Marker Kingpin Tech Binding – First Look & Testing en Sud America


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 1, 2014      

For more, check out Marker’s Kingpin website.

The King in full touring mode, lift engaged. Heel flat on ski is available and the two lifts heights are similar to most other tech bindings.

The King in full touring mode, lift engaged. Heel flat on ski is available and the two lifts heights are similar to most other tech bindings.

Synopsis: I’m impressed. After about three years of secret development, Marker releases a “pintech” modified tech binding with alpine-like elasticity and step-in comfort. The Kingpin binding toe unit is somewhat similar to other tech bindings, but boasts three pairs of springs (the Six Pack!) that are said to offer better “energy absorption.”

Heel unit is the big change, Kingpin operates without the “pins” all other tech bindings on the current market insert in your boot heel for alpine (downhill) mode. Instead, the heel operates as a virtual combination of alpine binding toes and heels. In terms of how it clamps your boot to the ski, it’s an over-center pivot lever that snaps down on your boot heel when you step in — pretty much identical to most alpine bindings. In terms of lateral release, the heel opens to the side, similar to alpine toe jaws (with a “second stage” lateral release happening as the toe wings open, as with most tech bindings).

Fancy doodads such as roller bearings on the heel cup and a beefy AFD on the brake actuator pad are intended to reduce the friction problems created by rubber soled or dirty boots — as well as providing a general reduction in friction overall. A large vertical release spring that’s reminiscent of the Marker Tour F10 and F12 models provides that ever desirable and somewhat rare vertical elasticity and travel in a tech binding. In this case a claimed 16 mm of vertical travel, which is several times the vertical heel release travel of most tech bindings.

Claim by Marker is that Kingpin is the quiver of one and will function equally as well on/off the resort, in aggressive skiing or mellow touring. Word is that you do NOT have to lock the toe for fear of accidental release during aggressive skiing (sometimes a concern with many other tech binding offerings). A viable width selection of ski crampons and brakes rounds out this tour-de-force.

Real life advantages? While the Kingpin weighs a bit more than what could be considered equivalent competitors, it does appear to offer the retention and shock absorption of a full-on alpine binding, as well as offering easy operation. Overall, it is very “put together” in appearance and during my on-snow testing performed well. Importantly, or not (depending on your views) it has TUV certification to the appropriate DIN/ISO standards — the first tech binding to achieve this as far as I know and proved by the certificate in images below (dated July 17, 2014).

I’m writing this post while still in Chile at the Marker Kingpin binding introduction event. While I suppose they could be squirting some kind of brainwashing gas into the air ducts here at Rocanegra Mountain Lodge, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead, I’ve been on-snow with the Kingpin for several days of real ski touring that included excellent testing such as skiing icy snow as well as walking in areas that required many cycles of clipping and removing bindings. Overall, the Kingpin worked.

Sure, I’d perhaps choose something lighter for core touring in my home range, but this really does appear to be a binding you could travel the world with and use for everything from a day of blasting the pists of Sun Valley to slogging the passes of the Silvretta Traverse. (Kingpin only weighs a ‘chocolate bar’ more than competitor equivalent in a ‘tech freeride binding,’ yet is quite a bit heavier at 650 grams (no brake) than super-light options — which of course leads me to suspect Marker probably has some sort of superlight version in the works.)

Aaron Provine of Backcountry.com tests Kingpin in Chile  a few days ago.  I got the impression you'll be able to purchase Kingpin at the Gearking, though quantities will be limited until 2015/2016.

Aaron Provine of Backcountry.com tests Kingpin in Chile a few days ago. I got the impression you’ll be able to purchase Kingpin at the Gearking, though quantities will be limited until 2015/2016.

Consumer use will of course tell the tale. To that end Marker will do a limited retail release of Kingpin beginning early this winter. Full retail will begin for winter of 2015/2016. Please see below for details and images, and while we did ski on the binding quite a bit down here in the land where North is South, please don’t consider this a full review or endorsement. It’s just a thorough first-look at what appears to be something very interesting and cool for the sport of alpine ski touring, or if you like different nomenclature, freeride touring.

The elusive Kingpin will be sold in what could be called 5 versions, shown here is one binding with brake and one without. One version will have 5-10 DIN and one will have 6-13, a rental-demo version rounds out the selection.

The elusive Kingpin will be available in what could be called 5 versions, shown here is one binding with brake and one without. One version will have 5-10 DIN and one will have 6-13, a rental-demo version rounds out the selection. Note that creating the brakeless version of either DIN flavor will require buying the brakeless heel pad as a accessory, all bindings will be sold with brakes.

Toe unit boasting the '6-pack' springs,  available crampon mounts in what appears to be a strong slot.

Toe unit boasting the ‘6-pack’ springs, available crampon mounts in what appears to be a strong slot. During my test days I experimented with not locking the toe during touring (desirable for travel while exposed to avalanche hazard), retention was average to above. I threw a shoe while doing an aggressive uphill kick turn, but otherwise toured for quite a while without ejecting.

Toe lock lever is similar to most other tech bindings. It's long and easy to work even with small hands.

Toe lock lever is similar to most other tech bindings. It’s long and easy to work even with small hands. As mentioned elsewhere here, you can exit the binding by pressing down on the toe lever, or opening the heel as with a normal alpine binding and twisting out of the toe, thus pre-cocking the heel for later use in downhill mode.

Step-in guides do work, are adjustable but not easy to remove.

Step-in guides work by forcing you to position your toe as you step in, are adjustable but not easy to remove. Questions will probably come up about this concept as intellectual property or patent held by others who had this idea first, word I got was that since these guides don’t fold down they’re different enough from other ideas. Final reality of that will I’m sure get sorted out if not clear already. Interestingly, the small metal tabs of the Kingpin guides actually help smooth out release by forcing the boot into a more circular motion as the toe rotates out of the binding. Who knew.

Another view of the  step-in guides.

Another view of the step-in guides. Note that all the gold anodized aluminum parts are hot-forged by DMM in Wales, esteemed maker of aluminum climbing gear. Idea of course being if you can trust DMM carabiners, perhaps this is a binding that won’t shed bits and pieces of aluminum over your favorite ski mountain.

6 to 13 DIN version has  confidence inspiring black springs  in the 6-pack.

6 to 13 DIN version has confidence inspiring black springs in the 6-pack. I’m assuming this is not a gimmick, and that to get stronger toe retention with the normal sized “tech” springs adding another set was the solution. Interestingly, the technical team guys told me they did extensive development on the concept of a rotating toe unit like the main competitor is using to a greater extent this coming season. I think that conflict in design philosophy will result in some interesting bench testing — as well as perhaps a brewing battle as to what the best design is for the tech binding archetype.

Another view, the toe locks for touring as with most other tech bindings.

Another view, the toe locks for touring as with most other tech bindings. This is the 5-10 DIN version with silver colored springs.

 Ta da, the complex engineering of  Kingpin heel unit is reminiscent of something you'd see in aeronautics.  To be fair, other brands are getting to this level as well, but for a first time offering in the tech binding arena to be this sophisticated is surprising.

Ta da, the complex engineering of Kingpin heel unit is reminiscent of something you’d see in aeronautics. Heel shown here is in rotation to demonstrate how it effectuates lateral release. To be fair, other brands are getting to this level of materials engineering as well, but for a first time offering in the tech binding arena to be this sophisticated is as delightful as finding a new pastry in Vienna, or perhaps Garmisch? The question is of course, as with pastries, is the look merely decorative or does it have flavor? In this case, we think tasty.

Looking at heel unit from rear, showing lateral release setting indicator.

Looking at heel unit from rear, showing lateral release setting indicator. Don’t over-think how this works, you get in and out just like an alpine binding, though you can exit by clicking out of the toe with a ski pole press as with most other tech bindings. Big difference from most alpine bindings is the heel rotates to provide side (lateral) release.

Heel pad on brake has what appears to be a beefy AFD.

Heel pad on brake has what appears to be a beefy AFD.

The million dollar question, how do you switch modes?

The million dollar question, how do you switch modes? As with a Marker frame touring binding such as Duke, you work this flipper which in turn slides the heel unit along a track. It’s quite simple, and can be done with the ski still attached to your foot (though that’s a bit awkward.) At one point I got some ice in the works and had to tap on the binding heel with my ski pole grip to get it moving, that’s one out of dozens of mode changes I did while testing. Getting techie, the mode change flipper is connected to the heel unit with a flat rigid “tape” made of carbon fiber combined with fiberglass. This is small and nearly hidden from view, but according to my contact on the development team was one of the most difficult parts of the binding to engineer and manufacture.

Better view of the mode flipper.

Better view of the mode flipper. It’s connected to the heel unit with a carbon fiber strip that runs through a track. Unlike many tech bindings, this is not designed for 100% operation with a ski pole though in a pinch (cold hands with big mittens) you could get it started with a ski pole tip inserted under the side, then continue the motion by pressing with your pole grip. In all, it’s super easy to grab the flipper with gloved hands. I never had a problem with it.

