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G3 Ion LT 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.
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Price:  $429 List | $428.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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  ⋅  Oct 22, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Touring Performance - 30% 9
  • Downhill performance - 25% 5
  • Weight - 25% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Durability - 5% 8

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 LT 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.


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G3 Ion LT 12
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $428.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Solid, reliable ski bindings, excellent toe piece entry and easy heel lifter transitionsLight, solid, just the right set of featuresLight, innovative downhill performanceLight, simple, advanced features for the weight.DIN Certification, familiar brand and design, enhanced downhill performance
Cons No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more featuresNot ideal for truly hard-charging downhill skiersunsophisticated heel lifters, untested aftermarket brakeCrampon mount and brakes not included, heavier than closest competitionHeavy, collect ice, unnecessarily complicated for most
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.Excellent bindings for all-around human powered skiing.A solid, simple contender with significantly more features than bindings just a little lighter.Proven bindings with innovative features.
Rating Categories G3 Ion LT 12 Atomic Backland Tour Marker Alpinist 12 G3 Zed 12 Dynafit ST Rotation 12
Touring Performance (30%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Downhill Performance (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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6
10
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5
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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9
10
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8
10
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7
10
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8
10
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5
Durability (5%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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7
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6
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5
Specs G3 Ion LT 12 Atomic Backland Tour Marker Alpinist 12 G3 Zed 12 Dynafit ST...
Weight (pounds for pair) 2.13 lbs 1.26 lbs 1.18 lbs 1.6 lbs 2.71 lbs
Release value range 5 to 12 "Men", "Women", "Expert" 6 to 12 5 to 12 5 to 12
Stack height. (mm. average of toe and heel pin height) 46 37 36 41 46
Toe/Heel Delta. (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins) 12.5 10 3 4 15
Brake options No brakes 80, 90, 100, 110, 120 90, 105,115 mm 85, 100, 115, 130 mm 105, 120, 135 mm
ISO/DIN Certified? No No No No Yes
Ski Crampon compatible? With aftermarket part. Only G3 brand. Yes. "Standard" Dynafit/ B&D style. Yes. "Standard" Dynafit/ B&D Style With aftermarket part. Only G3 brand. Yes. "Standard" Dynafit/ B&D style.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The G3 Ion LT 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 (as opposed to "expert" resort skiers) don't need ski brakes.

Performance Comparison


We do wish the Ion LT were actually lighter. For this set of features and performance  there are options on the market that are many ounces lighter.
We do wish the Ion LT were actually lighter. For this set of features and performance, there are options on the market that are many ounces lighter.

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. For 2019, most of our tested bindings include three lift levels.

The toe piece of the G3 is simultaneously minimalist and confidence inspiring.
The toe piece of the G3 is simultaneously minimalist and confidence inspiring.

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.

Release value chart on the heel piece of the Ion LT.
Release value chart on the heel piece of the Ion LT.

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's flip heel lifters are widely loved. Indeed  it is nice to be able to use them from either side and to be able to move them with your pole basket.
G3's flip heel lifters are widely loved. Indeed, it is nice to be able to use them from either side and to be able to move them with your pole basket.

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.

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.

Close-up of the smoothly contoured and very user-friendly toe piece lock lever.
Close-up of the smoothly contoured and very user-friendly toe piece lock lever.

Value


These bindings are widely available, reasonably priced, and are backed up by a customer service system we have had good experiences with. There are better values out there, but not by much. If you find any sort of sale on the G3 Ion LT, that purchase will definitely rival even the value of our Best Buy award winner.

Transitioning from tour to ski on the G3 Ion LT can be done with the ski on your foot or off. Your personal style will inform.
Transitioning from tour to ski on the G3 Ion LT can be done with the ski on your foot or off. Your personal style will inform.

Conclusion


Solid bindings that are widely available and include performance attributes that belie both weight and purchase price. With solid performances across the board, the Ion LT was a contender for our Editors Choice award. If it shaved a few ounces and included ski brakes at that lower weight, it would be a contender. Therefore, if you do not need brakes, and aren't super fastidious about weight, you might want to consider the G3 Ion LT.


Jediah Porter