Testing Out the Fritschi Tecton Ski Touring Binding
Earlier this year, I started hearing buzz around the Fritschi Tecton about the possible downhill performance along with safety release unparalleled in another ski touring binding. So, I did a little research and decided to take a leap of faith on a new product. The early season in the Colorado Rockies has been less than ideal, so an early season testing ground has been limited to the terrain open at Aspen Mountain.
Fritschi hails this binding as their “Freeride” binding versus the Fritschi Vipec Evo as their “Touring” binding. I think both bindings are both comparable to the new Dynafit Radical lines, Marker Kingpin, and G3 Ion 12 in terms of how I would classify the bindings. The Tecton and Kingpin are in the same class in terms of heel style: that of an alpine style which would categorize these as “hybrid” touring bindings.
This being my second season removed from an ACL reconstruction, the elastic release was highly attractive to me. I think this is a huge step forward in safety and something to consider when looking at your tour binding options. The release from the toe and heel is best in class and unmatched by any other option on the market.
Mounted the Fritschi Tecton to a Kastle TX98
I know I had some questions when I first took the leap of faith:
- Will the downhill performance live up to the hype?
- Can I operate the binding with a ski pole, not only changing the riser heights but also able to change between ski/tour modes?
- How does this binding hold up to long-term durability?
2018 Fritschi Tecton Binding weight
Lou Dawson from wildsnow.com had this to say:
“Out of the box weight: with 100 mm brake and screws, 678 grams. What’s that mean? Compare to another major brand “freeride” tech binding with brake but without the alpine-like heel, at 642 grams. Only 36 grams (1.3 ounces) for that impressive Tecton heel unit? That’s some mighty high-level engineering.”
Beautiful views on the way up
Testing Locations: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands
Conditions: Groomers, bumps, powder, chop
Ski: Kastle TX98 188 cm
Comparison Note: I skied the Kastle TX98 with Dynafit Radical ST 1 all of last year.
No different than any other touring binding in terms of functionality. I found the highest of the two risers to be a little difficult to operate with a ski pole, at first. I found it much easier to operate by pushing the basket forward instead of attempting to pull the basket forward (see images below). I really did not think the additional weight was noticeable. If you were coming from an ultralight skimo setup it would be noticeable. While I think you could certainly cover big days with this set of bindings, you would not do the Grand Traverse.
One of the knocks on previous Fritschi models was the step in at the toe. When these bindings are flat on the ground, you cannot miss. If the surface is sloped it is a little more difficult but I would put the success rate around 85%. All-in-all, I found it to be able to same as using a Dynafit product, if not easier.
The biggest advantage these bindings have over anything on the market (including products releasing next fall) is you can transition from tour mode to ski mode and back without removing your skis. Obviously applying skins would be difficult with your skis on, but going to ski mode to tour (without taking the ski off) is ideal for long flat exits. Perfect for exiting Maroon Creek Road after descending the Highlands Ridge or a classic line in the Indian Peaks!
Performs above its weight class, I would say it skis no different than my Marker Barons. The difference in downhill performance against the Dynafit Radical 1 is apparent. In the conditions I skied these bindings so far, I would not have been comfortable on the R1. One thing I was sure to test was the ability to change from ski mode to walk mode without exiting the bindings. I was able to successfully do so using the pole of my Black Diamond Razor poles. Why is this important, you might ask? Ever been on a long exit that is only slightly downhill? Well now you can quickly switch into a walk mode with skate ski. Perfect for exiting on Maroon Creek after descending the ridge!
The view from PHQ
Our 2018 Fritschi Tecton Conclusions
The Fritschi Tecton may be the holy grail of ski touring bindings. I am sold on the downhill process of these bindings and quickly falling in love with the ability to transition my from ski to tour mode with poles. The obvious question I have, and everyone else who has reviewed them, is how will they stand up to abuse? Time will tell. I would also like to test these bindings on a bigger ski to see how they handle. I will share my findings over the course of the season. Pray for snow!