Bench Racing the Salomon Atomic SHIFT Ski Binding


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 10, 2018      
The object at hand. Game changer or ankle weight?

The object at hand. Game changer or ankle weight? Depends on your needs. Either way, bow before mechanical engineering excellence. (Click images to enlarge.)

Shop for Salomon SHIFT at Cripple Creek. (Available September)

While the Salomon Atomic SHIFT is a bit out of the WildSnow gamut for true ski touring bindings, it is so interesting I can not resist dissecting. We’ll have plenty of extended field tests as well, as we can’t let the other panting gear bloggers take it all! If you’ve been living inside a glacier, here is the elevator spiel:

An alpine binding TUV certified to DIN/ISO standard, with a clever hidden set of tech pins that when enabled allow you to ski tour, provided you have a boot with tech fittings as well as sole configuration that’s appropriate for using the Shift in alpine mode. Could be game changing for skiers who truly need a full alpine performance setup during their tours. For others it’s a yawner.

I’ve been privy to various efforts to develop this sort of binding. It is not easy. You get into issues of how to provide heel lift in touring mode, how to lock the brake, how to stow the tech pins, weight; it goes on and on. Follow along as we go through the SHIFT MNC.

While you don’t use the boot’s tech fittings for downhill skiing, as basis for comparison to other bindings (see our ramp and stack height chart), here are the numbers: While in alpine mode, the boot’s tech toe fittings are 37 mm above the ski, while imaginary tech pins are 46 mm above ski. (Bear in mind these measurements would vary with sole thickness, unlike true tech bindings that use the fittings to hold the boot in alpine mode.) Quite a bit of stack height (not the most we’ve seen, but up there at the top end of the spectrum), more or less zero ramp. Not surprisingly, the ramp (as I calculate) is exactly the same as a Salomon MTN tech touring binding.

Weight. This guy is light for what it is what am, though rather heavy for a touring binding: Heel 440 grams, Toe 444 grams, total 884 grams – 31 ounces (with screws). Many of you out there have spent years using bindings such as G3 ION and Dynafit Radical as hybrid resort/touring bindings — or more recently, the amazing Tecton. In that case you’re rocking around 600 grams per binding, around 300 grams less than SHIFT. That’s a fully noticeable difference that _will_ slow you down and make touring less comfortable. In that regard SHIFT is clearly not the holy grail (which would be a 550 gram binding that did the same thing), but it’s obviously super cool and definitely useful tool for quite a few applications. I’m thinking everything from the guy who’s mission in life is to only use one binding, all the way to stunt skiers who need alpine gear they can tour if the heli runs out of fuel or their producer runs out of cash.

Firstly, no real reason for me to duplicate content in terms of the ubiquitous how-to-use vid. Below is Atomic’s.

Going from downhill mode to touring.

Going from downhill mode to touring. Just push the blue block of plastic, toe wings open up and expose the tech pins for your walking pleasure.

Push down on the touring lock lever to open the toe pins farther, allowing insertion of your boot.

Push down on the touring lock lever to open the toe pins farther, allowing insertion of your boot.

Boot going in for the landing.

Boot going in for the landing.

Ready to tour (lock by pulling up on the blue lever..

Ready to tour (as with most tech bindings, lock by pulling up the blue lever at the front, otherwise you’ll walk out of the binding).

Due to the toe pins locating your boot farther forward, binding heel is out of the way.

Due to the toe pins locating your boot farther forward, binding heel is out of the way.

You flip up the brake lock _before_ entering the binding.

You flip up the brake lock _before_ entering the binding. You can either lock the brake by hand, or step down on it with your boot.

Heel lifter flips up, only one lift height option (other than boot heel flat)

Heel lifter flips up, only one lift height option (other than boot heel flat)

Lifter at the ready, brakes locked up.

Lifter at the ready, brakes locked up.

You've climbed, now for the sweet descent on a full alpine binding.

You’ve climbed, now for the sweet descent on a full alpine binding. Brake easily unlocks when you gently press on the arms. I’m wondering if it unlocks too easily. Consumer testing commence.

Begin by squeezing the toe wings together, which lifts the blue plastic tab you'll need to get your fingers under.

Begin conversion to downhill mode by squeezing the toe wings together, which lifts the blue plastic tab you’ll need to get your fingers under.

Squeeze wings together, which lifts the blue plastic block so you can get your fingers under it.

The “wing squeeze, oh so fine.”

Snap up the blue plastic block, doing final stowage of tech pins and converting the toe to a normal "toe wing" alpine binding.

Snap up the blue plastic block, doing final stowage of tech pins and converting the toe to a normal “toe wing” alpine binding. Next simply enter the binding as you would any conventional alpine binding: to in, then stomp down heel.

