Backcountry Magazine is ecstatic to announce the 2013 Editors’ Choice Awards. These are next year’s best backcountry bindings and we, the editors at Backcountry Magazine should know. Last spring, our team of 50 testers evaluated all of this year’s AT and telemark bindings at Powder Mountain, Ut. We’ve boiled the beta for the last four months and narrowed the field—the top 17 bindings are featured in the 2013 Gear Guide and among them are five Editors’ Choice standouts. Highlighted here are the best of the best, but for more bindings (and more about these products), pick up the 2013 Gear Guide, on newsstands August 28.
TWENTY TWO DESIGNS AXL
WEIGHT/PAIR: 4LBS./3.8LBS. (LARGE > 25.5, SMALL < 25)
CRAMPONS (MM): 92, 110 ($75)
+ “Absolutely zero compromise in the binding design on downhill performance.”
- “It’s far from the lightest and certainly not the most affordable.”
= STOUT CONSTRUCTION, EFFECTIVE TOURABILITY AND UNBEATABLE POWER MAKE THE AXL A WINNER.
WEIGHT/PAIR: 3LBS. 5OZ. (LARGE > 26.5, SMALL < 26)
CRAMPONS (MM): 96 ($75), 115 ($80), 130 ($85)
+ “Retains the precise and powerful skiing quality of the original NTN, yet is light enough to be an efficient touring binding.”
- “Could engage a hair sooner in turns. And the rubber mode-change tab seems flimsy.”
= THE DOWNHILL PERFORMANCE, BRAKES AND RELEASEABILITY OF THE ORIGINAL NTN—NOW OPTIMIZED FOR THE BACKCOUNTRY.
MARKER TOUR F10/F12
WEIGHT/PAIR: 4 LBS. 3 OZ. / 4 LBS. 6 OZ. (SM, W/100MM BRAKES)
BRAKES (MM): 90/110
CRAMPONS (MM): 92/113/128 ($79)
+ “Skis solid—like an alpine binding. Tours efficiently enough for any day trip.”
- “Taking skis off for every transition gets old quickly.”
= DO IT ALL—INBOUNDS AND OUT—ON THE TOUR.
DYNAFIT SPEED RADICAL
WEIGHT/PAIR: 1 LB. 9 OZ.
CRAMPONS (MM): 92 ($65), 110 ($70)
+ “Race weight; freeride performance; great price. Sold.”
- “No brakes can make getting into them on steep slopes or deep snow difficult.”
= FOR GOING HIGHER, STEEPER, DEEPER AND LONGER—AND ON ANY SKI—THE SPEED RADICAL IS TOUGH TO BEAT.
ATOMIC TRACKER/SALOMON GUARDIAN
WEIGHT/PAIR 6 LBS. 8 OZ. (SM, W/100MM BRAKES)
BRAKES (MM): 100, 115, 130 ($80)
+ ”Alpine binding rigidity and snow feel, and a class-leading touring mechanism.”
- ”Wow—HEAVY. And the heel risers should be sturdier.”
= FOR RESORT RIGS, SIDECOUNTRY JAUNTS OR SLED LAPS, THE TRACKER ROCKS.