Atomic / Salomon Shift 2019 – 2020 Binding | Review

Pin binding for the uphill, alpine binding to tear up the downhill – this is the Atomic Shift

Weight (per binding): 850g
Release Value: 6 – 13 (DIN)
Riser Heights: 2˚ & 10˚
Brake Sizes: 90, 100, 110 & 120 mm
Heel Adjustment: 30 mm
Price: £400


Why we chose the Atomic Shift: Best of both worlds.

Stick professional Salomon athletes Cody Townsend and Chris Rubens in a room together with a Salomon binding engineer and I’m sure they’ll come up with all sorts of bonkers ideas.

One of them, the Salomon Shift, was taken seriously and now, after 20 prototypes were designed and perfected over seven years of testing, we’re left with the Atomic/Salomon Shift.

Pin binding for the way up, Alpine binding for the way down. The idea is simple, and yet so many other binding manufacturers have previously failed to achieve this “Holy Grail” for skiers.

“Pin binding for the way up, Alpine binding for the way down”

Whilst Salmon and Atomic haven’t quite nailed everything, they’ve come pretty damn close and that’s why the Shift has made it into the Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide.

So how does the binding actually work? It looks more like a Transformer than a traditional ski binding, after all. Well, if you pay attention, the clue is in the name. The binding, you see, “shifts” from ski to walk mode and vice versa with a flick of a tab found on the toe of the binding. It sounds simple, and that’s because it is.

To step into walk mode, make sure you’ve locked the brakes by flipping the brake lock on the heel of the binding then push the small white tab on the toe down to reveal the pins. Once the pins are revealed, all you’ve got to do is push down on the long white touring lock lever found at the front of the toes to open the pins up – allowing you to line up and insert your boot. And then, once that’s done, give the long white lever a yank up to lock the toes in touring mode.

For ski mode, just make sure the white plastic tab on the toe is pulled up and just step into it like any other regular downhill binding out there. This binding is Multi Norm Certified, meaning it’ll take all types of downhill boot soles (not touring specific soles, like the ones found on the Atomic Backland Carbon or Salomon S/Lab X-Alp).

“The Shift is able to offer 47mm toe elasticity and 11mm heel elasticity”

That’s the guts of how this binding works out the way, but how does it ski? Well, let’s get tech-y for all the binding nerds out amongst us: the Shift is able to offer 47mm toe elasticity and 11mm heel elasticity. For comparison, the STH2 – the go-to freeride bindings that you’ll frequently see strapped to the planks of most athletes whilst they’re sending it off Alaskan cliffs – is able to offer 52mm toe elasticity and 16mm heel elasticity. Not bad Shift, not bad at all.

It’s not going to appeal to the gram counting, lycra-clad skimo athletes out there, but they probably won’t even be reading this review. Hell, they’ll probably be out there right now getting the cardio laps in.

This really is the binding to go for if you’re looking for a binding that really does do it all. In fact, this might just be the closest thing to the single binding quiver.

At 880g, don’t expect to keep up with your mates on their tiny dedicated pin bindings. Like with everything in life though, there’s a tradeoff to be made here. In this case, it means you’ll be leaving your mates in the dust on the downhills.

Too heavy to be a dedicated touring binding, it’s probably best suited towards resort-based touring where you take a chairlift to a high point, ski out of resort and then tour back.

This binding may not yet have reached the Holy Grail of touring bindings level which, if you’re interested, we see as around 600 grams – with full downhill binding retention and elasticity. It has come pretty damn close to it though and, more importantly, has made other brands sit up and take note.

Expert’s Verdict

Dave Searle, Chamonix-based UIAGM Mountain Guide

Website: Instagram: @searlerdave

“I’ve used the Shift binding for a full season in Chamonix and the question everyone asks me is does it ski like a downhill binding? Yes, yes it does. Around these parts ski equipment gets tested to the max. One day you could be skiing steep pillows in the forest at the end of a 2000m descent and the next day you could be railing turns down a piste to catch the next lift at the start of a long days touring.

“I was constantly impressed with how this binding performed and although I was sceptical when I first got mine, it proved itself over time to be a reliable and strong. The best of both worlds for skiing around these parts having the ability to ski tour uphill with a pin binding and ski down with a downhill binding”

*Dave is speaking of the Salomon Shift. It’s exactly the same binding, but in black and blue.

Graham Bell, Former Olympic Downhill Ski Racer

“This binding represents a whole new direction for touring bindings offering all the advantages of the pin system but offering a solid alpine binding once it is locked into ski mode.  It has a very comforting clunk as you step in, with enough DIN to cover the most powerful skiers, and a torsional capability as good as any on piste binding, which means you do not lose any power in the turns.

“It is easy to adjust the toe binding height if you are skiing in alpine boots, but you do need a pin boot if you are going to use them in walk mode.  Getting into walk mode is super fast and it is easy to step into the toe binding.  The pin system make kick turns much easier than using a frame touring binding, and they are significantly lighter too.”

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