Tecton Test Bindings Breakage — User Error, Hex, Or?

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 27, 2017      

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Side of stomp pad broke on both bindings, one on both sides.

Side of stomp pad broke on both bindings, one on both sides. User error or more plastic beef needed? We don’t know.

Around here in Colorado, we have a legend called the “curse of the Utes.” Gist is the Ute indian tribe were driven from their ancestral lands, cursed the interlopers and their descendants, and ever since when anything goes wrong we Anglos might as well give up upon we are hexed.

I’m not a big fan of the curse theory when it comes to the Utes as it’s unfair, negative and probably apocryphal, but regarding tech bindings I have to think that something similar and actually real is afoot — though I have no idea where the ski gear voodoo might have originated. Early plate-frame binding designers cranked up against Barthel Low-Tec? Telemarker pin heads sticking needles in dolls? Who knows. All I know is that time after time, year after year, we test touring-tech bindings and they break.

Latest, we got our mitts on retail Fritschi Tecton and mounted up for evaluation. Apparently a plastic shoulder the brake arms drop into was perhaps made from weak plastic, simply not designed with enough beef, or possibly needed more TLC than we were giving. How do we know? It broke — and Fritschi has some suggestions on TLC.

We are told this problem is rare to non existent — which is what bloggers are typically told about these sorts of things — but the Fritschi guys are straight shooters so I’ll believe. Moreover, if you do experience this breakage in the field it’s not a day breaker, the binding remains for the most part functional (though it should be renewed under warranty as soon as possible in our opinion). So consider this a PSA on something to watch out for, as well as a reminder of Fritschi’s binding care recommendations (full disclosure, we did NOT spray with silicon before use, as Fritschi recommends below, so perhaps this was user error?):

Fritschi believes this situation is related to friction between the rubber boot sole and ski brake plate.

From Fritschi, lightly edited: “During the step-in process in a new Tecton 12 or Vipec Evo 12, or likewise other bindings on the market, there is typically friction applied on the ski brake plate, usually due to dry, soft and new non-gliding rubber soles on AT ski touring boots. In this case, the ski brake pushes the heel unit back before the ski brake is moving down. Because of that, the ski brake will be pressed with the associated metal rods in a wider position resulting in more pressure to the heel plate. Therefore, in extremely rare circumstances, the pressure on the heel plate could compromise it. This is not something that would happen after boot is officially clicked into binding, so not a safety issue while skiing. Again, this is the very first we have heard of this situation so I suspect this is extremely rare? In the rare event it happens, Fritschi will of course replace any broken heel plate. The solution or prevention is a simple one – spray silicon on the brake plate and heel plate, this will reduce the unusual high friction of boot rubber on the brake plate. According to buyer instructions, Fritschi strongly recommends spraying silicon on the brake plate right after mounting the binding.

Test Skier Data: Skier 150 lbs with heavy day pack, bindings mounted on 116 width skis using brakes with enough width to function properly, estimated air temperature during failure 15 degrees F, failure occurred while stepping in for downhill.

Fritschi Tecton breakage.

Fritschi Tecton breakage, side of the stomp pad broke of apparently when the brake was stowed for uphill mode.

Microscopic view.

Microscopic view.

Tecton ski touring binding FAQ.

Tecton first look in our studio last winter.

Hanging out with Fritschi at ISPO Munich.

Shop for Tecton

Tecton ski brake installation.


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56 Responses to “Tecton Test Bindings Breakage — User Error, Hex, Or?”

  1. Colin Campbell December 27th, 2017 2:29 pm

    I’ve had multiple problems with vipec bindings. The last issue was with the fragility of the plastic they use to make the ski/walk mode lever on the toe piece shattering. The plastic appears to become very brittle when cold. This is pretty bad given what the products usage environment and the essential nature of this part to the function of the binding.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 December 27th, 2017 2:50 pm

    Thanks for commenting Colin. One thing I know about injection molding design is the mold has to be built to all parts of the object under stress have the correct amount of reinforcement and bolstering, clearly in the case above the mold could easily be modified to make the plastic thicker and perhaps eliminate the type of breakage we detailed in the blog post. I’d say I’m triple 9 sure we’ll see an inline change to the Fritschi molding of this brake part. It’s a small separate part from the rest of the binding so it will be easy to discard current pieces and start supplying stronger ones.

