Testers put 200-plus days on these snappy, free-pivoting bindings and came back with a warning: "Don't try unless you're ready to buy." The Black Diamond 01 Telemark Bindings's stainless-steel toe piece and solid wire-yoke heel piece help make this telemark binding stiff and responsive. Testers of all levels, from Colorado to Norway, said it improved their skiing. Toggle from ski to tour mode with the press of a pole tip: In ski mode, the toe piece locks down to support the most aggressive skiing on any terrain; in tour mode, the toe pivots freely for unrestricted striding.
The 01 never iced up (a problem with other free-pivoting bindings), thanks to few moving parts. Underfoot cartridges (three stiffness levels are available, depending on your weight and ski style) pull your heel back to the ski for quick transitions between turns. Springs relax after a couple of runs, so recheck the tension. Tip: Always lock the heel bails during transport or they'll loosen. $300; 3 lbs. 12 oz. (midstiff); men's 24-30.5, women's 23-26.5; bdel.com