Expert Review: Salomon S/lab Shift MNC Ski BindingsPublished on 07/13/2022 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the bindings which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.
All photos courtesy of Jack Wise
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the bindings which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.
When the Salomon S/lab Shift MNC binding came out in 2018, it was hyped as the ultimate pairing of touring functionality and downhill performance. Going into the fourth year of production, the Shift binding has been slightly tweaked to overcome some touring mode issues that were reported in the initial release.
Splitting my time between travel, the resort, and the backcountry, the Shift binding is the most versatile option to cover all my bases and find that unicorn setup, known as the mythical “one ski quiver.”
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Salomon S/lab Shift MNC
- Height: 6’
- Weight: 160lb
- Preferred DIN range: 11
- Experience: 30 years
- When I bought these: January 2022
- Days tested: 50
- Boots Roxa R3 130 TI and Dalbello Krypton Pro
- Boot Size: 27
- Skis: Black Crows Corvus and Panda Planks
- Where I’ve used it: Northern Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming
- Terrain: In-bounds, backcountry, glades, trees, chutes, cliffs, park, groomed runs.
How they perform
What I was looking for
As a skier who prefers to go fast and jump off things, I wanted a binding that would allow me to ski in the backcountry like I do in the resort, and do some short hikes up some of the areas just outside the ski boundaries. I was looking for that single ski setup that I could grab without any question of what the conditions would be or where I’d be going.
Why I chose this gear
When the Shift binding came out, the options for a hybrid binding were limited. Frame bindings were commonplace but those don’t allow for the ski to flex fully and they wreak havoc on hip flexors when touring. Since I wanted a truly hybrid binding, the Shift was the only real option.
After the Shift was released, other binding manufacturers scrambled to release a competing product. Marker released the Duke PT which fills the same niche, however, I was turned off by the removable toe piece on the Duke which I could see myself losing in the deep snow when switching to and from tour and ski modes.
What I love about it
- Release Reliability: The S/lab Shift MNC binding is designed to function as a downhill binding in every sense when it is in ski mode. The adjustable sliding AFD plate ensures release reliability and accommodates any ski boot sole except a 75mm telemark boot.
- Downhill Performance: The S/lab Shift MNC binding feels just like a Salomon STH binding when I ski. It’s easy to get into and out of, has excellent elastic travel, and sits low with a wide enough mounting interface to transfer energy to ski edges exactly like a regular alpine binding.
- Durability: Built with forged carbon, the S/lab Shift MNC is stronger than its plastic appearance suggests. The wings of the toe piece and other integral parts are made with this material that’s found on Ferraris. It doesn’t bend or crack. I would need several hacksaw blades to saw through a half-inch of that material. It’s light, strong, and doesn’t rust or grab snow like a binding made out of metal can. The only issue I found regarding durability is the adjustment screw on the AFD plate which strips easily if over-tightened, and that will make the binding not release correctly or hold the boot properly.
- Power Transfer: Driving a big ski hard through variable terrain is no issue for the S/lab Shift MNC binding. The binding has a wide connection to the ski which helps with wide skis. The large toe provides an excellent connection to the boot, and the heel piece offers a positive lock that lets me know I’m in the binding.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Uphill Performance: One thing I’ve heard about the S/lab Shift MNC binding is that I have to remove the boot from the ski in order to switch between ski and tour modes. For people who value the quick transition between uphill and down, this might be too much trouble. The first version of the Shift binding had some troubles with the lock on the toe during tour mode, but this was resolved with a low-tech addition of a little bump that keeps the lever on the toe from falling back down and allowing the boot to twist out of the pins. The S/lab Shift MNC is more capable of downhill power than uphill efficiency, mostly due to those factors, and the overall weight.
- Weight: As mentioned, the weight of the Shift binding is not very touring-friendly. When I used them on a backcountry ski trip, I was lagging behind my friends considerably. I’m a slow hiker, but the weight of the Shift bindings definitely added to my exhaustion on the tour.
- Mounting: Because of the S/lab Shift MNC’s versatility and unique design, the binding is a bit more nuanced to use and mount. Having a ski tech who’s familiar with the binding and knows how to adjust the temperamental AFD height without stripping the screw and ensuring a tight fit.
Favorite moment with this gear
I usually travel to ski a fair bit in the season. When I’m in the Western US, I typically I go to a few different resorts or states in the span of one trip. With minimal space for skis since the dogs come along, I usually only want to bring one setup.
Since 2018, the single ski setup I take with me to travel is a big mountain ski mounted with Shift bindings. I know that I’ll feel solid on the resort trails and periphery terrain, and in the event that we want to access some backcountry terrain, I know I’m prepared for that as well.
At Powder Mountain, James Peak is an easy tour from the lower mountain. The snowcat can run me up Lightning Ridge for $25, but that’s only halfway. And James Peak isn’t always open to hike when the ridge is open. The first day that James Peak opened last season, I had just hopped off the cat when they popped the sign to open the hike. As luck would have it, I was on my hybrid touring setup. I hadn’t planned to do any walking, but since I had my vest with my avalanche gear and climbing skins, it was an easy pivot to go for a quick tour up James instead of skiing the ridge.
While the rest of the crowd was post-holing through the deep snow, I made longer strides and stayed on top of the snow. Although I’m a slow hiker, I still got to the top ahead of most everyone else and was less winded. When I pulled the skins off and switched to ski mode, I dropped into bottomless powder and didn’t cross a single track.
Value for the money vs. other options
The S/lab Shift MNC binding is one of the most expensive bindings out there, but that’s because Salomon spent years developing it and creating a binding that could ski hard and go uphill. It was built for advanced and expert skiers who demand the most from their equipment. As with any technology that requires research and development along with composite materials and safety standards, that’s going to be reflected in the cost.
For those who want a single ski setup that can hold up to seasons of heavy resort use and an occasional tour, the S/lab Shift MNC binding is about as good as it gets. However, given its weight, along with having to remove the boot to switch modes, I don’t see the binding being ideal unless it’s for touring less than one-third of the time, and really, I’d say 25% of my total ski time is as much as I’d want to spend touring in it.
Other tech bindings such as the Dynafit Rotation binding offer full DIN certification and are safe for resort use, but they weigh half as much.