Scarpa Ski Touring Boots and Salomon-Atomic Shift Binding

Post by blogger | June 26, 2019      

This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. They’ll help you toss the ski binding salad.

Confusion of goals and perfection of means seems… to characterize our age.”
— Albert Einstein

The perfection of means is the mission with ski touring gear. But sometimes the path to perfection has a few bumps.

Case in point: Which ski touring boots, exactly, will function correctly in a Salomon-Atomic Shift ski binding? And do the Dynafit fittings (Standard, Quick Step, Master Step) make the boot incompatible?

Short answer:Shift is built to a DIN/ISO standard that is specified as compatible with boots built to another DIN/ISO standard. So, if the ski boot in question conforms to the correct standard (ISO 9523), it is technically “compatible” with the Shift. The “Alpine Touring” category of Scarpa boots are built to match the necessary ISO standard (e.g, Maestrale, Gea). Those boots are thus “compatible” with the Shift. Read on.

As pictured here, Dynafit Quick Step

Above, Scarpa Maestrale, with Dynafit Quick Step In (QSI) tech fittings, paired with Salomon Shift. The protruding steel rib on the fittings is located just outside and under contact with the binding roller, provided the boot toe shape conforms to ISO 9523, and is THUS COMPATIBLE WITH SHIFT BINDING (see below for more info about what ISO 9523 specifies).

This is child’s play to evaluate on the workbench.
(Note that the Dynafit Master Step toe fitting, according to our evaluations, is in our opinion NOT compatible with Shift, while in our opinion the classic type tech fittings function well due to their being flush with the boot toe surfaces. Again, MAESTRALE PICTURED HERE HAS THE QSI FITTINGS AND _IS_ COMPATIBLE WITH SHIFT.

The tiny logician living inside your cortex will latch on to the “official” verbiage. Specifically, Salomon’s statement: “Offering Multi-Norm Certification (MNC) and an adjustable toe pedal, the S/LAB SHIFT is the only hybrid binding that is compatible with all norm boots on the market.” This statement can be found here.

(Oddly, the Salomon verbiage goes on to state “The Shift is also TUV-certified, delivering the safety a skier needs regardless of the type of ski boot he/she uses.” Anyone see how strange that is? It says the Shift works with any ski boot, while it clearly does not — it only works with “norm boots.” Giving Salmon the benefit of the doubt, I’d suspect this contradiction is the result of the German language marketing spreech being ineptly translated to English. So let’s move along.)

“Norm boots” means any ski boot designed and manufactured according to one (or several) of the DIN/ISO ski boot industry standards. That would include many ski touring boots (though not all). The two important ISO ski boot norms are 5355 (alpine boots) and 9523 (ski touring boots). The main distinguishing factors in “norm” boots is they have a duckbill toe of a specified dimension, and heel shape specified as well. The 9523 is described here, as illustration of how this all works.

Where the “confusion of perfection” comes from is not the ISO boot standards, but rather the presence of tech fittings, specifically the Dynafit “Quick Step In, QSI” and “Master Step” type with a small vertical rib that slightly protrudes from the boot toe. (Too much boot sole rocker can make for incompatibility as well, but we’ve not seen that as a problem other than with extremely rockered boots, and you can fix by shaving the boot sole.)

What happens with the Shift binding is the protruding rib on the Quick Step tech fitting rides next to the rollers on the binding toe wings (see photo). As it is, in my testing neither the Dynafit Quick Step nor the old style (original “Standard” Dynafit) tech fittings had any influence on Shift binding tension and release. Reason: As the boot toe moves to the side, the tech fitting that could present a problem moves AWAY from the binding roller, nicely clearing it.

Indeed, with my Scarpa Maestrale tester, boasting Quick Step fittings, I got some of the best return-to-center I’ve seen when testing the Shift. Impressive you can use a full-on touring boot in what’s essentially an alpine binding!

Sampling from the voluntary Dynafit specification

Above, sampling from the ORIGINAL voluntary Dynafit specification 25-09-2009. TUV refers to a version of this in their certificate for the Shift binding compatibility with various norms. A TUV cert costs a small fortune, including this Dynafit spec is not trivial, in my opinion it means TUV did certify for boots WITH Dynafit Quick Step fittings, and they passed. BEAR IN MIND THAT THE DYNAFIT “SPECIFICATION” IS NOT AN ISO STANDARD, IT IS A VOLUNTARY SPECIFICATION. MORE, THIS SPECIFICATION IS FOR THE LOCATION OF THE FITTINGS ON THE BOOT, NOT THE ACTUAL SHAPE OF THE FITTINGS. (Note, this internal specification by Dynafit has been updated, though I’d imagine the updated is similar in dimensions to our illustration above.) See more about this below, as the vertical location of the fittings is apparently key.

Over arching point: Printed on the TUV certificate for the Shift binding certification: “…with tech insert according to Dynafit specification for ski boots compatibility edition 25.09.2009…” which is a voluntary specification I’m told is provided by Dynafit.

(Note: The multi-compatible fittings used by Sportiva, when tested appeared to NOT be compatible due the raised area of the fitting contacting the Shift binding roller.)

All those fancy numbers and terms aside, the industry standard is that any ANY boot-binding combination is tested on the workbench, before any actual use.

While some tests get technical and require special machines, evaluating basic binding functions is child’s play, both downhill and touring. My take: If you’ve got any doubts whether a boot will function properly in a Shift binding, get a professional to look at your proposed rig. If they say yes, and the boot is certified to either or both ISO norms, just say no to the confusion and ski your shiny new gear. If the shop refuses to sell or mount due to mental challenges about what’s approved, take your business elsewhere, or do a DIY mount and enjoy. Though continue to trust but verify.

But, and it’s a big but: If you’re a ski shop, you do what the manufacturer approves and thus indemnifies you for (meaning they help you if you’re sued). Thus, solid “offical” information is key. That’s not been forthcoming with the Shift. Instead, I’m hearing two different messages.

Alternate reality 1) Something like this related to me from various individuals:On behalf of Salomon, TUV certified the Shift to function with all ISO 9523 boots, specifically those with Dynafit Quick Step tech fittings, but also with the older “standard” tech fittings.

Alternate reality 2)I’m told Salomon says Shift is NOT approved to function with Quick Step (nor Master Step) fittings due to the fittings protruding slightly from the boot toe radius.

It is disappointing the army of Salomon-Atomic PR people, reps and direct employees can’t present a more coherent message. Perhaps better information will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, Scarpa has grabbed the Vibram by the lugs, so to speak, and come out with their official take. Read on.

And below please the official Scarpa take as of today, condensed and edited ((comments)):

BOULDER, Colo. (Dec. 20, 2018) – Following recent inquiries ((read: confusion)) from retailers, ski technicians and consumers stemming from new developments in ski bindings, SCARPA announces that its popular Maestrale, Gea and Freedom series ski boots follow the design specifications required for compatibility with Salomon’s new S/Lab Shift MNC 13 and Atomic’s Shift MNC 13 ski bindings.

Current standards for alpine-touring and alpine ski boots and bindings are developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the German Institute for Standardization (DIN). ISO and DIN establish standard dimensions and specifications for the ski-boot and binding interface to achieve proper release function. TUV tests ski boots and bindings to determine whether they meet universally accepted international standards. SCARPA designs and manufactures its boots to meet these international industry standards.

SCARPA’s Maestrale, Gea and Freedom series ski boot soles meet the following standards: DIN ISO
9523, DIN ISO 5355, and/or Dynafit specification 25.09.2009, depending upon the sole of the boot selected by the consumer.

The Vibram® Cayman Pro Sole complies with DIN ISO 9523 specifications and is featured on the following models: Maestrale RS, Gea RS, Maestrale, Gea, Flash and Magic.

The Vibram® Mountain Plus Sole complies with DIN ISO 9523 specifications and comes as standard equipment on the Freedom RS and Freedom SL men’s and women’s.

The Vibram® Mountain Piste Sole complies with DIN ISO 5355 specifications and comes as standard equipment on Freedom men’s and women’s. On Freedom series boots the soles are interchangeable between the Mountain Plus and Mountain Piste.

Salomon’s SHIFT MNC binding is certified by TUV to meet industry standards for compatibility with DIN ISO 5355 for alpine ski boots, and DIN ISO 9523 ski touring boots, with tech fittings that conform to the voluntary Dynafit specification 25.09.2009 (Quick Step), featured on boots such as SCARPA’s Maestrale, Gea, and Freedom series with compatible soles installed. (Note that 9523 ski touring boots without tech fittings will still function with Shift in downhill mode, while they won’t work for touring.)

((WildSnow comment: Regarding Scarpa specifically, here is a list of, in my opinion, which of their 2018-2019 boots that’ll work fine in the Shift:
Freedom, all models. Maestrale, all models. Gea, all models. Flash. Magic.))

Another related concept.

