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The Ultimate Ski Binding: Salomon Shift Review

Bottom line from our review in 2018: “The Salomon Shift binding does what it set out to do. It’s a quiver-killer in its own right, the perfect binding for someone who wants to tour and ski in-bounds on one setup without compromising nearly as much as they have to currently. It’s also a legit option for backcountry enthusiasts, especially the ones who prioritize skiing down. The extra weight seems entirely worth the bomber downhill performance. It’s an impressive piece of engineering, and as someone who sells people skis, I’m certain it will be the perfect option for many skiers.

The Salomon Shift Binding…Four Years Later

The release of the Salomon Shift binding back in the 2018-2019 season sent the ski industry for a little ride. The Shift introduced easy uphill travel, with a much lighter weight, all in a binding that meets all the safety and performance standards of a traditional downhill binding. Compared to traditional tech bindings, the Shift provides alpine binding power transfer, suspension, and reliable release. It became one of the first true 50/50 bindings out there. Back in 2018, we were stoked. Everyone was stoked. Initial impressions were very high, and the Shift exploded in popularity. 

Our original, retro, test kit back in 2018. PHOTO: Matt McDonald

Since then, folks found some issues with the Shift binding. If you scour online forums and YouTube comments, you might find some complaints (and typical with the internet, some angry ones) regarding pre-release, brakes and the toe lever dropping while touring, and things generally not working the way they expect. This is inevitable with anything that becomes mega popular with thousands of skiers using this every day, but maybe warrants another review.

So, now that we have several other, true 50/50 style bindings out there (like the Marker Duke PT and the growing popularity of the CAST system), is the Shift all it’s really cracked up to be? What are its pros and cons? Who’s it for? Is it the revolutionary binding we hyped it up to be?

Field Notes

I am a relatively long term Shift owner. I purchased my Shift 13 MNC binding in the 2019-2020 season, one year after its initial release. I’ve gotten, roughly, 150 days on those bindings, and maybe around 60-70 of those days were touring days. I’ve skied them through all conditions possible: my deepest pow days, the iciest bumps, variable wind buff in the backcountry, and spring slush.

For reference, I’m 5’8”, 130lbs, and have been dubbed by others as an “aggressive” skier. I’m generally looking for steep bump lines, trees, and little things to jump off of (but certainly not 10+ footer drops). In the backcountry, I’m usually low angle powder hunting and getting fitness laps in. We’ll get more into why that matters later, but I think knowing that I run on the generally light side of things and where I like to ski will put my anecdotal experience in context. 

A young Alex, on one of her first tours. My former 50/50 setup, an Armada Tracer 98 with Armada Shifts. Because matching, right?

For the Gram Counters:

First, some numbers for comparison. Made of carbon-infused plastic, aluminum, and steel, the Shift 13 comes in at about 1780 grams per pair. In the world of alpine touring bindings, it weighs about 200 grams more than the Marker Kingpin 13, 500 grams more than a Dynafit Rotation 12 and G3 Ion, and a whopping 1100 grams more than the ultra light ATK Raider 12. As for other hybrid or frame bindings, the Shift 13 weighs 700 grams less than the Marker Baron EPF, and 1200 less than the Salomon Guardian. 

It’s trickier to compare the Salomon Shift binding weight to the Duke PT and CAST system (an aftermarket modification of the Look Pivot 15/18). Both bindings allow you to tour without the toe pieces actually attached to the bindings while climbing. When in walk mode (and using the tech toe), the CAST system only weighs about 100 grams more than the Shift. The Duke PT 12 actually weighs slightly less, at 1700 grams for the pair. 

Despite how light they seem, you do still have to carry those downhill toe pieces some way. We estimate those Pivot toe pieces combined weigh about 900 grams (using a Pivot 15 here) and Marker says the toe pieces on the Duke PT add 600 grams total. Even though they’ll be in your backpack and not on your feet, I think it’s worth mentioning. For long tours, a whole one to two pounds is something worth considering.


The Shift binding was originally released to fill the gap between bulky frame bindings and uphill oriented tech bindings. It easily accomplishes this. In walk mode, the Shift uses tech toe pins, similar to traditional tech bindings, for the tech fittings in your boots. This makes the climbing smooth and feels just as slick as other tech bindings I’ve toured with.

Notably, there is just one heel riser. Most frame bindings just have one riser (as well as the Duke PT), but most pure tech bindings will have at least two heel risers. The Shift has a particularly easy to maneuver heel riser, with little notches on either side you can use a pole basket to easily move up and down. I find this one simpler and easier to use than the Duke PT. 

The Salomon Shift binding heel riser in action (in very flat terrain). PHOTO: Jonathan Nethercutt

After a few seasons of touring under my belt and getting on other tech bindings, I can confidently say having multiple heel risers is very nice, but not essential. The Shift’s climbing aid is ten degrees, which is right in between most bindings two aids. The idea is to split the difference between two, and I think that’s generally true. I usually never feel as though I need that steeper aid. It’s also simpler to use, compared to messing around with two risers that are flipping back and forth. If you prioritize that uphill performance so much that a single riser is an issue, it may be worth looking at a different touring binding all together. 

Obviously, when heading out to some hike-to-terrain at a resort, light gear is nice to have. I deeply appreciate the Shift’s weight in hike-to-terrain. When skiing inbounds, sometimes it can be hard to hype yourself up to go hike when you could easily ski down to a lift instead. I don’t dread throwing my skis over my shoulder to go for a quick hike.

A note on some common issues

One common complaint with older versions of the Salomon Shift is the toe lever in walk mode collapsing from its locked walk mode position. Just skinning along shouldn’t be an issue if this happens, but if you are in some steeper terrain, I understand the concern. You don’t want to be skinning in a high consequence spot, then suddenly have the toe lever release.

