Update: Beyond-Basic Bindings

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Outside magazine, November 1995

Update: Beyond-Basic Bindings
By Glenn Randall

Every major brand of bindings performs just fine these days–and has for years. So, having mastered the basics, the manufacturers have been busy tweaking their latest bindings to improve edge grip, help carve a perfect round turn, and absorb shock and vibration. In some cases, these beefed-up bindings actually do make a difference–albeit a subtle one.

The simplest binding enhancement is a platform between binding and ski. Also called booster pads, lifters, or spacers, these platforms, roughly a centimeter thick, elevate your foot for more leverage when you set your edges. Most, such as the one on Salomon’s Driver 997 Carbon ($265), incorporate a forgiving plastic-rubber composite that helps damp
vibration when your skis are chattering on ice. Salomon’s Driver Suspension 997 Carbon ($345) goes one step further, with a pistonlike structure designed to act somewhat like a shock-absorbing mountain bike fork. From Salomon, 800-342-7669.

Three years ago, Marker introduced the first binding that gave you some control over a ski’s flex pattern. The latest rendition, Marker’s M51 Turbo SC ($380), features a three-position switch so that you can alter the flex pattern underfoot: from firm, for a good edge grip at high speeds on hard snow, to soft, for easier turning in powder and
bumps. From Marker, 800-453-3862.

ESS has taken a different approach to control with its Essmatic V,A,R,512 ($249). The binding is mounted on a track; by pushing a button, the skier can scoot the entire binding a half-inch forward from center, for quicker turn initiation, or a half-inch back, for greater stability at speed and better flotation in powder. From ESS, 603-880-6143.

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