G3 Review, Skis, Binding, Skins, Probe

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 28, 2011      

Sharon Bader and Lee Lau

Shop for G3 gear.

Testing G3 skis.

Testing G3 Zenoxides in the Duffey, BC.

In the time-honored tradition of garage entrepreneurship, Oliver Steffen founded G3 in 1995 making avalanche probes to order, mainly for the Vancouver market. During subsequent years G3 broke through to big-time backcountry skiing products with a suite of telemark bindings, avalanche safety gear and ski touring items. Basically a research and development company with a sales & marketing bent, G3 then forayed into skis and now, with the recent launch of the Onyx, into the world of tech bindings.

Following is a review of two skis in G3’s lightweight touring-oriented “Mountain” Series – the Tonic and Zenoxide. Also overviewed is the the Onyx binding (which were provided with the skis), G3 skins and G3’s new Speed Probe. The skis were skied by both Sharon and Lee in similar conditions.

G3 Skis

G3 Tonic and Zenoxide skis.

Lee’s personal biases
I weigh 165 lbs and ski mainly in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia in the Vancouver/Whistler area. My skiing is usually in fairly high moisture-content snow and I am not a finesse skier. Accordingly, my preference is for bigger skis and boots. I ski about a 100 days a season, 70% of which days involves some backcountry skiing. I spent 10 days on the Zenoxide and 3 days on the Tonic. Almost all these days except for two were spent touring. I used a Dynafit ZZeus boot with these skis. My personal skis are BD Megawatts, BD Verdicts (older foam-core), Atomic TM:ex.

Sharon’s personal biases
I weigh 150lbs and have been skiing in the Vancouver area ( North Shore, Whistler, Mt. Baker) for 30+ years. I have been backcountry skiing for 20 of those. I average 80 days of skiing per year, most of those touring. I skied on the Tonics 10 days, the Zenoxides 6. Both skis saw light powder touring and heavy powder inbounds conditions, and some touring conditions were variable. Boots I used with these skis were the Scarpa Shaka or Scarpa Gea. My other touring skis are BD Verdicts and Movement Sparks. My inbounds skis are Movement Baggies and Volkl 5 stars.

Lee on Tonics, Sharon on Zenoxides

Lee on Tonics, Sharon on Zenoxides

Tonic is unchanged for 2011 from the 2010 version. Main characteristics are an early rise tip (think of this as a rise in the tip of the ski that starts a bit earlier from boot sole center than a traditional rise ski – see profile pictures of the ski below for more of an idea), poplar wood core and reduced camber underfoot. The 2011 Tonic sports an award winning white and red maple leaf graphic. Tonic is still a beefy 3.76 kg / 8.1 lb for the 177mm ski (weights are per pair); it is the slightly heavier but quicker turning ski of the Mountain Series. In the 177 length, the turning radius of the ski is approximately 22m with dimensions of 132/100/123 (unchanged between lengths).

G3 backcountry ski graphics.

We met the designer of the G3 Tonic ski graphics on the Duffey!

The 2010-2011 Zenoxide differs from the 2010 version by being stiffer, lighter and with altered dimensions (same underfoot width of 105mm but a narrower tip and tail resulting in a less turny ski). Weight is reduced by cap construction. Like the Tonic it too has an early rise tip and is constructed with a lightweight wood paulownia/poplar core. The 2011 Zenoxide weighs in at 3.3kg / 7.2lb for the 178 ski, a substantial 300g weight reduction (per pair) from the past year’s ski. In the 185 length, the Zenoxide’s turning radius is approximately 28m with dimensions of 131/105/123 (unchanged over length).

Megawatt Zenoxide

Compare the rockered tip of a BD Megawatt (top) to the 'early rise' tip of the more conventional G3 Zenoxide (bottom).