  3. See December 27th, 2017 7:26 pm

    In my opinion, it’s in poor taste (to say the least) to joke about the heinous treatment of native people. The history of injustice against them is real and shameful. (I don’t know anything about the “curse” Lou references.)

  4. See December 27th, 2017 7:33 pm

    But I’m definitely guilty of making comments that aren’t totally tasteful.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 December 27th, 2017 8:09 pm

    Thanks, See, Curse of the Utes is a real thing from what I’ve been told. The plight of native peoples is of course a real thing, I wasn’t joking about it so much as using it as a point of reference about curses and hexes, I think that’s fair, but I’ll look at it. Lou

  6. Hailey December 28th, 2017 1:55 am

    will you please review these? https://www.drift-products.com/ I want to see if they are worth actually buying and they seem super interesting!? I am somewhat new to backcountry skiing and your posts help me out a lot! thanks!

  7. See December 28th, 2017 8:25 am

    From the manufacturer’s website: “Drift boards are designed for flat or uphill travel through terrain with adequate snow. While they can be used on slight declines, they are not intended for high speed downhill use. They do not have metal edges, side cut, or locking heels that would allow a user to make turns or maintain control at high speeds.” Look like slidey snowshoes.

  8. Andy Carey December 28th, 2017 9:04 am

    Drits are reminiscent of Altai’s Hok skis.

  9. JW December 28th, 2017 10:16 am

    I just checked my TecTon stomp pads and all is OK. I think I will eliminate one stomp by locking brakes up by hand when going to walk mode. I have been having ice jam problems in the heels. Once after skinning up and trying to pop heel into ski position. I finally poured some hot tea slowly over the unit and it was fixed for the ski to the car. I sprayed both heels liberally with a PTFE (teflon) spray and all seemed good. Two days later one heel would not lift into walk mode after a powder run. After several tries it finally worked. Any advice from the gurus?

  10. Jim December 28th, 2017 11:02 am

    thanks, subscribed.

  11. John B December 28th, 2017 11:10 am

    Lou & others another thing to keep an eye on is some boot damage that has been reported on TGR and mentioned on Blister’s review website where boots were damaged by taking a knee fall with the toe lever locked. In the two reported cases boots were left with a substantial dent in the upper toe box from contacting the binding after falling.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 December 28th, 2017 1:18 pm

    John, a couple of us covered that yesterday in another comment thread. In my opinion, it’s an IAS issue or click bait, but no doubt could happen. Not every binding is appropriate for every person.

    Previous comments on this issue:

  13. Lou Dawson 2 December 28th, 2017 3:52 pm

    JW, yes, we’ve been observing some obvious icing problems. Liberal use of spray, as well as careful examination of binding before forcing anything that might be blocked by ice, those are key things… Lou

  14. Mitch R. December 28th, 2017 5:15 pm

    Hailey: those Drifts look like a marriage of Altai Hok skis and Russian hunter skis. Not the topic of Lou’s site, which is alpine touring gear. But, don’t feel bad, even telemarkers are banned. ?

  15. See December 28th, 2017 7:10 pm

    Telemarkers, maybe, but not snowboarders. Based on a very cursory look at the drift website, I’d say they’re making “snowshoes for snowboarders” who don’t want to use a splitboard.

  16. XXX_er December 28th, 2017 9:17 pm

    I think its been done already, the Yupi ski shoes by some guys from whistler >10 years ago, aluminium deck with skin glued directly to the bottom, plastic bindings are plenty. Yupi went under but you still see them in garage sales around whistler/north van, an old GF had a pair and so I tried them, they were ok on soft snow but not so good on crust


    She claims to be the 1st person to telemark on them and shortly after that they did this ^^ video

  17. David December 28th, 2017 10:03 pm

    I had a similar problem to Colin’s with my late 1st generation VIpecs (the toe lever broke in two). Black Diamond immediately sent me 2nd generation replacements for both toe pieces (the entire toe piece, not just the lever). I’ve had no issues since. I have often wondered, however, if the metal parts, particularly the heel risers, on Dynafits are more robust and durable than the plastic ones on the Vipecs.

