We are blown away by the retail-ready version of Salomon’s SHIFT hybrid ski touring/alpine binding. Clever is an understatement. Example of world class mechanical engineering might do it justice. (Note, this will also be sold as Atomic Shift MNC13 Binding).
This contender for snow hero of the Transformer movie franchise will downhill ski with any DIN standard ski boot (those with a “normal” toe and heel shape), tech fittings or NO tech fittings! To enable touring mode, SHIFT hides a set of tech binding toe pins you enable with the flip of a what I have to call the “power switch,” these accept any tech fitting equipped boot.
In other words, this ski touring capable binding doubles as a full-on alpine binding, one that doesn’t require a ski touring boot. And on the chance you do want to tour, use a boot with tech binding toe sockets and get the best of both worlds.
But more. What rocks my world is not only the stealth pins buried in the toe unit, but the entire rig, with screws, comes in at an astoundingly low mass of 865 grams (30.5 ounces). That’s with max release “DIN” value 13, ski brake, and touring capability. Amazing, considering this is an alpine binding that’s said to be entirely suitable for resort skiing as well as harsh “freeride” style use where binding retention and durability are paramount.
User operation of the SHIFT could be said to be slightly more complex than a tech binding, as the heel lifters and tour mode switch on the toe or not intuitive. But practice for five minutes on the carpet and you’re ready for nix (that’s snow in Latin).
Is this the holy grail of an alpine binding that tours as well as a classic tech binding? Perhaps. As a few bindings on the market currently do, I like the idea of utilizing the boot toe pin/fitting system as an integral part of going both uphill and down while providing side release at the toe; SHIFT takes the opposite approach in getting the toe pins out of the way and converting to a conventional alpine binding. Will that have legs? Looking good to me, check out photos. Optimus Prime move over, there’s another Transformer in town.
Data from Salomon-Atomic for Salomon SHIFT MNC 13
Stand Height Heel ——— 29 mm (we’ll eventually do a better take on ramp, but it appears to be minimal)
Stand Height Toe ———- from Touring to Alpine (min – max) : 20 mm and 28 mm
Weight Total ————– 886 gr per foot with screw (865 gr per foot without screw)
Weight Toe —————- 446 gr per foot with screw
Weight Heel ————— with 90 mm brake: 440 gr per foot with screw
Weight Heel without Brake – 300 gr per foot with screw
Official press release follows, lightly edited, condensed, with commentary in ((double quotes))
Salomon S/LAB SHIFT MNC Binding Launches New Generation of Backcountry Skiing Capability
ANNECY, FRANCE(Dec. 8, 2017)
— Seven years in the making, in close collaboration with some of the best freeskiers on the planet ((Always makes me laugh, as if we all need DIN 146, but then I’ll acknowledge that bindings should be tested hard, and Salomon’s team can most certainly take care of that little detail.)), Salomon unveils the S/LAB SHIFT MNC binding for the 2018/2019 season.
The S/LAB SHIFT binding ushers in a new generation of backcountry skiing capability by delivering downhill performance combined with lightweight touring proficiency like never before ((could very well be true, or, at least the former about downhill, though I wouldn’t call this weight “touring proficiency”)). The S/LAB SHIFT MNCis the first-ever binding to utilize the touring efficiency of a free–heel pin binding for ascending, and the power transmission of a standard alpine binding for descending. With just the shift of a lever, the toe piece transforms from a classic alpine binding to a tech toe with pins.
On the uphill, the pins enable the skier to move efficiently by placing the rotation point close to the metatarsal of the foot ((did I not read that somewhere before?)) and offering a 90-degree range of motion. On the downhill, the toe piece offers one of the highest ((side lateral)) elasticity levels of any traditional alpine binding on the market ((true, and excellent)).
‘…Salomon’s binding team has finally solved the puzzle of combining uphill capability with true alpine performance.” The S/LAB SHIFT utilizes a combination of carbon-infused PA, steel and aluminum to deliver a strong and reliable, yet lightweight construction. The S/LAB SHIFT weighs 865 grams per binding including screws, creating a massive strength-to-weight ratio with a DIN setting that ranges from 6 to 13 ((indeed TUV certified so they can use the term “DIN”)).
With the use of an adjustable toe pedal ((new terminology for me!)), the SHIFT is Multi Norm Certified (MNC), permitting compatibility with all adult norm boots, from traditional alpine boots to touring boots. …According to Solene Chappaz, the global product line manager for alpine bindings, the athlete-driven design process has yielded a product that has been tested to the limits.
“Our global athlete team is demanding. There has been a large level of feedback and many tweaks from the team during the development process,” Chappaz says.“Having such an excellent endorsement from our athletes will have a huge impact on the success in the marketplace.” The S/LAB SHIFT will be available from Salomon dealers beginning in September 2018.
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.