Another related concept. I’m told by insiders that the ISO 9523 norm stipulates the smooth area of the boot toe extend 9 millimeters from the top of the shelf. In the case of this Dynafit brand boot with QSI to fitting, that’s exactly the case. Further, the exact vertical dimension of the Shift toe roller area is, you guessed it, 9 millimeters. (Note this TLT 6 boot is not 9523, but it illustrates the dimension.)

Derivative excerpt from standard 9523, presented here for educational purposes. Note the critical 9 mm dimension area, indicated by red, is where nothing can protrude from the boot toe surface. The area indicated by blue is where a tech fitting can protrude slightly, as the QSI does.

This is a derivative excerpt from standard 9523, presented here for educational purposes. Note the critical 9 mm dimension area, indicated by red, is where nothing can protrude from the boot toe surface. The area indicated by blue is where a tech fitting can protrude slightly, as the QSI does.

 ISO dimensions on boot toe with QSI fitting.  Note the 9 mm zone

ISO dimensions on boot toe with QSI fitting. Note the 9 mm zone

Where the perfection of means may fall short.

Where the perfection of means may fall short. This is the Dynafit Master Step fitting, is has a raised nib the rides under the binding roller, which does not look good to me. I find this to be ironic, as the Dynafit Master Step is clearly the “improved” fitting. More, one would assume the Dynafit is fazing out their Quick Step, meaning they’d be phasing out of compatibility with Shift! Want a helping of fitting salad, lightly tossed? Stay tuned.

Oh, also, the semi-final irony with all this is while we love the Master Step fitting heel (bolted from inside the boot), we much prefer the old style Dynafit toe fittings, the smooth ones, that allow for more sole material.

AND, TA DA, for our final irony: Next season’s Scarpa ski touring boots with DIN 9523 shaped soles (Maestrale and Gea) will fall back to using the original style “Standard” tech fittings, the ones that have a smooth profile at the toe and allow more room for sole material. I’m told they’re doing this to eliminated any doubt about compatibility. Don’t construe this as indicating Scarpa boots with Quick Step In fittings are somehow no compatible. To repeat, they are. More about the Master Step heel here. (By the way, I see no reason why Scarpa could not make their own reinforced tech fittings for the heel. Wouldn’t it be cool if they did that, and combined with old style Dynafit toe?)

Scarpa Maestrale XT toe with "Standard" Dynafit tech fitting.

Scarpa Maestrale XT toe with “Standard” Dynafit tech fitting.

(Per our evaluations above, it is wonderful seeing that Dynafit is using the Master Step heel fitting but the Quick Step In toe fitting on their new (for Fall 2019) Hoji Free boot.)

Shew, is this blog post long enough. I guess not, as I have to add one more thing. Semantics might be the source of at least some of this confusion. Myself and Scarpa are talking about “compatibility,” meaning a given boot works correctly with Shift (always after professional adjustment and evaluation). What Salomon might actually be concerned about is that they can’t indemnify* the Shift binding for the ski shop unless the boot paired with the binding has a stamp indicating it conforms to ISO 9523. I examined the 2019-2020 Maestrale and Gea variations and all have such a stamp. I’m not sure about the 2018-2019 boots. And I’m not sure about other brands as well. Where possible I’ll inspect, and update this blog post.

My understanding is that most boots that conform to DIN/ISO 9523 announce the fact with an insignia somewhere on the boot, usually the sole.

My understanding is that most boots that conform to DIN/ISO 9523 announce the fact with an insignia somewhere on the boot, usually the sole. The mystery here: Does this indicate TUV actually tested and certified the boot, or is the manufacturer simply claiming that the sole shape and configuration conforms to the 9523 standard. My guess is the latter, since the common procedure with an actual TUV cert is to stamp the TUV logo. No harm either way, so long as the consumer’s boot is tested with the chosen binding, by a technician.

(*Indemnify simply means that if a customer sues a ski shop about a binding problem, the binding maker will help defend against the lawsuit. It’s just a legal term. For example, you could have an indemnified binding and boot combination that was out of adjustment or otherwise compromised, and it would still be indemnified. What we talking about here, in this blog post, is COMPATIBILITY, meaning that in our opinion a given boot works correctly in a given binding).


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


45 Responses to “Scarpa Ski Touring Boots and Salomon-Atomic Shift Binding”

  1. Alex December 20th, 2018 10:57 pm

    Thanks for this, I have rough plans to get the Shift binding. Just checked my new Lupos, and they’re the flush fittings.

