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Unless you're hunting, it's a terrible idea to pack heat in the backcountry

The first 16-DIN tech binding, the new Beast features a “return to center” toe piece. As you ski, the binding deflects to absorb shock. It’s one of the reasons, safety-wise, alpine-style bindings outperform tech bindings.

Whether you’re at the resort or deep in the backcountry, if your boots don’t fit properly you’re miserable. Not sure about size or which brand fit you best? Consult a fitter. To narrow your choices, match the boot to the binding you’re pairing it with.

You now have two choices when it comes to telemark bindings: 75mm (traditional duckbill) and the newer NTN. The former is favored for its simplicity, lower cost, and greater variety of boot choices, but NTN is vastly more powerful and releasable, and it’s better-suited to driving today’s fattest skis.

Dynafit-style tech bindings, like the Radical and the La Sportiva RT, are the only ones that offer a true free pivot, meaning there’s no hardware attached to your boot heel or sole. They have fewer moving parts, ice up less, and require 15 percent less energy from you than other bindings.

Go deeper with our favorite telemark and alpine touring bindings of the year.

If it’s been a while since you bought telemark or alpine touring gear, you’ll notice that the game has changed quite a bit. Skis that used to be fat are now narrow, almost every new model has some degree of rocker, and Dynafit and Dynafit-style bindings are becoming increasing common at the resort.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Black Diamond Custom boots

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Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Marker Duke bindings

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Volkl Nunataq skis

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the BCA Arsenal A-1 shovel with 35-centimeter saw.