Introducing the: Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC Binding
Oh baby the rumours were true. Seems like every ski trade-show for the last 5 years ended with the thought “wasn’t there a new Salomon binding in the works?” Well this looks like the season for the binding to finally land. Salomon officially spilled the beans on their new S/Lab Shift MNC Binding today.
Pins in the front, safety in the back. It’s like a mullet sandwich of ski binding awesome-sauce. But unlike the competitors ‘tech in the front, alpine in the back’ binding offerings, Salomon kicked it up a notch with a magic alpine toe piece as well. AKA they designed a shape-shifting super binding that tours as as tech binding, then skis as a full alpine binding. The holy grail? Time will tell.
In case you don’t want to read, it’s DIN 6-13, and weighs 1700g per pair, so it’s heavier than a Kingpin and obviously in a different use category than lighter weight traditional tech bindings. But it transforms into an alpine binding like some kind of voodoo magic.
The idea hit back in 2012 when Salomon’s backcountry freeride athletes were telling engineers there wasn’t currently a product that met their needs. “There was no blueprint that made you think something like this could be achieved,” says Salomon ripper Cody Townsend, who has been involved in the testing and development process of Shift since the beginning. “We said to the R&D guys, ‘If you could make a pin binding that tours like a pin binding but skis like a normal binding, that’s the holy grail, that’s the dream.’ I’ve been really impressed with the design, test, feedback and approval process. It was an engineering feat to get it done. The very first prototypes were so different than the final product, and in the last three years we have seen rapid improvement in the technology and the performance. All of a sudden, the power transfer was there.”
HOW IT WORKS
We haven’t got our feet into these bindings yet in real life, so here’s how Salomon explains it all works. We’ll have to take their word for it until we take these bad boys for a rip and show Rubens how we do it on the Coast 😉
An adjustable pedal toe is what allows the Shift’s compatibility with all norm boots on the market. Based on the boot you’re using (alpine or touring model), you can adapt the binding to suit your boot via an easy-to-use screw. Then the real innovation begins. By creating an alpine toe piece that integrates pins, the company created the first hybrid binding that delivers ultimate versatility. On the uphill, the pin enables the skier to move efficiently and conveniently by placing the rotation point close to the metatarsal area of the foot and offering a 90-degree range of motion. In addition, a variety of simple manipulations can be used to adapt to terrain changes as the skier climbs.
For the downhill, the binding can be switched in seconds from touring mode to ski mode. A lever in the toe is the key to allowing the toe piece to transform from a touring setup to alpine. By lifting the lever up into ski mode, the wings close into a traditional alpine binding shape. Then the skier steps into the binding the same way he/she would to a traditional alpine binding, and with the same confident feeling. The Shift delivers pure freeride performance with regard to power transmission and safety due to the elasticity in the wings that absorbs shock. In fact, the Shift has the same level of shock absorption as the highly regarded STH2 Binding. On the heel piece, a lever switches from touring mode to ski mode in one movement. Even at just 1.7 kg per pair (3.7 lbs), the Shift’s strong combination of carbon-infused PA, steel and aluminum delivers a reliable construction. This is the first time carbon-infused PA has been used in alpine bindings, which helped achieve the strength-to-weight ratio needed in the Shift for both touring and descending. The DIN setting on the S/LAB Shift ranges from 6-13.
“You don’t realize how much technology goes into a ski binding because you just click into it, but they release in ways that protect your knees, your bones and your other ligaments,” Townsend says. “They release when you need them to, and stay on when you need them to. That was the ultimate goal with the Shift; to have a binding that tours easily but lets you ski how you want to ski—with no compromises.”