ATK Raider 12 2.0 Ski Touring Binding — Review

Post by blogger | April 18, 2017      
My test rig, a pair of Scott Super Guide 88 with my trusty TLT6ers

We’ve got our own special set of ATK jewelry here at WildSnow. I keep it in our floor safe and bring it out for special occasions; blog posts, for example. The test rig, a pair of Scott Super Guide 88 skis with my trusty TLT6ers. Can you spot what’s going on here? The binding heel unit is rotated 180 degrees to allow a super nice heel-flat-on-ski mode. Excellent for those long flat approach marches.

ATK. The unobtainable can be so attractive… But wait, you can indeed shop for some ATK ski touring bindings here in the U.S., as Hagan imports and re-badges selected models. For the purposes of this review, Hagan will indeed be importing the Raider 12 2.0, which they’ll call the “Core.”

Several things set ATK apart. The Raider ski brake is clever and clearly the lightest of any solution. Aesthetics and obvious quality of the aluminum construction inspire confidence. Heel lift in touring mode varies from flat to quite steep. ATK’s race inspired culture and fascinating variety (something like 12 tech binding models) tell you they’re serious about bringing you technology from the heart of Italy.

Price sets ATK (Hagan) apart as well. We’re talking retail that can easily be several hundred dollars more than similar bindings from other brands. Where you go with that is of course up to you, dear reader. Main thing, these grabbers will not disappoint.

The heel lifters have a number of height options, heel flat on ski but of course.

The heel lifters provide full 5 height options, high lift pictured here, heel flat on ski is obtained by rotating heel unit 180 degrees so the spring prongs are facing to the rear. With the heel in the rotated position you have an extra tall high-lift.

Heel unit rotated, using the medium lifter.

Heel unit rotated, using the medium lifter.

Stratospheric heel lift.

Stratospheric heel lift.

ATK Raider 12 with brake removed.

ATK Raider 12 toe unit with brake removed. Note this binding is clearly intended to be used with brake installed, as you otherwise have ugly vestigial parts adding weight with no purpose. That said, if you like the Raider heel lifter options but don’t like the brakes you can indeed run without them. Further, if you never want brakes but like the lifters, the Haute Route 2.0 binding is your choice as it combines a Raider heel with brakeless toe.

The brakes are a bit tricky to remove and install, yet nothing radical. You back out a couple of socket head studs with a metric hex driver, pull the brake out. Installing the brake requires a bit of  fiddling with the springs.

The brakes are a bit tricky to remove and install, yet nothing radical. You back out a couple of socket head studs with a metric hex driver, pull the brake out. Installing the brake requires a bit of fiddling with the springs. Leave on brake installed so you have a reference. It’s here I should say that while the ATK brake arms are stronger than they look, the deployment springs are not robust and are obviously designed for lighter weight skis. I’d advise caution if you expect a set of these to stop a pair of 120 mm wide fatties when you throw a shoe on piste.

Brake deployment pressure springs.

Brake deployment pressure springs. I like their minimalist nature but they’re not exactly robust.

Brake stowage during during is ingenious.

Brake stowage is ingenious. You simply press down on the black yoke, causing a pin (circled) to pop out and hold the brake up. Click. Exiting the binding (during either a safety release or by pressing down the touring lock lever) deploys the brake arms. IN OTHER WORDS this brake avoids the engineering cost of attempting to make it “automatically” stow when the user enters the binding or rotates the heel unit. My favorite ski brake remains the entirely independent type, such as that introduced by another major brand this season, but the ATK effort is top notch as well.

What's nice is that the brake arms remain down as you enter the binding, thus keeping your ski secure on the snow. After you're in, you stow the brake.

What’s nice is that the brake arms remain down as you enter the binding, thus keeping your ski secure on the snow. After you’re in, you stow the brake.

Underside of the heel unit demonstrates intelligent minimalism.

Underside of the heel unit demonstrates intelligent minimalism. You get fully three centimeters of boot length adjustment, along with a shock absorption spring. The Raider requires a 4mm heel gap. While the gap provides enough room for the ski to flex in most situations, it is wise having a spring for a little extra give in case things bind up.

What else? This is not a “U-spring” tech binding — it instead boasts independent vertical and lateral retention adjustments. I did a couple of moderate test climbs without locking toe; indicating that the toe unit springs are strong. The heel lifters flip easily, they’re held in place with small hidden magnets (more cleverness from Modena). Crampon slots appear strong, though they were tight and required slightly easing the shape of our crampon attachment axles. ATK claims they “improved the hooking geometry via their Easy-Entry System,” meaning the binding is easier to close on your boot toe when you step in. While I’ve tested other ATKs over the years I don’t remember a problem with that, so let’s just say it’s a wash.

