La Sportiva Tech Binding — The Review

Post by blogger | May 11, 2011      
ATK La Sportiva Binding pan

ATK La Sportiva Binding pan

The La Sportiva branded ATK binding that is now fairly well distributed and giving other tech bindings at least a bit of run. The binding is nearly 100% aluminum and relatively un-tested by heavy consumer use. Thus, while we appreciate the engineering and workmanship of this grabber, the jury is out on real-world performance. We’ve used the binding for around 6 days and have had no issues, and look forward to reports from early adopters with more days. Mouse over to pan image above, and click on images below to enlarge. I guess I’m pano mad these days!

In what is obviously an effort to create a “vertical” line of backcountry skiing products, La Sportiva is distributing a version of ATK RT bindings as the “La Sportiva RT.” The PR folks have asked us to subsequently refer to the binding as the “La Sportiva.” Why not, perhaps they’ll buy me an espresso? So we’ll use the requested nomenclature, only I’ll shorten the noun to “Sportiva” or “Sportiva RT” for help with my carpel tunnels.

Not only is the Sportiva binding super lightweight (8 ounces per ski, with screws and without brake), but it provides a signature feature in that you can adjust holding tension of the LOCKED toe. In other words, when the binding is being used with the touring release lock-out engaged you can select a range of “strength” for the lock.

La Sportiva tech binding lock system.

La Sportiva tech binding lock system engaged. Tension while locked is adjusted by turning the obvious screw, which in turn raises and lowers the arrow indicated landing. The landing is engaged by the base of the touring lock cam lever. Important to note this adjustment makes zero change to release values (while touring or downhill skiing) when the lock is NOT engaged.

Important: This adjustable touring lock tension has NOTHING to do with lateral release when the binding is unlocked and in full safety-binding downhill mode — it only has an effect when the binding is locked for walking and climbing while backcountry skiing, as it works by changing the camming tension of the lock lever (mostly for the purpose of absorbing variations in manufacturing tolerances).

This pops the bubble of some folks on the net proclaiming that the Sportiva has an “adjustable release at the toe.” While perhaps this is so if you’re skiing downhill with the toe locked and want lateral release settings in the 13+ range, for most people it simply means you can adjust how tight the toe locks while you are touring — useful for larger folks, or individuals who want to tune their binding so it’ll come off in situations such as an avalanche entrainment while they’re in touring mode, but stay on their feet during normal uphill use.

Sportiva binding, touring lock not engaged.

Sportiva binding, touring lock not engaged. Obvious screw raises and lowers the landing indicated by arrow. Numbers have no relationship to DIN calibrated release values, they're just for reference.

To clarify. In my hand-testing on the bench, it was obvious that when the Sportiva binding was set in downhill mode (heel locked down), with the touring lock in engaged position, lateral release value was easily up in the range of 12 or more with the touring lock tension dialed as low as possible. (Bear in mind the tech binding locks do not change or lock upward ‘vertical’ release). Upon setting the lock tension higher, the difference in lateral release resistance was easy to feel, and I’d guess reached the RV 16 or greater range. In all cases, with the lock engaged the binding lacked full lateral elasticity and the boot tended to load up with a ton of torque before violently popping to the side out of the binding. Obviously, this sort of behavior is not going to save your knee ligaments unless you share DNA with Hulk. Thus, as with other tech bindings for most skiers, when the Sportiva is locked, it is simply LOCKED (in terms of lateral release).

Whew. With the above mythology straightened out, let us move along.

More toe info: Verified by bench testing, the tech pins are properly sized for a nice smooth lateral release when using boots with good quality tech fittings. The toe is mounted with 4 screws on same pattern as most other tech bindings. Crampon holder is part of binding base and compatible with any crampon that works with other tech bindings. That said, if your crampons are much wider than your skis and thus subject to much torque, we wonder how well the tiny aluminum crampon hooks on the Sportiva binding would hold up. Whatever, if one of these breaks the day can go on. The toe does not use a base plate. Very simple. Very light.

La Sportiva ATK RT binding touring lock.

Another view of touring lock, small metal piece indicated by arrow moves for and aft to raise and lower the lock landing, by virtue of the tapered slot it rides in. Very simple.

