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Plum Pika Review

Simple, classic bindings employing a modern feature set and robust construction
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Price:  $539 List | $538.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Two heel levels, adjustable length and release, optional brakes
Cons:  No certified release, no high-heel lift, moderate weight
Manufacturer:   Plum
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 23, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 16
  • Touring Performance - 30% 8
  • Downhill performance - 25% 5
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Durability - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Plum Pika is one of many, many choices. You have options up and down the weight spectrum from the Pika. Those close to the Pika on that spectrum are similarly equipped; basically, the Pika is similar to others that are similar in weight. You get a couple of heel lift levels, adjustable length and release, and optional brakes. The Pika sets itself apart with all-metal construction and machined parts that lend a look that many like.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Plum Pika enters the binding fray right at the hot spot. In terms of weight and function, the category of stripped down, adjustable bindings that weigh under a pound and a half for a pair (not counting optional brakes) is "going off". More and more options appear and the quality and function continue to improve. Plum's entry is great, and we review it here.

Performance Comparison


The Plum Pika is great for all around ski touring and ski mountaineering. Carefully chosen equipment enables but doesn't distract. The Pika fits that description.
The Plum Pika is great for all around ski touring and ski mountaineering. Carefully chosen equipment enables but doesn't distract. The Pika fits that description.

Touring Performance


When we assess touring performance we investigate heel lifters, pivot range of motion, and icing propensity. In all of these categories, the Plum Pika is almost exactly average. It can be toured flat on ski or with one moderate lift level. Beginner skinners and those in stiffer boots like a higher heel lifter that the Pika doesn't have. Lighter bindings don't have the options that the Pika has. The minimalist construction ices less than more involved bindings, but more than ultra-simple options. There is absolutely no meaningful limit to the toe range of motion in the Pika.

Plum uses the same toe piece design across a number of their models. Thought the Pika is newer in our review  we have extensive experience with the toe piece. It works well in most cases  but isn't our favorite.
Plum uses the same toe piece design across a number of their models. Thought the Pika is newer in our review, we have extensive experience with the toe piece. It works well in most cases, but isn't our favorite.

Downhill Performance


Downhill performance is a function of boot retention and of release value. Does the binding hold your boot in when you want and let it go when you need it to? We can speak with authority on the former. We skied miles of serious terrain and never came out of the Pika. We skied just enough firm snow to know that the retention "feel" is satisfactory. More sophisticated, bulkier bindings definitely feel both more secure and more "damp" in their retention.

The slick  clean  machined look of the Plum Pika is appealing and timeless. Some simple labeling notes branding and helps to remember different modes. Here  the toe piece lever in downhill "ski" mode.
The slick, clean, machined look of the Plum Pika is appealing and timeless. Some simple labeling notes branding and helps to remember different modes. Here, the toe piece lever in downhill "ski" mode.

We can't yet comment from direct experience on the release performance of the Pika. We can point out that Plum equips the Pika with adjustable lateral and vertical heel release. The release values seem to roughly mirror "DIN" numbers, but the binding is not certified to DIN standards. Certification in bindings this light is unheard of. You have to more than double this weight to get ISO/TUV certification to DIN standards.

Ease of Use


Can you get in, out, and make necessary adjustments? With the Plum Pika the short answer is "yes". Entry and exit are average. Other, more sophisticated bindings are easier to get in and out of. But, none of them are as simple and light as the Pika. Length and release adjustments are clear and employ commonly available tools.

We paired the Plum Pika with relatively heavy skis and then tried a bunch of different boots in them. These bindings keep up with high energy downhill action but are light enough for uphill focused kit.
We paired the Plum Pika with relatively heavy skis and then tried a bunch of different boots in them. These bindings keep up with high energy downhill action but are light enough for uphill focused kit.

Weight


We measured, on a calibrated OGL scale, the Plum Pika bindings to each weigh 308 grams. That's 1.36 pounds for the pair. On a ranked list of all those we review, that is about halfway. The heaviest bindings are three times the weight, while the lightest are a little over half the weight of the Pika. The Pika is light, but not ultralight. In comparison to those of similar weight, the Pika has similar performance and function. Nothing about the Pika is an outlier. This is a good thing.

The Plum Pika is more minimalist than you might think you want  but more robust and heavily featured than our highest award winners. If you are on the fence about minimalist AT bindings  the Plum Pika can be a good bridge.
The Plum Pika is more minimalist than you might think you want, but more robust and heavily featured than our highest award winners. If you are on the fence about minimalist AT bindings, the Plum Pika can be a good bridge.

Durability


Plum's primary appeal, in some circles, is that their bindings are all metal in construction. This gives many the "warm fuzzies", in terms of durability. The fact is that simple, well-built tech bindings are way more durable than their appearance might suggest, regardless of materials. Plum's all-metal construction is robust, but so are other options that include some plastics and composites.

Value


Bindings in this general category are proven, robust, and offer great performance. The Pika will last you a long time, won't break the bank, and employs proven technology and overall design. The initial purchase price might be shocking for how small the equipment is. However, all the truly comparable options are similar in price and the performance belies the tiny form factor.

Conclusion


We recommend the Plum Pika. It isn't the most sophisticated nor does it bring exciting innovation. The proven simplicity and carefully tailored selection of features is its appeal; this is a new product in a classic and reliable form.

Jediah Porter