22 Designs Axl Review

Matt Samelson of Boulder, Colorado, takes a break from his ski reports on our site to pen this 22 Designs Axl Review.  He’s a former Couloir magazine editor, so this guy knows his stuff!

Serious downhill performance with a free pivot.  That’s my quick and dirty assessment for this 22 Designs Axl review.  This is an active binding that allows you to drive the skis, initiate with confidence and know that the edge control won’t let you down.  With the underfoot double springs providing a smooth flex throughout the turn, the Axl binding excels both at the resort and in the backcountry. The binding has three cable guide positions that allow you to optimize the pivot point to your preference or the demands of the snow.

I mounted the Axl on a pair of Moment Belafonte’s knowing that I needed a beefy binding capable of initiating these skis in all variety of turns.  It’s been a good choice.  In the best of conditions, we all feel like we could rail a pair of 2x4s with a three-pin binding.  It’s when things go south that you truly appreciate your gear.  A couple of weeks ago, approaching Dragon’s Tail Couloir in Rocky Mountain National Park, I knew the ski was going to be challenging.  The wind was howling and the snow wasn’t going to warm up.  Sure enough, the conditions sucked.  But the Axl provided excellent edge control on a day that I wish I had a whippet on my pole.

But the free pivot is really what has me hooked.  I will confess; I am not an early adapter.  I knew about the advantages of the free pivot.  I just hadn’t made the switch.  With roughly 45-50 degrees of pivot, deep snow and kick turns no longer register as an issue.  The ski-tour mode lock has an easy to engage underfoot attachment.  It’s essentially a quick flick of the ski pole and you’re transitioning from touring to ski mode and vice versa.

Only once have I had some difficulty re-engaging lock for ski mode.  The snow was knee deep and had moderate water content to it.  But the issue was simple to fix.  A quick sweep with my hand and a second or two of poking around with my ski pole.  All in all, not a big deal.

I have heard some people mention that the weight (3.9 pounds per pair) is deterring, but the energy savings from the free pivot would seem to make up for that.  And the weight is comparable to other free pivot bindings on the market

I wouldn’t put any restrictions on who I would recommend the Axl binding too: beginners through the rock stars, resort skiers and backcountry enthusiasts.

Other setups

My other setups include the G3 Reverend with G3 Targa and the Volkl Gotama with Bishop Bomber.  So I have both a light and moderately heavy setup that I tour with.

For more 22 Designs Axl binding reviews, check out the Axl binding on the Tahoe Mountain Sports site.



I'm Tahoe Mountain Sports' web editor and a 6-year Tahoe resident. Yep, I live the life, with a lake view from my desk, lunch breaks on the beach with my dog, and morning powder runs when the snow's good. I ski, snowboard, skate ski, and cross-country ski in winter, and hike, mountain bike, backpack, and lay around on Tahoe's beaches in summer.


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