Heel unit
Sportiva heel unit is sold with a base plate that allows boot length range of 3 centimeters. For less weight (and less ramp angle) you can mount the binding heel without the adjustment plate (Doing so is tricky; with no for/aft adjustment things have to be perfect). The infamous tech binding “gap” between binding and heel is set using the for/aft adjustment, and appeared to me to be best at 5.5 mm.

La Sportiva ATK heel unit.

Heel unit with base plate. For aft adjustment is done by loosening the obvious philips screws and sliding the top part. For a race type configuration and weight savings, the heel can be mounted without the base.

Regarding the high heel lifter. Unless you’ve got just the right sized ski pole tips, you’ll have no luck rotating the heel unit with a pole. Even if you can insert a pole tip in the lifter, you’ll find that in certain positions doing so is excessively awkward, leading to our conclusion that the Sportiva is designed to be rotated by reaching down and doing it with your hands. That’s probably fine in Europe, where most skin tracks are optimized for medium lift on tech binding. But here in North America we tend to have skin tracks that vary frequently from medium lift to sections requiring high lift (apparently due to young, testosterone poisoned trail breakers who prefer to make climbs as tough as possible). Constantly reaching down to set the binding for such tracks can quickly reach the tedium of flipping burgers for a living, only more strenuous. Likewise, if you’ve wired a system for quick mode changes that involves using your pole to rotate your tech binding heel, you’ll probably find that’s not ideal with the Sportiva and you’ll be back to doing it by hand.

And yes, the binding can be configured without the high-lift on the heel unit, so it’s totally in race mode. An add-on ski brake is available, we did not test.

Our conclusion: Noticeable weight savings with this nearly all alu offering. Toe tension adjustment could be useful for larger skiers who have trouble staying in tech bindings in touring mode with toe locked, but makes NO difference in release value in alpine mode with toe unlocked. We question strength of aluminum toe wings. Consumer testing will tell the tale. I skied on the binding for six up/down tests for a total of about 13,000 vertical of uphill, and it skied and functioned in similar fashion to most other tech bindings, albeit with the more difficult to operate heel lifter. If you want to be an early adopter, here is a La Sportiva RT shopping link for your card melting pleasure!

La Sportiva RT binding weights:
Total binding with screws, no brake, 8 ounces, 226 gr.
Toe unit, no screws, 3 ounces, 88 gr.
Heel unit, no screws, 4.3 ounces, 122 gr.


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74 Responses to “La Sportiva Tech Binding — The Review”

  1. Jon Miller May 11th, 2011 9:30 am

    My ski buddy got one of the first pairs of these in the states, and I had the dubious honor of mounting them. The tiny metal “template” made me long for the joys of a paper jig! In any case, he has put a solid 30 days on them this winter and more this spring. So far so good. They make for a ridiculously lite set up!

  2. Matt Kinney May 11th, 2011 10:51 am

    Nice to see visible “yellow” graphics on an AT tech binding. The more visible graphics will help beginners and also help me help them figure it all out on those first few tours. I deal with this quite a bit actually.

    I know about these binding than anyone who has not skied them. 😆

  3. Karl May 11th, 2011 1:56 pm

    Why are the screws/toepieces foaming? (did you mount that binding with epoxy onto a foam-core ski?) 😉

  4. Lou May 11th, 2011 2:01 pm

    Just some Gorilla Glue for the mount after removing binding to evaluate… my sloppy job.

  5. John Gloor May 11th, 2011 6:42 pm

    Lou, we skied at the Battle Abbey hut a few weeks ago, and one friend in our group had trouble with the single screw which holds the heel lifter on. On her bindings both screws stripped out the threads they were screwed into. I think the stripped threads were aluminum. I was not impressed with that bit of engineering, but the bindings as a whole seemed nice. Very minimalistic.

  6. Eric Steig May 11th, 2011 8:49 pm

    Too bad that the release setting on the toe go from ‘locked’ to ‘superlocked’. If they went *lower* rather than *higher*, then this would be the go-to-binding for the first exciting development in telemark bindings in about 20 years : the telemark tech system (

  7. Bar Barrique May 11th, 2011 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the review. I have been waiting for a lighter tech binding (with brakes). This binding may or may not be my next binding, but it is nice to see someone making a lighter recreational tech binding. Dynafit has focused their efforts on products to entice new customers, but folks who chose Dynafits years ago for lightness have not been provided with new lighter recreational products (light weight brakes, crampon support etc).

