G3 Finds the Lost Ski Binding of ZED

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 8, 2018      

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.)

The new ZED by G3 is based on the  Lost Binding of Z, that storied apex of design that  only lived in legend -- until the persistence of G3 paid off.

The new ZED 12 ski touring binding by G3 is based on the Lost Binding of Z, that storied apex of design that only lived in legend — until the persistence of G3 paid off.

Ski touring gear archaeologists across the world sifted through dusty parts bins, dug like starving gold prospectors through European industrial dumping grounds, and even excavated through the sifting bone dust of ancient tombs. The search at times appeared endless — ultimately taking nearly half a century.

All quested for the Lost Binding of Z, a fabled amalgam, rumored to have been created by mad engineer Mac Ztrif 50 years ahead of his time. A man who in lieu of modern computerized machining would carve perfect prototype ski binding parts using only a sharp pocket knife and dense knotwood harvested from secret groves in the high Alps of Slovenia.

I thought this was BS, but reliable insider sources tell us G3 had secret agents seeded throughout the world. When a grizzled grave robber excavated what proved to be the Z, the Canadians were as quick on the patent licensing bid as they are on their hockey blades, thus snatching this amazing technology from the hands of their competitors.

Using the Lost Z binding as a point of departure, in little more than 12 months the Vancouver vanguard had a modern version of the ZED 12 ski touring binding they now announce, with plans to retail beginning fall of 2018. What blows my mind is how similar this is to the ION, only I lost count of the subtle improvements. Yeah, it took fifty years, but we have finally reached ZED!

ZED toe is a stripped down and nicely appointed ION, with the same benefits of strong toe wing pressure and geometry that resists accidental release.

ZED 12 toe is a stripped down and nicely appointed ION, with the same benefits.

What’s remarkable about the ZED is how close it is in engineering and appearance to the G3 ION. Indeed, the ZED toe unit is exactly a stripped down ION toe with the same excellent geometry and jaw closing force.

Heel unit is quite different, however, it being significantly lighter, but more, integrating both sideways and upwards release value adjustment into one spring and one adjustment. This is not easy, but clearly the way any lighter weight modern tech binding heel should be configured.

Heel unit is more of a departure,  it's mostly composite material.

Heel unit is more of a departure. It’s mostly composite material boasting such benefits as one screw adjustment for both side and upwards release, a full 10 millimeters of ski flex compensation, and 30 mm of boot length adjustment (62 mm range for demo plate, at a horrible penalty of 5 grams.

Viewed from bottom.

ZED heel unit as viewed from bottom, showing how the optional brake attaches and so forth. Brake install-remove requires removal of binding base from ski, but it looks overall excellent thus worth the hassle as compared to other solutions with mixed results.

Brake installed, stowed in touring position.

Brake installed, stowed in touring position.

Rotating portion of binding base presses against metal nib to lock brake for touring.

Rotating portion of binding base presses against metal nib to lock brake for touring.

ZED heel and brake.

ZED heel and brake.

Mounted without brake.

Mounted without brake.

Boot length adjustment track, same as most alpine bindings.

Boot length adjustment track, same as most alpine bindings.

As with ION, G3 goes beyond what would be required by TUV certification.

As with ION, G3 goes beyond what would be required by TUV certification in that each and every binding’s release-retention force is measured, _before_ the adjustment scale indicator mark is laser etched. The indicator mark is then placed in position so it matches up to the correct number on the scale for a given release value. Result is clearly one of the most accurately calibrated bindings on the market. (Notice in this photo how the white indicator marks do not match position from binding to binding, that’s because they’re positioned where they belong, not where someone in the art department decided to paint them.

This is one of the G3 calibration stations where they measure actual release values of every single binding. Each binding is barcoded and serial numbered. The laser etcher reads the barcode and thus knows where to

This is one of the G3 calibration stations where they measure actual release values of every single binding. Each binding is barcoded and serial numbered. The laser etcher reads the barcode and thus knows where to “paint” the adjustment indicator mark. Impressive.

True to WildSnow tradition, we did a teardown with the G3 engineers.

True to WildSnow tradition, we did a teardown with the G3 engineers. This is the heel with top plate and springs removed, showing the tiny metal frame which moves against the grey plastic cam lobes, thus reversing the direction of force so the springs can be used for both vertical and lateral release. If that’s confusing, you are not alone. Takeaway, this is adult mechanical engineering.

Heel slightly rotated, showing cam lobes riding against metal frame.

Heel slightly rotated, showing cam lobes riding against metal frame.

Heel tower cutaway, showing how upper portion keys into bottom, it's  wide and solid.

Heel tower cutaway, showing how upper portion keys into bottom; it’s wide and solid.

Exploded view.

Exploded view.

Another cutaway view, we like the heel unit,  impressive mechanical engineering.

Another cutaway view. We like the heel unit — impressive mechanical engineering.

Top plate his held down with thin screws into plastic, clearly this could be a weak point as we've seen  countless other times in the industry.

Top plate is held down with thin screws into plastic. Clearly this could be a weak point as we’ve seen countless other times in the industry. G3 engineers showed us results of “can opener” testing during which they rip the top plate off the binding. They assured us that any fatigue of the screws or plastic required an enormous number of test cycles at normal skier weights, and the plastic failed at high force levels before the screws. That’s encouraging but we’ll need to see early adopter consumer testing before we’re entirely convinced.

With top plate removed, upper part is similar to other classic tech bindings.

With top plate removed, upper part is similar to other classic tech bindings. Secret sauce is the cam system as shown in photos above, that allows use of one screw for both vertical and lateral release-retention values adjustment. Note that as with ION, all ZED adjustments are done with pozidrive #3 — brilliant. All mounting screws are pozi stainless, not our favorite (too fragile in our opinion) but they look nice and don’t corrode.