Test conditions
Lee and Sharon skied the 185 G3 Tonic and 185 Zenoxide inbounds in Blackcomb and Whistler during a powder frenzy weekend, typical weekend of backcountry touring in the Duffey, as well as at Battle Abbey– a ski touring lodge in the Selkirks in the British Columbia interior. The inbounds conditions included light, heavy and packed powder as well as groomed runs. The ski conditions in the Selkirks were mainly powder along with infrequent bouts of wind affected snow. Lee’s focus is on the Zenoxide while Sharon’s focus is on the Tonic, but both skied the other G3 skis and provide cursory impressions.

Sharon’s Tonics (and Zenoxide) Impressions
The 185 Tonics were a lot of ski for little old me. In all conditions, if I got a little bit back seated they would accelerate away from me. I was able to reign them in but I found that the Tonics performed best if I stayed centered. When I was on top of my game the Tonics would reward me with speed, stability and very fast acceleration out of the turns. In the 185 length (as compared to the 177 length) didn’t always want to start a turn, seeming to rather go straight, but once in the turn it would actively accelerate out. They would also plow effortlessly through chunder and over the wind affected.

Inbounds skiing at Blackcomb.

Inbounds 'ski testing' at Blackcomb.

G3 at Battle Abby

Typee Glacier - Battle Abbey

I also had the opportunity to ski on the 2010 177 Tonic inbounds at Blackcomb in powder conditions. I would agree with the previous Wildsnow Review. i.e, that in the 177 length, the Tonic is a much quicker, easier ski that did not compromise at straight lining speed. While the 177 G3 Tonics liked to turn, it was just as comfortable straight lining past the Mountain Safety people (who seem to take offense to such ski technique). In all conditions skied the Tonic was never deflected by wind affected snow, chunder — or even small trees (next career, a firewood business).

The Zenoxides were a more forgiving but less turny ski. They were not as demanding a ski and I could relax more on them. Since they preferred to go straight they required more input to make them turn. Once in the turn they were very quick out of the turn. They were equally stable at speed and in variable conditions as the Tonics.

Lee’s Zenoxide (and Tonic) Impressions
backcountry skiing (separate rant on that necessary), about 100 underfoot for our Wet Coast pow, fairly stiff and fairly light. At the outset I might as well admit that I liked the G3 Zenoxide so much that I bought a pair.

Zenoxide in 185 is not for your relaxed twaddle in the woods. This plank seems to come most alive when you get it up to a certain speed and stay there. Given the lack of sidecut, its long natural turning radius and the fact that the Zenoxide is quite torsionally rigid this is not surprising. I have to admit that I had a very hard time testing this ski in short radius turns; any time I saw a big steep expanse of snow below me, with the Zenoxide’s on my feet it felt so right to blast down-slope faster than necessary. Having said that, in the interests of comprehensive testing for our dear Wildsnow readers, I forced myself to do some short and moderate radii turns. To be blunt, the G3 Zenoxide can do long, short, and moderate radius turns. It’s a decent tight-trees ski and also good in must-turn situations such as hunting pillows or skiing couloirs; in my opinion in large part because the Zenoxide is light and flickable enough that you can whip it around quickly when you have to do so. (Editor’s note: “flickable?” Ah yes, a new technical term for our WildSnow ski reviews.)

Testing and review, G3 skis.

Blackcomb inbounds on G3 Tonics.

Zenoxide is not a beginner or a strong intermediate’s ski. The G3 Zenoxide in the 185 length rewards strong, aggressive skiing. I loved its stiffness from tip to tail; so much so that I would rail Zenoxide into turns, give the tail a slight bit of pressure and accelerate. Give the G3 Zenoxide speed, put in power and it wants more. On the other hand, if you are a content meadow-skipper preferring shorter radius turns on gentler slopes or always in the back-seat or have technique hiccups, look at something more forgiving, with more sidecut and perhaps a bit softer.

On to the Tonics, which I found quite similar to the Zenoxide. Just as comfortable at speed, perhaps a touch easier to ski in trees and not quite as poppy into and out of the turns (but by no means did this plank feel dead). I can’t say that I noticed that the Tonics were heavier than the Zenoxide but, all things being equal, I’d prefer the lighter ski to the heavier and the less turny ski over the more turnier.

