It seems like only yesterday I was trying a pre-production pair of G3 Oynx bindings in the spring corn. As Dynafits patents and legal grip were set to expire, G3 came in waiting in the wings to usher into a new era of tech bindings. The Onyx was a quest to create a binding that was both burley and user friendly.
Much has changed in the subsequent years and the quest for lightweight gear that performs like downhill, reliable gear, is ever present. There’s no doubt everyone is looking for the holy grail in gear: light weight, durability, and reasonable price. Almost immediately after the launch of the Onyx binding, G3 was two steps ahead working on the next binding. After several hard years of work we see the ION.
The first thing you notice when you see the ION binding is it is very easy on the eye’s. The bright anodized colours and rounded lines shows the care and attention in its industrial design. Each piece and feature is elegantly integrated with much care. Each contact point well thought out. Ultimately this doesn’t mean much unless it works and works well. Our limbs and lives depend on these things, so they have to work well!
A New Feature In Toe Design
The ION features a totally new chassis (compared to the Onyx) where the sliding plate is ditched in favour of a fixed system. The front toe piece is wider than its predecessor and lends itself to wider skis adding torsional stability. So for those who are using quiver killers it won’t be a simple bolt-on upgrade – you’ll be drilling some new holes in your sticks. The new toe features a quick step-in with a guide, to help align and get your boot settled just right making transitions smooth and easy.
For the coastal skiers the toe piece is much more open then the Onyx which is ideal in clearing snow, and helps prevent snow from hindering your operations of the binding. From the first time you step into the binding there is a clear positive feel to the toe engagement. As with previous iterations the toe design is one that’s natural position is in a closed position which helps prevent unwanted pre-release. The ION takes much less downward force to open the jaws for entry into the binding.
A New Feature In Heel Design
Introducing a twisting heel. Another improvement from the sliding track of its predecessor, this eliminates the gap needed on most other tech bindings and builds forward pressure into the binding. Forward pressure shouldn’t be thought of in the same way as an alpine binding. In the ION’s case, forward pressure should provide a great range of elasticity to prevent pre-release in the binding thus adding to its more alpine style feel when skiing.
The heal lifters are minimalist but very effective. G3 smartly sent their new VIA carbon poles with our test skis. This was without a doubt to showcase their integrated design and the special touches the poles had to actuate the ION’s heal lifters. It was much easier to flip to the desired height with a flick of the pole than a notched binding.
On snow impressions
They are light! The onyx have been my daily driver for three years now and the the 1/4 pound difference in weight is noticeable. The ultralight Synapse Carbon skis help the cause (read the full Synapse ski review here). The ramp angle felt natural but much more upright than a traditional alpine binding. For those who are new to tech bindings the adjustment of stance is something that may take some time to get used to.
Due to the terrible ski season we had on the coast last year, I got to put the bindings through the worst, most challenging snow. It was choppy, rutted, and a good test to the skiability of the bindings. Most bindings ski well in powder when they aren’t pushed. The elasticity was evident when put on edge, and when I rammed through a rut they returned to the center of the ski confidently. The bindings felt solid and stiff which inspired confidence to push hard in the turns. The wider toe platform helps handle the challenges of wider skis providing the lateral stability both on the uptrack and on the descent. This is where the binding can actually improve ski performance rather than create challenges in their flex pattern.
Overall the bindings were very easy to use. The only feature I was longing for was the ease of switching from touring to ski mode that was present in the Onyx. Additionally insuring that you properly turn the binding to lock into tour mode took some adjustment. The one tool (Pozidrive #3) had me rejoicing now that I didn’t have to rumble through my tool box to use it.
This binding is a step above the Onyx and bridges the gap between the pure lightweight focus of some of Dynafits offerings and their totally free ride oriented Beast. This style of binding is the beginning of the new generation of backcountry gear that skis confidently but doesn’t hold you back on the ascent allowing you to rock more laps with less energy. The wider toe platform helps handle the challenges of wider skis providing the lateral stability both on the uptrack and on the descent. For this reason I wouldn’t hesitate to pair this binding with many of the wider lightweight skis on the market this year as it may help them ski and ascend better by adding some additional torsional stiffness. It is a great time to be a backcountry skier we have never had more choice and the ION does has now made that choice even harder!
Don’t forget to check out our how to Quiver Killer video. Make your Ion’s swappable to other skis.
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