If you didn’t see the big news on Friday, Salomon unveiled a brand new binding that combines the touring efficiency of a pin binding with the downhill performance of an alpine binding. One of the biggest complaints of touring bindings is that they don’t deliver the same responsiveness, safety, or power on the downhill. So it’s always been a bit of a compromise when you want to earn your turns. Until now.
The S/LAB SHIFT is a hybrid binding that tours like a pin binding but transforms into an alpine binding for the downhill. Using a simple switch in the toe and lever in the heel to lock the breaks, you can quickly transition from touring in a pin binding to a true alpine binding (toe and heel) with a 13 DIN for charging downhill.
In downhill mode, the SHIFT behaves like a traditional alpine binding by interfacing with the toe and heel lugs of of your boot. This allows stability, elastic travel (47 mm in the toe, 9 mm in the heel), and full alpine TUV safety certification. Since the pins are not used in downhill mode, the binding is compatible with any traditional alpine boot. Keep in mind you will only be able to tour if your boot has the tech inserts, however.
In uphill mode, the SHIFT utilizes a pin toe design, enabling full range of motion when hiking and kick turning. To transform the binding into touring mode, first you flip a lever on the heel piece to lock down the brake. Then a small switch in the middle of the toe piece folds down to release the toe wings and expose the pins. A lever at the front of the toe piece is used to lock or unlock your boot into the pins.
To transition back to ski mode, you simply push the toe switch forward and flip the brake lever down. Now you can step into your ski like a traditional alpine binding.
The S/LAB SHIFT bindings weigh only 1.7 kilograms per pair, so not a ton more than a comparable Dynafit tech binding. Sadly, you are going to have to wait until next season to try these out as the SHIFT isn’t available until September 2018. Looks like maybe I should hold off buying my new skis until next year.