Vive la France
The French have been known for a lot of great things -- fries, toast, and kisses among them -- but not for technology. Cars? No. Threading? Never took off. Ski bindings? They got those right. Let's compare modern incarnations of two of the most iconic binding designs on the planet. The Look Pivot 12/14 and Salomon STH2 13 are two designs whose heritage dates to the 1970s, the Look Nevada and Salomon 727. These bindings are examples of why you don’t shortcut on the boot-to-ski interface. Both tout a tremendous amount of elasticity in the toes and heels; their numbers are within a very few millimeters travel of each other. There is no need to make a deciding factor out of such small percentages, these are the two best in that area, 1 and 1A depending on who you talk to and where their loyalty lies.
From 10 paces, the Pivot 12/14 doesn’t look very different to the average skier than its great-grandfather the Nevada, but as you get closer, the differences start to show. For 2017, all Pivot 12s are designated as "Dual," which means that the multidirectional toe with 180° release incorporates WTR (Walk To Ride), allowing the binding to accommodate that or a DIN sole with the turn of a switch. Look’s Dual system is pretty much foolproof and will not change the ramp angle of the boot. [Note: As of this publishing date, the Pivot 12 and 14 have integrated WTR compatibility but now are
Like the Look's heritage, the STH2 13 goes back to the Salomon 727 from 40 or so years ago. Its single-pivot toe and dual cam heel is a design that almost every major binding manufacturer has used at some point. Salomon’s Driver toe is one of the few that has manual adjustments for wing and height so you can fine-tune the boot-binding interface. Salomon also offers WTR, but it is the toe height that adjusts on the STH2 13, which does change ramp angle when going from one sole to another. Salomon offers a solid AFD whereas Look's is a sliding one. Getting back to the heel design, it is a simple function with an easy in-out mechanism, and it has more than 20 mm of travel so can accommodate different BSLs if needed.
- Why choose the Pivot 12? Best if you switch from regular DIN soles and WTR regularly. Short mount distance means a very reactive binding.
- Why choose the STH2 13? No fuss, no muss. It is easier to get in and out of in deep snow, has a ton of adjustability and the ability to fine-tune the interface, and brake widths are easy to change.
- Other bindings in the class: Look SPX 12, Marker Griffon, Salomon Warden, Tyrolia Attack 13.
Edited to note that the Look Dual Toe pieces are now Gripwalk compatible.