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Alpine Touring Binding News Winter 21/22

Many people took up ski touring for the first time last winter, keen to get some exercise away from the crowds, keen to ski even if many resorts were closed. Ski touring has been much less affected by Covid than resort skiing. So it’s good to see in these challenging times that the binding manufacturers have been able to produce several new models for this winter.

ATK have been most active in designing new ATK bindings over the last few years and this continues with no less than five new race, speed touring and free rando models for this winter. There is even a binding for kids. The other brands have been less innovative this winter and for Atomic, Salomon and G3 bindings stay unchanged. 

Fritschi have updated the Tecton binding with carbon components while Marker have rationalised the lightweight Alpinist line, replacing the Alpinist 9 with the Alpinist 10. Plum have produced a new free rando binding, the Summit 12, plus a ski brake for the R120 race bindings..

ATK
ATK have become the market leader in AT bindings over the last few years thanks to their single-minded dedication to producing light yet strong and rigid bindings, with models for every ski touring segment.

The lightweight race / speed touring Trofeo and Crest bindings offer excellent value for money and are best sellers in these categories.
This winter ATK introduce the Kuluar, a binding that sits in between these models. The Kuluar is available with a choice of 9 or 12 DIN release and comes in two versions, the Kuluar LT without brakes and the Kuluar Brake.
We stock the Kuluar 9 LT and Kuluar 12 LT which seem the most coherent choice; brakes are available as optional extras.
For a couple of seasons we've thought that what was missing from the ATK lineup was a Crest without brakes, and in some ways the Kuluar LT fills this niche. The Kuluar LT shares the same minimalist toe piece and heel unit as the Trofeo, but with the heel unit mounted on a modified Crest heel baseplate, with an additional cover replacing the ski brakes.
The Kuluar LT offers the same performance as the Trofeo plus the ease of 20 mm boot length adjustment of the Crest, easier to use than the R01 30 mm baseplate used on the Trofeo Plus. Weighing only 200 g per ski, the Kuluar LT fills that niche between the Trofeo Plus (145 g), Haute Route (165 g) and the RT 8/10 (260 g) and Crest 8/10 (280 g) bindings.

Like the Trofeo bindings, the Kuluar LT does not have the Elastic Response System in the heel unit which helps compensate for the ski flex and prevent ski compression affecting boot release. The Crest bindings do have this. Supplied complete with ATK's excellent Kevlar Core leash, the Kuluar LT will appeal to gram counting skiers looking for the efficiency of the Trofeo bindings plus the convenience of easy boot length adjustment.

ATK's first binding designed specifically for children, the Candy 5 has a release range of 1.5-5 making it suitable for skiers up to about 50 kg.
Designed to be as easy to use as possible for kids, the Candy 5 comes complete with ski brakes and a heel unit with a massive 50 mm of adjustment to cope with growing feet, yet weighs only 290 g per ski.

Like the Crest bindings, the heel unit of the Candy 5 can slide 10 mm on the baseplate to absorb ski flex, a handy feature since kid's skis often have a soft flex to help turn initiation and give younger skiers confidence.

The only feature that's missing on the Candy 5 is a heel lift. We're not sure whether ATK decided to omit this to save costs, or weight, and it's true that youngsters are supple and (probably) won't miss this in the same way adults would.

Maybe ATK's thinking is that this is the best way to train future world champions.
Anyway the Candy 5 is a very nice user-friendly binding that your kids will enjoy as they start ski touring.

The excellent Raider 12 has gained a little brother for 2022, the Raider 10. With exactly the same technical specifications but with a lower release range of 4-10, the Raider 10 will appeal to lighter skiers. The Raider 10 has the same new toe unit developed for the C-Raider 12, with a high performance carbon reinforced composite baseplate offering a very high weight/stiffness ratio. The innovative structural design results in lower weight while the wide drilling pattern ensures direct power transfer even on wider skis.
The Raider 10 is an intermediate model between the "Efficient" Crest 10 and the "Free-Rando" R12 in terms of both weight and performance.


A new binding for 2022, the FreeRaider 16 is designed for big strong free-rando skiers looking for the ultimate control in the backcountry. With a release range of 9-16 DIN, the Freeraider 16 is a pretty exclusive model that is only suitable for physically strong expert skiers needing the very highest level of control.

