Absolute best binding for touring and performance.
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Price Paid: $220
Absolute best binding for touring and performance. Easy switching between modes and resistance levels. Sturdy.
- Great performance
- Easily adjustable
- Switches modes easily
- Adjustable resistance
- Tours well
This is the perfect backcountry binding for the true telemarker.
First off, we have to start with the performance. The free release touring mode makes going up a cinch because you have zero resistance on your heel. It's very easy to switch between modes, you just use your pole and the ski can stay on.
Once in ski mode, it skis like an aggressive alpine Tele binding. It is not quite as stiff as the Vice or the Hammerhead, but it is in the same range, and you really feel like you can put power into it. My powder Tele setup is on a pair of Axls and I have had many long resort days with no problems at all. Its versatility is impressive.
22 Designs bindings are built by a small team in Teton Valley, Idaho. They are a great group of people and they put together a fine product. The binding is rock solid and, because they are hand assembled, you can pretty much get any replacement part you need on their website (and if you feel like checking it out, they offer a work-for-your-binding program where you can volunteer for a certain number of hours and get paid with a free binding).
The only downside to the Axl is its weight. It is heavier than most modern pure-AT bindings and other, backcountry specific telemark bindings. You notice the weight, but it is not bad when compared to similar, performance oriented AT Bindings (e.g. the Marker Baron). However, this is the tradeoff you make for good performance and it is worth it.
If you are a true, hard charging telemarker who wants to be able to ski anything you can skin to, buy these. You won't be disappointed.
[I am a PSIA certified Telemark instructor who lived and worked in Teton Valley.]