Once you slide the heel unit back for touring mode, you step down on the brake to clip it up for walking.  The mechanism for this is simple, as shown in photo the brake arms clip over a small steel stud.

Once you slide the heel unit back for touring mode, you step down on the brake to clip it up for walking. The mechanism for this is simple, as shown in photo the brake arms clip over a small steel stud. Tolerances are critical here, damage to the brake arms or the introduction of dirt and grit could cause problems, but nothing you couldn’t do a temporary fix on. Of more concern is the brake sticking closed while in alpine mode, in extreme icing conditions here in Chile I did have that happen once, but I’ve seen the same problem with other bindings. The Marker guys did tell me they are still fine tuning the brake for final retail version. Judging from the rest of this project I’m thinking they’ll have it dialed well before zero day.

Viewed from above, in touring mode with heel flat on ski.

Viewed from above, in touring mode with heel flat on ski. Kingpin requires a DIN/ISO ski boot sole ledge at the rear, an adapter will be available for boots with shortened soles, as shown in this photo. The adapter is quite nice and might be a recommended add-on to reinforce any tech compatible boot.

Adapter is screwed on in place of standard tech fitting.

Adapter is screwed on in place of standard tech fitting. In this case we didn’t insert the side screws because I’ll be converting back once I leave here. The adapter is backward compatible to other tech bindings and is super strong. Similar to other brand’s offering.

Low lift, touring mode, similar to other brands.

Low lift, touring mode, similar to other brands. I found the heel lifters to be a bit difficult to flip with a soft ski pole basket, perhaps I’d refine my technique with more days on the Kingpin.

Heel in alpine mode, the rollers are there because the unit rotates to the side for safety release, and friction is the enemy.

Heel in alpine mode, the rollers are there because the unit rotates to the side for safety release, and friction is the enemy. To expound, due to these rollers actually containing ball bearings and the AFD being so beefy, the heel unit rotational spring loading can be more responsive and actually stronger for given DIN setting. That’s perhaps getting a bit too technical, in plain English it means Kingpin might truly have exceptional resistance to lateral pre-release.

Boot with regular DIN-ISO sole shape fits in Kingpin with no adapter.

Boot with regular DIN-ISO sole shape fits in Kingpin with no adapter. Length adjustment for boots is accomplished by rotating a pozi screw at rear of binding, typical system of other brands and models. When the adjustment screw is flush with housing, forward pressure is correct. Compensation for ski flex is built in and obviously works fine.

DIN/ISO certification by TUV.

DIN/ISO certification to standard 13992 by TUV. I’ve got mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it does prove the binding behaves in certain ways. On the other hand, while TUV (he who certifies, otherwise known as a god) has a good set of tests for frame touring bindings, but I believe it’s still an open question as to how those tests and standards apply to a tech binding. My main theory about all this is that TUV needed time to learn about tech bindings and how to test for the 13992 and other standards in ways that didn’t automatically fail the binding. This process of development by TUV took decades, and perhaps came together when Marker and their main tech binding competitor began working with them — both in terms of politics but also technology. On the business economics side, it is huge to have a TUV certified binding that protects the maker as well as sellers from lawsuits, (at least to a greater degree than selling bindings that conform to no safety standards). On the other hand, much of the TUV certification spiel you will be hearing as the “DIN Wars” commence could simply be marketing spreech. Proof of concept will be if the TUV certified binding from any company truly is superior in some ways. We won’t know the answer to that until more consumer testing is completed on the various brands. Meanwhile, kudos to Marker for all they’ve accomplished. Beautiful engineering, stunning industrial design — Kingpin worked nearly flawlessly for our group of testers over the past few days in Chile.

Michael Buckers, one of a small group of technical Marker staff who worked on the Kingpin project for about 3 years.

Michael Buckers, one of a small group of technical staff who worked on the Kingpin project for about 3 years. Buckers is also a certified guide and holds a degree in biomechanics. He has a nice smile.

Metrics
Crampon widths: 90, 105, 120

Brakes retract nicely so they do a good job of covering a range of widths: 75/100 and 100/125

DIN (nice to be able to call it that): One model goes from 5 to 10, model with black toe springs adjusts from 6 to 13 — and yes Virginia the black toe springs are slightly stronger and everyone will of course want them.

Rolling deflection (cuff of boot moving to left and right): I did a comparative test using other ‘freeride’ tech bindings, and kingpin clearly has less deflection. Of course it’s an open question as to whether you want to be welded to your skis like some guy with a buzz stick had glued a steel shoe to your topskin. On the other hand, all too many touring bindings have been way too sloppy, so a tighter connection is a better trend.

Screw pattern: 38 mm width.

Adjustment tools: Pozi 3 does everything.

Boot length range: 25 mm (demo version available with super wide range as well as adjustable toe position. Looks really good.)

Weight with brake and screws: 730 grams, 25.75 ounces
(Reference, Dynafit Radical FT is 566 grams, 20 oz, though this is not an apples to apples comparo. Dynafit Beast might be a better comparo, but we don’t have retail production weight for the 2014/15 Beast models.)

Kingpin weight without brake: 650 grams

Notes
Who better to make the aluminum parts than a climbing gear company? After all, skiing dangerous terrain and depending on small tabs of aluminum for your life is no different than hanging from carabiner. To that end, all the gold anodized parts are hot forged by DMM of Wales. It’s said they’ve been making the best metal in the world since the Bronze Age.

The small tabs of the “step in guides” are indeed similar to a competitor binding, but they’re metal instead of plastic as well as being tiny. While they come pre-adjusted (and during our testing worked fine for most boots) they can be user adjusted to compensate for boot wear and such. Removal would entail grinding or otherwise cutting them off, as the back part is integrated with the springs. They do not retract when you click, as competitor does. I experimented with a boot and the tabs don’t block release function, which I found surprising.

The elephant in the room for new touring binding releases is always durability. Sadly. While the only true test of binding strength is to get it out into the retail wild, I should note that in our three days of touring here in Chile with about 20 people (60 user days) I didn’t see any problems. Marker guys have been here with several other groups, for a total user day count of over 300 days, and say that did not have one durability problem during that time.

Oh, and you asked what was it actually like to ski and walk on the Kingpin? Touring felt like most any tech binding. A little heavier than I’m used to and the toe of my non-standard TLT-6 boot bumps into the front lever a little earlier in the stride than some other brands and models. The binding was quiet and the heel lifters seemed solid. When skiing down I noticed how reactive my skis were due to the astoundingly solid connection between boot/binding/ski. I’m feeling it’s even stiffer laterally than a Duke. The marketing term for this sort of beef is “power,” and that might be valid for some of you, but in my own skiing I don’t feel the need for any more solid of a connection than I already get with the average tech binding. I do however want a binding with nearly no chance of pre-release when set to normal release values. In that, I’m optimistic Kingpin may deliver. This involves personal safety of all of us, and that’s huge. So whether your’e looking for power — or safety, Kingpin will be something for your attention.

Check out Part 2 of our Marker Kingpin coverage.

For details from the source, check out Marker’s Kingpin website.

Comments

206 Responses to “Marker Kingpin Tech Binding – First Look & Testing en Sud America”

  1. pietro September 1st, 2014 4:01 pm

    How much ?

  2. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 4:13 pm

    Exact cost will depend on brake width, but most common MSRPs are
    $599.00 for the 5-10 DIN (the “10? model)
    $649.00 for the 6-13 DIN (the “11? model)

  3. Kristi Yorks September 1st, 2014 4:45 pm

    I can’t wait to see this binding on my skis! After nearly blowing my left knee once and actually blowing my right knee a few months later on my trusty dynafits, I’ve been hunting for a tech binding that is light, functional, powerful, and above all reliable when it comes to skiing everything from aggressive, big mountain lines to the occassional morning skin up the ski resort. Will this be the binding I’ve been searching for? It just might be!

  4. Woody from Mountain Equipment September 1st, 2014 4:47 pm

    Ramp angle? Hoping that this thing will eliminate the extreme angles dynafits are known for and allow for skiing in a more relaxed, upright stance.

  5. Sam September 1st, 2014 5:27 pm

    Any speculation on whether Marker might offer a boot conversion kit to add a tech toe fitting, like CAST were doing? That would be an interesting way to go after the resort skiing market.

  6. Eric richmond September 1st, 2014 5:54 pm

    I’m positively thrilled that this has been done I was trying to get this built 4 years ago I tried talking to G3 tyrolia and Hoji among other Whistler locals I even met with patent lawyers in 2011 but with no money behind me and Tyrol already invested in their new product I was too late and just skied my tech toe / look pivot hybrid until Dan asked for his heels back. I would love to know if any of the contributors to this product came from Whistler. I would love to see some steel and a 16 or higher din as well.
    With a system that works as well as the tech toe for climbing I would gladly add some weight for extra durability and confidence that comes from the steel like we see in race bindings , In fact due to the increased torsional rigidity of the tech toe over standard toes I could easily see this ending up on the race course . I know from my experiments that with my hybrid binding I have never felt so connected to my skis ever

    Anyhow sorry for my rant I’m really stoked that these are available to the public and hope somehow a pair end up in my mailbox one day !

