Does Salomon Quest AT Boot Have a Tech Fitting Installation/Design Defect?

Post by blogger | April 18, 2010      

(Updated due to comment feedback and new information.)

(We test these fittings.)

I got an email a few days ago from a guy who described how his friend had been injured from a fall the email writer said was instigated by his friend’s tech fittings pulling out of or being displaced from the toe of Salomon Quest ski boots. From the brief description and photo the emailer shared (no permission to share here), I was unsure of exactly what had occurred despite what was stated. But plenty of people are chiming in to the fact that the fall was indeed caused by the tech fittings being pulled out or displaced from the boot sole. In fact, I’ve even heard from the guy who took the fall and was injured, and he adamantly declares that the failure of his boot’s tech fittings caused his fall, so with all that in mind we’ll take the point of view that this is indeed what happened.

Judging from several photos of the boots I’ve now seen, the tech fittings in the boot toe were indeed deformed and pulled from the Salomon Quest boot sole. How and why would that happen? If you view photos of the Salomon Quest sole, as shown below, the tech fitting appears to be molded into the boot toe in such a way as to have little or no plastic below it, just sole rubber. This could be a very weak configuration that could cause the fitting to pull out during a fall or even while skiing normally.

In view of this incident, it’s important to note that tech fittings should NOT pull out of a boot during normal or in my opinion even extreme use. The binding should release first, even if locked in tour mode (though in the latter case you might also get body tissue to “release”). Normal and correctly installed tech fittings are that strong. Millions of skier days and lots of bench testing verify that.

It is unknown for certain (see comments) if the Quest tech fittings are made by Dynafit or are aftermarket. Dynafit boot toe fittings are connected by a solid steel bar designed to be strongly molded into the sole of the boot, with plenty of plastic both above and below. From the looks of the accident photo I saw, the tech fittings are deformed but still in the Quest boot, indicated they are indeed connected, but that’s the extent of what observing the photos allows me to infer. Again, more importantly, it’s pretty obvious that however the fittings were sourced they may not have been molded into the boot sole strongly enough.

Salomon Quest

Salomon Quest tech fittings appear to be located without much plastic below them, mostly sole rubber. This could quite possibly be a design defect.

Readers here might recall a blog I did a while back that pointed out the lack of any ISO or otherwise standard for how tech fittings are located or installed in ski boots. In so many words, I implied that this was a recipe for problems, and of course ‘buyer beware.’ Now, all I can do is sigh — and hope that folks in the industry will now push harder for a tech fitting boot standard.

Scarpa tech fitting

Nicely installed tech fitting in Scarpa shows good amount of plastic. I removed one of these once from a boot and the effort and hacking it took to do so was considerable. In the case of a properly installed tech fitting, the binding or ski in my opinion will easily break before the fitting deforms or pulls out of the boot.

Dynafit heel and toe fittings.

Dynafit 'tech' heel and toe fittings removed from boot. Toe fitting, at top, is a solid bar of steel with the specially shaped depressions at each end. If installed by normal methods, the toe fitting becomes essentially part of the plastic boot toe and is incredibly strong.


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42 Responses to “Does Salomon Quest AT Boot Have a Tech Fitting Installation/Design Defect?”