    But what about the area around the tech fittings, where the plastic of the boot has been deformed by less-than-perfect entry into the pins? I’ve already got some messy plastic from one tour in these boots, and significantly more in my old boots. If the toe of the boot needs to be perfectly smooth to release, couldn’t natural wear from messy entry into the tech pins affect the release? If so that seems like it would be a problem from messy entry into the Shift, just as much or almost as much as with standard tech bindings. (Though I’d guess the Shift’s springs could be weaker, since they don’t need to hold the skier in on the descent, and therefore cause less deformation.)

    I know: test it on the workbench. But if we’re talking theory about a millimeter of fitting metal, it seems like a millimeter of deformed grilamid could be on the table too.

  2. Zoran December 20th, 2018 11:04 pm

    Thank you.
    I should write letter to Scott. I am interested what they will say sbout their boot line and Shift.
    I have my Cosmos 3 and hope they are compatible with Shift.

  3. Bruno Schull December 21st, 2018 12:58 am

    OK, here goes.

    Below are some thoughts about the post above, and then some notes about an injury I sustained last spring, with a 2nd generation Vipec binding and a Cosmos II boot. I am NOT trying to suggest that this binding or boot or combination does not work, but only to provide some anecdotal evidence of how I think the gear we use can contribute to injuries.

    First, after reading this, I reminded, again, of how ALL boot/binding combinations should be tested by hand, regardless of belief, norms, past experiences, shops, official statements, and so on.

    I went back and found these two Wildsnow links which I think are appropriate.


    (Note to Lou–can we get a video of how to test Vipec lateral toe release by hand?)

    Some points:

    1-I think it’s crazy that the performance of these safety systems can depend on a millimeter or two, or less, of metal or plastic. Is seems like the normal variation, manufacturing tolerances, distortion with fitting, use, and wear, will far exceed the tolerance required for reliable binding function. Doesn’t it seem like there is a fundamental problem in all this? How much can we expect boots and bindings to vary, both when new, and over time, and how can we design bindings that accommodate these differences? How can boots and bindings be designed so that they work well together in the real world?

    2-From what I understand, binding/boot release testing is usually (only?) performed with no weight in the system. Wouldn’t a skier’s weight have a HUGE effect on the system? For example–if we are just talking about millimeters here–I expect that the weight of a skier, and the way that a boot, binding, and ski deform slightly, even just standing in place, would be enough to effect the fine interface of pins, sockets, and rollers, and therefore release function? How can we take skier weight into account when testing release function?

    3-Alpine roller style binding systems seem to function better when there is a smooth surface for the rollers to slide over. Should skiers with this sort of binding use abrasives to keep their boot surfaces smooth in these areas? What would happen if you filed down a Quick step or Master step insert? Note: I am NOT suggesting people do this!!!

    4-Tech style bindings seem to sometimes have problems with the pins riding smoothly out of and releasing from the inserts. Have inserts been optimized for entry (Quick step and Master step) at the expense of smooth release? What about retention? Are the old, simple tech inserts actually better? Or is the industry trading easier entry for worse release function? I’m not making a statement, I simply don’t know.

    5-I think Lou has said this before, but don’t we need a new, larger, pin and socket standard, to make everything more reliable and resilient? What are the perceived advantages and disadvantages of a larger pin and socket interface?

    Why is this all important to me?

    Last spring, I badly injured my knee skiing with a 2nd generation Vipec and a Scott Cosmos II boot. I lost control going over a small roller at medium speed, and my right ski twisted in a clockwise direction, looking down from skiers perspective–the front of the ski moved right, and the back of the ski moved left. I think the force on the toe was mainly lateral, although there was also significant compression.

    That kind of force would generally make the toe of the binding release laterally to the inside. And the toe of the binding did release laterally to the inside. I know that because the left toe wing of the Vipec was open after the fall. So the Vipec carriage slid to the inside, and then the toe wing flipped down, and the boot released.

    However, the binding only released AFTER I injured the soft tissue in my knee and ankle (yes, ankle injuries can happen with ski boots). I felt an intense building pain in my knee before the binding released, and I knew even as I was falling that I had injured my knee. I’m about 9 months from injury, still dealing with severely compromised movement and strength. I MIGHT be able to ski gently with my daughter this year.

    Did the boot and binding contribute to my injury? The lateral release felt “catchy” or “sticky,” and it seemed to happen in two stages. There was a stage of great resistance, with little or no movement, during which I injured my knee, and then a sudden, rough release, when I fell. The binding seemed to have little or no elasticity, and the release was not smooth. At least that is what I felt in the dynamic, chaotic, painful moments of a loss of control and injury. I don’t know how reliable my impressions are–all the sensations were translated through the ski and binding and boot and my body. But that is how it felt–no release at all with building tension and pain, and then a sudden, scraping, catching, release. It felt very different to the smooth and elastic release of an alpine binding (although obviously alpine bindings have their own problems).