British Columbia backcountry skiing.

Kitchen Envy - Battle Abbey, Selkirks BC on a G3 Zenoxide.

In terms of tourability, main thing is Zenoxide is fairly light for its weight (1695g per single ski – verified). I had no issues with the length in kickturns. I appreciate the flattish tail and the skin tab cutout plus the tail material which provides good grip for the camming action of a climbing skin. I also appreciate the flattish tails (and for the same reason loathe twin tips) for the reason that you can easily use the Zenoxides as pickets when boot-packing or when setting a quickie snow anchor. All in all, a ski that’s well thought out for touring

G3 Alpinist Skins
Our test skis all came equipped with G3 Alpinist Nylon Skins. The glue on these skins kept the skins on at temperatures below -25 degrees celsius (ie brrrrrr) when glue on other skins was failing. Sharon had issues on steep packed skin tracks where she would slide back; Lee reported no issues. Thus, WildSnow conclusion is Alpinist skins have average climb traction. (Editor’s note: We concur. In extensive testing here in Colorado we’ve found the Alpinist skins to have average to slightly below average grip, but above average glide.)

The initial glide on the skins was grabby at first, but did improve as they wore in. The improvement was so marked that we’re both happy to opine that the G3 Alpinists has the best glide of any skins we own – comparable to mohair/nylon blend climbing skins. The rotating tip connector on the Alpinist skins is a new feature this year and seems to be an improvement over the simple tabs of G3 skins from past years. The camming action ensures secure attachment at the tail and makes it easy (yet secure to attaching and detach skins).

We haven’t had enough time on the skins to report back on long-term use and wear. All we can say is that after 20 or so days; the skins are not wearing thin in spots and the glue is still evenly spread over the skins and working fine.

G3 climbing skins tail fix.

New camming tail on the G3 Tonic skis (picture is of last years G3 Tonics in the 177 length - Sharon was playing with ski lengths!

G3 Onyx Binding
The Onyx tech binding has been extensively reviewed by Wildsnow. Nonetheless, since our initial Wildsnow reviews this grabber has undergone several iterations and refinements.

New for 2011 are stronger Onyx toe pins and tightened tolerances, along with other refinements. Red plastic on the toe piece identifies where you need to press down to open the toe jaws. The spring tension has also been reduced on the toe piece so that boot insertion is easier. Different tolerances were used in the metal which engages the brakes to help prevent brake deployment issues which plagued the initial version of the brakes. As with previous iterations, Onyx goes from RV 6 – 12. Mounting hole patterns are the same as or partially match many other leading tech binding brands.

Onyx toe unit.

G3 Onyx toe piece side profile. Photo below shows toe engagement mechanism which has potential for snow and ice jamming.

G3 Onyx toe view.

G3 Onyx toe view.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the Onyx it is easy to use. Pros/cons outlined below:

Onyx Positives
* Tech bindings are cool. Really. Go back to a frame/plate binding, or god forbid, a telemark binding and you’ll feel like you’re striding in molasses compared to any tech binding. The Onyx might be heavier than most other tech bindings but shares that same glorious natural striding motion, and you don’t lift the binding as your foot hinges up (which saves more energy than one would think).
* The Onyx brakes work very well. They’re long so they dig into the snow and deploy when needed.
* Onyx swap plate is a terrific idea and lets you share one binding between as many pairs of skis as desired (by mounting additional plates on the skis).
* Onyx heel unit is well designed and easy to deploy (see below pictures – use your pole to engage the red heel lever). It’s easy to switch from ski to walk and vice-versa. It’s not subject to ice buildup and auto-rotation.
* When skiing on hardpack Onyx feels like it has a bit of cushioning compared to other, exceptionally harsh tech bindings; small bumps and hits seem to get absorbed and not transmitted to the skier. We suspect (but have no proof) that the plastic swap plate or some other part of the Onyx’s construction provides some form of cushioning and elasticity to the binding. This is more a question of feel than a quantitative observation. Suffice it to say that Onyx seems to provide a smoother ride.
* Other than in unusual circumstances (described below), Onyx’s toe piece is largely immune to icing up; a problem which can occur with other tech bindings especially in wetter stickier snow.
* At 850g (single binding plus brakes) Onyx is a good deal lighter than any frame binding.