  8. Michael May 11th, 2011 9:07 pm


    Do you “defiantly” say the jury is out or definitely say the jury is out? Either way works! 😀

  9. JD May 11th, 2011 9:09 pm

    “…can quickly reach the tedium of flipping burgers for a living, only more strenuous.”

    Another grammatical beauty.

  10. Joe May 11th, 2011 10:04 pm

    Lou –

    Any chance of a follow up with the ATK brakes? I like the way they are based at the front binding allowing for the illicit escape from ski mode that you can’t do when the brake is based at the back. I’d also be curious to see if the brake is compatible with dynafits. I suspect it would require some modification.


  11. Lou May 12th, 2011 5:24 am

    Michael May, that was probably too strong and could have been written better, so I edited a bit. Thanks for calling it out. What happens when I write these things is that unless we test something extensively, I’m trying to get away from the appearance of giving it a total pass. Ski mountaineering consumers have been bitten so many times over the past thirty years by bindings that broke or just plain didn’t work (nearly every brand is guilty), I’m very leery of raving about stuff and just want to make it clear that we’re excited about a new product and enjoy testing and reviewing, but, torture testing has only barely commenced…

    Eric, interesting that the most exciting thing to happen in tele bindings is simply to combine some parts from other bindings. The system may work and be great, but I still find that kind of sad.

  12. Lou May 12th, 2011 5:50 am

    Joe, I do need to mess around with the brakes. We’ll see what the powers that be will provide… Powers, what say you?

  13. Eric Steig May 12th, 2011 6:10 am

    “The system may work and be great, but I still find that kind of sad.”

    Oh, I agree Lou. But it’s all your fault for giving Dynafit such a good name, and killing telemark innovation as a consequence. 😉

  14. Lou May 12th, 2011 6:11 am


  15. byates1 May 12th, 2011 7:55 am

    i flip burgers for a living…

  16. Bill May 12th, 2011 10:15 am

    Just to point out a small discrep: Not all tech bindings use a dynafit styled crampon mount. ie G3 Onyx.

    Love the article, and the foaming G glue!

  17. Ryanb May 12th, 2011 11:38 am

    Cool binding but what I really want to know is how you liked those skis (those are the la sportiva hi5 right?).

  18. Jonathan May 12th, 2011 11:48 am

    Lou, we can send you the brakes if you would like.

  19. Lou May 12th, 2011 1:23 pm

    I just knew a burger flipper would chime in, now I feel bad.

    Definitely need the brakes for review. Actually was a bit surprised they were not included on the testers.

  20. byates1 May 12th, 2011 7:08 pm

    ^^don’t feel too bad lou, only joshing you,

    i an a chef, work 6 months, get paid to ski the other six, skied 105 days all bc and did not really ski in april,

    this burger flipper has his s**t dialed:)

  21. Lou May 12th, 2011 8:37 pm

    I’m taking up burger flipping, shut my mouth 😕

  22. byates1 May 12th, 2011 10:20 pm

    and i made dinner for you at brad and katie’s 2 yrs ago, you were in town for OR.

    ski you soon!:)

  23. Jon Moceri May 13th, 2011 10:21 am

    @John Gloor: The screw that holds the heel lifter on also is the adjuster for the upward heel release. So the screw never really firmly tightens up. But the more you screw it down, the higher the release setting goes. But it feels like the screw has stripped the threads.

    I’ve had over 500,000 vertical (mostly lift served and cat skiing) on my ATK RT bindings without any problems. I mounted them on my DPS 112RP skis and ski them with the Dynafit TLT 5 Mountain boot and the Inuition Pro Tour liner. It is a ridiculously light and fun set up. The best part is that I’m skiing steeper, deeper and faster than I ever have.

