I love my Dynafit touring bindings. The fundamental design is a work of genius, and much of the skiing I’ve done over the past 10 years would have been much more difficult without them. As to be expected there were initial issues with durability (heel post fatigue) and functionality (truly reliable hold and release), but rather than methodically addressing them, Dynafit has squandered multiple major revisions trumpeting a succession of poorly conceived and inadequately tested new features (tri-step toe-piece, comfort volcanoes, F12 stiffener, anti-rotation pin, heel pin spacing etc.). They sometimes operate like an cliched eccentric designer is calling the shots, when what they really need is a competent mechanical engineer. I’ve been known to rant on the subject, but suffice to say there is room for improvement.
Fortunately we’re about to see what could be a couple of new viable alternatives, the Fritschi Vipec and the G3 Ion, which both promise to incorporate features such as fore-aft heel piece elasticity and functional brakes into their designs. G3 are based in Vancouver, and their product development engineer Cam Shute lives and skis here in the Kootenays. After underwhelming skiers with the innovative Onyx binding, recent pre-release pics and info on their new Ion binding caught my attention. Cam recently took some time out from teaching his son to ski on the magic carpet at Red Mountain to run me through the features of his personal prototypes. Rather than reinventing the tech binding, G3 have clearly set out to create a more durable and refined version of a Dynafit Radical series binding. No one feature is revolutionary, but when you go through the list in detail it seems that each has been thoughtfully considered, and the execution appears to be of the highest quality. To top it off, they look great. G3 has coordinated an effective media blitz this week, and a thorough analysis of the various features can be found over at Wildsnow. I’m hoping to get my hands on a pair, so that I can ski the shit out them, and help determine if the Ion actually delivers on a lot of promise.