Salomon / Atomic SHIFT MNC Binding

Salomon / Atomic SHIFT MNC 13 — Specs, Notes, and On-Snow Performance

Salomon & Atomic recently unveiled a new binding called the SHIFT MNC 13, a touring binding that will be available September 1st, 2018. It is a binding that allows you to skin uphill like a tech/pin binding, then turns into a full alpine binding when it’s time to ski down. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out our Gear:30 podcast where we talk to Salomon’s Cody Townsend, Chris Rubens, and Benoit Sublet about the binding, how it came to be, and how it works.

In downhill mode, it behaves like a traditional alpine binding by interfacing with the toe and heel lugs of the boot. This allows stability, elastic travel, and full alpine TUV safety certification. In uphill mode, the tech inserts of the boots are used for an efficient stride.

Check out this video with Salomon’s Chris Rubens to see how it works:

Elasticity and Safety

Probably the most exciting and important thing about the Shift is that it is TUV certified to alpine binding standards. That means that it is the first and only non-frame touring binding on the market that matches the safety standards of a standard alpine binding.

On top of this improved safety, the binding also has elastic travel in both the toe and heel, just like an alpine binding. Salomon is claiming 47 mm of elastic travel in the toe, which is seriously impressive considering that the Salomon STH2 has 52 mm of elastic travel in the toe — and traditional tech toe pieces have almost no toe elasticity.

The Shift has a very similar heel to the STH2, with 9 mm of elasticity at the heel, same as the STH2 (and sometime soon, BTW, we’re going to be jumping down the elastic travel rabbit hole).

This elasticity should produce a more consistent release, a smoother ride, and a safer tech binding overall.

Specs

Here are the specs on the Shift binding:

DIN Range: 6-13
Blister Measured Weight (with all screws and 110 mm brakes): 886 g
Blister Measured Weight (with all screws and 90 mm brakes): 885 g
Elastic Travel, Toe: 47 mm
Elastic Travel, Heel: 9 mm
Climbing Riser Angles: 2° and 10°
Ramp: with MTN Lab boots, 4 mm (same as Salomon Warden)
Touring Range of Motion: 90°+
Available Brake Widths: 90, 100, 110, 120 mm
Stack Height: 21-25 mm, depending on your BSL

Weight Comparisons

Our measured weight of the S/Lab Shift binding with all screws and 110 mm brakes, was 886 grams, and 885 grams with a 90 mm brake.

So the Shift comes in about 100 g heavier than the Marker Kingpin 13 (775 g with 75-100 mm brakes) but the Kingpin is by no means a full alpine binding, and the S/Lab Shift is significantly lighter than alpine bindings.

Here is the weight of the Shift compared to several competing bindings, plus a Look Pivot 14 WTR:

Salomon Guardian MNC 13 (with 115 mm brakes): 1478 g
Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC — 886 g
Marker Kingpin 13 — 775 g
Fritschi Tecton 12 — 682 g
Dynafit Radical FT 2.0 — 653 g
G3 ION 12 — 638 g
Look Pivot 14 WTR — 1,157 g

Initial On-Snow Impressions — Downhill Performance

Yesterday at Alta, I skied the S/Lab Shift in a variety of conditions on the 188 cm Salomon QST 106. In the morning, we toured up to the top of Supreme and got some fresh turns in unopened terrain with the Alta ski patrol. Then in the afternoon we hammered laps in soft, variable, heavily-skied snow on Wildcat on the lower mountain.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Salomon Shift binding for Blister Review
Sam Shaheen on the new Salomon S/Lab Shift binding. (photo by Cam Mcleod)

Coming into the day, I was very skeptical of the Shift. But after skiing a full day on it, I came away very impressed by its downhill performance. The binding feels solid, responsive, powerful and plush — very similar to an alpine binding.

The biggest compliment that I can give the Shift is that, after a few laps on Wildcat, I simply stopped thinking about the binding. It turned into just another day skiing. The power transfer seems excellent, and the construction felt solid. I started to trust it after a few laps, which is not something I’ve ever done when skiing a tech binding inbounds.

Initial On-Snow Impressions — Transitions

The Shift doesn’t look or function like any binding currently on the market and because of that, there is definitely a learning curve to switching from downhill to uphill mode, and vice versa.

The biggest thing to realize about the Shift during transitions is that, while a Dynafit-style binding focuses on the heel for transitions, the Shift primarily utilizes the toe.

A small “block” between the wings on the toe is pushed backward (toward the heel) to spread the wings and expose the touring pins. By pressing a lever on the toe with your pole tip, the wings spread wide enough to fit into your boot inserts. Then (similar to a standard tech toe) that lever is pulled up to lock the toe out for the uphill.

The heel piece doesn’t have to move for uphill travel because the location of the pins means that the heel of the boot will always clear the heel piece on the binding.

The brakes then must be locked up by flipping a lever back and stepping down with your boot.

To transition back to ski mode, you push the toe block forward (which folds the wings so the pins are out of the way) and you flip the brake lever down — then you step in like a traditional alpine binding.

Transitions on day one were definitely a bit tricky. I suspect they will become easier the more and more I use the Shift, but, just like the first few times I used tech bindings, there is certainly a learning curve.

The block that switches the toe from ski to walk could be a source of frustration, since there isn’t much clearance for your fingers to activate it, especially when going from walk to ski mode. This will definitely be something we watch out for.

The design also seems like it could be prone to icing. But the Salomon designers and athletes all swear that the Shift clears snow and ice better than both the Guardian and the MTN Binding, so we’ll be sure to monitor icing issues closely.

Initial On-Snow Impressions — Uphill Performance

Once you’re in tour mode and ready to go, the Shift tours just like a pin binding. There is plenty of range of motion for kick turns, and the heel risers operated just fine.

The “flat” tour mode is at 2°, and yesterday at least, that was difficult to discern from 0°. On our tour yesterday, this never felt like an issue. Again, this is something we’ll be sure to keep an eye on.

Occasionally yesterday, I would knock the brake-locking lever forward with the brake arm of the opposite ski while skinning, causing the brake to release. This is partly due to sloppy skinning, but it is also an issue that we’ll keep tabs on.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Salomon Shift binding for Blister Review
Sam Shaheen on the Salomon S/Lab Shift. (photo by Cam Mcleod)

There is certainly a bit of added weight in comparison to bindings like the ION 12 or the Radical 2.0. It is noticeable on the skin track.

But when it comes to touring bindings, everything comes with a compromise. Traditional tech bindings are light, but they give up skiing performance and safety. The Shift is a bit heavier but is far safer and skis better than a traditional pin binding.

Multi-Norm Compatibility

One of the most interesting things about the Shift is that, because its pins are not used in downhill mode, it is compatible with a traditional alpine boot that doesn’t have tech inserts (though you can’t tour in the Shift with such a boot).

The Shift is compatible with all “normed” boots — essentially any boot with full-sized toe and heel lugs. Boots with short lugs and Dynafit’s “sharknose” boots are not compatible, but any “WTR” (walk to ride), or Grip Walk boots are.

Bottom Line (For Now)

After one long day of skiing on the Shift, I am impressed by its downhill performance. I’m not yet ready to say that it skis equally as well as an alpine binding, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the conclusion I reach as I get more time on it.

There are a number of outstanding questions we still have — What will be the final verdict on ease of transitions? Will durability be an issue? Will we have problems with icing? How similar is it really to an alpine binding in terms of downhill performance?

We will address all of those questions in our full review, and I’ll be skiing again on the Shift today, so I’ll be sure to update this First Look if I learn anything new.

And please leave any questions you may have in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to address them.

Update: 12.13.17

I now have 4 days on the Shift — two days of charging variable conditions inbounds at Alta, and two days touring (one in Grizzly Gulch, UT and one on Jones Pass, CO).

