Hagan Z 01 Allmountain Backcountry Skiing Binding — Review

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 14, 2011      

The new kid on the block, at least over on this side of the street… First, what are they called? The box says Hagan Z 01 Allmountain. The manual says Hagan Z (presumably referring to both models, the 01 which is built slightly beefier and goes to RV 12, and the Z02 which goes to DIN 10). I guess we’ll call our testers “Z 01.” I’ll bet in speech we’ll be calling them a “Zee-One.” Let me know.

Hagan Z 01 setup that I tested.

Hagan Z 01 setup I tested. This is a classic 'frame' binding that is step-in step-out, and fits either alpine soled boots or rockered AT boots.

Note that above I write _DIN 10 and _RV 12. That’s because DIN/ISO binding standards 13992 and 9462 don’t go to a release value of 12. Our use of the term “RV” stands for “Release Value.” Excellent that Hagan addresses this in their manual, and even goes so far as to write, “An adjusting range of more than Z 10 is not standardized. The setting in this range is at one’s peril.” Frankly, while the Hagan manual does say the binding is TUV tested and approved to DIN standards, one has to wonder how that can happen when the RV settings go above the standard, invoking the word “peril.” Ah, the mysteries of the TUV bureaucracy.

Be it known that the Hagan grabber is sold in two versions, Z 01 and Z 02. The O1 model backcountry skiing binding is the beefier of the two, appears to be made of better plastic, and yes, sends the beefomatic message by going to RV 12, while the 02 only goes to a wimpomatic 10 and has no brakes (it’s sold with a safety strap, though it does accept same brakes as those sold with 01). The 02 looks to be around a C-note less coin, and is perhaps slightly lighter (though without brake, apples-to-apples weight comparo is a bit meaningless). Due to how the North American market tends to respond to AT ski bindings, we’ll concentrate on the 01. Smaller, less aggressive skiers looking for a budget rig might look at the 02.

Hagan Z 02 backcountry skiing binding is of significantly different

Hagan Z 02 backcountry skiing binding is of significantly different color scheme and has a minimal base plate at the rear.

The O1 brakes come in 90, 100, and 115 widths and are compatible with both model bindings.

I mounted the Z 01 without a template or jig (relatively easy, but get a jig mount if you buy a set). Testing commenced on the bench, and on some of our early season snow around here. Due to the double frame bars, wide footprint and tight lock-down, Z 01 backcountry skiing binding is of average stability in downhill mode rolling flex (slop), and compares favorably with other frame bindings in this weight class. Unfortunately, in touring mode Z 01 suffers from the torque and slop problems endemic to frame bindings, and you can easily end up with the back end of the binding plate falling off the high heel lifter while traversing or otherwise maneuvering. Frame bindings can eliminate this problem by beefing their frame rails and toe unit base, but doing so adds weight.

The 01 heel lock and lifter mechanism is impressively easy to operate. Four lift heights are available. The lifter levers up with your pole to the lowest position and two higher positions. Press back down lock for alpine mode or use second to lowest position. I found the process to be intuitive and in no need of lengthy explanation or instruction.

High lift position on Hagan is plenty elevated.

High lift position on Hagan is plenty elevated.

But, as is common with frame bindings, the frame-plate can go off center.

But, as is common with frame bindings, the frame-plate can go off center.

Hagan backcountry skiing binding ramp angle is neutral to negative.

Hagan Z 01 stack height and ramp angle. Binding toe AFD highest point about 45 mm from ski top, heel about 42, for a ramp angle that will fall somewhere from neutral to 3 mm lower at the heel, depending on exact configuration of boot sole (rocker, no rocker, wear, no wear).

01 ramp angle (relation of boot toe height to heel) is a bit in the negative zone, or perhaps close to neutral with some boot toe wear or a rockered ski touring boot. Skiers coming from ramp neutral or heel raised bindings may have to adjust their timing and body position to compensate. Shimming the stack height of this binding to neutral ramp would be difficult and weight intensive, as doing so would require a long, 3 or 4 mm thick shim under the heel mount plate. Better, in the case you do end up with negative delta, to add some forward cuff lean or heel lift to your boots and get used to it. It’s not much, at most 3 mm.

Regarding ramp, to be fair I should also mention that new boots (both alpine and touring) have a small bevel on the bottom of the sole at the toe. This will drop the boot down a few millimeters, and continues to do so as the sole wears from walking. Thus, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that, on average, we are talking a very slight negative ramp for these bindings, or that they’re neutral in terms of delta-ramp.

Informal release testing indicated a smooth torsional and vertical ejection. Effective anti-friction rollers in the toe wings help, as does a basic but functional AFD under the boot toe area. Toe wing height adjustment appears to have adequate range for everything from alpine boots to worn AT boots.

