G3 Ion 12 Review
Cons: No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more features
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G3 Ion 12
|Price||$617 List||$599.95 at Backcountry|
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|Check Price at Backcountry|
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$599.95 at Amazon
$349.95 at Backcountry
|Pros||Solid, reliable ski bindings, excellent toe piece entry and easy heel lifter transitions||Light, solid, adjustable, three heel lifts, good brakes||Light, innovative downhill performance||Light, adjustable release, three heel elevations, included sturdy crampon slot||Surprisingly durable for how light they are, killer price, lighter than most|
|Cons||No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more features||No certification, limited release adjustment||Unsophisticated heel lifters, untested aftermarket brake||Limited other features||No brake option, heel risers are more of a pain to learn|
|Bottom Line||These Canadian bindings use a now-proven overall design and include the latest of the greatest usability benefits; we only wish they were lighter||This minimalist binding has exactly what most of you should want, and nothing you don’t need||These are excellent all around functioning bindings made for human powered skiing||The lightest bindings we know of with adjustable release||A simple binding design that has been proven over decades now, available for a fraction of the price of others|
|Rating Categories||G3 Ion 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist||Dynafit Superlite 150||Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0|
|Downhill Performance (25%)|
|Touring Performance (20%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||G3 Ion 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist||Dynafit Superlite 150||Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0|
|Weight (pounds for pair)||2.13||1.26||1.18||0.79||1.63|
|Weight of one binding and screws, grams. Lightest possible configuration (no brakes).||492||286||297||179||370|
|Weight of 2 bindings, grams. Multiple options are noted where we have tested multiple options.||983||572. 770 with brakes||594. 796 with brakes||358. 492 with adjustment plate||740|
|Release value range||5 to 12||"Men", "Women", "Expert"||4 to 10||4 to 13||4 to 10|
|Stack height (mm. average of toe and heel pin height)||46||37||36||36||38|
|Toe/heel delta (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins)||12.5||10||3||10||17|
|Brake width options||N/a||80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm||90, 105, 115mm||75, 90, 105mm||N/a|
|Ski Crampon compatible?||With aftermarket part. Only G3 brand.||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The G3 Ion 12 is a carefully engineered and designed, solid-functioning, all-around backcountry ski binding. The lack of a ski brake somewhat limits its appeal, but we'd argue that expert backcountry skiers (different from "expert" resort skiers) don't need ski brakes.
The Ion LT is among the heaviest of the non-TUV certified bindings. This greater weight, as compared to something like most of our award winners, is attributable to greater usability features and the downhill "forward pressure" attribute. These things could very well justify the extra weight for you. Our test team definitely prefers lighter bindings, even if it means a little compromise in performance.
Downhill performance is a wide-reaching category. We look at two major categories of information in this scoring metric. First, we consider how the bindings perform in normal skiing. How well is your boot held and what is the binding geometry as it pertains to downhill performance. We experienced no "pre-release" of these G3 bindings. This is good. The design includes a little bit of "forward pressure" at the heel that, at least theoretically, allows for greater binding elasticity in high energy downhill skiing. The stack height and heel-toe delta (difference in height) are almost exactly average.
The friction-less pivot and three levels of heel elevation put the Ion LT right in the mix with the best of the best in this category. Beginner skinners really appreciate the option to lift their heel to one of the three different levels.
Next, we consider what happens in non-standard downhill skiing situations. Essentially, how reliably and adjustably does the binding release and is the ski braked when it comes off. The bindings have a non-certified "release value" adjustment and no ski brakes. In these ways, the G3 Ion LT is relatively non-sophisticated.
Ease of Use
We can rate the ease of use of the Ion LT very highly. The toe piece is optimized for easy entry, and the heel lifters flip around very readily when you want to change them. In most ways, the simple yet carefully designed Ion LT is the top-scoring in terms of ease of use.
We had no problems at all with the durability or function of the Ion LT. Other users have briefly mentioned issues with the toe piece getting stuck in the locked position, but our extensive testing revealed no such problem. As initially compared to the construction of otherwise similar all metal bindings, the inclusion of plastic in the Ion LT is a little unnerving. However, the plastic is clearly carefully chosen and well-engineered. We experienced no breakage.
Should you buy the G3 Ion LT?
At the time of its first appearance on the market, the G3 Ion LT was a solid, reliable, relatively lightweight entry. It is getting, as they say, "long in the tooth". Others, even those from the same manufacturer, are considerably better now in many ways. Nonetheless, if you find a spectacular deal on the Ion LT, snap it up. They're still good and reliable bindings.
What Other AT Bindings Should You Consider?
The best comparison is to the G3 Zed. We found the Zed to have exactly the same important performance attributes at a much lower weight. It is hard to justify the Ion over the Zed now.
— Jediah Porter
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