So far, my initial impressions of the binding are holding up. The Shift is a very powerful binding with a noticeably-more-plush ride than a traditional tech binding. We haven’t yet directly A/B’d it against an alpine binding, but I can say that in the past four days on snow, I haven’t noticed a difference in the downhill performance between the Shift and the alpine binding I’ve spent the most time in (Marker Jester).

The caveat here is that I’ve spent all four days skiing the Shift in my touring boots (Scarpa Maestrale RS), and I’ll soon look to do several days of inbounds laps in a dedicated alpine boot, but for now, I’m going to keep focusing on the touring capability of the Shift.

Touring & Transitions

The past two days with the Shift, I got it out on some longer tours to get a better sense of transitions and its general touring performance.

The issue of the brake coming unlocked from bumping the skis against each other in walk mode that I noticed on the first tour has not happened again since that first day. Perhaps I’ve just subconsciously been skinning less sloppy, but whatever the reason, this issue hasn’t reemerged on my past two tours.

Sam Shaheen reviews the Salomon Shift binding for Blister Review
Sam Shaheen on the Salomon S/Lab Shift, Jones Pass, CO. (photo by Jacob Winey)

Transitions with the Shift are becoming more natural. I find that it is easier to use my hands to do the majority of the work rather than fiddle around with ski poles — the exception to this is when stepping into the pins in uphill mode, where the pole is required.

(If you haven’t already, you should check out our video above of Chris Rubens working through these steps, but here’s my description of the process.)

Locking the brakes up for uphill mode is easy to do with you hands. Flipping the lock lever back and pulling the brakes up locks them out.

To transition the toe into uphill mode, I either kick the “Shift” block back with the heel of my boot, or lightly strike it with the palm of my hand. Then, I use my pole tip to press down the lock lever, which opens the wings to step in.

When going into downhill mode, I first flip the brake lock forward. This is important because if you leave the brakes locked up, it will cause issues stepping into the binding, and your brakes won’t come out if you release. This is something that I’ll be keeping an eye on as I get more time on the bindings.

After unlocking the brakes, I squeeze the wings of the toe piece together (this loosens the tension on the Shift block) and pull the Shift block into downhill position. It is possible to do this with one hand and it takes a surprisingly little amount of effort.

Finally, a quick push of the lock lever tucks the lever away near the top of the ski.

The most finicky part of transitions is stepping into the binding in uphill mode. First, you have to press the lock lever down with your pole, which spreads the pins wide enough to get your boot through. Then, the tricky part is getting the pins to interface properly with the inserts in the boots. I find it easiest to slot one of the pins into its respective insert, then slowly close the pins (by letting up on the pole pressure on the lock lever) and try to align the other pin with the other insert. It still takes me a couple tries to step in when I transition, but it is getting easier.

Another point to make is with respect to the lock lever, which has two locking positions. In the first position, the binding isn’t completely locked. Cody Townsend told me this setting is really only for “meadow skipping.” I can confirm this, as I have come out of the toe while side-hilling in this first position. With the toe locked in the second position, I haven’t had any problems.

I’m eager to keep skiing the Shift and hope to get another few days on it later this week in the current low-tide conditions of the Colorado Front Range. And once all of our collective snow dances kick in, I’ll have more to say about the downhill performance of the Shift.

NEXT: Update from Jonathan Ellsworth and Sam Shaheen

 

44 comments on “Salomon / Atomic SHIFT MNC Binding”

  1. Great review guys!

    Sounds like the binding a lot of us have been waiting for a long time.

    Quick question about DIN. Do you find the 6-13 range enough for hard charging in variable conditions, drops, etc? Seems like a tad lower than what most of the hard charging freeriders would prefer. Don’t know if Salomon plan on making a higher DIN version.

    Thanks!

    • Hey Valyo,

      DIN setting is definitely a matter of personal preference (and we recommend you let your local shop set it for you), but if the 6-13 range works for Salomon athletes like Cody Townsend and Chris Rubens, then I think the rest of us should be just fine.

