Since its debut during winter of 2008/2009, the G3 Onyx ski binding has made a noble but unsuccessful effort as a tech pintech binding. It failed to achieve popularity for a variety of reasons, mostly in our opinion because it’s quite difficult to enter with your boot and provided no significant weight savings. Early problems with durability were a factor as well. As of 2015, the ION is G3’s flagship binding and has a history of excellent function and reliability. Check our ION information.
We do not recommend Onyx.
Click here for G3 information about replacing older Onyx toe units that could be prone to breakage.
Please leave comments and suggestions for this FAQ here.
First, please know that G3 has done an exceptional job of providing information on their website. Indeed, G3 has easily surpassed any other ski binding company in providing how-to information. For example, where else can you find a video about how to use a ski product, with said vid being made by the engineer who developed the product? Thus, please use their website in conjunction with anything you find here on WildSnow.
When was the Onyx first announced and released?
January 6, 2009. (Blog post covering release)
Onyx weighs more than Dynafit, how much does it weigh and why not use Dynafit, or for that matter a Fritschi?
Onyx: 879 gr (31 oz) per binding with brake, screws and baseplates.
Dynafit Vertical ST: 512 gr (20.2 oz) per binding with brake and screws.
Onyx toe unit, with screws and baseplate: 333 gr (11.7 oz) per binding.
Onyx heel unit, with screws, brake, baseplate: 546 gr (19.3 oz) per binding.
Reason 1. For that extra ten ounces or so on each foot you get a couple of things. In our view, the main reason to pick Onyx over Dynafit for backcountry skiing could be that at certain angles the toe jaw retention on the Onyx is firmer than that of Dynafit. If you find yourself skiing Dynafit with the toe locked and thus possibly dangerous to your leg health, you might want to try Onyx and see if you can ski them unlocked. Please do not obsess on this. Hundreds of thousands of users (including most folks associated with WildSnow.com) use other brands of tech bindings unlocked and are perfectly happy with them. But, if you are a large aggressive skier and find you need to ski with your tech binding toes locked, consider Onyx.
Reason 2. Another possible advantage of Onyx for backcountry skiing is you do NOT have to exit the binding to easily change from downhill to tour mode. For some skiers this is a non-issue. Others, who encounter lots of mixed terrain, may find this to be very important.
Reason 3. Onyx bindings include a “swap plate” system that allows you to mount a set of attachment plates on any number of skis so you can swap one set of bindings around.
Reason 4. Even though Fritschi weighs only a few ounces more than Onyx, with frame/plate bindings such as Fritschi you are lifting most of the binding with each step. With tech bindings such as Onyx or Dynafit you only lift your boot off the ski when you stride. The difference in efficiency is small but noticeable, and makes a difference over the course of a day.
Ok, perhaps I don’t have to lock the toe of the Onyx when I ski it, but does it have a lock?
Yes, you pull up on the lever in front of the toe to significantly increase the lateral release resistance, thus “locking” the binding. You do this during the touring (uphill or flat) part of backcountry skiing to prevent inadvertent release, just as you do with other tech bindings. Lighter weight skiers in moderate terrain may find they don’t need to use the “lock” while touring. As with any other tech binding, the “lock” on the Onyx does not affect vertical release at the heel.
Following is an example of the excellent how-to videos that G3 has published on YouTube, and are nicely indexed on the G3 website.
How high does the release setting go on the Onyx?
You can crank it up to what G3 labels as “12,” which is similar to setting “12” on other brands of ski bindings. Details here.
What height is your boot above the ski when using Onyx?
Boot height above ski in Onyx binding is 30 mm at heel, 26 mm at toe, giving Onyx virtually the SAME RAMP as Fritschi (4 mm). By comparison a boot in a Dynafit ST/FT binding has 30 mm heel stack and 20 mm toe stack, which as many of you know at one centimeter is more ramp than just about any binding, and is well liked by some backcountry skiers though a bit much for others.
I’ve heard Onyx are hard to put on, true?
For people used to bindings that click on in a conventional sense, Onyx does have an unusual method of attaching to your boots. Simply put, you must hold the binding toe jaws open by pressing down on the front of the binding with a ski pole. Once your boot is lined up, you release the pressure on the pole and the toe jaws close and insert the tech binding pins in the sockets on your tech compatible boot toe. While relatively easy to accomplish given a firm snow surface and sold stance, the same process can be difficult in certain situations (such as on a steep slope). The same can of course be said of Dynafit bindings or any other ski binding for that matter, but is definitely an issue that anyone considering Onyx should be aware of.
How durable is the Onyx?
Here at WildSnow.com we keep our ear to the ground and generally have a good sense of what’s going on out there in the real world of backcountry skiing. While we have heard of some Onyx breakage (see this post about toe pin replacement program for older Onyx), we’ve not heard any more reports of such than with any other binding system. Thus, other than older bindings that may be prone to toe pin breakage, we’d give Onyx a pass in terms of durability. Because of its design and lack of shyness about weighing a few extra ounces, Onyx does have the potential of being the most durable tech type binding on a the market. Whether or not the binding takes that honor is something that needs a few years for consumer consensus to develop.
Do Onyx bindings ever need lubrication?
Sometimes, but only rarely. A complete lube job and internal cleaning is probably best left to either experienced binding mechanics or the well tooled home shop, but some Onyx lubrication is easy to execute. More here.
Please leave comments and suggestions for this FAQ here.