Onyx Negatives
* While we still find having to press down on the toe piece to attach your toe awkward in some situations – such as narrow, rocky confined spaces or in deep loose powder – we were always able to securely attach the toe. There’s no denying that this mechanism of entry is still (in our opinion) the achilles heel of the Onyx system. It adds an extra layer of fiddle to the already inherently fiddly tech system.
* In one touring situation where temperatures were consistently -25 celsius over 4 days, there was significant ice-buildup in the toe piece of Onyx (see above picture). This snow/ice-buildup interfered with the ratcheting mechanism in the toe so one could not lock out the toe for touring mode. To be clear, this buildup happened over a period of several days where the ski was not brought indoors and ice accumulated over a period of several days. The fix is to ensure the toe piece is clear of snow.
* At 850g (single binding plus brakes) Onyx is a good deal heavier than most other tech bindings.

Onyx backcountry skiing binding heel unit.

Onyx heel unit in walk mode with heel lifter deployed (top) and ski mode (bottom). In the bottom picture note the small metal hook which engages the brakes to hold them up when in ski mode.

G3 Speed Pro Avalanche Probe
New for 2011 from G3’s research enginerds is the Speed Pro cable attachment. We’ve both had G3 avalanche probes for probably 15 years and gotten used to having to screw the cap into the end to secure it. The new cable attachment is slick and will speed up probe assembly. Essentially there is a knob near the end of a cable that moves inside the probe. Pull the knob past the end of the probe and angle the cable into the top groove thus locking the cable in place. Fast and smooth.

G3 Speed avalanche probe for backcountry skiing.

G3 Speed Pro probe in 320 cms length.

Shop for G3 gear.

(WildSnow guest bloggers Lee Lau and Sharon Bader are avid skiers and outdoors people. They have over fifteen years of experience backcountry skiing. In the “off-season” Lee is occasionally found working in his day job as an intellectual property lawyer when he is not mountain biking with Sharon. As a resident of Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, their playground extends mainly to Western Canada, including South West B.C. and the Selkirks. Lee and Sharon share experiences at www.sharonandlee.net)


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46 Responses to “G3 Review, Skis, Binding, Skins, Probe”

  1. Lou April 28th, 2011 11:07 am

    Accidentally had comments turned off. Apologies.

    Good review, thanks Lee and Sharon!


  2. Brian April 28th, 2011 11:36 am

    touring last weekend in Idaho with some new G3 Alpinist skins… temps were right around 32 degrees and there was about 10 inches of fresh snow. Had major problems with snow sticking to the skins. They were new out of the box so I assumed I would not need my BD glob stopper wax. I assumed wrong. Still had fun though!
    Other than that I love the skins. I use them on a pair of twin tips and the twin tip clip you can buy is awesome – ease of trimming is also a bonus.

  3. Lou April 28th, 2011 12:12 pm

    We like the glide of the Alpinist skins. When compared side-by-side with some other brands, they do in our experience glop a bit easier unless prepped with skin wax. Really, any skin should be waxed if conditions look like glopping is a possibility.

  4. John S April 28th, 2011 1:23 pm

    The only problem with Alpinist skins has been that “your tail is loose again” clip system. FINALLY they seem to have solved that. I also don’t understand why G3 stopped installing the rip strip right to the tail of the skin. On the fat skins, it makes separating the tail sections very difficult.

    I bought a pair of the newest BD Ascension skis and have been very happy with them. The new no-folding-over permanent tip is good (though not as slick as the G3), the rip-strip goes right to the tail, and the camming tail works like a charm.

  5. Lou April 28th, 2011 1:36 pm

    The new G3 cam clip works well, albit a bit complex the first time you install it. They went to a lot of effort to get the clip on the top to sit down nearly flush with the top of the ski, so it’s less likely to get caught by something and flipped up.