  7. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 7:38 pm

    Hi Woody, ramp angle is quite neutral, similar to the shimmed bindings we run. It felt just fine. When I get a chance I’ll add to my comparo chart, but ramp certainly did not feel like an issue. Lou

  8. Me September 1st, 2014 7:39 pm

    It seems like it comes down to the Beast 14 vs the Kingpin – at least on paper. I wonder how the Beast 14/16 heel feels compared to the Kinpin. Can the more traditional pins of the Beast offer the same “power” of the Kinpin?

    Looking at the two solutions I see a couple of worrisome points:

    – The pivoting toe of the Beast(s) may be a bit to worrisome. The pivot is now the lone part of the toe mechanism that connects the boot to the ski. Will this pivot develop slop over time?

    – For the Kingpin, it is the mode change lever. It looks a bit fragile. A quote like this should put a bit of a scare in you, “… the mode change flipper is connected to the heel unit with a flat rigid “tape” made of carbon fiber combined with fiberglass. This is small and nearly hidden from view, but according to my contact on the development team was one of the most difficult parts of the binding to engineer and manufacture.”

    The Dynafiddler in me is leaning towards the Beast 14 but the Kingpin sure has my attention.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 7:43 pm

    Me, you got it. And yes, several of us flacks here checking out the binding dialed into the “connector” between the mode change flipper and the heel unit. Developer told me they tested with hundreds of days of field use as well as one of those machines that opens and closes it thousands of times, but indeed you never know for sure until it goes into the retail wild. Main thing is if the connector did start to wear it would be obvious and easy to warranty. On the other hand, if it broke you would not be able to use the binding in downhill mode. Lou

  10. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 7:48 pm

    Eric, bad steel and good Delrin, or good Delrin and bad steel — it’s the engineering and materials science that count. If steel was always the answer, then everything would be steel (grin), perhaps even your tires and your skis, and your boots.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 7:51 pm

    Kristi, was your toe locked when you blew your knee? Please let us know. Also, let’s not get too crazy here, you can blow a knee in hiking boots on a dirt trail as well as on skis…or on alpine bindings. More detailed impressions appreciated. Lou

  12. Jason Gregg September 1st, 2014 8:21 pm

    So it’s the TUV that establishes the DIN standard? Anyway I guess all the DIN comes out of the heel because I don’t see any numbers on the toe piece.

  13. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 8:39 pm

    Hi Jason, the TUV tests for DIN/ISO standards The actual standards are established through a complex process.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/more/backcountry-glossary/

    And yes, just as with almost any tech binding, all the release settings are in the heel unit.

    Lou

  14. Lou Dawson 2 September 1st, 2014 8:42 pm

    All, night has fallen here in Chile, kind of like the rain that’s dumping on our roof (frown). I have another chance in the morning to get info direct from one of the product engineering team, so fire any questions ASAP and I’ll do my best to get answers. More, am happy to clarify my admittedly lengthy blog post above. Lou

  15. Me September 1st, 2014 9:17 pm

    I have a couple for you/them:

    – Does the heal unit lock into the track when down (i.e. in ski or walk mode)? It seems hard to believe the walk mode lever “tape” is the only thing holding the heal in place when in ski mode.

    – They talked about the amount of vertical elasticity, how much lateral elasticity is there in the heal?

  16. Greg Louie September 1st, 2014 9:56 pm

    No issues with the shortened TLT6 heel, Lou? Are they saying the binding is OK to use with TLT6/DyNA/Alien soles?

  17. Greg Louie September 1st, 2014 9:59 pm

    Sorry, didn’t read the captions carefully – I thought those were Beast fittings!

  18. Seth September 1st, 2014 10:29 pm

    Any info on the mounting pattern? Similar to the Lord SP, by any chance?

  19. lederhosen42 September 1st, 2014 10:41 pm

    – was snow/ice buildup under the toe innards an issue at all? hard to tell from the pics of the toepiece…how’s it lookin’ for excavatability of snow/ice buildup under the wide looking three spring guts? A bit skeptical about real world use in coastal moist snow conditions where even the dynafits experience a frequent number of buildup/bash the stuff out events over the course of the season.

  20. mark frost September 1st, 2014 10:43 pm

    any details on the mounting pattern???
    is it too much for a travelling skier to hope that these will match up with the marker lord pattern (+ an extra hole for the mode change screw)
    that would allow changing between both options (using inserts) to allow a 3 ski quiver to be carried in 1 ski bag
    please tell me they thought of that… please, please, please….

  21. Simon September 2nd, 2014 12:47 am

    I have been skiing the beast 16 this (Southern Hemisphere) season on wailer 99’s. How does the kingpin compare in terms of elasticity?

    I was looking at replacing the guardian 13’s on my powder skis with the beast 14, but this looks like a viable alternative…..

    The heel mod looks remarkably similar to the Dynafit beast boot mod.

  22. stefano September 2nd, 2014 1:01 am

    Happy to see my Click Clack heel onto Marker bindings too…

  23. Pieter September 2nd, 2014 3:06 am

    Hi Lou!

    Thanks for the post! I have been looking forward to the presentation of this binding to see Markers interpretation of the tech binding.

    It looks really cool! And beefy (which I like)

    Would be interesting to get some info about the drill-pattern.

    Will the small amount of bindings on sale this year be dedicated to certain ‘public testers’ or can everybody buy them if you can get a gold of them? (I’m aware of the issues of getting first releases)

    Maybe a bit off-topic: I assume that Volkl/Marker provided BMT’s for the sessions. How were they holding up in these icy /wind blown conditions?

    Thanks and enjoy Chile!

    Pieter

  24. TK September 2nd, 2014 3:24 am

    Any way to attach leashes to the brakeless version?

  25. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 3:59 am

    Drill-mount-screw pattern does not match other Marker bindings, but it appears to me that in most cases drilling a new set of holes will not overlap old ones, and that a shift of a few millimeters forward or back will take care of most other overlaps. All the screws are on a 38 mm wide pattern, which is wide but not jumbo. The engineers have a very informed view of much of this stuff. For example, in presentations it was said that they saw no need for super wide screw patterns. Likewise, they related that whether a binding releases sideways at the toe or heel is a wash, e.g., in some falls a release at the heel gives you a safety advantage, while in some falls releasing at the toe has the advantage, so it’s a wash. I agree with that judging from many years of seeing tech bindings in use.

    Back to mounting patterns, bear in mind that you’ll have quite a bit of forward-back position of the heel unit on the ski.

    Another thought about swapping bindings: Stian Hagen, who’s here as a Marker/Volkl athlete and consultant, pointed out to me that regarding mounting an additional set of bindings on a ski, it could be best to drill new holes anyway, so trying to get matches between different bindings isn’t a big deal, though if you’re using inserts to set up a binding swap system I can see why you would want matched screw holes… Lou

  26. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 4:13 am

    P.S., if Kingpin works as intended, you won’t need to be swapping bindings, it’ll do everything. Time will tell if that’s really true, but that’s the claim. Lou

  27. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 4:30 am

    TK, super question, I just looked at binding and I didn’t see an obvious leash attachment. I asked and it’s a nice little hole in the front molding. You could put your own cord through it and make a loop, and Marker will have an available leash as an accessory. I’m still trying to find something they forgot so I can get more criticism going (grin). Lou

  28. Simon September 2nd, 2014 4:55 am

    Lou, what enables lateral elasticity on the Kingpin if the toe-piece doesn’t rotate?

    I am running the beast 16 on wailer 99’s and am happy with the performance frontside and touring. I did have a scare with an early release on hard, icy groomers, but haven’t been able to replicate this. I have been considering the beast for wailer 112’s but the kingpin looks like it may be more solid driving bigger boards?

    Any indication as to whether the beast boot mod will work in the kingpin heel?

    Cheers
    Simon

  29. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 5:35 am

    Simon, it’s the same type of lateral elasticity as most other tech bindings, in that the heel of the boot moves to the side as the toe pins slide slightly out of boot toe sockets. When this system works it does provide adequate elasticity — enough for a TUV cert, but the problem is it’s dependent on the boot fittings being built to a defacto standard. Dynafit and Scarpa boots have pretty reliable fittings, and the Dalbello boots they have kicking around here at the demo seem to be doing ok, but if I have any crit of Kingpin it’s that it will indeed depend on a non standardized boot part. Thus, as before, there may be a need for a testing system that retailers can use to check boot fittings before a customer pairs a boot to the binding and walks out the door. Apparently TUV has some sort of standardized tech boot fitting they use to test the bindings, using original Dynafit specifications. There is potential for problems, since history has a way of repeating itself and sometimes boot makers just don’t get how a tech fitting has to perform. We so badly need a DIN/ISO standard for the tech boot fittings, it hurts. The fact we do not have a DIN/ISO standard is indicative of a flawed standards system, in my opinion.

