22 Designs Axl Telemark Binding Review
Website: Twenty Two Designs
Weight: 3.9 lbs / 1780 g
Summary: The 22 Designs Axl is an aggressive binding that has an indestructible, burly feel and a free pivot touring mode. Plus, it’s highly adjustable to suit your skiing style.
Telemarking is a blast. Freeing the heel is a great way to travel through the mountains, explore the backcountry, get face shots, and feel the fluidity of the skiing experience. If you’re a telemark skier who is looking for a hard charging resort and backcountry binding, then go ahead and buy the 22 Designs Axl. You won’t regret it. This thing rocks.When it comes to telemark, 22 Designs does things right. This small, Driggs, ID based company has established themselves as the leaders in telemark bindings. I’ve skied several generations of 22’s and I’ve love them all. The Hammerhead was a game changer. The Axl builds on that legacy and offers a free pivot touring option. I’m in. The Axl is a beast of a binding that is a powerful enough to drive any ski in any condition. Whether you want to carve, huck, wiggle, or rip the Axl is a good choice. Skiing the Axl will make you want to tele. Grab a burly 75mm duck bill boot (the Axl is NOT an NTN binding) and mount an Axl on your favorite ski. You’ll like it.
I’ve been on the Axl for a few years now. I ski it at the resort (there’s a hole for a leash) and in the backcountry. The Axl provides lateral stiffness in a rigid package that offers a true flexing telemark feel. Plus, it’s durable, versatile, and practically indestructible. Oh yeah, it’s got a bomber, free pivot tour mode too. Awesome.
After skiing BD, Bishops, and G3 bindings, I am so stoked to be skiing 22 Designs. The others are great, but I find that the Axls feel burlier, stronger, and more trustworthy. They do what I want when I want. Let’s take a closer look:
Tele has always been a great way to access the backcountry. With the free pivot of the Axl, it’s even easier. The Free Pivot allows for a range of motion of nearly 40 to 50 degrees. That’s without any spring tension. It’s a natural stride on the uphill.
To access the free pivot, slide back a stainless steel piece in front of the toe with your ski pole. When it’s forward it’s in ski mode, when it’s back, it’s in tour mode. It takes a minute to get used to, but it’s simple to do.
When you change modes, a small latch disengages. I have found a handful of times that ice or snow can build up while in tour mode. Be sure to stomp it out to ensure it’s cleaned out before you engage back to ski mode. There can be a very small bit of play in the latch that locks the binding into ski mode, but only certain people will ever notice.
If you’re not a backcountry skier, free pivot might be a bit of overkill. Check out the 22 Designs Vice. It has a very similar design, but only costs $220, weighs less, and doesn’t have the free pivot option.
The Axl (and all other 22 Design bindings) have a 6 screw mount pattern. I find this makes the binding stronger and less likely to rip out of a ski (an issue I had with other tele bindings). There are 4 screws behind the free pivot point and two in front.
If you have a Hammerhead Jig, mount the Axl .2 inches forward of where you want it because the pin line location changed. Otherwise the mount pattern is the same. I mounted my Axls 1 cm back from recommended on my Dynastar Cham 107s.
Springs and Cables
The Axl comes with “normal” chrome die springs, but you can upgrade to the “stiffy” springs if you want too. Those cost $35. The springs have 2 inches of travel in them. This allows for a smooth sensation throughout the entire turn.
Combine the spring travel with the telemark cables that are routed directly along the foot and you have one of the smoothest, most responsive tele bindings on the market. The cables allow for a true flex of the boot. The cables are also super durable and are easy to adjust in case you change boot sizes or your friend wants to spin a lap. Just twist both cables to make bigger or smaller.
Another super awesome feature of the 22 Designs line up is the adjustability. In the Axl, there are three cable guide positions. This will change the pivot point of the binding and affect how active the binding is. Farther forward is a little more neutral, farther back is more active and aggressive. I keep mine in the middle (I was a 4th position back on Hammerheads).
The guide position is easy to adjust. Just pull the pin and move it to a different hole. Adjust it for your skiing style, snow type, or ability level. Or set it and forget it.
Heel Risers – The Axl features the spring loaded HammerHeel. The standard height heel riser comes with the binding. When you mount the heel piece you, can also add in a tall climbing bail to the mix for more height adjustment while touring.
A few other tips:
- I’ve broken a couple of plastic tail throws in extreme cold conditions. The plastic snapped in half while flipping into the binding. A Leatherman Multi-Tool helped me click out of the binding. It’s simple to change this part out with a screwdriver or multi-tool, but be sure to carry a new tail throw in your backcountry ski repair kit.
- The Axl is heavy. A large binding weighs 3.9 lbs / 1780 grams and fits size 26 boots and up. The small binding weighs 3.8 lbs / 1715 grams and fits size 25.5 boots and down.
- If you’re going tele mountaineering, pick up the 22 Designs Axl Crampon.
- If anything does break on your Axl, 22 Designs has an online parts shop and a kick-ass 2 year warranty.
If you’re buying a telemark binding, the 22 Designs Axl is a smart choice. It’s one binding that rules all. It’s an aggressive binding that has an indestructible, burly feel and a free pivot touring mode. Plus, it’s highly adjustable to suit your skiing style. 22 Designs rocks. Mount up a pair of Axls. Drop the knee. And get after it.
What’s next for 22 Designs? An NTN binding is coming into the mix. I’m looking forward to testing those in the future.
Axl Binding Official Specs
- The first free-pivot binding with three cable guide positions. Optimize your bindings for your skiing style and snow conditions.
- Super durable: 2000 lb 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: 3.9 lbs per large pair, 3.8 lbs for small.
- Size Small for Mondo 25.5 and under, Large for 26 and up.
- 2 Year Warranty.
- Made in the USA.
Useful Links about the 22 Designs Axl Binding:
- Axl Parts
- Binding Anatomy
- Binding Poster/Instructions
- How To Replace Springs
- How To Replace Rear Cable
- Mounting Template