We view this as a major development in ski touring binding design – as finally it’s possible to use one lightweight pin binding for both multiday hut tours like the Haute Route Ski Tour and resort based trips like our Off Piste Ski Holidays without compromising on binding release safety.
Phil got hold of a demo pair of Tectons back in April, in order to take them out to the Alps for 2 weeks and give them a good pasting. He skied them on everything from powder, to steeps and resort laps, so plenty of varied terrain to test their capabilities – over to Phil:
Fritschi have been keeping busy with continued development of their pin tech bindings – for the 2017 / 18 season, they are releasing 2 new bindings, the Vipec Evo and the Tecton 12.
The Vipec Evo gets an improved Mark 4 toepiece, however the big news is the Fritschi Tecton 12 ski binding – which is a completely new addition to the range and is aimed at Freeriders and ski tourers wanting a light backcountry pin binding, that’s easy to use and strong enough for freeride, but also offering the same performance as an alpine binding and the same safety features. In other words, the Holy Grail of touring bindings – but have they managed it?
For the Tecton 12, Fritschi have designed an alpine binding style heel piece, which locks firmly onto the boot in order to give rock solid ski performance and better safety release characteristics (improved elasticity) than regular pin tech heel attachment systems.
This idea was first brought to market by Marker with the Kingpin; however the Kingpin is quite heavy for a ‘lightweight’ pin binding (1.5KG) and like the majority of other pin bindings on the market, it lacks a ‘DIN style’ adjustable lateral toe release. The Tecton however, weighs 1.2Kg and offers the same adjustable lateral toe release that is found on the Vipec, with which it shares the same toe piece.
Using the same redesigned toe piece as the Vipec Evo, the Tecton 12 is far easier to step into than previous Vipec models – making them now amongst the easiest to use pin tech bindings out there. On a technical note, they are also compatible with more different boot models and no longer require the colour clip changes for different boot sizes and models – the new toe piece is now a very refined, well thought out solution.
After 9 days of touring and 2 days of freeride on them, I’ve now had a chance to get a good feel for the Tecton 12 bindings and how they behave in different snow, terrain and types of use. The first thing I noticed was the dramatic improvement in how easy it is to step into the new toe piece design. I found I could consistently clip in first time every time, even on steep slopes and deep snow – this is a noticeable improvement to the ease of use of Fritschi pin bindings, which had always required a bit of a ‘learning phase’ to get used to.
Once the toe is in, you just stamp down and the Tecton heel assembly immediately feels rock solid. There’s no unwanted play in the binding heel piece and you can really feel the difference when skiing – to me these feel as good as the most solid alpine bindings I’ve used, which is very impressive for a tech binding. The secret to this performance is the twin rails in the ‘power cup’ heel piece, which engage with the heel tech fitting slots on the back of the boots. This prevents unwanted flex (ie control and power loss) during hard cornering, on steep terrain, or when using wider skis. Having a forward-backward elastic range in the heel piece also helps make the Tecton feel smoother when you’re hammering down difficult terrain.
The touring functions all work fine; the binding heel lever pulls upright, which frees the heel of the boot and locks the brakes away – this is easy to do and most importantly, it is impossible to get the heel lever position wrong (which has lead to people jumping into ‘telemark mode’ whilst skiing on some of the early Vipec models). The toe pivot feels excellent, as you would expect from pin tech and I also encountered no problems with pre release whilst skinning.
All in all, I think the Tecton 12 is a real game changer binding: it looks as if we may have finally reached the Holy Grail – a strong, light ‘one binding for everything’ for those who ski in the backcountry but also in resort and want to save weight on tours, use wider skis etc, without sacrificing release safety and downhill performance. In short, I think it’s a superb binding!
Phil Evans, Backcountry Uk
Phil Evans is acknowledged as the Uk’s leading backcountry boot fitter and ski touring gear technician. He is a very active climber and skier and manager/co-owner of Backcounty Uk. Despite being a very small independent retailer, Backcountry sell more Fritschi bindings and Scarpa touring boots than any other shop in the Uk, with a loyal customer base from all over the country.
The shop is based in Ilkley, West Yorkshire with good road and rail links to the rest of the country. If you want to visit for a boot fitting in the winter months, always ring the shop in advance to book an appointment – as the process can take up to 2 hours and priority is always given to pre booked appointments.