  1. Jonathan Shefftz April 19th, 2010 5:28 am

    Additional public posts on other pairs of Quest boots regarding the “Tech” interface:
    “This is the second pair of Salomon boots that have blown out their tech fittings that I have heard of. Last year while touring in Thompson Pass, AK my buddy blew the tech fitting out of his prototype Salomon boots while trying to score a track in firm snow. He stomped hard on a sidehill (as we all do in firm conditions) and the uphill fitting completely pulled out of the boot. To me, it looked like the toe tech fittings were independent of one another, unlike Dynafits which are one piece of metal molded into the plastic of the boot. I was told that Salomon was suppose to fix this design, but doesn’t seem like they have… dicey!”
    “My buddy who blew his out guides for CPG and they get Salomon gear. I hope he let them know about the design fault, but I’m not sure about that. He was unhurt, but pretty livid b/c it happened on the ski mountaineering exam.”
    “The guy [Gunder] swears a lot in normal day to day conversations, but his conversations with his boots and bindings when he’s trying to click into his Dynafits are downright ugly. He’s been in Factors and other Tech boots before so it’s not just a Tech learning curve either… something about the holes not lining up with the pins properly? I really don’t know the details but he now can’t give me s[***] about my tele bindings when he’s taking 4x as long to put his s[***] on.”
    Comment from “”:
    “A ski buddy of mine gets a pair of these Salomon Quest boots sent his way via industry. He asks me to dial them into his Dynafit bindings for him, “no problem” I say.”
    “Not fitting in there very well. Seems like the jaws are “loaded”. Take some more looks and see that they (Salomon, designers, etc) have not created the standard bevels needed for clearance at not only the toe wings, but at the very front center of the boot! Take a look at any boot that’s Dynafit compatible, it’s there. Except for these new boots.”
    “We carved the needed bevels out ourselves and it now works. That’s my story on new “Tech” inserts from new players in the game. Take from it what you will.”
    “To clarify, the missing bevels I was referring to are on the boot sole rubber.”
    “The boots will have removable DIN soles, but the coolest thing is that he’s [Rick Armstrong] nearly certain that the boot is going to be DIN certified for the textured AT soles as well. The textured soles came within a whisker of passing the DIN test recently and they’re tweaking the material right now with an aim toward certification. That would be a very big development in AT boots.”

  2. harpo April 19th, 2010 9:44 am

    another thread on tgr about the injury:

    The doctors are telling the injured skier that he is pretty much crippled even if all the surgeries are a success.

  3. ml242 April 19th, 2010 10:06 am

    skier definitely did not fall and take skis down with him.

    skier was well instructed on tour and ski mode. he came out of skis very shortly into descent and then slid down many gruesome 100s of feet attempting self arrest with whippet.

    while nothing is 100 percent, this was his immediate retelling on hill and when i heard him scream and turn around, there he was sliding, and there were no skis attached. skis came down much more quickly than skier i might add.

    I would appreciate an edit of the post if possible but i guess it doesn’t matter much – but I don’t know who would have told you the skis were on his feet. it just didn’t happen that way.

  4. Lou April 19th, 2010 11:42 am

    Thanks guys, even though your comments are anonymous that’s enough verification for me to edit the post a bit, but could someone please claim to be an eyewitness? That would really really help. Would sure be nice if someone could just use their real name and take some responsibility for providing the facts. This isn’t TGR. What are you afraid of?

  5. Lou April 19th, 2010 11:57 am

    (Comment deleted)

    The victim in this accident left a string of posts here and requested we delete them so we did. Sorry to mess up the thread by doing that, but the guy is hurting and we felt he deserved our consideration. We have no clear idea why he wanted the comments deleted, but suspect it was for legal reasons. Whatever the case, he appears to be posting over at TGR, so you can check out his take there.

  6. Skian April 19th, 2010 1:13 pm

    Lou, the tech fittings in the Salomon boots are not Dynafit inserts to the best of my knowledge. As far as i know Scarpa and Garmont are the only other companies buying inserts from Dynafit. As these are tech fittings in the Salomon boots they are not Dynafit inserts from Dynafit. You have done a great job in recent posts clarifying the difference between “Dynafit inserts” and “tech fittings”. Thank you for keeping it clear that tech fittings are not Dynafit inserts.
    I don’t want to take away from the tragedy of a fallen skier or their injury’s but as this entry seems to be getting imput from a lot of sources and no clarification on the source of the inserts i just wanted to send a note.

  7. Lou April 19th, 2010 1:39 pm

    Thanks Skian!

    Everyone, I just heard from the victim in this unfortunate incident. Our prayers are out to him as he really is hurting. In the face of that, he took the time to declare to me that yes, the failure of the fittings caused his fall. Thanks!

    So, this should be interesting from a variety of angles. We’ll of course blog more about it as things develop.

  8. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 1:52 pm

    On a French ski forum, a Salomon rep has been publicly stating that the Quest shoes indeed have problems with its Dynafit fittings, that this was something known but that the products won’t get recalled b/c there was not so many people using the shoes with tech bindings. He also stated that you would be able to “fix” the problem by locking the bindings. Eventually he mentioned that the shoes sold this year were a pre-serie and you cannot expect a perfect product from a pre serie.
    This is one reason I would never buy any Salomon product.