  24. John Gloor May 14th, 2011 10:18 am

    Jon, something stripped or was messed up in her binding as the screw would never tighten down. Her heal lifter would lift off the binding and freely rotate. There was probably some user error though. Now that I know it is the upwards tension adjuster I am glad we did not epoxy the screw in to finish the trip! Thanks for the heads up about the release and I will notify the owner of the bindings about this issue.

  25. Jay May 15th, 2011 7:56 am

    Gee thanks, way to take the powder from my planks! When I saw those Din-like numbers on the Toe I thought they’d refer to descent-minded people and not for hard-hikers.

  26. Lou May 15th, 2011 8:28 am

    The numbers are pretty funny, as they have no relationship whatsoever to anything other than themselves… am thinking they’re probably useful if you share bindings with folks who want to reset the toe lock tension, or if you’re working with a racing team. Frankly, I don’t know why one would not just dial it up and leave it there, but I suppose it’s nice to tune for touring in avalanche terrain…

  27. tony May 15th, 2011 5:01 pm

    Lou, am I missing something? You said the toes screw holes are the same as the 4 hole tech standard. How about the heel screw holes? Are they proprietary? If so, can you mount the Sportiva on a ski that has been previously mounted for the dyna standard?

  28. Jonathan Shefftz May 15th, 2011 5:39 pm

    “or if you’re working with a racing team”
    — That’s not their race binding.

    “How about the heel screw holes? Are they proprietary?”
    — yes

  29. Lou May 15th, 2011 6:01 pm

    Still, could happen…

  30. Pat May 30th, 2011 8:57 am

    What was the din value of the toe piece in the non-lockout mode for downhill skiing? I’m just beginning to look at bc gear (completely brand new to this); Are these bindings suitable for 177lb beginner backcountry skier?

  31. Lou May 30th, 2011 9:54 am

    Pat, you’ll have to gain a deeper understanding of how tech bindings work. Read anything you can find on this website using keywords Dynafit and Tech. For now, please know that with tech bindings, we don’t use the term “DIN” for release values as there is no tech binding certified to use that term. Instead, we use the term “RV” for release value that is ostensibly close by the number to what a DIN value would be.

    That out of the way, please know that tech binding attain their release values by setting them at the heel unit. The Sportiva binding, in other words, has a range of release values you set in the heel unit.

    As for using this binding for a 177 lb beginner, sure, they’d work. But if you’re totally new to this stuff be sure to get some instruction on how to use tech bindings. They are more complicated than using an alpine binding.


  32. Pat May 30th, 2011 11:19 am

    Cool, I’ve learned something today! Didn’t know that the RV was controlled solely by the heal unit. Sure like the weight of this binding! Lou, Thanks for the help!

  33. Tonio June 18th, 2011 8:49 am

    Bonjour messieurs,

    It seems you guys in the US know more about these ATK’s RT than we do back here in the Alpes. Just like on ALL French forums, the (usually very pro and reliable) seller of my corner shop, best high-end mountain gear arround Briançon, swears to me that ATK people told him that the front adjustment screw is for downhill release. He sold about 10 pairs last winter and didn’t see any of its customers come back neither for complaints nore for feedbacks.

    I know it is tough to ask you this but could any of you write a little on its last big snow eating fall? did it release fine?
    Did anyone above 180 Lbs hard tested them without locking the front? Did anyone that used to pre-release skiing with FT or ST dynafit’s before tried these ATK’s ?

    I am not too concerned about the weight gain but I would definitly go for these bindings if one could conclude that they release, even if just a little, safer that locked Dynafit’s…???

  34. Lou June 18th, 2011 1:36 pm

    Well, for starters, even if a person did ski with the toe LOCKED that would only influence lateral release, not upward release. More, as I think I mentioned, locking the toe in downhill mode, no matter what toe adjustment is made, still results in high enough release values as to not be considered “safety” release for most skiers of average weight.

    As for people “swearing” the toe adjustment does something in downhill mode. Sure, if you ski downhill with the toes locked then you can vary the extremely high lateral release values by adjusting the toe adjustment. What practical purpose that would serve, I have no idea. And I repeat, it the toe is UNLOCKED the toe adjustment does NOTHING, it is totally obvious.

