How to ID the latest G3 ION 10-12 Ski Touring Bindings

Post by blogger | April 25, 2018      

G3 has made a few “in line” changes over the retailing history of the ION ski touring binding, not to mention a recall. In my opinion most of this is important — if you find bindings on sale this spring be sure you’re getting current hardware. Below shows how to ID the latest versions of the ION 10 and 12 (those with brakes).

(From what we’ve seen, the LT version of the ION (sold without brakes) is less subject to changes. Near as we can tell, most any LTs you find in retail are fine. If you’re looking at a pair of LT (new or used) be aware you’re not getting the latest unless the top plate/cap on the heel unit is grey plastic with a little metal showing on the edge where it mates with the lower heel unit housing. Overall, considering the sordid history of tech binding defects, buying used bindings of nearly any brand is problematic. If you choose to buy used, do the best you can with Google and enlist the help of knowledgeable shop employees who unfortunately bear the brunt of cracking metal and exploding plastic. See the bottom of this post for more about the LT version.)

The two most important differences, in my opinion.

The two most visible differences, in my opinion. Thickened cap on the heel unit, with exposed metal, and differently shaped brake retraction hook. Improvements such as rotation lock are not easily visible.

Brake hook comparison, the latest (right) also has a stronger hidden spring.

Brake hook comparison, the latest (right) also has a stronger hidden spring. We’re not surprised to see this, as an ongoing though not pervasive problem with G3 ION brakes has been their popping into downhill mode while you’re touring uphill. We assume the “hook” changes remedy this once and for all. Note the black brake spring on new version. It’s said to be stronger. We measured and it’s indeed slightly stiffer, but not by a huge margin. Latest version of LT is not as easily identified, look for small amount of visible metal on the edge of the heel unit cap, and check for the anti-rotation feature.

Obvious metal plate and thicker top on current version (bottom).

Obvious metal plate and thicker top on current version (bottom).

Only change we could see with the toe is a different boot toe locator.

Only change we could see with the toe is a different boot toe locator, made from soft instead of rigid plastic. The LT has a boot locator as well, only smaller and easily mistaken for cosmetics.

Just to be sure you can ID.

Just to be sure you can ID.

Nice things about the new locator.

Nice things about the new locator: Weighs about 4 grams less than the older style, and can be easily removed with a bit of razor action (we don’t like these things).

One other thing. It’s hard to spot, but the latest IONs have a slick anti-rotation feature built into the heel unit. How this works: after you rotate the heel to touring mode and lock up the brake, the first time you step on the heel unit it drops down a few millimeters and engages a clever little lock, for 100% zero none nada possibility of rotating while touring. This is a must-have feature in my opinion. Only gotcha is when changing mode to downhill you have to remember to pull up on the heel unit before you attempt to rotate it to downhill skiing position, otherwise you’ll struggle and wonder just why it’s so difficult to spin.

(Note: To repeat and clarify for those new to G3 products, ION LT has no brake and thus none of the brake related changes. It has a smaller, low profile boot toe locator as well as the the visible metal layer in the heel unit top cover. Latest version *does* have the anti rotation lock feature. LT has always been our favorite ION, now more than ever.)

Shop for G3 bindings here.


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10 Responses to “How to ID the latest G3 ION 10-12 Ski Touring Bindings”

  1. VT skier April 25th, 2018 10:42 am

    I have two versions of the ION LT. First pair mounted a year ago, are great, but I noticed on a recent hut trip, that on the skin track the heel would occasionally rotate into ski mode. Frustrating to say the least when your heel suddenly is locked down.
    I have tried now to always have both heels rotated inwards (heel pins to each other), but auto-rotation can still occur.
    My newer set of ION LT , (not mounted yet) have a unique mod to stop this rotation while in climbing mode. When the heel is rotated to climbing mode, any weight on the heels, shift the heel assembly lower into the locking tabs on nylon baseplate.
    This should stop the autorotation of heel into ski mode while skinning, but a vertical “pull” up on the heel will be required to rotate heel to ski mode. Might complicate transition; ripping skins, then having to yank up on heel to go to ski mode?
    Any field reports on this new mod?