  9. Lou April 19th, 2010 2:00 pm

    Anon, that sure sounds like a lot of B.S.

    But, if the rep was recommending locking the binding to solve some sort of problem, it occurs to me that perhaps they had other problems with the fittings besides the pull out.

  10. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 2:17 pm

    I’ll find the thread (in French) for you guys and paste the link here.

  11. Lou April 19th, 2010 2:18 pm

    The guy who took the fall posted here (now deleted) that he had locked the bindings with a couple of clicks using the touring lock. I responded that “Sam, when the Dynafit bindings are locked in touring mode something has to give for the boot to come out. But it’s usually a non-destructive deflection of the binding structure and the ski topskin. For the fitting to pull out of the boot or deform is totally unacceptable.

    The thing to remember is that the lock is designed for touring mode (free heels), and people fall all the time while touring, sometimes pretty hard. If it was normal for fittings to pull out of boots, we’d have been seeing it for years. Instead, all I’ve ever heard of was some cracked toe plastic that Dynafit had to deal with a while back. This was the result of a chemical problem during the plastic molding process, it was not a design problem. Perfection is impossible so a small amount of this sort of thing is to be expected. But possible design mistakes of the sort Solomon may be dealing with are a different story, as they are frequently very obvious once put to real world use.

  12. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 2:23 pm
  13. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 2:34 pm

    Let me translate some parts for you guys. Page 3 and 4 are where there are discussions about the Quest fittings problems.

    So the Salom rep says : “salut,
    la Quest est sortie en pré série cette saison et les acheteurs privilégiés ont fait aussi office de valeur test sur le produit.
    Le problème que tu soulèves a bien été identifié et il devrait être modifié pour la saison prochaine. Cela vient de la position des inserts.
    je vous tiens au jus et bien entendu je fais remonter ton message à qui de droit.
    bon ride et merci”

    => Hi, the Quest was out in “pre-serie” this season and privileged buyers have also been used as testers of the product.
    The problem that you are talking about has been identified and should be modified for next season release. The problem come from where/how the fittings have been positioned in the shoes.
    I keep you updated and of course forward your comments to whom it may concern (at Salomon). Cheers

  14. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 2:47 pm

    Date posted was March 22nd by the way.

    Salomon rep : “Perso, je ne les utilise pas avec l’insert mais j’ai déjà observé le problème et le moyen d’évincer le jeux dans la fixation est de skier en position verrouillée donc position montée.
    le BE a les comptes rendu et ils feront le nécessaire.”

    => Personally, I don’t use them (the shoes) with the fittings, but I have already observed the problem. One way of avoiding the play in the tech binding is to ski with lever up, hence touring mode.
    The BE [don’t know exactly to which dpt he is referring to] has had reports about this and will do the necessary.

  15. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 2:52 pm

    Salomon rep : “salut les gars, pas de panique… La Quest est sortie en pré série et comme ce nom l’indique, c’est une pré donc avant série… le problème sera résolu et ceux qui ont eu la chaussure avec ce dis fonctionnement auront les semelles avec le bon insert. ça me semble normal… Serviiiiice Aaaaprés vente … des émissions…
    tcho ”

    =>Hi guys, do no worry…..the Quest was out as a pre-serie and as mentioned by this, it’s a pre-serie, it’s hence a “pre” before the serie…..the problem will be resolved and people who would have had the shoes with this dysfunction (litterally in the text) will get new soles with proper fittings. It’s normal. (then he makes a joke related to some French tv show).

  16. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 2:57 pm

    Salomon rep : “yo,
    mais non, les pigeons ne font pas de rando… trop encombrant les ailes… Alors oui le système fonctionne pas bien, oui Salomon est au courant, oui ça va être réglé sur les chaussure de série, oui ça prend du temps et ça ne se fait pas en deux minutes… désolé donc mais il faudra être patient avant de recevoir les semelles qui seront top.”

    => (start with a joke about pigeons not doing any ski touring)….So yes, the system does not function properly, yes Salomon is aware of that, yes it’s going to be solved on the shoes official release (I am not translating word for word here, but that’s exactly what he means, like the shoes out this season were not the final ones), yes it takes time and this cannot be done in two minutes…..sorry but you will have to be patient before getting the new soles that will be perfect.

