Salomon Guardian — Only Recommended for Salomon Touring Boots?


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

We had a fun time testing and dissecting the new Salomon Guardian tour capable ski binding last winter. We didn’t have it for long nor were we sure if what we tested, weighed, etc. was the true retail version. No worries, a retail pair flew in here just the other day. We’ll give them a dose of brutality this winter, though we did promise Salomon that no crowbars would be involved so don’t get any false expectations. Check out what’s in the box. They do look sweet, though with an interesting caveat. Read on.

The jewelry box.

The jewelry box. Click all images to enlarge.

Everything is as assembled as possible for an easy mount.

Everything is as assembled as possible for an easy mount. We're working on a paper template.

What's interesting is the large pamphlet chained to the binding.

What's interesting is the large pamphlet chained to the binding. It appears the lawyers are as involved as anyone in the design and packaging of the Guardian. More, check out how they're touting TUV. We predict this trend will continue as the big binding companies are fed up with competition from non-certifed tech bindings that have sold like candy for decades. For some unknown reason (or perhaps, for obvious reasons we can try to guess) Salomon opted for a non-sliding front AFD. In doing so, the binding does not conform to the DIN 1394 AT binding standard (instead, it's TUV certified to alpine standard), and thus can only recommend the binding for use with alpine boots or Salomon's own boots with a sole that mates with the AFD. Or, was this done for the simple reason that Salomon wants to force sales of their ski touring boots? That's their choice, but seems like a good way of limiting the appeal of this binding. What's odd is that the toe height is adustable and will thus tempt users of all AT boot brands -- and it appears a sliding AFD would have been so simple to include.

From the warning brochure:

These alpine bindings are intended to be used only with the following ski boots:

- Alpine ski boots compliant with ISO 5255 standard

AND

- Ski boots equipped with “WTR” technology” labeled kit of walking soles for touring skiing. Any use with other ski boots could cause the ski-binding-boot system to be faulty…

From Salomon, don't use AT boots with this binding.

From Salomon, don't use other brand AT boots with this binding.

That pesky AFD is even removable. Could a swap-in sliding version be in the works?

That pesky AFD is even removable. Could a swap-in sliding version be in the works?

Interesting. Underneath find two screws that allow you to remove the AFD in seconds.

Interesting. Underneath find two screws that allow you to remove the AFD in seconds. Obvious benefit of this is that AFDs do wear out from boot contact, so easily swapping is a nice feature. But could a swap-in sliding AFD be in the works? Could an AFD be swapped in from another binding? Mod time in the Rockies?

Ten seconds later, I was dissecting the AFD like some kid in highschool biology class.

Ten seconds after grabbing the screwdriver, I was dissecting the AFD like some kid in highschool biology class. We love it when gear is made to be easily workable.

As we mentioned in our dissection, here are the specs.
Size “N” (large?) Guardian, binding weight of 1480 grams (52.3 ounces) per binding with all hardware. Stack height (boot above ski at heel) is 27 mm at the toe and 32 mm at heel (verified at WildSnow HQ on demo board). Compare to main competitor at 37 and +-37 (latter due to for/aft height adjustable AFD on competition). Thus, you get around 5 mm less stack with the Salomon, but you do get some binding delta (drop at the toe) while the competition has a virtually neutral delta.

Shop for Salomon Guardian backcountry skiing binding.

Comments

39 Responses to “Salomon Guardian — Only Recommended for Salomon Touring Boots?”

  1. Tom October 29th, 2012 10:28 am

    Think how many people will buy this first, then find that out later… if at all.

    Does it come with a template?

  2. Lou Dawson October 29th, 2012 11:01 am

    Tom, no, it doesn’t come with a template. I just made one! Link to template is on this page:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/bindings/salomon-guardian-tracker-binding/

    I’ve thought quite a bit about this AFD and recommended boot issue. It’s really kind of a chuckle. In backcountry skiing we have a huge population of skiers who either lock out their release on tech bindings, or ski bindings such as Duke dialed up so high that most safety release is obviated. Then we’re going to niggle about a stationary vs side sliding AFD? I’m willing to dialog about it, but during actual use in the field it’s not much of an issue.

    Lou

  3. jamal October 29th, 2012 11:24 am

    From Salomon, and pulled from the TGR forum:

    The Guardians were designed for use with Alpine Ski boots under ISO standard 5355 AND boots with WTR certified soles. Boots with other norms (AT soles) will fit in the binding, but the Guardians were not designed to be used with them (per our initiative to offer the highest level of safety).

    Skiers who choose to use boots other than those under ISO 5355 or WTR certified should be notified that there are potential risks with regard to release characteristics. This isn’t any different than the warning presented to a skier who wants his DIN setting higher on his bindings than what is recommended by the Adjustment chart.