Of more interest on the subject of binding entry, ATK also claims they provide an “ultra soft” step in at the heel. Any long-term user of tech bindings knows the problem. You’re putting your skis on in a powder field, you stomp your heel down, and your ski tail just digs a hole to Calcutta. Frustrating. I messed around with this quite a bit and honestly couldn’t feel much difference if any, perhaps because I run fairly low settings anyhow. If you set release values at 10 or above, the “ultra soft” effect might be more pronounced.

My on snow testing revealed the only penalty you pay for this amazingly featured binding is the wallet igniting retail price. It’s amazing that ATK provides a ski brake, crampon slot, full lateral-vertical release adjustments, multiple heel lifts and spring loaded boot length adjustment at 372 grams. Only cons I can come up are that I’d like the brake to be 100% removable without leaving the extra metal appendages, and less boot ramp angle would be nice. On the other hand, we’re talking mere grams and the brake only takes minutes to remove once you’ve practiced. MORE, for 2017-2018 ATK will be selling their Haute Route 2.0 binding, an RT 2.0 without the brake. Yeah, I quibble. Raider12 2.0 is nice stuff — remember it’s available as ATK or the Hagan Core. For more, please see our ATK coverage from this past winter’s ISPO.

Total weight one binding with brake and screws: 372 grams
Toe, no brake, no screws: 116 grams
Brake, 85 mm: 52 grams
Heel unit, no screws: 187 grams
Available brake widths: 86, 91, 97, 102, 108, 120
Boot length adjustment: 30 mm.


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40 Responses to “ATK Raider 12 2.0 Ski Touring Binding — Review”

  1. XXX_er April 18th, 2017 11:53 am

    – it would be nice to see a little more detail on that heel piece
    – those lifters don’t look like they are going to explode the binding?
    – I am impressed that ATK has independant vertical/lateral release at a light weight cuz I have never been impressed with the U-sprung bindings, I mean the point should be safety … otherwise we could all just telemark eh?

  2. Ryana April 18th, 2017 12:19 pm

    I was wondering when Wildsnow would review these bindings which I think everyone should have in their collection. I’ve been using them for the last month. Absolutely no complaints. I’ve never found the need to rotate the heel, just flip the bottom lifter down and good to go, it’s fine like that on flat ground too.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 April 18th, 2017 5:48 pm

    Hey Xer, sure, I’ll do a breakdown of the heel, once I get them back from a guy who ran off with them for a few days of testing (smile). I don’t see any problem with the heel lifters, have you heard of anything? They’ve been selling bindings with those lifters for a while now. The magnetic hold worked fine for me, seemed smart. Lou

  4. XXX_er April 18th, 2017 7:11 pm

    Thanx, a breakdown would be nice! No I haven’t heard about any heel lifter probs on ATK but we know the flippy stuff done wrong can lead to exploding heel pieces!

  5. Matus Kuchyna April 19th, 2017 4:41 am

    Quite a popular binding here in poor Slovakia (despite its price). There were some problems with the front part (broken when skied locked). Other than that solid and expensive binding that left Dynafit in dust.

  6. See April 19th, 2017 8:15 am

    Are you testing these with the brakes installed or removed?

  7. Lou Dawson 2 April 19th, 2017 8:25 am

    Testing with brakes installed (I like), I removed and swapped as they’re designed to do, ATK sent me a variety of widths.

    Why do you ask?


  8. See April 19th, 2017 8:46 am

    Brakes add complexity (and weight) and don’t always work great in actual use. I just wanted to know if your tests were likely to reveal problems with the brakes. Glad to know you’re using them because I suspect you might be tempted to just remove them and cut off the vestigial bits if you weren’t testing them for Wildsnow.

  9. Matus April 19th, 2017 8:50 am

    In my experience the Raider brakes are good only to keep skis on place when stepping into the binding. They would not really stop the moving ski in soft snow or steep slope.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 April 19th, 2017 9:06 am

    Somewhat agree, I think it depends on the weight of the ski, in my opinion they’ll work fine for lighter skis, but indeed are weak for heavy skis. I like that ATK is trying to make a brake for lighter skis, plenty of brake/binding combos out there for big skis. On the other hand, perhaps they could eventually offer two types of brakes, one with stronger springs for bigger skis. Lou

  11. Dabe April 19th, 2017 9:10 am

    love the Pegasus buckle mod 🙂

  12. Tom April 19th, 2017 12:13 pm

    Didn’t wait for your review, and bought these a couple months ago. Very impressed. Easy to use, and very solid feeling, with no clicking or play. Better ramp angle than my Dynafits too.

