Share

Skiing

Best Ski Touring Bindings 2019 – 2020

Here's our pick of the best ski touring bindings out there for 2019/20

Bindings. The interface that brings the power from your ski boot, through to your ski. The ski touring binding has to achieve this whilst providing as much safety as possible in the event of a twisting fall. They also have to remain lightweight, and allow skiers to release their heel from the binding when they want to go into touring mode. 

If you think that some touring bindings look confusing, that’s because they are. There’s a lot of research and development that’s been pumped into these nifty little clamps, so let’s take a look at the features that make all of your ski touring missions a reality.

Frame or Pin Bindings

Pictured: Pin bindings on left, frame on the right

There’s two different types of touring bindings. ‘Pin’ bindings and ‘frame’ bindings. Put simply, pin bindings (also known as tech, pintech, or low-tech bindings) utilise pins that clamp both toes and heels. For that reason, these bindings require specialised boots (all the boots in our list of the ‘Top Touring Boots’ feature pin inserts for pin binding compatibility). 

We’ve featured one frame binding within our roundup of the top ski touring bindings. This, the Tyrolia Adrenalin 13, is essentially offering all the downhill performance of a normal alpine binding with a frame that connects the toe and heel to allow for a free-heel touring mode.

We’ll save drilling down on the pros and cons between frame and pin bindings for another article, but will briefly point them out below. The short story is that if you’re serious about getting into touring then you’ll want to look towards pin, or hybrid bindings.

“If you’re serious about getting into touring then you’ll want to look towards pin, or hybrid bindings”

Frame binding pros: Cheap, full downhill retention, don’t need touring-specific boots, durable.
Frame binding cons: Heavy, inefficient touring mode, increased stack height on ski, carrying weight of binding through each stride.

Pin binding pros: Lightweight, efficient touring mode, easy to repair, ability to lock-out toe in no-fall scenarios.
Pin binding cons: Expensive, need specific touring boots

It’s tricky to compare the two types of bindings like-for-like these days, as there’s recently been a surge in the production of ‘hybrid’ touring bindings that combine pin binding touring efficiency, with alpine binding downhill performance – check out the Salomon Shift and Marker Kingpin M-Werks 12 as examples of hybrid bindings done well.

Elasticity / Retention

By far the most important characteristic of any ski binding: how well is it able to hold your boot on the ski as you’re arching some high power turns? It’s no good owning a binding built with weaker springs or softer plastics that’s not able to withstand the forces typically put through it at high speeds.

Release

Opposite to the retention of a binding is release: how well does it allow your foot to release from the binding in the event of a twisting fall? Smooth release from a binding could potentially save you from knee ligament damage, or even a broken leg. Touring bindings have come along leaps and bounds in terms of safety release these days, so you can be sure you’ll be buying into a safe binding when laying down the cash on a modern binding.

Weight

As with all things ski touring, the weight of the touring binding matters to many, but there’s always trade-offs to be made. In the case of touring bindings, it’s between binding performance and weight. Put simply, lightweight touring bindings offer feeble downhill performance, but of course have the advantage of extremely low weights, whereas heavier binding offer unparalleled downhill performance, at the cost of more weight.

Heel risers

Heel risers allow you to lift your heel to a height whilst ski touring. This means that your foot is able to return flat whilst the ski is on a steep slope – saving you from having to stretch your Achilles to painful lengths in each stride. 

Some buyers prefer the simplicity of just two heel risers (usually 0˚ and 5˚), whereas others may feel more confident with the full three risers. Some bindings, frustratingly, don’t come with the ability for your foot to be flat to the ski when in touring mode – which might put off a few potential buyers.

Marker Alpinist 9

Weight per binding: 245g (brakeless) or 335g (with brake)
Release Value: 6 – 12
Price: £275

Website: marker.net

Marker have managed to create a pretty lightweight binding here, with 4mm of elastic heel travel at the attractive price of £275 (not bad, not bad at all). They’ve achieved this price-to-weight ratio through the use of plastics. However, if you take care of these clamps then we can definitely see them lasting the test of time.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Marker Alpinist 9 here

Plum Pika

Weight per binding: 280g
Release Value: 4 – 10
Price: £449

Website: fixation-plum.com

The Plum Pika is nothing short of beautiful. The company was born just down the road from the Chamonix Valley in Cluses, and this is still the location where they skilfully craft these plucky bindings. While most manufacturers are cramming as much tech as possible into their bindings, Plum has brought things back to basics with the all-metal Pika. This nifty animal won’t let you down.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Plum Pika here

Dynafit ST Rotation 12

Weight per binding: 599g
Release Value: 4 – 12 (DIN)
Price: £470

Website: dynafit.com

Modern day kids would name long time tech binding manufacturer Dynafit things like ‘OG’ and ‘Goat’, as they are the original pin binding manufacturer. With this sort of legacy and reputation behind it, you can be sure that this, the Dynafit ST Rotation 12, is going to be packed with reliable features that are unlikely to let you down in the backcountry. These features include a rotating toe for increased retention, combined with a full DIN safety seal of approval.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Dynafit ST Rotation 12 here

Marker Kingpin M-Werks 12

Weight per binding: 620g
Release Value: 6 – 12 (DIN)
Price: £500

Website: marker.net

Marker were the first to bring the hybrid touring binding to an affordable reality with the release of the original Kingpin back in 2014. They’ve now handed this original over to their ‘M-Werks’ department, who have brought the scalpel to it and, in doing so, shaved 130g off the now classic binding. The M-Werks offers a similar downhill to the original Kingpin… just in a lighter package.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Marker Kingpin M-Werks 12 here

Atomic / Salomon Shift

Weight (per binding): 850g
Release Value: 6 – 13 (DIN)
Price: £400

Website: atomic.com

A pin binding on the way up and a full-on alpine binding for the way down. Sounds all too good to be true, right? Well, no, as the masterminds over at Salomon and Atomic have been tinkering away for over seven years on this binding to create the Holy Grail of ski bindings (at 850g).

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Atomic/Salomon Shift here

Tyrolia Adrenalin 16

Weight per binding: 1210g
Release Value: 4 – 13 (DIN)
Price: £310

Website: tyrolia.com

We get that not everybody wants to pull out a mortgage to get their hands on a pair of pin bindings. Add in the problem that you may have to buy new ski boots to fit into these pin bindings, and you’re potentially staring down the barrel of a big financial headache. This is where frame bindings come into their own; full downhill binding performance and full ski boot compatibility (apart from with ultra-lightweight touring boots) leaving you with a happy wallet. The Tyrolia Adrenalin is our pick of the best frame bindings on the market.

Chosen for the 2019/20 Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide – Take a closer look at the Tyrolia Adrenalin here

You May Also Like

The Mpora Backcountry Ski Guide

The Best Backcountry Skis 2019 – 2020

In partnership with:

Share

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.

production