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Helio 145 Binding
Black Diamond's new ultralight, high-performance Helio bindings are designed to keep you moving fast and free in the mountains, and the Helio 145 Binding is no exception. Weighing in at 10.2 ounces per pair, you might even forget you even have bindings on your sticks when you're crushing long, steep ascents. Three riser options allow for maximum efficiency, whether you have a long, flat approach ahead or you're setting a steep skinner, and when it comes time to click in your heel and choose your line, you'll find that these bindings are there for you through every turn. Three release value settings let you customize to your aggressiveness and weight, and a lateral and vertical heel spring keep the values consistent so you can focus on your line and not worry about whether or not your bindings will release.
- Ultralight binding for moving fast in the mountains
- Option of 6, 8, or 10 release values for customized performance
- Lateral and vertical heel spring for consistent, reliable release
- Heel tower can spin 180 degrees to access third riser
- Item #BLD00V5
- Q & A
Minimal Works for Me
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I came to this binding from the Black Vipec, which has lots of adjustments and is excellent in all regards but one, weight. By tech binding norms Vipec is average, but average is too heavy. So, I went to the ATK Trofeo, which is this binding's name in Europe.
It does not adjust for boot sole lengths. The release values are baked in and are ostensibly the same horizontally and vertically. If you want a different release value, you must get different heel pieces.
Heel heights for touring are slightly negative and slightly positive. The flat on ski position is actually a slightly negative heel position. I do not like a negative heel ever. So, one heel position for walking. That worried me. However, after quite a bit of use, even in very steep uptracks, I like it just fine. The reason is that modern, lightweight AT boots permit a very wide range of ankle flex. You don't actually need heel lifts when your foot can bend at the ankle. You don't use high heels hiking up steep trails.
The great advantage here is that the heel tower never needs to be rotated. For walking, simply flip the alu flap over the heel pins. For descending, flip the flap back. Less fiddling with your gear.
Entry into the toe piece is the easiest I know (it never fails), and the springs clamp the boot toe very impressively. The binding is also very pretty.
Do get the optional crampon hooks and crampons. On steep, hard or icy slopes you will be glad to have them. Eight grams for each hook, 77 g for a 97 mm crampon.
Follow the light...
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
If you've fully bought in to the "light is right" mindset and are looking for the tiniest piece of machined aluminum that will keep you clamped securely to your skis, you're looking in the right place. At 290g (10oz) per pair, these bindings are insanely light. Barely there light. How-is-this-possible light.
If you've never seen a race binding, you'll be blown away the first time you open the box and pick one of these up. Not just because of the weight - but the simple design as well. Compared to freeride-oriented tech bindings which are growing every heavier and more complicated every season, these are an exercise in understated minimalism. Just enough to get the job done - nothing more.
After a couple early season outings, I have found the on snow performance to be excellent. The toe piece is easy to step into and the locking lever engages smoothly and precisely - no doubt as to whether you're locked in or not. At the top of the hill, a quick flip of the heel riser allows you to click in to the heel piece for the descent. If need be, the heel piece can also be rotated so you have a true flat mode for long approaches - a rarity with race bindings.
On the downhill, they just work. After a few tentative turns, I opened up and skied as I would on any other tech binding and quickly gained confidence that these will hold up to some real skiing. Normal caveats apply - jumping off stuff not recommended, don't ski them at the resort, don't ski like a gorilla, etc. But, skiing as most folks realistically do in the backcountry - conservatively and mainly in soft snow - I have no doubt that these are trustworthy enough to take into serious no-fall terrain and remote locales. At 165lbs and based on my experience with the release functionality on most tech bindings, I went with the R10 release value.
These have zero adjust ability in the heel, so make sure you have them mounted based on the boot you will ski them with for the long haul, and by a trustworthy ski tech that has experience with bindings like this and access to the right jig. If you want some wiggle room for different boots, check out the Helio 180 - same binding with an adjustment plate on the heel.
They also don't have a crampon receptor, but they have the holes to mount one and you can buy it separately. I docked a star off the review purely for that reason, because I really feel like the crampon receptor should have been included.