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Blister Alpine Ski Binding Guide

Blister Alpine Ski Binding Guide

Intro

Last season we published our Alpine Touring Binding Shoot-Out where we mounted five of the leading tech bindings (the Marker Kingpin 13, Dynafit Radical 2.0, Fritschi Vipec 12, G3 ION 12, and Dynafit Beast 14), to the same ski (the LINE Sick Day Tourist 102) , then skied them back-to-back-to-back and evaluated their uphill and downhill performance, ease of use, safety, and durability.

While “alpine” bindings (ski bindings that don’t have an uphill / touring component) are simpler than “AT” bindings since there is no need to combine uphill efficiency with downhill reliability and safety, there are a dizzying number of alpine bindings on the market, and little information about why one particular alpine binding might be a better choice for you, which bindings are — and aren’t — compatible with the new boots you just bought, etc.

Furthermore, there are many myths, bits of misinformation, passionate defenders, and very vocal detractors of certain bindings, which makes it even harder to get clear on what the actual characteristics are of these bindings, and how they really differ.

So we’ve collected here a number of the most popular alpine bindings, then listed the manufacturer’s’ stated:

  • Weights
  • Toe and Heel Elasticity / Travel (The amount of distance a binding can move before the boot clears — i.e., “releases from” — a binding.)
  • Boot Compatibilities (Which bindings work with rocker-soled AT boots, or boots that have WTR soles, Grip-to-Walk Soles, etc?)
  • “DIN” (release value) range
  • “BSL” adjustment range (If you buy a new boot with a shorter or longer boot sole length, will you have to remount your bindings, or is there enough adjustment range to accommodate the new boot?)

For more on elasticity, travel, DIN, etc. and how they affect on-snow performance, check out our Skiing 201 article on how bindings work.

We’ve also included some of our reviewers’ personal experiences with some of these bindings, and we’ll continue to update this piece as more bindings hit the market, and as we are able to get more time testing some of these bindings.

So to be clear, this will be an evolving document, and what we have here is just a start. But we hope that it will help to clear up some confusion and allow all of us to make more informed decisions.

SKI BINDINGS

Salomon STH2 16

Blister Reviews the Salomon STH2 16 alpine binding

Salomon STH2 16

  • Price: $350
  • Stated Weight: 1220 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 18.5 mm (toe); 24.5 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 52 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 7-16
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 28 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: WTR and ISO Alpine 5355

These are reviewer Paul Forward’s go-to bindings for work as a heli ski guide in Alaska, since they are the easiest binding he’s used to click into in deep snow (something that he has to do multiple times a day).

Part of what makes the STH2 so easy to step into is how easy it is to clear snow around the center post of the toe piece, and the relatively easy heel spring activation (especially compared to the Marker Jester). This all also holds true for the older, non-WTR version of the STH binding, except for the lack of WTR-boot compatibility. In addition, the WTR-version of the STH2 works the best of anything we’ve used with rubber-soled boots, including WTR soles.

The only issue we’ve had with two particular pairs of STH bindings (of the 6 or so pairs we’ve used frequently over the years) is that some of them have developed an issue with the toe height adjustment that results in not being able to lower the toe enough for standard alpine sole blocks.

Salomon STH2 13

Blister Reviews the Salomon STH2 13 alpine binding

Salomon STH2 13

  • Price: $275
  • Stated Weight: 1145 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 18.5 mm (toe); 24.5 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 52 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 5-13
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 28 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: WTR and ISO Alpine 5355

These are very similar to the STH2 16, and like the 16-DIN version, they’re much easier to click into in deep snow than any of the Marker bindings we’ve used. We have, however, had a few pre-release issues with STH 13’s when set at the higher end of their DIN range, so if you are running your DIN at 11, 12, or 13, you might consider bumping up to the STH2 16.

Salomon Warden 13 MNC

Blister Reviews the Salomon Warden MNC 13 alpine binding

Salomon Warden MNC 13

  • Price: $300
  • Stated Weight: 1132 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 21 mm (toe); 24.5 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 4-13
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 28 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: WTR, ISO Alpine 5355, ISO Alpine Touring 9523

The skiing experience of the Warden is generally similar to that of the STH2 16. The Warden’s toe piece doesn’t clear snow as well as the STH2, but the Warden still seems easier to step into in deep snow than the Jester.

