Fritschi Tecton 12 Review

The Tecton 12 is a strong binding for hard-charging, off-piste skiers who need durability and stellar performance in shifting conditions.

Quick Summary

  • Where to buy: REI, Amazon, EVO
  • Best for: Skiers who ski off-piste, especially those who are new to the backcountry. Also good for those who value extra downhill performance.
  • Pros: Great overall performance. Versatile. This binding is easy to use and quite intuitive once you get used to its quirks. Durable and long-lasting as well.
  • Cons: Has a bit more weight than most other tech bindings. Plastic used in construction. A bit bulky in a way that limits motion.
  • Alternatives: Atomic Backland Tour, Marker Alpinist 12, G3 Zed 12

Why Trust Me

I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time researching these bindings by looking at their traits and characteristics in many different mountain conditions.

Detailed Review

The Tecton 12, while a bit larger than some would like, is a solid binding for hard-charging backcountry skiers. It does a wonderful job off-piste, can handle a lot of use, and can crash through all types of snow with no issues. Not everyone will be able to make use of its specialized features, and it lacks a little when it comes to uphill trekking, but those that can will love the model’s high-level performance and incredibly robust construction.

Touring Performance

The Tecton’s touring performance has both pros and cons. First, the tech style toe is a large bonus because it means you get no pivoting binding weight. That makes it compare favorably to frame style bindings. However, that same high performance doesn’t necessarily match up next to other full style bindings. That’s because of its extra weight, as well as the fact that it can ice up and doesn’t come with a great range of motion.

There are a lot of different parts on these bindings, which means they collect much more ice and snow than I would like. Though there are many upsides to that design, including the great toe piece and strong release, it also limits touring performance. The toe movement could be much better, as well.

Downhill Performance

While the uphill performance doesn’t quite hit all the marks, the Tecton 12 is fantastic when going downhill. This is its best trait, which largely comes from the alpine-style heel piece. Unlike full tech bindings, which don’t have the best release or energy transfer, the Tecton 12 creates a nice smooth ride. It directs from the sole directly into the ski for superior energy transfer.

The model also comes with excellent release elasticity. That metric furthers the great downhill performance and creates solid, multi-directional release. That makes it easier to ride and also cuts down on injury risk. Such traits are particularly useful for aggressive skiers because it enables them to push hard without any accidental releases.

Ease of Use

When looking at a binding, I also like to take stock of its general design. No matter how advanced or modern a model is, characteristics don’t matter if you can’t use them. When it comes to the Tecton 12, things line up well. The toe pieces are quite easy to get into, thanks to the special stops and pins that help guide/lock your foot into place. The toe lock lever is also easy to use, as are the heel elevators and lock mode.

Continuing with that, I like that you can easily switch from ski to tour mode without needing to take your skis off. Being able to adapt to your run on the fly goes a long way, as does being able to operate smoothly when you want to go into tour mode without putting skins on. While this isn’t the most impressive transition I’ve ever seen, especially when it comes to getting the heel piece to transition, it’s really easy to get the hang of for any skier at any level.

Durability and Weight

The Tecton doesn’t get the highest marks for its weight. It’s actually much heavier than many lightweight options on the market, and that can be a bit of an issue for riders who value having a less intrusive setup. Even so, additional ounces tend to come with more durability. That’s definitely the case here.

This binding is incredibly sturdy, which is one of the best things about it. Not only does it have what it takes to tackle the elements, it can take quite a bit of hard use without any issues. I always enjoy items I can push, and that’s one area where this shines. The plastic used in the construction may seem a bit iffy, but these will hold up over an extended period of time with no issues.

Price and Value

The Tecton is an interesting binding from a value perspective. While it isn’t cheap, its solid build and top-level construction mean you’re going to get to use it for many seasons without any real wear and tear. It’s also specific, which means only certain skiers will be able to get use out of it. However, if you need the expert downhill performance in the backcountry, it’s worth the cost.

What I Like

As mentioned, I love easy to use bindings. That’s why my favorite part of the Tecton 12 is how simple you can get into it. The bindings come with intuitive toe pieces, as well as special stops that help guide your foot. Though not everyone is going to get the system right away, once you do, you’ll be able to slide right in without any worry. I also love the lock mode and that you can easily shift the heel elevators with your pole.

I’m also a big fan of this binding’s downhill performance. The Tecton 12 is made to charge on the slopes, and it delivers on that promise in a big way. The fantastic multi-directional release and elasticity both mean you can push as hard as you want and know you won’t put yourself at risk. I want to specially mention the great power transfer and superior, long-lasting construction too.

What I Dislike

For me, the biggest knock against the Tecton 12 is its weight. Though that does have certain advantages when it comes to toughness, lugging around extra weight matters. That’s especially true for riders going off into the backcountry. The plastic does alleviate some of that, but it doesn’t go far enough, in my opinion.

Going off that, I also think the design is a bit bulky when it comes to range of motion. You aren’t going to get a lot of pivoting with these bindings. That can be an issue when moving uphill. Though the toe piece is nice, the many different moving parts built into the design collect snow and can lead to ice build-up when pushing through tough conditions. I find that to be quite annoying.

The Alternatives

If you’re in the market for a touring binding that differs from what the Tecton 12 has to offer, these other models will fill a similar niche at a similar price point:

  • Atomic Backland Tour – The Backland Tour from Atomic is a lightweight binding with a slew of features that help it work for most skiers. While this isn’t made for those true hard-chargers, the solid build will hold up over an extended period of time. It’s backed by a great brand and looks awesome as well.
  • Marker Alpinist 12 – The Alpinist 12 is a modern binding that, like the Tecton 12, excels through its amazing downhill performance. The lightweight build is nice, as is the one-two punch of the PinTech toe system and rotate pivot step-in heel . While the heel lifters are a bit basic, there are plenty of great features in this device.
  • G3 Zed 12 – Another lightweight option with a surprising amount of durability, the Zed 12 from G3 is a binding that’s simple and reliable at the same time. Despite the slimmed-down weight, you get quite a lot of features. There are no included brakes, and it’s heavy, but the binding has some of the best functionality around.

FAQs

How much elasticity does this binding come with?

The Tecton 12 has 9mm of elasticity to help you on the slopes.

Who can operate this binding?

The easy switch toe and intuitive step-in function help make the Tecton 12 usable for all skiers.

How much does the Tecton 12 weigh?

Right around three pounds.

Final Verdict

Though not everyone will be enamored with what the Tecton 12 offers, those that put a lot of stock in downhill performance will love this binding. You get a tech style toe with an alpine-heel.

That combination gives you quite a bit of functionality, especially when backed by such a solid construction. The weight may be an issue for some, as will the lack of a strong touring performance, but if you’re in the market for a sturdy blend of features this is one of the best ways to go.

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