Bonus photo.

Bonus photo. If you were in Chile last summer you might have seen a G3 binding tester with a calculator and load cell riding these $3,000 one-off machined protos. Be glad we have things like injection molding and mass production to bring the price down somewhere in the ecosphere as $449.00 with brakes (see below for brake sizes).

Other thoughts:
The astute consumer of ski touring bindings will no doubt ask “why not just ski an ION?” Several reasons you might go one way or the other on that. Firstly, with ION LT (no brake) you’ll pay a weight penalty of about 114 grams (4 ounces) per foot, which is not insignificant. G3 says the ION might be more suitable for hard charging while ZED is clearly more on the ski touring side of the equation, and thus you get a smidge of durability for the weight price. I’m not entirely convinced that’s a factor for most shoppers, though ION parts such as the toe unit chassis and heel top plate are obviously stronger. A more subtle difference is that ION ingeniously locks out its ski flex compensation while in touring mode, thus preventing possible wear inducing fore/aft movement of the heel unit while in touring mode. Also, as I alluded to elsewhere, due to the virtually zero ramp of the ZED, the heel lifters are probably slightly lower than ION (though we do need to do some measuring on that).

In the end, if ZED proves out, that might simply be proof that ION could be lighter. We shall see. My favorite thing about ION is unlike ZED’s admittedly clever one-screw release value adjustment, you have two independent adjustments and can thus tune release values — something I’ve found quite useful in convincing tech bindings to perform at “chart” release-retention values (and as one commenter mentioned, is useful if you find the brake might be influencing your lateral release resistance). ZED reduces weight and enhances simplicity by combining adjustments into one, but everything comes at a price.

Another thing some of you might care about, ION provides 22 mm boot length adjustment while ZED offers 30. In my view that’s significant. More, you can run ZED with longer demo plate, thus enjoying 62 mm of boot length adjustment for a few grams weight increase per binding. That’s impressive, in fact it’s nothing less than proof that concepts gleaned from the Lost Binding of Z are as timely now as they were when Mac Ztrif whittled that first prototype so long ago.

Conclusion: To say we are excited about this binding is to put it mildly. It appears to be a wonderful contribution, and will no doubt rise to the top choices in the mob of classic tech bindings you’ll be able to choose from beginning fall of 2018. Wildsnow did ski the ZED a few days ago, we’ll report on that in a separate blog post. This is clearly one of the lightest tech binding yet to offer such a robust combination of features, e.g., fully adjustable release to RV 12; flex compensation; wide range boot length adjustment; 3 climbing lift positions including heel flat on ski; optional brake; G3 toe jaw retention features. And, it’s designed and assembled in North America.

Let’s do the numbers:

— “ZED” zero theme continues in the ZED’s ramp angle. Check out our chart. Ramp angle of this binding is virtually zero! That’ll keep some of you happy, while some skiers may want the heel stacked a few millimeters to get the ramp feel they’re used to (me). Bear in mind that binding ramp influences how high the climbing heel lift will feel, in this case we suspect you’re not going to feel stilted to the stratosphere when invoking the high lift, measurement on that is coming.

— Verified weights, retail version:
—- Toe 128 grams (4.5 oz) no crampon mount, with screws.
—- Heel 246 grams (8.7 oz) with screws.
—- Brake, 115 mm, 86 grams (3.0 oz)

— Available brakes: 85,100,115,130 mm.

— Release values (RV) 5-12.

— Ski flex compensation 10 mm (known as “forward pressure” to those who don’t understand).

— Boot length adjustment range 30 mm, 62 with demo plate at only 25 grams weight increase per binding (pre production weight).

— Mounting screw pattern same as ION, wide, heel 36.5 mm, toe 40 mm.

ZED trivia: We couldn’t help but ponder the symbolism of ZED. Obviously, the word signifies Canada, where it’s a matter of national pride to utter “zed” instead of “zee” in speech. But consider that Z can mean zero, and this coming season G3 will be for the first time in their history make zero telemark bindings — no doubt due in part to the resources they’ve expended on ZED. More, consider that ZED combines both My (vertical) and Mz (lateral) release under one mechanical, thus bringing us one setting for both y and z. Lastly, for 2018 anyway this could be the last word in lightweight yet fully functional tech bindings, and what is last is sometimes first. Z — Zero — G3 ZED.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


102 Responses to “G3 Finds the Lost Ski Binding of ZED”

  1. Lee January 8th, 2018 6:29 am

    Heel post is plastic? I am not afraid of plastic in my binding, but that would give me pause.

  2. Matus January 8th, 2018 7:42 am

    Nice but: Atomic/Salomon is made of metal, is lighter and has better brake.

  3. Frame January 8th, 2018 8:17 am

    That demo plate weight is impressive and must be great for those testing and renting (or going from normal toe shelf to shark nose)

    One small correction. You mention the correct Canadian (commonwealth, English) phonetic pronunciation of the letter Z, but forgot to phonetically write the incorrect US pronunciation of ‘Zee’. In NZ we probably say it Zid… ;o)

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

    Thanks Frame, I’ll look at how we write that.

    Matus, unless my recollection is off, it seems nearly all serious breakage of tech bindings over the past twenty years or so has been metal parts? Plastic is fine when engineered correctly and molded up to specifications. So is metal…

    I like the Salomon-Atomic binding as well, but the U-spring release is problematic. ZED, with the G3 toe geometry and fully adjustable 5-12 RV, is very attractive for those reasons. Zero ramp angle will be interesting to many skiers as well.


  5. Matus January 8th, 2018 9:12 am

    You are right Lou. Never heard of any problems with G3 plastic parts. But feeling and seeing metal parts just make me feel better 🙂

    Does U spring have some different/worse release pattern comparing to standard two piece spring?