We haven’t noticed any issues with the lighter springs used in the heel piece compared to the STH2 16. However, Paul Forward has had some pre-releases on the STH 13 which has a very similar heel to the Warden, so psychologically, he personally doesn’t feel quite as comfortable skiing the 13 heels when running a higher DIN setting (11, 12, or 13).

The biggest reason to choose the Warden over the STH2 is if you intend to routinely use AT boots with 9523 boot soles (i.e., not WTR, Grip Walk or standard alpine soles) because these types of boots require an MNC (multi-norm compatible) binding like the Warden.

LOOK Pivot 18

Blister Reviews the Look Pivot 18 alpine binding

Look Pivot 18

  • Price: $475
  • Stated Weight: 1245 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 18 mm (toe); 19 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 40 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 28 mm
  • DIN Range: 8-18
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 20 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355 (WTR AFD sold separately)

The LOOK Pivot 18 is a favorite binding of a lot of hard-charging skiers, and you’ll often hear such folks say that they wouldn’t dream of skiing on anything else. Why? Typically, the mention the Pivot 18’s metal toes and heels, the range of elasticity / travel of the toes and the heels, and the consistency of the Pivot 18’s release — they release when they should, and not when they shouldn’t.

However, it’s worth noting that the new LOOK “Dual” Pivot 14 and 12 both actually have more toe elasticity than the Pivot 18, so those who were opting for the Pivot 18 over the Pivot 14 (or other bindings) primarily for the elasticity in the toe might think again.

Furthermore, while the Pivot 18 has long been revered as one of the “safest” options available, it’s worth noting that the consistency of your release is impacted much more by how properly your binding is adjusted to your boot than by what model of binding you happen to be using.

At Blister, Joe Augusten still swears by the Pivot 18, primarily for its metal toe; Joe doesn’t trust plastic. Reviewers Jonathan Ellsworth and Mike Masiowski still very happily ski the Pivot 18, and don’t mind or notice the additional weight of the Pivot 18 when skiing. And Jonathan in particular feels fine moving down to the Pivot 14 (while running a DIN of 10 or 11) and dropping a bit of weight.

Paul Forward still has a few pairs mounted up but they have largely fallen out of daily use for a few reasons: first, the rotating heel piece of the Pivot bindings can be a bit of a nuisance in deep snow. Overall, he still finds them to be easier to step into than the Marker Jester but not as quick as the Salomon STH2 because sometimes the heel piece needs to be re-aligned. Second, the Pivot 18, 14, and 12 are also much harder to adjust to different boot sole lengths (and Pivots have a shorter range of adjustment) than the other bindings listed here, which makes swapping between boots more difficult and time consuming. And relatedly, it is more complicated to adjust the forward pressure on Pivot bindings than the other bindings here, but once you learn how to do it (or if you aren’t frequently swapping boots or adjusting your DIN settings) then this is a minor factor or a non-factor.

LOOK Pivot Dual 14

Blister Reviews the Look Pivot Dual 14 alpine binding

Look Pivot Dual 14

  • Price: $425
  • Blister’s Measured Weight (with 110 mm brakes): 1155 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 18 mm (toe); 19 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 45 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 28 mm
  • DIN Range: 5-14
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 20 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, WTR

The old (non-WTR) LOOK Pivot 14 was a favorite of many Blister reviewers, including Jonathan Ellsworth, thanks to its elasticity and consistent release. The downside is that they are a little bit finicky to work with, but many of us like the performance and feel of the bindings enough that this is what we continue to ski.

However, it’s worth noting that replacing the brakes on the Pivot family of bindings is a much more involved process than on any of the other models listed.

The new LOOK Pivot Dual 14 is compatible with WTR soles. While the turntable design of the heel stayed the same, the WTR mechanism in the AFD required a substantial increase in the amount of plastic at the toe, which actually results in a more robust platform.

So while some skiers (including reviewer Alex Mueller) used to carry an extra AFD with them since the old Pivot 14 could be prone to failure, the new version does not have this issue. The mechanism is solid, and does not result in a difference in toe height (boot angle). LOOK added the sliding AFD in order to help with the presence of Vibram soles on WTR AT boots. We suspect that this will also make the release on alpine boots even more reliable.

LOOK Pivot Dual 12

Blister Reviews the Look Pivot Dual 12 alpine binding

Look Pivot Dual 12

  • Price: $375
  • Stated Weight: 1135 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 18 mm (toe); 19 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 45 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 28 mm
  • DIN Range: 4-12
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 20 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, WTR

The Pivot Dual 12 is very similar to the new Dual 14, but is a bit lighter and has a lower maximum release value. While none of us at Blister have skied the new Pivot 12, we’d recommend this to lighter skiers looking for the toe elasticity and on-snow feel of Pivot bindings.