    • Hey Valyo,

      To answer your question and respond to Sam’s assertion, I was once skeptical of DIN 13 maximum. Early in the design process of the SHIFT we pushed for up to 16. But as I started to ski more and more on the Warden 13 binding because of it’s MNC and my full-time MTN Lab boot use, I started getting comfortable at DIN 13 and was learning I didn’t need a DIN 16 binding… and this is from a guy that’s 6’2″ 190lbs. From there, I still went into the SHIFT with a skepticism about the DIN 13 max. This season, I ended up filming my entire MSP films segment on the SHIFTs set to 13 and never had one single pre-release or unwanted release. Subsequently, I did have them release on two pretty good tomahawks…one release which I believe saved me from a season ending injury. Anyways, this season I’ve skied high consequence spine lines, jumped a multitude of 40+ and 50+ foot cliffs and skied some pretty chopped up snow and high speeds with no unwanted releases. For proof, check some of my recent instagram posts from BC…all was skied on the SHIFTS. So ultimately to answer you’re question, fuck yeah they’re good for charging.

  2. Hi Sam, Any specific information about the shift combined with the Bent Chetler and more specifically how it performed in Japan? Would it make a good 50/50 ski for the whole season? Thanks

    • Hey Alex, the Bent Chetler / Shift combo is an awesome set up. If you ski mostly pow, then it could make a good 50/50 setup. However, I would generally recommend a skinnier ski for dealing with variable conditions and corn/ice in the spring.

  3. I like that they are lighter than downhill bindings, does this mean the only negative vis aMarker Griffon would be the price?

  4. Do you know of any plan for a lower DIN Shift? With a minimum DIN of 6 this leaves out lightweight and older skiers. It would be good to see a 4-12 or 4-13 DIN model. What’s the rule of thumb regarding setting a binding at it’s minimum DIN?

    • Hey Vincent. We haven’t heard plans for a low DIN Shift model. However, the bindings are tested to TUV standards across the full range of release values. The binding should be just as consistent when releasing at 6 as it is at 13. Skiing at the minimum DIN shouldn’t be an issue.

      • Key word “should”

        Second despite certification, individual combinations of boot and binding don’t ALWAYS work properly.
        Especially at the lower end of the scale, where small differences in friction or boot length matter much more.

        I just tested my daughters binding after adjusting it per instructions: lateral release was ~40 higher than it should be.

        So, no, I wouldn’t buy a binding where you are using the absolute lowest setting. If something is even a bit off, you have no room to adjust it.

        Then there is the fact that many people need an even lower setting than 6. So a lower DIN setting would be very useful. Hopefully sales are big enough, that they can justify a 3-10 version, or such.

  5. Hi Sam,
    Thanks for the review, this binding sounds like a game changer. I contacted to Salomon to find out about the mounting pattern… is it the same as a STH2? They wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me. I am wondering if you could tell me…

  6. Jonathan & Sam,

    As usual, great review. Just curious about the drilling footprint of this binding; in other
    words, how many holes need to be drilled per ski. The fewer the better in my opinion,
    if there’s the need for remounting (I think the Schizo has 9 holes per ski, for example),
    if anything goes wrong with binding performance, durability, etc.

    Also, does the heel piece slide onto a metal or plastic track? I don’t like plastic tracks
    as is the case with the Marker “Royal Family”.

    Thanks.

    • Hey Jane,

      Yes. That was a problem that popped up in the first sample production run that was given out to athletes and testers. It was identified and fixed before they went into the actual production. Quite often tiny little things pop up between the phases of small batch testing and production runs…hence why the do a non-public production run to test before releasing to the greater public. It was a small plastic mold tolerance that was a mm or so off and I have been assured that it has been fixed.

  7. Awesome review! I always enjoy reading your gear reviews, and it’s nice to hear what you have to say about the Shift binding after spending a considerable amount of time on it.
    With that said, Im 6’2” and weigh around 182. I just bought a pair of Moment Wildcat aka Bibby Pro in a 184 length. I plan on using this as a 50/50 ski, and was wondering if the Shift binding would be appropriate for this ski?

