Reviews You Can Rely On

Plum Summit 12 Review

All-around, full function bindings that lean in the robust direction; they're a bit dated, but super robust
plum summit 12 at bindings review
Credit: Plum
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Price:  $629 List
Manufacturer:   Plum
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 11, 2020
60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 21
  • Weight - 35% 5.0
  • Downhill Performance - 25% 7.0
  • Touring Performance - 20% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5.0
  • Durability - 5% 7.0

Our Verdict

For some of you the Plum Summit 12 will be just the ticket. It has all the main features (adjustable release, three heel levels you can switch with your pole basket, adjustable length, brakes) and is made entirely of metal. No other binding matches that description. Mainly, others include plastic or composite materials in their bindings. Does that all-metal construction make a difference? We'd argue that it does, but only in perception. And when you trust your gear, you enjoy it more. If plastic wigs you out in your ski bindings, choose the Plum Summit 12 (or lighter releasing Summit 7). If you can stomach some plastic, other options will be lighter or more certified, with similar attributes otherwise.
REASONS TO BUY
All metal construction
Updated heel lifters and brake stowage
REASONS TO AVOID
Brake stowage is still moody
Heavy
No ISO/DIN certification

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Plum Summit 12
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
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Pros All metal construction, updated heel lifters and brake stowageLight, solid, adjustable, three heel lifts, good brakesLight, innovative downhill performanceLight, adjustable release, three heel elevations, included sturdy crampon slotSurprisingly durable for how light they are, killer price, lighter than most
Cons Brake stowage is still moody, heavy, no ISO/DIN certificationNo certification, limited release adjustmentUnsophisticated heel lifters, untested aftermarket brakeLimited other featuresNo brake option, heel risers are more of a pain to learn
Bottom Line All-around, full function bindings that lean in the robust direction; they're a bit dated, but super robustThis minimalist binding has exactly what most of you should want, and nothing you don’t needThese are excellent all around functioning bindings made for human powered skiingThe lightest bindings we know of with adjustable releaseA simple binding design that has been proven over decades now, available for a fraction of the price of others
Rating Categories Plum Summit 12 Atomic Backland Tour Marker Alpinist Dynafit Superlite 150 Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0
Weight (35%)
5.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Downhill Performance (25%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Touring Performance (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Ease of Use (15%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (5%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
10.0
Specs Plum Summit 12 Atomic Backland Tour Marker Alpinist Dynafit Superlite 150 Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0
Weight (pounds for pair) 2.54 1.26 1.18 0.79 1.63
Weight of one binding and screws, grams. Lightest possible configuration (no brakes). 576 286 297 179 370
Weight of 2 bindings, grams. Multiple options are noted where we have tested multiple options. 1152 572. 770 with brakes 594. 796 with brakes 358. 492 with adjustment plate 740
Release value range 5.5 to 12 "Men", "Women", "Expert" 4 to 10 4 to 13 4 to 10
Stack height (mm. average of toe and heel pin height) 48 37 36 36 38
Toe/heel delta (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins) 15 10 3 10 17
Brakes? Optional Optional Optional Optional No
Brake width options 85-100, 100-130mm 80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm 90, 105, 115mm 75, 90, 105mm N/a
ISO/DIN Certified? No No No No No
Ski Crampon compatible? Yes. Best with Plum brand. "Standard" Dynafit/B&D style ski crampons can be lightly filed to work. Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible

Our Analysis and Test Results

Plum's "Guide" binding was an early competitor to long-time category dominant Dynafit. It was French, all-metal, boutique-made, and unique. People jumped on board, but the binding always lagged behind the Austrian option. As a small company, it took Plum some time to update that venerable Guide model. Other companies have now joined the fray and offer sophisticated and great products.

Plum is keeping up and now offers the Summit series of bindings as their all-purpose, full-function product. All they make are bindings, and the Summit series is their flagship product. There are modern updates that make it more competitive with others, but they still aren't as sophisticated as the closest competition.