  6. Eric steig January 8th, 2018 9:45 am

    One thing I don’t get about G3 and Dynafit bindings, vs e.g. Atomic or Plum.
    Why 3-position rotation, rather than four?

  7. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 10:18 am

    WildSnow tester staff reminds me ZED is clearly one of the top lightest tech bindings to include all of the following:
    – adjustable vertical and lateral release
    – robust fore-aft size adjustment
    – flat-on ski walk mode
    – 3 heel riser positions
    – ski flex compensation
    – optional brake

  8. jbo January 8th, 2018 10:36 am

    Very cool release calibration step before printing! Looks like it is tuned sans brake. It would be sweet to see a published offset range when the brake is equipped. We see similar brake designs without AFDs increase the lateral release and reduce the vertical (by pushing up on the heel). The difference can be significant; you may remember the Dynafit Vertical series had softer lateral springs that shipped with the brake kits to partially account for it. With one adjustment screw on the ZED you wouldn’t be able to fine tune for this lateral/vertical divergence. Curious with the focus on calibration that there is no anti-friction device on the brake.

  9. jbo January 8th, 2018 10:38 am

    Lou – when measured with the brake, the Hagan Core is lighter.

  10. jbo January 8th, 2018 10:49 am

    Oh, and without the brake, the Kreuzspitze EL is lighter by a good margin.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 10:54 am

    Thanks JBO, Raider/Core actually is pretty impressive in what it offers for the weight. I should probably reword our ZED kudos a bit (smile). If I’m not mistaken the ATK also offers 27 mm boot length adjustment, in stock configuration. Lou

  12. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 11:04 am

    Jbo, in my opinion it’s nearly worthless trying to standardize the influence of ski brake on binding release with ski touring boots. Reason being no standardized boot soles, changes induced by wet-dry conditions, and varied influence of afd whether sliding or not. As always if a user is at all concerned (most don’t seem to be), release needs to be checked for each rig specifically, as I think you told me you do at your shop? G3 goes against this by doing such careful calibration at factory, which I like but seems like a heavy demand on their resources when the accepted method is to wait till the exact boot/binding/brake combo can be tested and set in the shop, to the exact numbers the user wants. Definitely two ways of looking at this — provided the user actually cares and doesn’t just go to eleven. Lou

  13. Cody January 8th, 2018 11:40 am

    Man I was hoping for something with actual innovation from G3 🙁

  14. jbo January 8th, 2018 11:52 am

    Lou – Exactly right. In this case with “pre-calibration” and only one adjustment screw it would be nice to be deliberate regarding the brake’s effect. The Atomic/Salomon tech binding is in a similar situation with the only recourse being a macro spring swap to account for diverging values. The effect is more significant at lower values (e.g. women’s spring). The Dynafit Superlite 2.0 and Speed/SpeedFit have independently adjustable lateral release which is better at accounting for brake influence, albeit imperfectly. I feel this issue is glossed over in order to check a box for a brake feature which may expand the market. In my mind all the bindings in this “low-fat” category work best without brakes. You’re plan of not falling is still best!

    Also can’t help but think the ZED would be better off as a 4-10 binding instead of 5-12 (the ION LT 12 works well there). That should be an easy model to add though.

  15. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 12:06 pm

    Well shoot, turns out the catalog weight I got was wrong. Instead of 310 per binding it’s 342 grams! That changes my take a bit for sure, apologies, that’s what I get for being one of the many panting bloggers too quick on the trigger. 342 reinforces your comments Jbo. Lou

  16. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 12:16 pm

    Jbo, I did a tattered napkin sketch of what I think will be available in tech binding models next fall, seems like there could be upwards of 100? What do you think?

  17. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 12:29 pm

    Cody, in all seriousness, tech bindings have evolved to the point where they’re close to alpine bindings in terms of innovation. Meaning what we’ll mostly be seeing is incremental improvements, especially since innovation is constrained by the boot fittings. For anything radical to happen with innovation, the boot fittings would need to be redesigned along with the rest of the system. Trab has tried to do that, with some success, but they didn’t get far out enough in my opinion for what they did to be considered radical, though it is appreciated. Lou

  18. SteveR January 8th, 2018 12:41 pm

    This afternoon My wife broke the AFD on her IONs for the third time. Each time the binding has broken in normal use (no falls, no cliff hucking) Please tell me that the new binding doesn’t have a sliding AFD!

    Zero ramp gets our vote as she likes skiing like that and I like the idea of not having to manufacture 10mm toe shims.

  19. Michael January 8th, 2018 12:43 pm

    Looks great. Has everything I would want in a general (not race weight) binding at a very competitive weight (on par with the Salomon MTN): adjustable release values, 3 riser positions, and BSL adjustment. If it proves to be durable G3 should have a winner.

  20. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 12:48 pm

    I like sliding AFDs on tech binding brakes about as much as I like a glob of something else on my shoe (smile). They’ve been an incredible waste of resources, as well as I don’t recall one that’s not been fragile.

    I don’t remember the ZED AFD being a slider, but I’ll check.

  21. Tom January 8th, 2018 1:37 pm

    What’s the ramp delta head- toe? Same as standard ION?

  22. Tom January 8th, 2018 1:39 pm

    Ooops, I meant ramp delta toe – heel, of course…

  23. Lou2 January 8th, 2018 2:26 pm

    Ramp is zed, zero, didn’t i mention that?

  24. jbo January 8th, 2018 3:04 pm

    Lou – We’re definitely getting spoiled with choices!

  25. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 3:28 pm

    All, I’ll add a few climbing aid heights into our ramp chart. Looks like the ZED high climbing aid is 9 mm lower than ION and 21 mm lower than a classic Dynafit TLT. Scroll chart to right to see the climbing lift heights.

