The Fritschi Vipec Bindings are pin touring bindings with adjustable release settings front and back. People have been wary of pin touring bindings in the past, as they offered less security than alpine or 'frame' touring binding. Now with the Vipec those worries has been removed. The toe pin arms are independent of each other allowing the boot to release sideways without any upward movement. The Vipec also keeps the pressure on your boot constant by compensating for the flexing of the ski, this gives consistent release pressures. Check out the videos in the tab above to see this.
The Vipec has automatic step in to ski mode. The front pins are locked in walking mode by pulling up the front lever. To change from ski to walk at the rear you depress a lever which draws the heel piece rearward, retracting the pins out of the boot diamond. This system allows you to change from walk to ski without removing the toe of your boot from the binding. The Vipec has 2 flip over heel height adjusters giving the standard low, med and high heel lift positions. Check out the videos in the tab above to see this.
Vipecs are aimed at skiers who tour as much or maybe more than they use the lifts but want a single ski set up. A great all rounder.
DIN settings are 5 to 12 which suits all except the lightest of skiers.
Vipec bindings come complete with brakes (80, 90, 100 or 115mm). When you add them to basket you will asked to choose your brake size. The smallest that will fit your ski is best. 100 and 115mm brakes cost Â£4.50 extra.
The Vipecs have 2 coloured plastic pieces which can be customised to add your choice of colour to your binding. As standard the Vipecs are supplied with a dark grey plastic inserts.
These bindings require pin binding compatible boots. Click here for image of compatible boots.
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Excellent bindings: reasonably lightweight like the Dynafit Radicals I used to use but with the peace of mind of sideways release at the toe. The elasticity in the toe makes for a noticeably smoother ride than other pin bindings. I'm still finding them a little fiddly to get into, but it's improving with practice. The only drawback is the ski crampon - it's prone to icing up and is therefore difficult to remove. I much prefer the simple Dynafit ski crampon system - very little (i.e. nothing!) to got wrong.
These Daimir Fritschi Vipec 12 Safety Bindings represent the latest standard in pin bindings for the ski tourer. Their key feature is the DIN release at both front and back of the boot, which represents a major step forward in pin release technology.
They are precisely engineered, as a result, it is essential that they are correctly fitted to the ski and matched to the ski boot by a proffessional ski technician.
Very lightweight, compared to an 'ally bar' binding. I can't wait to use mine in Scotland, and late in the season the weight saving will be huge advantage when slogging up a Munro!
Excellent alternative to Dynafit's but not without niggles. I have the 2nd generation 2015 version which means a modified toe section which solves early issues with the adjustment pin working loose and include a plastic insert by the pins which is meant to be make stepping in easier (allegedly - see below).
I swapped from Freeride Pro's since I'm more interested in touring, with occasional more challenging/steep off piste, than I in 'freeride', and was keen to save weight whilst retaining alpine style release, the option of higher DIN, and convenient heel blocks.
Weight saving is great - a really noticeable difference. I also appreciated being a little closer to the ski than with the Freeride style binding, making edge control a bit easier. Heel blocks are nearly as convenient other Diamar's, although I find that I need to duck down and make sure that they're properly engaged by hand when putting back into 'ski' mode, where I could confidently lock them with a ski pole before. Switching to walk mode with a pole and without stepping out of the binding is easy, as it adjusting the riser height after a bit of practice. You can also pull up the toe lock lever to 'walk' mode easily using a pole loop, and put it back to 'ski' (or release) by pressing down. DIN setting is easy to adjust and the toes release just as well as you'd want with alpine style bindings. Excellent design. DIN setting is probably a bit on the tame side - they release too easily on the 'recommended' setting for my weight and I cranked them up a bit.
You definitely need to get the binding mounted and set up properly by a ski tech used to the Vipec, and using your boot (the pin location and accurate centering is important for the release, as is the gap by the heel pins). Facewest, Braemar, Backcountry, Anything Technical etc, rather than your local piste only ski shop or DIY. I was initially concerned that the release mechanism might introduce sloppiness in the toe (due to the need for side to side movement) or inconsistent/premature release (due to ski flex) but I noticed neither, nor have far better skiers than me (i.e. most!) who use them who I've talked to. I guess the high price buys some cleverness!
Not without niggles though. I found the toe pin arrangement much more difficult to get used to than expected when stepping in, especially on any kind of steep ground. Dynafit users didn't seem to struggle so much and every other Vipec user I've met reported the same. You get used to it, but there is nothing which makes it easy to judge toe/pin alignment or how far forward you need to put your toe (I advise marking the holes on your boots with a Sharpie pen, so you can line this up with the pins ... if not covered with snow! It also helps to make sure the boot is dead flat relative to the pins/brake plate). You also need to be very careful about icing up. Fully locking the heels back in place can be tricky if the internals have got iced up (rare) and I have had one instance where a toe piece has iced up, preventing me from releasing the toe (which is done by depressing the front lever). The other issue I have is the plastic construction - escaping the iced up toe piece resulted in a snapped lever and that was without being stupidly brutal with it (replaced without quibble by the UK distributors, thanks!). And it's possible to accidently engage the heel blocks putting them at risk of being stomped, and I'm not convinced they're strong enough to withstand a good attempt to lock the heels if you don't spot that they're in the way. I do know of one reviewer who managed to break the heel release when it iced up inside.
None of these are show stoppers and are solved by being careful, but in the ski mountaineering situations I got these for, I'd prefer to have to the unthinking 'bombproof-ness' I associated with the Freeridre Pro's. I think it's a case of great bindings for the right user and use, but would advise thinking carefully about it and try to compare with Dynafits before deciding. If not in a rush I'd be tempted to see if a Mark 3 improves further on it. I waited for the 2nd generation but think further improvements would be good.
I bought vipecs to go on my first set up of ski's for several reasons. I wanted a binding that would be able to handle going to a european resort for a ski holiday, tour in the Scottish hills and be light enough to carry while climbing 1000m of ice and snow in Chamonix only to charge back down again! My original idea was another of Diamir's offerings but they were all to heavy for my needs, I then looked into Dynafit's offering but after reading other reviews I wasn't sold on the release mechanism. Then low and behold the Vipec's were released! They combine the best of both worlds, a full on pin tech touring binding which is super easy to use and safe to release. My first experiences were up at Glenshee in a white out and found they weren't a problem releasing when I was throwing myself off cornices in a white out. In touring mode they work fantastically, no need to step out of them like you have to do in Dynafit bindings. All in all a great binding and one I would strongly recommend!
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