  35. Tonio June 22nd, 2011 12:18 pm

    Thanks Lou, I went to have a look at one in my local shop and the seller and I totally agree with you, when you take a second to look at it, it is obvious it only works when it is locked, so not in downhill mode. The seller was shocked (and somewhat upset) as ATK’s salesman told him it did.He will call them first thing in the morning…

    As on their website they only talk about front release, leaving the doubt, they have to know that touring-release is not what we think of at first, I find that extremely unethical (I could think of stronger words in French;) some say “hiding aint lying”… I think it is.

    Thanks again Lou, without that discussion I probably would have been fooled!

  36. Tyler B July 28th, 2011 10:34 am

    Hey Lou,

    Really interested in this binding for Beginner Ski Racing and training. I use Vertical ST for my everyday setup and love them. Dynafit is discontinuiong Low Tech Lites so they can still be found for a decent price but I am concerned about loosing release capabilities.

    Maybe I dont understand but would you mind explaining the difference between these LaSportiva RT Bindings and the Dynafit Low Tech Lite. Specifically in the heel behaviours. It sounds like tthe La Sportivas are lighter and have a little more release safety due to the din in the heel. But, you will have to turn the heel by hand.
    Also, does the La Sportiva have a flat skinning mode, where the heel of the boot rests on the ski?


  37. Lou July 28th, 2011 12:22 pm

    Tyler, where did I say “DIN in the heel?” Or is that something you picked up somewhere else? No tech binding is DIN certified and thus none have any sort of DIN settings. They do have release value settings (RV), and both Sportiva and Dynafit allow full adjustment of both vertical and lateral RV.

    Yes the Sportiva has a flat skinning mode.

    In terms of difference in the bindings, yes, the Sportiva is lighter. In terms of function, both bindings are more similar than different, nothing really stands out except that when the Sportiva toe is locked, you can increase the locking force. I’m not clear on what purpose that serves, perhaps a nice feature for really big agro skiers who do all their skiing with the toe locked. Or perhaps some skiers can’t stay in the binding while touring and locked so they provided this as a way to fine-tune your retention while touring.

  38. Jonathan Shefftz July 28th, 2011 1:01 pm

    I suspect his reference to “DIN” at the heel was an abbreviated (and somewhat misleading) way of saying that the ATK / La Sportiva RT has independentally adjustable lateral and forward release values, whereas those values are fixed on the Dynafit Tour Lite Tech, despite the RT being 3.9 to 1.5 ounces lighter (with the range depending on whether the extra heel elevator and adjustable fore/aft plate are added).
    Either binding when paired with a ski waist width in the 70s plus a boot like the TLT5 or F1 would make for a reasonably competitive citizen rando racer setup while also being an ideal spring & summer touring rig.

  39. Lou July 28th, 2011 1:22 pm

    Jonathan! Ok, names of this stuff are confusing. Yes Tyler, Dynafit race and ultra light bindings up to this coming season had non-adjustable release. Next season World Cup race regs will require adjustable release, though Z&Y (up and side) can be combined. Thus, the new TLT Speed Superlight coming next season combines both Z&Y, adjustable up to RV 10. This binding is said to be a direct reaction to ATK/Sportiva providing a “race” binding that’s got adjustable RV in heel.

    As you can imagine, if Dynafit did not provide a race legal binding, they’d suffer an immense PR loss, so they apparently got on the case. It remains to be seen what the other companies will do in terms of what they already provide and how it does conforming to the new regs. From what I’ve seen in Europe over the years, non FIS races will continue to allow just about anything for ski gear, as our races here in the US do.

    In terms of what binding one should use for racing, I would indeed recommend something with adjustable release, both Z&Y, that is unless you don’t care to fine-tune your safety release and just crank it up and/or lock your toe no matter what, in that case an average sized person will do fine with just about any of the offerings out there since they call all be locked for lateral release.

  40. Jonathan Shefftz July 28th, 2011 1:35 pm

    I think you meant that for 2011-12, locking-only toes will be prohibited. In other words, when in ski mode, the toe must be capable of releasing once the heel releases. Some race toes can already do this, but others apparently are so tenacious as to obviate the release capability at the heel.
    Absolutely no way thought that adjustable release values will be required for race bindings. (Fortunately for me, the Plum 135 just happens to have fixed settings that match up with the release values I already use for touring on adjustable-release bindings.)

