The dust had barely settled on 22 Design’s Outlaw before the boys behind the acclaimed NTN tele trap were already scheming improvements. On the docket for next season is an Outlaw with a revised claw and step-in system that is easier to get in AND out of. The new claw also reduces weight.
There’s no doubt the Outlaw raised the bar on what was possible for a NTN binding. Not only does it have edging on par with alpine rigs, the tele flex is both smoother and potentially more powerful than what Freeride allows, depending on how strong the tension is dialed up. In fact, depending on your boot, I’ll wager Outlaw is potentially the smoothest, most aggressive tele binding ever. Yes the Freeride with red springs may be more active than Outlaw with a standard spring set to 5, but the stiffy spring at least equals it. It has activity on par with Axl, but because it hooks to the boot mid-sole it doesn’t create the pogo-stick sensation common with highly active cable bindings, i.e., HH#5 or the many variations on that theme (Axl/Vice #3, TTS #3+, Bishop). In other words, it holds solid no matter how fast you may be cruising, but isn’t as prone to over loading your ski tips in softer snow and slower speeds.
Unlike the Freeride and almost every 75mm cable binding, the tension embedded in Outlaw’s single underfoot spring is active before you even lift your heel. In the case of a Freeride, Switchback, or O1 the tele résistançe doesn’t start kicking in until after you lift the heel a few degrees; even Axl and Vice have a small “dead spot” where the cable has yet to become active though to a much lesser degree .
At the other end of the performance spectrum, Outlaw was the first NTN binding to offer a resistance-free pivot for ski touring. Not only is it frictionless, it delivers a full 55° range of motion; more than enough for snap kick turns even, or especially, when switchbacking in steep and deep terrain. The mode switch is the same as that found on the Axl, simple and reliable.
Where 22 Designs is upping the ante for next season is with the claw that hooks onto the 2nd heel of NTN boots. The camming action of the Outlaw, those orange hunks of plastic that toggle up or down to connect or release the hook from the boot’s duckbutt. Depending on your persuasion that makes it either a duckhook, butthook or maybe a hook that quacks. From the get go those cammed orange feet have had their share of tele-quacks, I mean, quirks. For the next version the hook is improved by eliminating the feet that push the hook fore and aft from the equation. It only took a few seconds to prove the functionality of Outlaws HTN heel clamp.
There is bound to be at least one problem with it. If you have those orange duckfeet triggering the hook on your Outlaw, you’ll probably want an upgrade. Hopefully it will be available as a kit.