Updated April 2017
With a corn cycle brewing and retailers slashing prices, we've updated this review as of April 2017. In our update, we researched the market, guaranteeing that we have reviewed the latest models, and assuring that our Editors' Choice winner still has what it takes to earn our top spot.
Best Overall Alpine Touring / AT Bindings for Backcountry Skiing Review
Dynafit Radical ST 2.0
Durable and solid design
Easy-engage heel risers
Gold standard in tech binding design
Fewer icing problems than other bindings
Requires multiple tools to adjust
Ramp angle is higher than many models
Harder to transition than some of the competition
Winning Editors' Choice for the best overall touring product is the Dynafit Radical ST 2.0
. A long-standing top choice for many, the Radical ST 2.0 is still the gold-standard in tech bindings, a benchmark for other models. The 2.0 maintains the efficient touring design of previous models, and several upgrades make the binding safer and more durable. Some components of the Radical are known to break, so Dynafit has beefed these up, adding a pivoting toe piece and eliminated the 5 mm gap between the user's boot and heel piece. With these changes, the Radical ST 2.0 now has ISO/DIN certification, offering a standard for safety and consistency in release values. These upgrades add 5 ounces per pair. With several new strong contenders in this category, competition is stiff, but if we could only use one binding in the backcountry, the Radical ST 2.0 would be it.
Read full review: Dynafit Radical ST 2.0
Best Bang for the Buck
Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0
Lacks a brake option
Difficult to engage heel risers
Limited size range
The Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0
is the best deal available for a tech-style binding, costing $200-$300 less than most other models. It doesn't come with a brake, nor is it compatible with one. But at 1 pound 10 ounces, it's one of the lightest options that has a release value. It's super light; ski mountaineers who want to save weight can easily save money and sacrifice very little performance with this binding. With its simple yet tried-and-true design, Speed Turn is built to last and we wouldn't hesitate to use it on remote trips. However, because of its brakeless design, it takes more skill to deal with the nuances of skiing, transitioning without a brake, or considering a leash in spring conditions.
Read full review: Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0
Top Pick Touring Binding for Primarily In-Bounds Use
Marker Duke EPF
Fantastic durability and downhill performance
Solid beefy design
Easy to step into
Difficult to transition and engage heel
If you're going to ski 70-100% of your time inbounds, whether skiing sidecountry or just ripping groomers, our Top Pick is the Marker Duke EPF
. If you want the best AT binding for riding chairs and skiing gnarly lines, the Duke EPF has the positive boot-binding connection, ease of use, and durability you'll need. The EPF is Marker's Extended Power frame, which refers to the wider hole/mounting pattern, giving it better leverage on the ski. For pure touring, the Marker is heavy and is prone to icing up in the tracks that lock it down. Also, because of their locking mechanism, you always have to take your boot out of the binding to transfer between skinning and skiing, a disadvantage in our minds, though that wasn't enough to overcome the Duke's benefits for downhill performance.
Read full review: Marker Duke EPF
Top Pick for the Ultimate Quiver of One
Marker Kingpin 13
Great downhill performance
Incredibly durable for such a lightweight binding
Not compatible with all tech boots
If you'll only have one setup for everything, and you tour and resort ski roughly half and half, the Marker Kingpin 13
is the binding for you. The Kingpin 13 wasn't the runaway winner, receiving strong contention from both the Dynafit Beast 16 and the Fritschi Freeride Pro for this award. However, the Kingpin won because it features some of the best downhill performance while maintaining typical tech binding uphill efficiency, and its relatively light weight (3 lbs 5 oz) for traditional tech bindings. For resort experiences, the Kingpin is one of the safer tech bindings and has a DIN/ISO rated release. If you want to tour slightly more than half the time, we'd go with the Kingpin because it's burly, you don't have to modify your boot, you can tour flat-footed, and it is almost a pound lighter than the Freeride Pro. That said, there have been some problems with the Kingpin's pins; if you are going to get into which binding is safer for in-bounds skiing, the Beast 16 has front toe pivots, allowing for a wider range of release directions (AKA more ways you can fall).
Read full review: Marker Kingpin 13
Best Tech Binding for Ease of Use: G3 ION
The new G3 ION 12
is rad looking and is one of the best contenders to Dynafit's King of the tech binding touring throne. What we loved is the ION's toe is super easy to step into; the easiest of any tech binding on the market. Instead of pressing down or hooking one side of the "pins", the ION has two levers that engage the pins when bumped, so that no downward pressure is necessary. The heel, while super solid, had a handful of issues that kept it from being our Editors' Choice. Every so often, the brakes would deploy without the boot releasing (AKA your brakes come down while you are still skiing). This was extremely rare, but did happen on occasion. The heel on the ION was also more prone to icing up. When we left it outside during a wet overnight tour, we had to spend five minutes chipping the heel piece free to get it to engage. The heel risers also don't always stay in place, nor do they engage as nicely as other models. None of these issues were deal breakers for us, and we still think the ION is sweet, but they did keep it from getting our highest award.