Update: Gear Junkie reviews these bindings here.
Starting next month, backcountry skiers in the U.S. and Canada will have the opportunity to buy a binding that’s popular in Europe’s randonee race scene. The La Sportiva RT Ski Binding is a patented free-heel binding that tips the scale at a meager 175 grams, making it officially one of the world’s lightest ways to connect a boot to a ski.
La Sportiva touts the binding as a “technological innovation in the world of ultra-lightweight engineering.” Its weight is impressive, but the inclusion of toe and heel release functions makes the bindings usable beyond the randonee race fringe. The toe-release adjustment system has a release value comparable to 5-10 DIN — a first for a binding of this type, says Jonathan Lantz, president of La Sportiva North America.
Integrated crampon attachments and a three-position heel riser for touring mode are included. For racers and backcountry speed demons, this binding is light and cool, no doubt. Too bad it’ll cost you almost as much as a season pass. The RT ski binding, available in December from Backcountry.com, Bent Gate Mountaineering, and Mountaingear.com, will cost a not so ultralight $700.
—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.