  17. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 3:04 pm

    Salomon rep : “Les problèmes avec les inserts sont nombreux et pour d’autres marques de shoes. Tous les gens (guides et autres riders) que je connais skient avec lowtech verrouillées (sans parler de la quest). Encore une fois c’est un pré lancement et les gens feront échange de produit quand la chose sera résolu et surtout produite en quantité. C’est pas non plus le problème du siècle.

    => Problems with tech bindings are numerous and for other shoe manufacturers. Everyone (guide and other riders) that I know are locking their tech bindings – not talking specificly about the Quest. Once again, this is a pre-launch and people will get their shoes replaced once the problem will be fixed and that the Quest will be produced in bigger quantity. It’s not such a big deal. Cheers.

  18. Sean Lohr April 19th, 2010 3:10 pm

    Wow! That is a very scary thing to read Anon. Pretty shocking actually. If that is true then I seriously have to question why Salomon would have allowed people to ski on these boots.

  19. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 3:11 pm

    Ok, then the guy explains that this is 100% normal that when launching a new product there are “issues” and that the Salomon engineers have NOT done it on purpose.
    He then asks if people owning Toyota cars are parking them in their garages, not using them any more…..

    When someones says that well….actually Toyotas are being recalled….he answers that well that’s right but in the case of the Quest’s problem, it’s not such a big deal…it’s like having a problem with the sunshield…..

  20. Anonymous April 19th, 2010 3:18 pm

    He is being ironical.

  21. Michael Finger April 19th, 2010 3:38 pm

    What is ‘the problem’ the rep is addressing above?

  22. Mark W April 19th, 2010 6:46 pm

    Anonymous says, “…everyone that I know are locking their tech bindings.” Why is that?

  23. Francisco April 19th, 2010 7:35 pm

    Is engineering anymore just about looks and style? Maybe all the software and interfaces available to manufacturing these days have enabled quick production of good looking crap instead of well engineered equipment built by good craftsmen?
    I am very sorry to hear about the injury, I wish him the best. People have come back from all kinds of injuries.

  24. Lou April 19th, 2010 8:01 pm

    Francisco, in my view what happens is there is constant tension between the marketing/looks side and the engineering side. Frequently the former wins. I see it constantly and it annoys the heck out of me. On the other hand, I’ll give marketing and design their due, and say that when applied in balance, the result can be great.

  25. John Gloor April 19th, 2010 8:29 pm

    Lou, on my computer I only see a box with the words “copyrighted image link, see” where the photos of the Dynafit tech fittings should be. Do you have any advice for me on how to remedy this?. My computer is a Mac. I would like to see what these parts look like out of the boot. It would also be interesting to see the Salomon version, if anyone has photos.

  26. Mark W April 19th, 2010 8:30 pm

    Why some people use the touring lock in downhill mode I suspect I know, but
    I ask as I like to see what others thoughts on the matter are.

  27. John Gloor April 19th, 2010 8:36 pm

    Lou, I reloaded the page and everything is fine. The heal piece seems real wimpy compared to the toe piece. Is it not burlier and molded in so it can be replaced?

  28. Anonymous April 20th, 2010 5:06 am

    To Michael:

    the discussion started with an owner of the boots complaining about the bindings opening when not locked. The user mentions this arising when there is lateral pressure on the front part of the binding. He also mentions that he thinks the Virus has the same problem.

    The rep on his side mentions there is “play”, presumably between the pins/fittings.

    Frankly I don’t know if this is the same problem as discussed above, but I think this is something which has to be disclosed to the person that had was maybe injured b/c of the boot. After all this is a public statement from someone working for Salomon. I think Salomon’s behaviour, i.e. launching a product that appears to has a major issue with one of its key feature and not only arguing that this is a pre-serie but also not recalling the product is a shame.

  29. Lou April 20th, 2010 6:41 am

    Gloor, that “copyrighted image link” is part of the system that keeps people from using my copyrighted images for their own website or for a forum, but it does cause the occasional glitch for folks. Sorry about that, and yes, a reload or reload combined with browser cache clearing is all you need to fix it.

