The Best Backcountry Bindings
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Beast 16 Bindings
BEST FOR: Stomping big backcountry lines.
THE TEST: 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. The Beast also offers just six degrees of ramp angle from heel to toe, which makes for easier lateral movement and less pressure on the quads. 4 lbs.
THE VERDICT: It’s two pounds heavier than a svelte tech binding but still a pound lighter than most freeskiing AT bindings.
G3 Onyx Bindings
BEST FOR: Versatility.
THE TEST: The Onyx has matured into a dependable tech binding. We like that the brake remains engaged, even in tour mode, until the skier makes the first stride, thus saving the ski from unmanned adventures down the hill. Also smart: aftermarket plates ($77) let you use the same bindings on all your skis. 3.6 lbs.
THE VERDICT: Most improved binding of the year.
Tryolia Adrenaline Bindings
BEST FOR: Going down more than up.
THE TEST: The Adrenalin is heavy. It’s strong. It can handle cliff drops and race speeds. At almost six pounds for the pair, “it sucks energy like a black hole” on the skin track, said one tester. Mates best with stiff AT or alpine boots.
THE VERDICT: With DIN values to 16, height-adjustable toes that accommo- date alpine or AT boot soles, and a Titanal-reinforced mode lock, the Adrenalin is all about the descent. 5.8 lbs.
Salomon Guardian WTR 13 Bindings
BEST FOR: Heavy-metal-inspired descents; skiing primarily inbounds.
THE TEST: The updated, slightly lighter Salomon Guardian remains the best-performing freeride AT binding available. A low stack height lends it great snow feel, and the extrawide platform can power the fattest powder skis. It’s too heavy for anything other than short backcountry missions, but switching modes is a snap. 6.3 lbs.
THE VERDICT: An alpine binding with a walk mode.
TwentyTwo Designs Axl Bindings
BEST FOR: Driving big tele skis.
THE TEST: The Axl offers top edging power and initiates turns without slop, thanks to a one-piece aluminum toe and stiff underfoot springs. Three settings let you adjust flex from aggressive to easy. 4 lbs.
THE VERDICT: At four pounds it’s hardly lightweight, but the Axl’s performance is unmatched.
Dynafit Radical ST Bindings
BEST FOR: Covering lots of ground.
THE TEST: The Radical ST are tough to beat for their durability and user-friendly features. The forged-aluminum toe piece, with handy guides that align your boot with the pins, is now easier to step into. The binding is also wider and stiffer laterally to power today’s bigger skis, and it’s incredibly lightweight—a huge plus after the first couple-thousand feet of climbing.
THE VERDICT: Outside of a pure randonnée race binding, the Radical sets the efficiency standard. 2.3 lbs.