Plum Pika Review
Cons: No certified release, no high-heel lift, moderate weight
Compare to Similar Products
|Price||$539 List||$549.00 at Amazon||$450 List||$498.95 at Amazon||$445 List|
|Pros||Two heel levels, adjustable length and release, optional brakes||Light, solid, just the right set of features||Light, innovative downhill performance||Light, simple, advanced features for the weight||Light, simple|
|Cons||No certified release, no high-heel lift, moderate weight||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||Plum’s proven construction is available here in a mid-weight, all-around ski touring configuration||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||Plum Pika||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist 12||G3 Zed 12||Plum R170|
|Touring Performance (30%)|
|Downhill Performance (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Plum Pika||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist 12||G3 Zed 12||Plum R170|
|Weight (pounds for pair)||1.36 lbs||1.26 lbs||1.18 lbs||1.97 lbs||.88 lbs|
|Weight of one binding, grams||308g||199g|
|Release value range||4 to 10||"Men", "Women", "Expert"||6 to 12||5 to 12||8 Fixed|
|Stack height. (mm. average of toe and heel pin height)||36||37||36||41||34|
|Toe/Heel Delta. (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins)||9||10||3||4||4|
|Brake options||85, 95, 105 mm||80, 90, 100, 110, 120||90, 105,115 mm||85, 100, 115, 130 mm||No brakes|
|Ski Crampon compatible?||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.||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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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