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May 18 2015

Mammoth shoot out: Outlaw VS Meidjo

Mammoth Mountain.

Mammoth Mountain.

The rule of Winter ’15 season has been to act fast when fresh snow arrives, otherwise there won’t be much left. A couple of late storms hit the Sierra last week. Though characteristically weak for this season their freshness coincided with fresh updates to 22 Design’s beta version Outlaw, and a host of revisions to Meidjo that will hopefully overcome weaknesses with the plastic claw assembly and the 2-pin tech toe. It was time to make turns to see if any new flaws were introduced as unintended consequences of fixing others.

A flurry of emails were sent and in short order a quick posse of tele testers was assembled, including B, E, and Mr. and Mrs. Toad, although she excused herself from the testing since her boots were too small to fit the Kingpins. At our disposal were two pair of recently updated Meidjos (S/N 302 and 303) and two pair of Outlaws. The small Meidjo’s were on on G3 Carbon Zenoxides (ver 2015), the large on a pair of 180cm K2 Shreditors (112mm). A pair of large Outlaw’s were on Moment Exit World (115mm), and a pair of smalls on 180cm Blizzard Kabookies (98mm).

Getting In

EYT test crews: B, J, K, and E.

EYT test crews: B, J, K, and E.

The main goal was to get feedback on the tele bindings from B and E. Both confirmed that stepping in to the Outlaw is ridiculously easy. I don’t think there’s an easier binding to get in to; arguably as easy as an alpine binding, but with less heel pressure required to latch in. Getting out, while improved, remains a task that requires coordination and a bit of technique. No plastic failures on either the new or old plastic and we skied Drop Out pretty heavily in conditions that had some heavy chunks strewn between soft, wind drifted snow; the kind of stuff where good balance is demanded, and a binding that helps with that task is appreciated. Outlaw and Meidjo delivered as needed.

The Meidjo did require more coordination to get in to the toe pins, but I noticed that neither man had much issue with it – one quick demonstration was all it took to get a sense of mastery. Meanwhile, I noticed Mrs. Toad was resetting her toes a third time while fiddling with her Dynafit Radicals.

Getting Down

As for downhill performance, both B and E gave the nod to Meidjo, but they both felt that was more a reflection on the ski than in differences with binding performance. As background, B has a pair of TTS bindings and Rottefella Freerides on Cham 107s. E has Freedom’s on both pair of skis he brought with him from Vegas.

B said the Outlaw felt more “hingy.” When pressed to explain what he meant he noticed that the Outlaw caused his Crispi boot to compress more on the back bellows than the front, and more so as his heel was raised higher. I think the fact that Outlaw forced the bellows to collapse more than Meidjo is a testament to it having a higher spring tension. However, the sensation of activity, or differences in the tension perceived is largely determined during the initiation of a tele turn. In the case of NTN bindings, pre-tension appears to have a greater influence, allowing full tension to be experienced immediately. Again, this depends to a large degree on the cable pivot location, the origin of the vector of tension we tele by.

In my experience the Outlaw is clearly more active, thanks to a higher spring rate, but the effective pivot location is 53mm behind the tech inserts, which is further forward than the Meidjo. Contrarily, the M has a softer spring rate, but a cable pivot 60mm back. The net effect is they both engage fast, so they impart balance and confidence in a zone known for the lack of it. This is one of the potential benefits of NTN that was not evident with the Freeride, but is with the Freedom. As for overall tension comparisons, B and E both agreed, Meidjo was very similar to Freedom in terms of downhill feel. Thus, Meidjo felt strong initially, Outlaw stronger inevitably, but the Meidjo was preferred for being slightly less active. There was also an undeniable contribution from the skis.

Without question the Shreditor slayed the Moment Exit World in terms of likeable performance. Overall the Exit World is 184cm long, but with an aggressively rockered tip and tail it acts like 164cm and what is worth liking about a short fat plug of a ski? Ideally the bindings would have been mounted on each person’s favorite ski. Instead, we used what reality offered. Thus, the Shreditor enhanced the Meidjo’s performance while the Moment tarnished the Outlaw’s. In other words, it wasn’t an apples to apples comparison.

Summary

Functionally it appears that, except for brakes and optional crampons the Meidjo and Outlaw are performing as promised. What remains unknown is the long term durability of the plastic portions of both bindings, and for that, we’ll all just have to wait another year and hope a few more guinea pigs are willing to break trail and find the fractures.

© 2015
 

  • Clifford Borden

    Anyone know where to get crampons that work with the axel or outlaw? The original axel crampons never worked properly and have failed at inopportune times .