Reviews You Can Rely On

G3 Ion 12 Review

These Canadian bindings use a now-proven overall design and include the latest of the greatest usability benefits; we only wish they were lighter
g3 ion 12 at bindings review
Credit: G3
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $617 List
Pros:  Solid, reliable ski bindings, excellent toe piece entry and easy heel lifter transitions
Cons:  No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more features
Manufacturer:   G3
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 21
  • Weight - 35% 5.0
  • Downhill Performance - 25% 5.0
  • Touring Performance - 20% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 5% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Ion family of bindings from this Canadian innovator is a proven dynasty now. In some ways, the Ion bindings are ahead of the curve, while we have always wished the weight would come down. With the G3 Ion 12, the promise of light weight loomed. However, the rest of the market races forward. With the Ion, the "LT" qualifier is best used to compare to bindings of five years ago. For the features, these would have been light bindings half a decade ago. As the market stands now, there are lighter and more featured bindings. However, there are unique attributes, particularly for beginner skiers, that set the Ion LT apart. We handily recommend these bindings for the all-around user. Others are a little more refined, lighter, or include more features and performance attributes. However, the Ion LT strikes a balance that many will prefer.

Compare to Similar Products

 
g3 ion 12 at bindings review
This Product
G3 Ion 12
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $617 List$599.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$600 List
$599.95 at Amazon
$350 List
$349.95 at Backcountry
Overall Score Sort Icon
66
75
74
72
57
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Solid, reliable ski bindings, excellent toe piece entry and easy heel lifter transitionsLight, solid, adjustable, three heel lifts, good brakesLight, innovative downhill performanceLight, adjustable release, three heel elevations, included sturdy crampon slotSurprisingly durable for how light they are, killer price, lighter than most
Cons No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more featuresNo certification, limited release adjustmentUnsophisticated heel lifters, untested aftermarket brakeLimited other featuresNo 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 lighterThis minimalist binding has exactly what most of you should want, and nothing you don’t needThese are excellent all around functioning bindings made for human powered skiingThe lightest bindings we know of with adjustable releaseA 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
Weight (35%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Downhill Performance (25%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Touring Performance (20%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Ease of Use (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (5%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
10.0
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
Brakes? No Optional Optional Optional No
Brake width options N/a 80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm 90, 105, 115mm 75, 90, 105mm N/a
ISO/DIN Certified? No No No No No
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.

Performance Comparison


g3 ion 12 at bindings review - great skiing in great ski gear. simple, proven, reliable, sturdy...
Great skiing in great ski gear. Simple, proven, reliable, sturdy. This describes the Ion LT.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Weight


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


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.
g3 ion 12 at bindings review - deep powder ski binding "testing" in wyoming's tetons.
Deep powder ski binding "testing" in Wyoming's Tetons.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Touring Performance


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.
g3 ion 12 at bindings review - g3 ion lt is sturdy, versatile, familiar and proven. you might have...
G3 Ion LT is sturdy, versatile, familiar and proven. You might have been an early adopter and have used these for nearly a decade now. If you like 'em, stick with them.
Credit: Jediah Porter

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.
g3 ion 12 at bindings review - the ion lt, as tested in 2022 on our editors choice skis. these are...
The Ion LT, as tested in 2022 on our Editors Choice skis. These are great skis and the Ion LT took nothing away from them. Other bindings are now more sophisticated, but the Ion doesn't detract from the experience.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Durability


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.
g3 ion 12 at bindings review - the g3 ion lt is now one of the longest-running models on the...
The G3 Ion LT is now one of the longest-running models on the market. As such, if you are a long time Ion user and are looking for a new version of something you know well, especially as for an expedition like this one on Denali, the Ion LT is still viable.
Credit: Jediah Porter

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
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More