    There is no reason you can’t use a touring boot, people just need to be aware it’s outside the “recommendation”.

    Kind of like putting 22’s on your Tahoe. Chevy doesn’t recommend it, but they work, and they look cool.

  4. marshal October 29th, 2012 11:44 am

    hey jamal, you might check that TGR thread again. i just posted findings…

    long story short, in only had a cochise tech boot and a scarpa maestrale rs boot.

    the SCARPA fails MISERABLY. there is a TON of friction of the toe agains the AFD with the boot clicked in with appropriate forward pressure. DO NOT use a scarpa rockered AT sole in a guardian unless you belt grind the sole.

    the cochise tech boot passes no problem, but requires the to raised all the way, giving the boot/binding negative ramp.

    cheers!

  5. Oscar October 29th, 2012 1:29 pm

    What has me concerned as a major disadvantage of the guardian over the duke as of today, more than the non-sliding AFD, is the fact that the “flat” climbing position still adds quite a bit of ramp angle (from what I’ve seen from pics at least). At least my opinion is that pretty much any forward lean when touring for a somewhat extended amount of time is completely horrible.

    Given that this binding is not made for long flat approaches, but there should be plenty of side country runs with flat hikes (along ridges for example) where at least I think I’d regret getting a guardian rather than a duke.

  6. Nate blackburn October 29th, 2012 1:42 pm

    as per always, no alpine touring setup is covered under practical skiing conditions, if you have spent more then 1 week working in a shop you know this to your core. you are right that the guardian has some simple drawbacks, but, the strength, engineering, and concept are stronger, more practical, and have significant advantages.

    Duke bindings are tall, torsional weak, and particularly heavy, you have to step out of the binding to change to alpine mode, which means you are going to have to clean your boot off again. The bracket that is used for inclined approaches is not as strong as the guardian.

    The Guardian/Tracker (same binding) is lower, wider, torsionally more stable, more durable as a result, and has the ability to enter touring mode while still in the binding.

    if you think the warning on the back of the guardian is bad, read your itunes agreement, the 52 pages even advise you not to run skis on snow, because it will void warranty.

  7. Terry October 29th, 2012 2:19 pm

    Am wondering if Greg Hill will be skiing on these this winter, since he switched sponsors from Dynafit to Salomon? Or maybe there’s a lighter, tech oriented binding in the works…..

  8. Lou Dawson October 29th, 2012 3:07 pm

    Terry “sponsor” has a lot of definitions… I’d imagine if Greg needs an alpine binding he might use Guardian, but for his big tours I don’t see why he’d use it.

  9. See October 29th, 2012 4:58 pm

    Lou, I hear you regarding the small difference an afd makes when the bindings are locked or cranked way up, but I suspect that a lot of us still actually ski with their bindings unlocked most of the time, and at moderate release settings.

    Think what you will, but I’m old and lame enough to appreciate bindings that release reliably. And an effective afd just makes sense to me, especially on a non-tech type binding where the boot interface area is so much larger (compared to tech style metal pins and sockets/notches) and usually complicated by a lugged sole (the whole point of which is to grip not slide).

  10. Maciej October 29th, 2012 5:33 pm

    Hey Lou,

    It’d be great if you put some of your quiver of boots on these and bench tested them to see how much impact a fixed afd creates on release values. While some people have posted on the topic on TGR, your usual methodical approach (and large quiver of boots) would make a wildsnow review an excellent resource for anyone looking at AT bindings.

    These are heavy, but for people who spend most of thier time inbounds or need a higher release value than 12, it’s good to see an alternative to Marker stuff.

    That said, you’d have to pay me to get off Dynafits in the backcounty!

  11. Michael Mathews October 30th, 2012 2:51 pm

    I would like to know how well you think these bindings will work paired with this season’s Dalbello Krypton Pros. I have been looking at picking up a pair of these or the trackers but after reading your reviews I am hesitant to go with either options. My next question would be, do you have an opinion on these compared to the new Tyrolia Adrenalin which after comparing specs also looks like it has a shorter stand height compared to the guardians? I really thought that was the binding to go with but reading the number of review and warnings with the WTR im skeptical, give me your opinion as it appears that you have done some significant testing on these bad boys. I would also like to know what you think about the Adrenalin, like the Dukes I am sure there will be some issues, hopefully not as sever as they both look to have made some huge improvements on their versions!

  12. Mark Worley October 30th, 2012 9:46 pm

    Marshal, was the Guardian adjusted in any way for toe height regarding the Scarpa boot? Is not toe height more critical to lateral friction in release function at the AFD than forward pressure?