  13. Sam April 19th, 2017 1:10 pm

    Great to see ATK seeing some coverage on this side of the pond. ATK, IMO, makes simply the best touring bindings, period, if you can stomach the cost. Their weight, engineering, durability, ramp angle, ease of use (haven’t had to trim toe rubber on any boots), heel lifters, release values, BSL adjustability, etc etc is spot on. Hopefully some more attention in the states will encourage them to develop a solid distribution plan and bring prices down to a more competitive level.

  14. Miro April 19th, 2017 2:47 pm

    Hey there,
    I’ve been extensively using this binding last 4 months and I consider the brake useless (I have K2 waybacks 82mm) – the arms are very thin and work only on hard surface like groomed pistes. They wont stop a ski in softer snow.
    Also I’ve experienced a problem with the brake – it did not lock up for riding due to some built-up snow. But that is not so serious. Overall it is a very well built, reliable, robust binding.

  15. Kam April 19th, 2017 3:50 pm

    Important difference between the Raider and Haute Route: the heel is not BSL-adjustable on the HR.

  16. Lou Dawson 2 April 19th, 2017 4:14 pm

    Ouch! I didn’t catch that. Could be a pro or con… Lou

  17. Jim Milstein April 19th, 2017 10:24 pm

    Matus has identified the one thing brakes are good for. Otherwise, brakes do not assure recovery of a runaway ski in deep snow or on a steep hard surface slope, but they assuredly add weight and complexity. Scorning brakes is my hobby.

  18. See April 20th, 2017 8:40 am

    Generally speaking, I don’t care if people use brakes, leashes, helmets, telemark gear or adjustable poles. I use brakes mostly out of habit. But they seem like a reasonable compromise between improving one’s odds in the event of a tumbling fall or avalanche, and reducing the likelihood of losing a ski. Best is to not fall, not to prerelease, not to get caught in avalanches, and dispense with both brakes and leashes.

  19. Lou Dawson 2 April 21st, 2017 10:43 am

    Working on adding more data to reviews today. Just got the ATKs back from another tester, well liked but the heel lifters flipped up occasionally, uninvited. They’re held in stowed positions with hidden magnets, I’m wondering if the magnets need to be more powerful, or perhaps an additional friction component is necessary, or perhaps Bob just moves too fast for ATK (smile)?

    Seriously, any of you ATK Raider users out there, with the flip heel lifters, have any trouble with the lifters flipping up when you don’t want them?


  20. Tom April 21st, 2017 10:59 am

    ^^^Only a couple times on the non-magnetic side if I forget to “squish” the lifter into the space between the pins. The magnets have worked very well. Most of my touring has been with the lifters in the 2 highest settings on steep skintrack that I usually set in PNW snow/snain.

  21. Miro April 21st, 2017 12:33 pm

    It’s never happend to me unless -as Tom wrote- the red lifter wasnt stuck between the pins (facing backwards)

  22. Ryana April 24th, 2017 5:27 pm

    I’ve never had the heel lifters flip up inadvertently. The brakes work for me, seem strong enough on Dynastar Mythics, 97 mm underfoot.

  23. Alex May 13th, 2017 12:36 pm

    How involved would a shimming job be on the toes? I guess I could just buy the thickness I want and cut/drill to the size of the toepiece? Am I then making the brake useless? I’d like to get down to 4mm or so

  24. Lou Dawson 2 May 13th, 2017 1:06 pm

    Hi Alex, the brake is already minimal, I’d say in any shimming situation you’d just want to ditch it. Other than that, it would be a standard make-a-shim-get-longer-screws-attach situation. Lou

  25. Stan January 9th, 2018 11:44 am

    Was about to order some Haute routes based on this review but confused about the heel lifters as it looks like they’ve been changed? The ATK website states for this binding and the Haute Route: HEEL FLAP WITH RAISER: an intuitive heel flaps system which provides 3 different walking modes: FLAT MODE, + 36 mm and +50 mm . And the pics seems to confer just 3 modes (and having to rotate between modes).

    Even with articulating boots and the B&D extension for my superlites I find the high lift lacking.

    Bill at B&D stated superlite stock is 1.9″ (48.26 mm – about same as ATK?) which he says is 1″ below speed radical and about 1.25″ below speed turn. His lifter adds 0.5″.

    Does anyone now the heights of the lifters on the lightweight Dynafit or other tech options? Dynafit lists no specs on their website. I would love to see as much data on this as on the ramp deltas as we spend alot more time going up then going down.

  26. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2018 12:10 pm

    Hi Stan, I’m working hard on adding heel lifter heights to our ramp angle spreadsheet. I’m doing all in relation to toe pin height, so it’ll work well to compare between different bindings. Will do actual measurements of heights, rather than angles that change according to boot length.