Tyrolia AAAttack² 18 GW

Blister Reviews the Tyrolia AAAttack 18x alpine binding

Tyrolia AAAttack 18 GW

  • Price: $525
  • Stated Weight: 1215 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 12-15 mm (toe); 17 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 8-18
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 32 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, Grip Walk

We’ve found the whole Tyrolia Attack series to be very easy to step into — the heel has a much more positive engagement than the Marker Royal Family. But the Tyrolia toe doesn’t clear snow as easily as the Salomon STH2. For skiers looking for a high-DIN binding that works with Grip Walk soles, the Attack 18x is a great option. Tyrolia has updated the entire Attack series for 17/18 with a new adjustable toe mechanism that works with Grip Walk boots.

Tyrolia AAAttack² 16 GW

Blister Reviews the Tyrolia AAAttack 16 alpine binding

Tyrolia AAAttack 16 GW

  • Price: $475
  • Stated Weight: 1120 g per binding
  • Stack Height: 12-15 mm (toe); 17 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 5-16
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 32 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, Grip Walk

Tyrolia AAAttack² 14 AT

      • Price: $375
      • Stated Weight: 1115 g per binding
      • Stack Height: 17-22 mm (toe); 24 mm (heel)
      • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
      • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
      • DIN Range: 4-14
Blister Reviews the Tyrolia AAAttack 14 AT alpine binding

Tyrolia AAAttack 14 AT

    • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 32 mm
    • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, Grip Walk, WTR, ISO Alpine Touring 9523

This is a good binding for skiers who like the feel of the Attack series but need more boot compatibility options. It is worth noting that the Salomon Warden is compatible with nearly the same range of boots as the Attack 14 AT, but is a little less expensive at retail.

Tyrolia AAAttack² 13 GW

      • Price: $275
      • Stated Weight: 1035 g per binding
      • Stack Height: 12-15 mm (toe); 17 mm (heel)
      • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
Blister Reviews the Tyrolia AAAttack 13 alpine binding

Tyrolia AAAttack 13 GW

    • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
    • DIN Range: 4-13
    • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 32 mm
    • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, Grip Walk

For skiers looking for a lightweight, simple, and affordable binding in the 13-DIN range, the Tyrolia Attack 13 is hard to beat. It’s only compatible with alpine and Grip Walk soles, but it’s got a very good range of adjustment to fit different boot sole lengths, as well as a low stack height. We’ve also found that the Tyrolia heels are much easier to open and close, especially in soft snow, than any of the Marker Royal Family bindings, and they don’t have the issue we’ve experienced with some Marker bindings where the heel closes part way but does not completely lock. This is especially a consideration for lighter skiers.

The heel engagement of the Attack 13 is very solid and positive, and feels more similar to the Salomon STH2 series than the Marker Royal Family.

If you’re looking for a binding with a similar feel and weight but at a higher DIN range, check out the AAAttack 16 and 18x. And if you need more boot compatibility options, check out the Attack 14 AT — it’s a little heavier and more expensive, but it is compatible with ISO Alpine 5355, WTR, and ISO Alpine Touring 9523 boots.

Marker Jester 18 Pro

Blister Reviews the Marker Jester 18 Pro Alpine Binding

Marker Jester 18 Pro

  • Price: $475
  • Stated Weight: 1195 g per binding (110 mm brake)
  • Stack Height: 18 mm (toe); 22 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 8-18
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 20 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355

While we many Blister reviewers have hundreds of days in the Jester 16, none of us have skied the Jester 18 Pro. That is supposed to be changing soon, and we’ll update if / when we get time in it.

Marker Jester 16 ID

Blister Reviews the Marker Jester 16 ID alpine binding

Marker Jester 16 ID

  • Price: $425
  • Stated Weight: 1054 g per binding (110 mm brake)
  • Stack Height: 18 mm (toe); 22 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 6-16
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 20 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, Grip Walk, and ISO Alpine Touring 9523

The newest iteration of the Jester now has increased ability to adjust the height difference between the AFD and toe piece so that it can now accommodate Grip Walk and WTR boots. Other than that, it remains the same reliable binding that Marker has made for years.

