Posted on October 13 2016
A Brief History of Touring Bindings
A decade ago choosing an alpine touring binding was easy. There were two main styles, frame bindings and Dyanfit. Frame bindings were dominated by the companies of Diamir, usually known as Fritschi, Marker, and Silvretta. Dynafit bindings were obviously all made by Dynafit and featured a pin tech system that held you to the ski both by the toe and and the heal. At this time most touring boots began to standardized around having a tech toe and heel to be compatible with both styles of bindings, but then one day in 2008 Dynafit's patent ran out and it was off to the races for binding developers world wide.
Today the frame binding market has expanded to include companies like Salomon/Atomic, Tyrolia, Hagan and many more. Cripple Creek Backcountry even carries a few of these bindings, hidden well in the back and only found by doing some serious digging on our site. These bindings are great for a select few skiers that will only ever own one pair of skis and boots and where they will spend 95% of their time skiing lifts and 5% of their time touring. Even for these people we encourage them to buy a nice downhill setup and spend the extra money a frame binding would have cost on a demo or rental of the latest and greatest equipment for the 2 days a season they plan on touring.
As the sport of ski touring exploded so did the race for the "tech binding". Even once you have decided its time to get a touring binding, there are still over a dozen manufactures worldwide, each with multiple styles of bindings. Lets look at how to choose the correct one.
Tech Binding Manufacturers
The major players in the North American market are now Dynafit, G3, Diamir and even alpine binding guru, Marker, with a dozen or so other European brands drifting over. We also cary harder to find brands like, Ski Trab, Plum an ATK. It would be our dream to carry every tech binding under the sun, but that becomes redundant and there is poor support for parts, warranties, and knowledge in North America and there is nothing worse than breaking a binding and losing your winter season waiting for a replacement from Europe.
Binding Quiver Slots
To the applause of gear junkies everywhere and to the dismay of skiers on a tight budget, even the tech binding has quiver slots within this already very small niche
Race and Fitness Bindings: These bindings may look like mouse traps for your boots, but their fixation is an incredible feat compared to their weight. Today's race bindings will typically weigh less than 150 grams per bindings. If they feature an adjustable track for multiple sized boots, the weight can creep to what is still an astonishingly light 180 grams. A race binding is for the minimalist, for they usually have no adjustable release values and usually just one level of touring height. Put a race binding on your ski if you like to hammer and every gram matters to you. Pair them with a super light boot that has a great range of motion to compensate the lack of variation in riser height.
Ski Mountaineering Bindings: For skiing big peaks and long backcountry tours weight is still important and many skiers will still choose a race binding. However, functionality becomes a bit more important when touring in the high alpine. For steep climbing it helps to have a higher riser height and for long approaches a flat touring mode. Brakes may also help reduce the stress of putting stepping into a ski on top of windy icy mountain tops and may be worth the weight penalty.
All Mountain Touring Bindings: If you are tired of quivers of ski equipment these bindings will take care of the research. They are still light compared to any plate binding, but will be fully featured and bomber for the ski down. Every year we see more and more of these used at the resort as skiers find their touring boots and skis to be their favorite gear even when riding lifts!
Freeride Touring Bindings: These bindings are beefy and will match any full downhill alpine binding in performance and reliability. They can drive the biggest skis and weight savings are always the last concern. If you charge hard at the resorts and want to make sure you can do it on your new powder touring ski, these bindings are for you.