    I believe, but I do not know for sure, that my injury could have been lessened, or prevented, with a smother lateral release.

    Were my bindings and boots functioning properly? Was the release I experiences completely normal, or was there some interference between boot and binding? If so, could I have identified that rough “sticking point” in bench testing? I don’t know, because I did not perform any bench testing.

    But I will now. I still have the boots and bindings, not used since my injury. I will test them, and report back about what I find.

    Test everything by hand as per Lou’s advice in the posts above!

    Good luck and safe skiing out there.


  4. Lou Dawson 2 December 21st, 2018 5:21 am

    Zoran, the way this works is the boot company will perhaps tell you if their boot is shaped according to ISO standard, they normally will not name specific bindings. I believe the Cosmos is shaped as ISO 9523, and has either the old style or Quick Step tech fittings. I don’t see any problem with it working in the Shift binding. You would want to have the function bench tested, of course. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson 2 December 21st, 2018 5:22 am

    Bruno, thanks for taking the time to write that. I’ll look at converting it into a blog post as it’s tough for folks to read as a comment. Lou

  6. Lou Dawson 2 December 21st, 2018 5:24 am

    Alex, boot damage can indeed cause a ski binding to malfunction. The industry has been dealing with this for many years, mostly with boot wear from walking. The key is to test. Otherwise no way to know what effect the wear has on release. Lou

  7. Bruno Schull December 21st, 2018 6:35 am

    Lou–of course, if you think the information and questions are worthy of posting! Let me know if you want any additional information, fleshing out, and so forth. Cut/edit/embellish as you see fit. B.

  8. David Field December 21st, 2018 8:59 am

    I think it would be a great post to have a discussion about the current state of touring bindings and the challenges of finding a boot/binding set up that performs well in the backcountry and at the area. By performing well, I mean predicatble release, good skiing performance and a release functinality that does not contribute to injust potential more than your typical alpine binding set up properly. With the cost of gear, I see many people doing all their skiing with a single set of equipment. The shift seems to bridge the gap regarding smooth release and touring functionality although with a weight penalty compared to a traditional tech binding setup. The jury is still out regarding durability of the shift and long term performance. Persoanlly I think the best setup for mostly soft snow touring is the classic tech system with a moderately stiff boot with excellent range of motion. I think most skiers would find that combination lacking for resort in area/hard snow performance and for reliable safe release. I think the single setup for all skiing still represents a compromise but we’re getting closer with all the new boots and bindings.

  9. J Griess December 21st, 2018 11:49 am


    I’d like to emphasize your statement that you were skiing at medium speed when your binding released. As a ski instructor, the thing that has been hammered into my mind by HR is that ski bindings are terrible at releasing in low-impact falls – typically in a higher speed crash, the forces of the impact release bindings quickly. It’s slow, twisting falls which tend to do damage to knees.

    Another confounding factor in many injuries is the DIN/release value – many skiers I deal with are all too giddy to crank their DINs because that’s what the pros are doing. The skier type which you select is NOT an indicator of how great a skier you are, but how easily you want your bindings to release. After two rounds of knee surgery, I set my release value with a Type II, even though I’m a rather advanced and aggressive skier.

  10. atfred December 21st, 2018 5:59 pm

    Anybody know if din/release values are consistent among binding models within a brand (e.g., all dynafit bindings)? I wouldn’t think that would necessarily be the case among brands.


  11. Lou Dawson 2 December 22nd, 2018 6:46 am

    Addendum to this post: Regarding the continued ironic saga of Dynafit tech fittings, for next season Scarpa will fall back to using the original type fittings. That’s a pity, as the Dynafit Master Step heel fitting is superior. Ideal would be Master Step heel with old style original at the toe. Lou

  12. Lou Dawson 2 December 22nd, 2018 6:57 am

    Atfred, define consistent. The DIN-ISO ski touring binding standard itself allows significant variation. The DIN/ISO standard is based on each individual binding being tested by the ski shop who sells it, the numbers printed on the binding are intended to only be a guideline, for the technician to start with. That’s why the DIN-ISO standard is not particularly strict about the numbers being exact.

    More, very few tech bindings are even certified by TUV to the DIN-ISO standard!

