Okay, let's begin the off season gear talk early. Harv was questioning what kind of bindings to put on a new pair of touring skis, and I'm running over the same questions in my mind. The question is AT vs. Tele vs. NTN.
I really enjoyed Ice climbing up in Alaska, and I really think my next backcountry setup should be easily able to accept crampons. If only for the possibility of doing something like the Trap Dike, or if I ever get enough money to do the Haute Route trip that I've always dreamed about. So, because I want a nice crampon fit, the duckbilled traditional Tele boot is just not going to cut it.
So that leaves NTN and AT. I like the being nice and solid in my bindings, and there's definitely a big part of me that says: You're on a super difficult, cliffed out run - therefore you want your heel locked down. It's safer. Plus I love Dynafit. The bindings are just pure sex. Light, strong (enough), and really smartly made. Something like this would be perfect for my new Liberty Variants.
But I love tele, and I love the tele turn. Unfortunately, the NTN system (from what I've heard from the upper echelon of Tele teaching professionals) does not really work as well as I might like in terms of technically precise Telemark Turns (not something I care about too much in regular skiing, but a possible concern if I continue to climb the ladder of PSIA Tele).
Luckily, there appears to be a new binding coming out that might be a little better suited to the way I ski (hoping to get a little more gradual, smooth lead change, instead of the automatic "heel up" that I hear the NTN gives you). This looks like the kind of binding I could get into: The Rottefella NTN Freedom. Read the whole thing - goes into the increased range of motion, better touring capability, and thankfully, the "dialed back" nature of the binding - not as "powerful", "torsionally rigid" or "quick to respond". To me, all that sounds like it's getting closer to the passive binding feel that I'm used to from my laid back G3 Targas.
Okay, so I got the skis and bindings. How about the boots. Obviously, the NTN boot of choice is going to be Scarpa. Why? Because Scarpa NTN boots have tech binding compatibility. So, if I ever want to try someone's skis (who have huge feet like me), or do something crazy like get a superlight touring setup with sexy dynafit bindings, the option is there (although I hear that the bellows of the Tele boot make the boot too flexy for true hardcore AT skiing . . . I'm not sure if that would affect me, though... I like a pretty good amount of flex in my alpine boots in general).
So, that's my thinking. If anyone else wants to think by typing, add your thoughts here.
I just got lost in a maze of links for boots and bindings. WTF is TTS?
I was actually pretty jazzed reading about the NTN Freedom, but comment boy was pretty harsh about the limitations and durability of the system. (I know how the hell does he know - he's never used it).
I'd pay for someone who could help me figure out my next move. I bought a pair of skis so I'll have to SOMETHING about a binding. Part of me wants to rent a pair of alpine skis just to see what the hell they are like. It might clear some things up for me.
Be interesting to hear what SBR has to say when he gets back from Cuba.
I realize I've added nothing. Carry on!
"Thin Cover" ... it's code for "Awesome Conditions." —Adk Jeff
SBR has returned from sunny Cuba and is a little tired. After landing at 12:30 am, customs, car pick-up and a 2.5 hour drive home, it was a long night. Full TR to follow eventually, after I sort out the 748 pictures I took. Man, there would be some awesome BC skiing there, if they only got snow.
My short opinion is the the NT Freedom looks like the cat's pyjamas, assuming you want to tele. Light, solid and tour-friendly. What more do you need? Back in the day, telemark gear allowed skiers to travel "fast and light" but still make it down the hill. Modern tele gear is heavy and expensive, seemingly determined to defeat its own purpose. Not to mention the fact that the duckbill and cable just seem so, how do you say, 1930?
If I were in Matt's boots I would be in the same conundrum. Gotta love the tele turn but the AT system makes so much more sense from a "form follows function" point of view. The only solution is to win the lottery and have four sets of gear: alpine, alpine with Dukes (or the new Salomon binding), tele and AT. Sadly, this is not an option for most of us.
No NTN, but I'll ad to the boot stoke train. Just got these off ebay for $305, brand new. woot! Tech bindings, here I come.
I think I should slow down on the money spending, though. Considering I've spend $1200 just today. Seize the Carp.
Surprised NTN hasn't developed faster. It looks like a serious win.
I think a lot of people were waiting until the technology was around for a little while before jumping on the train (I know I was). But now that there are 4 binding options for tele, things are starting to gain momentum. Speaking of binding options, I'm looking at the NTN version of the Bulldog (now called the Spike NT):
Anybody try the bulldog before? (I've been digging up old ttips threads like a madman)
If all goes well, I'll have a bomber NTN tele setup (haven't decided on skis yet - Liberty Variants not available) and a lightweight AT setup (using some new old stock K2 Shuksans that I recently acquired).
I went with the Dynafit TLT speed radical, a nice low weight binding and matched that with the TLT5 Mountain boot. These are all mounted up on a pair of Surface life skis in hopes of snow and some back country skiing.