    Imprtant thing to remember here is that in many cases of a tech or pintech binding not working, it’s actually the fault of the boot, not the binding. Something to keep in mind as the ‘pintech’ binding battle heats up.

    Lou

  30. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 6:30 am

    1— Biomechanically, it is NOT “a wash” to have lateral toe release OR lateral heel release: biomechanically, we need both if we are to mitigate tibia fractures (lateral toe release) AND ACL-ruptures (lateral heel release). If we have a binding without lateral toe release, we compromise tibia-fracture mitigation: this is proven. If we have a binding without lateral heel release, we compromise ACL-injury mitigation.

    2— A lack of independence between lateral heel release and vertical heel release will compromise either forward (alpine) retention OR lateral heel release that would provide ACL-injury-mitigation — depending on the fixed ratio selected by the engineers. In this case, since it appears that forward retention is not compromised, then ACL-injury mitigation might be (though, respectfully, I see no claim that this binding intends to mitigate ACL-injury).

    3— Forward facing heel-cup rollers attract grass and thin-weeds found in early snows: for this reason, I abandoned rollers on my (alpine) lateral heel release heel cup designs.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Binding (alpine)
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  31. Lukas September 2nd, 2014 6:53 am

    Nice – Thanks Lou.

  32. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 7:57 am

    My point #1 should have been more clearly directed at the absence of ISO 9462 in the TÜV Approval certificate: ISO 13992 is merely a standard that kind-of says ‘if one is to test a ‘tech-binding’, it should provide x, y & z functions’: it says nothing about tibia fracture mitigation. The other standards that are referenced in the certificate shown above are ISO 9465 (lateral toe retention during dynamic loading where inertia is significant); and ISO 11087 is the ski brake standard. ISO 9462 (not listed) is about tibia fracture mitigation: the missing 9462 standard is the main standard for binding-related lower leg injury. All bindings without lateral toe release would clearly and obviously fail that standard — and that is why we do not see 9462 referenced in the above TÜV certificate.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 8:05 am

    Did I get spun, again? I thought 13992 was the touring binding standard, not a tech binding standard. In fact, I’m pretty sure about that. Anyone else? Cam?

  34. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 8:15 am

    Lou, You’re right: that’s my freudian-slip: it is the ‘touring binding standard’. However, even with my mistake — ISO 13992 says nothing about tibia fracture mitigation: the DIN / ISO standard that does that is 9462. That standard is clearly not referenced in the TÜV Approval certificate.

    Rick Howell
    President
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  35. Brian September 2nd, 2014 8:15 am

    I have to run my Duke heels at 13. Any plans for a Kingpin 16? I’m skeptical that the Kingpin 13 can hold me in.

    Thoughts on vertical elasticity and retention when compared to the Beast 14/16?

    Finally, I was confused by this statement:

    “Interestingly, the technical team guys told me they did extensive development on the concept of a rotating toe unit like the main competitor is using to a greater extent this coming season. I think that conflict in design philosophy will result in some interesting bench testing — as well as perhaps a brewing battle as to what the best design is for the tech binding archetype.”

    Does this me they are currently experimenting with a rotating toe? Or that they already experimented with a rotating toe and found no benefits that warranted such a design for the Kingpin?

  36. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 8:43 am

    @ Brian: The absence of lateral toe release will always mean that there is no biomechanical possibility for tibia fracture mitigation in the presence of a wide range of positions of applied injury-producing lateral loads into the ski. (Non-straight skis enhance the possibility of the presence of a wide range of applied lateral loads (centroids produced by both the tip and the tail of a ski ‘biting’).) Again, lateral heel release provides the possibility of addressing the most prevalent cause of ACL (and MCL) injuries IF set to release at certain (non-published) levels, AND IF the level of lateral heel release is ‘properly’ / functionally-decoupled from forward retention (and decoupled from 4-other spatial modes). Functional decoupling between lateral heel release and forward release (independent release adjustment in these 2-modes) provides the important possibility for solid forward retention AND ACL/MCL-injury mitigation.

    If a binding has no lateral toe release — it has the possibility of causing tibia fracture, especially in the presence of large loads that are applied to the ski in the presence of a wide-range of positions along the length of the ski.

    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  37. Pablo September 2nd, 2014 8:43 am

    Rick, first of all, I apologize for my bad english, hope you can understand my question.

    You said that if we want to mitigate ACL injuries we must put lateral heel release to a binding.

    and lateral toe release to mitigate Tibia fractures.

    Also said that ISO 9462 is about tibia fracture mitigation.

    Is there any ISO norm about ACL injuries mitigation as well it exist ISO 9462 for tibia fractures?

    Why so much binding companies doesn’t make lateral heel release on their alpine bindings??

    Thanks in advance.

    Pablo

  38. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 9:16 am

    @Pablo: You don’t need to apologize. The meaning of your English is clear. it is my English that needs improvement 🙂 You have excellent questions.

    No standard addresses ACL (or MCL) injury mitigation because the proven biomechanical research that addresses these injuries — relative to ski bindings — is ‘new’ (it’s only 10-years old). Further, the standards formation process involves all of the binding companies. The prime ski binding technology that will reduce ACL / MCL injury is contained in my patented inventions. The other binding companies refuse to buy-out my patented inventions at fair-market-value — so they cannot utilize this technology: they would be infringing my patented inventions if they did. Further, standards and patents are like oil and water. The other binding companies’ prime way-out of this situation is to simply ignore the technology that can provide ACL-friendly skiing. They try to pretend that no solution actually exists. It does exist. It’s just a matter of money.

    Interestingly, the new binding has the possibility of addressing ACL (and MCL) friendly skiing IF the level of the lateral heel release is tuned accordingly AND IF lateral heel release is functionally decoupled from forward retention in order to prevent pre-release. Forward retention is essential (mandatory) in order to mitigate head and spinal cord injury: the above binding company is mindful of that priority. Mitigating pre-release in a binding that has release is far more important than release by itself.

    Here we have the social paradox and the issue of ‘current standard of care’ in addressing the combination of ‘frequency of certain types of injuries’ vs ‘severity of other types of injuries’ — and how to socially-weight these two forms of injury in a preventive-technology such as ski bindings.

    However, this binding does not have lateral toe release: it has the possibility of causing tibia fracture in the presence of a wide range of applied lateral loading into the ski. Independently, DIN / ISO 9462 (the tibia fracture mitigation standard) is NOT listed in the TÜV Approval certificate shown above.

    Respectfully,

    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  39. Pablo September 2nd, 2014 9:34 am

    Rick, thanks for your answer, very interesting.

    What do you think about other rotatory heels such as the Look FKS or Tyrolia ones (not exactly rotatory)

    Wee can think that new Dynafit Radical 2 St Wich turns at toe and have lateral release at heel is one of the most secure bindins now talking about ALC and tibia injuries?

    Thanks again. Would love to see more details of your binding.

    Pablo

  40. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 9:59 am

    @Pablo: The first binding that you reference in your above post has side-lugs that make it IMPOSSIBLE for any boot to release laterally-through it: that binding has no possibility of providing lateral heel release: therefore, turntable bindings cause ACL-injuries produced by the most prevalent type of skiing-event-mechanism that is associated with skiing ACL-injuries.

    The 2nd binding that you reference can only provide lateral heel release AFTER the heel lifts up during elastic travel or AFTER forward heel release. The most prevalent skiing-event-mechanism that causes ACL injuries is rear-weighted valgus loading (~80% of all skiing-ACL ruptures). A heel cannot lift upward during rear weighting. Therefore, that 2nd binding that you note has no possibility of addressing the most prevalent ACL-injury-producing event, either.

    In reference to the 3rd binding that you mention, there is no lateral toe release: therefore, it cannot address skiing-event-mechanisms that can produce tibia fractures: it has the possibility of addressing ACL-friendly skiing ONLY WHEN it provides the other functions that I note, above, too.

    Respectfully,
    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  41. lederhosen42 September 2nd, 2014 10:08 am

    Rick, respectfully; anecdotally speaking, I personally have yet to witness or hear about any tibia related fractures due to non lateral release at the toe with pintech style bindings. Many of our local skiers both ski tour and charge inbounds terrain with dynafit bindings and have done so for years now. Do you have any stats that indicate the seriousness of the issue? I’m open minded, just doesn’t appear to be a real world issue of any significance in terms of frequency, at least in this neck of the skiing woods.

  42. Pablo September 2nd, 2014 10:22 am

    Thanks Rick
    I totally agree os teh two first cases.
    I often had tha discussion with other people an thin the same.

    But with Dynafit TLT speed or Vertical or Radical I disagree a little.
    I think they have lateral release as the toe jaws opens when determined lateral force is applied, but i agree, that’s not a real release.