    I know, I know, that’s not reality, maybe one percent of ski tourers actually would have their bindings release checked. But whatever the case, above is why you have no way of knowing if the numbers on the binding are consistent.

    That said, some companies make extra effort to cause their binding numbers to approximate the DIN-ISO torque specifications. G3, for example, attempts to calibrate every single binding. That’s great, except due to variations in boot fittings and overall wear, if you want to know your true release values (RV), you would still need to have the binding tested on a release check machine.

    And I need to scold you (smile). You’ve been around here for a long time, have you not read all of my 300 blog posts on this subject, and the 400 comments? (smile)

    Or is your question rhetorical? If so, always a good subject to bring up. Nearly the same level of interest as helmets! (grin)


  13. Jim Milstein December 22nd, 2018 9:24 am

    Einstein: “Most quotes attributed to me are phoney.”

  14. atfred December 22nd, 2018 9:40 am

    Yes, Lou, I have read a lot of your informative posts..

    I guess my question was more simple; i.e., would the weight/age chart that a shop uses for one type of dynafit bindings be the same for other dynafit bindings, or do the charts change with binding model?
    Asked another way, if my old dynafit bindings were set at 6, should I expect my new dynafit bindings to be set at or close to that same number? (age, weight, skill, etc all being the same)

    Thanks Lou,

    Merry Christmas


  15. Lou Dawson 2 December 22nd, 2018 10:44 am

    Ok Fred, clear. The charts are based on the DIN-ISO norm, they don’t vary per company. The bindings are just an approximation of the chart. So yes, if you tended to set one model of binding around 6, you might tend to do the same with another. Though due to the vast differences in how bindings function, the astute user might set one binding somewhat differently than another. For example, some bindings have very little elasticity, and might require higher settings to safely retain the skier. Lou

  16. jbo December 26th, 2018 12:56 pm

    Bruno, this seems like a good time to remind folks that lateral toe-release bindings are not designed to prevent soft-tissue injuries. Further, with that particular binding we often see a two-phase release on the bench, similar to what you describe. It seems very boot dependent.

    Fred, binding designs vary so widely, even within a brand, that it’s foolhardy to assume they release the same way. Comparing a Low Tech Race 2.0 to an ST Rotation, for example, is a stretch.

  17. Bruno Schull December 26th, 2018 1:57 pm

    To J Griess and jbo–thanks for your comments and information. Yes, I guess that by injuring myself at medium speed, I fell into the “higher likelihood of damaging knees” group. From other posts on this website, I seem to remember that lateral toe release is generally intended to prevent lower leg fractures. Is that correct? I’m glad I didn’t fracture my leg, although it would have been nice not to injure my knee and ankle ligaments. I think that a smooth(er) toe release would have helped. There’s also the whole question of retention–the principal role of a binding being to keep your boot on the ski! But I don’t think I’m crazy to ask for more; good retention, and reasonable release, that’s designed to reduce the likelihood of both fractures and soft-tissue injuries, at low, medium and high speeds. Boot and binding companies can do better.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2018 9:47 am

    Major edits and updates, due to help from industry insiders. Lou

  19. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2018 9:49 am

    Bruno, yeah, lateral toe release has little to do with protecting your knees. It came during the old days of soft, low-cut boots, when leg fractures were the problem. In those days, you might blow out an ankle but the knees were not as likely to get hurt. Though it happened. My mother for example blew out her knee on 1960s ski gear. Lou

  20. atfred December 29th, 2018 10:40 am

    Hi Lou,

    that’s interesting what you said about low tech race vs st rotation, considering that the shop tech will use the same chart to set the retention number on both. As you pointed out, just a starting point.

    Now, in my case, I’m looking at old verticals vs new speedfits, which seem to operate very similarly. So, I would guess that the numbers I wind up with on the two will be similar.

  21. Chris January 2nd, 2019 3:39 am

    thank you for the review. But I am even more confused at the end if it is compatible or not :D.

    Scarp released a communication saying it is, please see at the end of the link below

    So you still think it is not? or you think it is but not really “appropriate” or the best boot for this binding,


  22. Lou Dawson 2 January 2nd, 2019 6:28 am

    Hi Chris, I’m not quite understanding what boot you are asking about. But any Maestrale is compatible in my opinion.

    Most any boot that conforms to ISO 9523, and has either “Standard” tech fittings or Dynafit Quick Step In (QSI) will function with Shift binding. But as with all ski bindings, alpine or touring, binding function must be tested on workbench before testing with your body.


