumer information going to come from?

  33. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2017 9:45 am

    See, the pressure will come from economics. For certain, consumers will gradually shift to buying bindings that historically don’t have a reputation of breakage. During or after that, if for example here in the U.S the CPSC actually goes after a binding company for selling something defective, that’ll be huge economically. And so on. it’s a gradual shift that’s probably already happening, but slowed by there really being no clear winner in terms of reliability, as well as some of the binding systems making efforts to do things that consumers simply don’t understand or get frustrated by, examples being G3 brakes occasionally popping open, or the Radical 2 rotating toe unit being inconvenient in various ways, not to mention adding weight. The G3 brake issues are probably due to the user not clearing ice or snow, and the Dynafit toe has good reasons for existing. But that doesn’t prevent consumers from getting frustrated and considering other products. The results of all this will continue to manifest over coming months and years. Lou

  34. See March 31st, 2017 10:48 am

    The basic point I’m trying to make is that the lack of good data makes the establishment of widespread, accurate understanding of a given model’s reputation so gradual and anecdotal as to be less than helpful, given the rapid introduction of “new” models and the potential for bad things to happen to uninformed consumers in the mean time. And I’m not just talking about breakage. I think Skialper put it best: “The manufacturers still don’t have any regulation they can refer to, neither precise answers for the clients asking how the binding they are about to buy will fare in case of an accident or a fall. Amid all this, some users are happy about the situation considering the binding something which should never open in the typical ski touring situations in the open mountain.” And: “The clear message which emerges is that, when you mount a pin-system binding, you should not think that your are buying a safety binding (apart from rare exceptions).”

  35. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2017 11:03 am

    Aint gonna change anytime soon, Jimmy.

  36. See March 31st, 2017 11:06 am

    Who’s Jimmy? Friend of Virginia’s?

  37. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2017 11:41 am

    So he says.

  38. Nick April 14th, 2017 11:31 am

    Thanks for the great article Lou.
    I love these bindings but still I’m puzzled with the lack of information around which U spring to use. The guy who mounted it for me had no real clue either.
    I’m a light skier (64kg 171cm) but I ski big fat skis and quite aggressive (type 2 I guess), how does that compare to my buddy who is 185cm and 90+ kg… This men, women thing is just ridiculous…
    I decided to mount them as women and see if I can trigger them at all… There must be a better way to do this…

  39. Nick April 18th, 2017 2:58 pm

    OK finally heard back from Salomon
    “MEN”: between 59kg and 85kg including equipment
    “W”: under 60kg body weight

  40. Ansel January 2nd, 2018 9:27 pm

    In reply to Eric Steig,

    The plastic housing does indeed blow apart, as mine did during a heel only release. When the heel piece and my boot returned to centre, the pins must have come out of the heel insert, as my boot heel forced the U-spring rearward through the housing. Heel gap was tested that morning and was within spec. Toe was not locked.

    I’m 5’11” 200lbs/90kg and not an aggressive skier, and was skiing on the MENs spring. I guess according to the Salomon chart, I should be using the EXPERT springs, which I’m now using, but they were so stiff I couldn’t turn them by hand initially, and I wonder if they will ever release.

  41. Eric Steig January 3rd, 2018 7:15 am

    Ansel: Yikes. Did anything break? Have. you given Salomon a call?

  42. See January 3rd, 2018 8:44 am

    Yeah. In particular, did the plastic housing around the U portion of the spring break? Was the screw that secures the U spring to the housing damaged or missing? Was the tab on the housing that the screw threads into damaged? (Do I just not understand how this binding is constructed/works?) Seems to me that using a heavier spring isn’t a great solution if the binding can jam up in such a way as to cause failure during a near release. It would just reduce the likelihood of releases or near releases.

  43. Ansel January 3rd, 2018 8:52 am


    I guess the benefit of the plastic housing is that it’s designed to fail to protect the heel piece from damage, so everything else was intact.

    Full disclosure, this happened when I was night skiing at a resort after a day of touring on a pair of very soft DPS Wailer 99 Tour1s. Didn’t hit any jumps or anything, and was on freshly groomed corduroy. Only noticed as my ski was flopping around on the lift up. Have put in a warranty claim, but either way I’m guessing/hoping replacement springs are cheap.