    Your glitch was probably caused by you first browsing TGR, where someone tried to hotlink that image of mine in a TGR forum post. My system replaced that image with the copyright notice. Then, when you went back to WildSnow, your browser used your cached image that it had picked up while you were visiting TGR.

    That might be more than you wanted to know, but I thought it worth explaining.

  30. Lou April 20th, 2010 6:43 am

    Gloor, as for the fittings, the heel fitting made by Dynafit just sits in a milled out area and is held in by a screw and a locator pin. Other boot brands that don’t use Dynafit fittings for their tech fittings do it various ways.

  31. Michael Finger April 20th, 2010 7:43 am

    Wonder when we’re going to hear from Salomon?
    Are they going to ‘Toyota’ it or come clean if there is a problem and make things right?

  32. Colin in CA April 20th, 2010 2:33 pm

    I’m sure people at Salomon are aware of the threads on TGR and probably this blog post. At least one of their sponsored athletes posts on TGR regularly, and Rick Armstrong started a thread touting the awesomeness of the Quest that has now seen quite a few posts about this. If I was Salomon’s attorney, I would tell them to wait until the injured person contacted them, or to contact the injured person quietly in a few days (when he’s on fewer painkillers). Work something out first, and then issue a press release. I’d imagine we’ll hear what happens, in time. From what I gather, there seems to be quite a bit of evidence in the injured’s favor–probably enough to induce a quick settlement. If I was to bet, I’d say that’s the most likely outcome.

    To be jerks about it would alienate a lot of their core clientele. A lot of people read TGR, Wildsnow, and other ski sites these days, and a lot of those same people have influence over their friends’ buying habits.

  33. April 20th, 2010 3:47 pm


    Jonathan, good coverage as always. I knew when i looked at that boot it was not right. FWIW, I’ve mounted over 1000 pairs of Dynafits in my life as a tech. It was instantly clear.

    It’s not unusual for a first gen product to come out flawed, however, I think the way that the company handles the recovery from fallout on said product will be key if they want that product to have any lifespan whatsoever. It will be interesting to watch and see how this is handled.

    As for my friends boots, on day 1, a buckle broke.

  34. SB April 21st, 2010 8:06 am


    Do these small companies actually employ University trained engineers or do they have “craftsmen” and just call them engineers?

    If they didn’t treat the design of that interface as a critical, life dependent feature, such as designing a carabiner, I can imagine they never had a mechanical engineer do any analysis on it.

  35. Lou April 21st, 2010 8:35 am

    Salomon is not a small company. When they design and manufacture a ski boot there are presumably multiple engineers involved, for everything from plastic molding systems to the mechanical parts.

    But yes, when something like a ski boot is designed and made, there are also quite a few people involved who do not have engineering credentials and may not even think in terms of “engineering.”

    The huge problem is that sometimes the folks without the engineering skills are the ones with the influence. More, sometimes products are rushed to market without proper testing.

    In the case of tech fittings and the boot sole, I’d actually point the blame for poorly done iterations to the lack of an international standard. Part of the blame for the lack of a standard should be place square on the shoulders of organizations such as TUV, who by many reports I’ve received have been very difficult to deal with when it comes to the tech binding interface. But much of the blame should also go to the boot makers themselves, who in my opinion should have gotten together by now and agreed on a standard for tech compatible boot soles. Reports are that a standard may be in the works, good and needed, but way too late.

    All that being said, the problem with TUV, ISO and all that is that they are incredibly stifling to innovation. Thus, there seems to be a strong tendency these days to blow them off. Amazingly, there are more versions of the tech (Dynafit) binding these days than all other AT bindings combined, and not one of those bindings has any sort of certification for any standards. If that isn’t just amazing in today’s litigious world, I don’t know what else is… I mean, can you imagine a bunch of car tire companies doing that — say just blowing off the DOT standards in the US, for example? No way.

    And now we get ski boots with a binding interface our lives depends on, and there is no international standard defining any parameters for that interface? Is that an example of the post modern era, or what?

