Product: MFD ALLTIME Alpine Touring Binding
Weight: 600g per plate (Small/Medium)
Test Location: Alta Ski Area, Solitude
Days Tested: 6
[Editor’s Note: There are several short write ups about the MFD Alltime that you can find around the internet. This is not one of them….]
My view on alpine touring bindings changed 180 degrees while in the Taos backcountry four years ago.
Three friends and I were starting a 12 hour tour from the Williams Lake trail head with the objective of skiing Vallecitos. Upon cresting Lake Fork Peak around 7am, I clicked into my Fritschi Freeride bindings. I was the first to drop into a wind buffed, icy, 40 degree couloir, en route to the bottom of the main climb up to Vallecitos.
I cut across the top of the couloir, made one jump turn and double ejected from my XXL’s. I went for a death slide that scared the living daylights out of me, and I was extremely lucky to walk away uninjured. That was my final day on those Freeride bindings, and I bought a pair of Dukes the next morning.
Although there may have been some fault on my end with the binding setup or skiing technique, I didn’t care. I wanted a touring setup that mimicked my Rossignol FKS 180’s and LOOK P18’s.
(Right, I know, impossible.)
I ski P18 and FKS bindings as my everyday driver, and I would argue that they are pretty much the best thing ever invented. I’m 30 years old, I have skied over a hundred days each season for the last 11 years (and 50+ days for the 17 years before that), and I’ve never blown out a knee. I’m giving some credit to plain old good fortune, and all the rest of the credit to the P18. (Quick, get me some wood to knock on.)
To tour with FKS or P18s, however, meant using Alpine Trekkers, which are not exactly the most efficient touring setup. But personally, I would rather sweat and be frustrated on the way up, in order to have the performance of an FKS on the way down. Frankly, I don’t think anyone can argue that an FKS or P18 is a better binding than any touring binding being made today.
So when it comes to backcountry skiing, there’s a decision to be made: are you willing to make compromises on the skiing end to have a more comfortable and enjoyable tour? Or vice versa?
Four years ago, the Duke was the only AT binding that offered a 16 DIN setting. And there was no touring binding out there that had the elasticity of an FKS. An FKS has 45mm of lateral elasticity in the toe, compared to only 32mm on the Duke. This elasticity is, in my view, what reduces torque on the knees.
In retrospect, I wish I had gotten into beefing up an Alpine Trekker at the time. I had seen a few people stranded in the backcountry on these, and the nickname of the day wrecker just didn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Furthermore, trekkers and Look pivots don’t mix well due to the positioning of the look heel piece. After seeing people retrofit these to have fewer issues, however, I wish I had gone that route.
Nevertheless, the Duke served me well for three years, although I did hate the stack height, the sloppiness in the system, the climbing aid, the switch-over mode, and the overall design….But they did the trick for me when skiing out of bounds.
Fast forward to 2011. Smaller, independent companies such as MFD and Green Mountain Freeride are looking outside the box. To this point, all companies have been designing new bindings for both touring and alpine skiing. These new companies seek to build a touring system that uses an existing, dedicated alpine binding.
The MFD Alltime is the first system out of the gates. (And Will Brown’s excellent preview of the Alltime, posted just after SIA, is still worth a read.)
It’s a plate to which you can mount any of the alpine bindings listed below.
Look Pivot 14 / 18
Rossignol FKS 140 / 180
Salomon STH Driver 12 / 14 / 16; STH 12 / 14
Atomic FFG, FFG Team
Tyrolia Peak 15 T.H.,Peak 18 X T.H.
4FRNT Deadbolt 13, 15, 18
Head Mojo 11, 12, 15, 18
Marker Jester Pro / Jester / Griffon / Squire