  44. Ansel January 3rd, 2018 9:03 am

    That is exactly what happened. Rear half of the bottom part of the housing exploded (it is a clamshell that snaps together). The top half and remaining bottom half were held in place by the screw. No damage to the screw or the tab on the heel post it was screwed into. In fact they could just me the plastic housing for the MENs spring, but I assume they don’t have a SKU for just that.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2018 9:07 am

    Guys, I think a possible failure mode for any tech binding heel would be the boot somehow coming out to the side then re-centering only with the heel pins not inserting in their corresponding holes, thus placing a huge amount of longitudinal force on both the binding toe and heel. A soft ski could make this more likely to occur. Regarding the Backland-MTN this is honestly the first time I’ve heard of this, so I don’t think it’s a worry, but definitely something we should all be paying attention to.

    What I’d like to see, and have been asking about for years, is when someone will come up with tech 2.0 and change the heel design to still use the pins, only slightly thicker pins and a wider tech gap, and so forth. This could possibly be done using a different boot heel fitting that could be retrofit to existing boots.


  46. Garrett February 10th, 2018 3:04 pm

    Any of you radsters breaking these things? Ansel’s lament above is all I’ve heard. The silence is deafening.

    No news is good news?

  47. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2018 4:53 pm

    This binding has been a sigh of relief, I think I’ve heard of some breakage but nothing that made me think it might have problems. As Ansel describes, perhaps it would be good to see slightly more beef in one area, but again, I’m just not hearing any more about this. Lou

  48. Chris February 11th, 2018 9:39 am

    I have around 30 days on both the Salomon and Atomic versions of this binding. I rarely get excited about bindings but I love these things. Light, user friendly, good durability so far. I’m about 190 pounds FWIW. A friend has around another 20-30 days on his with similar feelings.

  49. slcpunk March 8th, 2018 10:58 am

    Want to make sure I have it right – heel gap should be 5.5mm? Mine are set closer than that from the shop, and I feel like they are hard to engage.

  50. Ansel March 8th, 2018 11:08 am

    Salomon MTNs should be set to 4mm. You can use the included leash clip to set the gap.

  51. slcpunk March 8th, 2018 11:08 am

    sweet, thanks!

  52. slcpunk March 8th, 2018 11:47 am

    Ok…another one. just noticed the heel lifters are loose on one binding. Assume that hex screw has become loose. Do I have unmount the binding to get at it? I can’t see how to remove the heel tower from the base otherwise. or can i back out the adjustment screw all the way to free the tower from the base?

  53. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2018 12:20 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean, the heel lifters are the two things that flip up and down for heel lift while skiing. The bindings I have here do not have a hex screw for this.

    If you’re talking about the entire heel tower assembly, that’s probably something for the ski shop and warranty.


  54. slcpunk March 8th, 2018 12:33 pm

    Right – the two things that flip up and down. They are attached to that black piece with the pin in it. That assembly is loose – I can wiggle it on top of the tower. From the breakdown, it seemed that it is held in place by the hex screw from below.

  55. slcpunk March 16th, 2018 12:37 pm

    Just to follow up here. I unmounted the heel, backed out the adjustment screw and just as suspected, the hex screw that holds the risers on was loose. I put some loctite on it and put it back together. I wish I could have removed it without unmounting from the ski, but I could not see how the heel unit would clear the plastic base – there is a little lip that seems to keep it in the tracks.

    Hoping the loctite holds – I only had blue 242 … where green or red would have been appropriate since I can’t see any reason to undo this screw under normal operations.

    Anyway, thanks as usual – without the breakdown pics I would never have known what to look for.

  56. Lou Dawson 2 March 16th, 2018 3:43 pm

    Glad we could help! I always wonder how many folks find our breakdowns useful. Lou

  57. Al April 3rd, 2018 6:28 am

    Hi – I just picked up a set very sl used “atomic backland bindings” already mounted on some skis. They have brakes (which I like). They did not come with the usual leashes, so I don’t have a heel gap adjustment “tool”. I read above that the heel gap (which is a subject for an entire book it seems) is 4mmfor this particular binding?? Is there something I can use that approximates this distance, like say the 3 sl worn nickels or 12 crisp hundred dollar bills or…? Given how important that gap is, I want to try to get it right.and confirm that it is really 4 mm for these bindings. I’ve looked around the net and this is the only place I’ve seen it mentioned. Thanks

  58. kevin woolley April 3rd, 2018 6:45 am

    You could pick up a cheap set of metric hex keys (allen keys) for this purpose, that’s what I’ve done, that way you have a key for every possible binding.