    I express the climbing aid heights in “amount above toe pins” rather than an angle, this results in numbers that should be used for comparison between bindings. This should be very clear to those of you who like high heel lifts, for example in the case of TLT vs ZED all you have to do is visualize your boot heel being 2 centimeters higher, which is significant.


  26. XXX_er January 8th, 2018 4:33 pm

    Unless you are some kind of Rando racer, I just don’t get the U spring bindings so at least the vertical and lateral values on th ZED are adjustable but I need to go one higher on the vertical release than the lateral and it doesnt look like the ZED does this?

    yeah the RAD 2 is also using a plastic post so i guess G3 thot they should follow suite?

  27. Nick January 8th, 2018 8:35 pm

    So they calibrate the release scale on each binding. Makes me wonder how much the release values (on G3 and other tech bindings) change as the cam lobes etc wear with use, let alone if you do something like replace a spring (as I had to do on my Dynafits after the adjustment screw worked loose and fell off). Not that it really worries me as after adjustment to reduce pre-releases I ski them on a higher numeric setting than my alpine bindings.

  28. CR January 8th, 2018 9:44 pm

    Not that impressed with new tech review, when I’ve got issues with brand new Ion 12s. Maybe I’m feeling a bit bitter, I’ve had my brand new ION 12’s out for 2 tours and had the right ski heel auto rotate from walk to ski mode 3 times – twice on one uptrack. Am I doing something wrong. Both heel pieces were rotated to the right (per the G3 video instructions for right handed turn heel right). Maybe pins should be on the inside?

  29. Jim Milstein January 8th, 2018 11:02 pm

    Agree with jbo that brakes can add friction and unreliability to binding function. Given that a ski with a brake can still be lost in bottomless powder or can skitter down a steep hard slope, what’s the point? Lou’s solution, Do Not Fall, is best and is the one I emulate, but with stretchy leashes as backup.

  30. Mac January 9th, 2018 5:33 am

    I must be missing something, while the ZED looks like a fine binding, I don’t really see how it is significantly different than G3’s ION offerings (aside from a very small weigh saving).
    Any chance of a comparative evaluation between the ZED, ION and the Backland to highlight the differences and the best applications of the respective bindings?

  31. Matus January 9th, 2018 6:03 am

    @Mac I would say that ZED is aimed towards weight sensitive skiers. It saves weight significantly comparing to ION (200g/piece is a lot). ION is not considered elight.

    Atomic is a different story: simple, more metal, different brakes, a tiny bit lighter than ZED – great for someone who does not need to care about heel adjustments (me)

  32. Kjetil January 9th, 2018 6:59 am

    CR: check out this video from G3 – auto rotation tips starts at 1:28.


    I had some auto rotation issues myself in the beginning with my Ion LT 12. Having the pins facing in eliminated the issues for me.

    Regarding the ZED: Looks somewhat promising, but those thin screws into the plastic is a strange decision. I have sheered off maybe 8 top plates on Dynafits that have the same solution, and know more people who have had the same issue. If G3 haven’t had any trouble with the ION top plate, I don’t understand why they would change to a weaker solution?

  33. XXX_er January 9th, 2018 11:13 am

    ” Regarding the ZED: Looks somewhat promising, but those thin screws into the plastic is a strange decision. I have sheered off maybe 8 top plates on Dynafits that have the same solution ”

    This is a good point and I agree

    Exploding top caps could happen to just about every RAD1 binding currently out there, which is why RAD2 clips under tabs on the heel piece before being screwed down and ION uses machine screws coming up from the bottom into the top plate

    I’m not sure why they would re-use a design that has had so many problems??

  34. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2018 11:29 am

    Xer, the design of using 4 thin screws in plastic to attach classic tech binding top plate is perhaps the most fraught thing ever in the history of these things. Even the early Dynafit TLT-Comfort-Tristep would experience the screws simply breaking now and then, Plum had theirs break, and then we had the epic with Radical top plates exploding… I’ve hated every minute of that stuff — would much rather blog positive.

    So yeah, this is a legit concern with ZED.

    BUT, good engineering can solve such problems. G3 has an excellent QC program that involves brutal cyclic testing, and they’ve had field testers out on the ZED for a while now. Nonetheless, as with any tech binding I’d recommend folks would only purchase this binding if they’re comfortable with being part of the great ski tour binding consumer testing program of the Western World. It’s cool, fun to blog about, will be enjoyable to test — but.

  35. XXX_er January 9th, 2018 11:58 am

    I personaly never seen the problems on tech bindings using a post style heel lift

    IME the rampant screw breakage started on RAD1 with the flippy lifter design which created a triangle with NO hypotenuse … NO support

    AND the ZED has flippy lifters so hopefully the screws are very long, very strong

  36. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2018 11:58 am

    For grins, anyone care to calculate the force that top plate has to endure when stomped on in touring mode (to keep it simple, no leverage)?

    The assumptions I start with, skier dropping heel in a sort of “free fall” motion:
    Skier weight 90 Kg
    Heel drop 10 centimeters
    Impact time .5 second
    — Result in the skier heel hitting binding at 1.3889 meters per second

    Impact force calculated using this website:

    1112 Newtons = ~113 kilos

    So for cyclic testing, to achieve this G3 should be dropping something like a 100 Kg weight over and over again from a height of 10 centimeters, or less weight from more height, or?

    In any case, my calcs perhaps show why binding top plate screws tend to fail.

  37. XXX_er January 9th, 2018 12:38 pm

    maybe ZED used a different designer than ION !

    I also know a guide who has broken 8 Rad heelpieces, I have broken them, my light friends have broken them so If I’m on my Rad heelpiece’s I tread lightly and I inspect them often.

  38. Kristian January 9th, 2018 1:14 pm

    Nylon is strong. Should these parts be made (machined) from materials like that?