Both model Hagan bindings come in three lengths/sizes which cover a super wide range of boot lengths (255-370mm, with the smaller limit being 5mm less than another leading binding, take note for kids or tiny footed adults). Not only is a selection of frame sizes nice if you’re at the extreme ends of the spectrum, but it allows picking a binding length with less extension of the frame behind your boot heel, thus yielding a bit more rolling flex stability in alpine mode and perhaps preventing some of flex and slippage off the high lift as noted above.

The O2 is said to be strong. I gave them my informal kneeling fall test which has blown up other test bindings over the years (and recently), and all the Hagan did was flex. Impressive, as the pesky problem of knee fall damage has been a plague for years and affected various bindings which were otherwise plenty strong.

Some bindings allow more forward stride angle range.

Some bindings may allow more forward stride angle range than the Hagan, but in my field test I found the Hagan range to be adequate and similar to most other frame bindings. Main concern here is destruction of the binding in a kneeling fall. Due to the flex of this binding's strong plastic, my knee fall testing resulted in no damage; during testing you could see it all flexing, but it didn't break.

The double Hagan rails, with links, are a strong way to build a binding frame.

The double Hagan rails, with cross links, are a strong way to build a binding frame. But it's important the plastic used in this area is strong but somewhat flexible to absorb damaging forces such as a kneeling fall while in touring mode. It appears the Hagan frame is made from some sort of carbon reinforced stuff that's super beefy.

Ah yes, the backcountry skiing binding pivot wars.

Ah yes, the backcountry skiing binding pivot wars. By virtue of an incredibly low-bulk toe unit, Hagan was able to locate their touring pivot at nearly the same fore-aft position as that of a tech binding, and significantly farther back than some other leading frame bindings. This factor is immaterial for short tours, but important for efficiency if you're going long.

Weight of our Z 01 testers, size medium (BSL 285 – 340) is 36.5 oz, 1034 gr, single binding with brake and screws. This compares favorably with other frame type bindings.

Hagan backcountry skiing binding RV values, yes, it goes to eleven, and more.

Hagan backcountry skiing binding lateral release RV indicator, yes, it goes to eleven, and more.

Our take? We see no earth shattering performance advantage to the Hagan Z series bindings over other frame bindings. But they do appear well made for their price point (01 $489.00 MSRP, 02 a hundred less), the weight is okay, and resistance to knee (kneeling) fall damage is acceptable. Our preliminary take, after minimal field testing and no North American consumer consensus as of yet, is this would most certainly be a good binding or the occasional backcountry skier, and might likely be more hardcore than that — though we always wait for extensive use before raving about how prime a binding is.

Indeed, Hagan themselves claim that “The Hagan bindings are particularly aimed at those new to the sport and for those desiring to ski tour for fitness and recreation. They are designed or the large middle ground of recreational skiers intrigued by the ability to get away from crowded ski slopes and develop fitness while skiing. They are not designed or intended for the extremes of randonee racing or highly aggressive free riding.”

While the above might be true, that “large middle ground” is, well, large. So these grabbers could easily be the ticket for a huge population of backcountry skiers.


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13 Responses to “Hagan Z 01 Allmountain Backcountry Skiing Binding — Review”

  1. Jonathan Shefftz November 14th, 2011 9:32 am

    The heel>toe delta is good info to know, but your negative result appears to derive from a boot with no rocker. Because the toe AFD is so far forward, you would get a much different result from a boot with significant rocker.

  2. Lou November 14th, 2011 9:39 am

    Jonathan, that is my intent, to get rocker out of the delta equation since this is intended to be a mid-level consumer binding, and many in that population continue to use alpine boots as touring boots (and I’m trying to show the binding delta, not that of the boot which depends on sole thickness, wear, etc.) . More, rocker results in confusion about exactly how to measure delta. But yes, I probably should check it with something with rocker. I just did so. Because the AFD is tilted, exact delta depends on where your boot toe is resting on the AFD, as well as in the case of either flat or rockered boots, how much sole wear there is. With a slightly worn pair of rockered boots, I get what appear to be neutral delta. BEAR IN MIND that if one measures the height of the heel AFD as opposed to height of the toe AFD at its highest point, the toe of the O1 is 45 mm while the heel is 42 mm, thus, the binding has what I would define as negative ramp. How the boot fits will change that (disclaimer, I didn’t use a micrometer for above measurements, and the surfaces are slanted, so apologies for this being slightly different than what I presented in photo. In fact, I’ve got time this morning so I’ll try to devise a more accurate binding delta measurement method.)

    Moving along: I just got the mm ruler in there with better alignment. I still get 45 for the toe and 42 for the heel, from ski top surface.

