We keep hearing from friends to try the new G3 ZED bindings, so this autumn we replaced our Dynafit bindings with a new pair of G3 ZEDs. There is a lot to like with the new ZED bindings, and we couldn’t be happier. Paired with our new Findr 102’s we noticed improved performance and responsiveness this winter.
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Light, stable, fully-featured and ridiculously easy to use, G3’s ZED bindings live up to the hype. They are light, they are intuitive and they perform well on all the terrain we’ve tried them out on this winter. If you’re in the market for a lightweight touring binding, you can’t go wrong with these.
The ZEDs are G3’s latest tech bindings, based off the ION binding and designed to be light, simple and backcountry-oriented, without sacrificing confidence or durability. They ride pretty well on all kinds of snow – both up and down – and come with some safety features that other tech bindings lack.
When to use
When you want a straightforward, stable and lightweight binding for ski touring on all types of snow and terrain.
- Ultralight Weight. The ZED bindings are 240g lighter than the ION! At only 345 grams, these ultralight bindings are also super strong. If you like traveling ultralight, these should be on your list.
- Simplicity and Ease. Straightforward is the name of the game with on the ZED. The toe is super easy to step into and putting risers on is a snap, making them prime for backcountry skiing.
- Secure, Safe Release. The ZED doesn’t use the U-spring heel that many tech bindings do. Instead, the heel pins rotate and have 10mm of forward pressure help with consistent release.
- The risers. After years of Dynafit bindings, the risers on the ZED’s are a joy to use.
- Not the best for pure descent. These are very good on descent, but there are better options if that’s your primary purpose. That said, if you’re looking for an all-around binding that is easy on the uphill and performs better than average on the downhill, then the ZED should definitely make your short-list.
- Heal Turret Design. We’ve heard reports that the spring in the rear turret can become dislodged, with a result that the heal turret won’t spring back into place. This results in the skier being unable to lock in their heal for descent, so if this happens, you’ll need to free-heal your descent. You only need to reset the spring, so nothing is broken, but it’s a pain when it happens on a tour.
Lightweight, nimble construction
The ZED toe piece is based on the ION but sets itself apart in a few ways – like weight. The ZED 12s are a good 240g lighter than the ION 12’s. G3 achieved this simply by removing as much as metal as possible and by shrinking the toe bumper. As a result, your foot sits closer to the ski itself than it would with most other tech bindings.
This is great. Cutting down on weight is always a priority for backcountry skiers and tourers, and even shaving just a few grams here and there can make all the difference on long, challenging trips.
We find the toe is super easy to step into, a major plus on touring skis. The pivot point is slightly higher, which helps the pins keep extra tight and strong, and there’s enough movement back and forth to keep a smooth ride. Both the toe and heel are designed to prevent snow buildup, too, and they do a pretty good job at it.
Dynamic heel & consistent release
Most tech bindings use u-spring heel designs, which can be a stumbling block for safety. Bindings need to quickly, easily release when you take a spill on the slopes, and snapping bones and ligaments certainly isn’t unheard of when they don’t.
The problem with pin-tech bindings, however, is that sometimes they are just too secure. There is much less ability to adjust the release as you see fit, as release tension is determined by the heel’s fixed shape. Horizontal release is also fixed on some models.
The ZED, however, uses independent heel pins that rotate when you step in or out. These are designed to release consistently, while also minimizing the risk of pre-release. A single screw adjusts both horizontal and vertical release. G3 also put a lot of work into making sure release is perfectly-calibrated. The laser-etched numbers are etched in after they’ve been measured, ensuring release tension is exactly as tight as you want it. They do this for each and every binding.
We haven’t yet taken any nasty spills to try the release out, but playing around with them and adjusting tension, we feel like they will perform when we need them too.
You’ll also notice that you’re moving slightly backwards in the riser every step you take with the ZEDs, as the spring is being compressed. This doesn’t really affect performance noticeably.
Switching the QuickFlick heel lifts between up/down skiing and touring is downright easy and can be done with your ski pole (must be where “QuickFlick” comes from). Simply turn the heel 90 degrees either direction to let your boot pivot for uphill’s, and for downhills, just turn the heel back those 90 degrees to lock back in. The heel turrets also rotate 30mm in either direction for touring. Want to mount some risers underneath? The ZED makes that simple, too.
Versatile uphill and downhill performance
Of course, light weight and snappy design don’t mean much if the bindings don’t ski well. After strapping these to our G3 Findr 102’s and riding them all over the Rockies this winter, we were more than impressed with the results.
Likely the first thing you’ll notice out there is how truly light they are – it’s very apparent. Skinning is smooth and easy, and isn’t very taxing – even with the extra compression from the flex spring,
How about downhill performance? The ZED’s aren’t necessarily the best if your only concern is downhill performance, but they still perform very well. The same sentiment goes for stability and making turns, and we noticed improved responsiveness compared to our older Dynafit bindings. There was no fear of pre-release, either.
The ZED’s do an excellent job of transferring power to the skis and the ride is plenty snappy, as well as plenty fast and plenty fun. They respond well to turns, and we’d feel confident riding them on terrain slopes of varying difficulty.
After giving these bindings some heavy use this past winter, we’re impressed. They are light, extremely easy to put on, and make it easy to attach risers. We appreciate G3’s attention to detail and safety on release and retention. We think that for lightweight backcountry skiing, the ZED’s are a great choice.