Dynafit Beast 14 ReviewJanuary 20, 2015
- Lighter weight toe piece than the Beast 16
- Great Vertical release Characteristics
- Prevents accidental heel release better than other AT bindings
- Same as its big Brother (Beast 16), you can’t tour flat
- Transitioning from tour to ski is only for the strong
The Dynafit Beast 14 is a bit—okay, a lot—less finicky than the original beast, and it’s proving to be a good, durable, freeride binder at a lower weight penalty from its big brother. Time will tell if the rotating toe piece lives up to its billing as a big difference maker in performance.
The Dynafit Beast 14 is a combination of the tried and tested Radical (with the new rotating toe piece) and the burly heel piece of a dialed down Beast 16. The Beast 14 might just be the sweet spot.
After my tester pair of Beast 14’s showed up at my door around Christmas, I had to decide what to mount them on. I decided to pull a pair of Radicals off my old Folsom Johnny C’s and go to work. I mounting them on skis that I’ve already used helps isolate the performance of the bindings but taking away any ‘new ski’ factors.
To ski with the Beast 14s, I had to add the extra piece onto the heel of my boot (see pictures above). I also noticed right away that the brakes felt well conceived rather than simply being an afterthought like those found on so many products out there. The Beast 14’s brakes look burly and seem like they might actually stop a runaway ski— probably important since we are talking about a freeride binding.
My first day out on these Beasts took place while guiding on the backside of Aspen Mountain with some big descents to the road and plenty of opportunity to rail important turns through the trees. It was a little bit of walking and a lot of skiing. This is where one issue surfaced. Pulling up the lifter to switch from skin to ski mode proved difficult. This task is not for the weak as doing it by hand requires a tremendous amount of force.
Another issue to consider is that just like the 16 din version, the Beast 14 offers no option to tour in the 0-degree flat position. To me this makes no sense as there are so few areas in the world where you would not have some piece of a flat approach. As a result, walking on dead flat terrain was uncomfortable.
Once in ski mode, the definitive feeling of your heel clicking into the burly Beast heel piece gave me some confidence. The first run of the day took me down a 38-degree face for a quick pow lap. I opted to point them and ski fast and the Beast 14 showed no issues.
Throughout this test I opted to ski the binder the way Dynafit designers meant for them to be skied, which means I did not skiing it with the toe locked out, the way most other tech binders are skied (even if its wrong). I’ve been trying really hard to see if I can get the binder to pre-release, and so far, I’ve been unsuccessful.
I’m one of the people who has issues with technical binders pre-releasing in the heel and sending me into unintended tele mode (and c’mon, who really wants to be there?). The Beast 14 solved that issue for me.
The toe piece has a nice clean function to it—it rotates while in ski mode but is locked out when put into touring mode. I would recommend not locking the toe out for free skiing, as that reduces some of the designed functionality of the binding.
During the next day on these binders I took a quick skin up Highlands bowl and hit some firm chalk skiing down the gut. Again I have to complain about the skin-to-ski mode switch. I had a hard time finding things problems with this binder, but this one issue will drive me crazy until the end.
Dropping into the bowl I railed hard decisive turns to insure that I’d stay in, and intentionally took some air off small features, with nothing to report other than the binders did exactly what it is designed to do—bind me to the ski.
I’m gaining the confidence to ski these bindings at the same intensity level as my usual alpine setups. After skiing the rest of the day airing off catwalks into mogul fields, and charging mogul fields (rarely interested in this on a technical binder), I’m starting to think that the Beast 14s are the real deal, and worth the upgrade if the Radical is just not quite enough for you.
After a few more tours and some more resort skiing, I’m sold on this Beast. Unless you are going for a long walk in search of low angle, low intensity skiing this is a great binder that I feel comfortable counting on to get me through the days that aren’t all about the walk.