Melanie Bernier is a G3 sponsored athlete for past couple of years and tests their equipment any time she is playing in the snow. She lives in Revelstoke, skis almost every day and is a member of the Canadian Ski Mountaineering National Team.
Melanie will be representing Canada at the 2010 Ski Mountaineering World Championships as well as at the famous Pierra Menta – a four day skimo stage race.
I saw Melanie using the new G3 Onyx bindings at our Canada Team ski mountaineering training camp I asked her to answer a couple of questions for you regarding the product.
Obviously, this is not a review of the G3 Onyx bindings since Melanie is sponsored by the manufacturer, however, I don’t have any real use experience with the bindings myself, therefore I thought why not ask a friend couple of questions.
I am sharing my view of the product (even though it’s limited due to no real experience with it) below the questions/answers section.
G3 Onyx bindings use the Tech technology that was developed by Dynafit about 15 years ago. Since the Dynafit’s patent expired few years ago some companies took on the challenge improving a system that revolutionized alpine touring bindings market. Here is how G3 made their mark.
» Click the following link to see a bigger photo of the G3 Onyx bindings.
» Click this link to see a PDF version of the operating manual for Onyx bindings.
G3 Onyx features as highlighted by the manufacturer:
- Easy to switch between tour and ski mode on-the-fly
- Easy step-in toe utilizing the Tech system
- Dependable and intuitive pole-actuated heel lifts
- Increased overall rigidity creating increased overall skiing performance
- Adjustable base plate mounting system applied to the toe and heel for quick adjustments, maintenance of boot center mounting and 33mm of adjustment to fit a wide range of boot sizes
- Ski brake and crampon compatible
- Complete disassembly and re-assembly possible
- Forged aerospace aluminum toe-jaws, chassis and heel-post
- Fibre reinforced binding mounting base plates
- 5 – 10 (My)/12(Mz)
- 1430g / 50oz with screws
What does Melanie have to say about the G3 Onyx?
Q: For how long have you been using the Onyx bindings? How many days have you toured or skied on them, backcountry and ski resort?
I received the bindings in April 2009. They were part of the “Beta Program” which consisted on giving the opportunity to G3 gear users to test the binding and give feedback after each day of skiing on them.
So the bindings version that I have been skiing on is slightly different than what is on the market right now. What you can buy at your favorite gear store is an enhanced version of the Beta Onyx bindings based on testers’ feedback.
I skied the Onyx bindings about 10 times in the backcountry exclusively last season, and I have skied them about 22 times already this season, which 7 of those days were on a ski hill.
Q: Did you have any problem with the binding during that time?
I did not have any problem per say. They are still in great working shape. No brake and no need to replace any parts.
I only had one emergency release while skiing with them and it was well needed and actually comforting to know that it works. I also only had one accidental switch from skiing to touring mode but it could have happened with any other binding in that situation.
Q: What features do you like the most about the G3 Onyx bindings?
How quick and easy they are to switch from walk mode to ski mode and vice versa. And activation of the heel-lifters is very fast too.
Then I like the fact that the bindings are so easy to adjust for different boot sizes. If you have different touring boots that have different sole lengths or if you want to let your friends use your skis, it’s a feature you will appreciate!
Also, the fact that you can adjust the positioning of the toe and the heel pieces of the binding on the skis is great. Therefore, whoever is using your skis can be positioned at the right place on them.
Another really nice feature of the Onyx bindings is that they are really easy to clip-in since the toe piece is designed to place the tip of your boot exactly where it should be in order to clamp onto the toe piece.
Q: What would you like to see improved in the future?
The toe piece activation mode since you have to push on it quite hard in order to get the boot in or out. It’s easy enough to get clipped-in properly as mentioned but sometimes when you are in knee-deep snow or if you are trying to put your skis on a steep icy ridge the current mechanism may cause some difficulties. I know G3 has been working on this.
Also, there are a lot of movable pieces with this binding but so far everything is pretty solid for me.
Q: What Skis are you using with the Onyx binding?