Performance Comparison


plum summit 12 at bindings review - for your typical ski touring, the plum is confidence inspiring and...
For your typical ski touring, the Plum is confidence inspiring and likely overkill. Those things are good for some of you.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Touring Performance


In assessing touring performance, we consider toe pivot range of motion, propensity for icing, and heel riser options, range, and deployment. The Plum Summit, whether you choose the model with higher or lower release values, is a good touring binding, in the grand scheme of things.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - rear view, in touring mode. shown here is both the highest and...
Rear view, in touring mode. Shown here is both the highest and middle lifter level.
Credit: Jediah Porter

The heel lifters are the best part. As many are coming to expect, there are three heel elevation options, and one can move between them with the flip of your ski pole. The range of the heel lifters is broad and covers all you might need or think you need. The Plum toe pivot range is all you would ever need. The all-metal, relatively bulky construction, and inclusion of a somewhat complicated brake means that the Summit collects more ice than average. You'll battle this a little, especially in relatively warm, fresh-snow situations.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - this steep skin track in grand teton national park was a great...
This steep skin track in Grand Teton National Park was a great testing ground for the high-lift mode of the Plum Summit 12. We don't often use that high lift mode, but its nice when we need to.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Downhill Performance


The Plum Summit binding is almost exactly average in downhill performance. The rigid, all-metal construction lends a secure perception. The release characteristics and range are typical for non-certified tech style bindings. In our testing, we had no issues with release. Our lead tester came out, thankfully, in a high speed submerged rock impact. In tens of thousands of feet of high energy skiing, none of our testers had any "pre-release" issues.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - as long as the outlier binding geometry doesn't haunt you too much...
As long as the outlier binding geometry doesn't haunt you too much, you will very much enjoy amazing powder skiing with the Summit.
Credit: Jediah Porter

The Summit binding geometry is a bit of an outlier. The stack height is higher even than some of the "crossover", inbounds and out, bindings. In our measurements, the stack height is 48mm. Similarly, the binding toe-heel delta (difference between toe height and heel height, in millimeters) is well above average. We measured a 15mm difference between the toe pins and heel pins, in downhill mode. The average is about 10mm. Now, how much this binding geometry will affect your ski experience is mainly up to you and your preferences. In the primarily soft-snow conditions we've encountered with a variety of tester boots, we noticed no ill effects of this outlier binding geometry. If it matters to you, you likely already know your preferences from years of ski instruction or ski racing or both.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - we've had tons of powder snow for testing the plum summit 12. fact...
We've had tons of powder snow for testing the Plum Summit 12. Fact is, you could bolt tennis shoes to 2x4s and have an ok time in powder this good.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Ease of Use


Plum's updates that yield the Summit 12 mainly seem to be in the "ease of use" category. As compared to earlier Plum bindings, the Summit is definitely easier to use. As compared to average bindings from other manufacturers, they are nothing special. Transitions are typical. Stepping in and out of both downhill and tour mode is comparable to other tech bindings. Like any tech binding with brakes, the heel piece is sometimes reluctant to let go of your boot when stepping out of downhill mode. The brake is difficult to transition some of the time. When stowing the brake away for uphill mode, sometimes a simultaneous stomp and hand-lift is required to get the brake to lock. In other situations, one or the other of these strategies does the job. We are not yet sure what variables affect this experience.

Weight


At 576g per foot the Plum Summit 12 is relatively heavy. In our review, for instance, it is among the heaviest of those that aren't ISO/DIN certified. It is more than a full pound heavier than either of our Editors Choice winners. It is a half pound heavier than average.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - a few years ago these would have been average to lightweight ski...
A few years ago these would have been average to lightweight ski touring bindings. Now they are on the heavy side, but still have their appeal.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Durability


With that greater weight you get, conceivably, greater durability. The Plum Summit is made entirely of metal. Most other bindings have some plastic or composite components. So far, our testing of the Summit series bindings hasn't fully taxed the durability. However, our experience with other Plum products suggests that they will hold up. Our examination of failure-prone parts indicates that the Plum is indeed quite robust.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - the machined aluminum main construction of all plum bindings is...
The machined aluminum main construction of all Plum bindings is svelte and appealing.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Value


The cost of the Plum Summit is in line with other bindings that share the same basic feature set. For the cost, elsewhere you might get lighter construction or ISO/DIN certification. But you won't get both at any cost.

plum summit 12 at bindings review - this scale shows the weight of the plum, in grams. this mass is well...
This scale shows the weight of the Plum, in grams. This mass is well above average. Plum themselves make bindings that weigh under 100 grams, for instance.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


You will want to like the Plum Summit 12 (or the easier-releasing, but otherwise the same, Summit 7). It is sexy, all-metal, handmade by specialists in the French Alps, and has some modern updates. And you won't be wrong to like it. However, for us to highly recommend it is conditional on your brand loyalty and your quest for that cachet. In purely practical terms, there are better bindings available. Some even at a lower price.

Jediah Porter
 
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