    I edited the post a bit for clarity about this, as I don’t want to imply that the binding has any sort of excessive negative delta. But users need to know it’s close to neutral (3 mm negative at most), and coming from a binding with positive delta (ramp angle) may require compensation.

  3. Mike November 14th, 2011 10:26 am

    Even if I weren’t a full-blown “tech” binding devotee, I wouldn’t even give this thing consideration. 45mm stack height and negative ramp? What were they thinking?

  4. Lou November 14th, 2011 12:37 pm

    Shoot, Jonathan writes a few words and I spend another hour trying to do a better job of communicating this ramp angle stuff.

    Changed the photo, realized the one I had made it look like a ton of negative ramp/delta, mostly due to camera angle but yeah, the boot toe could have possible dropped a few millimeters more if the toe was worn or had more rocker… Thanks Jonathan, good to keep it real…

  5. doug November 14th, 2011 6:08 pm

    Isn’t this a re-branded NAXO? Looks very similar — maybe different plastics, base-plate, etc.? Certainly there is a limitation of just how different a design of the same thing each company can pull off. Seems like the innovation is in the materials used more than design of the rail style.
    No comparison regarding ‘elegance of design’ though compared to ‘tech’ binding offerings.

  6. Jonathan Shefftz November 14th, 2011 6:12 pm

    Definitely not a re-branded Naxo, as it’s missing (thankfully so!) the trademark — and ill-fated — Naxo dual-whatever complicated toe pivot.
    If anything, reminds me more of some old Diamir 2 bindings I still have, although with dual rails and a highly fore-biased toe AFD position similar to the Pure.

  7. Lou November 14th, 2011 6:31 pm

    It’s said it was engineered by a German firm. Obviously, other bindings such as Fritschi and Marker were benchmarks in the design process, but I wouldn’t call it a knock-off of anything any more than a new tire tread design is a knock off of another brand’s tire design. In other words, not radical, but not a patent or copyright violation (grin).

  8. Jimmy November 15th, 2011 1:53 am

    45 mm stack height seems lika alot, isnt the Duke and F12 around 34 mm?

  9. Lou November 15th, 2011 5:57 am

    Marker F12 is 34/35 mm again depending on how boot toe rests on toe AFD, Marker F12 heel stack is a few millimeters more, I measure at 37 mm.

  10. Mike Marolt November 15th, 2011 9:03 am

    I think boot and ski technology has recently exceeded binding evolution. The boot in this story alone, the Tecnica, and other similar, combined with wide skis with rocker that allow for longer skis puts all bindings at more risk. There is a ton more stress. So in keeping with the light weight factor needed for all gear, i think light bindings that are made from stronger materials is exciting. I know i am now in the Tecnica and they ski like race boots. If not careful, on hard snow, I am a bit nervous about even my frichees. I know Atomic / Solomon, as well as Marker are all putting a ton of r&d in developing the technology, so the future is exciting. In my view, boots and skis are there, bindings are not. They are much better, but still a long way from totally bomber. Also, another factor which this binding appears to be overcoming is the need for rise to prevent booting out; as the skis develop, it is now possible to really get the skis out in angulation on hard snow, putting a ton of stress on the bindings, not to mention the constant loss of edge in higher speed skiing that some of the bindings today don’t service. It’s enough of an issue to make the frichee a factor for our choice as it has great rise. This story is evidence of the evolution in a great direction. Over the next few years there will be bindings as light as the Dynafit system with far superior performance all the way around compared to what is available today. The need will be supplied.

  11. Drew Tabke November 16th, 2011 11:58 am

    I would be more enthusiastic about this product if Hagan offered a recycling program allowing customers to return the broken binding in order for the plastic components to be responsibly disposed of. Or if they decided to not make the binding at all. Then I’d for sure be more stoked on Hagan.

  12. Pcervantes15 November 18th, 2011 7:15 pm

    These bindings seem like the Fritschi’s but with the durability of the Marker Duke’s. The only problem there seems to be with these is the price. At almost $500 for a pair of touring bindings that are only for the large middle ground of recreational skiers they seem to be overpriced.

  13. Pierre April 15th, 2013 12:27 am

    Interesting bindings!
    Off topic question.
    I have 2 sets of Silvretta Pure Kidz bindings for my 2 girls but no brakes.
    I can’t seem to find any. Has anyone an idea of where I can get:
    1 set x 80mm, 1 set x 90mm and 1 x 100mm so I can cover growing needs of my girls. At 9 & 12 both are very keen on snow camping but I need for them to be able to use the gear in resorts as well.
    I’m based in Australia it is impossible even online to find brakes from here so far.
    Any help welcome.

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