Plum has to be commended on creating a light, easy-to-use, and solid alpine touring binding that is machined out of solid aluminum—we’re talking 400 grams for the pair. Innovative engineering and design went into making this the best touring binding in its class in our opinion and why we’ve bestowed upon it our Gear of the Year Award. Bien joué Plum!
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
The Plum Guide was the first tech binding we reviewed here on Backcountryskiingcanada.com way back in 2011. Fast forward ten years and Plum is still a family-owned company based in France where they continue to make some of the best tech bindings on the market. More recently we’ve reviewed Plum’s Pika Bindings which are a major upgrade to the original Guides since they have optional brakes and a build-in heel riser. Think G3 Ion only less plastic/more metal and also less overall weight. While these are all great touring bindings if you are true to weight weenie you’ll want to forgo the heel turret and independent pins for a much simpler, more compact and lighter U-pin design like that of the new Plum OAZO Bindings. These new bindings are in the same realm as the Black Diamond Helio 200 Binding (which also weighs in at 400 grams) and the Marker Alpinist 12 Bindings which are marginally heavier since they come standard with brakes. Each of these bindings is incredibly lightweight and efficient in their design, but it is only the Plum OAZO Bindings that are milled from a solid block of Aluminium—more on this later in the review.
Simple, solid and easy to use, the Plum OAZO Bindings. Watch the video review below to learn all about them.
With origins in automotive parts manufacturing, Plum first started making binding parts in 2005 and was not born as a true ski binding company until 2008. Since then they have honed their craft and diversified their product offerings, including experimenting with splitboard bindings in 2014. Today the brand is well known and offers a complete range of bindings for all styles, be it competition, ski touring, or freeride.
The new PLUM Oazo 8 is a hybrid between the R170 and WEPA bindings so it is neither a true competition nor a free-randonneur binding but a composite of the two. This ultra-light pin binding is a great backcountry daily driver that offers performance without sacrificing ease of use. A variety of features and increased safety make this a go-to binding for many backcountry adventures and users
The binding weighs just 200g per foot and comes with leashes and removable crampon slots (compatible with all PLUM crampons), and an adjustable 25mm plate that accommodates a wide range of boot sole lengths once mounted
Aluminum 7075 shaped out of one single piece, hardened steel front insert, POM plastic heel support shaped out of one single piece.
I’ve always been a big fan of Plum’s approach to alpine touring (AT) binding design, the fact that they use virtually no plastic and are shaped out of one single piece of aluminum is a huge plus for durability and weight savings. Unlike the Plum Pika Bindings which are more akin to the G3 Ions with their independent pins and larger heel frame design, the Plum Oazo bindings use a simpler design with a u-pin and a minimalist heel design, more like the Marker Alpinists. The advantage of the Oazo’s, in my case the 8 version, is that they are insanely light at just 400 grams and tied with the Black Diamond Helio 200’s for the lightest binding we have ever reviewed.
Weight aside, the Oazo 8 Bindings are durable thanks to their single-piece aluminum construction and also easy to use given that you don’t have to rotate the heel piece in order to use the risers. This not only saves time in transitions but also on the skin track. While I would prefer the flat touring mode accessible in the same position as the risers I found that I rarely wanted to be in flat mode unless crossing a large level expanse, say like a glacier. Day-to-day use always had me in the lower riser level with 41mm of inclination or the higher level and I found no need for a flat level position.
One thing that I did miss, however, was the option to have brakes added to the Oazo 8 Bindings. While leases save on weight they do increase complexity at switching over from ski to walk mode as you need to remove your skis to put on and take off your skins. Brakes weigh more but it’s minimal and in my books, and I find brakes much safer when a fall occurs or if you were to find yourself in an avalanche. I prefer to have my skis well away from me in both of those situations, something that leashes do not facilitate. The Oazo 8’s are designed as a super-light touring binding that can also be used for rando racing if needed and so I understand the choice not to have brakes included but an add-on option would make their appeal to the masses that much more broad.
Overall in my testing and days in the backcountry, the Oazo 8 Bindings performed flawlessly and the features, safety and durability they provide was unmatched in this weight category. If you are looking for a binding that is light on the way up and a strong on the way down, with a minimalist design suited for ski mountaineering and light/fast ski touring—then this is the binding for you.
Price: $619CAN / $490US
Weight: 400g / 14.1oz
Skier ability/weight: Advanced / 35-100kg
Boot Sole Length (BSL) Adjustment: 25mm
Riser heights: 2 + flat 0mm, 41mm, 54mm
Heel Piece Lateral DIN: 4-10
Toes Piece DIN: 8
Warranty: 3 years
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