  6. Jake April 28th, 2011 7:18 pm

    Thanks for the review-definitely will have to consider the ZenOxides for next year.
    A bit off-topic but I have a question relating to the Onyx binding: Is there any way to increase the DIN on the original 10 DIN model, either via an official G3 kit or through a Frankenstein creation of some sort?
    I have the original model and I agree they have more elasticity then my Dynafits. I prefer Onyx to either my Dynafits or Freerides; much easier to use and stiffer respectfully. The Heel lifters promptly broke (upgrade kit in the mail from G3) and I recently purchased the new brake. Hopefully these will remedy some of the gross reliability problems from the 09 model, but I still feel a bit shortchanged for being an early adopter, with the 12 DIN coming out.

  7. Fernando Pereira April 28th, 2011 10:18 pm

    I’ve done around 30 days on 177 Tonics, a good part of those touring with G3 Alpinist skins (old tail clip). My view of the Tonics very much agrees with the review: easy to turn, stable, with some rebound but not super-lively. I chose the Tonics over the ZenOxides and a few other competitors on the basis of reviews and friend recommendations because I didn’t have the chance to demo them, and they have exceeded expectations. They are my go everywhere ski now. Sure, a bit heavier than my previous main touring setup (Karhu BC 100s) but the early rise tip and extra stability win every time. As for the skins, I agree on the good glide and so-so grip, but I disagree on the glue. After around 20 days, the glue is less reliably sticky in cold conditions than on BD Glidelite skins with several times more use.

  8. Lee Lau April 28th, 2011 11:31 pm

    Jake – I’ll ask G3 and get back to you on that. Might need some disassembly but I know wildsnow readers like that kind of stuff 😀

  9. Christian April 29th, 2011 12:22 am

    Great review. Liked the presentation at the start. (A short video would make it perfect – to see skier technique)

    How would you compare the zenoxide to stoke? (if you

  10. Lee Lau April 29th, 2011 9:04 am

    Christian – unfortunately I didn’t do a video of skiing just the Zenoxide. In retrospect it would be easy since I have quite a bit of video. But I tend not to turn very much (eg the picture). I’ll throw one up of sharon and I skiing splicing together other videos later if there’s interest.

    The Stokes are like the Zenoxide in terms of sidecut. The Zenoxide has more early rise and is stiffer at tip at tail and torsionally which means its less forgiving, but boy it also means you can go really really fast on it. It’s got great edge hold and deals with chopped up snow quite well. Incredible powder ski which is a good thing because out of 98 days this year I’ve skied 91 in powder. But also can deal with variable conditions on exits from tours. Also pretty light.

    Definitely a more demanding ski though in the sense that it will overpower lighter boots and if I am being lazy it will definitely remind me. So I have to be always paying attention otherwise will end up flat on my back.

  11. Joe D. April 29th, 2011 11:40 am

    Minor question… G3’s website lists the 2010 Tonic dimensions as 132 / 100 / 123, but you state the 2011’s are unchanged with 136/105/124 dim’s. Just curious to know which one is correct, since your report on the 2011 Tonics sounds similar to the k2 Sidestash that I demoed and loved, but over a pound lighter.

  12. Sharon Bader April 29th, 2011 8:57 pm

    Hi Joe,

    The Zen Oxide dimensions changed from 2010->2011, the Tonic stayed the same.
    The Zen Oxide also became early rise in 2011.

  13. Sharon Bader April 29th, 2011 9:07 pm

    Just double checked the dimensions:
    Tip/Waist/Tail Width:
    132 / 100 / 123 mm
    Available Lengths:
    172/177/185/192 cm
    3.76 KG / 8.1 LB

    Unchanged member of the Mountain Series.


    Lightened due to cap construction, early rise tip, lightweight paulownia/poplar core.

