When you finally decide to transition from skiing on resorts to backcountry skiing, upgrading your skiing set up becomes necessary. Ski bindings are among the most important gear – you shouldn’t miss these on your backcountry ski gear list.
In the market, you will come across 2 types of ski bindings ideal for exploring the backcountry – the frame bindings and tech bindings. Each style features its pros and cons. To help you invest in a binding style that suits all your needs, we will be comparing the 2 styles in this article.
Tech Bindings: The Lightweight Option
Tech bindings feature 4 metal prongs – 2 at the heel and 2 at the toe. These insert into metal holes slat on the backcountry ski boots. When transitioning into the walk mode, the tech bindings’ heel will rotate so that your toe can remain attached while the boot heel stays free – this allows for natural gait as the skier travels uphill.
Tech bindings are relatively easy to use and light. They make transitioning from the ski to walk mode both quick and seamless.
Tech Bindings Features
If you decide to use the tech bindings after getting your boots out of the ski boot bag, you should expect the following features:
One of the main benefits offered by the tech bindings is their low weight. Even the heaviest tech bindings will be significantly lighter when compared to the lightest frame bindings.
It is not uncommon for skiers to come across tech bindings weighing only 1 pound 47 ounces. The heaviest tech bindings will weigh approximately 2 pounds 9 ounces per pair.
The incredibly low weight is the main reason why uphill-focused skiers will prefer tech bindings. Most skiers report that walking up the snowy slopes feels more like breeze after switching from the frame bindings to the ultra-light tech bindings.
Ease of Use
A large number of companies that produce the tech bindings do prioritize fast and easy transitions. The majority of experienced and beginning skiers do know how to change from ski to walk mode without stepping out of their bindings. When using the tech bindings, this process can take as little as 10 seconds – all it requires is a simple rotation of the binding heel.
When a skier is standing on an exposed ridgeline featuring howling winds, the speed at which he/she switches to the ski mode and starts descending can have a significant effect on both morale and comfort. If you are a ski mountaineer, the seconds you end up saving can add up pretty quickly, resulting in more mileage each day.
If you decide to use your all-mountain skis with a frame binding, the transition may be quite slow. If you are exploring the snow with a friend who is donning tech bindings, he/she will have to wait for you to complete the process.
The smooth walkability and low weight of the tech ski bindings do come with several sacrifices, the downhill performance being one of the most notable sacrifices. With only 4 metal pins (usually small), smaller forces can cause the bindings to release unexpectedly and prematurely. A large number of skiers have at some point experienced the popping out of the tech bindings when they are exploring choppy snow or skiing groomers.
To make sure that the ski bindings do not release prematurely, most skiers prefer to pull the small toe tab into a locked position. This keeps the boot toe locked securely with minimal elasticity for release. If you decide to use this option to reduce the chances of premature releasing, you have to keep in mind that without the elasticity, the binding may not release when you need it to – like when you twist a knee or fall.
Overall, when compared to the frame bindings, tech bindings feature reduced security. This makes them more ideal for use when you are skiing less aggressively on soft snow. If you intend to go off of jumps, carve groomers or ski variable snow at high speeds, frame bindings may be a much better option.
If you intend to use the tech bindings the next time you wear your ski jacket, you should plan and purchase ski boots compatible with the pin heel and toe. You will be hard-pressed to find alpine ski boots featuring the metal slats and holes needed for the tech bindings’ pins to lock in place. Since most of the backcountry specific boots may not work with the tech bindings, finding a pair of boots you can use for all your skiing endeavors becomes quite hard.
Before investing in a pair of boots, you may have to talk to the local ski gear staff or chat with the manufacturer to confirm compatibility. If you are committed to creating a setup ideal for skiing in the backcountry only, your job should become much easier.
Frame Bindings: Great Downhill Performance
If your goal is to have an unrivaled downhill performance after donning your ski gloves, then you should consider investing in the frame bindings. Frame bindings are quite similar to the regular alpine ski bindings – their heel and toe pieces are almost the same.
The main difference is that a frame connecting the heel and toe exists on the frame bindings. Also, on the frame bindings, the heel releases to allow the skier to walk while remaining clicked into the frame binding.
If you are new to backcountry skiing, this familiarity can be an advantage. After leaving the winter camping tent and heading to the skiing tracks, you will be stepping into frame bindings featuring a similar look to your usual alpine bindings. You won’t even have any pins that you need to worry about.
A lot of skiers will use the frame bindings for their first backcountry skiing experience while some will use the bindings throughout their skiing carrier. While they might be heavier than the tech bindings above, they still can offer the user an awesome experience.
Frame Bindings Key Features
As we had mentioned earlier, frame bindings are quite heavy. If you have to spend a significant amount of time on the skiing tracks, the weight could begin to take its toll on you.
