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||$550 List||$450 List||$500 List||$445 List|
|Pros||Solid, reliable ski bindings, excellent toe piece entry and easy heel lifter transitions||Light, solid, just the right set of features||Light, innovative downhill performance||Light, simple, advanced features for the weight||Light, simple|
|Cons||No ski brake option, heavier than bindings with the same or more features||Not ideal for truly hard-charging downhill skiers||unsophisticated heel lifters, untested aftermarket brake||Crampon mount and brakes not included, heavier than closest competition||Limited release functionality, no brakes, only one heel elevation|
|Bottom Line||Solid, simple ski bindings that cram some unique attributes into a reasonably priced package; we only wish they were lighter, included brakes, or both||If you truly need more performance features than this lightweight binding provides, you fall into a tiny sliver of skiers at the hard-charging end of the spectrum||For any sort of human-powered wild skiing, this is a reliable choice||For the weight and cost, you get great functionality and features||For moderate backcountry skiing, these bindings could be just the ultralight ticket you need|
|Rating Categories||G3 Ion LT 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist 12||G3 Zed 12||Plum R170|
|Touring Performance (30%)|
|Downhill Performance (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||G3 Ion LT 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist 12||G3 Zed 12||Plum R170|
|Weight (pounds for pair)||2.13 lbs||1.26 lbs||1.18 lbs||1.97 lbs||.88 lbs|
|Weight of one binding, grams||199g|
|Release value range||5 to 12||"Men", "Women", "Expert"||6 to 12||5 to 12||8 Fixed|
|Stack height. (mm. average of toe and heel pin height)||46||37||36||41||34|
|Toe/Heel Delta. (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins)||12.5||10||3||4||4|
|Brake options||No brakes||80, 90, 100, 110, 120||90, 105,115 mm||85, 100, 115, 130 mm||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. Only G3 brand.||With aftermarket part. Best with Plum brand. "Standard" Dynafit/B&D style ski crampons can be lightly filed to work.|
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. For 2019, most of our tested bindings include three lift 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