    So, if we put a front unit from a Diamir Vipec (wich have lateral toe release) and a heel unit of a Kingpin we could have the safest pintech binding??? just kidding!

    Thanks again.

    Pablo

  43. Anne September 2nd, 2014 10:55 am

    Lou, Thanks so much for a thorough first look. Would you be able to speak more about the ride quality? Closer to a traditional alpine binding? Or does the metal-on-metal toe interface still provide a lot of feedback?

  44. Bob September 2nd, 2014 11:09 am

    1. It seems like the 6 springs in the toe just increase the amount of pressure closing the front pins. It seems like the G3 Ion addresses this by changing the pivot points and increasing pressure that way.
    2. Regarding lateral elasticity, without a rotating toe piece, isn’t the lateral elasticity dependent upon the depth of the pins themselves? If the toe can rotate, the pins stay in the boot longer and the heel has the ability to return the boot to center. If the toe does not rotate the elasticity of the toe is a function of the depth of the pins and all the springs in the world will not increase the elasticity range only how hard the jaws stay shut. Yes?
    3. Wow, that tour/ski lever (carbon fiber/fiberglass tape??). Looks a bit scary.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 11:23 am

    Anne, I did ski quite a few varied conditions on Kingpin. The heel of your boot is locked in tight and the ride is that of a riggid boot ski connection. If u are used to tech bindings you already know that ride. Kingpin is stiffer still, but I didn’t mind it. It felt like a high quality alpine binding. The BMT skis are pretty good as well, and do have a bit of damping action due to wood core. Lou

  46. Frame September 2nd, 2014 12:34 pm

    Hey Rick, interesting to hear your views. Are you working on a touring binding also? Big bucks may come if that’s an option.

  47. Ted September 2nd, 2014 1:52 pm

    Sorry if this has already been covered. It appears that switching from tour to ski modes and vice versa will be difficult if not impossible with the skis on much like the other “royal” touring bindings.
    Please tell me this is not the case!

  48. Greg Louie September 2nd, 2014 3:05 pm

    Lou, I’ve got 570 grams for the Radical ST, not the FT. My weight on the FT12 is 623 grams.

  49. neonorchid September 2nd, 2014 3:45 pm

    Wow –
    Rick Howell you read my mind as you were the first person i thought of when i saw the heel piece lateral rotation. Thanks for answering the questions that were running thru my head.
    To bad Marker couldn’t get a Vipec/Trab/Beast type toe piece to work with that innovative heel piece.
    Anyway, now that the genie is out of the bottle, i can’t wait to see what Look, Salomon and Tyrollia ante up.

  50. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 4:58 pm

    Thanks Greg, as always I’ll check the numbers. Lou

  51. Lou Dawson 2 September 2nd, 2014 6:08 pm

    Guys, the Marker guys worked on a rotating toe even to the point of building prototypes, some of which they had ay the event. They gave up on it. Am not clear why. But truth is if Kingpin can be skied hard unlocked, tours well, and meets DIN 13992 then my suspicion is that it works.

  52. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 6:08 pm

    @lederhosen42: Kindly and respectfully, please show me a statistically valid sample of injured-skier data and non-injured skier data of the ‘intervention group’ (pin-tech group) compared to the injured and non-injured data of the control population of skiers.

    In the alternative, will it be ok to block the lateral toe release function of alpine ski bindings that also have lateral heel release?

    Presently, skiing tibia fractures have a prevalence of ~2% to ~3% of all skiing injuries (during the late 1960’s, they had a prevalence of ~30%). Toe piece function caused this well documented longitudinal change. Maybe we should repeat the experiment by blocking lateral toe release in all bindings to see what happens, epidemiologically, 20-years from now?

    In civil engineering, we design bridges based on structural engineering principles. If we know, for example, that concrete and steel fail at certain fracture limits — and this input-variable is applied to the design-engineering process. If we know that the tibia has a fracture limit for an average male of 11.3 daNm — and we know that with bindings that do not have lateral toe release (in the presence of a wide range of positions of applied lateral loads to the ski) that the measurement of resultant torque far exceeds 11.3 daNm — should we ignore these biomechanical measurements and go with epidemiological conjecture?

    Epidemiology helps to provide focus for design-engineering — as you correctly suggest — but when clear biomechanical measurement data provides definitive engineering results … again … should we ignore the biomechanics in favor of epidemiological conjecture?

    I mean that, respectfully.

    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  53. Rick Howell September 2nd, 2014 6:13 pm

    @Lou: What is, “works” ? DIN / ISO 13992 says nothing about mitigating tibia fractures. ‘But I’ll guess that you mean — it provides the same paradigm as what exists now, correct?

  54. Tuck September 2nd, 2014 8:39 pm

    Wow…

  55. Codey September 2nd, 2014 9:18 pm

    @Rick Howell – So just to recap:

    It seems clear that you are critical of the fact that it does not feature a front lateral release. As you have stated multiple times, without front lateral release, it cannot meet ISO 9462. ISO 9462 is about tibia fracture mitigation. This binding does not have ISO 9463 certification. Therefore, this binding has a risk of tibia fractures. This risk is apparent in the lack of ISO 9462 certification (which is not on the certificate). And will not be met as long as it lacks lateral toe release.

    It does meet ISO 13992 certification, but this standard does not cover tibia fracture. ISO 9462 does. But this binding does not meet that standard, because of the lack of lateral toe release.

    Does that pretty much cover it (grin)?

    Double respectfully,
    Codey

  56. John September 2nd, 2014 10:14 pm

    I was doing some backcountry skiing in the Northern Cascades on Volares with Dynafit FT-12s mounted on the centerline. I had a problem with this setup, the tips would wash-out at high speed. I was trying to push them through turns like my FX-94s.
    I went through a couloir, then when I got to the skirt I opened it up making GS turns at high speed. My left tip washed out and I did a spectacular 3 rotation Tomahawk, with major divets in the hard chundery snow.I was just waiting for the skis to release as more pain and strain built with each rotation. I could feel increased strain on my knees. the skis finally released, one was in my lap and this event was captured on my GoPro.
    What I learned from this was three things; don’t ski fast with the toes locked. Volares like 2cm forward mount for carving. and don’t be stupid in the backcountry!

    Fortunately, I just end with tibia rotated out off place which was easily put back into place by a chiropractor.
    I guess this dynamic has contributed to many more severe injuries. As a Cat 1 bike racer I keep my knees very strong. They have survived a sever femur fracture, torn renaculum and multiple tears to the MCL. None occurred skiing.
    All said I am very happy with the standard rerelease mode of standard tech bindings.
    I am really looking forward to the KingPin for my big mountain skis!

  57. Andy September 3rd, 2014 5:55 am

    Hi!

    Maybe this was already answered or asked…but I will do it again.

    I will buy a skis in 95-100 range and use them as 1 ski quiver. I will be using ski for carving groomers and off piste if there will be any fresh pow.

    Can this binding be used for piste carving on groomers. I would also like to go touring time to time and duke are to heavy for that.

    For ski boot I am thinking to take Scarpa Freeedom SL.

    Let me know what do you think.

    Thanks!

  58. Lou Dawson 2 September 3rd, 2014 7:35 am

    Andy, if the binding works as Marker has planned, yes, it might do everything. The question here is do you want to be an early adopter? While this is one of the more impressive binding releases I’ve seen, the overall history of tech bindings is somewhat concerning and should cause one to take pause in early adoption. Marker is even doing a good job with that in doing a limited retail release this winter instead of going all out. Wise. If they don’t find one thing to fix I’ll eat my socks (grin).

  59. Jeff September 3rd, 2014 12:52 pm

    Lou – I am wondering if you could expand on your answer to Anne’s question above.

    A common complaint about “traditional” tech bindings (Radical, Vertical, etc) is that the extremely rigid toe connection transmits a lot of feedback from the ski to the boot, especially in firm, uneven, chattery conditions. A traditional alpine binding on the other hand, has significantly more lateral elasticity that serves to absorb these vibrations and offers a smoother ride, especially on firm snow.

    Bindings like the Beast, Radical 2.0, and Vipec include a mechanism specifically designed to address this (sliding or rotating toe) but the Kingpin doesn’t appear to, at least from my armchair.

    How well do you feel the Kingpin isolates vibration and feedback (especially on firm snow) compared to a traditional binding such as a Radical?

  60. Colin carver September 6th, 2014 7:40 am

    Hey Lou.
    So impressed at the thoroughness of your reviews. Not much room for questions after a read through. In a world of hopless sales gimmicks, ( and sales staff ) its so refreshing to find no bs facts on gear.

    Cheerz
    Colin

  61. Colin carver September 6th, 2014 7:45 am

    Oh, but yeah, I’m seeing some sno balling issues under foot.

    Post script!)