    Tip/Waist/Tail Width:
    131 / 105 / 123 mm
    Available Lengths:
    171 / 178 / 186 / 191 cm
    3.3kg / 7.2lb

    2010 Zenoxide

    dimensions were 136/105/124
    Lengths – 170/177/185/192 cm
    weight from 3.6kg / 7.9lb (177cm)

  14. Lou April 29th, 2011 11:04 pm

    Just fixed some ski width typos in the review per Sharon…

  15. shanti May 6th, 2011 8:36 am

    Any ideas on the differences in performance between the dynafit stoke and the zenoxide ? It sounds like you personally preferred the zenoxide, but would you say the softer lighter stoke is more well equipped for powder laps as opposed to the stiffer zenoxide which might make better skiing out of chunder, variable, wind effect ect, and perhaps even carve an edge with more confidence ?

    thank you

  16. Lee Lau May 6th, 2011 10:34 am

    shanti – did you see my response to Christian? Let me know if the reply made sense or you want more colour on that response. Both skis are excellent powder skis. The difference in weight is negligible. Both are light for their girth

  17. Kevin Lowe September 26th, 2011 7:42 pm

    Great review. Thanks! I’m 6’4″ 185lb in the Whistler area, fast on the groomers and I love dropping cliffs into pow. I’m looking at the G3 Zenoxides and Fevers. I can’t find many reviews on the Fevers but I hear they were just a stiffer version of the tonics. My options are:

    G3 Zenoxides 185
    G3 Fevers 185
    G3 Fever 192

    What would you guys suggest?

  18. Patrick Jackman October 8th, 2011 12:42 am

    I bought last year’s 177 Tonics and feel they were a bit too long for me. I’m 5’6, 145 lbs. Do you think I’d find much of a difference with this year’s 172s?

  19. Lou October 8th, 2011 5:28 am

    Patrick, ski length can make a HUGE difference in how a ski performs. I’d definitely try the 172s. Winter is too short for a ski that’s too long. Or something like that, anyway (grin). Lou

  20. Lee Lau October 20th, 2011 8:51 pm


    I know nothing about the Fevers. I’ll drop a note to G3 and ask them. You’re big enough that you might benefit from a stiffer ski than the 185 Zenoxide

    You’re thinking inbounds use right?

  21. Lee Lau October 20th, 2011 8:56 pm

    Patrick – I bet it will help. Sharon found a huge difference in user-friendliness going from 185 to 177 Tonics and she’s only 150lbs and skis like a girl!!

  22. Doug October 20th, 2011 10:01 pm

    Finally. A solution to the absolutely terrible dreaded-threaded avalanche probe!

  23. Kevin Lowe October 20th, 2011 11:04 pm

    Thanks Lee.

    I’ve decided to buy the 188 Coombacks, but my online purchase fell through and ill have to redo it. Are the coombacks stiffer than the oxides? This is for 50/50 resort and backcountry.


  24. Patrick Jackman October 20th, 2011 11:27 pm

    Lee – I found out this week much to my surprise that after cycling for 3 weeks in Spain I weigh only 135 lbs. I also enjoyed your review of the Stoke and now I have two options to consider: a 172 Tonic or a lighter 164 Stoke. Thanks!

  25. Lee Lau October 21st, 2011 5:36 pm


    FWIW – the Stoke was a bit softer than the Tonic IMO. Good luck!

  26. Lee Lau October 21st, 2011 5:37 pm


    You have good taste. I tried the Coombacks but only for one day and only in soft snow but I really enjoyed them. A fun playful ski. I’m not sure if they’re stiffer than the Zenoxides. Anyone?

  27. Chris Webster March 13th, 2012 2:23 pm

    I’m 5’9″, 165, age 62, starting to ski a bit more conservatively and slower. I tour exclusively around 50 days a year in the Kootenays. I’ve been on Reverends with Freerides for 5 years (new Dynafit Zeros) and looking to get liter boards. What are the pluses and minuses of the “rockers” for backcountry use? Thanks Chris

  28. Lee Lau March 13th, 2012 4:57 pm


    I like the Reverends. I tried them in 177 and enjoyed them. Most G3’s use early rise and not rocker (the exception is the Highball – more on that in their webpage).

