Official U.S. import of the new Dynafit Vertical ST binding recently began. We have our shiny new testing samples and we’re putting them through the WildSnow wringer. Before mounting debut bindings we like to publish weight, and do a vivisection. Here goes.
|New Dynafit Vertical ST backcountry skiing binding.|
First things first: Word is this binding is intended to replace the Comfort model Dynafit. If it works and holds up, I see no reason why it should not. On our verified digital postal scale the Vertical ST weighs 14.1 oz (one binding, no screws, no brake, no safety strap) as opposed to Comfort at 13.5 ounces. I’d imagine one of the ST design goals was to keep them nearly the same weight as the Comfort. Hence the top plate and heel lifter are now all plastic (Comfort has a steel plate with red plastic lift known as a “volcano”.) For those looking for a more “real world” binding weight, the screws for the ST weigh .9 ounce, 24 grams (for one binding). Need titanium screws…
|New Dynafit Vertical ST backcountry skiing binding, toe unit.|
At least with this model Dynafit, gone are the days of eye burning Euro color schemes. We say hooray to that (though the FT model may still induce retinal discomfort). We like the longer toe lever (visible in photo above), which should make it easier to lock touring mode when you’re hands are small or behaving like a frozen chicken leg. As with all this year’s variations of the Comfort series, this binding has the reinforced crampon mount shown in the photo below. This adds weight (8 grams), but can easily be removed before mounting if you’re not planning on using Dynafit crampons.
|New Dynafit Vertical ST backcountry skiing binding, toe unit underside. Steel plate is the crampon reinforcement.|
Heel unit is functionally identical to the older Comfort model, but has an interesting change in that the heel lifter and associated mounting plate is an all plastic integrated unit, with a small steel reinforcement plate as shown in photo below. We’ve seen one Internet report of heel lifter breakage, so we’ll be doing our own durability testing of this part. We suspect it’ll hold up fine to normal use. It’s important to remember that building any AT backcountry skiing binding is an exercise in compromising durability and weight, and any binding can easily be broken if taken beyond design parameters.
In the case of Dynafit, twisting the heel unit with a ski pole that’s effectively a 4-foot lever arm places immense force on the binding. If resistance is encountered, as in trying to release the boot heel into touring mode without exiting the binding, something has to give if you keep twisting. We’ve broken the tips off many ski poles while doing this, and broken at least one heel lifter “volcano” off the older model Comfort. By adding a bit more care to our technique we’ve not had any breakage for a while, and we do the tricky on-the-fly change to touring mode by twisting the binding with a ski pole grip inserted between the boot heel and climbing post, rather than yarding on things with a big lever.
|New Dynafit Vertical ST backcountry skiing binding heel unit with heel lifter removed. Underside of heel lifter is shown on right.|
Dynafit Comfort ski brakes are forward compatible with the ST, another example of the effort Dynafit makes to keep many binding features interchangeable through the years. Best example of this is all Dynafit bindings have the same mounting screw hole pattern. This has remained unchanged since the first Dynafits were released almost two decades ago. Hooray to that! In all, the Dynafit ST looks like a fine binding and we’re looking forward to riding it.