    I’ll add a few more later today.

  27. Stan January 9th, 2018 3:35 pm

    Great to hear and that the measurements will be relative to pin height! Looking forward to the day when manufacturers specify this data so you won’t have to go to the trouble or measuring it.

  28. David January 30th, 2018 7:58 am

    What is the difference between the ATK Raider 2.0 and the ATK RT 2.0? Skialper likes the RT 2.0 a lot this year.

  29. Dillon Downs February 7th, 2018 1:52 pm

    I have the Haute Route 2.0 and don’t see anyway to rotate the heel piece with a pole? I love the binders but this is pretty much a deal breaker for me. Going from skiing to mid rise is fast but flat and high require the ol’ stick your hand in powder and slide your pack into your head. I’ll probably pull them off and go with the Soly MTN or Marker Alpinist because I don’t see another similar option from ATK to avoid this.

  30. Carl February 28th, 2018 11:23 am

    Can anyone comment on the compatability of Dynafit ski crampons? I am let to understand from a couple of sources they will fit, but might be a bit stiff…is this correct? This would obviously be a big plus, because not having to buy new crampons makes them a tad more affordable!

    Also can anyone elaborate on the comment: ‘Crampon slots appear…. were tight and required slightly easing the shape of our crampon attachment axles.’ Does this mean they need to be bent a bit?

    If they are compatible, what do I need to do?

  31. Dillon Downs February 28th, 2018 1:27 pm

    Dynafit crampons are compatible. They take a little wiggling and rotating but do fit.

  32. Nick May 7th, 2018 8:44 am

    Hi Lou!

    I was wondering if you ever tried making a frankenbinding. I realised that I’m super happy with my G3 Ion toes but I don’t like the heels (I have old Ions with touret accidentally switching from touring to ski modes and brakes that release in tour mode sometimes). I was thinking of having a higher DIN and shaving some weight so I though of combining g3 toes with, for example, ATK Freeraider 14 heels. Any drawbacks?

  33. Lou Dawson 2 May 7th, 2018 9:34 am

    You could usually do that so long as you got the RV and ramp angle you wanted. Better, just work with G3 to get the latest ION heels, they solve both problems near as I can tell. And, as for brakes, the ATK is pretty meager, if you’re thinking of going ATK perhaps just run without brakes, problem solved.

    I’ve made lots of frankenbindings, doing so is amusing but usually makes for as many problems as they solve. Or else they’re just a wash.


  34. Nick May 7th, 2018 9:54 am


    Could you please tell me more about problems that you faced making frankenbindings? I’m trying to imagine what diffiulties could it raise, like maybe too big of a ramp or incorrect RV cause of ramp?

  35. Lou Dawson 2 May 7th, 2018 10:01 am

    Mainly ramp, but tech bindings work by combining retention of toe with that of heel, by mixing brands/models you’ll end up with whacked out values. You can also end up with bindings that simply do not work, for example trying to combine rotating tech heel with Vipec toe. Search WildSnow for frankenbinding. Lou

  36. Ted D August 11th, 2018 9:17 am

    Can you please comment on the heel pins?
    Do they rotate as the boot goes into the binding? IE “free pins” as you referred to in the Marker Alpinist article. Thanks

  37. Lou2 August 11th, 2018 2:07 pm

    Hi Ted, let me check, am pretty sure they’re free to rotate. I’m wrong, they don’t rotate (at least not with a pair of vise grip pliers grinched as tight as I could get them). Good on you for considering that, I should have had the info in the review. Pins free to rotate do increase longevity in high use scenario and may make the binding slightly easier to stomp your heel down into, not highly important otherwise. Thanks, Lou

  38. Ted D August 12th, 2018 2:53 pm

    Thanks Lou. Hepled me in deciding on a future purchase.

  39. Dan December 23rd, 2018 11:55 am

    How do you adjust the release values according to skier weight and style?

  40. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2018 12:51 pm

    (Update, I wrote this too fast, corrected. Lou)

    Hi Dan, the short answer is you can’t, a shop has to do it, as the numbers printed on the binding are only approximations.

    The long answer is the DIY process involves finding your settings from a “DIN chart” (or using settings you have determined after years of skiing) then turning the screw on top of the binding heel until you see your desired setting in the window on the rear of the binding — this is the upward release tension adjustment. Then turn a screw at the rear of the binding that adjusts the side tension. Don’t confuse the rear side-release adjustment screw with the length adjustment. Easy to figure out by experiment.

    I’m curious, how did you end up with a ski binding you don’t know how to adjust? The reason I ask is I’m trying to keep tabs on the market out there, how folks are buying things and using them.


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