  41. Lou July 28th, 2011 2:31 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for the clarification, I’m just too busy today, probably should keep my fingers off the keyboard!

  42. Tyler B July 28th, 2011 4:10 pm

    Lou and Jonathan,

    As always, you guys are a huge help. Thanks!

  43. Joe October 17th, 2011 5:13 pm

    Saw the RT at Mountain Equipment Co-op yesterday. The brake seems really solid. It would take some delicate fiddling to transpose it to a dynafit but not completely out of the question for sharp tinkerers…. like… (ahem)… Lou.

  44. Lou October 17th, 2011 7:09 pm

    Joe, thanks for the inspiration! Working on it. I need to review those brakes….

  45. Jonathan December 6th, 2011 7:05 am

    Small correction/clarification:
    “The infamous tech binding “gap” between binding and heel is set using the for/aft adjustment, and appeared to me to be best at 5.5 mm.”
    — The La Sportiva instructional pamphlet currently states that this gap should be set at 4mm.

  46. David December 8th, 2011 9:25 pm

    I snapped a few pics of the brake setup. Lou/Jonathon, let me know if what them and I can send’em along

  47. stephen January 5th, 2012 7:09 am

    Can anyone offer any suggestions on where to obtain the ATK/La Sportiva adjustment plates or something else that will work? I’ll most likely be using the bindings with different boots, and would like to try them on Manaslus so some adjustment will definitely be required.

  48. Jon Moceri January 5th, 2012 11:38 pm


    Mountain Gear has them for $75.

    or get them direct from Italy for only 37 Euros, plus shipping and customs.

    I’ve been using my ATK RT’s for 2 seasons now without any problems. Have fun!


  49. stephen January 8th, 2012 8:58 pm

    Thanks Jon, good to know you’ve had no issues.

    The two plates linked to apper to be different lengths and mgear don’t seem to want to ship the longer one outside the US; looks like I’ll have to try a special order elsewhere. (Back to Plan A.)

  50. reukk January 30th, 2012 6:27 pm

    Question: I just got these and am really stoked. I’m using them with F1s and so, as it follows, I’m going to be needing to be putting the shim under the toe AND under the heel. I hate adding such bulk and weight to such a simple and elegant binding and I really hate drilling more holes into my skis (for the heel shim).

    Here’s a hypothetical: could I use the bindings without the shims? I know the boot flexes withouth them which could lead to inadvertant pre-release, sure. But, seeing and hearing about how strong and beefy the toe-lockout mechanism is (equivilant to a RV of 16?!), whats the likelyhood of having a prerelease when the toe’s lockedout at 10?

    I’m thinking about ditching the shims, cranking up the toe screw to 10 and locking it out for both touring and skiing.

    I’m 6′-4” 200lbs with a boot sole length of 334. Obviously, I’m going to have these near or at the RV 10. I’m mounting these on some soft ski trab skis basically for a super light touring setup (ie not tons of hard skiing involved).

    What do you guys think?

  51. Jonathan Shefftz January 30th, 2012 7:04 pm

    The heel shim is unnecessary as you’ll be using the RT main/lower heel elevator ~90% of the time, since it’s pretty much the same as on race bindings (i.e., you’ll almost never be using the binding in the “flat” position).
    A toe shim is necessary, and custom versions weigh almost nothing. Otherwise, the bellows will keep sagging when you ski (leading to worse skiing performance), and if you ski with the toe lever in tour mode, you’d better not fall (and if so, you’d better have a good surgeon lined up).

  52. reukk January 31st, 2012 5:08 pm

    hmm, custom shims huh? where can i get some info on those?

  53. Jonathan Shefftz January 31st, 2012 5:13 pm

    Just buy sheets of LDPE from Small Parts dot com, cut a small shim, and mount it with a single binding screw. More thoughts here:

  54. reukk January 31st, 2012 7:35 pm

    perfect! thanks jonathan!

