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What do you use in the backcountry?
What's up guys?
I have been out of the ski game the past three years doing the traveling/surfing thing. I am stoked to get back into cold temps and winter this year as I got an "adult" job and will not be traveling. I am looking for advice on a backcountry binding / boot combo for aggressive backcountry skiing. The ski I am looking at getting is the ON3P Woodsman 108.
My current quiver:
- Volkl One w/ Salomon frame bindings and Dalbello alpine boots
- ON3P Steeples w/ Dynafit TLT Radical ST 2.0 bindings and Scarpa Maestrale boots
I am looking for a combination of boot / binding that will bridge the gap between these two ski setups. I primarily ski backcountry (95%) and will venture into the resort for the occasional powdur day. I started skiing full time in the backcountry 6-7 years ago to avoid the UT lift lines. I have lugged around frame bindings for many years and used my dynafit pin bindings for many years too. My Steeples are great for mountaineering days but I find the combination of the boot / binding / ski to not be very aggressive. I love how my Volkls and frame bindings ski and I still take them out on days where I am building a jump / cliffs / mini golf lines. I am thinking that frame bindings are somewhat outdated and I can get similar performance out of the new bindings such as the Salomon Shifts or Marker Kingpins.
What would you suggest as far as boot / bindings for a more traditional aggressive alpine feel?
Ski- J Skis Slacker, one of the Bentchetlers (you decide width based upon how you ski-- they are both great), or Moment Deathwish Tour.
Binding- Shift or new Duke PT, I'd also consider the CAST system
Boot- FT ascendent SC or Technica Cochise
I would check out the Atomic Hawx Xtd 130 for an aggressive boot that you can drive hard while being extremely lightweight. They're a bit pricey but after one season on them I'm definitely a fan. I use Kingpins which are good for the most part but I have had some pre-release issues while skiing in variable conditions in the resort, for BC with soft snow they perform well though and have kept me locked in after decent sized drops and jumps. I would search around the site for testimonials for the Shifts performance, what I've read is they are ideal for a 70/30 resort/bc split for mostly sidecountry type missions, but are a bit of a pain for longer tours due to icing, riser, and transition-time factors.
Boots are something you'll definitely want to go to a boot fitter to make sure you get the right set, with that said plenty of brands make killer crossover boots such as the Atomic XTD, Lange XT3, Salomon Shift Pro, etc...that will give you great downhill performance.
I'd recommend a pin binding for almost anyone who says they spend 95% of their time in the backcountry. They are far superior to frame bindings on the way up, and there are plenty of options in today's market that will give you pretty damn good performance on the way down. Some examples of pin bindings that will put up with aggressive skiing include the Fritschi Tecton, Atomic Backland, or (self plug) Moment Voyager, but it sounds like you're cool with extra weight if that extra weight = better downhill performance, in which case the Shift or Cast system would be big contenders.
If you're going with the full weight Woodsman, and not a tour version, I would heavily suggest the Shift or Cast over any pin binding. If you're getting the Woodsman Tour I would suggest getting one of the pin bindings listed above.
If you’re spending 95% backcountry, go with a Tecton or the Moment Voyager. If you’re skeptical about pins or you ski like a FWT athlete, the CAST is gonna be your best option. Shift and Duke PT only have 1 riser so if you’re really spending 95% in the BC you’ll want 2 risers eventually. Go to a fitter for the boots please
Thanks for the feedback guys.
I have been a part of NS (lurking) since 2007 and joined in 2009. It's funny how not a lot has changed especially the classic, "go see a boot fitter" response. Always some good advice. Is "pee in her butt" still in a thing? Or "Get Full Tilts"? I still remember rocking double tall tees under a hoodie....what was I thinking?
I ended up going with kingpins and 4FRNT Devastators. I like a more symmetrical ski with the binding mounted more center. I considered the Moment Wildcat 108s but 184 is just a tad too short for me. 186 is my magic number. I considered the shifts and Duke PTs, but after watching Sammy C rip way harder than I ever will on Kingpins I figured I could get away with using those.
I'm going to the boot fitter in a few weeks (Taos Boot Doctors - if you know....they are the best). I really like the Dynafit Hoji Free, but I'm still waiting for my kidney to sell on the black market. I have used Dalbello boots for quite a long time as they seem to fit my foot well, but I hate that you have to remove the tongue for full ROM.
Anyway, thanks again for the feedback.
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