  23. Chris January 2nd, 2019 8:20 am

    Hi Lou,

    sorry, I wanted to ask for the Maestral RS 2 (2019). From your article, I understand that it is NOT compatible right? or do I miss understood something?
    thank you

  24. Lou Dawson 2 January 2nd, 2019 9:05 am

    Apologies for the confusion, not sure where I messed up but I will re-word. The Maestrale with Quick Step In fittings is compatible.

    The whole situation is ludicrous? Eh? I guess it keeps me working as a blogger, but I wish the industry and PR folks did a better job of sorting this all out.


  25. Chachi January 9th, 2019 8:37 pm

    Well that was confusing…

  26. Peter January 23rd, 2019 11:11 am

    Bruno, a few years ago, I had a partial tear of my MCL due to non-release of my Freeride binding when I got my left ski tip caught in some crusty snow on the edge of a traverse. In my experience, those bindings reliably released during higher-speed impacts or even sharp, slower-speed impacts but not when my knee acted to “cushion” the twist on that particular traverse.

    After that experience, I now typically set my DIN to a lower setting than the charts suggest for me but just high enough to prevent frequent accidental releases. Getting the setting right is a bit of a trial and error approach but seems to work for me with both Freerides and Vipecs. For context, I would class myself as an advanced skier who enjoys both resort and backcountry skiing but not a guy who flies off stuff or skis the super steeps.

  27. Shane January 23rd, 2019 3:11 pm

    I’m with you Chachi. Glad to be a snowboarder right about now 😉

  28. DJ January 24th, 2019 8:51 am

    Man, this was a challenging article to read. I think this was finally the post that the long-narrow formatting, text boxes inside text, paragraphs as photo captions, finally blew my head and not in a good way. Example – the answer to “Short Answer” was a question, then kind of a hazy answer, then…Maybe I need coffee or his Blogness needs an editor…

  29. Lou Dawson 2 January 24th, 2019 10:03 am

    DJ, my apologies. I’ll keep working on it. Was feeling rather constrained by the limits of my content publishing system… Hopefully the point gets across, however messy (smile). Lou

  30. Juergen January 28th, 2019 6:50 am

    I have used the shift with scarpa freedom boots. Skiing and releasing in a fall was good, the problem was using them in the uphillmode.
    If you have managed to step in to the binding converted for touring the pins pivot freely in the fitting. When you pull the toelever up to the first click you notice a light friction between pins and fittings of the Boot, i could live with.
    If you fully lock it with the second click, the friction gets more noticeble, like pulling the brakes on a bike, it is hard doing kickturns if you are not someone like Bruce Lee. With my Dynafit radicals and the same boot this problem does not exist. A budys old Dynafit One boot worked without any problem in both bindings.
    So probably not every boot works with the Shift.

  31. Lou Dawson 2 January 31st, 2019 7:13 am

    Major updates to this post. Am working on the layout and editing as well. Lou

  32. Lou Dawson 2 February 6th, 2019 10:38 am

    Added a photo of a boot sole with ISO 9523 insignia. Lou

  33. Skyler Holman February 13th, 2019 5:16 pm

    Good info. Hoping to match up the shift with the Hoji Free, except it’ll be the Armada shift binding…cause it’s all black.

  34. Scott May 2nd, 2019 8:06 am

    Hi Lou, Would you know if the CRISPI EVO NTN WC 2-pin NTN Telemark boot is compatible with the shift binding? I appreciate that the boot sole under the bellows would need to be supported but it would be a handy solution for me to be able to use a single set of Crispi boots (which are the only 2-Pin NTN’s with rear tech insert ) for teaching in alpine mode and for short tours with Shift setup and being able to swap skis and use my tele setup with a single set of do all boots.

  35. Pez HOLDA June 26th, 2019 1:38 am

    I got spectre but it is not looking as good in the shift as my new maestralers2. Consequently i gave spectre to my wife who has ATK binding-amazing!
    My maestrale rs2 (without number 2 in RS) looks more correct. How do i attach photo here, Lou?
    Pez (UK)

  36. Lou Dawson 2 June 26th, 2019 8:39 am

    Hi Pez, if you want a photo published please send it to the contact link in nav menu above.

    Thanks for drawing my attention to this post. I’ll actually bring it up to the top and do some work on it.

    I have the new Maestrale XT here for long-term testing and it indeed solved the compatibility mess by simply going back to the original type (classic) tech fittings. It’s too bad one binding, Shift, forced them into that, as the Master Step and Quick Step have a much improved heel fitting and are compatible with hundreds of other ski touring bindings. But I get that for now the Shift is quite popular — even though I’ve still not seen one person actually ski touring on it (smile).