  18. Jack December 29th, 2017 7:59 am

    Russian hunting skis sound cool. They might make good “my snow machine broke down and its getting cold and dark” skis.

  19. JW December 29th, 2017 10:36 am

    This is probably not news to you but we just discovered that the new ‘snub nose’ Dynafit boots will not work in the Vipec or Tecton bindings. Any other issues to be aware of? Any tips or thoughts on toe pin width adjustment? The newer ones seem to have vert robust thread locker. So I gave up.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2017 11:02 am

    Yeah, not news, no boot is for everyone, no binding is for everyone, no stir fry ingredient mix is for everyone (smile). As for the toe pins, in all our testing I’ve not found one instance where I need to adjust pin width, but I’d imagine it’ll happen here and there, heat is usually the way to reverse thread locker. Lou

  21. Karl Henize January 1st, 2018 8:33 am

    Thanks for publishing. Does Fritschi or Wildsnow have a specific silicone spray product recommendation?

  22. Lou Dawson 2 January 1st, 2018 8:59 am

    Not that critical, just grab any 100% silicone spray from hardware store. All 14 brands are probably made in the same factory in China. It also wouldn’t hurt to rub some alpine ski wax on the brake pedal pad, since the silicon will last about as long as sidewalk chalk in a Seattle rain.

  23. Travis January 1st, 2018 10:40 pm


  24. Giancarlo Ferretti January 2nd, 2018 3:39 am

    Good morning, I apologize for my incorrect English. I did two trips with the Tecton 12 mounted on Elan Ibex Carbon 84 mm and so far all good. But if the heel should break I would have a “crazy” idea: mount in place the heel Marker Kingpin so I would no longer have problems and even more safety (toe and heel both swivel like the old Tyrolia Total Diagonal). Is this solution possible in your opinion? Thanks for the reply. Giancarlo Ferretti .- Italy

  25. Swiss Hoser January 3rd, 2018 1:05 pm

    I don’t completely buy Fritschi’s position on this.
    Look closely at the first picture and focus on where Lou’s thumb is. Notice the scuff mark on the inside front corner of the broken piece. This indicates where the brake rod has been making repeated contact, forcing the heel plate outward until it broke.
    My Tectons show identical scuff marks but have not yet broken. If your Tectons show these marks too, you can test this. Secure your ski to a bench and activate the brake by hand. You’ll see the rod making contact where the scuff mark is. You don’t need to apply a boot sole to achieve this.
    Now look closely at the corner of the heel plate as you activate the brake. Observe how the heel plate deflects outward as the rod makes contact and it’s not hard to imagine Lou’s Tecton failure. It’s just too tight in there and that’s how it breaks. I’m sure that cold, snow, ice and a good stomp are contributing factors.
    I regularly spray the bindings with silicone but I believe it’s just a matter of time until my heel plate fractures like in the photo. (Unless I grind some of that inside corner away to provide some additional clearance.)

  26. Lou Dawson 2 January 3rd, 2018 1:41 pm

    Swiss, I think the part needs to be stronger, but have the same tight clearance for the brake to pop down in to the touring position. Fortunately for Fritschi they can re-make the part for very little money, it’s a tiny piece of the brake mechanism, easily swapped. I’m eager to compare this to the Evo, trying to get that done today. Lou

  27. Cody January 4th, 2018 12:48 pm

    There is a few things that rub me the wrong way with the toe dent issue.

    1. The selector switch nor does any copy say it’s a lock out lever. It says it’s a “walk” mode.
    2. When did that toe bummer stop releasing your boot in the case of a forward fall in walk mode? That’s certainly what my second gen. vipec’s do. If it’s not doing that is it only there for when you’re skiing.
    3. No mention of a warning about this issue.