  13. Lou Dawson October 31st, 2012 7:30 am

    Michael, Salomon says only run them with alpine boots or with Salamon’s own backcountry boot. Folks around the web are trying to go outside this envelope, and that’s fine (we do it all the time), but properly testing a heavy, totally unproven binding with a variety of boots we’d have to acquire is not an appropriate use of our limited time and budget.

    I will say this: If you want to use other than a Salomon boot in Guardian, simply check and see if the boot has a hardened area of the sole that mates with the Guardian AFD, and check to see if the Guardian toe height adjustment accommodates the boot with the correct clearance between boot sole and AFD.

  14. Anthony Ross October 31st, 2012 2:53 pm

    I wonder what will happen to the AF plate on the boot sole once it has hiked along a few rocky ridges to reach a summit which is quite common in the alps – should tear it up quite well and significantly reduce the AF properties. Only sensible option is the sliding AFD as Lou suggests – as used by Fritschi for years.

  15. rangerjake November 1st, 2012 9:39 pm

    @markworley-

    If I understand you correctly, I am pretty sure Marshal backed the toe height as high as it would go, but the amount of rocker on the Scarpa prevented the boot from fitting and still having the correct “light friction” at the AFD.

    I must say this is very disappointing from Salomon. For a number of reasons. And certainly this aspect of the binding was not made at all clear in the seeming years of hype leading up to it. I got a pair, 95% for alpine skiing (with alpine boot), but can tour on days when certain parts of the mountain are not open. So I will judge it on all it’s true merits. But I’d imagine a bunch of folks are pissed off about the new limitations of this option.

  16. Mike November 7th, 2012 1:52 pm

    Maybe they used a non-sliding AFD because the ones on Dukes break all the time?

  17. Thomas White November 11th, 2012 10:51 pm

    I’ve used tech bindings for years for backcountry use and occasional days riding lifts. This season I’ve decided to volunteer on my local resort’s ski patrol and I’m thinking about getting a binding with quicker step-in and out and a brake to make the many ski on/off transitions during the day a bit quicker.

    This looks like a good binding for me. Are there any others that would work better?

  18. Lou Dawson November 12th, 2012 4:49 am

    My only concern about Guardian is that it’s still int he “early adoption” stage of development. Frankly, backcountry skiing bindings do not have a stellar history in terms of first-time new product releases. Guardian might be bomber, but we won’t know till our own and other consumer testing has gone on for a while. For a tried and true binding, Marker Duke or Baron are always options. Lou

  19. Thomas White November 15th, 2012 2:16 pm

    Thanks Lou,

    what’s a litmus test that I can use to predict if I need the Duke/Baron/Guardian holding power or if I could sneak by on a Marker Tour or Fritschi Freeride?

    I’m a pretty smooth skier and don’t usually have problems staying in with the recommended DIN 8 setting even when I ski hard.

  20. Lou Dawson November 15th, 2012 2:26 pm

    Thomas, you’d be fine on a Marker Tour or Fritschi. Most people actually are, they just like looking down at their feet and seeing the heavier binding. Lou

  21. Thomas White November 15th, 2012 2:58 pm

    I appreciate that…I really like looking up and feeling like I’ll be there quickly and with the least necessary effort. To that end lighter is better.

    My current quiver of 1 ski is a Coomback with a Tech binding. I’m planning to put the new step-in frame binding on the Coomback and use that for patrolling work and move the Tech binding a new lighter ski like a Manaslu for long backcountry tours.

    Your reviews of the Fritschi are several years old. Do either Marker or Fritschi have an edge for touring or on Piste performance? Or should I just buy what I can get cheapest?

  22. Lou Dawson November 15th, 2012 4:44 pm

    Thomas, sure, it’s common knowledge that the Fritschi has a bit of an edge for touring, especially the Eagle, and the Marker offerings have the edge on the down because they have less rolling deflection. Lou

  23. Chris December 1st, 2012 5:30 pm

    Hey Lou,

    Pretty sure that template, reflecting 265mm between screws, is for the small Guardian. It’s not close (too short) to the distance on my large Guardians. Do you have a template for large? Or simply know the distance between screw center lines for the larger binding?

  24. Greg Pence December 10th, 2012 3:27 pm

    Yes I just received my package which I ordered before all of these postings and not very happy once received. I have the Atomic Tracker version with Black Diamond Quandrant AT boot. The ski shop did not do the binding test and then in the literature that came with it the disclaimer. Nothing on the websites about this. Just spent a great deal of money and now get this type of info. Pretty lame. Contacted Salomon and the representative just kept stating over and over to do the test and see if it passes. If it doesn’t then get another boot. I kept saying this is after the fact that I bought them already. He seemed to have this canned answer becasue they must be getting a lot of complaints. Their video on the binding makes them sound like the greatest AT technology breakthrough.