Salomon picked up on this and quickly offered a solution: a DIN window with bumpers. Instead of the flat window on the toe piece where you can check your DIN settings, this window has little “bumpers” on them to prevent that toe piece from collapsing. It makes the toe lever more tricky to pull into that locked position, but once it’s there, you can trust it. Shop employees and customers have had great luck with solving that problem. All new Shifts have this update, so if you’re in the market now, nothing to worry about.

The Shift bumpers in action, holding the toe lever in place.

The other relevant issue to bring up here is the classic “brakes collapsing” while touring. Essentially, if you clack your skis together while touring, sometimes this can cause the brakes to fall down. This issue only arises when you actually bonk your skis together (especially underfoot near the heel piece) and if there’s some snow buildup. While it definitely can happen from time to time, it’s not enough of an issue to bother me. It’s also a pretty simple fix: just stomp your heel down and lock the brakes back in place for walk mode. Easy.


With a name like the Shift, you’d expect transitions to be smooth and easy. I’ll admit, it takes some practice. Once you have a handle on them though, they are pretty intuitive. Thinking about other comparable bindings (requiring you to manually add a piece of the binding back together), I think I massively prefer the Shift’s transition steps.

My first day out on the Shift, I won’t lie, I felt pretty overwhelmed. I had a hard time pulling the toe lever into the locked walk mode (for me, this has actually loosened up over time, and locks in place easily now), and also struggled with aligning the toe lug of my boot with the pins of the binding. This just took some practice though, and by my third time out I was a pro. Transitioning the brakes to their uphill mode is pretty straightforward. You can either press the brake pad into place with your hand, or step on it.

Switching to ski mode is easier– just reverse all the steps! I’ve never had an issue with getting any of the pieces actually locked into place. I also like the very satisfying “snap” all the pieces make once they lock into ski mode. Compared to some tech bindings, you do actually have to step out of the binding to fully transition.

Uphill oriented folks may find the transitions a bit clunky, but no clunkier than comparable hybrid bindings. I’d venture to say the Shift has the smoothest transitions of the comparable 50/50 bindings.


The most important piece, right? I’ll start with my personal experience. I love how the Shifts ski. I can’t feel a difference between the Shifts and a conventional alpine binding. In fact, I actually prefer them to many alpine bindings. I find they provide better suspension and have a smoother ride— to be expected with a binding that has a whopping 47mm of elastic travel in the toe. I like how light it feels on my feet and feels easy to swing around in the air. If you can ski a binding and not notice it, that’s a good sign.

Frame bindings have a thick base that can feel high off of the ski and affect the flex of the ski beneath you. Tech bindings feel a bit rigid and tend to have a rougher ride. The Shift solves both theses problems and handles all different snow conditions with ease. I’ve skied rough, variable conditions in the backcountry, deep powder in and out of bounds, ripped icy bumps and scraped off groomers all without an issue with these bindings. As I explore the world of mini drops and jumps, I completely trust these bindings to hold me in. 

Like all bindings and people, the Shifts are happiest skiing soft snow. SKIER: John Paul PHOTO: Matt McDonald

A note on prereleases

That being said, my awesome experience is not the only one. There are certainly other people (including folks at the shop), who have had issues with pre-releases. A pre-release is simply popping out of the binding, when you shouldn’t. Infamously known as “just skiing along”. I find the people who have had issues to be some of the more aggressive skiers at the shop, who are significantly larger than me, either railing through rough terrain, or getting much larger air (maybe even spinning in the air) than most.

Despite my generally positive review of the Shift, I had my own pre-release once or twice. I attribute it more to a bad adjustment (on my part), than a “bad” binding. The Shift requires a pretty unique and precise AFD adjustment, which is more involved (and has a different position) than your standard alpine binding. I definitely recommend making sure your bindings are adjusted by a trusty shop that has experience with Shifts.

This doesn’t mean all people with these issues are riding on bad adjustments. Just keep in mind, you never know who that random person commenting on a YouTube video or forum is.

Even the best take spills, especially on powder days. It’s important to trust your gear to hold you in when you need it to.


If you know you will be hucking backflips, rough on your gear, run on the generally larger side of things, and/or demand a lot on your bindings, it may be worth looking into a different binding (like the Duke PT). It’s no secret: bindings with more metal and beefier springs are going to hold up to more aggressive skiing/larger skiers better. Binding manufactures make similar bindings in different DIN options for this very reason (for example, the Marker Jester/Griffon/Squire family). If you prioritize Freeride World Tour level skiing on the way down, you may have to compromise and lug some extra grams.

I think something that is important to note, is that while this binding is a true 50/50 binding that allows you to ski downhill with reliable safety retention, it is still a very lightweight piece of gear with lots of moving parts. It may not function exactly like your Salomon Warden or Marker Griffon, because they are inherently different bindings made for different uses.

Bottom Line

After all that, it appears not much has changed! The Salomon Shift binding continues to be a killer binding that can be thoroughly enjoyed by skiers, of many different types, everywhere. It’s an ideal binding for someone who is looking for a reliable downhill set up that you can easily tour with. I also think it’s a great binding to get into the backcountry with, because it provides that familiar feeling on the downhill and is fairly straightforward to use. The Shift also works well for people who are looking for a downhill oriented touring binding, but are still weight conscious and value easy uphill travel.

Ultimately, the Shift solves a lot of problems for a lot of skiers. By combining what’s efficient for uphill travel with a sturdy downhill ride, the Shift gives loads of skiers greater versatility out of their gear. Being able to have a ski set up that has multiple uses gives you more opportunities to do what you want, when you want.

Curious about other AT bindings? See our advice on how to choose a touring binding.


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