  59. Al April 3rd, 2018 6:58 am

    Wow. Of coarse I could. I already own some. Thanks. Nothing like advertising you won’t be designing any rockets today, first thing in the am.

  60. rod georgiu May 1st, 2018 8:33 pm

    I have the g3 ion binding and I’m considering switching to the MTN, for:

    weight reason

    Perhaps higher retention in ski mode.

    The ion has no Gap between the heel and the binding, meaning that perhaps has some elasticity?

    The MTN doesn’t.

    Can one feel this difference while skiing?

  61. Al May 4th, 2018 3:30 pm

    Hi Rod- I’ve been skiing the atomic tour binding (same as Salomon I’m told) all spring. It’s been spring conditions. They are mounted on atomic backlands and I’ve been using the cut to size contour atomic skins (70/30) with traditional glue. So far I like the set up a lot. I climb with them unlocked and have had no releases. I’ve also had no prerelease while skiing, and no falls resulted in binding releases either. I am using the “man” spring of the three available. I used a 4mm hex to set the heel distance. I like them with the brake. There is the usual fiddle factor getting into them but nothing unusual. I’m NOT a real aggressive skier and have no experience with them in area. Overall, a great experience.

  62. Lou Dawson 2 May 4th, 2018 4:40 pm

    Thanks Al, they’re the most boring bindings we’ve ever reviewed, not enough problems, not much to write about (smile). Lou

  63. See May 4th, 2018 5:12 pm

    I couldn’t resist picking up a set of these for my 0G 108’s, which are nice skis but kinda heavy. I haven’t mounted them up yet, but one thing seems clear right out of the box— as Lou said, the toe springs on these are s t r o n g .

  64. See May 4th, 2018 7:15 pm

    I am a bit concerned about having only 3 release options. I intend to do a fair amount of testing to figure out what the numerical versions of “women, “man” and “expert” are. Any help here would be appreciated.

  65. See May 4th, 2018 7:39 pm

    And I know that there are no gold bindings in some underground vault at the International Institute of Binding Release Values. But I would at least like to know if the W or M is closer to my current equipment.

  66. Al May 4th, 2018 8:39 pm

    Hi see- I’m an engineer and the “3 springs fits all” has bothered me as well. I’m going to try the women’s spring out just FTHOI. I can’t imagine the circumstances I’d ever need the expert ones. Otoh, skiing, falling etc is such a dynamic situation that I’m not sure it can be accurately replicated on a bench. I did do a couple of the manuvers Lou has described here and they seemed to at least go thru the motions. This seems like a great opportunity for atomic to do some kind of value added marketing where you can buy a range of springs based on wt, skiing style etc.

  67. Yellow Snow May 4th, 2018 9:58 pm

    See, roughly speaking… Woman is around 6, Man is around 8, Expert around 11. If you add the brake, these values go out the window. Typically a reduction in vertical release value and a slight increase in lateral release value happens simultaneously when the brake is installed due to lack of afd and upward pressure on the boot.

  68. Al May 4th, 2018 10:22 pm

    Interesting stuff, YS. I can see your reasoning, but where did you get the numbers from?

  69. See May 5th, 2018 8:06 am

    Thanks Al and YS. I think I may also try the W’s, Al, even though I’m a 170+ pound male. I remember years ago when I received new skis, the shop would usually have the bindings set on the light side. I would then gradually dial them up until I stopped prereleasing. Crude but effective as I recall, as long as I kept in mind that the bindings were set low initially and skied accordingly. I guess I’d rather do a few “test prereleases” than start with the bindings set too high.

    What I really want to do is set up a release tester and see if I can get good enough measurements to be able to match the new binding springs with my old (known good) equipment. Not perfect, but perhaps instructive.

  70. Lou Dawson 2 May 5th, 2018 2:06 pm

    See and all, I have a Vermont release checker and will publish something on Monday about measuring the Salomon/Atomic values. Stay tuned. Lou

  71. rod georgiu May 5th, 2018 2:31 pm

    Ok, but how does it ski compared to say, a G3 ion, which has a spring that cooperates for the ski bending?

    Does the g3 provide more elasticity?

