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The Best Ski Touring Bindings For 2022 | Backcountry Bindings That Make Uphill Skiing Possible

Here's our pick of the best ski touring bindings out there for 2022

Ski touring bindings are 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.

What’s the Difference between Frame and Pin touring Bindings?

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.

What does Release Value mean on Ski touring bindings?

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.

How much should a ski touring binding Weigh?

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.

what are ski touring Binding 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.

What are the Best Ski Touring Bindings for 2022?

ATK Raider 12

Weight per binding: 330g (with brake)
Release Value: 5 – 12
Price: £550 / €580 / $700

We’ve consistently been blown away by the level of craftsmanship, innovative designs and bombproof builds that Italian born and bred touring binding manufacturer ATK have been coming up with. The Freeraider 14 impressed us with its freeride spirit, and now, for 2021 the Raider 12 brings everything from the FR 14, in a lightweight bundle.

We found the R12 to be an extremely solid binding for big days in the backcountry; and even some resort bashing. The system is extremely intuitive and incredibly lightweight; if you’re after a binding that can do it all with little compromise, the R12 is a hard one to beat.

Chosen for the 2021/22 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our ATK Raider 12 Review here

CAST Touring Freetour Upgrade Kit

Weight per binding: 1,500 grams (downhill mode), 1,000 grams (touring mode)
Release Value: 6 – 15 (Pivot 15) or 8 – 18 (Pivot 18)
Price: $345

This system, founded in the Tetons by brothers Lars and Silas Chickering-Ayers, is the original downhill-focused touring system that’s long been adopted by legit freeride athletes – including Jeremie Heitz, Tof Henry and Sam Anthamatten.

Yes, you need to purchase a pair of Pivot 15s or 18s separately to make these work these work but the CAST Freetour Upgrade kit still remains the top choice for those who are after pure performance without sacrificing durability and safety.

Chosen for the 2021/22 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our CAST Touring Freetour Upgrade Kit


Plum Guide Brakeless

Weight per binding: 559g
Release Value: 5.5 – 12
Price: €419

Buy here

The Plum Guide began its life over ten years ago as an alternative to the plastic built ski touring bindings that were on offer. These bindings typically featured a lower-grade plastic construction in an effort to save weight at the price of durability, while the Plum Guide’s all-metal chunky build offered the antithesis to this plastic obsession.

If you put a lot of value on durability and reliability with your tech bindings (I mean, who doesn’t?), then the Guide’s certainly a binding to get on your radar. After ten years of bashing, braking and tuning the Guide around the French Alps, Plum has created a fine example of that classic tech binding design.

Chosen for the 2021/22 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our Plum Guide Brakeless Review here

ATK Kuluar 12 LT

Weight per binding: 200g
Release Value: 6 – 12 (fixed vertical release)
Price: £399 / €399 / $499

BUY HERE

With more and more people heading out into the backcountry with race-specific ski touring bindings, it’s no real surprise to see the leading binding manufacturers captivate on this market and produce a safer version of these typically minimal race bindings. And this is the case with this, the ATK Kuluar 12 LT. It’s an incredibly lightweight ski touring binding at 200 grams, with race-binding inspiration found throughout.

The ATK Kuluar 12 LT is a seriously impressive ski touring binding that packs in an impressive feature set that we’re more used to seeing on bindings coming in at double the weight. If you’re typically someone who travels out in the backcountry with a pair of 150 – 170 gram race bindings, but would like the additional safety and security that the Kuluar 12 LT has on offer, then these are, quite simply, going to be a hard to beat binding.

Chosen for the 2021/22 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our ATK Kuluar Review here


Marker Duke PT 16

Weight per binding: 1050 (toe removed) or 1350g (alpine toe attached)
Release Value: 6 – 16
Price: £550

BUY HERE

There’s no doubt about it: the Marker Duke PT 16 holds the highest performance of any dedicated touring binding out on the market right now (apart from the CAST system, perhaps, but that’s an extremely specific product).

How has Marker achieved this? Well, that’s partly thanks to an alpine toe unit that can be added and removed from your ski during transitions to shift this binding into a full on alpine binding, or dedicated pin binding.

The Marker Duke PT 16 boasts a DIN range of 6 – 16, but there’s also a Marker Duke PT 12 (4 – 12 DIN) for skiers who don’t require the rowdy16 DIN certification.

Chosen for the 2020/21 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our Marker Duke PT 16 review here


Armada Shift MNC 10

Weight (per binding): 850g
Release Value: 4 – 10 (DIN)
Price: £400

Buy Here

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 Amer Sports (Armada, Salomon and Atomic) have been tinkering away for over seven years on this binding to create the Holy Grail of ski bindings (at 850g).

Now for the 2020/21 winter season, Armada have brought the Shift binding into a more approachable DIN 10 offering – lightweight and less aggressive skiers rejoice.

Chosen for the 2020/21 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our Armada Shift MNC 10 review here

Marker Alpinist 10

Weight per binding: 245g (brakeless) or 335g (with brake)
Release Value: 4 – 10
Price: £275

Buy here

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 2021/22 Ski 100 – Take a closer look at our Marker Alpinist 10 review here

Plum Pika

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

Buy Here

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 our Plum Pika review here

Dynafit ST Rotation 12

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

Buy Here

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 our Dynafit ST Rotation 12 review here

Marker Kingpin M-Werks 12

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

Buy Here

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 our Marker Kingpin M-Werks 12 review here

Tyrolia Adrenalin 16

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

Buy Here

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 our Tyrolia Adrenalin review here

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