[Editor’s Note: We’ve got some very good news to report: CAST has met its goal on Kickstarter, and production of their SI&I binding is underway for this fall.
In more good news, CAST will also be producing the Look, Rossignol, Head, Tyrolia, 4FRNT, Marker, Salomon and Atomic platforms, with production of the latter three being pushed up to September 2013 to further increase interest and sales in the SI&I System.
CAST will also be selling the SI&I and Boot Modification through their the website (casttouring.com) as well as through a select few shops, which they will be announcing at a later date. But Kickstarter is the only place to guarantee delivery of a SI&I system for this coming season.
And if you’ve read this far and still don’t know what we’re talking about, then you need to keep reading, because this is the only independent, actual review of the SI&I system out there.]
On March 13th, CAST went live with a Kickstarter program that you should know about.
CAST is a company started by Lars Chickering-Ayers and friends. The name comes from the term “a cast of hawks,” in honor of Ryan Hawks, a good friend of theirs and many others who passed away two years ago.
The CAST Kickstarter program is an effort to produce a new touring binding system.
The reason we care is that by any measure, Lars, his brother, Silas, and the CAST crew are great skiers and good guys. Plus, we think that CAST’s SI&I Alpine Touring System deserves to go to production. BLISTER reviewer Joe Augusten has been logging a lot of time on a CAST prototype, and, as he’ll explain, there is a lot to like about the system.
So watch this video, support this project however you can, and read Joe’s review to see if the CAST alpine touring system is right for you.]
CAST SI&I Alpine Touring System
Reviewer: 5’10”, 160 lbs.
- Bindings: Look P18s & Dynafit Radical Toes, mounted to SI&I plates
- Skis: 190cm Moment Bibby Pro
- Boots: Lange RS 130
Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Solitude, Little Cottonwood Backcountry, Tahoe Backcountry, Mt. Rose, Alpine Meadow, Squaw Valley.
Days Skied: 15 Tour, 40 Inbounds
To get an idea of what I look for in a backcountry touring binding setup, check out my introduction to the novel I wrote about the MFD Alltime a year and a half ago.
In short, I’m married to the Rossignol FKS / Look P18 alpine binding, and I don’t want to go downhill on anything else.
My monogamous relationship with the FKS is founded upon the amount of elastic travel that the FKS provides, and its outstanding release and retention characteristics. In short, they retain when they should, release when they should, and reduce the amount of force transferred to the knees—exactly what you want from a binding.
(For more on elastic travel and release values, see BLISTER’s Dyanfit Beast 16 review.)
In addition, I also want to tour in my Lange RS130s with ZipFit liners, two booster straps, and boot heaters. You know, since I’m all about saving weight.
When I first heard about the CAST system, it was a day or two after I had just purchased my MFDs. My immediate reaction was to send the MFDs back. The CAST system was it, they nailed it—assuming, of course, that they could actually get it produced….
But if Lars Chickering-Ayers was designing a touring binding system, I wanted to be on it.
I first met Lars in 2005 at a Crested Butte comp, about to drop in on Slot Rocks for run one. Lars had moved west just a couple of days earlier from Vermont and was new to the comp scene, as was I. Next thing I knew, he was sitting in first place by half a dozen points. As everyone well knows, that was just the beginning.
Initial Impressions of the SI&I System
For me, the idea of touring up on a Dynafit toe, swapping out toe pieces at the top, and skiing down on my FKS directly attached to the ski really can’t be beat.
Two and a half years ago, I had just convinced myself that the MFD should be a better touring system than anything out there (which I confirmed in my review). Then CAST came, and this system looked as if it would trump the MFD on many fronts. To say the least, I was very excited. After talking to Lars about proto testing the first batch, and waiting for them to go to production on a small run, I was finally on the system by the spring of 2012.
(Note: all photos from here on out will be CAST stock photos of final P18 system.)
This review will focus on the third prototype of the SI&I system that I have been skiing, which was the last version built before they started to use a CNC machine to manufacture the plates. They have subsequently tested four new iterations in order to refine the design. In general, my assumption is that the final run will in every way be an improvement over my early prototypes.
Lars and his team have not looked to cut corners. Their goal from the get-go was to develop the best, most bomber touring system on the market. The system has been through a lot of Finite Element Design and will continue to see more, with strength and pullout testing at the University of Vermont labs this spring and summer.
There will be some questions left unanswered, as most details have been honed and improved, but what I will try and cover here is how well this system tours, switches over, and skis. In addition, I will address some of the more common questions or concerns about the system.