The new 2009/10 G3 ZenOxide. They are 105cm under foot – big boards. They have exactly the same side-cut as the G3 El Hombre but with a lighter core!
Q: You are a Dynafit binding user too. Pick one (feature or specification) to which the Onyx is better in your opinion and pick one thing that Dynafit has and Onyx not.
Onyx – Really quick and easy to switch from walk to tour mode.
Dynafit – Really light bindings, especially the Dynafit Low Tech model.
Q: What do you think is the best use for the Onyx bindings – backcountry skiing, slack country, extreme skiing, big vertical days? In other words, what type of user would mostly benefit from this product – regular backcountry skiers, occasional tourers…?
I think the Onyx would answer the needs of someone looking for a binding that does it all. It’s a great option for people getting more and more into backcountry skiing, people that do not want to carry the weight of heavy bindings like Fritschi or Naxos, and who want to have a closer contact with their skis.
The Onyx would be also for those who want a reliable setup which works on the hill, in the slack country and on day touring trips.
It will also meet the needs of people who are not wiling to spend a large amount of money for bindings since the Onyx are sold at a competitive price.
I think even the Dynafit die-hards should consider this binding since it is a great option. If you are all about the overall weight of your touring setup then it may not be your preferred choice but for a good days out in the backcountry it’s been proven to be a great choice!
Q: What is your overall impression?
I am so glad to see that there are companies, like G3, out there looking for alternative to touring bindings. It’s like the touring boots a few years back. Before Scarpa, Garmont and Dynafit were dominating the market, then others started to come out with alternatives which forced the previous mentioned companies to have a closer look at their products and improve them.
I think the same phenomenon will happen with the bindings. Since the Dynafit patent ran out, I am glad to see that more options are offered to backcountry skiers. I think the Onyx is a great alternative since it’s a competitive and reliable product.
And like any piece of equipment, the Onyx bindings have great pros to them and some room for improvement. But I still think that people have to try them in order to see what they have to offer.
My take on the Onyx bindings
As a loyal Dynafit bindings user since about 1998 it is tough to look at any other bindings without high expectations. But I fully credit G3 for sticking their head out and trying something new.
Whom the Onyx will benefit – in my opinion
I can clearly see that there are people that would desire the Onyx bindings and that they would really benefit from them as opposed to buying Dynafits or Fritschi or other models.
In my view, those people that would benefit from the new features that Onyx introduced (easier stepping in or more convenient ski-to-tour switch mode) are more of a leisure tourers or slack country skiers because all this comes at a weight cost compare to Dynafit bindings. In my opinion it would benefit more those that don’t log too many big days in the backcountry during a season or are likely to backcountry ski only seldom.
Whom the Onyx won’t make a difference for – in my opinion
In my view, the Onyx won’t make a difference over other existing bindings (meaning Dynafit bindings here) for people that are heavy backcountry users or performance oriented people. Because these groups use their equipment in such ways that they can live with small “inconveniences” if that means having a lighter and simpler product. Personally, I belong to that group.
My overall impression
My overall impression is that the Onyx appear very solid, therefore should be quite durable. The new features seem like a good improvement towards user friendliness, however, that caused an addition of many more parts over the very simplistic design of the Dynafits. With all those extra parts the Onyx design seems quite “exaggerated” to me, kind of overdone or unnecessary.
The price point (about $400) is very similar to Dynafits and other bindings, it only depends what models you are comparing it to. So there is no advantage or disadvantage when it comes to your wallet.
As you can see I am a Dynafit fan and that’s why I wanted someone else to make a case for the G3 Onyx. With that I hope to give you a more honest picture of a new product.
I believe, that in the next couple of years G3 will improve the Onyx more to my liking as well, thus I would finally have more choices on the alpine touring bindings market.
More about G3 Onyx bindings
Any questions? Share your experience
If you are thinking about buying the Onyx bindings or just simply have more questions you can ask in the comments below and Melanie, I or other people will try to answer them.
It would be valuable to hear from people that are using or have tested the Onyx bindings. You are welcome to share your experience in the comments below.