Note: What is this binding actually named? You’ll see it called “Diamir Vipec 12 TUV” or just “Diamir Vipec 12” or “Black Diamond Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 TUV Binding w/ Brake.” In our case we call it Diamir Vipec 12 Black, or a condensate thereof. A previous “12” model exists as well. If shopping take care what you order. We don’t recommend the previous model; this “Black” version is way too much of an improvement.
Ok, I’ve been on these guys for multiple days. Even used Vipec 12 Black for lift skiing so I’d have to step-in fast enough to keep up with folks on their alpine clamps. Clearly, this model is a significant upgrade of the Diamir Vipec.
Most importantly for me, the binding is much easier to click onto your boot toe during entry. However, I did still find Vipec 12 a bit more difficult to enter than many other tech bindings, depending on how much snow or ice was shimmed between my boot toe and the trigger zone. I also occasionally had trouble exiting, due to ice or dense snow preventing my pushing the opening lever down to its full range.
Despite my life altering Vipec trials (oh, those 3 extra seconds to click in were so painful!), I’m certain that with a modicum of learning about positioning your foot and clearing snow the entry-exit process is now acceptable. This may not be so with other Vipec models (depending on your boot brand and willingness to learn, or at least willingness to fiddle).
We covered many details (including anti-icing improvements) of the 12 Black in previous posts, this summary review is intended to hit items I found personally significant. (Note that “White” model Vipec 12 sold for winter 2015-2016 also had improvements for the toe entry, but lacked the overall excellent changes of the “Black.”
I’d be remiss in not mentioning that yes, this version of Vipec received TUV certification for DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard 13992. What’s that mean? We think how a binding performs in general “consumer” testing is more important. If the honest opinions of professional skiers reviewers support that take, then TUV is just one pixel on the HD screen of real life. (In the case of 12 Black, the consensus is definitly good. Only glitch I’ve heard is a few bindings that “slip” at the heel when locked in downhill mode. Solution: warranty or perhaps user error correction.) We have lots of content about TUV certifications.
Conclusion: Vipec 12 Black is a viable and potent solution for those wanting a “tech” binding that releases to the side at the toe with impressive elasticity. It has a learning curve. While the toe has impressive lateral travel and elasticity, the heel unit has no more vertical travel than any other conventional tech binding (meaning it has very little). In terms of ski “feel” the non-rotating heel does yield a solid impression. How much of that is merely psychological, and how much it actually helps you ski better, is personal. Me, I don’t need the additional heel stability but I can indeed feel it. Overall Wildsnow thumbs up but we suggest you try before you buy (as with many other brands and models).
Check out this Vipec comparison we did last winter, for details.
Some of you have asked about perhaps combining a Vipec toe with a heel from another brand-model that allows side release or perhaps more vertical elasticity. We tried that here.
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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.