  72. Lou Dawson 2 May 5th, 2018 3:20 pm

    I’m of the opinion that for most people, the boot’s tech fitting sliding forward and back on the heel pins is of equal effectiveness as spring loaded heel units, and certainly lighter, and certainly less complicated. That’s not to say one system is superior to the other. For example, the simpler system has quite a range of release settings depending on what position your boot heel is in relative to the heel pins. Bindings with built-in absorption, such as G3 ION, tend to keep the boot heel in the same place. A lot to this.

    P.S., as G3 likes to point out, U-spring bindings with pins that don’t rotate tend to wear much faster, sometimes to the point of dysfunction before you’d perhaps expect.


  73. Yellow Snow May 5th, 2018 5:50 pm

    Al, those numbers come from a shop with a Montana computerized binding tester that is annually calibrated specifically for tech fittings. It’s quite a bit more accurate than the old school vermont torque wrench style tester. Those numbers are from testing the binding on the machine, but the actual value depends largely on the boot being used, the health and quality of it’s fittings, the accuracy of the mount and how straight the bindings were installed (usually not very good by a “garage ski tech”), etc.

  74. rod georgiu May 5th, 2018 6:03 pm

    Lou, are the u springs wearing faster, or the binding itself?

    I use the bindings (and skis) about 35 days a year, and replace them every 4 years.

  75. Lou 2 May 5th, 2018 6:41 pm

    The U-spring rods get a divot in them, from stepping in to binding as well as the boot heel fitting riding in pretty much the same spot. It takes a while, and of course varies with how heavy the person is, style of skiing, lift served or all backcountry, dirt and grit, and on and on. I have U-spring bindings that this never happened to, and others that do show wear. Thing is, the U-springs are cake to replace… Lou

  76. Al May 5th, 2018 7:08 pm

    Hmmm. I still see a problem with testing in general, because it is so dynamic in real world conditions. When skiing you can be weighting the ski/binding, unweighting, flexing the ski or reverse flexing, all while your twisting and the ski is being held relatively steady. And then there is the size of the skier, the boot, the speed and on and on. Don’t get me wrong, you have to do something to to test how the thing releases, but I’m guessing most of the people on this list aren’t standing in a static position like on a ski on a bench when things go wrong. I’m surprised this stuff (knock on wood) works as well as it does, especially as light as it is.

  77. Yellow Snow May 5th, 2018 9:50 pm

    I’m not really arguing for or against the testing. That’s a totally different discussion. You asked how I derived the numbers.

    The numbers in tech bindings generally are a rough representation of DIN equivalents. Meaning that the torque values correspond to a number on the DIN chart for alpine bindings (roughly). The size of the skier, and the boot are exactly what determines the number that is most appropriate for the skier, so those variables are taken into account. There certainly isn’t a way to test for everything in the real world, but without bench testing we have nowhere to start from in determining a margin of safety. Clearly the absolute best real world method has not been determined because injuries still happen.

    Frankly speaking, there’s WAY too much mental energy spent on release values with tech bindings. If safety is your foremost concern, tech bindings should be out of consideration because they expose the user to a higher likelihood of spiral fracture injuries which are the most serious threat to limbs in skiing. The very few that release at the toe are fraught with issues of their own.

    Skiing is risky. If a person has decided that he or she still wants to participate in this sport on tech bindings, the best advice is to use the DIN chart and determine appropriate value. Then find a tech binding with a value that roughly corresponds. Talking with a shop that has put in an effort to do high quality bench testing on all of the models is best because they will have a great deal of knowledge about how various bindings release, at what value, and if there are caveats. (I only know of one shop that has put in the effort to making this happen. They aren’t a site sponsor so I won’t stir the pot by mentioning them.) Do this knowing that you are compromising some safety for efficiency of travel.

  78. Al May 5th, 2018 10:26 pm

    There you have it. In the end, like most fun things, you choose what you’re willing live with. YS, you quoted numbers for the backland binding without a brake and said the addition of the brake changes things. Did you get those numbers for comparison? Maybe Lou2 could consider that circumstance as well? I’m going to keep skiing them, but maybe using the woman’s spring will make more sense if the brake jacks things up some. At any rate its 70 here during the day now and above freezing at nite (after good skiing all last week) so it’s fun to discuss this stuff. Thanks for putting up with me.

  79. Lou Dawson 2 May 6th, 2018 8:13 am

    Yellow, thanks for being sensitive to our aversion to certain types of links, but please know that when you’re a legit and appreciated commenter, as you are, and have links that are useful and related to your writing, feel free to share in most cases. I’ll edit when I feel the need.