Clearly the mounting screw holes need to be accurately located.

Clearly the mounting screw holes need to be accurately located.

Boot length adjustment is fine tuned by lining the shiny metal up with the black arrows.

Boot length adjustment is fine tuned by lining the shiny metal up with the black arrows (click to enlarge, more obvious that way). Yes Virginia, this is a forward pressure setting! Finally, you can call the boot length adjustment FORWARD PRESSURE without getting scolded by me!

Nifty AFD height adjust for different boot soles.

Nifty AFD height adjust for different boot soles cranks up and down with pozi or flat blade screwdriver. Crampon hook is visible, appears to accept “Dynafit” standard spikes but in reality will need something specific to work around the large AFD.

Compatibility:
Salomon uses the term MNC (multi norm compatible) to indicate the SHIFT functions with any DIN certified ski boot, touring or alpine. Further, it’s obvious the binding conforms to alpine DIN/ISO standards. We’re not clear if it’s also certified to the touring binding standard. The latter is not a concern. If it works for walking uphill, the overlap of the alpine standard with the touring standard takes care of verifying downhill performance (at least to the extent the standards do so, i.e., consumer testing is essential).

Conclusion:
If you need and alpine binding that tours, by all means! Otherwise significantly lighter options are better choices. Most importantly, SHIFT will help move the ski industry away from attempting to provide brutal alpine skiing performance from the tech pin system, which was never intended to accommodate the forces produced by large boots, big skis, and high speeds.

Salomon mini site, best viewed on 110-inch Ultra HDTV.



IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING SITE, TRY WHITELISTING IN YOUR ADBLOCKER, OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT US USING MENU ABOVE, OR FACEBOOK.

Comments

13 Responses to “Bench Racing the Salomon Atomic SHIFT Ski Binding”

  1. Travis August 10th, 2018 10:39 am

    Thanks for the coverage, Lou! It’s blazing hot in WA, and seeing this just added more fuel to my desire for winter! Do you really think this will get other companies to stop chasing the idea of a full-on touring binding with alpine release values? If so, than this binding is a game changer.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 August 10th, 2018 11:56 am

    Hi Travis, that’s a good way of looking at this in terms of it being a game changer; changing the game of binding design… Indeed, the pursuit of making a tech binding that’s an alpine binding has been somewhat silly (witness Kingpin), though some of the results are pretty amazing, such as Tecton. But if they can divorce the touring function from the downhill, and keep making it lighter, that’ll be exactly what thousands of people want. However, important to note that for core ski touring, a super-light tech binding and non-DIN boot will for the foreseeable future be the desired kit.

    As they say “interesting times.”

    Lou

  3. Tom August 12th, 2018 8:29 pm

    Off topic (comments on the appropriate thread seem closed)
    I’ve just got a new pair of boots with a BSL of 12mm longer than my old Vulcans. This puts my boot centre 7mm behind the recommended point on my 176cm BMT 109s (it was previously right on centre with the Vulcans, bindings are Tectons)
    This seems to have made quite a difference to how they ski, & I’m considering remounting the toe 10mm forward. The ski seems harder to drive through the end of a turn and to pivot quickly, especially tighter turns on steeper terrain. I only weigh 140lb ish, 5’9″
    I loved the way the BMT skied at boot centre- Am I imagining the difference, or is it worth a remount?I’d rather not drill more holes in them if possible given the BMT mounting issues. I’ve had 4 hard snow days since the boot change, so it’s hard to compare, as the almost all the 12 days prior (NZ season) were in powder
    I really liked the versatility of the BMTs- the ability to pivot or carve a turn equally easily, & chuck them sideways if needed, as well as the stability at speed.
    Thoughts ?

  4. Lou Dawson 2 August 13th, 2018 6:02 am

    Tom, in my opinion, due to the BMT having “full” rocker your boot position is indeed best centered, I’d drill new holes. This especially if you experienced the “boot center” position being so good. That said, 7 mm is not much of a change (anything less than a centimeter is often acceptable), check the internal ramp angle and cuff angle of the new and old boots (with the boot in the binding), if those ergonomics are different, better ski your setup more before you drill, as the issue could simply be that of getting used to new angles. But I suspect you should get your foot into the same position on the ski.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/957/switch-hitting-gear-its-all-in-the-angle/

  5. wtofd August 13th, 2018 6:59 am

    “Most importantly, SHIFT will help move the ski industry away from attempting to provide brutal alpine skiing performance from the tech pin system, which was never intended to accommodate the forces produced by large boots, big skis, and high speeds.”

    “However, important to note that for core ski touring, a super-light tech binding and non-DIN boot will for the foreseeable future be the desired kit.”

