The Ion 12 is a well-designed binding that, while prone to icing, is sleek, durable, and easy to use for skiers of all levels.
- Where to buy: Amazon, EVO
- Best for: These bindings are for touring skiers or people who spend their time off-piste. Also great for those who don’t like to spend time fussing with their gear.
- Pros: Extremely user-friendly. Some of the best tech toe design on the market. Transitioning is simple, and the brake lock is reliable. Cool modern features inside an attractive package.
- Cons: Heel lifters are too easy to flip back over. Ice can build up in the brakes.
- Alternatives: Fristich Vipec Evo 12, Marker Kingpin 13, Backland Tour
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 many hours researching these bindings, taking an in-depth look at their features, and discussing their long-term performance with skiers who used them.
The Ion 12 is a solid binding with a sleek, modern design. It’s easy to operate and can be used by just about anyone. Though it doesn’t succeed in every category, ice build-up does happen, and they aren’t the lightest model around. It’s good for those who need to ski far off-piste or anywhere out of bounds. The downhill performance could be a bit better, but the user-friendly design and strong materials more than make up for it.
The Ion 12 is not the best downhill binding on the market, but it does a pretty solid job when you’re cruising. That makes it fine for both soft and hard conditions. It also excels on firmer snow at higher speeds. That’s one of the reasons it works so well for those who like to go fast in a range of different environments.
A big part of that enhanced performance comes from the built-in forward pressure. This special trait creates extra elasticity and gives you much better performance when zipping downhill. Another bonus, and something I particularly enjoy, is that it also leads to better release. That makes it a much safer item overall, which is something all skiers can appreciate.
If there’s one area where the Ion 12 truly shines, it’s in its usability. This binding is incredibly user-friendly, as evident by the simple transitions. All you have to do to move into tour mode is depress the brake and spin the heel piece in either direction. I also appreciated that the brake stays deployed during the transition process until you manually step on it with your boot. That actively prevents your skis from sliding away.
The only downside to this process is that the brakes can sometimes engage while you’re skinning. That isn’t something that will come up a lot, and it is a bit of a minor complaint, but it’s something to know about before making your purchase. Thankfully, resetting is quite simple.
An Easy to Use Design
Going off the above section, the Ion 12 is extremely intuitive at every step of its construction. It’s much easier to get into than similar bindings. In fact, it’s one of the quickest models to get into when you find yourself in deep, difficult conditions. You don’t need to do a lot to operate these bindings, which is simply fantastic. All you need to do is bring your toe to the stops and press down. The heel risers are easy to engage, as well.
Another bonus of the design is that it’s easy to get rid of ice around the toe piece. There are also large openings on the sides that make it simple to take out any unwanted snow build up. Releasing the toe also quickly gets rid of an extra snow that may have fallen or gotten stuck in the setup during your run. That system truly makes your life easier.
Tough in Any Environment
Besides its usability, the most impressive of the Ion 12’s features is durability. This is one tough binding, and that’s great for two reasons. First, it means you don’t need to worry about pushing it too hard. It works in every condition you can imagine, and will do so for many seasons. Second, it’s a solid purchase. I never like shelling out hundreds of dollars on an item that will only last me one year. This binding is tough enough for every skier, no matter where they ride.
Price and Value
When it comes to price, the Ion 12 slots right in with similar tech bindings on the market. That’s to say, it’s not terribly expensive, but not terribly cheap either. You can pay more for a bit better functionality, or you can find models for much less without a lot of the features. If you’re looking for a solid backcountry binding, the Ion 12 gives you pretty good value. It’s also sturdy, which I find to be a big plus when breaking down long-term value.
What I Like
For me, durability is where the Ion truly shines. When you purchase an item for the slopes, it needs to be able to take a beating. This binding can slot into any setup and go into any mountain condition. That creates a lot of extra versatility I greatly appreciate. You’re also getting a solid investment for your money, which is important too. This isn’t the toughest binding out there, but you’re not going to need to replace it anytime soon.
I am also a huge fan of the user-friendly design. There are many bindings that, while functional, bog you down with too many features or convoluted parts. The Ion 12 keeps things sleek and simple. It’s easy to get into, clean, and operate. There’s no part of the package that falls behind, and that creates something all skiers (including myself) will be able to appreciate.
What I Dislike
I don’t have many complaints about the Ion 12, but I do wish the downhill performance was a bit better. The touring features work nicely, especially considering how easy the bindings are to clean, but the downhill can’t quite match up to many other newer bindings on the market. You aren’t going to see a huge drop-off, but I would suggest getting something more geared towards that end if that’s your number one concern.
As great as the Ion 12 Bindings are at what they do, there are plenty of solid alternatives on the market if you know where to look. These are reliable models with a list of useful features.
- Fristich Vipec Evo 12 – If a reliable backcountry option is what you’re after, the Vipec Evo 12 is a great consideration. This model has a lot of sturdiness, similar to the Ion 12, and comes in at a similar price point. It also gets high marks for its useful heel-locking lever that provides extra security.
- Marker Kingpin 13 – The Kingpin 13 comes from a trusted brand and has some of the best downhill energy transition money can buy. That alone makes it a good pick for skiers who like to go fast. While it is a bit on the heavy side, that’s balanced out by the reliable construction and impressive all-around performance.
- Backland Tour – The Tour is an incredibly useful binding aimed at riders who want a lighter option they can take out to different slopes. Though this option isn’t best for hard-charging or aggressive skiers, they have excellent performance as well as a wide range of features that enhance their general versatility.
How much do these bindings weigh?
These come in at 3.2 pounds for the pair.
Is the Ion 12 durable?
This binding is incredibly tough and will have no problem holding up to any remote location. It should serve you well on and off-piste.
How easy are these bindings to use?
The Ion 12 is one of the simplest and most intuitive bindings on the market. It’s easy to get into, a snap to clean, and can be operated with just a few simple steps.
Few bindings have a well-rounded design that can match up with the Ion 12. G3 outfitted the items with some great features that make them easy to operate and get into. The touring performance is top-of-the-line and the design is both slick and modern. That gives you the ability to take it out on short touring trips as well as long mountaineering missions, depending on what you like to do.
The Ion 12 is also quite tough. That enhanced durability improves its longevity and makes it a solid pick for skiers who don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend. It’s incredibly easy to clean as well. The downhill performance could definitely be better, but that’s one small mark in what is a truly excellent item.