(Last Updated On: December 22, 2016)
As many of you know, I have been using the Fritschi Vipec for over a year now (see review here). While I have been enjoying the reliable performance of this binding, every tech binding comes with a few issues, especially on their first delivery.
But, Fritschi has listened to reports of those who have put their Vipec to the test and have modified their binding accordingly. This years Vipec has three major changes:
1)In my original report, I mentioned that the springs that hold the wings apart seem to change tension after time and this tension is not adjustable. In the original version, this made it so I could not just step my toes into the binding as the toe piece on the boot would hit the pins on the binding because the wings would not open far enough. I had to push down on the toe lever in order to get the wings open enough to put the toe in. The new model of the Fritschi has been reported to have fixed this issue by making the wings expand outward further.
2) The Vipec has also been known to be difficult to step into in the first place. After using them for quite some time, I became used to this and developed my own efficient methods for getting into the Vipecs. But, this year’s model has an improved toe guide which makes stepping into the Vipec absolute cake.
3) Upon release of the original Vipec, there were reports that some of the adjustable pins were falling out. I never had a problem with this because I prevented the issue by adding Loctite to the adjustable pin. Originally, the adjustable pin was on the left side of the binding. If you think about how a person skins, this would mean that every time the person picked his/her heel up, the pin would loosen. By switching the adjustable pin to the right side instead of the left, the problem of the adjustable pin loosening was resolved. There is also a retention clip that helps address the issue of the adjustable pin loosening.
The one major change that I would like to see in the Vipec is an improved heel piece. At the end of the season last year, I began experiencing problems with the heel piece not locking back into ski mode after being in tour mode. I specifically noticed this when I was exposed to “wet powder” conditions – and this is because the wet snow actually builds up inside the heel piece, blocking the lever from being able to lock. This year, with unseasonably warm conditions, I have experienced this issue a few more times. While I have come up with a few ways to fix the issue in the field, I would like to not have the issue in the first place.
That being said, after using the Vipec for over a year, I can say that I’ve never had it release when I shouldn’t, and I don’t ski with it in locked-mode. I continue to enjoy the fact that it’s a bit more forgiving and less rigid than most other tech bindings. It’s suffered some pretty tough abuse in the backcountry and has not broken. Overall, it’s a reliable binding and I’m happy to have it under my feet.
Frank and I have been given new pairs of Vipecs to put these redesigns to the test. While we have not had a lot of ski time on this new version of the binding, our initial impressions are that the Vipec is much improved. I have updated my current Vipec Review to reflect these redesigns and we will continue to update it as we put this binding to the test in the backcountry.