  39. Kristian January 9th, 2018 1:16 pm

    And most importantly: strong at cold temperatures. (comment edit…)

  40. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2018 1:20 pm

    Most (if not all) ski gear companies have cold temperature testing capability. More or less. G3 has a really nice walk-in freezer they take to 30 below zero F and do durability tests. I’ve also seen other companies that just use a chest freezer, not as impressive but can be made to work. Lou

  41. CR January 9th, 2018 1:20 pm

    Kjetil , thanks for the tip on the video. I guess my instinct was right to rotate pins inward. Weird though later in vid, it says to rotate pins outward when walking on highest heel lifts….

  42. Bryan January 9th, 2018 5:31 pm

    This binding looks great, and I’d love to purchase it!

    Am I able to buy it right now (I’m ready I’m ready I’m ready) from your ad partners at Cripple Creek?

  43. ryana January 9th, 2018 6:34 pm

    Every new iteration of G3 binding look more like Dynafits from five years ago.

  44. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2018 6:59 pm

    Ryana, think of it as similar to alpine bindings. This sort of “classic” tech binding is going to look very similar whatever year or brand. Compare on the details, such as the truly great ION toe spring strength and geometry.



  45. See January 9th, 2018 9:21 pm

    The binding teardown is a very excellent Wildsnow tradition. I just wish it were universally applied (I’m thinking of one rather unusual toe piece in particular). Great looking binding, but I still dig the Ions. And Matus, maybe not relevant to your question re. U vs Z heels, but there are only a few different U springs available for bindings that use them, Z is essentially infinitely variable. And the accepted method for setting rv may be release testing in the shop, but how many people/shops actually do that? (Also, check the demo plate weight in the third photo caption.)

  46. Shop guy January 10th, 2018 9:00 am

    I’m really hoping G3 get this one right. 1 or 2 broken or faulty Ions walk through our front door every week when the snows flying in our fairly small, albeit active mountain town. No binding is perfect and without some flaws but the Ion is a headache and sees way more problems than any other tech toe binding out there.

  47. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2018 9:40 am

    Every year I get harsher and harsher on the tech binding durability issue. You wouldn’t believe the flack I get from companies when I don’t include their never consumer tested product in my “ultimate quiver” roundups. More times than not, I’m proven right to be careful, as the first-year product ends up breaking or otherwise malfing, and needs an in-line manufacturing change or even a recall. Sick of it. Look for us to continue ramping up our approach to this in that we’ll be very skeptical of any binding in its first year. We certainly won’t be handing out awards to products that end up breaking, as is common with magazines seeking to play the awards game.

    Shop owners, if you are seeing a common breakage or malfunction of any binding, hearing from you in private would be very helpful. You can use contact option in menu above, or private message on Facebook.


  48. See January 10th, 2018 10:14 am

    It would be helpful to say what parts usually break or how the bindings usually malfunction, Shop guy. Lack of specific details make it harder to distinguish legit “reviews” from fake ones, in my opinion.

  49. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2018 10:36 am

    See, I constantly struggle with this, as I do want to help consumers with breakage issues, but don’t want to whip up a frenzy of IAS that’s unfair to everyone, consumer and makers alike. I no doubt blow it now and then, but try my best… Lou

  50. XXX_er January 10th, 2018 11:08 am

    Lou its pretty obvious to me if you are not careful on what & how you say things you won’t be invited to see the new stuff, you are caught between a rock and a hard place

  51. See January 10th, 2018 11:15 am

    Your efforts are very much appreciated, Lou, and I think you do a great job keeping it real here on Wildsnow. But there’s only so much that is possible given the nature and scope of the internet. As much as I would like to be able to rely completely on comments for information re. binding durability etc., I think it’s important to be skeptical, especially these days.

  52. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2018 11:49 am

    Totally agree, the ski touring industry has in my opinion done a grade D job with quality control. It just goes on and on and on. It’s probably going to take some really expensive lawsuits or the involvement of entities such as U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission before the companies can slow down and do more extensive testing before foisting defective products on the public. We the consumers are so eager for improved products we don’t seem to vote much with our wallets.Lou

  53. atfred January 10th, 2018 5:17 pm

    At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve got several pairs of Dynafit Vertical ST bindings that I’ve been skiing on for years with no problems – no breakage, no pre-release, but release when needed, no icing, no brake failure, etc. – they just seem to work.

    I’m not a big guy, try to ski smoothly, don’t fall much, and am not hard on equipment, so I wonder what the realistic lifetime of these bindings may be – 10 years?, 20 years? – like some of the alpine bindings of old?

    Were the Vertical ST just made better? A simpler design? I still like that I can switch to ski mode with a twist of my pole, instead of having to bend over.

    From comments here (and I realize negatives tend to be emphasized), and the hefty price of new binders, I’d just as soon stay with what I’ve got.

  54. Lou Dawson 2 January 10th, 2018 5:25 pm

    The ST broke, first and second year, I recall…

    – tab your foot sits on when flat on ski broke off
    – heel tower climbing aid broke until they pinned it with a roll pin
    – Toe chassis of FT version cracked

    But I agree it’s been one of the better Dynafit models, multiple pairs still in use by WildSnow.


  55. Eric Steig January 10th, 2018 6:23 pm

    So two different points.

    1) I don’t get why people aren’t borrowing from the brilliant Kreutspitze design, which has separate vertical and horizontal release settings AND is much lighter than anything else but race bindings.

    2) Something not well advertised is that the Salomon/Atomic MTN/Backland binding accepts Plum crampons, which are vastly superior to the old slide-in Dynafit-style ones, and pretty much on par with (or perhaps better than) the G3 design. You just drop them in vertically, they don’t slide around, and icing is not the problem that occurs with side slide-in crampons.