    I like early rise tips and would be stretching if I tried to make something up negative about them. Easier turning, breaks trail better, floats in pow. Not much to not like. I’m not such a fan of tail rocker as it makes it hard to use the ski as a picket and I don’t like it so much for skins.

  29. Mark April 9th, 2012 12:41 pm

    Lee – any thoughts on mounting point for the Zen’s? I took mine out mounted on the BSL line this weekend in 10 inches of new, increasingly wet snow, and felt like I was always about to go over the handlebars when I hit deeper, heavy snow. I like the more forward mount in junk snow as it makes for a very slarvy ski that will pivot without much force, but I’m worried that I should have gone -1 or -2 from the line since I’m mostly using this for soft now (only hiking with this, no resort). Thoughts?

  30. Lee Lau April 9th, 2012 8:53 pm


    I had mine mounted at BSL centre of the line. It’s decently stiff so seems to respond well to being driven hard even in deeper heavy snow (that’s what snow in these parts seems to be all about). Sorry not much help but just a datapoint I guess

  31. Panayotis October 16th, 2012 4:12 pm


    I have a question about the g3 onyx binding. Does the toe system have a tuning mechanism (like a screw or something) in order to adjust the desired dins, or is it like dynafit.

    Thanks a lot

  32. Lee Lau October 16th, 2012 4:15 pm

    Hello- its like Dynafit in that there’s no adjustable Toe DIN

  33. Panayotis October 16th, 2012 4:18 pm

    Thank you very much for your immediate answer!!! 🙂

  34. KenP November 19th, 2012 11:39 am

    I have the 2011-12 Tonics/Onyx set up (185cm) and have had good luck with them for the most part, but as a big boy (5’11″/220#), have had a couple issues with the Onyx.
    1) I do a fair bit of ski mountaineering in the PNW and often come upon conditions where exiting the ski is necessary for further uphill progress-ice, chunder, STEEEEEEP, etc and find I have to exit the binding in perfect form to keep it from scooting away down the hill as the brakes are locked up in tour mode. Almost lost a ski a couple times.
    2) The toe piece, even “locked” in tour mode (I know it’s not a true lock, but high tension) has popped open quite frequently during fairly light torquing moves, usually initiated by a slip on the less than grippy G3 skins, once again necessitating a fast grab at a slick ski as, once again, the brakes are locked up in tour mode.

    I realize I’m big and apply a hell of a lot of force to my gear, but was curious if anyone else had similar issues.


  35. Lee Lau November 19th, 2012 11:52 am


    Same for me in 1). Same though with Dynafits. The brakes on both Onyx and Dynafit aren’t that long maybe. I’ve gotten into the habit of putting a pole downhill of the ski when exiting or exiting while grabbing the ski with the other free hand

    As for 2). You mean pulling up the tour lever and you’re still pulling out?

  36. KenP November 20th, 2012 3:23 pm

    Yep, pop right out with them fully “locked out” as it were.

    It isn’t the length of the bakes that is an issue for me, they work well when deployed, but having the toe pop loose while they’re locked in up mode and me not being in “Grab the ski really quick” mode while trying to get myself secured.
    luckily, I haven’t lost a ski yet, but have had to make some big modifications to how I travel in the BC to avoid doing so.
    I love tech bindings, but miss some of the conveniences of Freerides.

  37. Lenny October 11th, 2013 9:53 pm

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the great review. I had a chance to try the Zenoxide last winter, however I have not had a chance to demo the Tonics. I’m just wondering if the Tonics would be geared toward a more intermediate skier vs the Zenoxide or would they both to be geared towards a more advanced skier. I’m looking at purchasing a second hand pair of Tonics, but don’t want to kick myself after the first time I try them out, thinking I should have waited for the zenoxides instead.

