ATK Bindings: All the flavor with none of the calories.
Since its founding in 2007, ATK has consistently led the ski mountaineering world in binding development, with a technical focus on competition-level race bindings evolving alongside models for the everyday ski tourer. Founded by Giovanni Indulti and overseen by his son Davide, ATK merges a family business with high-tech innovation both in the factory and out on snow. Though North Americans have mostly known ATK bindings through re-branded versions distributed by Black Diamond, in their Helio series, and by Hagan, with the Ultra, Pure, Core, and others, ATK’s full line covers just about any skier’s needs, ranging from marathon-length, gram-critical skimo races to skiing hard on steep backcountry terrain with long approaches.
Critical to ATK’s design philosophy is the company’s focus on precision CNC machining and using aircraft-grade aluminum for its binding components. Complemented by composites and carbon parts in key areas and applications, the bindings rely on 7075 aluminum alloy for their strength and durability. Bindings are a critical piece of equipment for any skier, and small differences in manufacturing tolerance can have a huge impact on performance, or even spell disaster. ATK consumers can rest easy on the brand’s technical sophistication and in-house production and testing capacity. Anyone who has put an ATK binding -- be it the Trofeo or the Raider -- to the test for multiple seasons can speak to just how hard the bindings can be flogged with no issues. The continual podium-topping performances of ATK’s sponsored athletes in the skimo race world means that these bindings aren’t overbuilt; they’re just well-designed for the weight.
Beyond ATK’s manufacturing chops, a few key features in the binding line help to differentiate them from other binding brands. Foremost is ATK’s Uphill Hardness Variator featured in many of their toe pieces, which allows the skier to dial in the retention of the toe piece. With the UHV, say goodbye to losing a ski while torquing on the toe piece in an icy, sidehill skintrack -- a common sight in the mountains of the Northeast -- or locking out your toe pieces during a descent in an effort to prevent pre-releasing. Experienced skiers know how frustrating it is to kick off a ski while skinning, and how dangerous it can be to lock out your toes on descents, and ATK has found a work-around to the problem through technical innovation. While the UHV adds toe-piece retention without compromising safety, ATK has added elastic travel in the heel piece for their harder-hitting downhill-oriented bindings in the touring and free-touring categories. This system of “elastic response” uses a spring in the binding adjustment screw to allow the heel piece to move forward and back as the ski flexes, keeping the relationship of the boot to the binding constant in variable snow or when landing from jumps.
In recent years, ATK has set its sights on becoming a more environmentally-friendly manufacturer, with less waste on the production side as well as the distribution end. With solar energy powering their CNC machining operation, and waste metals being recycled back into non-critical areas of the binding, the effort put into binding design and innovation mirrors the care that ATK takes in making the manufacturing process as sustainable as possible. Mounting, setting up, and just plain skiing on an ATK binding, it’s immediately clear that the Italians love skiing uphill in the Alps just as much as we love winter in our home mountains here in the Northeast.