  55. Andy February 8th, 2012 12:22 am

    I’ve got Sportiva RT’s mounted on Hi5 178s, which has been an awesome setup with TLT-5Ps. After about 20 days of long tours and lift served on them, I’ve noticed a tendency for the touring locks to pop loose… was initially quite infrequent, becoming slightly more so. Anyone else notice this and have thoughts or advice? I’ve cranked the lock setting all the way up, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

  56. stephen February 28th, 2012 8:14 am

    Can anyone tell me if any of the various “adjustment plates” pictured here: arecompatible with the hole pattern on the mark 1 Dynafit Manaslu skis? And also how the heelpiece attaches to the plates; I assume the ones pictured in the review above use something like T-nuts underneath the plate – is this correct? I’m wondering as it might be easier (if they fit) to buy an extra set of plates and leave them on the skis when swapping heelpieces onto something else. Thanks!

  57. Joe November 16th, 2012 5:53 pm

    Hi All –

    Just wondering if anyone has heard about tpe piece issues with the RT?

    My shop of choice in Canada (very high volume) says they aren’t carrying the RT this year because:

    “La Sportiva has informed us that these have had a relatively high return
    rate due to toe-piece breakage. Because of this, we have chosen to
    discontinue the binding.”

    Bummer. Such light weight – too good to be true?


  58. Joe November 19th, 2012 10:21 am

    I dropped Sportiva a line about the RT, and the issues experienced by MEC. Their comment:

    “Thank your for your interest in the LA Sportiva brand and more specifically the RT Binding. At this point in time the brand fully supports the decision of MEC to limit the supply of the RT binding and stop carrying the model. On the whole the brand has seen a return rate of less than one half percent of all RT bindings that have been sold into circulation. Additionally, to date the manufacturing process has not changed and we are currently reviewing the next course of action in remedying the issue.”

    So that is less than one pair in two hundred having issues. I’m guessing this stat is about average for any product. Maybe MEC had more fails than the rest. Not sure. I’ll have to get my head around this before rock ski season ends. Maybe I’ll go for it.


  59. Lou Dawson November 19th, 2012 10:30 am

    Joe, nearly anything has a return rate and yes for some things that’s a low rate. But what’s acceptable depends on the product. Sounds like they were finding that failure to be too problematic for their customers and made what they felt was the right move.

    This gets into the realm of how many grams do you really want to worry about saving? I mean, take a buckle off your boot and wear lighter socks…


  60. Joe November 19th, 2012 10:44 am

    Hey Lou –

    I just figured because I had posted something vague about the return rate that with more detail provided by sportiva I should post that too in the name of fairness.

    Anyway, glad to see you’re minding these older threads too.

  61. Lou Dawson November 19th, 2012 11:28 am

    Joe thanks. As for older threads, any time a new comment comes in on one of those we nearly always see it — and appreciate it!

  62. George December 3rd, 2012 1:08 pm

    Still waiting/hoping to see more on the brakes that La Sportiva is offering for these binders. A bit surprised that there is so little out there on them at this point.

    Did you ever get the chance to evaluate them Lou? Anyone else have any feedback they can share?

    Thanks so much

  63. Colin Lantz December 12th, 2012 11:35 am

    Joe – just thought I’d address what you wrote about the toe pieces for the RT binding. The RT is a great product but it is definitely a super-lightweight design and as such there is realistically a lower tolerance for heavy-duty use and abuse. Yes, we’ve had some returns but as Lou noted anything sold has returns. So far the return rate has been well under our acceptable return rate threshold but we’re keeping a close eye on it. Of course, La Sportiva fully stands behind anything we put our name on and we continue to honor and support the warranty issued with each and every pair that is sold. We support MEC’s decision and understand their reasons for doing so. MEC is a great partner for La Sportiva in Canada we love working with them.

  64. Johng February 22nd, 2013 2:32 pm

    Since some time has passed, I’m wondering about experiences with these. I bit the bullet and got a set, mounted on Movement X-Series Bonds for an extremely light but (for me) high performance setup. Only 6 days so far, and flawless performance so far, other than operator error aligning boots with bindings. I’m only 150 lbs and don”t subject gear to unusual abuse, so I’m hoping to avoid breakage due to lightweight construction. I fully accept compromising some durability for weight and I’m not going to huck these off cliffs (… I only do that in my dreams, anyway),

    Any suggestions for where to attach a lease? The obvious place is the hole in the end of the toe lever, but I’m concerned about the torque this could place on the binding.