  8. Regarding brake widths, I’ve seen reviews indicating the brake arms are quite wide for their stated width. If I’m fitting for a 105mm ski which brake is ideal? Is that design / answer likely to change as Salomon responds to the ‘clicking together’ issue highlighted in the review?

      • It probably matters where you are mounting.

        The waist width is the narrowest part of a ski. If you have a -10cm mounted, and a ski with a lot of sidecut, it could be a lot wider than that stated # at the actual location of the brakes. To allow for that, binding brakes are actually wider than their stated “size”.

        So if you have a fairly straight ski, mounted near center, you can get away with a far “narrower” “listed size of brake” than your ski’s waist width.

  9. Do I understand right that these should be able to be used with a standard alpine boot if needed (obviously in ski mode only)? Seems like the only potential issue would be getting the toe height adjusted low enough, right?

  10. Question about afd adjustment on Salomon shift bindings. When i’am trying to adjust afd to boot with ISO 5355 sole, I can’t get afd that low that afd do not touch boot sole. I turn the screw to the left to the maximum and still afd touches the boot sole. According to Salomon tech manual 2019 it should be 0.5mm gap. Am I doing something wrong?

  11. Anyone who has skied it and can compare to the Beast 16? I havent have the Beast pre-release yet in a few seasons but I have been a bit cautious since I dont trust pin bindnings after a few crashes on a radical FT. From the review I can see that you trust the Shift just like a STH or Jester, but would you also trust a Beast or is there a noticeable difference? Im trying to decide if I should “shift” bindings or not…

  12. Hey guys, I bought the shift yesterday at my local ski shop and mounted them to my new skis and got the adjusted to my boot. However, when I got home I realized that after I had clicked into the binding with my boots the toe of the boot can move up and down in the binding. This has lead me to believe that I have to raise the anti friction device on the binding however not sure how its supposed to be with the boot. Does anyone have any tips? Thank you!

    • Hi Axel…….. I have the same issue. Just arrived home after my purchase of the new Shift binding which is mounted on a new pair of skis. The toe of the boot also moves up & down. Let me know if you get any advice or remedial action. Thanks

    • Hi Axel……I found the Salomon Alpine Tech Manual.
      In it …. it states that there should be a 0.5 mm gap between the boot sole and the binding.
      Here is a link to the Manual. Please refer to pages 70/71 which relates to the toe adjustment. Make note that there is a magnifying tool to view it more clearly.

      https://issuu.com/salomonnz/docs/salomon_tm_alp_wtr2019_300dpi

      I’m going to research the gap allowance….as i feel it’s too large.
      I will keep you posted on my findings.

    • Hi Alex….. Found out from the Ski shop that it must have been an oversight that their Ski Tech failed to check. I was told that there is a toe height adjustment screw on the side of the AFD. A few turns to raise it…is all that’s needed. Hope this helps.

  13. Gday guys
    Getting ready for the season and have a couple of questions about the shift binding before pulling the trigger on them

    1. Have Salomon fixed the issues with the brakes coming unlocked while skinning that Sam describes? …. if not yet, do you have any idea whether the mod could be done to the current binding ?

    2. I’m looking at putting it on a 120mm and a 105mm wide ski with inserts, is it possible to buy the one 120mm binding and a second 110mm brake and switch the brakes when required?

    Cheers
    Paddy

    • Disregard (2.) ….

      I now know I can replace the brakes for the different skis using inserts…

      I ended up getting….
      Line Pescado (124mm)
      Line Sakana (105mm)
      Line Sickday (104mm)

      I want the shift on all 3 with inserts
      From what I’m reading the brakes are wider than the published brake widths…

      Would the 100mm brake fit the sakana/sickday?
      Would the 110mm brake fit the pescado ?

  14. Hi there. I plan to buy these bindings, but i got an information from a store in europe. They said that la sportiva sincro or spectre boot (the one i have) is not compatible with the binding because of its front sole rocker… Is that acurate info because in all their presentation movies salomon sais it will accept any boot… I i really like the binding after reading youre review.