  56. Shop guy January 10th, 2018 7:04 pm

    Ion issues: Brake engaging during walk mode, brake getting stuck (I actually had 2 bindings new out of the box that had a brake that would not release). Also the turret recall along with broken plastic plates under heel riser cracking. There was also the spring failure in the risers in an early generation. I haven’t seen any issues with the ion LT but it is not nearly as popular as the brake version. I’m only listing cause someone asked. G3 are a good company, but I fear a lack of R&D maybe an issue for them, they are small after all. I wish them the best of luck with this binding but our shop, along with a lot of users will remain skeptical for sometime. Prove us wrong G3.

  57. Kristian January 10th, 2018 7:31 pm

    ATK has a large offering and some have similar features to Kreutspitze.

    ATK bindings are being re-branded as Hagan, Fischer, and Kastle that I know of. And rumored for a Utah equipment company next year.

  58. See January 10th, 2018 8:52 pm

    Thanks, Shop guy. I have to admit, I asked for details in part because broad statements like “(product x) sees way more problems than any other tech binding out there” without specific evidence to back them up sound suspicious to me. That said, I’ve had most of the problems you list with other bindings as well as the Ions. I don’t know about the broken plastic plate, and the “turret” problem could be serious, so I’m glad they implemented a recall. But the other stuff seems like par-for-the-course for tech bindings, in my limited experience.

  59. VT skier January 10th, 2018 9:05 pm

    My ION LTs are 456 grams each (no leash) . So only 110 grams , per binding heavier than this new Zed.
    Toured on my ION LTs today, they worked fine. I just miss being able to spin the heel with my pole , like my Speed Turns and Verticals.

  60. Kjetil January 11th, 2018 5:39 am

    VT Skier: Why the need to spin the heel on Ion LTs like on the old Speed Turns? The Ion heel riser flippers are awesome, and at the top just knudge the binding with your upper end of your pole to turn it, step in and rip skins! Check this video:

    To my recollection all bindings eventually shows some flaw or break. I have broken Dukes, Barons, Marker Tours, G3 Onyx, Dynafit Radical FT and ST, Dynafit Beast, Marker Kingpin and G3 Ion throughout the years. I’m heavy on equipment, so I have pretty much learned to accept it. I just have to remember to inspect my stuff regularly – especially before skiing things of high consequense.

    With that said; I would not mind skiing the ZED, just that I would monitor those 4 screws like a hawk!

  61. Jürgen January 11th, 2018 7:19 am

    Markers new Alpinist is starting to put pressure on the pricing in the low tech market. Looking forward to Lou´s respective report, especially to the brake locking system being used.

  62. Kristian January 11th, 2018 7:32 am

    And let’s remember that pin bindings are tiny touring bindings for svelte endurance athletes.

    Many are now using them as full on resort and free ride bindings even though they have little mass to absorb that abuse.

  63. GOB January 11th, 2018 8:04 am

    Hi Lou.
    Are the demo plates for the heel only? Or are there 2 separate plates that let you move the toe as well?

  64. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2018 8:24 am

    Heel only. We don’t really mind that much anymore, as most skis have a fairly big sweet spot. Nice when it’s provided, however, and of course essential for specific ski testing. Lou

  65. VT skier January 11th, 2018 7:25 pm

    Thanks, I will try that, banging the lifters on one side of the heel to spin the binding into ski mode.

  66. Mike January 12th, 2018 3:49 pm

    What’s the Fly Ride ski all about? Wasn’t in your new skis from G3 post.
    Thanks, Mike

  67. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2018 4:44 pm

    Not sure why they have this video from 2010, but in any case:


  68. Eric Steig January 14th, 2018 9:37 am

    To JBO about weights — I dunno that these comparisons are fair. ATK and Salomon and Kreutspitze don’t have the dynamic compensation that the G3s have. The ATK brakes are not comparable — some say insufficient for anything but light skis or shallow slopes, etc. etc. To each his own.

    Meanwhile, loving my Salomon heel risers with zero chance of autorotation, which you guys at Skimo sold me!

  69. Kjetil January 14th, 2018 10:13 am

    VT skier: don’t bang the lifters. Just push the back part of the binding (which is turned out towards the outside ski edge in walk mode).

  70. Mac March 21st, 2018 2:15 pm

    Hi Guys,

    I am somewhat conflicted, and am in need of some sage advise. You see, I was planning on upgrading my ski and binding set up this upcoming NZ winter and had pretty much decided on G3’s FINDr with the Ion – then they go and put out info on the Zed, which won’t be available until AFTER the NZ season!

    So my question is, in your most excellent opinion, is it worth a) waiting for the new Zed binding and b) is it a wise move to buy the first years production version?

    There isn’t actually anything wrong with my current rig – I’m just looking for a slight backcountry, ski-mountaineering oriented performance upgrade. I tend to do about 30% of my skiing on-piste (ie until it softens up enough to go BC), so only run a ‘quiver of one’.

    Any thoughts or advise greatly appreciated.

  71. XXX_er March 21st, 2018 2:52 pm

    My take is that the Zed is held together with what are basicly wood screws into plastic in the same fashion as Dynafit did for years which was no problem on the Vertical/comfort design

    Until Dynafit changed the heel lifter design which caused a lot of grief for RAD1 owners when the flippy heel lifters broke the top plates off the heel pieces, the flippy lifter system is similar on both brands I know people who have broken 6 RAD1’s

    Dynafit changed the top plate design on RAD2 so it would clip on to the heel piece instead of depending on wood screws into plastic,

    I don’t know what G3 was thinking when they changed the top plate retention on the Zed back to using screws in plastic?

