Axl Bindings - The world's meanest, hardest charging tele ski binding
22 Designs Axl Telemark Ski Bindings
In short, the Axl binding is a BEAST. With its sturdy, steel construction, it looks a little mean and brutish, but don't let its appearance deceive you. While the Axl might be kinda funny looking, this binding is one hell of a hard charger that delivers the kind of refined downhill performance that’s earned it widespread reverent respect, and also garnered a heap of awards. (Read the reviews online – you’ll see what I mean.)
If you're a Tele-nut looking for a powerful binding that delivers maximum downhill performance and amazing control, the Axl will deliver that and then some, whether you're at the resort or backcountry. This binding will drive all those bigger pattern-free boards - anything from an all-mountain ski, twinnies, through to powder boards. You'll want to be wearing a big, burly, boot with this binding - the Garmont Syner G or Garmont Ener G are ideal, but essentially we're talking at least a three-buckle boot for this binding.
The Axl will have you grinning from ear to ear.
What's so great about it?
The thing I noticed immediately is that the Axl has amazing lateral control. This binding is very active and creates a lot of tensional resistance through the boot. Any edging you initiate feels very direct to the ski - there is very little torsional movement and almost no lag or lateral slop. In Tele mode the ski edges seem to really bite and carve and when I put in a few alpine turns on these babies it felt like my heels were locked down - that's how direct to the ski the Axl feels. Anyone who's ever skied a Hammerhead will know this feeling. No surprise as the Hammerhead is the Axl's older sibling. You can adjust this binding on through three tension settings to suit your skiing style and snow conditions. A small pin can be easily moved to adjust the flex point of the binding.
As all Tele skiers would know - equal weight distribution over both feet is really important when it comes to smooth continuous lead changes. In the Axls, I found that my rear ski was far more engaged and I could really feel my rear boot cranking and squishing down through the bellows - probably properly for the first time ever! Because of this I felt far more centred over both skies. No more squirrelly rear foot!
So, downhill performance? Massive, massive tick.
How do they tour?
The Axl is a pivoting binding with a mechanism that allows you to transition into touring mode. This is achieved by flicking the binding switch over with your ski pole tip which then allows the toe plate to become hinged. The range of movement through the hinge is a generous 50°+ range of free pivot motion. So, skin up those skis and away you go. There's no doubt that the Axl is a tad on the heavier side compared to a binding like the Targa Ascent, but carrying that little bit of extra weight on the ascent is well worth it for the fun and responsiveness this binding lays down on the descent.
The Axl is a very rewarding binding and I firmly believe the best on offer in the 75mm binding arena for all you downhill tele- shredders out there. If you've been tele-skiing for a few years and want to fast-track improvement of your tele-turning finesse, the Axl could be the game changer you've been looking for.
If you’re mostly skiing resort and not touring, I would opt for the Axl's leaner cousin, the 22 Designs VICE binding (all the power without the free pivot option).
- Sandra Soccol
Which tele bindings are your favourite? Have you tried 22 Designs bindings? Let us know in the comments below!
Features of the AXL Binding
- The first free-pivot binding with three cable guide positions. Optimise your bindings for your skiing style and snow conditions.
- Super durable: 2000lb test cable attachments won't break, toepiece forces transmitted steel-to-steel.
- Over 2" of spring travel for smooth action and durability.
- The spring-loaded HammerHeel is the easiest to use climber available; flip it up or down with your ski pole. Climbing bails available in 3 sizes, standard bail included.
- Cables routed underfoot for maximum control; plastic boots flex at the bellows instead of tip-toeing.
- Ultra-secure mounting pattern.
- Riser height: 1.1" or 28mm at rear, with a 2-degree ramp.
- Pivot location: directly under pin-line.
- Weight: 4.0lbs per large pair, 3.8lbs for small.
- Size Small for Mondo 25.5 and under, Large for 26 and up.
- 2 Year Warranty.
- Made in the USA.
Here's a quick clip of Sandra hard at work on her Axls: