As ski touring continues to explode, there have never been more options for bindings. For the 22/23 season, we've sorted through the mass of bindings and pulled our top picks in each category: freeride, all mountain, speed touring/mountaineering, and skimo race, respectively. For our selections, we consider weight, durability, and performance. While this list is not definitive, the bindings we've selected are what we ski year after year and those our customers consistently love. There are a lot of options, so don't hesitate to reach out or book an appointment if you need more help. 
   

    

Freeride Touring Bindings

   

Salomon/Atomic Shift

The Shift was one of the most anticipated and hyped touring bindings when it was first released, partially because of its innovative design and partly because it represented the big boys of the skiing industry pouring significant R&D into the backcountry world. The Shift celebrates its fifth birthday this season. The Shift is perfect for people spending most of their time skiing in a resort, with the occasional foray into the backcountry or side country. It features a fully DIN-certified toe and heel release and 47mm of elasticity in the toe. This translates into a binding that skis essentially like a standard alpine binding with plenty of power transfer and confidence. However, with a flick of a lever, the toe transforms into a pin binding for uphilling. 

What we like:

The shift has excellent power transfer and the DIN-certified release boosts confidence when charging hard and hitting big lines. For charging freeride, few bindings can compete with the shift 

What we don’t like:

At 855 grams, the Shift is HEAVY. It doesn’t matter as much if you use it mostly for resort days with some sprinkled in skinning, but if you plan on longer backcountry missions, your legs might be hurting. It’s also complicated to use, with many moving parts and several steps to transition. This results in us seeing a fair number of broken Shifts and warranties, so buyers be warned: take your time to operate this binding correctly.  

  

Fritschi Tecton

Compared to other bindings in this class, like the Maker Kingpin or the Shift, the Tecton is a bit of a dark horse. You'll see far fewer of these bindings around compared to the Shift, and for the life of us, we don't know why. At 550 g, these bindings have other hybrid's beat and are light enough to tour very well. With three raisers and an easy step-in-toe, it checks all the boxes for uphilling. But what we love is how this skis. It's got a DIN-certified and adjustable release, which is unique for tech toes. The alpine style heal has great power transfer and enough elasticity to charge any line hard.

What we like:

As hybrid bindings go, the Tecton is light enough that we would take it into the backcountry with pleasure. Would we go crush a 10k vert day with it? No. But for casual days in the backcountry, it's a great option. It's also robust enough to crush hard-charging resort lines, so this is truly a swiss army knife of a binding.  

What we don't like:

While we haven't seen all that many warranties with this binding, the plastic construction feels a little brittle, even if we haven't seen any failures with it. There are many moving parts, which can be a bit scary and take a little while to get used to, but despite this, we find the Tecton to be more durable than the Shift.

 

Fritschi Tecton 13


All mountain

    

ATK Freeraider 14

The ATK Freeraider is a work of beauty. With milled aluminum and full metal construction, it's the definition of form meeting function. The Freeriader tips the scales at a respectable 360 grams per unit and has five riser heights, so going uphill is no problem. It's the Freeraider's unique features that make it a downhill beast. It has a "freeride spacer" which is a support plate under the boot heal. The spacer serves to increase power transfer and improves release value consistency. The heel unit also has a unique camming release system to engage the heel pins; this provides precise releases and a soft step-in. Combined with an elastic heal tower that accommodates natural flex, few other bindings compete with the Freeraider. ATK also makes a Raider 10 and a Raider 12, which are essentially the same binding with lower release values and without the freeride spacer.

What we like:

Just about everything. There are few products that we endorse as heavily as the Freeraider. When you combine the freeride spacer with ATK's proprietary heel tower, the downhill feel is superb. The toe steps in easily, and the uphill touring performance is great. You can even adjust the strength of the toe lockout to accommodate different levels of wear on your tech inserts.

What we don't like:

Our biggest qualm is that the brakes can be tricky to operate and sometimes have some ice build-up. The brakes engage with a small button that hooks the brake down; getting the operation of this down can take some practice. The Freeraiders are also pricey. At almost $750, they are one of the more expensive bindings on the market.


Dynafit ST Rotation 

The Dynafit Rotation is Dynafit's most hard-charging, big ski-driving binding. It's designed specifically with downhill performance in mind. It's the perfect binding for someone looking to ski a tech binding hard or for the hesitant alpine skier who doesn't trust lighter tech binding options. The ST Rotation is set apart by its toe piece, which features a swivel (hence the Rotation part of the name) that allows the whole toe piece to rotate. This function provides safer toe releases and adds elasticity to the toe, which helps eliminate pre-releases in the toe when laying down an edge. The ST rotation also has a gapless heel which means the heal tower touches your boot, and as the ski flexes, the tower moves with your boot to maintain contact. This further reduces pre-releasing and gives you the confidence to charge to your heart's content.

What we like:

The gapless heel, swivel toe, beefy construction, and high release value combine to make a binding that can charge just about any line in any condition. It's durable and well-built and will hold up to seasons of abuse. It's also got the Dynafit Lifetime Guarantee which provides a 10-year warranty on the binding. If you buy a Dynafit binding, you're essentially guaranteeing yourself you'll have a working binding for the next ten years.

What we don't like:

At 605 grams, the ST rotation is significantly heavier than other options like an ATK. We also find that it can be a bit tricky to use. For one, some people report having problems stepping into it because the swivel function on the toe piece also means you have to make sure your heel is lined up with the pins. We've also found that rotating the heel tower to unlock the brake and go into downhill mode takes a good amount of force. It's not a huge issue, but it's noticeably harder than many other bindings.

 


Speed Touring/ Ski Mountaineering 

     

ATK Kuluar

The ATK Kuluar weighs only 200 grams (with a brake) but packs an impressive amount of performance. It's got the signature ATK focus on design and construction, so it'll handle quite a bit of abuse. The Kuluar borrows heavily from ATK's race bindings but has added functionality, making it perfect for the gram-shaving athlete who isn't willing to compromise features. Among said features are four raiser heights, a 20 mm adjustment track, and 10 mm of elastic travel in the heel. The Kuluar 12 has a fixed vertical release and an adjustable lateral release from 6-12. For lighter individuals, there is also a Kuluar 9 available. 

What we like:

Regarding features, skiability, and weight, the Kuluar stands alone. We love the durable ATK construction and the fact that a 200-gram binding has a brake. Compared to other ultralight bindings the Kuluar is amazingly durable and has few moving parts making it easy to fix. The adjustable lateral release value is also a huge plus in such minimalist binding.

What we don't like:

One of our biggest qualms is that in order to access all of the raiser heights you have to rotate the heel tower. This results in the binding being a bit slower on the climb when you need to change your raiser heights. It’s also worth noting that while the Kuluar boasts an impressive release value up to 12, it’s still an ultralight binding. It’s got plenty of punch to handle any backcountry lines, but with the light construction, you wouldn’t find us hitting big drops or kickers with the Kuluar.

 

Atomic Backland/Salomon MTN

The Backland/MTN represents the Salomon and Atomic collective, also known as AMER Sport's foray into lightweight tech bindings. Weighing around 300 grams without a brake and 400 grams with a brake, the Backland is light enough for just about anything. With the brake option, you get a 50 mm adjustment track, while the brakeless version has a 30 mm range. The Backland doesn't have an adjustable release in the traditional sense. Instead, you replace the U-Spring to increase or decrease the release. The bindings come with three U -Spring options corresponding to men's, women's, and expert values. 

What we like:

The Backland/MTN is built to be durable and features an aluminum toe and heel. The design is simple and minimizes moving parts reducing weight and the number of things to break. It's easy to step into and easy to operate. 

What we don't like:

The fixed release values mean you have fewer options for adjusting this binding. For many people, their release values will fall near that of the U-Springs, but some might find they fall between two spring options and either risk pre-releasing or not releasing, neither of which are very fun. The brake design is overall easy to use but is prone to icing. We've also found that the brake will sometimes deploy as you climb. It's easy to put back into uphill mode, but it can be frustrating. The simple solution is to save significant weight and go with a leash instead of the brake.

RACE

      

ATK World Cup Revolution 

The World Cup Revolution is the lightest, most race-optimized binding in the ATK lineup. ATK stripped the World Cup down to the bones, and a 105-gram weight results from minimalist design and the best materials on the market. With 7078 aluminum and titanium, don't let the light weight fool you: the World Cup Revolution is a durable tool designed for the highest level of skimo performance. The toe piece features ATK's springless toe piece, which reduces ice buildup and allows for three levels of retention in the uphill locking mode. ATK has two other iterations of the World Cup: the Trofeo and the SL, both of which have slightly different toe-piece designs. There are also LT versions available for lighter skiers and versions with brakes to meet new ISMF regulations

What we like:

As with all ATK bindings, the attention to detail and the use of premium materials and construction methods are huge bonuses. In this case, we love that a 105-gram binding features full metal construction and can handle the abuse of the most demanding racecourses. That, combined with the unique toepiece, sets the World Cup Revolution apart. Athletes will appreciate the easy step-in when transitioning from boot packing.

What we don't like:

The biggest issue with this binding is that the metal heel raiser that covers the heel pins may eventually fail. It's purely an issue of metal fatigue and occurs after heavy use. Luckily, this is easily replaceable, and the part only costs $20. The key takeaway is that you need to inspect your lightweight gear to avoid failure when using it. In this case, you're looking for metal discoloration and obvious signs of wear. You shouldn't have any issues until you've put the World Cup through the wringer, but since the rest of the binding will last season after season, you may eventually find yourself needing to do the replacement.

Plum Race 150

Plum has been making the Race 150 year after year, and it's become one of the most reliable lightweight bindings on the market. The R150 will outlast just about any other piece of gear you have. As the name suggests, the Race 150 tips the scale at 150 grams, so it's not the lightest binding on the market. However, compared to Plum's lighter race bindings, the 150 is set apart by its durability and consistency. Largely due to this, the R 150 has also become a favorite among gram-shaving ski mountaineers, speed tourers, and podium chasing racers.

What we like:

This binding is a workhorse. It's not a speedy show poney, but you'll find yourself using it year after year and never worrying or doubting that it'll continue to perform. It's reasonably priced, and the durable construction makes it a versatile binding that can do almost anything.

What we don't like:

The R 150 is about 50 grams heavier than the premium ultralight race bindings on the market; for most people, that's a negligible difference, but if you are trying to push the limits of what's possible, you may want to look at a lighter option. The R 150 is also available with an adjustment track and is branded as the R 170. While we appreciate the added versatility of the R 170, the adjustment track is finicky and sometimes loosens, allowing the heel tower to move. The solution is to apply generous amounts of lock tight to the track screws, but this may cause the screws to seize up and not allow an adjustment. With some careful love, the R170 will work fine for anyone, but our pick is the R 150 mounted with no adjustment track.