Our primary issue with the Jesters has been that they can be a bit difficult to step into them, particularly when wearing any boots that have rubber pads on the soles. Getting into them in deep snow requires much more thorough clearance of the toe piece of the binding and the toe of the boot than the other non-Marker bindings we’ve used. This is compounded because the design of the toe piece doesn’t clear out snow as well as some other bindings, so you are essentially kicking your toe into a solid plastic pocket full of snow.

In addition, the heelpiece is designed so that it doesn’t snap into place until the boot is relatively deep into the binding, so it takes a bit more force before actuating. Larger skiers or those who are most often getting into and out of their skis on firm surfaces are unlikely to have any issues, but lighter skiers and those who are frequently putting skis on and off in deep snow may be happier with other bindings.

Once they are on, however, we have for the most part found these bindings to be reliable and confidence inspiring, and many Blister reviewers have skied the Marker Jester and Griffin for years and have hundreds of days in them.

Marker Griffon 13 ID

Blister Reviews the Marker Griffon 13 ID alpine binding

Marker Griffon 13 ID

  • Price: $295
  • Stated Weight: 1019 g per binding (110 mm brakes)
  • Stack Height: 18 mm (toe); 22 mm (heel)
  • Elasticity – Toe: 30 mm
  • Elasticity – Heel: 16 mm
  • DIN Range: 4-13
  • Range of Adjustability (for different-sized boots): 20 mm
  • Boot Compatibilities: ISO Alpine 5355, Grip Walk, and ISO Alpine Touring 9523

While the Marker Griffon doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, it is a fine, affordable binding that we have used quite a bit at Blister, and we have experienced few reliability issues. It does have the same toe and heel issues in deeper snow as the Marker Jester, but this issue is reduced the lower you happen to run your DIN setting. The real selling point of the Griffon 13 ID is that it’s an affordable option for skiers who need one alpine binding that works with their inbounds and a wide variety of touring boots.

Bottom Line

While everyone has their personal preferences and biases with bindings — especially since they’re charged with saving your knees in the event of a crash — there is no single, perfect binding that’s perfect for everyone. So choose a binding based on your personal priorities and the right DIN range. And we’ll continue to add to and update this article as we get time in more bindings.

Further Reading: Bindings 201

5 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Pegleg April 6, 2017 Reply

    So can someone explain to me the difference between Grip Walk and WTR? What makes the new Attack2 series compatible with Grip Walk but not WTR? Thanks

  2. Pete M. April 6, 2017 Reply

    First off, pretty much everything you guys publish is awesome, I bought the Bibby’s/Blister Pro’s and love them (after moving the bindings back 1cm from recommended mount), and the Buyer’s Guide is the best coffee table book ever.

    As you guys get deeper on this topic, I would love for some more information on differences in binding safety. When I got the Bibby’s and was looking to get bindings for them I tried for way too long to figure out if there were actual differences in safety performance between bindings and found essentially no useful information. I found out a lot about cost, weight, snow clogging issues, etc., but pretty much nothing on safety besides inconsistent commentary from people on pre-release issues (or at least not enough information for me to think I could reliably extrapolate from individual concerns to typical performance) and people thinking that the free heel rotation in the Look Pivot’s helped them release more easily. Eventually I came across the Knee Binding, which near as I could tell was the only binding the market with an actual claim to a difference in safety – it allows for a lateral heel release (which, if my memory’s right, purportedly can help avoid ACL injuries in a specific but common motion where you’re falling backwards and twisting). I ended up getting the Knee Bindings (basically as a “no regrets” decision), but I did so thinking I had no good information to go on. I sort of wished I had 30 pairs of bindings to torque-test under different conditions, but that wasn’t realistic. If anyone could help plug that knowledge gap I assume it would be you guys.

    Thanks again for all the great stuff you guys produce.

  3. Mike April 7, 2017 Reply

    What is the heel elasticity of the Salomons?

  4. Sev April 7, 2017 Reply

    Is the toe height adjustment range of the STH2 different than on the older Driver toes (STH, 91X, 997 etc.)?

    Or worded differently: are the old Driver toes also “WTR compatible” in the sense that they offer enough height adjustment to accomodate WTR soles?

  5. Blister Member
    Tom April 7, 2017 Reply

    Maybe not the exact right place, but it would be great if you guys would address the effect that heel/toe stack delta has on different aspects of skiing.

    I personally have nothing but good things to say about the Attacks. So easy to step into, and no pre-release issues for me.

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