  2. George April 25th, 2018 2:05 pm

    @VT skier, the downside of this anti-rotation feature – there is a vertical play in the downhill mode, i.e. the heel of the boot moves with the tower vertically about 1 mm. A bit annoying. Also, pulling the heel tower up to switch from skin to ski requires some good effort. It wouldn’t be easy to do with skis on.
    Lastly, to finish my gripe, the G3 communication about this feature couldn’t be worse. It was not in the manual, my shop (official reseller) did not know about it; I asked in this forum (about vertical play and not able to rotate the heel), Lou did not know about… Only after someone who knew responded it started to make sense.
    Other than that – good binding.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 April 25th, 2018 3:18 pm

    George, indeed, I was a mushroom on this one, though probably through my own failings more than being treated like *** and kept in the dark. What continues to make all this difficult is the manufacturers insist on making a series of major product changes, only they don’t “version” the product names, as in ION 1.0, ION 1.1, ION 1.2 and so forth. I’ve been dealing with this for years and years, and have become quite cynical and frustrated about the whole deal, and sometimes the fact that we’re actually not a specific “gear only” blog combines with that… in any case, thanks for your take.

    To me, anti rotation is so important it might totally overshadow a mm of up-down play, shoot, your foot moves inside the boot way more than that. On the other hand, nobody likes play in their bindings…

    Next up: Zed 1.0

    We shall see.


  4. wtofd April 26th, 2018 8:14 am

    How noticeable or distracting is the play?

  5. George April 26th, 2018 1:23 pm

    @wtofd, depends on the level of your OCD :-). It’s easily noticeable when standing and just trying to lift the heels. While skiing – not noticeable for me. But I know that I am not as sensitive to differences in my setup (mount fore-aft, ramp angle, boot forward lean, etc.) as some other skiers. Also, I think, in theory, this play can contribute to a prerelease, allowing the boot to accelerate relative to the ski. Maybe negligible, but still.

  6. VT skier April 26th, 2018 2:59 pm

    Thanks George,
    My big concern, with new ION LT is still being able at transitions, to spin the heels, and rip skins, without taking my skis off.
    My older ION LTs (and Speed Turn 1.0s) are great for this

  7. See April 26th, 2018 6:56 pm

    I’m curious why you consider the rotation lock a “must-have feature,” Lou. I have some experience with older Ions and indeed they do occasionally auto-rotate into ski mode. I’ve also had the brakes freeze in the “walk” position. I can understand how it would be bad if either of these occurred at the wrong time. But I guess my attitude is that no tech binding is perfect (my Verticals did the same thing), and I can deal with the occasional auto-rotation given that the Ions seem like good, dependable bindings overall.

  8. See April 26th, 2018 8:16 pm

    probably should have said “no binding is perfect”

  9. Lou Dawson 2 April 28th, 2018 7:52 am

    Hi See, I’ve seen rotating binding heels result in some very awkward, even dangerous situations when the user’s heel accidentally locks into downhill mode, requiring the removal of the ski and re-setting of the binding in for example the middle of a steep avalanche slope in a large group who are making an effort to stay spread out. Likewise, a brake that stays retracted and doesn’t pop open now and then is another “mandatory” feature in my opinion. That said, no binding is perfect so compromise is always necessary, and I liked ION in most of its versions. Incidentally, the most bug free binding we’ve seen in the history of tech bindings is probably the Atomic-Salomon Backland-MTN. Ends up not being written about much, just used by a lot of people… Lou

  10. See April 28th, 2018 7:27 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Lou. Those MTN bindings have intrigued me since I encountered a reasonably well known pro on them in the bc a few years ago. But I can’t help recalling the history of the latest and greatest— Vertical FT’s (toe-piece broke), Ions (auto-rotation), Kingpins (pin problems), Tectons (brakes break)…

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