  36. Anonymous April 21st, 2010 2:04 pm

    To me it has nothing to do with Salomon being a small or big corporation. History has tought us that big corporations can sometimes function in very inefficient and unprofessional ways.
    IMHO, it has to do with a company proven seriousness over a long period of time. I am not sure I would put Salomon in that category as of now. Even if their recent refocusing on the more “core” segment of the ski community has brought interesting products, their “track record” is not that pristine to me.
    Now that I have to buy a new pair of boots next year, I will focus on the ones who have done it for years and spend their money on R&D, not flashy marketing campaigns and flying helicopters to get images that sell. I am also a die-hard runner…..and if I had to make a comparison, Salomon has the same appeal of Nike.

  37. CookieMonster April 22nd, 2010 5:43 pm

    These posts + TGR discussion paint an absolutely horrifying picture.

    Tech bindings and boots with tech inserts are mountaineering products. Given the expense of most items in the this category, it hardly seems reasonable, or even necessary, to use what certainly appears to be a cheaper part.

    Salomon probably was interested in this category because 1. ) buyers are willing to pay premium prices, and 2. ) as others have pointed out, they want great images for their marketing campaigns.

    How sad.

  38. Derek April 23rd, 2010 5:15 pm

    Gotta love the internet. A lot of guys named Anonymous saying hateful things. The people I know who work at Salomon are good people who are passionate about our sport, and who I’m sure feel horrible about what happened and are likely doing what they can to right the situation as much as possible. Cookiemonster, ski companies don’t need touring bindings to get good images for their marketing campaigns. The rent helicopters.

    Lou, thanks for the clarification. I wanted a pair of these because I hate how touring boots ski but want to make the transition tech/Dynafit bindings, but my size wasn’t available. Still a little confused, though. Was the plastic/vibram sole pulled out as well? Would love to see the photos once you get permission.

  39. Lou April 23rd, 2010 5:24 pm

    When you sell things and sell something that doesn’t work correctly, you have to have a thick skin. Yes, the guys at Salomon are nice guys, but a bit of anger directed their way is understandable in this situation. Being a “good person” still means you live in the real world where bad stuff can happen on your watch.

    Of course the real culprits in this situation are the faceless product development people in Europe or elsewhere who actually created this boot and had it manufactured. The distributor has no culpability in the matter, since they did a recall after quickly becoming certain that they indeed needed to do so. Yeah, it would have been nice if the recall had been 24 or 48 hours earlier, but reality is that a recall is a HUGE move and not something that companies can just whip out on a moment’s notice. Again, reality.

    A good lesson here is truly buyer beware of first-year products upon which your personal safety depends.

    As for me, I’ll be bench testing ALL our sample boots and bindings BEFORE testers such as my son go pound them. Should have been doing that all along, but I got lazy. Thank GOD I got lazy about the Salomon boots and never bothered them for a pair of testers…(though come to think of it, perhaps I would have caught this problem and Dalton’s accident wouldn’t have happened — a man can dream…).

  40. Jonathan Shefftz April 23rd, 2010 5:36 pm

    “Was the plastic/vibram sole pulled out as well?”
    — The attachment of the swappable pad/block to the boot body was fine. The failure of the Tech interface was exactly as in Lou’s test, except confined to the right fittings on both boots. (The skier recalls losing his skis on a turn to the left, so that matches up with the failure on the right side of each boot.)

  41. Bryan April 24th, 2010 1:17 pm

    Lou: You made a point about a recall being a huge move. But, from what I understand, the number of Quest boots sold has been in the dozens. Through, what, a dozen shops? A recall shouldn’t have been that difficult. Salomon had an obligation to notify its customers as soon as they realized they had a problem. (Maybe they did make such notification. I would feel better knowing they did.)

    The main problem with what Solomon did, as I see it, is they sold the boots FOR Beta testing but sold them AS a finished product. I saw the ads touting them as 2010-2011 models, but that was positioned more like the car OEMs selling next year’s model starting almost a year earlier than the calendar.

    –> If you’re going to sell Beta-test products, then provide them for that purpose, solicit feedback from the testers and share important information with all stakeholders. Especially for a product that is used in a sport where a failure could injure someone or, God forbid, result in a death.

  42. Lou April 24th, 2010 3:23 pm

    This industry doesn’t do recalls very easily, so doing one is a huge move in my opinion…

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