A PDF press release from Fritschi rolled out this past week. Mouth breathing gear bloggers from here to Seychelles are probably publishing in various forms. Here is ours, edited (between bouts of panting) and condensed with commentary in parentheses. As we’ve been alluding to in blog comments and elsewhere, Black Vipec ski touring binding will be in official North American retail after Christmas; until then you can purchase from outfits such as Telemark Pyrenees or Sport Conrad. What Fritschi seems to be touting here is the Black Vipec’s TUV certification along with a couple of important added features. We find it odd that the white Vipec, which is nearly the same binding, did not receive the TUV stamp. We’ll be researching that as the season progresses. It could be simply that TUV is indeed an expensive hassle, or could be that the Black Vipec has something that solved a tick that blocked TUV cert of the white version. Mainly we see the Black as a significantly better binding than the white version. We will verify that take with on-snow testing this winter. Comments ON!
Vipec 12 – Certified Excellence
Safety and customer value have always been a top priority for Fritschi Swiss. Consequently, achieving an optimal balance between safety, performance and weight was the primary concern in the development of the new Safety Pin system. The result: Vipec 12 is the lowest weight pin binding with defined
(W.S., catalog weight 490 grams without brake, by “defined release” we suspect they mean TUV certified release, as most tech bindings have a release setting scale.)
…and the new, innovative technology offers effective added value to the user. As an added highlight, it has been certified by TÜV according to the DIN/ISO 13992 standard for ski touring bindings.
With the Vipec 12 backcountry skiing binding it is not only easier and safer to climb uphill, it also allows a more powerful and safer downhill. Vipec is the only pin binding to release laterally via the front unit (W.S., Ski Trab binding releases laterally at the front, though it’s a hybrid binding that does not use pins at the heel) and is equipped with a stable heel unit, same as alpine bindings. As a result, there is no loss of power due to the rotational movements of the lateral release system (W.S., heel) as in conventional pin bindings. The Vipec 12 is certified by TÜV according to DIN/ISO standard 13992 for ski touring bindings.
Press Release Continued — Further Development
Fritschi Swiss Bindings has quickly implemented the feedback from the market and developed technical solutions to further improve the safety pin system. To step in, the boot is placed in the step-in position by means of guiding aids, where the pins can be properly engaged in the inserts via a locking mechanism (W.S., this is probably alluding to the new step-in trigger design, see our comment below). In uphill mode the boot is secured in the center and held stable, but the system is not blocked and will release laterally in response to strong forces.
The only pin binding with a stable heel. In downhill skiing, the higher forces are transmitted in the back.
(W.S., It’s true that even the Marker Kingpin still rotates to the side at the heel. The Ski Trab binding does not, but since it doesn’t use standard “tech” pins at the toe we’re not sure it can be included in this comparo, hence Fritschi claiming they have the “only” binding with a stable heel. How much of a factor this really is? For most ski tourers the heel stability of tech bindings is a non-issue, but in high performance skiing you can most certainly feel the difference between a binding that rotates to the side at the heel, and a binding that does not.)
(W.S., the press release goes on to clarify that in uphill mode the boot is stable but can release in “response to high forces.” In our view that means if you’re caught in an avalanche on the uphill, you stand a chance of your skis releasing and thus enhancing your chances of survival. More importantly, they mention that the Black Vipec backcountry skiing binding has the “guiding aids” to ease entry into the binding. These were added last year to the white version; good to see development continuing in that direction. This is a huge issue. I’ve seen people driven to tears trying to click into Vipecs. The press release doesn’t mention that the small wire “entry trigger” on the white binding has been replaced with a “trigger” that appears similar to that of most tech bindings. Much of the problem with entry into the Vipec appeared to be caused by the wire trigger not lining up with the boot sole. So, excellent improvements.)
DIN value 5 – 12
Ski width > 75 mm
Weight 490 g each without ski stopper (W.S., our 110 mm brakes on White model Vipec weigh 72 grams each.)
Optional equipment ski stopper 80 / 90 / 100 / 115 mm — 70 g each
DIN/ISO standards Certified according to DIN/ISO 13992 standard for ski touring bindings
The lightweight ski stopper will automatically lock (W.S., in a retracted position) when the uphill mode is selected. It is a vital part of the equipment designed for easy use and safety.
Available Traxion Crampons
For reliable support and safety at any walk mode level, 90 / 115 mm. The penetration depth is adjustable via a simple mechanism to meet any
need. Even at walk mode level 3 at 13° the crampon still bites deeply into the snow to provide reliable support and safety
(W.S. notes: In our view the four salient points here in comparing Black Vipec to the white version. 1.) Entry trigger instead of wire, combined with boot guides. 2.)Stronger lock mode when touring. 3.) Better lateral elasticity in downhill mode. 4.)TUV certification.
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.