It has been five years now since Meidjo was first introduced to the world. At the time it was the first telemark binding to merge the New Telemark Norm with a 2-pin low-tech toe. It blended the efficiency of the Telemark Tech System (TTS®) with the control of the NTN connection. Out of the gate everything needed to be polished with v1.x. The second version came pretty quickly, but v2.1 didn’t arrive until late 2017. It’s had two years of abuse in the field now and it finally works, more than less, as originally claimed.
Why le Meidjo Rocks
What rocks with Meidjo is the step-in function, especially the toe pins, the lateral safety release,
the touring (duh), ski brakes and crampons; but most importantly the downhill thrill because Meidjo
makes smooth tele tracks that turn on fast with precise lateral control.
The edging possible with NTN has been undeniable for years. The 2-Pin toe connection makes it even tighter. With standard springs, Meidjo isn’t much more powerful than SWX2 in terms of tele tension, but it turns that medium level of power on instantly, with a steady increase as you raise some heell. The net result is a sweet tele flex that hangs tough in the rough, but plays soft in the deep. That tele tension can be adjusted two ways; first by tightening the nuts at the end of the spring rods which yields a micro adjustment to the tension. Second, a macro adjustment is done by changing the springs used; the standard outer spring alone delivers the softest tension, say HH#3 minus. Adding an inner spring in parallel increases it a notch (HH#3.5), or you can swap in a stiffer outer spring plus an inner one for HH#4 level tension. Le Meidjo may appear delicate to the eye, but she is high performance when going down.
As to the safety release, I don’t think I’ve ever released skiing, and so far, haven’t needed it either. I kicked out of a Meidjo once by mule kicking it with the other boot. It popped out. That was good enough for me. The bottom line? Release is possible, both at the toe and the second heel. And the release at the heel can be dialed up or down. If you have experience with a Meidjo release, let others know below. Or not, as the case may be.
Yes, brakes are available and much easier to install than they used to be. If you’re primarily a resort skier, you’ll want ‘em. In the backcountry the brakes are nice, but they make clicking in at the toe more challenging than when they’re absent. I took mine off, not for that reason, but because they squeaked when skinning. It means using a leash, but I’m okay with that.
Fix the Heel
If you want, you can lock the heel. The optional alpine heel rests behind the heel lifters so it doesn’t interfere with skinning. To engage, the U-shaped spring slides forward to lock the heel, or back to disengage. It adds a DIN release value of approximately 1 in combination with the uncertified, adjustable release at the second heel. It most definitely delivers the sort of connection you expect for snapping off sharp alpine turns. It adds weight, two more holes and complexity, but you won’t have to swap bindings or rigs to switch between a free and locked heel. Patrollers are most likely to see value in this. For everyone else, remember, you don’t need a locked heel to make parallel turns, but you may need to defend this purchase with a tele snob.
Bite my Toe
If this is your first foray into the realm of two hardened steel pins clenching the tip of your boot, you may become spoiled. Meidjo has one of the easiest 2-pin toes I’ve ever used, AT or Tele. Slide the tip of your boot forward until it contacts the two bumpers at the front of the toe arms. When it makes contact with both tap your toe down and – SNAP – gotcha – you’re in. I still bobble it occasionally, maybe 10% of the time because I didn’t make sure the toe was on both bumpers. Ordinarily though, first time.
Besides being easy to get in to, it’s been several years since I’ve twisted out of le meidjo when skinning, er, the only time I have is when I forgot to lock the toe out. Otherwise, the lock is solid and you don’t need to pull beyond a few clicks for it to truly be locked. When you point ‘em down, turn it off, except of course when the situation is extreme enough to demand no release.
As for efficiency, what’s not to like about a one pound tele binding with Dynafit-style touring.
Where Meidjo might come up short for you is the reliability of the heel post. Since the last revision to the heel, I’ve had zero problems. The top is no longer open creating a snow sucking cavity. It stays upright far better than v1, thanks to an increased angle to keep it upright, but it isn’t very stout. Admittedly I haven’t subjected this climbing peg to the rigors of relentless stomping because I rarely even use a heel lift while skinning. Even so the thickness of the plastic does beg concern for durability, especially if you always use it going up. For me, it works well enough for part time use. I even removed the extension wire; why carry what you’ll never use?
With v2.1 Meidjo has definitely improved its immunity to snow build up. Overall I’d say it is no longer an issue, but it remains a potential weakness that must be dealt with occasionally.
In tour mode the claw probably will pack with snow but usually it clears easily. About half the time (YMMV) it turns to ice, sometimes clearing easily, other times it means taking skis off and clearing it carefully with a ski tip. A-I tape would minimize any snow packing but I’ve been too lazy and it hasn’t been that bad to motivate such preventative measures.
What surprised me the most over the long term is the propensity for snow to pack in and jack the binding up while turning. Not very often, but always when the snow was sticky. In those conditions I am compelled to stop and remove my ski to clear it out. Keep in mind this is without adding any A-I tape to le Meidjo. The propensity for snow clogging under the flexor plate was dramatically reduced when a pyramid shaped foam plug was added beneath the flexor on v2.1, even without any A-I tape; in combination with it the snow jack might vanish.
The beauty and the trouble with le Meidjo is the red jack stand. It’s the lever that shifts the binding between modes. The step-in function is easy and when you hear the red stub snap up inside the spring box, reassuring. That part is magic. The problem is the stub tucks away in a cavity that allows snow to cling and grow until it jacks your heel up when turning. Judicious use of anti-ice tape helps a lot to reduce snow packing here; apply as needed. One intrepid soul proposed using a bicycle tube around the springbox as a sort of snow condom to prevent snow getting in this cavity.
As long as you regularly clean out excess snow around the claw and under the springbox, you’ll be impressed with the overall ski performance of Meidjo. Get lax with snow maintenance and cursing may follow.
Switching from Tour to Turn
Aside from the necessity of at least checking to see if the claw needs clearing (probably), let alone actually clearing it out, there is the unavoidable inconvenience of unhooking the tour-lock wire. Spearing it with your ski pole requires a lot more accuracy than is typically available. Either you can’t move the pole precisely enough to hit that tiny millimeter-sized target from a meter away, or it’s hidden beneath the snow. Over time I’ve learned it’s much easier to simply bend down and reach back with a finger to release it. I don’t need to see the wire to feel it and unhook it. Some days are easier than others and even though I’m not too proud to bend over, I still prefer to release the tour lock with my ski pole if and when I can.
You will figure it out. Tutorial here.
HOW TO USE TUTORIAL:
Compared to the competition, Meidjo’s toes and step-in function are arguably the best. It skis great and tours great. It has the option of ski brakes and crampons but it requires regular cleaning to avoid trouble. How much depends on what prevailing conditions are in your neighborhood, and whether you’re willing to pro-actively work to prevent icing. If you are, you’ll be happy you stepped into the future.
The M Equipment
MSRP: $579 — BUY HERE
Weight/binding: 450 g
NTN sizes available: Sm & Lg