Pugski Ski Tester
- Nov 1, 2015
- Reno, eNVy
Sometimes equipment brands create market share by artificially lowering prices, so prices don't really reflect the value you receive. We wanted to show some of the best binding deals out there; smart shoppers will take advantage of these offerings at every price point and every performance range.
What about all the talk like, “When you are buying a better binding, you are buying a better housing and not a bigger spring” or “Don’t shortcut on performance with a cheap binding”? Well, if you must be on a budget, here are some great options that are not cheap bindings, just inexpensive ones.
Fischer Attack2 11 AT -- $149*
Fischer Attack2 13 AT -- $169*
I have combined the Fischer Attack2 11 AT and 13 AT because they have the same focus and provide the same AT sole feature. Both are variations of the Tyrolia Attack2 11 GW and 13 GW that are not only GripWalk-compatible but also fully AT-compatible, which means they accept ISO 5355 as well as ISO 9523 soles. These Fischer options are a great value because they are priced the same as their Tyrolia counterparts that are not AT-compatible. If you want AT compatibility in a binding that has Tyrolia stamped on it, you need to step to the Attack2 14 AT. In addition, the 13 AT is the lowest-priced 13 DIN binding available (along with Tyrolia's Attack2 13 GW).
- Pluses: Lateral spring toe is compact, fast return to center, accepts all soles
- Minuses: Will be tough to find in shops, brakes sold a la carte, high stand height
Fischer R16 -- $269*
This is another binding that really falls under the radar -- waaay under the radar, so far that some of the reps didn't know it even existed. The R16 was conceived by Fischer’s park and mogul skiers who wanted to be as low as possible on the deck of the ski. Fischer R16 takes the full-on Freeflex EVO 16 binding and changes it back to a two-part binding sans the connecting Freeflex band.
- Pluses: Beefy, race-quality binding with huge 5-16 adjustment range
- Minuses: Not GW-compatible, limited availability, no Tyrolia counterpart
- Insider Tip: Member @Erik Timmerman brought this one to our attention.
Look NX 11-- $149
The NX 11 is probably the oldest binding in this article, and it is also the least expensive with a hang tag under $150 including a brake. Brake options are limited, however, and I wouldn’t suggest putting these on a ski over 90mm or so unless you are diminutive in stature.
- Pluses: Lightweight, multidirectional toe release, easy step-in heel
- Minuses: Older design but still does the job, not GW-compatible, brake options are expensive
Look SPX 10 -- $179
The SPX 10 is mostly billed as a junior binding, but with its very elastic SPX-style heel, it punches well above its weight class. I would put this binding's quality and performance on par with many of the 12 DIN counterparts.
- Pluses: Great "tweener" option, commonly used for junior race skis
- Minuses: Tough to find outside race shops, comes standard with narrow brake, not GW-compatible
Look Pivot 12 AW -- $279
Look has the least expensive binding in this article as well as the most expensive, the Pivot 12 AW. So what makes the Pivot 12 AW a good value at a whopping $279? Well, it is the same exact binding as its big brother the Pivot 14 AW except for a lighter spring, and quite frankly if you need a binding that goes to 14, you might as well get the big-boy all-metal Pivot 18, anyway.
- Pluses: Multidirectional toe release, GW-compatible, shortest mount distance, low rotation weight, most elasticity in heel
- Minuses: Very little range of adjustment, can be quirky to get into, low brakes can get caught landing switch, you can't get the cool Pugski-influenced Forza motif
Marker X-Cell 16 GW -- $269
A binding that goes to 16 for $269…are you out of your mind? The X-cell 16 is the best value in the 16 DIN range on the market, beating the closest competitors apples to apples by at least $30. The limitation of the binding is its brake options, in that you cannot get a brake wider than 90mm. So, if you need a high-level binding with a high spring range for a narrow to medium-width ski for not a lot of money, the X-cell 16 is your best bet.
- Pluses: Quick return to center, no adjustment needed to switch to GW, lowest-priced 16 DIN binding
- Minuses: No brake options over 90mm
Salomon/Armada STH2 13 WTR -- $229
This is the only single-pivot toe for under $300 (well, $299, but you get the idea, and that one is its big brother, the STH2 16 WTR). Why does a single-pivot toe matter? Elasticity: this toe design has some of the most shock absorption of anything on the market. The STH2 toe is also one of the most adjustable designs out there, affording one of the snuggest interfaces.
- Pluses: Great elasticity in the toe; holds you in from top of boot, a part that gets no wear; micro wing adjustments and toe height for solid power transmission
- Minuses: Delta changes when going to WTR and GW, Salomon/Armada-specific model, no Atomic version, no Pozi adjustment for heel
Tyrolia Attack2 12 GW -- $189
Ten bucks is ten bucks. If a white/gray binding is okay, the Tyrolia Attack2 12 GW is $10 less than its already more than competitively priced brother, the Attack2 13, which is a darling of Pugski readers.
- Pluses: Lateral spring toe is compact, fast return to center, best price in segment
- Minuses: Any color you want, as long as it’s white/gray
Tyrolia Race Evo 14 -- $219*
Like the fore mentioned Fischer R16, this is the Race Freeflex without the connecting bar. This is a step down in design and housing from the 16 but it is still a good value for a solid two peice binding with a 4-14 range.
- Pluses: Lightweight, race-quality binding with huge 4-14 adjustment range
- Minuses: Not GW-compatible, limited availability.
- Insider Tip: Member @markojp brought this one to our attention.
Please note, all prices are minimum advertised price (MAP) and can vary from retailer to retailer.