G3 Ion LT 12 Review
Cons: No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more features
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G3 Ion LT 12
|Price||$429 List||$439.99 at Amazon|
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|$450 List||$445 List|
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|$279.96 at Backcountry|
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|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, simple||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 release functionality, no brakes, only one heel elevation||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||Superlight bindings for light to medium duty backcountry skiing; choose these for simplicity and their all-metal construction||A simple binding design that has been proven over decades now, available for a fraction of the price of others|
|Rating Categories||G3 Ion LT 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist 12||Plum R170||Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0|
|Touring Performance (30%)|
|Downhill Performance (25%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||G3 Ion LT 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist 12||Plum R170||Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0|
|Weight (pounds for pair)||2.13 lbs||1.26 lbs||1.18 lbs||0.88 lbs||1.63 lbs|
|Weight of one binding, grams||483g||286g||268g||199g||370g|
|Release value range||5 to 12||"Men", "Women", "Expert"||6 to 12||8 Fixed||4 to 10|
|Stack height (mm. average of toe and heel pin height)||46mm||37mm||36mm||34mm||38mm|
|Toe/heel delta (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins)||12.5mm||10mm||3mm||4mm||17mm|
|Brake options||No brakes||80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm||90, 105, 115mm||No brakes||No brakes|
|Ski Crampon compatible?||With aftermarket part. Only G3 brand.||Yes. "Standard" Dynafit/ B&D style.||Yes. "Standard" Dynafit/ B&D style.||With aftermarket part. Best with Plum brand. "Standard" Dynafit/B&D style ski crampons can be lightly filed to work.||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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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