    Also, sort of on another note – will the type of binding make a substantial difference on how the ski performs? The skis I’m looking at actually come with a pair of fritschi freeride pros mounted to them (skis and bindings are 2011). I’ve used the onyx and dynafit bindings in the past. Any comments or advice? Thanks!

  38. Lee Lau October 11th, 2013 10:04 pm


    They’re both pretty demanding skis. Ie they perform best when skied pretty aggressively. Get them in a shorter length if you want a more laid back version,

    I haven’t skied them with Fritschis but I doubt they would perform substanitally differently

  39. Lou Dawson October 12th, 2013 7:19 am

    Lenny, the bindings don’t make much difference on soft snow. On hardpack or ice they feel different but that’s mostly just a question of getting used to the feel, which only takes a few turns. Tech bindings such as Onyx give a much stiffer connection between boot and ski than Fritschi. That can be either a plus or minus for hard snow, and again, is not that noticeable on soft snow. I’ve been told as many times by advanced skiers that tech bindings are too harsh, I’ve also been told many times by advanced skiers that tech bindings are “precise” “crisp” “solid”. Carpe skium!

  40. Stuart February 26th, 2014 10:57 am

    Lee, thanks very much for your reviews. Based on this, I got a pair of Zenoxides last year and have been having a blast. My first AT set up since telly’ing-getting lazy. I demo’d a lot of skis but ended up getting these without a test ride. Your description of them being stiff, poppy, and light were right on.

    Snow is finally coming to the Sierras again so looking forward to heading out. Thanks again!

  41. Lou Dawson February 26th, 2014 1:06 pm

    Good Stuart! Lou

  42. Lew March 7th, 2014 7:09 am

    I am *finally* moving to AT gear. I love my downhill gear and ski well, and so I’m tired of trying to learn tele with subpar gear (funds are an issue). I feel AT has come to the point where I can take an occasional day paying for inbounds skiing and have a great setup for the backcountry, skiing a style with which I’m already comfortable an proficient.
    I haven’t made a purchase yet, but I have enough to get one set of gear. I am planning on G3 District 100 (177s, I’m 5’9″ and 210#) and Maestrale RS boots. Bindings? That’s my question. I had settled on the G3 Onyx, partly because I might desire to make use of my old Atomic TC9s using the Onyx plate mount option. Seems like all early model issues have been handled and people have overall good things to say about the Onyx. Except: 2 shop techs who feel they’ve seen more come back to the store than other bindings. I’m keen on the Vipec, but I’m staring at a good deal and can’t pull trigger. I have the feeling the Onyx is going bye-bye with the coming Ion.
    Any advice for an AT newbie with budget issues and who may get lucky with 10 days a year in BC and who won’t buy another kit for a long time from now?

  43. brian h March 7th, 2014 7:35 am

    Hey Lew. You may have to redirect your question and break it down to something more specific. This is a busy time for the gear gurus that populate this site. I’m not one of those gurus. I have thought about the Districts for myself, it does seem that G3 keeps their prices in sight of working folks means.

  44. Lou Dawson March 7th, 2014 7:42 am

    Brian is correct, we’re trying to ski at least 20 days this month, as well as working on three different behind-the-scene electronics/computer projects along with attempting to actually write a blog post or two! Heading out today, actually. Then huts all weekend… Lew, your question seems to be mostly about bindings. Can you go out and demo something with Onyx on it? Some folks like it, others find the entry/exit method to be problematic. Lou

  45. Lew March 7th, 2014 7:54 am

    Thanks guys. It is about bindings. I have nothing to compare the Onyx to (never used any tech binding), so entry/exit is less a concern than long term reliability. Specifics? I am looking at latest model District 100 with latest Onyx already mounted. I don’t have any boots yet, just tried them on and know what fits/works. I don’t have any demo opportunities where I am at that I know of.
    Thanks for the quick response!

  46. jeff April 14th, 2016 7:55 am

    Anyone have experience with the tonic (172) mounted with a telemark AXL binding by 22 design? Is this a good ski for tele at the ski area on and off? (5’7″ 150 lbs moderately advanced.)

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