    Lou, could you talk more about matching boots, skis and bindings? I’ve been reading WS for years, so this isn’t a new concept; but I wonder if a post isn’t in order that helps unpack ideas around pairing your gear to allow for maximum up and downhill performance while retaining safety. IOW, which systems will complement each other, and provide (presumably through the boots) feedback to slow down.

    I’m looking at the Maestrale’s as my quiver of one boot because I think/hope they’ll perform acceptably on faster, wide open terrain. If they will, what should I be looking at for bindings and skis? Certainly a good shop can help, but am interested in your thoughts on this. Thanks.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 August 13th, 2018 7:47 am

    Hi Wtofd, that’s a good idea. Important to note that quite a bit of this is psychology and marketing. Reality is that some tech bindings sold as “freeride,” really are not much different than those sold as “touring.” As you know from being a regular reader, the first step is to differentiate between the “classic” tech bindings, meaning those with heel pins, and the hybrids, meaning those with a somewhat “alpine like” heel. The hybrids (so long as they don’t break) tend to be the “quiver of one” binding, e.g., Tecton, SHIFT, Trab. But yeah, perhaps a blog post. Lou

  7. Andrew Garcia August 13th, 2018 4:17 pm

    Lou,

    You know much more about this stuff than me, but I find the price point for the SHIFT binding to be pretty exciting, if only because it may put some pressure on the Tecton pricing.

    Any thoughts?

  8. Kevin Broderick August 15th, 2018 9:25 am

    Any chance you’ve got any Beast horseshoe-equipped boots to try fitting to the Shift, or did you notice any evidence of incompatibility? I’ve seen a rumor that the Shift won’t allow for a boot with the horseshoe installed, but I haven’t seen any actual evidence either way.

  9. john dough August 16th, 2018 10:43 am

    So who will be the first to offer an alpine style boot, with walk mode, and just a toe pin insert but regular heel? Seems like that could marketable? Despite many people’s opinions, this still seems to be the direction companies are headed.

  10. Dabe August 16th, 2018 10:57 am

    John, I’m curious if you couldn’t simply drive Phillips screws in on either side of the toe lug and then strip the heads since shift’s pins don’t really need to release? Other than the potential for geometry problems, steel threads in plastic issues, or maybe avalanche hazard if they truly would not release. Also, CAST offeres a toe insert installing service I believe?

  11. Lou Dawson 2 August 16th, 2018 12:38 pm

    Dabe, in concept that could be done, but the forces exerted on the toe fittings during touring are immense and will rip out just about anything.

    CAST has method that looks good.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmQ1L9e11ZE

    Barthel, before Dynafit began molding the fitting into the boots, inserted a steel bar in a transverse hole bored through the boot toe from one side to the other. That would probably be the DIY method to try.

    Lou

  12. Greg Louie August 16th, 2018 2:50 pm

    Lou, regular tech crampons (Dynafit, B&D, Kingpin) won’t work as the wide AFD prevents them from lowering and you can’t simply cut away some of the aluminum as the mounting bracket is much wider – Amer says they have a Shift crampon on the way soon, though I have yet to see one (or even a photo).

  13. Lou Dawson 2 August 16th, 2018 2:55 pm

    Hi Greg, I thought I mentioned that, remember writing it! I probably forgot to save the edit. In any case, thanks, I’ll add it in.

    ……. actually was indeed in there, so I edited a bit to be clear.

    Lou





Anti-Spam Quiz:

 

While you can subscribe to comment notification by checking the box above, you must leave a brief comment to do so, which records your email and requires you to use our anti-spam challange. If you don't like leaving substantive comments that's fine, just leave a simple comment that says something like "thanks, subscribed" with a made-up name. Check the comment subscription checkbox BEFORE you submit. NOTE: BY SUBSCRIBING TO COMMENTS YOU GIVE US PERMISSION TO STORE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS INDEFINITLY. YOU MAY REQUEST REMOVAL AND WE WILL REMOVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WITHIN 72 HOURS. To request removal of personal information, please contact us using the comment link in our site menu.
If you need an emoticon for a comment just copy/paste off the following list, or use text code you might be familiar with.

:D    :-)    :(    :lol:    :x    :P    :oops:    :cry:    :evil:    :twisted:    :roll:    :wink:    :!:    :?:    :idea:    :arrow:   
  
Due to comment spam we moderate most comments. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly after approval. Comments with one or more links in the text may be held in moderation, for spam prevention. If you'd like to publish a photo in a comment, contact us. Guidelines: Be civil, no personal attacks, avoid vulgarity and profanity.

  Your Comments


  Recent Posts




Facebook Twitter Google Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed



 



  • Blogroll & Links


  • 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.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version