ISPO 2012: Skibinding Technology – Salomon Guardian, Tyrolia AAA and Dynafit

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The Dynafit range 
One of the biggest innovation of this year’s ISPO was definitely binding technology. With Salomon pushing its ride and hike technology, naturally other competitors will follow suit, and that’s exactly what Tyrolia did. The answer to the Guardian binding is there access all areas technology, short AAA. After checking both bindings I was a little puzzled. The idea seemed pretty good. Take qualities of a classic binding and modify them for hiking use.

According to Salomon, the Guardian binding should work like any other binding. With a DIN of 16. It should offer professional Alpine performance with the addition of a hike capability. That said, especially in the European market, there are a lot of companies that offer professional bindings for the touring skier. That brings me to Dynafit and there Brands. More on those later on.

The Tyrolia AAA concept

Something Salomon is excessively promoting is the capability to switch between different modes instantaneously. With the push of a button, you can start hiking immediately. After checking the binding it seems to be pretty solid. Of course, using it for a longer period of time in difficult conditions, is a completely different story. In direct comparison with the Tyrolia the Guardian looks a lot more solid. The material used seems to be of better quality. Also, once the Tyrolia is in hike mode it seems a bit flimsy. Whether that impact performance remains to be seen. Another thing Tyrolia did is to find a launch Partner in Elan, kinda like Salomon and Atomic.

Amerlabs now in Salo and Atomic livery
Here the Guardian 

Without going into too much technical details on both bindings, one can easily see that these are not meant for the hard-core tourer. The weight of both is more in the range of a marker baron,hell the front looks very similar on all XD, then is in the excessively weight shedding world of tour skiing. Another question that I didn’t get an answer to was the price of both products. I think both companies are still evaluating how much people were willing to pay for these. I expect them to land somewhere in the 350euro range. That’s sad, they are not going to be appealing to the average backcountry skier.

I also did some digging on where the idea, for going such a radically different route in comparison with the regular touring bindings might have originated. When the first quest boot came out, Salamon wanted to appeal to the tourers as a viable boot option. They started the movement into the touring segment with this boot, in my opinion, the basic plans for the binding were already being drawn up. But then a little fiasco happened. With the boot, Salamon give the option to buy additional adapters to use them on your regular touring binding. Unfortunately for Saloman they turned out to be a disaster. Using inadequate materials in comparison to the regular specification used by black diamond and scarpa, Salomon opted to save some cash in reducing the metal plates thickness. This apparent misunderstanding of the forces that impact this kind of binding, catastrophic failure after only a brief period of use was certain. I found information relating to a case, that almost cost a skier’s life. Having found out about that Salomon issued a recall of all these defective boot soles. And with this adapters, were touring bindings of a different make, were to be used with the quest were never heard from again. Instead, the next year the ride and hike concept came to be. To be completely honest I’m still a little sceptical about the long-term functionality of this concept. It’s one thing to have your development team running around the globe with a sheer limitless supply of concept equipment, always well maintained and replaceable, but another to be an end customer who buys a binding that should last a few seasons. As I will be upgrading for next season I will probably consider this as a viable option if the price is not too high.

Speaking of touring bindings. Of course there are other solutions as well. While at ISPO I also went out checkout the offerings of Dynafit. The professionals touring company, mostly known for bindings is also venturing into all areas. Another combination that would need to be checked out would be a dynafit binding with a scarpa boot. Unlike conventional bindings, Dynafit bindings weigh almost nothing. While being guided through the entire product range, which to say the least is enormous, starting with the radical TLT and ending with the superlightweight vertical ST 82MM, these things look incredibly interesting and paper. Next to that, one can also see, that dynafit is getting serious about ski production as well. I wrote about that in one of the previous article. The performance of these should be in line with Alpine bindings. Honestly said, I will have two get my hands on some of these, to see if that holds true.

To wrap it up I will have to say that if you are, like me, starting to look for a viable touring alternative, your options have just tripled. Which of the technologies, whether it be the new ride and hike, or the more classical touring concept suits your personal taste will be up to you. The market is being flooded with products for all price ranges and everybody should be able to find something for himself. Regardless of which option you choose remember not to save cash in the wrong places a.k.a. bindings and boots. Next up in the ISPO line will be a Gimmick and then Boots 🙂

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