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.
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.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.