The frame bindings are usually attached to the ski boots. For this reason, when walking you may feel quite clunky.
Frame bindings offer less flexibility and play in the ski – they are usually mounted using a stiff rail. The stiff rail can make walking feel strenuous.
If your goal is to prioritize downhill shredding after donning your ski goggles, the frame bindings may be an ideal option for you. However, you will have to be prepared to deal with the additional weight. If you will be embarking on long tours ditch the frame bindings in favor of the tech bindings.
Ease of Use
Frame bindings are fairly easy to use. A plate existing under the foot, parallel to your ski, holds the heel and toe piece together while allowing the heel to pivot so that you can have the ability to travel up the ski track.
When you need to ski down the slopes, all you will have to do is pull a lever mid-binding whose purpose is to lock the binding frame into place on your skin, making it possible for the binding to perform similarly to the alpine bindings. Compared to the tech bindings, the frame bindings are much slower when it comes to transitioning.
The majority of frame bindings in the market will allow you to raise or lower the release value depending on both your body weight and level of experience. This makes the decent safer for you.
Frame bindings feature a beefy structure. If you mount the bindings correctly, their chances of premature release will be much lower.
What this tells you is that the frame bindings will only release when you need them to, for example, when taking a fall, and will remain securely locked when you are exploring the slopes, even when you are skiing aggressively. For this reason, skiers who want to only work with a single set up on both the resort and backcountry will prefer to invest in the frame bindings considering that they feature both security and the ability to switch into the tour mode.
Frame bindings are capable of accommodating a wide range of skiing boots. The bindings can be used with standard downhill boots and touring boots featuring rocked soles.
Since you will still need the range of motion offered by the backcountry boots, you may not want to use touring boots when exploring the backcountry. The fact that frame bindings can work with numerous boots does not mean that they work with every boot – check with the manufacturer or ski gear seller to make sure that you are getting the right boot.
Hybrid Ski Bindings: Combining Great Qualities Present in Tech and Frame Bindings?
In the market, it is possible to find ski bindings featuring a pin toe and the frame heel. The pin toe allows walkability similar to the one offered by tech bindings. The frame heel, on the other hand, keeps your ski boot locked in more securely.
Hybrid Bindings Main Features
If you intend to use hybrid bindings after putting on your ski pants, the features you should expect to enjoy are outlined below:
Compared to the frame bindings, hybrid bindings cut significantly on the weight. Currently, the heaviest model will weigh approximately 3 pounds and 13 ounces a pair. The lightest frame binding will be nearly a whole pound heavier. With a lower weight than the frame bindings but added security and more downhill performance than the tech bindings, hybrid bindings could be an ideal choice for anyone.
It is worth noting that there is no ski binding in the market that is lighter than the tech bindings. The lightest hybrid binding will weigh up to a pound more than the heaviest tech bindings. This means that for intense days of an uphill slog, the tech bindings may still be an ideal option.
On the descent, the hybrid ski bindings generally feature more security. Since they feature a frame binding, similar to the one present on the alpine set-up, you won’t have to worry about the bindings releasing prematurely – they will stay locked even when you decide to charge over bumpy, rough terrain. If you are a downhill-focused skier looking for added power and stability and you do not mind some extra weight, the hybrid bindings should be an ideal choice for you.
In terms of boot compatibility, not all hybrid ski bindings are built equally. This makes the whole process of selecting the boots to use with the hybrid bindings more challenging. The majority of the boots which can be used with the “pin toe, frame heel” ski bindings usually feature touring specific models.
If you have already purchased the boots you intend to wear skiing, you may need to communicate with the hybrid ski binding manufacturers or ski gear sellers to determine which hybrid binding may work with your boot. If you are yet to buy your boots, selecting compatible boots and hybrid bindings should be much easier for you.
Globo Surf Overview
Picking an overall winner can be tough – both the tech and frame bindings feature both advantages and disadvantages. With the frame bindings, you won’t have to worry about the bindings releasing prematurely when skiing aggressively downhill. Tech bindings are ideal for touring, they are incredibly light, and ski pretty well – for longer trips, the tech bindings will beat the frame bindings any day.
To determine the bindings to invest in, you will need to think about where and how you will be skiing. If you intend to ski aggressively after donning your ski helmet, consider using the frame bindings. If you will be embarking on a long trip that does not involve a lot of aggressiveness, the tech bindings should be an ideal option.
More Snow Reviews:
- Hand Warmers
- Ski Backpack
- Women’s Skis
- Insulated Jacket
- Winter Running Shoes
- Health Benefits Of Snowboarding
- Tree Well
- Ski Goggles Fogging Up
- Skiing In Nepal
- Ski Resort Activities
- Tech vs frame bindings, Annalouisek.wordpress.com