Expert Review: Salomon S/lab Shift MNC Ski Bindings

This review is my honest opinion of the bindings, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2018.

Top down view of someones ski setup on top of a very icy, rocky face.

Late season couloir in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado. All photos courtesy of Will Shaw

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the bindings, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2018.

My take

The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 is a binding for hard-charging backcountry freeride skiers and anyone who needs one setup to perform well for resort and backcountry skiing. I had a chance to demo the Shift early and have put it on a couple of my personal skis, and it turned out not to be the binding for me.

About the gear

  • Model: 2019 Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13

About me

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 180 lbs
  • Preferred DIN range: 11
  • Experience: 18 years of skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: Demoed Fall 2017, purchased Fall 2018
  • Days tested: 10 days
  • Boots: Scarpa Maestrale
  • Boot Size: 28.5
  • Skis: Salomon QST 106
  • Where I’ve used it: Backcountry skiing around the Colorado Front Range and Resort Skiing at Arapahoe Basin
  • Terrain: Powder, Trees, Groomers, Steeps, Couloirs

How they perform

Durability
4/5
Power Transfer
4/5
Release Reliability
2/5
Uphill Performance
2/5
Versatility
5/5

What I was looking for

I had the opportunity to demo the Shift for the 2017/18 season on the Salomon QST 106 for review. The next season I mounted Shifts on the Blizzard Cochise 108 and Blizzard Spur. I mostly ski in the backcountry, but I ski a couple days a season at Arapaho Basin. I wanted a heavy setup or two to save the wear on my lightweight gear, but I just couldn’t own a ski without a touring binding.

Why I chose this gear

I bought the Shift to use primarily as an alpine binding, but I wanted to make sure I could tour on all of my skis. I didn’t want a frame binding like the Marker Duke or Baron because they don’t tour well and create a dead spot in the ski, and bindings like the Marker Kingpin don’t really solve any of the problems that tech bindings present at the resort.

When I bought the Shift, nothing else was quite like it on the market. Today, I would strongly consider the Marker Duke PT. The Duke PT is a little heavier, but I like that the pin toe for touring is more like a standard tech binding. Like the Shift, there is no way to transition from skinning to skiing without taking the ski off, so that would probably still be a deal breaker for me.

Top down view of the Salomon QST 106 skis mounted with Atomic Shift Bindings.

Testing the shift and an updated QST 106

What I love about it

  • Downhill Performance: Other than some pre-releases, the Shift MNC 13 skis well. It feels like an alpine binding, transfers power well, and helps dampen vibrations.
  • Weight: The Shift weighs 885g per binding, so it is not a lightweight touring binding. But, compared to more comparable options like the Marker Kingpin at 758g and the Duke PT 12 at 1,180g, it is relatively lightweight for what it is.
  • Power Transfer: Power transfer from the heel is a big improvement that the Shift makes over most tech bindings. Besides the Fritschi Vipec and Tecton, most pin tech bindings control lateral release at the heel, which is where the force to turn the ski is applied. Moving the lateral release to the toe, like an alpine binding, helps get rid of the feeling of a squishy tech binding heel.
  • Durability: The Salomon Shift has held up well to the abusive skiing I put it through at the resort. At first, I was concerned with the number of moving parts on the binding, but after using it, everything feels well-built, and it keeps moving parts to a minimum. Working in a shop, I’ve seen a pair come back broken, but I’ve seen fewer issues with the Shift than other beefy bindings.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Release Reliability: I have pre-released from the Shift more than any tech binding I’ve ever used. Skiing steeper terrain in them is a little unnerving, and I prefer using a tech binding that I know I can’t come out of. I eventually maxed out the release adjustment at 13, which didn’t come out, but that’s tighter than I usually like in an alpine binding.
  • Uphill Performance: I don’t mind touring on the Shift as much as I thought I would, but I can’t give the uphill performance a good review since there’s no way to transition without taking the ski off. With some practice, it’s pretty quick to transition the binding from downhill to uphill mode and back, but I can’t stand taking my skis off at the top of the skin track.
  • Any workarounds: I worked out how to step out of one ski at a time, leave it on the ground, and transition the binding from uphill to downhill with the handle of a ski pole. Then I could step back in and rip skins, but it was still a slow process, and it always felt finicky.

Favorite moment with this gear

I had a great day skiing powder in the Steep Gullies at Arapahoe Basin with the Shift. The return to the lift involves a short hike that’s faster with climbing skins. Since I was skiing with family from out of town, it was nice to sneak away for a couple of laps at a time and know I could make good time on the return.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 is priced competitively and is a great value for the right skier. At $599.99, it’s the same price as its closest competitor, the Marker Duke PT 12. It costs $100 less than the Marker Kingpin 13 and is the same price as the Dynafit ST Rotaton 12. There are less expensive touring bindings on the market, but it’s important to compare the price to comparable bindings.

The biggest value I see in the Shift is for the person who wants one ski setup to use for about half resort skiing and touring. Putting the Shift on the right pair of skis could save the cost of a second setup. As a bonus, it does not use the pins in downhill mode, so it can be adjusted to work with standard alpine boots for resort days and save the wear on more expensive touring boots.

Final verdict

The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 is a great binding for the right skier, but that skier is not me. Someone charging hard in the backcountry and dropping big cliffs could really benefit from a binding like the Shift. Someone who needs one setup for resort and backcountry skiing could also use the Shift. But, avid backcountry skiers who like to move fast and can have a dedicated backcountry ski should opt for a more uphill-oriented binding.

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Salomon S/lab Shift MNC Ski Bindings
Ski Expert Will Shaw
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Will Shaw
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Growing up in Oklahoma, I was fortunate to make regular ski trips to the mountains for most of my life. For the last 8 years I have been living in Colorado and exclusively backcountry skiing along the front range. I love waking up early to ger a few laps in by headlamp before work, but my passion is...

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