    FYI, I got burned out (and often burned) years ago on other publishers posting “me too” comments, seeking to obtain our link juice for free after we’d worked our behinds off for years building WildSnow, and we got lots of spam attacks, hence the culture I promoted of being careful with links.

    Things seem to be better now. As for the shop you refer to, correct?


  80. Lou Dawson 2 May 6th, 2018 8:24 am

    As for testing tech bindings across the board (rather than as individual specific boot/binding setups), please know that the bugbear of the boot fittings makes doing so somewhat useless, but it’s worth trying, as I’ve done in numerous ways. A standardized boot sole tempered to the hardness of tool steel and using Dynafit’s exact dimensions for the boot fittings is what’s required, that’s way beyond the resources of most shops or publishers such as myself. I’m told TUV has such as thing, but even then, the problem of wear on the fittings changing results is all too real. An engineer could probably tell us how many faux soles and test cycles would be required to average results to solid numbers. I have no idea what that would be. My instinct here is to at least do 3 cycles per boot, and use two different boots.

    The DIN ISO binding standard 13992 allows what I recall is something like a 10% variation in results, in other words with the binding set on 8 it can be ~7 or ~9 and still pass. That alone should tell us something and inform anyone who is exerting too much mental energy.

    I’d say it’s legit to seek testing of your specific boot/binding setup, but overall testing of various bindings is fraught, being worth some playing around with to inform us as users, but not something worth huge amounts of energy or money.

    All the above is why some companies choose not to go down the rabbit hole of TUV certification, which in some ways is only a revenue source for TUV, nothing more.

  81. Lou Dawson 2 May 6th, 2018 8:32 am

    AL, in my experience any engineer will tell you that product testing can never match real-life, it is *always* an approximation. It can be done really well in some cases, closely matching life, but never 100%. That’s why “consumer testing” is a real thing, however much we hate it. Even beta testing isn’t entirely “real.” So yeah, in the case of ski bindings, any bench testing is simply a way of getting basic information and should be taken with a grain of salt. Lou

  82. Al May 6th, 2018 11:23 am

    Exactly. I guess I don’t write any better than I ski, but that’s what I was trying to say. I do think the real world experience of people on lists like this is particularly useful as the “lab”of using stuff everyday provides info you can’t get any other way. I do have a question about binding prep. Maybe been covered. As there is a lot of talk about dirt, wear and tear etc any thoughts on using something like wd40 to keep ice build up down on bindings and reduce friction? I’m sure it’s been tried.

  83. VT skier May 6th, 2018 12:32 pm

    Al wrote,
    ” any thoughts on using something like wd40 to keep ice build up down ..”

    I have heard that WD-40 can destroy certain types of plastics in a binding. A friend here in Vermont had this problem with a small line of telemark bindings he builds and warranty claims came back for broken parts..
    One possibly safer option is ” Fluid Film”, a lanolin based lubricant I have tried. I also have some DuPont Silicone Lubricant, that is supposed to be safe for “rubber, plastics” .
    Maybe Lou can suggest a safe lubricant.. .

  84. Al May 6th, 2018 1:19 pm

    Thanks. No less than the nyts (you remember them, predicted Hillary with a 90% chance to win presidency) says no wD40. A couple of sites say silicone is ok after a water wash off for storage. Does that sound reasonable?

  85. Lou Dawson 2 May 6th, 2018 2:00 pm

    There are lots of things you can use to try keeping ice at bay, don’t douse bindings with any sort of petroleum product. Pure silicon spray helps, as does rubbing surfaces with alpine wax, the Snow Shed product helps as well. Lou

  86. See May 6th, 2018 8:14 pm

    I spend a lot of mental energy on this stuff because I think it can reduce risk of injury, and because I find it interesting. I don’t believe I’m under any illusions about what binding release numbers mean, but I think familiarity with your equipment and it’s limitations is essential to getting the most out of it. I mount my own bindings because I usually learn something in the process, I think I do it well, and it’s my weird idea of a good time. I look forward to reading about your investigations with the Vt checker, Lou. I expect it will be an interesting and enjoyable post (if you’re into that sort of thing).

  87. Yann November 6th, 2018 4:04 pm

    How much does the heel piece weigh (i.e. excluding the toe piece)?

  88. Lou Dawson 2 November 6th, 2018 5:50 pm

    They don’t call me the human google for nothing:

    See nav menu at top of page for more goodies.


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