[Editor’s note: As of 2009, Naxo bindings are no longer produced. We leave this review published for the record.]
As an Aspen ski boy since he could walk, Luke Caudill knows his ski bindings. We got him on some Naxos a few years ago and our secret pow stashes were never the same. Luke is at college now. Our pow stashes are getting a rest but the those near his school are suffering — his Naxos are still getting tested. Here is Luke’s take on what used to be the NX01 model and is now the NX02:
Lou, here’s my long awaited (well it’s been long, maybe not awaited) review of the Naxo NX01 binding. I’ve been using this binding for three seasons now, beginning mid-winter in 2004 and have enjoyed every moment. So I guess this could be considered the endurance review for the Naxo.
Naxo NX01 backcountry skiing binding (now grey in color with model name NX02.)
The first time I used a pair of NX01 bindings, we we’re somewhere in the mountains of Colorado touring up a snow packed road, and I just wouldn’t shut up about how good the dual pivot virtual rotation feature felt. The ingenious touring pivot provides a smoother, more natural feeling. Even with my not so light or flexible Atomic Zone 5.45 downhill boots on, my stride felt smooth and natural. During that backcountry skiing trip I was nicknamed the Naxo Strider due to my inability to stop talking about the binding.
Since that first day out, the pair of bindings that are now mounted on my bright orange Karhu Jaks (yes I’m touring on tele skis… but they were on sale) have been through quite a bit. When I first got these bindings I used them strictly for my backcountry skiing adventures, as I realized their downhill capabilities, I began to use them more and more at ski resorts, now they have become my only pair of bindings that I use every time I ski.
Dual Pivot: As I said above, the dual pivot feature is amazing and truly provides a natural feel. Although it may look flimsy, I have had no durability issues with the dual pivot system when hiking or skiing the downhill.
Luke on his Naxos and Jaks.
I do have some difficulty with uphill kickturns during backcountry skiing with the Naxo. The trick is that doing uphill kick turns with this binding is usually not one smooth motion, but takes a few “mini steps” to get the second ski all the way around. It can be hard to lift the ski all the way out of the snow, it seems to hang a little lower because of the extra movement/length of the dual pivot point. Another thing I’ve noticed is that sidestepping up a hill can be difficult as well (while in touring mode.) This has to do with getting the tail of the ski to come out of the snow — there is no “resistance” in the dual pivot, so the tail will hang and drag in the snow when I lift my boot either for the kick turn or sidestep. Solution for sidestepping is either patience, or locking into alpine mode.
Weight: These bindings are obviously not the lightest on the market (One size medium 04/05 Naxo binding, with brake and screws: 39.8 ounces, 1123 grams), but by no means is the weight unbearable.
Tour Latch: First of all, to get the tour latch from the 0 degree position to the 6 degree position when hiking can be quite amusing. A few poles have been bent attempting to do this. Using common sense I found the best way to get it into position was to stop, reach down and use my hand. Still most of the time I resort to beating it with my pole until it pops into position. Although this may be annoying when climbing, I have never had the tour latch come out of downhill mode. So the lock that the tour latch has is greatly appreciated when enjoying a nice powder run! (I have seen my Dad do the occasional – and accidental – telemark turn when his older model Fritschis decide they want to come out of downhill mode, luckily he’s an ex telemarker so he can handle it). One more issue I had with the tour latch was that while climbing at the tallest heel lift position of 12 degrees, it would sometimes slide out of the 12 degree position and into the 6 degree position. This doesn’t happen often, so no big deal.
Cocking Lever: Only one minor issue with the cocking lever. When stepping into the binding most of the time I have to pull the lever into place using my hand.
Toe and Heel Release: Amazingly easy to adjust! One of my favorite features about this binding is that the DIN settings are adjustable without any tools. Large adjustment knobs are located on the toe and heel release that make it very easy and quick to adjust the release settings. The first time I used these bindings on Highlands Bowl, my dad and I dropped in from the top and on my first turn my boot popped out. (The DIN settings seem to be somewhat low, I had to tighten these up one number higher than my downhill bindings). Within five minutes the problem was fixed and we were headed down.
Back Pressure Adjustment: Quick and easy. The back pressure (and boot size) is adjustable by a small hand operated catch located just underneath the heal of the binding. Just flip the tab on the catch and slide the heel forward and backward.
Overall, the Naxo NX01 bindings have been a terrific. I have had no durability issues. No broken parts. Can’t wait to get out of my dorm room and on to the slopes… only a couple more days and the NX01 bindings will be back in their element 🙂