The perfect alpine touring (AT) binding for riders who want a high DIN doesn’t exist ... yet.
But unlike alpine bindings, which have independent toe and heel pieces, high DIN AT bindings have always required a frame that holds the toe and heel. For touring, the binding plate unlocks at the heel, and pivots on the toe, with the frame attached to the skier's boot.
The problem with a frame binding is that it creates a dead spot in the middle of the ski. When you’re arcing a turn, you flex your ski ... until you hit the section where the frame is screwed into the ski, at which point you are pressuring the binding, which doesn't allow the ski to flex underneath it. Furthermore, when you’re skinning uphill, the weight of a high DIN touring binding is strapped to your foot and you’re lifting it with every step, which is incredibly tiring.
When Dynafit releases its Beast 16 AT binding in January at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Utah, the perfect AT binding will finally exist.
Designed by Dynafit’s Frederick Anderson with skier Eric “Hoji” Hjorfeifson, the Beast 16 is the world’s first DIN 16 binding with torsional rigidity equal to any full alpine binding. It skis like an alpine binding, and it’s significantly lighter than any other DIN 16 AT binding currently out there.
The Beast 16 solves the problem of other burly AT bindings. It has independent toe and heel pieces, which won't cause a dead spot in your ski. The ski can flex through its entire length. It also eliminates the issue of extra binding weight on your foot that you’re moving with every step because it uses tech fittings—arms that hold pins into divets in the toe of a boot. In the case of the Beast 16, the side arms are beefed up and look more like an alpine toepiece than a typical Dynafit binding.
It’s also easier to use. To set the the Beast for different boots, you only need to adjust the length, not the toe height or forward pressure. There’s no dead spot—the ski can flex because the heel pins move slightly as your ski carves. And, where other tech fitting bindings pop open if the front of your foot shifts in the toe piece, this one doesn’t. Much like an alpine binding, it re-centers your boot toe when the blow isn’t enough to eject you—critical for skiers who jump and huck. The binding has five patents pending for everything from its rotating toe piece, to its rear pivot points, entry force, four-point heel attachment, and toe shock absorbers.
The only reason this binding isn’t totally 100-percent unarguably perfect: the cost. At $1,000, it’ll be a hard sell for most skiers. And Dynafit wants it that way for the binding’s first year on the market. The company considers the Beast 16 the Ferrari of its line, and it's only releasing 2,500 pairs worldwide, including 850 pairs in the United States. Each pair will be numbered and tracked so that that any problems or issues with the binding can be closely monitored and corrected. The company is planning a larger release for 2014/15, but there's no word yet if the price will come down. Available fall 2013; dynafit.com.