  28. Giancarlo Ferretti January 4th, 2018 1:28 pm

    Dear Mr. Lou, no answer to my question about the possibility (certainly only theoretical) of matching the Kingpin heel to the Tecton 12 toe cap?

  29. See January 4th, 2018 7:11 pm

    I’ll give it a shot… Tecton toe releases when boot toe is displaced laterally. Lateral displacement at the heel twists the toe but does not always move it sideways, so a Tecton toe/ Kingpin heel would not function like a regular tech binding in lateral release. The Tecton toe pins aren’t designed to cam out when the heel pivots. Apples and oranges.

  30. See January 5th, 2018 8:17 am

    “Pivot” is probably the wrong word for what the boot heel does in a traditional tech binding lateral release. In this type of release, sideways force overcomes the spring in the binding heel causing it to rotate, which leads to the boot twisting out of the toe piece. My understanding is that the Tecton toe piece would be very resistant to allowing the boot toe to twist out in such a situation, so the Kingpin heel wouldn’t offer any additional functionality. But I’m just speculating about this. I haven’t skied Tectons or Kingpins.

  31. Lou Dawson 2 January 5th, 2018 8:32 am

    Interestingly, yesterday we extensively carpet tested a G3 ION as to how it behaves when toe is locked in touring mode, or not locked, in terms of what happens in a knee fall type situation. It does take some force for the boot to pop out of the binding, but it does come out before damaging the boot or pulling binding out of ski. That was good to see, as the ION is a strong binding with lots of holding power.

    Ferretti, sure, I could do that once I’m back in my studio. Might be fun, certainly interesting. But keep in mind that with a rotating binding heel unit it’s difficult or impossible to set a release value low enough to reliably protect knee tissue while still having enough resistance to the “heel thrust” forces most skiers exert while turning, especially in the case of strong aggressive skiers. Thus, I could run that Kingpin heel with Vipec toe, but to no real effective purpose.


  32. Lou Dawson 2 January 5th, 2018 8:37 am

    Speaking of the brake unit breakage as depicted in this blog post, I spoke to a shop owner who said they’d had seen this with one customer, so it’s not just us. But, it sounds like it’s not a pervasive problem. Nonetheless, I would be very surprised if Fritschi does not change the mold a bit for that part as it appears adding a bit of thickness to the plastic would be very easy and probably solve the problem. Lou

  33. Chris Schultheis January 5th, 2018 9:34 am

    Lou, I have a nice pair of large Baron bindings that I want to put on my daughter’s new skis. Her boot shell size is 305mm, which is the minimum size for the large Markers. Will I regret doing this? Thank you in advance.

  34. Swiss Hoser January 5th, 2018 9:53 am

    Just got my Vipec back from Fritschi after its 3rd overhaul. Top marks and my sincere gratitude to Fritschi for the way they stand behind their products.
    I can now directly compare the Vipec brake arrangement with the Tecton:
    The Vipec is a sleeker design in the way that it stows the brake, especially for touring. It cannot fail in the same way that the Tecton can, as described in this blog.
    There are two features that hold the brake rod down when in touring position. In both designs, the brake rod has to force its way past these features due to the tight fit. For the Tecton, it’s a case of brute force, leaving scuff marks on the piece that eventually breaks.
    The Vipec is more elegant in this regard: more compliance, less beef. The hold-down features are flexible and easily deflect to allow the brake to stow without any scuffing. They then return to their home position where they retain the brake in touring mode. You can actually feel their springiness with your finger.
    It will be interesting to see where Fritschi goes with this.

  35. See January 5th, 2018 10:31 am

    GF, I have actually skied those Tyrolias, and my recollection is that the heels only released to the side if there was also some upward movement at the heel, for the reason Lou mentioned— retention when subjected to “heel thrust forces.”

  36. Jim Milstein January 5th, 2018 1:15 pm

    Cody, I too have 2nd gen Vipecs, and the toe in walk mode does not release when the heel is free and the boot pivots forward. This is by design. When traversing uphill on an icy slope, your downhill ski may slip, causing the boot toe to roll forward. You do not want to lose the ski in that situation.

