The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

Blister’s AT Binding Shootout

You may have seen our posts about this on Facebook and Instagram, but in case you missed it, we’ve been busy gathering accurate and concrete answers to the questions that seem to be on everybody’s mind:

What’s the best AT binding out there? What are the real differences between all these popular AT bindings, and which one should I buy? Are they all pretty much the same? Should I just get the cheapest one?

We’ve been asking ourselves the same questions around here, so it was time to get some answers, and we set out to do this in the most legit way possible.

The Contenders

Dynafit Radical 2.0
Fischer Tour Freeride 14 / Dynafit Beast 14
Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 (Black)
G3 ION 12
Marker Kingpin 13

Of course, there are other tech bindings on the market, but these are five of the most popular, and the ones we get asked about the most.

The Methodology

To do this right, we wanted to remove as many variables as we could. So we mounted all of the bindings on the same touring ski on the recommended line. We then went out and did something that we normally don’t do — bang out lift-accessed laps on touring skis & bindings, switching skis back-and-forth over the course of several days on snow. This has provided the best way for us to very accurately get the feel of these bindings’ downhill performance. (Reviewer Brian Lindahl and I share the same BSL, which makes for very fast & easy ski swapping.)

AT Binding comparison by Jonathan Ellsworth on Blister Gear Review.

Our Test Fleet

Over the whole course of this past winter, several of our reviewers have spent a good number of days touring on each of these bindings, so we have a decent sense of that. But this week, we’re doing some shorter yo-yo laps so that we can also note the most significant features or differences in terms of how well these bindings go uphill.

The Ski: Line Sick Day Tourist

Prior to this test, I put a number of days on the Sick Day Tourist 102 this winter, and I was very impressed with its weight-to-downhill performance. (See our Flash Review of the Tourist from back in February.)

The Sick Day Tourist comes in around 1680-1730 grams per ski. So it’s a light ski, but certainly not the lightest out there. And I have enough time on this ski to know that it could hold up to hard skiing and variable snow. For its weight, the Tourist is a very predictable ski, and I don’t have a single complaint about its downhill performance. And so for all of those reasons, it seemed like the perfect ski to use as the constant in our test.

Reviewer Brian Lindahl and I have now spent a number of days ripping around Arapahoe Basin on four different pairs of the Sick Day Tourist, each mounted with a different AT binding. This was Brian’s first time on the ski, and this was my first time skiing the Tourist inbounds. Both of us came away very, very impressed. We were skiing hard and fast — big turns over Arapahoe Basin’s rolling terrain; very fast GS turns down groomers; zipperlining bumps; cornice jumps; etc.

Jonathan Ellsworth AT Binding shootout Blister Gear Review.

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Line Sick Day Tourist 102, Arapahoe Basin, CO.

I’m against the trend of skiing lightweight AT equipment inbounds, but I have to admit that we have had a good time banging out chair laps on the Sick Day Tourist. And most importantly, if this ski can handle what we’ve been doing with it inbounds, it inspires a whole lot of confidence as a tool for backcountry use — you know, what it was actually designed for. There are a number of very good touring skis on the market, but the Sick Day Tourist could easily serve as my single go-to touring ski.

What’s Next?

Over the next several days and weeks, we’ll begin rolling out the results of our test. Tomorrow, we’re going to post a Flash Review of the downhill performance of each of these bindings, with more to follow.

(To get access to our Flash Reviews, all of our Blister Deep Dive Comparison articles, a copy of our print-edition 16/17 Winter Buyer’s Guide — plus access to a bunch of great money-saving deals and exclusive discounts — sign up for a Blister Membership.)

Go to Our:

Flash Review: Downhill Performance

Deep Dive – Part 1: Uphill Performance

• Deep Dive – Part 2: Downhill Performance

• Deep Dive – Part 3: Additional Features, Safety Components, and Durability Factors

• Deep Dive – Part 4: Overall Summary

THE ALPINE TOURING BINDINGS

Here are some of the specs, prices, and our measured weights of each of the five AT bindings in our test.

Dynafit Radical FT 2.0 

AT Binding comparison by Jonathan Ellsworth on Blister Gear Review.MSRP: $649

Available Brakes: 90, 105, 120, 135 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Binding:

  • Toe pieces: 230 & 231 g (with screws)
  • Heel pieces: 423 & 421 g (with screws)
  • Total Weight per Binding: 653 / 652 grams

 

 

Fischer Tour Freeride 14 / Dynafit Beast 14

AT Binding comparison by Jonathan Ellsworth on Blister Gear Review.
MSRP: $749

Available Brakes: 105, 120, 135 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Binding: 831 / 833 grams

 

Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 (Black)

AT Binding comparison by Jonathan Ellsworth on Blister Gear Review.

MSRP: $599

Available Brakes: 95, 108, 120 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Binding:

  • Toe pieces: 274 & 276 g (with screws)
  • Heel pieces: 244 & 244 g (with screws)
  • 95 mm Brakes: 71 g each
  • Total Weight per Binding: 589 / 591 grams

 

 

G3 ION 12

AT Binding comparison by Jonathan Ellsworth on Blister Gear Review.

MSRP: $499

Available Brakes: 85, 105, 130 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Binding:

  • Toe piece: 193 & 196 g (with screws)
  • Heel piece: 443 & 445 g (with screws)
  • Total Weight per Binding: 636 / 641 grams

 

 

Marker Kingpin 13
AT Binding comparison by Jonathan Ellsworth on Blister Gear Review.

MSRP: $649

Available Brakes: 75-100 mm & 100-125 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Binding:

  • Toe pieces: 199 & 200 g (with screws)
  • Heel pieces: 363 & 363 g
  • Heel platform with 75-100mm brakes: 212 g (with screws)
  • Total Weight per Binding: 774 / 775 grams

1 Comment

  1. Blister Member
    Big K June 6, 2016 Reply

    Clairvoyant are you Jonathan? A good part of next season will involve round robin back country transfers so suddenly
    I’m in the market to upgrade the old AT setup. Look forward to the results.

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