  62. Lou Dawson 2 September 6th, 2014 2:29 pm

    Colin, thanks, am always striving to do a decent job, sometimes more or less (grin). It’s not easy doing these “first looks” without sounding like too much of a booster when a tech binding product does do this well out of the chute (wow, it didn’t break!). Luckily we got to ski on the Kingpin for 3 days, doing some pretty realistic touring, so I really did get a good test session. Always be aware that the pre-retail test bindings can be a bit different than the retail ones, for better or worse. Unknown until consumer testing. Hopefully we’ll have retail ver just as soon at it’s released and we’ll really give it the test (bump skiing on Aspen Mountain, anyone?). Lou

  63. Lou Dawson 2 September 6th, 2014 2:38 pm

    Jeff, I’m going to have to get the binding into the shop to get a real read on lateral elasticity. Know that this is complex. The toe wings open to the side both when the boot toe moves directly left or right, as well as when the heel of the boot moves left or right. There is actually quite a bit of elasticity in this if everything works correctly. The biggest problem I’ve seen is not the lack of a rotation toe, but rather non-standard boot fittings that are “sticky” and don’t allow smooth movement of the boot. Indeed, the non standardized boots even make testing the complete tech system somewhat of a joke, though sticking with Dynafit or Scarpa helps by creating a defacto standard. In any case, the ultimate test is can an expert skier rock the binding with “normal” DIN settings and not pre-release any more than they would with an alpine binding? Time will tell.

    Also, I constantly get chatter about how tech bindings might not protect from leg injury as well as properly adjusted alpine bindings. I have no scientific data on that, but I do know that while leg breaks and knees do happen to ski tourers, I’ve not gotten the sense those injuries are epidemic or even very common.

    Lou

  64. Joe Risi September 6th, 2014 6:24 pm

    Well since I already took the Beast bump skiing on Aspen I might as well chance fate with the Kingpin…

    Awesome stuff Lou, hope your having a blast in SA!

  65. Lou Dawson 2 September 7th, 2014 6:19 am

    Introducing Bumpy Joe, our official ski binding torture tester. Seriously, it sounds like Marker has done a good job of getting some aggressive pro skiers to extensively use Kingpin. They’re Marker athletes so once has to take that into consideration, but still, when Stain Hagen says he feels this is a “quiver of one” binding, one does have to listen. Same with Hoji and the Beast. Only trouble about that is that sometimes those guys just crank their DIN up so high it cancels out any problems with binding elasticity and retention, so you have to take what they say with a grain of salt if you’re a “normal” ski tourer. But still… Lou

  66. Stian Hagen September 8th, 2014 6:11 am

    Hi Lou

    It was great meeting and skiing with you in Chile and I hope you had some luck with the snow/weather for the rest of your trip. I just wanted to respond to your DIN comment yesterday; I actually ski all my bindings on 8, including the Kingpin, which is the DIN recommended for my weight (66kg) and never have any problems. I see more and more of the athletes I ski with do the same, getting hurt because your ski didn’t release, is just not worth it!

  67. Lou Dawson 2 September 8th, 2014 6:43 am

    Thanks for chiming in Stian! The whole thing with people skiing super high DIN over the past years has really bothered me, as doing that is so counter to the whole idea of “safety” bindings and can result in such severe injuries. I guess I’m sensitive, as when I was a kid there were still guys skiing with non release bindings and one guy I still know almost ripped his foot off and was crippled for life. It is wonderful to hear you’re careful and are with the program of using DIN that might actually protect. And sure, any of us are going to dial it up or lock when we want complete security for no-fall extreme skiing, but that shouldn’t be all the time. The worst is when guys seem to brag about how high a “DIN” they ski on, and how they can’t stay in their bindings otherwise. Perhaps you and Marker are breaking that trend…

  68. Len September 14th, 2014 6:02 am

    Not sure what you mean when you say the heel adapter is “backwards compatible”.
    With the adapter on a TLT, can you also use the boot with say a a Dynafit without having to remove it?

  69. Lou Dawson 2 September 14th, 2014 7:11 am

    Len, yes, the adapter will work with both the Kingpin and any regular tech binding heel with the usual 2 pins. Am pretty sure the Beast adapter has rounded outside corners now so it also will work with any tech heel. I’d recommend that any large or agressive skier using a conventional tech binding (two pins insert in boot heel) mod their boots with either of these adapters to eliminate the possibility of rear boot fitting failure. Lou

  70. Len September 14th, 2014 7:23 am

    Lou, Thanks. But given the versatility, I don’t understand your other comment about not putting the side screws in when trying the Kingpin.
    With respect to use with pin bindings does the adapter address wear or does it generally make the pin connection more secure?

  71. Lou Dawson 2 September 14th, 2014 8:29 am

    Len, the side screws holding the adapter were not essential for testing and the adapter install was temporary done by one of the Marker guys at the press event. Don’t over think it, if you installed the adapters permanently you’d use the side screws, the idea is an adapter/fitting that won’t break off the boot. In terms of wear, it’s unknown how the hardness of the steel in any boot adapter relates to the hardness of the steel in various tech binding models/brands pins, but in any case those are some very easy parts to replace, and they’re not known to wear excessively — though if a tech binding is going to really get used as a daily driver resort binding I’m a fan of eliminating the rear pin system and going with something like Marker or Trab that utilizes DIN/ISO boot heel shape.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/1165/randonnee-at-ski-touring-boot-iso-standards/

  72. Tjaard October 1st, 2014 11:57 am

    So will this fit all pi tech equipped boots, or are there types of boot that won’t work?
    How about a Meastrale RS?

  73. Lou Dawson 2 October 1st, 2014 12:56 pm

    Tjard, it will fit most boots. If the boot needs the adapter (TLT5,6) you have to make sure the adapter will fit. Will fit a Maestrale RS just fine. Lou

  74. Tjaard October 2nd, 2014 11:51 am

    How would you compare the quality of skiing downhill in the Kingpins to the Vipecs or Beasts(the other tech binding bindings claiming to improve on the downhill control of traditional tech bindings)?

  75. Andy October 2nd, 2014 11:55 am

    @Tjard: wondering the same since marker have different back design.

  76. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2014 11:56 am

    In all honesty Tjaard, I don’t ski aggressively enough to notice a difference. In pow I also ski a pretty centered stance without a lot of heel thrusting so even a conventional tech binding feels plenty solid. On the other hand, I think aggressive skiers looking for an “alpine” feel will appreciate Kingpin. Lou

  77. Tjaard October 2nd, 2014 12:47 pm

    Thanks Lou,
    I am not very aggressive either.
    I wasn’t worried about powder, the softer snow limits hard movements anyway.
    I was more thinking of icy or cruddy snow, whether on a tour or doing laps in the resort.
    One thing I struggle with as a less accomplished skier who likes to go and explore, is staying in control on rough snow. So, I was wondering if one or the other seemed ‘smoother’ and more controlled on choppy or bumpy hard snow, like you say you encountered a few times out there, and we all do on spring tours frequently.

    In other reviews of both Vipec and Beast people have mentioned how they feel those bindings ski more controlled on hard snow than traditional pin tech bindings, but very few people have tried the Kingpin.
    Sorry to bug you like this, but my new skis need bindings, and I’d rather try and pick the right ones now!

  78. Lou Dawson 2 October 2nd, 2014 2:07 pm

    Tjaard, the binding brand/model is not going to make a wit of difference for you in terms of ski performance, though you do need to know that if you’re not an accomplished skier is that there is no tech binding that equals the injury protection of a full-on quality alpine binding at correct settings. So be sure you can ski with pretty much no falls if you’re doing to use tech bindings much. Lou

  79. Andy October 2nd, 2014 2:35 pm

    Beast 14 & 16 are not safe option then?

  80. Andy October 3rd, 2014 9:15 am

    @Tjaard: let me know what did you pick at the end. I am actually in same position as you are looking following bindings from my new Praxis BC skis:

    – Marker Kingpin
    – Dynafit Beast 14 or 16
    – MArekr Tour EPF F12 or other similar with higher standing point like Tyrolia touring version or Dinamir

    Take care!

  81. Lou Dawson 2 October 3rd, 2014 9:45 am

    Andy, “not safe” is the wrong term. You can hurt yourself on any ski binding. Heck, you can blow out a knee while hiking on foot. All I’m saying is that in my opinion the safest option for ski safety bindings is a top quality, latest model alpine binding paired with alpine ski boots and set to correct DIN settings. No tech binding can equal that level of safety, in my opinion. Just a dose of realism.

    It is possible that the added vertical heel elasticity in Beast enables you to ski at lower DIN setting for vertical release, which would make it “safer” than using a binding with higher DIN setting.

    Lou

  82. Andy October 3rd, 2014 9:48 am

    @Lou:

    Ok, what you you then recommend if I am willing to use bindings / skiing on piste:

    – beat 14 or 16
    -. new marker kingpin

    or maybe a hybrid version AT & tech binding like Marker Tour EPF F12.

    Also looking into this: Diamir Vipec 12

    Thanks!