    Ani info will help. Thanks and keep it up!

    Bogdan Vlad
    Bogdan.vlad.mail@gmail.com

  15. Hey guys!
    I have Kingpins in both of my skis (115 & 106 underfoot). I do ski quite a lot in the resort and the only momento where I still have some concerns with the KPs is when I´m skiing fast on groomers, opening big GS turns at high speeds. I havent had any issues, but I still cannot trust them 100%. Besides that and some minor issues (i´m avoiding some jumps or tricks in the BC), I have no complaints. Do you think it worth the effort to move to the shifts? Should I use the KPs a bit more and wait for a second gen of the SHIFTS? Are they really gonna ski as my STH16s?Cheers!

  16. Hi gang,
    I’m a small female skier at 5ft and 107lbs…..looking to put these on a pair of Icelantic nomads. Any thoughts on this binding and my size? I tour on a pair of Nordica La Nina skis with the DIN at 6.5/7.
    Cheers

  17. Thanks for the excellent review. I also have Maestrales. Is there any problem with the quick step inserts interfacing with the Shift binding? Did you bench test the bindings for consistent release? I’m looking to get either the Tectons or the Shifts because I want a safer, better skiing binding than my old radicals. I directly asked Salomon and they just gave me a standard CYA response. At least Fritschi has released tech documents confirming boot compatibility. The more I read, the Shift seems to be the way to go if you really want to ski this in-bounds and will use a flat soled touring boot. The Tecton will be better for a mostly dedicated touring setup and should release just fine with rockered soles and any style dynafit insert. Thanks again, I love this website!

    • From my personal experience with both bindings (I’ve skied them both 20+ days), I would say that regardless of boot choice (as long as it has a normed sole), I would personally feel safer on the Shift than the Tecton. This comes with the HUGE caveat that this is just my personal opinion with no quantitative data to back it up. Binding testing and safety release is a very complex topic that we are always trying to keep up to date on here, but this is just my opinion and not an actual conclusion on the relative safety of either binding in question.

      For me, the pin interface on the Tecton has resulted in a few anecdotal oddities that I haven’t encountered on the Shift. But this is seriously subjective territory.

      It is also important to note that the Tecton and Shift are tested using different testing standards (the Tecton uses a touring bindings specific test while the Shift passes the standard alpine safety testing).

  18. Great thread and a ton of info! I would add a couple of things that I have noticed with these new Shift bindings so far with some early season skiing. I have mine mounted on a pair of DPS Wailer 112RP Alchemist (189) and have done a few days now in Banff National Park (Bow and Cirque), in the side country of Revelstoke and in and around Roger’s Pass. Here is what I experienced:
    – still get the brake fall (unlock), but only when using the risers. It helps a ton to blow out any snow in the brake area during transitions or when getting set up. Seems to happen when they get knocked in a technical section or on a turn.
    – the comments about riser height above are bang on. Unfortunately, the gang around these hills sets a very mean skin track and 10 degrees is simply not up for it. Factor in the rocker on the skis and traction gets tough even with a solid pair of skins. If you get into tree frickery like some of our initial forested climbs, avoiding steep skinning paths is tough if you want to go up.
    – I had some issues getting my Smith Superguide boots to clear in the toe pieces despite having a sole Salomon claims should be compatible. This was a 2 part problem, first securing the .05 clearance underneath but also having the binding expand large enough in touring mode to fit the toe (I have big feet!). Anyone considering Shifts should take a hard look at their boot soles as these bindings do not like some boot rocker. Get the shop to do a test set up first to be absolutely sure your boots are compatible if they have not set those boots up before. They were fine for my Scarpa Freedoms though.
    – they are finicky to get your toe in for touring but so are my Beasts, I am used to it.
    – downhill was a dream! Clipping in ski mode at the hilltop is just a heartwarming experience of confidence. The Shifts skied beautifully on the down with no issues. And for some of us, that is the whole point.
    I would still like to see a higher riser possibility as well as some more work done to fix the brake unlock issue. My wish list for what it’s worth.

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