  37. Powbanger June 27th, 2019 6:05 pm

    The answer to any binding question is to have the system tested before your ski it. Yes, it’s that simple. Use a qualified shop indemnified by the brand of binding you would like to use, which uses a certified (calibration should be done every year) binding tester which has separate programs for AT and alpine bindings. Yes, those exist, and yes they are more accurate. (IMHO)
    If you would like to buy a boot with a quick step insert but are worried about compatibility issues with the Shift binding there’s a solution.
    Most BC shops will have skis with a demo Shift binding on them, and possibly a demo boot with the quick step insert. If they don’t have a demo boot, ask them to test the one you are looking to buy. It will not harm the boot to test it once or twice. If you’re looking to drop $1k or more on a new kit and the shop says they won’t do it……the response is up to you.

  38. Lou Dawson 2 June 28th, 2019 2:36 pm

    Thanks Powbanger, I pretty much agree, though I think an experienced tech can test without a machine. Problem is, how to know the tech is that experienced? Though even with a machine, the tech needs experience…

    Beyond the above, the overarching concept is that in ten/twenty years, the bindings we’re using and testing today are going to look ridiculous. To the consumer, that should say “be careful, learn, beware nothing is perfect, trust but verify.”


  39. Dostie June 28th, 2019 3:49 pm

    Thanks for dealing with the minutia Lou. I like the idea of Scarpa making their own heel inserts. Tolerances should be much easier to meet than for the toe inserts. Perhaps that would empower them to add heel inserts to their NTN boots so even die hard telesmarkers could lock the heel as desired without changing boots. OTOH, that would affect demand for, what?, a dozen pair of boots?

  40. Lou Dawson 2 June 28th, 2019 4:28 pm

    Hey Dostie, thanks for chiming in! I’ll tell you it’s been a crazy ride for all the boot companies, trying to determine if they want to make their own inserts, or just go with the (friendly) gorilla in the room. I could tell you stories… The Shift really did drop a bomb on all this, didn’t it? Lou

  41. XXX_er June 28th, 2019 4:46 pm

    i dont think its as ^^ simple testing the binding, I’ve seen experianced BC skiers with a lot of brains who don’t know how to properly clear a tech binding before the ski down

    So in other words user error cuz they don’t know how to use a tech binding, so they turn them up or lock them out or the skis fall off mid run

  42. Other Aaron June 28th, 2019 5:33 pm

    @Lou, Boots with electromagnets with magnetic inserts under the topsheet

  43. Peter M Smith July 12th, 2019 6:08 pm

    Thanks for all of the information on the binding/boot compatibility. My question, that I have yet to see a clear answer, is as follows;

    Is the new Scarpa Maestrale XT (yet to be released, but it sounds like you have it) compatible with the walk to ride or gripwalk binding?

    My current set up includes the Scarpa Freedom RS that I use with the Marker Kingpin for my touring set up. I switch the soles on the Freedom RS when I use my resort skis that use the Look Konnect binding (which is RTW and Gripwalk).

    I have really liked the Scarpa Freedom, and believe I would like the new Maestrale XT, for both on and off piste skiing. Would really like to do away with the changing of boot soles to make this work.

    While I am open to another binding set up, I did try the Shift binding last winter. While the binding design is impressive, my field experience was mixed. My buddy who also tried the shift had a pre-release while skiing downhill and I had a prelease skiing uphill. It may have been operator error, but I did not come away with WOW experience with the Shift binding.

    Bottom line, what binding options are available for the Scarpa Maestrale XT?


  44. Lou Dawson 2 July 13th, 2019 9:03 am

    Hi Peter, for obvious reasons I can’t sit here and write that the Maestrale XT is “compatible” with a binding that the manufacturer says requires a WTR boot sole. I can say that it might work, and you’d need to physically test on the workbench. Don’t forget the Fritschi Tecton if you’re looking for an “alpine like” binding. And keep the Shift in mind. All these bindings are complex, and unless used with much experience they are prone to problems caused by user error. It helps to work with an experienced ski retailer. Lou

  45. Peter M Smith July 15th, 2019 4:17 pm

    Hey Thanks Lou. I will look more closely at the Fritschi Tecton; looks like an option. You make an excellent point about the need for lots of experience with the more complex bindings. Currently I have a Marker Kingpin that has worked well…

    Your thoughts on the Tecnica Zero Pro as far as compatibility with either the WTR or GripWalk binding systems?

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