  83. Lou Dawson 2 October 3rd, 2014 9:55 am

    Yes, those are the bindings that have more vertical elasticity/retention and can perhaps be set to lower release values, thus possibly being “safer.” As far as I know, all tech bindings that use toe pins in the standard boot toe fittings have similar lateral elasticity, but Beast might have a bit more due to the rotating toe unit. Properly functioning tech bindings _do_ have decent lateral elasticity, but some don’t due to poor interface between boot toe fittings and binding pins. This whole deal is pretty tricky. It’s not like buying a set of modern alpine bindings and boots. In the end, you want to bench test and release check whatever setup you do get. Lou

  84. Andy October 3rd, 2014 10:00 am

    @Lou: If I got it right new Marker do not have rotating toe unit?

  85. Tjaard October 3rd, 2014 10:10 am

    Thanks Lou for taking all this time to explain this to us, I really appreciate it.
    It hard to find someone with the combination of extensive experience, basic engineering understanding and without commercial interest in the products.

    Andy, I think, given Lou’s points made above, that for my new skis I will use the Warden or Marker with Maestrales. The skis I’m considering are a bit wide, and much to heavy for serious touring anyway, so I’d just be giving up on the sidecountry. The Tyrolia AAAmbition seems like a nice option too, but I worry about that tall stack height.

    Then I will put tech bindings on either my old Rocker 90s or perhaps a true dedicated lightwright touring ski.

    The harder decision is for my wife’s Soul 7. They are nice and light, and would make a decent backcountry ski, the low weight of even the heaviest tech bindings also appeals to us parents slepping around 3 pairs of skis at a a resort. But she has knee issues already, so going the Alpine binding route seems like the safest bet there too.

  86. Lou Dawson 2 October 3rd, 2014 10:17 am

    Soul 7 isn’t particularly light, that’s the power of marketing for you…

    https://www.wildsnow.com/9657/ski-weight-comparison-surface/

    Lou

  87. Andy October 3rd, 2014 11:35 am

    @Tjaarad: By saying you will pick Marker you meant new kingpin?

    I am looking for bindings where it will be possible to tour.

    What I do not like about Marker Tour , Tyrolia Ambition, Diamir Scout … is that standing point is quite high.

    I am towards new Beast 14 and 16 or Marker Kingping. As said I do not have any experience what or how tech bindings behave or feel when skiing so I am looking for advice here.

    And since Dynafit is not cheap option i would not like to make bad purchase.

    Thanks!

  88. Tjaard October 3rd, 2014 12:16 pm

    Sorry Andy,
    I noticed this error as soon as I posted it.
    I meant Marker Lord or Atomic Warden, i.e. alpine bindings. I had planned to put AT bindings on some new Line Supernatural 108s, just to have the option of skinning, but really they are so heavy, they were always going to be resort/sidecountry skis.
    With that in mind, if Lou states the release performance of alpine bindings is better, it doesn’t seem worth it for skis that would never be serious touring skis anyway.

    Thanks Lou, I had not checked the weight on the SOUL 7 yet. 1850g per ski(178)! Still Wildsnowgirl wrote;’ Solid and fun, these gals are worth their weight.”

    For my Salomon Rocker2 90s, it seems like it might be worthwhile to turn them into a AT set-up with a beefy pintech binding like Beast 13 or Marker Kingpin or Fritschi Vipec, as I might want to take them to Europe at some point for a combination of hut touring and resort skiing.

  89. Barmski October 20th, 2014 9:53 pm

    Sounds to me like Marker stole Cast Touring’s idea. SOOOOOO marker is paying royalties to Cast Touring? Funny how this ALWAYS happens in the industry. Armada creates the elf toe, Rossi makes the S7- aka an Armada JJ.

  90. Lou Dawson 2 October 21st, 2014 5:20 am

    Andy, the main thing you’ll notice with any tech binding as compared to most frame touring bindings and even some alpine bindings is they are much more rigid in rolling deflection. If you are a powerful skier you might also notice some bindings that release sideways at the heel feel slightly “soft” when applying turn force at the heel, but this is only the case for very accomplished and sensitive skiers who are quite powerful. All bindings deflect to one degree or another, so sometimes this is all splitting hairs. Another consideration with tech bindings is again depending on your style of skiing, weight, type of boots and skis, etc. you might experience accidental release with some models and configurations when set at release values as indicated by the binding adjustment charts. This is more the case with earlier models most of which are out of production, but something to consider.

    If you’re unfamiliar with tech bindings and want to transition to using them, we’re here to help. Ask any question and we’ll try to answer.

    Lou

  91. Matt October 24th, 2014 10:55 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Re: Marker’s under-heel mode switch.
    I can’t believe Marker’s choice to stick with this deeply flawed, guaranteed-to-ice up switch location isn’t coming in for more criticism.
    You say it can be activated, awkwardly, with the ski still attached to your foot. I assume this means that the front of your boot stay in the tech toe after you release the toe piece, and then you have to somehow reach around beneath your foot & flip the switch?

    Forget fragile strips of carbon tape, this image invokes the ongoing nightmare touring in my Marker Baron has been. I ski in the Sierras, and with our moist snowpack here the Baron heels will ice up on me each and every time I skin.

    Weight & mechanical advantage of tech toepieces are the icing that are drawing me in for a slice of the tech binding cake this season, but honestly, the #1 reason I’m fleeing Marker frame bindings is the inability to activate tour mode on the fly & the necessity of de-icing every time I switch modes.

    Am I missing something, or has Marker managed to carry over its worst feature into this new “tech” offering?

  92. Matt October 24th, 2014 10:57 pm

    Edit: 3rd sentence above should read:
    “the front of your boot stays in the tech toe after you release the heel piece…”

  93. Stefano October 25th, 2014 1:43 am

    To Matt,

    Is clear that the King Pin has much more benefit (and safety) than other similar bindings so it has his field of application. It means it reach his targhet (skiers) much better than others.

    If you really need more for what you did in dowhill, and you can pay for this, stay tuned on http://www.n-w-b.com (or e-mail me), a super news is already on the snow…

    Ciao
    Stefano

    ( to Lou: I’ve to study a month to answer to your antispam question ! ;-P I try to type H2O, but doesent work… I finally discover I’ve also to add all pollution substances, in the right quantity, at the rigth elevation, for your location ;-P )

  94. Eric B November 3rd, 2014 4:16 pm

    Lou, what’s your view on the Kingpins vs. the G3 ION (which you also gave a good first look review of)? Would be for a touring set-up (not resort), 94mm ski, I’m 80kg a medium aggressive skier. Kingpins sound very cool, innovative, but the lighter weight of the IONs appeal and I wonder if the more traditional tech ION design might have fewer teething issues (though both first season bindings). As you’ve skied both any noticeable difference in feeling/performance? Other considerations? Thanks! (snow due this week in the Haute Savoie 🙂

  95. Lou Dawson 2 November 3rd, 2014 5:28 pm

    Eric, sounds like you want a gladiatorial battle (grin). If it’s a touring setup on a 94 mm ski I’d think ION would be nice with less weight. You are early adopting. You have been warned. Lou

  96. Eric B November 4th, 2014 8:21 am

    Thanks Lou, someone’s gotta buy this new stuff to keep the manufacturers innovating. But the weight savings may be offset by the large repair kit I’ll be carrying into the field…:)

  97. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2014 8:23 am

    Eric, there is someone born every minute who will try new stuff (grin). Me included. Lou

  98. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2014 8:26 am

    I’d amend that and say that several of the most brutal falls I’ve ever taken have been while testing ski bindings and pre releasing. I also broke a leg very badly on early touring bindings that didn’t protect correctly for spiral force, took more than a year to heal and skipped a whole ski season, 5 or 6 surgeries, forgotten how many… early adoption sometimes has a price. Lou

  99. Eric B November 4th, 2014 9:19 am

    Sobering words Lou, and as someone whose had both knees done and a hardware store of metal in my tibia and ankle, its not a place I’d like to go. But as we discussed over on the Volk BMT 94 post, there isn’t a huge selection of bindings whose screw pattern fit the H-shaped mounting area of that ski. You identified the ION, Kingpin, and Beast as good fits, of which only the Beast has retail miles on it, but is heavier than I’d like. Would any of the tried and true Dynafits or others fit? If so I’ll happily avoid being a binding pioneer (feel free to post reply to the BMT 94 page if more relevant to that thread). Thanks!

