The Fritschi Tecton is a huge improvement over the Vipec, and lays down solid competition for other tech bindings. We like the design of the heel piece, and as long as the plastic holds up continually going forward, it will be a great option for hard charging backcountry skiers.
Ease of Entry
If this reads like a copy and paste of the Vipec Evo, it essentially is, as the two bindings share the same toe piece. While our testers would tell you that the Tecton binding makes strides, over the old Vipec, in the right direction for becoming closer to a true step in binding, we still found it a bit aggravating to try and step in to the binding every time. It seemed as though sometimes we would get lucky and just trigger it perfectly, but the majority of the time we found ourselves holding the toe lever down still until we could get our toe pieces lined up. Part of this could be caused by simply having too touchy of a trigger under the toe piece. Once you free the trigger however, the snap around the toe is convincing that you are locked in place, and as with most tech bindings, a quick pull of the toe piece has you ready to rock. We found that the toe on the Tecton is a bit longer than that of others in the category, possibly making it easier to pull with your ski pole handle. As far as the heel is concerned in ski mode, just step down on it like an alpine binding and you are good to go!
Ease of Transition
The Tecton binding excels here outside of the slightly fiddly toe piece. Transitions between modes do not require the user to step out of the binding. This is something we really like. Many of the tours that we plan in Colorado have long flat approaches that don’t require skins on the way out, but it can be quite nice to flip in to tour mode to kick and glide your way out. The Tecton makes this easy. Click out of the alpine style heel piece while leaving your toe in and flip the heel piece forward to access touring mode. We found this doable with a ski pole tip if that is your style. Step down and the brake locks into place and off you go. Back to ski mode? Just push the heel piece back down and step down. Chances are, you will spend more time adjusting your boots than the binding. We really like this feature in the Tecton and hope to see it spreading to other bindings in the market.
The Tecton weighs in at 550 grams or 630 grams with brakes. The Tecton is by no means the lightest binding in the fleet, but it certainly isn’t heavy either. We like the risers as they are easy to use and flip up and down with either end of your pole, we also think that Fritschi’s decision to switch to metal risers was a good one, given our issues with the Vipec Evo’s risers. Side hill and kick turns are as easy as any other bindings and we didn’t have any issues with releasing from the toe while touring. Some users have complained about an issue with the toe bump piece actually denting their boot in a slipping motion. These seem to be fairly isolated issues, and Fritschi plans some inline changes for this fall that won’t be breaking news, but should address a couple of plastic parts that need a small amount of change.
The alpine style heel piece that the Tecton is sporting allows the boot to sit more directly on the ski than most of the other bindings in the category allow for. This allows for more direct power transmission to the ski. Our first couple runs had us in the “tech” mentality of skiing smooth and easy, but our confidence grew rather quickly with the solid feeling that they provide. The Tecton is certainly direct competition to the Kingpin for the free riders, and with the added safety of the lateral release in the toe, it might just take an edge here. Fritschi has consistently said that their binding is the safest release on the market for a tech binding, and we have to agree. While we didn’t have any pre-release issues, we feel a bit more confident in knowing that the toe piece will release independently of the heel.
Plastic is the name of the game with Fritschi, and while they made some good changes to the heel lifters, it’s still easy to be worried about the amount of lightweight plastic that is in important places (most notably the heel piece). This so far has been fine, but when you are looking for the secure warm and fuzzy feeling, it might be hard to find. All of that said, we had no issues with pre-release in or out of the resort, and have been pleasantly surprised by the binding so far. As mentioned above, having an alpine style heel piece is awesome and we have to imagine that the industry will probably continue to follow suit to make it better and even lighter.
In 2009 Jordan became the youngest and the 5th person to ski from the summit of all 54 of Colorado's 14,000 foot peaks. Jordan is a mountain guide and ski guide for Aspen Alpine Guides, in Aspen Colorado as well as a ski guide for Ski Arpa, Chile.