Guest Writer: Stu Duggal
In 2018, Salomon released their new S-Lab Shift Alpine Touring binding, which represents one of the biggest advances in ski binding technology that we have seen in the last decade. Here are 6 reasons why we love the S-Lab Shift:
1. The Shift Tours Uphill Like a Pin System Alpine Touring Binding
When in uphill mode the Shift uses a pin system in the toe piece, which fully locks out so it doesn’t accidentally release when you’re skinning or traversing. What’s more, this means you get a great range of motion and kick turns on steep terrain are no issue. The Shift only comes with one heel riser setting meaning you are touring at either 2°(‘flat’) or 10°, however this seems ample for the inclines we have been on in Japan!
2. ….and Skis Downhill Like an Alpine Binding
The pins in the toe piece of the S-Lab Shift are hidden when in downhill mode, which means you click your toe and heel in like you would with an Alpine binding, and just ski! This is a really handy feature, as you don’t have to align the tech inserts of your boot up with the pins on the binding like you would on something like the Marker Kingpin or a Dynafit. Downhill performance-wise, it is difficult to notice any difference between the Shift and a traditional Alpine binding. It’s easy to get the ski on an edge on groomers, ice or hardpack, and definitely feels solid enough to weave through moguls and do laps of the park
3. It’s a Multi-Norm Certified (MNC) Alpine Touring Binding
The fact that you don’t use the toe pins in ski mode means the Shift is an MNC Alpine Touring binding, making it compatible with most Alpine (ISO 5355), Touring (ISO 9523), Walk To Ride and Grip Walk boots. This is perfect as can you can use your Alpine boots when you are just riding downhill in resort, and then you simply swap to your Alpine Touring boots on the days when you fancy going uphill.
4. You Can Trust It in the Backcountry
Gone are the days where you have to worry about pre-releasing on temperamental tech bindings in the backcountry, potentially losing a ski and/or busting your knee. The Shift is DIN certified in the toe and heel meaning that it will release predictably and safely, and is just as safe as any Alpine binding. This will give you confidence to do drops and navigate tight trees after you’ve earnt those turns touring uphill, because let’s be honest, what’s the point in dragging yourself up the mountain if you’re not going to relax and enjoy the descent?
5. Transitioning the S-Lab Shift is Quick and Easy
To put the Shift into touring mode you pull back a little block on the toe piece to expose the toe pins and push the toe lever down with your pole to widen the pins enough to get your boot in. You then pull the toe lever up to lock the toe out, stamp down with your heel to lock the brakes up, and you’re good to go! Likewise, to go from walk to ski mode, you simply push down on the toe lever to release the pins and step out of the binding, pull the toe block back up into ski mode, and disengage the brake lock. Once you get the hang of it the transition is really simple, and definitely one of the easier options on the market. Check out this useful visualisation of it in the video link here.
6. It is the Ultimate One-Ski-Quiver Binding for Japan
Above all, what really struck me when skiing the Shift is just how well it is suited to Japan-style skiing. It gives you the freedom to go up the mountain with the same set-up on any given day, and just go wherever you feel like skiing! If you want to smash out some resort laps, go in and out of the gates and pop off the abundance of pillows and cool features that Japan has to offer, the Shift gives you the confidence and the predictable release that you need. On the flip side, if the lift queues are big and you want to go in search of fresh tracks, you can take the same skis out for a long day tour in the backcountry and not have to trouble your legs with the weight of a frame binding.
Welcome to our first Guest Blog! Stu Duggal is from the U.K and works at Rhythm Summit. He loves getting into the backcountry, especially testing gear from Summit on the deserted slopes of Mt. Iwaonupuri, a ‘mini Mt Annupuri,’ which sits to the northwest of Hirafu.