Get excited, because the Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC Alpine Touring Binding is a completely new touring binding design—the ultimate hybrid—with all the efficiency you need on the uphill and all the capabilities of a traditional alpine binding for high performance on the descent. Besides skiing like a solid alpine binding, the Shift can pretty much accommodate any boot type—even traditional alpine boots—when it's in descent mode. Though it does require a boot with tech toe fittings for hike mode, the toe height adjustment lets you easily switch between different boot norms so you can go for a tour in your lightweight tech boots in the morning, and rip the resort in your stiff alpine boots for the rest of the day. This binding is for the skier who truly wants freedom to travel in the backcountry paired with the versatility to rip terrain in the resort, and since it weighs just over three pounds a pair, you get full skiing and touring performance without compromise or the need to have two different set-ups.
Historically, touring bindings fell into two different categories: tech bindings or frame bindings. Tech, or pin bindings, are extremely lightweight for uphill efficiency but don't have the reliable release values that traditional alpine bindings have because of the lack of elasticity in pins of the toe piece. Frame bindings, on the other hand, have the reliable release values of a true alpine binding, but are extremely heavy, meaning you are sacrificing uphill efficiency for a more dependable, consistent release. Now, there are a few brands that have attempted to solve the issue of weight versus release reliability by designing bindings that have a tech toe coupled with an alpine-style heel so you can still crush the climbs and enjoy more reliable release values on the descents, but the problem still remains that these bindings employ a tech toe.
The Shift has taken this long-standing issue facing the backcountry skiing community and completely revolutionized the touring binding category. It's not a hybrid—it's in a class of its own. On the climb, the toe piece has pins to accommodate a boot with a tech toe, just like a tech binding, so you can kick turn and maneuver easily on the skin track. When it's time to descend, the pins retract with the flick of a lever, and you have a solid alpine toe. The heel, which functions like a traditional alpine heel on the descent, works in hike mode by flicking up the brake lever and stepping your heel down. The brakes will rise into "up" position, and you're free to adjust the independent climb aid based on the steepness of the terrain you're ascending. For the descent, flip the brake lever back down to deploy your brakes so you can switch the toe piece without sending your ski for a ride and simply step into the binding. With DIN TUV-certified release values you'll feel as solid ripping your line as you would in your alpine bindings, which makes the Shift a wonderfully groundbreaking option for the best of both worlds.