The M Equipment Meidjo 2.1 Telemark Binding Review – Perfect for Backcountry
The M Equipment Meidjo 2.1 Telemark Binding Review – Perfect for Backcountry
Once upon a time, telemark was all about the backcountry, untouched powder, a type of binding that allowed uphill travel, and then with a little bit of finesse, a way back down. While the tele-turn sensation is just as good (if not better now) as it’s ever been, it has been hard to watch as alpine tech set-ups get lighter and lighter and blow by us on the uphill.
Needless to say, I’ve had my eyes on the M-Equipment Meidjos ever since they hit the market in 2015. Nearly 5 years and a few versions later, I’ve finally had the privilege to test out the Meidjo 2.1 ($580), and damn if they’re not as good and better than I had hoped for! (Oh and if you’re unfamiliar with the acronym, NTN stands for New Telemark Norm, which is different than the 75 mm – duckbill telemark binding systems)
Alright, let’s get into it. Right out of the box the M-Equipment presents a really sexy product revealing the key pieces you’re probably interested in the most, the heel riser, NTN heel clip, and of course the pin-tech toe piece (and yes, if you tele, bindings can be sexy). As you dig into the box more and start pulling the bindings out, it becomes apparent these things are a little more complicated than the average 75 mm-duckbill cable binding.
In fact, the Meidjo 2.1s take a whopping 13 screws to mount, each, and a rather involved mounting pattern with multiple components. Of course, mounting templates, instructions, and similar literature are provided to help clarify things, but you should still be smart about it. Put in the effort to find a shop that has a jig for this binding, or at least find a shop with great ski-technicians who are experienced mounting bindings by hand/template.
The tech I took them to had mounted these up before but didn’t have a jig and was less than stoked for the 26 drills in his future (he did a great job though). On a similar note, 13 holes is a lot to put in any ski, so my advice would be to pick a ski you’re going to be really happy with, preferably an unmounted, clean canvas, and where they will perform best for the conditions you intend to ride. I had them set back slightly for powder, which I think is the bindings strength. The take away here is that it’s going to be really hard to move/remount these on a ski so do it right the first time.
Before going into operation and function, here’s my full set-up:
Skis: G3 SeekR 110s – pretty light skis with a good powder profile, and key for me, a titanal mounting plate to help prevent ripping these nice bindings out.
Boots: Scarpa Tx Pros – I’ll get into it more on how the binding skis, but these are pretty soft boots. It seemed like the bellows collapse fast. I’d like to try Crispi NTN Evos with the Meidjos and compare stiffness.
Operation/entering the binding takes a few steps, which are fairly simple once you learn them but were not necessarily intuitive before I read the instructions a little closer, perhaps a consequence of a more sophisticated binding. To enter tour mode, you must first pull the NTN-heel plate up to engage the red lever underneath the plate, then with the lever engaged, push the plate back down to the ski, and flick the small wire-clip over the red tab. This keeps the NTN heel from engaging while touring.
Now you can step into the pins. The M conveniently thought of us when designing the toe and included two “bumper-bars” that you can use to line the pins with the inserts on your boots without much thought or effort. Once the pins clamp down it is important to lock the pins out by pulling the red tab up. Un-locked while touring, you will torque right out of the binding, very easily and a lot I found out, so lock them while skinning.
To switch from tour to ski mode, you’ll need to push down on the NTN-heel plate and release the small, wire clip from the red tab at the end of the binding. If you’re really dexterous with your poles you might be able to do this all with just poles, however, I found it much less frustrating to bend over and use my hands/fingers for this instead of fiddling and messing with my poles for too long.
To exit the binding, you can use your pole to push the red toe-piece tab down to release the pins, and simply lift your boot out of the NTN heel. As far as I’ve been able to discern, using the binding is a linear process from Tour-mode to Ski-mode, and requires starting over to go back to Tour-mode; you cannot switch from Ski to Tour without exiting the binding. If you’re at the resort and going directly to ski mode, just lift up the heel plate, engage the toe pins and step down.
Touring, the reason we’re all here. The Meidjos were the first telemark-NTN binding to incorporate a pin-tech toe piece (so my first time using a pin-tech binding) and touring on them has been blissful compared to my past touring set-ups, most of which are the telemark equivalent of alpine frame bindings – heavy. On that same note, the Meidjos boasts a mere 460 grams per binding, or 1.02 lbs., which is not much.
If you’re unfamiliar with the perks of touring on pins, here’s a few:
-A much greater, frictionless range of motion
-On most other tele-tour (frame-style) bindings you pick up a portion of the binding with each step, which is weight that can add up over long tours. With pin setups like the Meidjos you only pick up your boot.
-Although I never got to test it firsthand, pin toe pieces are laterally releasable in a fall (though not DIN certified)
Because the toe piece on the Meidjos is a pin-system, you will need to find NTN boots with the tech-toe inserts, currently Scarpa has their Tx Pros, several of the Crispi NTN boots have the tech toe and heel inserts, the Scott Voodoos, plus a few discontinued NTN boot models out there.
