Winter of 1990-1991. Fritz Barthel had been developing his revolutionary “tech” ski touring binding for about six years. Around 1986, he’d begun manufacturing and retailing the binding himself — no ski company would license his patent (a source of much laughter ever since). He got to know the Dyanfit company when he bought thousands of their lightweight ski touring boots and installed the binding’s necessary boot toe and heel fittings himself. Dynafit took interest, licensed his patent, and the binding has been branded “Dynafit” ever since. This is essentially the same binding Fritz retailed himself prior to 1990, color purple being the blatant difference.
I know a handful of inventors and industrial designers (including Fritz Barthel). They’ve educated me on how the world of innovation and invention progresses through iteration, and rarely involves an entirely new concept. The tech binding is a case in point. As not only did Fritz innovate on the Iser, but the ball-and-socket mechanics of the Ramer binding were his inspiration for the miniatured ball-and-socket of the tech binding toe. Fritz’s en-lightening inspiration was to eliminate the “frame” or “plate” most touring bindings used to connect toe and heel. This not only nixed the weight of the plate, but also eliminated the energy sucking action of lifting the binding heel unit up with each step.
As it turned out, the amount of weight the Tech binding saved took ski touring from a somewhat masochistic activity (try attaching seven or more pounds to each foot, not including ski boots, and walking around) to a sport nearly everyone can enjoy without needing hourly aspirin.
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