    Especialy when G3 used/uses machines screws into a metal frame on the ION to sandwich the heel piece together

    IS nothing learned … I would go ION and be happy

  72. Lou Dawson 2 March 21st, 2018 3:07 pm

    ION is now venerable and recommended, though I’m not 100% happy with the brake retention. I like the version without brakes… Lou

  73. Mac March 22nd, 2018 1:10 am

    Cheers for the feedback – it tends to reinforce my thinking of going with the original plan of mounting IONs on a set of FINDrs.
    It’s not as if I’m doing massive, multi-day missions, and we do tend to get a lot of ice on my home mountain, so combined with a fair bit of on-piste skiing something a that is likely to take a few knocks at the expense of a few grams looks the way to go.

  74. Andrea July 30th, 2018 12:36 am

    Hallo, is it true, that the zed will not avaliable in europe? I have heared that G3 has a problem with Dynafit in terms of the patent ( license )

  75. Lou Dawson 2 July 30th, 2018 10:06 am

    Thanks for asking Andrea, I’m waiting for official word on that from G3. All rumors for now. Lou

  76. Lou Dawson 2 July 30th, 2018 3:24 pm

    Official word, lightly edited:

    “The ZED will not be available in certain EU countries due to patent conflicts. G3 actively respects patents owned by others, as we expect others to respect G3’s patents. We’ve chosen to voluntarily not make the ZED available in some regions. A reasonable licensing arrangement was not offered so we’ve simply decided to not sell in some markets.”

    On the surface, one might think they’re just trying to get around someone else’s patents. In reality, it’s often the case that the “patent” is up for interpretation and simply costs too much money to either license or prove that you’re not in violation. Good to keep that in mind any time the word “patent” comes up.

  77. Andrea July 31st, 2018 9:42 am

    Lou thank you very much for the very quick answer. Even if that is not what I wanted to hear. 😉
    But for every problem there is a solution.
    Regards from the Allgäu

  78. Lou Dawson 2 July 31st, 2018 12:54 pm

    Andrea, it shouldn’t be any problem ordering overseas, UK or whatever… but there are plenty of alternatives that will be widely available, and are not first-year products that one should be leery of. Lou

  79. Andrea July 31st, 2018 2:02 pm

    Yeah I know. I m fighting with me. I think it is a solid and light binding. Lateral and vertical relesae adjustment. No U Spring. Solid ( looking) brakes. 30mm range.
    The new Dynafit generation with this feature is to heavy.
    I have the ATK raider12. It works well. Why another?
    I dont know. I like the green, I am a woman.
    The alpinist has an U Spring, too less range. And I guess that there will be a problem with the pins.
    Now ( july2018) they have a recall at the kingpin.
    We will see what christ child brings.

  80. Lou Dawson 2 July 31st, 2018 4:19 pm

    Andrea, yeah, in good conscious I wouldn’t advise a Marker tech binding until it’s had at least a season of consumer testing. But likewise for G3… just too much defection and breakage going on over past years to trust anything, from any company. Lou

  81. Tom Wolfe October 10th, 2018 5:48 pm

    I bought a pair even before I read this article. Why not give it a try. The Ion has served me well.

  82. Tom Wolfe October 10th, 2018 5:51 pm

    Oh, and I’m one of those who literally broke 6 Rad 1s. That’s why I’ll never own another pair of Dynafit bindings ever again. Let’s see how it goes with the Zed.

  83. XXX_er October 11th, 2018 10:24 am

    ” I bought a pair even before I read this article. Why not give it a try. The Ion has served me well. ”

    The Zed uses wood screws into plastic to hold the top on, which is the same design as RAD1,

    ION attaches the heel piece to the top plate with machine screws from the bottom threaded into metal

    so ION uses a better design IMO

  84. Tom Wolfe October 12th, 2018 8:08 am

    XXX – it’s not the screws I don’t trust about Dynafit. It’s the fact they took two years to come up with a solution. I’m willing to try a new binding from G3 because I have faith in them as a company. Their engineers aren’t oblivious to the fact that Dynafit had a huge corporate fail because of the rad1. If the Zed fails that will be bad. And I’ll send it in on warranty and carry on with one of my skis with the Ion.

  85. Tom Wolfe October 12th, 2018 8:27 am

    Lou, just read your comment about plastic vs metal for breakage. Having broken 6 Rad 1s 6 different ways I can say that three of them were metal and three of them were plastic, and all rendered the binding useless. That’s not counting the countless heel piece broken by my clients – 1/week for a couple of seasons on average.

  86. Mark W October 12th, 2018 9:31 am

    I’ve broken Vertical ST flat-on-ski heel tabs twice. My twelve year old Comforts I’ve never broken even while skiing for years at the resort. And I’ve not had any breakage with my newer Speed Radicals.

  87. Lou Dawson 2 October 12th, 2018 12:24 pm

    Yeah, it’s all about engineering and manufacturing.

    From Wiki: “The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-haul, widebody, twin-engine jetliner, which features light-weight construction. The aircraft is 80% composite by volume; [183] Boeing lists its materials by weight as 50% composite, 20% aluminum , 15% titanium , 10% steel, and 5% other.”

  88. XXX_er October 12th, 2018 12:41 pm

    “XXX – it’s not the screws I don’t trust about Dynafit. It’s the fact they took two years to come up with a solution ”

    I have also peeled the top off a RAD1 and ended up spooning a tree, so they just replace it but as you have proven they just break again so I wouldn’t call that a solution , it actualy took 5 years (?) for Dynafit to come out with RAD2 where the top plate clips onto the heel piece only using the screws to locate the top plate and all those ready to break RAD1’s are still out there

    meanwhile G3 adopts the very same method as used on RAD1 to screw a top plate on top of a Tech binding … is nothing learned

    I think there was something on infoex telling you how to get new heel pieces ?

