Fritschi Vipec Revisited

(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.

Comparison of older and newer Fristchi Vipen backcountry skiing tech binding.

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.

Highlighting the features on the new Fristchi Vipec.
Highlighting the features on the new Fristchi Vipec.

Fristchi Vipec backcountry skiing binding.

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.

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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Summary
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Reviewed Item
Fritschi Vipec
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Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

13 thoughts on “Fritschi Vipec Revisited

  • February 16, 2015 at 5:43 pm
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    Hey Brittany. I’m curious to know if you or Frank has also tried the Dynafit Beast (16 or 14). It would be interesting to hear from someone who has used both.

  • February 17, 2015 at 1:11 am
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    Hi Matt! Neither of us has tried the Dynafit Beast. However, I am not really certain that the Vipec can compare with the Beast. It compares more equally with the Vertical or Radical. The Beast’s best competition is the Marker Kingpin – which Frank & I have skied on and it’s a really solid on the slopes. Both Frank and I think the Kingpin’s systems are much better than the Beast. However, it’s still on the heavier side. The Vipec is a great lighter weight tech binding.

  • March 21, 2015 at 12:36 pm
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    Have you had any issues with the bindings releasing on icy traverses? When they are put into walk mode, the toe piece is not completely locked out. I found that on steep icy slopes (35 degrees) they were releasing, which was quite scary. I had to crank up the DIN settings to stop this happening, which is far from ideal.

  • March 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm
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    Will, we (meaning Brittany) have not has issues with that- and we were on a steep icy skintrack just yesterday. Have you been flipping the toe lever into walk mode when this is happening? It sounds like you have been, but I wanted to confirm…

  • March 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm
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    Yes I was in walk mode, lever flipped toward me. It only happened when there was really just an edge in the snow. My skis are fairly wide (105 underfoot) so perhaps that doesn’t help. Or perhaps it’s the pair of bindings I have, or they need bedding in somehow. Anyway it’s a real issue for me, on an otherwise great binding.

  • March 21, 2015 at 3:31 pm
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    Very strange Will. My skis are 110 underfoot. My “DIN” is set for 9.5, which is pretty high for a girl who is 5’3″ and 125 lbs. But, all of my skis have a DIN of 9 or 9.5 no matter what I am skiing. That’s just what I’ve found works for me. I have never had the Vipec release when it should not have, whether I am skiing or touring. In fact, I actually rarely put the binding in tour mode. I tend to tour with it more often in ski mode, and I have never had a problem. Are your pins adjusted correctly?

  • March 30, 2015 at 6:05 am
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    Well I’ve taken them out for another couple of tours and they’ve behaved perfectly, even on steep ice, with the release value set at 6.5. I don’t know what the problem was the first time – maybe they were too well lubricated as they were just out of the box? I changed the front clip to the high version, because the medium clip was not releasing the binding in a forward fall. Perhaps this changed something, but it shouldn’t affect the release in walk mode. Anyway, I would advise any reader planning to buy Vipecs to get their boots fitted to the binding by somebody expert, as they are tricky to set up perfectly.

  • March 30, 2015 at 4:41 pm
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    Good to hear, Will!

  • January 31, 2016 at 10:39 am
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    hi can you please compare kingpin and vipec going downhill? is kingpin that much better with alpine style heel? thanx (for an expert skiier on 112mm fat skis)

  • January 31, 2016 at 12:47 pm
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    Hi Andrey,

    We have limited experience with the Kingpin but from our experience the Kingpin is less rigid and more forgiving than the Vipec, similar to an alpine binding. We feel this would be particularly good at the resort, but in the backcountry, it wouldn’t make a lot of difference. However, the Kingpin is significantly heavier going uphill. So, you have to weigh that into your consideration too!

  • January 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm
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    wow that would be just opposite what i expected, vipec has suspended toe (kingpin heel), thoght vipec would be more forgiving and less rigid, this is also contrary to what i have read in separate reviews, unfortunately there is no direct comparison test on the web yet 🙁

  • February 5, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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    I have skied the Kingpins and Vipecs back to back and there are some subtle but noticeable differences. Initial impression seems to be that the boot-to-ski connection with the Vipec is a little more vague than the Kingpin. The Kingpin really does feel like a downhill binding while skiing (very damp and tight but enough elasticity to keep it from feeling rigid). All of the functionality of both bindings worked well (ski-to climb transitions, heel risers, brakes, stepping in) though the heel risers on the Vipec don’t inspire confidence. I haven’t heard of anyone breaking the Vipec risers but stomping a fresh skin track on plastic risers makes me question them. Also, the Kingpins have a wider mounting pattern and wider grip on the heel of your ski boot which together really made for a torsionally strong connection between the boot and the ski. The Vipecs felt a little softer torsionally.

    I tried this bindings on different skis at took them on a few hundred feet of touring and a few lift accessed runs in heavy fresh snow (at a backcountry demo day). If a person was touring for more than 3-4k per day I think the 200 gram weight difference per ski would add up and the Vipec would be a clear winner. If a person wanted a binding that felt really good while skiing downhill but that also could tour well, it’s hard to beat the Kingpin.

    The other binding that should be on this list for comparison is the Dynafit Radical 2. It splits the difference on weight and has a rotating toe piece that purportedly adds elastic travel and keeps the binding from pre-releasing. They look cool but I haven’t heard much about how they ski.

    Hope that helps! Can’t wait to read some real reviews! (mine was pretty much initial impressions only)

  • February 5, 2016 at 7:30 pm
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    Thanks for your feedback Dylan!

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