Rossignol Axial3 Dual 120 WTR Ski Binding Review // Ski Reviews
Last season Rossignol rolled out their redesigned Axial3 binding system, a technological and cosmetic upgrade from the Axial2 system. In a world where we’re often obsessed with new ski innovations and designs, bindings are sometimes an afterthought. Chances are you’ve spent days, weeks, even months choosing your new skis, and maybe once you finally made the decision on what ski shape to go with, bindings were the least of your concern, so you just went with whatever the shop tech pointed to first. Not necessarily a bad way to choose a binding (if the shop tech knew their stuff), but we thought we’d take a closer look at the progressive Axial4 Dual 120 WTR binding design from Rossignol to help explain where and why it sets itself apart from competitors and arm you with some knowledge for your next binding purchase.
First let’s take a look at the binding functionality. The Axial3 boasts impressive, industry leading stats that really set it apart from other bindings. The redesigned binding has, what Rossignol claims to be, the best boot to binding interface on the market. This provides the industry’s highest coupling strength, resulting in precision performance. When you make a turn on skis your boot is actually moving ever so slightly within the binding in a lateral, twisting motion. Having the best coupling strength on the market means there’s much less wasted movement than competitor’s bindings. This means quicker, more precise power transfer and ultimately more responsive skis. Want to maximize performance in your brand new skis? Consider adding an Axial3 for your binding.
The Axial3 has been designed with all mountain and freeride skiing in mind. This is evident when you look at where the binding positions the skier. The Axial3 features a relatively low overall height of 20mm. This keeps your center of gravity as low as possible, something that freeride skiers and anyone venturing off piste can really appreciate. If you’re throwing it on a carving ski, you might consider using a lift as well to increase leverage for powerful carving turns. Otherwise, if you’re using it on a playful all mountain, freeride, or powder ski, you’ll love the low center of gravity. What makes it even better as a freeride, all mountain binding is the reduced ramp angle resulting in a more upright, neutral stance. On a race set up or traditional carving ski the turn is initiated via the tip of the ski. On today’s rockered ski designs, however, tip initiation is much less important and having a neutral stance for lateral turn initiation becomes much more valuable, and ultimately much more fun.
We talked about the bindings industry leading coupling strength, but what about its release abilities? Again, the Axial3 posts industry leading stats resulting in a very safe, very consistent release. What’s perhaps most noticeable when taking a close look at the Axial3 is its 180 degree multidirectional toe function. This binding is the only binding on the market with vertical toe release, meaning you can release out of the toe in a full 180 degree range. The toe piece also features an industry leading 45mm of lateral elastic travel, helping to keep you in the binding as much as possible, while still retaining arguably the safest release on the market. The heel piece also boasts impressive stats, coming in at 27mm of vertical elasticity. With no other binding can you be so confident you’ll stay in when you should, but release when needed. Freeride skiers will also notice that their landings are slightly less impactful, as the Axial3’s impressive amounts of elastic travel also help to dampen and absorb shock and impact.
Rossignol has also shed quite a bit of weight off of the Axial2 platform, coming in at 1060 grams per binding. This means your setup will be lighter and your legs will stay fresher throughout a long day on the slopes. The binding has also been updated with a much wider footprint, giving you even more control over the widest powder skis on the market.
Perhaps the most innovative feature on the new Axial3 Dual, however, is its ability to work seamlessly with both traditional ISO Alpine soles and the new Walk to Ride (WTR) boot soles. If you look closely at the toe piece you’ll see a very small screw with an arrow pointing to either WTR or ALPINE. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out from there. One simple turn of the screw will either raise the AFD pad up to work with ISO Alpine soles, or alternatively will drop it down to allow for WTR soles. What makes this extremely impressive is that the release settings are 100% the same from Alpine to WTR meaning you’re not sacrificing anything in terms of performance, precision, or most importantly, safety. Got a touring boot with a WTR sole, but want to use it on your alpine skis? No problem, the Axial3 is the binding for you. Hate walking around the village on flat, ISO Alpine soles? Take a look at the plethora of WTR boots on the market right now! For the first time ever you can have significantly increased walking comfort while still retaining 100% of the performance of a traditional alpine ski boot.
If you have a chance this season, take a closer look at Rossignol’s Axial3 120 binding. It’s an impressive piece of equipment that was designed with the ultimate in precision and safety. For now, the Axial3 Dual WTR is available in a 3.5 to 12 DIN range. Because of the 12 DIN maximum and the binding’s impressively low weight, some heavier and more aggressive skiers may want to jump up to the FKS series or the Axial3 150 (non Dual WTR). Even if you run a relatively high DIN, however, don’t rule out the Axial3 120. If you’re a superhero on the snow, you might want to consider more binding, but for most of us mere humans the Axial2 120 Dual WTR is more than enough binding with unmatched precision and control.