  65. Holly W March 10th, 2013 12:54 pm

    I only weigh 125 pounds and I do not Ski Aggressively. This binding broke today, by shearing at the pin, when I was skiing down the groomed cat track, after skiing up to about 8500 feet on Mt Hood. My ski shop in Bellevue, WA, advised me against this binding, which they stopped selling, because so many of them broke by shearing at the pin. I had already purchased this when they were telling me their advise. But, I went forward with mounting it, hoping that being light and not jumping off stuff or skiing aggressively at all would make me safe from the problem. Well, I caught an edge, fell onto my hip when turning, binding broken. It was also at the most “releaseable” setting. I wouldn’t have normally even had it at that setting, but my shop wouldn’t adjust it and so it was still on super-release mode. So, I think this binding is totally unreliable.

    I am planning a ski summit of Mt Whitney in two weeks and I am SO GLAD that it broke today. This was my first time skiing downhill on the binding, as I had only done really mellow mostly flat tours before today.

  66. Lou March 10th, 2013 3:57 pm

    I’ve never been that impressed with it. The concept seemed interesting and we gave it a nod in a first look, but overall it seemed primitive and we never tested it extensively enough for a durability check (if I did that with everything, I’d spend too much time in the hospital). We also don’t get that excited about ski bindings that are just re-badged versions of another manufacturer. What’s sad is that virtually all the tech bindings out there have a history of durability problems. Probably has to do with the lack of any accountability to any sort of industry standard… Lou

  67. Brian September 23rd, 2014 10:58 am

    Hi Lou,

    I’ve been looking at the ATK Raider 14. You said overall that the La Sportiva RT looked primitive. What did you find so primitive about it?

  68. Lou Dawson 2 September 23rd, 2014 11:26 am

    From what I saw at ISPO the ATK stuff looks more finished now, I’m going on memory to answer your question, the older binding had not brake, was blocky and had some screws that looked like they were from the hardware store. Using phillips head screws for the length adjustment anchors, for example, is a recipe for problems as the head gets stripped out so easily. Not sure what types of screws the binding has now, looks like they’re still phillips, have catalog here in front of me… Lou

  69. Fra December 9th, 2014 8:35 am

    I just bought ATK Race RT bindings. Do you use a leash? Where do you attach it on bindings?

  70. Lou Dawson 2 December 9th, 2014 8:49 am

    I usually don’t use a leash on race bindings, but if so, I’d just fiddle around with various attachment points, perhaps girth hitch it through somewhere on the front locking lever. Europeans using race bindings rarely use leashes, that’s why the attachment is commonly an afterthought. For example, it was years before Dynafit provided an actual attachment point for leashes, the little cable loop on the Speed model. Lou

  71. Blake May 12th, 2015 9:29 am

    One of the pins on my toe piece is loose. Does anyone know where to get this repaired? The pin is riveted into the binding.

  72. Lou Dawson 2 May 12th, 2015 10:39 am

    Blake, you might try going direct to ATK, otherwise you’ll be dealing with a rather meager customer support system in North America (which I assume is where you’re originating.)

  73. Dan November 15th, 2015 5:00 pm

    I’ve got a set of ATK Free Raider 14s that I’m mounting on DPS RPCs. Will be able to report back early next year on how they went after Japan. Non-english forums have been pretty positive so far.

    I also just stumbled upon Trevor Hunt’s blog – that dude is skiing some amazing lines on minimal tech bindings. He’s locking his toe out, but in that sort of terrain falling is probably not an option anyway. Something to aspire towards!

  74. Lou Dawson 2 November 15th, 2015 6:18 pm

    Trevor is one of the top guys, for sure.

    For those of you who’ve not extreme skied in the classic sense, the style required for really steep stuff is actually quite gentle in terms of forces on the binding. A World Cup Downhill is 1000 times harsher. But yeah, pre-release is not an option and easily obviated by locking toe and dialing both vertical and lateral release up to the max.

    Trevor is here:

    In my opinion, the big concern for extreme skier on tech bindings is worrisome fragility and subsequent breakage.


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