    I have forgot to put the toes in walk mode and have regretted it on a steep icy uphill. Luckily, I use leashes, not brakes, and the ski did not go skittering down the steep icy slope, as it would with so-called brakes. They do not brake in all the conditions you need them to. Brakes are also unhelpful when a ski is buried and lost in deep soft snow.

    B & D leashes are my choice. Attach at the trailhead; remove at the trailhead. Naturally, I have modified them.

  37. XXX_er January 6th, 2018 11:11 am

    ” Lou, I have a nice pair of large Baron bindings that I want to put on my daughter’s new skis. Her boot shell size is 305mm, which is the minimum size for the large Markers. Will I regret doing this? Thank you in advance ”

    Adj the screw until its flush with the housing, if it is they should fit her boot

    For touring the Baron is not a lightweight binding if you/she cares, I have 2 pair I bought on used skis that I have never used in tour mode cuz I got other light touring setups but they will accomadate a DIN or AT boot and release quite reliably

    if she is on the lighter side i’ve seen the brakes on marker F-10’s be hard for a small female to step into ??

  38. cseilern January 7th, 2018 4:41 pm

    @swiss, i have not noticed damage yet on my tecton brakes, but i totally agree with your description of the brake is applying pressure to the plastic part.

    it looks like it won’t be a huge issue though if the part does brake in the middle of a tour, so i am not getting too stressed about it at this point.

    And i also agree with you on these brakes lacking somewhat in refinement and elegance – they are clunky and dont retract inward when in skiing mode. So even with the correct width brakes, I constantly touch/catch left and right brakes when I ski down on piste (I ski old style, with knees quasi glued together :°)), sometimes with hilarious consequences for onlookers.

  39. Giancarlo Ferretti January 8th, 2018 12:31 pm

    Dear Lou, I talked about the matter with an expert friend and shop owner where he rented skis, snowshoes, etc. He read the post and in his opinion the thing is strange, also because the breaks affect the two skis. He says that the cause could perhaps be the ice formed on the heel. I am using skis and so far no problem even though I have actually noticed that ice is formed very easily and because of the particular shape of the heel it is not easy to eliminate it. Greetings.

  40. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 12:50 pm

    I spoke with another dealer, he said he’d seen this happen once so far. My impression is the breakage is not common but nonetheless we’d like to see the mold of that heel part changed a bit so the plastic is thicker in the area of breakage. Lou

  41. Giancarlo Ferretti January 10th, 2018 11:04 am

    Dear Lou, I resume the post for the last time remembering that you wrote that maybe you would try to test the Kingpin heel with the Tecton tip. If you have time and desire to do it would be an interesting experiment to see if the safety of this particular assembly increases, decreases or remains the same. If you do, I will read you with pleasure. Thanks and best regards.

  42. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2018 11:46 am

    Hi Giancarlo, I did this a year ago, search site for “frankenbinding” the combination does NOT function in any meaningful way since the Tecton/Evo/Vipec toe does NOT rotate, and thus the boot heel can not release to the side out of the Kingpin. Lou

  43. Richard January 24th, 2018 1:19 pm

    Is anyone running the Tecton without the brakes? If so, is the anything more to it that removing the metal arms and adding a leash?

  44. John March 6th, 2018 3:06 am

    I have experiensed the exact same problem with my Tecton bindings 😥 . The heel plate broke at the same place. I live in Norway , so i dont think it is the curse of the Utes causing this to happen.
    Tecton replaces the heel plate for me, but I would strongly recomend them to redesign this part. Maybe even manufacture it in alloy?

  45. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2018 6:37 am

    Curse of the trolls? In any case, thanks for chiming in, I was of course told some time ago that this problem was so rare as to be nearly nothing. I don’t believe that, appreciate the confirmation. Lou

  46. Lee Lau March 9th, 2018 9:02 pm

    I’ve broken three brake stomp pads.