  25. Swede S December 21st, 2012 3:00 pm

    I think it can be quite intuiative to do a test and stress any boot by yourself. It is no rocket tecnology. Use hand force and see how it behaves. The risk in my mind is to soft soles….otherwise you can pretty much figure out how the binding will react.

  26. Hudson January 28th, 2013 7:04 pm

    why would this Binding not be recommended for long tours just because of its weight, I have the Quest 90 boot as well so i’m fine on that portion of the binding.

  27. Kyle January 31st, 2013 7:14 pm

    I have a new pair of 2011 Black Diamond Slant boots. Do you think they will work with the Atomic tracker binding?
    Thanks.

  28. Kyle February 1st, 2013 12:52 am

    Also noticed someone had the Atomic Tracker version with Black Diamond Quandrant AT boot. How did that set up eventually work out for you?
    Thanks.

  29. Greg Pence February 1st, 2013 5:44 am

    The Black Diamond Quandrant AT boot is working fine. There was enough toe adjustment to get the piece of paper under the ATF. Wtih the camber of the boot it does not sit squarely on the ATF but that seems fine. The local ski tech still would not do a binding check for liability reasons. He said to do it the old fashion way. Have someone stand on the back of the ski and lean forward and see how it realeases. I also did a side hit on the toe piece. Both released fine for me. My DIN setting was at 7. For total setup with the Tracker on the Mantra is the best ride I have ever had, love it. The BD boot is great for I am a Pro Patroller and work 12 hour shifts in these boots.

  30. Lou Dawson February 1st, 2013 7:05 am

    Good job Greg!

  31. Kyle February 1st, 2013 10:22 am

    Thanks for the quick response :)
    Just to clarify, since I’ve never mounted my own bindings.
    If I bring my set up to a ski shop
    to have the bindings mounted and I bring boots that are “not recommended” with
    that particular binding,
    will they mount them anyway and forgo signing off on the
    Binding safety check? Or will they refuse to do the mounting with that boot all together?

  32. Lou Dawson February 1st, 2013 10:54 am

    Depends on the shop, and how many 6-ers you bring to the negotiation.

  33. Greg Pence February 1st, 2013 11:09 am

    My Loacal shop works will closely with the Ski Patrol so there was not a problem. They did have to get a fixture to do the mount. I also bought everything from them, skis, bindings and boots.

  34. Bruce C February 7th, 2013 7:01 am

    Just a note to say THANK YOU for highlighting the issues relating to this new binding…as well as all the positives!

  35. eric hamlin March 25th, 2013 12:59 pm

    I purchased the Guardian in Jan. 2013 and mounted the on a pair of Praxis BC skis. This set up has not failed me in 30+ ski trips mostly being skied inbounds in steep terrain, slipping world cup race courses, carving groomers,half pipes and backcountry. I’m using Lange 130 rx wide race boots for both hiking and skiing and have had no problems whatsoever ejecting when over torquing the ski in deep snow or just goofing of spring skiing, hooking a ski under brush. The guardian has a given me great connection to my boards.

  36. Cameron November 9th, 2013 11:49 pm

    Lou,

    Do you have any information regarding heel play in the guardian when mounted on the ski without (or with) the boot in.

    Thanks.

  37. Lou Dawson November 10th, 2013 6:49 am

    Hi Cameron, nope, no info. As this is a frame/plate binding, it’s not something we wring out extensively.

  38. Pete Arrowsmith November 15th, 2013 5:33 pm

    I’ve put my Trackers (Guardians) on a pair of 98mm skis and will use them with Atomic Redster 130′s for piste or for shortish hikes with the buckles undone. For a longer days touring I’m using Dynafit One U’s; it was a simple matter to cut out a rectangular piece from the front section of the rockered sole down to the boot plastic with a craft knife and screw in and glue a cut down section of a spare replacement DIN sole plate from a Tecnica boot (£12 cost). I also cut down the Vibram sole lugs on the heel by 2mm.

    This took a few hours but I now have a lightweight and comfortable set up that will release fine for long tours, and a super stiff boot for steep descents. Problem solved.

  39. Fat Chas April 21st, 2014 7:29 am

    Salomon uses letters to indicate the difference between bindings, more specifically how they are mounted. The letter N is reserved for free mounted bindings, K is for Smartrack bindings, system bindings, etc., etc. In the case of the Guardian, the indication is unnecessary, but they also produce(d) bindings like the S920 and Z12 that can be bought either in a free mounted or a system variant.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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