You’ve got to hand it to Dynafit, not only do their bindings work incredibly well, but they’re the most standardized on the market. All Dynafit bindings use the same screw hole patterns in the ski, and many parts are interchangeable between binding generations. The latter is especially true of the top plate on the heel unit (the plate that supports the climbing lift). You can use any year/model top plate on virtually any Dynafit binding.
Standardization can breed aftermarket innovation, as the potential customer base for an aftermarket binding part may be huge so long as it fits multiple years/models. So it wasn’t any surprise last winter when Stefano Maruelli announced the manufacturing and marketing of his “Click-Clack” add-on for the Dynafit. Our review samples came this spring, and we’ve been giving them a thorough real-world evaluation.
|Click-Clack on the snow while backcountry skiing, in high-lift mode.|
As pictured above, the Click-Clack is simply a replacement for the metal top-plate on the Dynafit heel unit. It weighs about the same as the stock part (see detailed weights at bottom of this blog), and has a heel elevation post that easily flips up and down, thus eliminating the need to rotate the binding heel unit to switch between the lowest boot heel position and the intermediate heel lift position. (To use the Click-Clack post at its highest position you still have to rotate the binding heel unit.) Details about each lift position for backcountry skiing:
|Click-Clack in low “heel on ski” position. You can easily switch from this position to the medium heel lift by flicking the hinged heel support with your ski pole. It is spring loaded and “clacks” into position as a support for medium lift, as shown in the next photo. Switching between low and medium lift does NOT require rotating the binding heel unit, as it does with the stock configuration.|
|Click-Clack in medium lift position. The device is designed around this position, which is slightly higher than stock. You switch back to the low position by simply flicking the support back out of the way.
The small steel “Inox Plate” on the side of the binding prevents rotation of the heel unit, you screw it to the side of the binding base plate using the ski brake holes. At this time the Inox Plate is only designed for the TLT (AKA “Speed” in Europe). In my testing I did not need the Inox Plate to prevent binding rotation, and thus would feel comfortable using the Click-Clack on the Dynafit Comfort. Your climbing technique and the shape of the lugs on your boot sole have much to do with any tendency for the binding to rotate, so every user will have different need of the Inox Plate. Snow conditons may play a part in this as well, i.e., edging on steep climbs can place more rotation force on the binding heel. (Note that the Inox Plate is not compatible with the TLT brake. )
|High lift position. This is where the Click-Clack compromises. Changing to high lift mode requires rotating the heel unit to a new position — just as it does with the stock binding. But with the Click-Clack installed you can’t rotate the binding with your ski pole tip, you have to bend over and do it with your hand. That’s not a big deal for fit flexible skiers, but add a big backpack or a bit of age, and using a ski pole to manipulate the binding is a plus most people enjoy (just as we enjoy using a ski pole to change the Click-Clack between low and medium lift).
More, as is common with stock Dynafit backcountry skiing bindings, with the Click-Clack at the high-lift position the heel unit tends to rotate because of sideways boot pressure and the configuration of the sole lugs on the boot heel. Only with the Click-Clack this tendency appears more pronounced than with stock.
During my tests in high lift position the binding rotated quite a bit every step. This movement was disconcerting, and would doubtless cause wear somewhere in the binding internals.
It’s obvious from testing as well as Maruelli’s own literature that the Click-Clack is designed for the low and medium lift position. I don’t see this as a huge problem, as many people do tend to stay in these positions, especially fit and agile skiers who tend to control their angle of ascent by setting efficient traverse tracks rather than going for the “Wasatch skin track” that’s frequently steeper than their intended descent. More, the Click-Clack medium lift position is higher than stock, thus making it a nice compromise between low lift and max lift. If you do like steep skinning, however, the standard heel plate of the TLT is probably a better system (especially since it allows stacked spacers to increase lift).
Installing the Click-Clack is easy. The first step is to dial the vertical release setting back to zero. You then back out the four screws holding the stock plate on the binding heel unit, and carefully lift the plate of the binding. You install the Click-Clack using the same screws. Two potential disasters: If you don’t dial the vertical release setting to zero the binding will explode and rain tiny parts when you remove the plate. And the screws strip easily while tightening — if one strips you’ve ruined your heel unit. Parts for Dynafit bindings are nearly impossible to purchase, so “fixing” a stripped binding would require buying a new set of bindings.
That said, one day I was removing the top plate from a Dynafit and inadvertently left my power driver in forward mode. Woops, stripped screw. Luckily it was a rear screw, which gets less force than the front ones. I fixed by carefully turning the screw in with JB Weld on the threads. It’s held up — but not recommended. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t use a power driver for this job, and turn that screw driver with care.
I’d say if you have moderate mechanical skills you’ll do fine with this install, but leave the work up to reliable shop mechanic if you’re iffy in that area. Time required is only minutes. Maruelli’s documentation in English is poorly translated and unclear — luckily the process is simple. (The unclear directions resulted in us mounting the Inox plate in the wrong position.)
Skiers who frequently use their Dynafit bindings in high-lift mode should consider sticking with stock heel units. On the other hand, if you tend to tour or randonnee race with the low and medium heel lift positions, we highly recommend the Click-Clack. It’s incredibly easy to flip between low and medium positions, and also saves a few grams weight if you use it this way without the Inox Plate (our bindings worked fine without the Inox Plate, but other users may need it to prevent rotation of the heel unit while in medium lift mode.)
Examples: My son is young, fit and flexible. He does almost all his skin climbing using the Dynafit medium lift mode. Click-Clack is perfect for him. As for myself, with various knee and ankle issues I find myself frequently shifting between all three Dynafit lift heights, and I often use the highest mode. Thus, I guess I’ll have to pass the Click-Clack on to the next generation. Shucks, I have to give him something that makes him faster?
Kudos to Maruelli for stepping up and making this elegant device. It’s well made and will add to the smiles of any Dynafit lover who works within the parameters mentioned above.
We’ll test the Click-Clack long term and report back here periodically.
Weights (all weighed on same scale, grams are scale’s finest division):
Comfort heel plate with riser – 47 grams
TLT heel plate with one riser spacer – 40 grams
Click-Clack with Inox Plate – 42 grams
Click-Clack without Inox Plate – 32 grams
Inox Pate with screws – 10 grams
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.