    BD’s still telling customers to coat brakes with white lithium grease to avoid brake pads breaking on EVO and TECTON – warranty response below. That doesn’t work well when its cold. The best advice they could give is to tell customers to use their hands to press the brakes into the brake pads and not simply stomp on them with their feet which is advice I have already offered and which someone else has mentioned upthread

    In the local Whistler backcountry shop there are no less then 3 customers who have broken brake pads so this is by no means isolated. One was so frustrated that I took my brake pad off my binding and installed it for him – poor guy just wanted to ski and came here from Ohio. The Whistler shop is going to keep 10 spare brake pads on hand.

    As for the forward fall/knee fall boot-denting issue- http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/on/demandware.static/-/Sites-bdel/default/dw8cde7156/tech-pdfs/checked_compatibility%20boots_2017-18.pdf

    The PDF above also addresses boot binding compatibility

    These bindings are good. BD is doing themselves a disservice by dismissing the forward fall issue and the brake pad breakage issue as extremely rare isolated incidents

  47. Steve Fekete March 15th, 2018 1:47 pm

    Was on a recent backcountry trip — I broke one brake pad, and my buddy broke the pad on both skis. Had to strap up the brake the rest of the trip. It was cold (-20C), but skiing is a cold weather sport. As well, I had constant problems with icing of the heal piece (as did my buddy) The need to “baby” the binding with PTFE or white grease is ridiculous — I regret purchasing this binding, and if I could return I would. $800 down the drain it seems.

  48. Karl Shewmake March 21st, 2018 2:55 pm

    Hey guys and gals, what’s the BC word on the Altia Hoks or the OAC Kars?

  49. Francois March 30th, 2018 11:13 am

    It’s been the third time this winter that my fix (Fritschi Tecton 12 bie nding) broke.

    the silicon dosen’t work. I can tell you they have a problem with that fix. don’t buy it.

  50. JAH March 30th, 2018 1:42 pm

    What changed with the brake pad design from The Vipec Gen 1 and Black to the Evo that now is causing the broken parts? It wasn’t a issue in the first years of the Vipec but now is very common breakage in the Evo/Tecton.

  51. Swiss Hoser March 30th, 2018 1:56 pm

    JAH, I explained this earlier in the thread.
    See my comment January 5th, 2018 9:53 am.

  52. JAH March 30th, 2018 2:20 pm

    I understand the design difference but it appears that there has been breakage this season with the EVO brake pads not just the Tecton.

  53. mike April 26th, 2018 11:04 pm

    Hi, I posted a lengthy gripe about my Tecton 12 bindings on the other thread regarding the toe / boot issue. Just checking in here to make sure that I stay in the loop if there is a recall on these. I feel like the bindings should be reliable and durable for $650.00!
    Thanks, Mike

  54. Chris April 27th, 2018 1:16 am

    Hi Guys!
    I have had feedback from a guide who has broken 4 stopper pass this season on his Tectons – he still loves them though. Seems that this issue is borderline epidemic.

    And on the subject of stoppers, the ones on the tecton also suck because they don’t retract inward as they come upwards. And since I ski old style (knees glued together) , I often manage to do insta mono ski as the stoppers get stuck together!

    This said, even with the sucky stoppers, fishy compatibility and fidgety handling, I love the things because they are proper bindings that are light enough for many many vertical metres.

  55. Peter February 10th, 2019 12:54 pm

    As an FYI, this exact same break happened to me this morning a couple miles into a tour on a Vipec Evo 12. Break looks almost 100% identical to the picture from Lou’s tecton.

    It happened while transitioning, and was maybe my 12th time using the binding. I did not know about the claimed silicone fix, but considering the comments and the exact same replica of the cracked plastic, this definitely feels more than random to me.

  56. T March 12th, 2019 7:24 am


    I’ve had 2 stomp pad failures this season and the brakes tend to deploy when climbing. On my last tour they deployed over 10 times on the uphill, annoying. I’m considering either removing the brakes and using leashes or replacing the bindings with Salomon MTN/G3 IONS.

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