  89. Tom Wolfe October 12th, 2018 12:51 pm

    XXX – Well, you’ve just confirmed my doubts in Dynafit with yet another anecdote.

    But — how do you know that G3 uses the “very same method” as Dynafit did 7 years ago with their Rad 1? Are you an engineer who’s torn apart a ZED binding?

    As for bindings breaking, well, airliners crash too. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the ZED and the moment a screw starts to back out or the composite material looks like it’s cracking it’s getting replaced with an Ion. Meanwhile I’m fine with giving it a try.

  90. RDE October 12th, 2018 1:38 pm

    Hi Lou,
    “it’s all about engineering and manufacturing”

    And some times it’s about common sense.

    During the Boeing Dreamliner prototype build up I happened to own an advanced technology yacht manufacturing company that shared a manufacturing concept with the Dreamliner fuselage. I was given a tour of the mold tooling for the center fuselage being produced by a Washington company. (as I recall the tail section was being built in Japan & the nose in Italy) As I walked by the massive autoclaved carbon tooling I instantly knew that it would fail, because I had made the same error in my little company’s process. And indeed the early parts produced by Boeing had massive fit problems, and were one of the key elements that lead to the project falling a year behind at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    All for the lack of engineers who had made mistakes and learned from them.

  91. X October 12th, 2018 2:30 pm

    ” But — how do you know that G3 uses the “very same method” as Dynafit did 7 years ago with their Rad 1? Are you an engineer who’s torn apart a ZED binding? ”


    I’m just a HW geek who pays attention to this stuff, the pict is half way thru the artical where Lou suggest this could be a weak point

  92. Tom Wolfe October 12th, 2018 3:40 pm

    Then let’s leave it to the “early adopters” that Lou refers to to find out whether or not there is any similarity in function, at least, between the G3 Zed and the Dynafit Rad 1 apart from “they look the same on my phone’s screen” or “Lou thinks it looks ominously similar”.

    On the other hand I’d welcome the perspective of an engineer who tears one apart and analyzes the materials and does rigorous testing.

  93. Brent November 14th, 2018 11:45 pm

    Has anyone identified a good fastener (M5 machine screw) to use with the Zed and binding freedom or quiver killer inserts? The wood screws that Zed requires have a smaller head than the Ion screws, or other standard pan head or flat head screws that almost all bindings use.

  94. Brent November 19th, 2018 12:38 pm

    Been on a bit of a scavenger hunt to find an M5 machine screw that will work with Zed. No luck thus far. Been told by some fastener specialty stores and fabricators that no such screw exists with this type of countersunk head. Still searching…

    Bummer, I had high hopes for Zed to upgrade my Plum Guides. Similar weight, better features, better ramp angle for me. Felled by exotic screws.

  95. Jim Milstein November 19th, 2018 12:56 pm

    Brent, you can grind a head down to size by chucking it in a drill and applying the edge of the head to an abrasive surface. Protect its threads first with tape.

    Everything shall be modified.

  96. Brent November 19th, 2018 1:29 pm

    Hey Jim, yeah that’s a good idea and I did try it with a few screws. It may be the only option I’m aware of, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m giving up a meaningful amount of strength in the screws (maybe not?), but I’m more concerned about the more likely possibility of the resulting head shape not fitting the holes in Zed properly, allowing for possible wiggle in the mount. Have you actually done this with the Zed and some M5 flat heads?

  97. Juergen November 19th, 2018 3:06 pm

    Hi Brent, Binding Freedom offers this as a service for every binding. Also nearly any locksmith or metalworking shop in your hometown will do this for little money.

  98. Brent November 19th, 2018 3:38 pm

    I did check with Binding Freedom before my original post. We had a good talk and the best idea we could come up with was to do a careful grind to remove a little diameter from some flat head M5 screws, same as Jim mentioned. This is of course in no way recommended officially by anyone. Binding Freedom used to sell a “pozi-smallhead” screw, but not now. Even if this smallhead screw did exist, the photo they have looks like the head is too tall to match the original screws from ZED, and that’s a worse situation to be faced with. I also checked with G3 of course, and skimo.co, who were super helpful in discussing it also. I’m going to give it a try with some grinding in the next day or two and see how it goes. I think it will work out well.

  99. Jim Milstein November 19th, 2018 5:08 pm

    If the small heads are strong enough using wood screws, they are strong enough for machine screws, Brent. The screw head’s strength does not depend on the rest of the screw. Anyway, failure is far more likely at the ski than at the screw head.

  100. steveno March 5th, 2019 4:22 pm

    Alright, two months into the Zed’s with brakes.

    All the above skepticism about brakes for light weight bindings has been well justified in my experience thus far. The brakes set in the heel plat rails very loose and have popped off, as in disconnected from binding, twice (once when I came out of the ski) and another plopping the ski on the ground in the parking lot. I’ve questioned if I installed them correctly but bumped into a G3 rep who confirmed that I have… and that he’s had similar problems. Anyone else noticed this problem? At this point I’ve replaced them with the stomp pad and added leashes.

    I’ve emailed G3 customer service twice over the past month and received no response.

    Boy, sure sucks to be the earlier adopter sometimes.

  101. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2019 10:02 am

    Correction: with regards to tech bindings, it almost always sucks to be an early adopter. The situation is ridiculous. Lou

  102. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2019 10:08 am

    Brent, making “small head” screws is trivial. I do it two different ways. Sometimes I just grab the screw with vise-grip pliers then hold it against a disk grinder while rotating. A more precise method is to chuck the screw into a drill, then hold it against a disk grinder, (briefly). It’s easy to experiment and master a given method. It doesn’t weaken the screw hold so long as you don’t make the head too small. The ground part of the screw does not have any zinc coating, so it’ll rust, but I’ve not seen that be a problem. 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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