The Best Alpine Touring Bindings of 2022
Gear up to test your speed limit
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Last winter, due to COVID, we decided to forgo a centralized testing event and instead set up pods in mountain towns throughout the country. The silver lining: each crew had weeks, not just five days, to tour in all the new models, netting even more time in walk mode. That extended window yielded more detailed feedback on uphill performance than we’ve ever had. These are the bindings that made it through the gauntlet.
Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 ($600)
Four years ago, the Shift became the first tech binding to provide both resort performance and reliable backcountry utility. We still love it. Its baseline two-degree ramp angle in tour mode means you’re never walking on a flat platform, so testers found it more at home on short missions. 1.9 lbs
Fritschi Xenic 10 ($430)
Competition among tech-binding manufacturers has reduced cost but heightened innovation. The Xenic 10 is proof: it’s the lightest model Fritschi offers, stands up to all-day touring, and is the least expensive binding we tested. Plastic composite toe bumpers make lining up the boot’s tech pins easy and allow the toe to release quickly from tour mode. To keep weight down, the Xenic has one easily actuated 11-degree heel riser in tour mode. Brakes (85, 95, and 105 millimeters) are sold separately for $65. 9.9 oz
Plum Summit 12 ($609)
Forged in the shadow of France’s Mont Blanc, the 7075-aluminum Summit 12 replaces Plum’s Yak binding and with it the old-school twisting heel that doubled as the climbing ascender. Testers found the Summit 12 provided a damper ride than its predecessor thanks to a synthetic pad that makes contact with the boot just beneath the heel. The Summit does not have brakes, but it does fit skis up to 130 millimeters wide. The heel piece has 30 millimeters of adjustability. 15.7 oz
G3 Zed 9 ($478)
Simply twist the Zed 9’s heel 90 degrees to engage a walk mode with two heel risers. We appreciate the 30 millimeters of adjustability. Testers also noted how damp it skied on hard snow. Credit the ten millimeters of forward pressure, which allow the ski to flex more freely underfoot as the heelpiece moves slightly back and forth. Brakes (up to 130 millimeters) are available separately for $84. 12.2 oz
Marker Duke PT 12 ($700)
Marker’s answer to the seminal Salomon Shift is a great option for the skier who rides in-bounds 80 percent of the time but occasionally wants to poke into the backcountry. The Duke relies on a removable toe to switch from downhill to walk mode, an arrangement that’s a little inconvenient but shaves 10.5 ounces per ski for the climb. Even in downhill mode, the 12 is less weighty than the 16 because it uses the lighter-spring heel of the Squire alpine binding rather than the heel from the beefy Jester and Griffon systems. 2.6 lbs (downhill), 1.9 lbs (uphill)
Dynafit Blacklight+ ($500)
The Blacklight+ may look minimalist, but don’t be fooled. It skis tough, thanks to a forged aluminum toe and stainless-steel heel pins, which offer maximal edging power in ski mode. It’s also the least expensive brake/binding setup in the test, perfect for day-in, day-out touring on narrow to mid-fat skis. The heel simply rotates 180 degrees from ski to tour mode, locking the brakes out in the process. Testers found the two aluminum ascenders (22 and 41 millimeters) easy to operate. 12 oz