The Meidjos include two heel risers, the red heel plate, and a taller wire riser. I thought the red heel plate was a great height for most things, and never had an issue with it – it has a really solid sounding click when you pull it up into place. The taller wire riser I had few issues with them staying in place as they had a habit of drifting backward and out of play after only a few steps, so I ended up not using them.
I also noticed a slight tendency for snow to build up on the plate of the binding right at the NTN-heel clip which was almost always solved with scrape using the end of my pole. It should be noted that I have been using the Meidjos in Colorado snow, which is generally very dry, however, I could see snow build-up/icing being a bigger problem in wetter snowpacks. Other than the tall wire riser and some very minor icing, I loved skinning on these bindings and know that they have made the uphill much more enjoyable.
Ok, but how do theM Equipment Meidjo 2.1 ski?
This is probably going to be the most subjective piece of the review, but to reiterate, here are some stats about me and my setup: I’m using Scarpa Tx Pros, G3 Seekr 110s, I’m 6’3” and 180 lbs, and I’m used to skiing the resort aggressively on Crispi WCs (w/o tech inserts) and 22 Designs Outlaws with a variety of heavier resort skis.
I was able to get the Meidjos out in good backcountry powder a handful of times, several variable-hard pack resort days, a decent amount of alpine wind buff, and one fun day of thick, breakable crust. My first impression is that these bindings are a bit softer than what I’m used to, but still have a nice progressive flex for their relative stiffness.
The Meidjos use a pair of springs for each binding that can be stiffened/loosened by dialing in the red spring-cap-screw at the end of each spring housing, and if you’re looking for a stiffer flex the package includes a set of extra springs that can be inserted/combined with the main springs. If those don’t cut it, they also offer their Red Line Springs for an even stiffer flex.
In softer snow and powder, I really enjoyed the flex and sensitivity, and never felt like I’d bury a tip in deep snow. With the softer tension, I felt like I could stay low easier and get quicker transitions (which was sweet in tighter trees), where I often find stiffer bindings “pop” me up more between turns, albeit providing more power but sometimes slower turns.
When things got firmer or variable it definitely took more effort than I was used to from skiing other bindings to power through, but I think this could also be a product of skiing a lightweight carbon-core ski. I did notice that my Scarpa Tx Pro’s baffles seemed to collapse fast, and I would really like to get a hold of some Crispi NTN Evos to compare on the Meidjos. I currently have the Red line Springs in the mail, which I’m hoping will get me closer to the active flexes I’m used to and more comfortable in variable snow.
On a slightly different note, and perhaps a controversial one for you purists, I thought the Meidjos made parallel turns very well, which is how I managed through my day of breakable crust. Between the pin toe piece and rigid NTN heel plate, the bindings have great lateral rigidity, standard for most NTN bindings, which only enhances the power transfer from boot to ski edge whether making tele turns or surviving with alpine turns.
Speaking of Alpine, The M-Equipment also makes an optional alpine tech heel that works in combination with the Meidjo binding allowing you to switch between NTN and true, heels-locked Alpine skiing, which I think is a really cool, versatile and applicable idea and would love to try those out sometime (the Alpine tech heel add-on does require an NTN boot with tech heel inserts).
The M-Equipment offers an assortment of add-ons for the Meidjo 2.1s including the previously mentioned Red Line Springs for increased stiffness and the Alpine Heel piece. If you’d like, you can add: ski brakes, a standardized ski-crampon interface compatible with most ski crampons (they mention Dynafit on their website), and insert screw kits for swapping a single pair of Meidjos around on different skis.
You can also order just about any part of the binding you want if something were to break, and could probably assemble the Meidjos piecemeal just by ordering the individual parts of you were so inclined or want to build them like some muscle car project. While I’ve not had a full season on these, they seem to be holding up really well and showing no signs of wear with perhaps 20 miles, ~15k feet of vertical, and one good afternoon of skating snowmobile road chop.
So, what’s my final opinion of the M-Equipment Meidjo 2.1s? The Meidjos are the perfect binding for telemark skiers looking to spend most of their time in the backcountry, or for resort skiers who like a softer, more sensitive flex. I have really loved getting out on my Meidjos, exploring the backcountry without the extra weight standard to most tele bindings today, and making those deep, soulful turns that got most of us hooked on telemark in the first place.
Vive du Télémark!
A transplant of the Midwest, Austen immigrated to the promised land of western Colorado in 2012 in search of good climbing, deep snow, quality rivers, and a college degree when his goofing off allowed. He learned pretty quick the difference quality gear can make on the outcome of a day (or days) in the mountains and began looking for the best gear to abuse.
In the summer Austen is an avid whitewater kayaker, bouncing his boat down the steep, rocky waterways of Colorado, trad climber in search of the route less traveled, and works as a federal river ranger along the Gunnison River. During the winter Austen spends his time telemarking around the backcountry of western Colorado and working as a ski patroller up on the continental divide.
Austen says, “A hundred days of skiing and paddling each per year and you’ll figure out what is wrong or right with your equipment, especially when your lively-hood depends on it.” Austen also has his American Avalanche Association Professional Level 1 avalanche certification, EMT-B, and ACA swift-water rescue cert, as well as a member of the Search and Rescue team in Gunnison County for 6 years.