The FreeRaider 16 has the same design as the very successful FR14 and weighs only 10g more, 370g per ski. Like the FR14, the FR16 features ATK's Freeride Spacer for maximum power transfer to the heel block and also has an additional baseplate under the toepiece, which gives the boots a flatter position with respect to the ski for an improved freeride skiing position.

ATK Revolution Brake WC
For this winter the ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation) requires competitors in international races to use skis brakes. Although not a requirement for local and national races for the winter 21-22, we expect this will be required next winter for these categories as well. 

ATK has been busy preparing for these rules changes with the new Revolution Brake WC, weighing only 135 g per ski including the stop brake integrated into the toe unit.

We are waiting to receive these bindings, the lightest skimo race bindings including brakes in the world.It’s all very secret, ATK have not even published an image of these bindings (at 10th November 2021….)

Dynafit’s two best selling bindings are their faithful Speed Turn and Speed Radical bindings. Unchanged for many years, both models have been given small cosmetic upgrades for this winter but are mechanically unchanged. It’s surprising that these two are still so popular when several competing bindings offer similar performance with lower weight and greater torsional rigidity, but popular they still are, and Dynafit’s Radical heel lift system is still one of the best, easily flipped into position with the ski poles.

Dynafit ST Rotation 14
This winter Dynafit have updated the Rotation 12 binding with higher DIN settings to create the ST Rotation 14 with higher DIN settings. The pivoting toe piece allows the binding to better absorb lateral shocks and offers very reliable release, albeit with a weight penalty. The ST Rotation bindings offer very good control thanks to the generous ski flex compensation mechanism in the heel unit, and superior skiing performance compared to most AT bindings.
If ski performance and safety are your priorities and you’re willing to accept a little extra uphill effort, then the ST Rotation 14 is a great binding.

Dynafit have produced the ST Rotation 7 for lighter skiers, and these bindings have a release range of 2.5-7 DIN. The ST Rotation 7 has the same high specs as the Rotation 10 & 14 bindings, is easy to use with reliable release, but at 1.26 kg a pair is pretty heavy, especially for kids. We hope that Dynafit will produce a more suitable binding for use with the kid’s Seven Summits Youngster skis.

Fritschi

The Tecton 12 Carbon is Fritschi's top of the line free rando binding and has carbon fiber-reinforced composites in the toe units and heel units. The Tecton has the same sophisticated toe unit as the Vipec and an alpine style heel unit. This combination offers both a very high level of skiing security and excellent performance.

Unique amongst insert bindings, Fritschi's sophisticated toe piece offers 5-12 DIN lateral release adjustment and emergency release in the event of a major fall when climbing.
Step-in is easy since the boot toe is effortlessly positioned thanks to the solid front stop and positioning guide.

Toe jaws close easily, responding to slight pressure, and the jaws snap shut with the pin levers engaging precisely with the inserts.
Lateral release adjustment is made using the screw at the back of the heel unit. The Tecton has a release range of 5-12 DIN.

Since lateral release is determined by the toe unit, there is no need for the heel unit to rotate, allowing Fritschi to give the Tecton 12 a fully alpine style heel unit for maximum power and control.

Marker
Not many changes this winter chez Marker after the successful introduction of the free-rando / alpine PT 12 & PT 16 bindings last season. The popular free-rando Kingpin and Kingpin V-Werks bindings stay unchanged after minor updates last winter.
 
For this winter Marker have rationalised the efficient category Alpinist bindings, replacing the Alpinist 9 with the Alpinist 10, a more logical sibling between the Alpinist 8 & 12 models.
The Alpinist 10 & 12 models are also available with the Long Travel heel units with 30 mm boot length adjustment and a choice of 90 mm or 105 mm ski brakes.

Plum

Plum have updated the Summit 12 free rando bindings with minor changes. These bindings now feature a toe piece with removable crampon slot and a freeride base plate with wide screw holes for maximum power transfer to the skis. Plum bindings are reknowned for their robust construction and Plum are the official suppliers to the Chasseurs Alpins, the elite mountain brigade of the French army. The Summit 12 is sold without ski brakes, available as options, and like all Plum bindings comes with a three year guarantee.

Neil

Neil started skiing in the Scotland when he hired lightweight tele gear and skied Cairngorm to Ben Macdhui. He was bitten and not by the midges! Th ...

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