Beta Testing Begins
22 Designs has a good history in that department thanks, in part because they have continued the beta program as it was originally done by Russell Rainey when he introduced the HammerHead binding. Rainey was up front in announcing the binding could be flawed, but he was confident in the basic design and promised a production version of the binding in exchange for a full priced beta version. In other words, he guaranteed you wouldn’t have to buy a second binding to get the true “final” version. With the Hammerhead significant changes did occur between the beta binding and the final production version. However, only minor changes occurred throughout the remainder of it’s 12 year reign as one of telemark’s most influential bindings.
When 22D introduced the Axl, a Hammerhead with a free-pivot touring mode but with a simpler, easier power adjustment, they adopted the same beta program. The Axl was closer to perfect than the Hammerhead when first introduced, but the feedback received had a similar value because the testers were not pros but paying customers who expected their money’s worth. Along with the use of stainless steel for structural integrity, the testing tradition continues with the Outlaw beta program.
The wording on this beta program sounds a bit more carefully worded, so it behooves early adopters to remember first year products put them on the bleeding edge of progress.
By the first week in January 2015 22D expects to be shipping the first 100 pair of the Outlaw, their new telemark binding that holds a boot by the forefoot, clasped between the toe and second heel of an NTN sole.
Outlaw FeaturesThe Outlaw differs from Rottefella’s NTN bindings by offering true step-in functionality, but it does not claim any form of safety release, or a ski brake. Except for the change in how the binding attaches to the boot, the rest of the Outlaw is a synthesis of the best parts of underfoot cable routing with an adjustable power point, a solid, reliable touring mode switch, and a pivot that offers no resistance, all with the same stainless steel pedigree as Axl. And when you’re earning your turns, the friendly spring loaded Hammerheel rounds out the package.
Since this is a beta binding it would be premature to state what the weight is with any precision, but 22D co-founder Chris Valiente says, “it’s about the same as the Freedom, 3½ pounds, give or take a few ounces.” Then he added something diehard Hammerhead fans will be happy to hear, “and it uses the same mounting pattern as Axl.”
Most of the 100 pair of dedicated beta bindings are spoken for so if you want in on the beta test team, best to call and pay your dues immediately, or get chummy with someone who did. If you’ve been pining for something better but content enough with what you have, next year’s version of the Outlaw will undoubtedly be improved; at least 100 people will make sure of that. How significant the changes will be remains to be seen.
22 Designs joins NTN gang