I was going to add this to our previous Vipec reporting, but figured a stand-alone post was better. Sounds like most changes are in the toe unit for ease of entry and improvements in the much reviled adjustable toe pin. All four changes are listed below. The heel unit will remain unchanged. “Pin Locker” is the most interesting development, see photos below.
1. Adjustable Front Pin remains. This is listed as an inline change but it appears to be listed more as a way of emphasizing that the adjustable pin is still part of the system. Honestly, this is not a well liked part of the original Vipec design, but it does have a purpose in that it compensates for the known problem of boot tech fittings having no standard shape or dimension. The change here is the pin locknut and threads are M6 instead of M5, which is a major and logical size increase that will allow for better locking.
2. Pin Locker. Improvements in how the adjustable pin locks are achieved by moving the pin from the left to right wing, improving the locking nut, and adding an additional spring-loaded locking pin. The locking pin appears to be a wire yoke that fits over the binding wing arm and probably prevents the pin from rotating accidentally. I’m not sure why having the pin on the right side is any better for rotation prevention; perhaps it is because of the way it’s loaded during a stride.
3. Step in and Step Out. “Self-centering jaws” with repositioned opening springs appear to do something similar to other bindings with boot location features to allow easier step-in. Fritschi also says “New compression spring disengages the pins from the boot with a higher power allowing the user to remove the binding more easily. The compression spring has been redesigned from an axle based spring to a horizontal spring that is located higher on the wing.” This actually sounds like a fairly major change, but one that’s not very visible. I do remember that when testing the original version Vipec it sometimes was difficult to kick off when stepping out, so perhaps that’s what this change addresses.
4. Releasability. Improved toe clip M comes pre-mounted and allows for a better frontal release for square-toed boots. The high toe clip will continue
to be included in every box; the low toe clip will no longer be used. This is simply a continuation of the Vipec system for configuring the shape of the binding toe lever to mate correctly with the shape of your boot toe. Nothing to be too concerned about.
5. Reliable facts. One of the worst things I’ve seen binding companies do over past years is do fairly major “inline” changes but keep the same product SKU numbers. Can you say “confusion?” Thankfully, the 2014-2015 Vipec will have its own SKU, thus eliminating mystery (as well as not requiring harried bloggers to try and describe exactly how to differentiate one product from another, though in this case it would be obvious.)
6. What about the original 2013-2014 model? It works, but just remember that the adjustable toe pin needs to be correctly torqued with red Loctite thread locker. To be fair, along with that I’d suggest fairly regular checks to be sure the pin isn’t rotating or loosening.
7. When available? (Edited: The improved binding began shipping in October 2014.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.