  100. Rick Howell November 4th, 2014 1:50 pm

    As all ‘good’ ski binding engineers know — mitigating pre-release is BY FAR the #1 functional requirement of any ski binding. Pre-release can easily lead to head and upper-body injury (potentially, death or paralysis), whereas a ‘no-release’ condition is merely a broken-leg or ‘knee-injury’. The common myth is that we must deal with a trade-off between retention or release. ‘Good’ bindings (a) release at least according to minimum international DIN/ISO standards (to mitigate tibia-fracture and to provide a crude barometer on retention and durability); (b) provide reasonable retention at chart-settings (though most bindings can’t); and (c) perform according to ‘standard industry practice’ for on-slope retention and on-slope durability (‘standard industry practice’ for retention and durability are closely-held trade secrets among the existing alpine ski binding companies + myself). Good binding design includes Axiomatic-Engineering to decouple release from retention so that a trade-off is unnecessary. Most of the binding engineers are just starting to learn what the new field of Axiomatic-Engineering is …

  101. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2014 3:42 pm

    Rick, thanks for driving the point home. I’d never quite thought of it that way but you are of course correct, job one is to prevent pre-release. Sadly, the ISO norm specifies very little testing related to pre-release, most of it involves measuring vertical and lateral release forces under various situations (bending ski, ice, etc.). This is the gorilla in the room, for sure. Lou

  102. Rick Howell November 4th, 2014 3:51 pm

    ISO 9465 is ONLY about retention; and there are several in-depth provisions within 9462 re retention. However, as co-author of both of those standards — I can say that there are ZERO standards at this time re forward-retention (though I have repeatedly made several proposals starting in 1975 through recently). More significantly, one MUST meet the retention aspects of these standards to be ‘compliant’ with our moral and ethical responsibilities as civilized people. We binding engineers also know that the real retention and durability are — as noted, previously — covered within our ‘standard industry practice’, which practice is a strictly held trade-secret among us.

  103. Andy November 7th, 2014 6:40 am

    Lou:

    I got good deal on Duke 13/14 model but Marker representative after a long conversation give me thinking abut new Kingpin as my best option what i want to get from system – lift serving and hiking to peak and skiing mix of offpiste and onpiste + and occasional backcountry touring / skiing.

    I have quite light setup of skis: 3700 per pair.

    Beast 14 or 16 is also an option but price is $$$. 🙂 new ION looks promising but for me it looks similar to RADICAL? Not sure if this is the type of bindings I am looking for since lack of elasticy might be an issue skiing groomers.

    I really need a feedback if Kingpin would be the way to go in 1 season 🙂 Safety really scares me off 🙂 since i do not have any experience how tech operates on groomers.

    What do you think? Should I pull a trigger on dukes or wait for mid december and go with kingpin?

    Thanks for answer !!!

  104. Lou Dawson 2 November 7th, 2014 6:59 am

    Andy, though I liked Kingpin in use and I like the concept, I can’t in good conscious recommend any binding that’s not yet being skied in retail version. If a Marker guy was selling it to you, he was just doing his job… Dukes are proven, and if you’re mostly lift skiing just go with them if you’re uncomfortable with tech bindings. Also remember that in most ways Kingpin is still a tech binding. Lou

  105. Andy November 7th, 2014 8:12 am

    If i decide to mount duke this year and next year kingpin would that be any problem for skis itself?

  106. Andy November 8th, 2014 1:08 am

    Lou:

    If i go in direction of duke type of binding what do you recommend in terms of performance of skiing:

    Duke epf 13/14 – i get a good price for it
    Or
    Tour f12 epf – lighter but many suggested me baron as lighter option compare to dukes but more performance and more durable option.

    Please give feedback.

    Andy

  107. Lou Dawson 2 November 8th, 2014 4:18 am

    In my opinion Duke and Baron are going to be equal in terms of skiing performance, base your purchase on what release value numbers you need. For performance skiing I’d recommend either of those over Tour F12. Lou

  108. Andy November 8th, 2014 6:25 am

    Lou:
    Thanks for fast feedback.

    Any idea if duke epf 14/15 model is different than 13/14 model?

    In marker catalog it says updated for 14/15 but not sure what exactly if any. Many peope are sayinh just color.

    Thanks!

  109. Mac November 17th, 2014 12:40 pm

    Hi,
    I’m thinking about mounting either a Dynafit Beast (probably the 14) or the Marker Kingpin together with the NTN Freedom using inserts on a DPS Wailer 99 Pure. However I can’t seem to find any information about the hole pattern on the Kingpin. Do you happen to have any information regarding this?
    Cheers
    /Markus

  110. Lou Dawson 2 November 17th, 2014 12:52 pm

    Mac, when we have our retail version bindings the paper template will be forthcoming. Not before, as I want it to be 100%. Lou

  111. Matt November 17th, 2014 2:14 pm

    Andy:
    Marker Baron experience & caveats: I ski the 12/13 version of the Marker Baron, & it has performed every bit as well as my Griffons on the down. 2 full seasons of skiing it hard in & out of bounds in tough, rocky terrain. I chose the Baron over the Duke because I only weigh 160 and ski with my DIN at 10.
    That said, next time I’m in the market for a burly frame binding for dual front-&-backcountry use, I don’t think I’ll be buying Markers.
    Having the touring mode switch underfoot is a HUGE pain. Especially here in CA with coastal snow, it ices like crazy. Removing skis in deep powder produces tragicomic results: the binding gets choked with snow, you boot gets caked, and you’ll spend more time fighting the binding than deploying your skins.
    Next time I’ll be looking at something like the Solomon Guardian / Atomic Tracker where you can activate the tour mode with a skipole without removing your foot from the binding.

  112. Peter December 5th, 2014 7:37 am

    Maybe I missed it, but where does the safety leash attach up front?

  113. Andy December 5th, 2014 7:39 am

    @Lou: what do you think about this solution?

    http://casttouring.com/collections/si-i-systems

    Do you see any problems doing stuff in that way or do you have concerns about it?

    But if I weight and add standing height to that setup I am close to Baron weight and standing point. So what did I miss here?

    Thanks!

  114. Terje K December 5th, 2014 8:05 am

    There’s a small hole on the side of the toe binding, a few mm across. I suppose that’s for the leash.

    See this photo: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lg0kn8y9b05aakt/kingpin_hole.jpg?dl=0

  115. Lou Dawson 2 December 5th, 2014 9:26 am

    Terje and all, yes, Kingpin has a hole for leash. Lou

  116. Lou Dawson 2 December 5th, 2014 9:31 am

    Andy, we don’t have any concerns about CAST and indeed we have a review or two hanging out here. Most WildSnow readers simply don’t need it, they get fine results with using tech bindings both on the up and the down.

    Try our site search option (in this page design, it’s at upper left.

    I searched for “cast,” and got quite a few hits:

    https://www.wildsnow.com/backcountry-skiing-search/?cx=partner-pub-8093284038752434%3Ayxtlw7-4zut&cof=FORID%3A11&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=cast&sa=SiteSearch

    Lou

  117. Lou Dawson 2 December 9th, 2014 10:06 am

    Marker sent out an email blast today, saying they’re shipping retail bindings.

  118. Peter McGuckin December 17th, 2014 7:47 pm

    Lou, got a look at the retail shipped Kingpin today and whilst I’m sold, that carbon fibre link is bugging me for its novelty. If it fails do you know if the heel be “manually” manipulated between tour and ski? ( I’m Aussie based and alternate my earn your turns efforts between Hokkaido and Monashees)

  119. Brent MacGregor December 26th, 2014 12:47 pm

    Marker Kingpin bindings: a reported problem

    http://pistehors.com/king-pin-woes-23659119.htm

    A small sample but given the number of Kingpin bindings in actual use, it may be significant and it is certainly interesting for those of us who think: ‘That’s great, but I don’t buy anything, no matter how good, until it’s had a few seasons to get the bugs out’

    Full discussion in French:

    http://www.skipass.com/forums/sports/ski/rando/sujet-133054.html

  120. Lou Dawson 2 December 26th, 2014 1:12 pm

    I sure don’t appreciate Davidof copying that off a forum and publishing with disclaimers as to if it’s real or not. It’s like he can’t wait a minute to publish photos of something broken, even if he has no idea how it got broken or even what version the binding is (retail, or pre production). Pure link bait, really.

    Interesting that even on the forum the guy who says he broke it has not clarified things. I’m not impressed, though Davidoff is most certainly correct in his assertion that early adoption of these products may be fraught with problems.

    My rant aside, will certainly be something to watch. There are very few retail version Kingpins out in the wild, so if there is indeed a problem it’ll be pretty easy to remedy. The toe pins of a tech binding do undergo immense pressures while in use…

    Lou

  121. Pete January 1st, 2015 7:40 pm

    I just got a pair of these. I must say coming from a Guardian then Duke then these it is a night and day difference. They tour nicely. No issues on groomers and even ice. They feel solid and compared with frame bindings they feel nice and light on the way up. No issues with the pins or any kind of pre release. I skiied my guardians and dukes at 12 but with these I’m not getting any release at 8.

    Overall thanks to Marker for making a great binding.

  122. Andy January 4th, 2015 6:10 am

    Pete:
    I can understand they tour better than duke/ guardian but how is with going downhill? I will be using them also in pure resort skiing? Thx

  123. Lou Dawson 2 January 4th, 2015 9:14 am

    The best alpine bindings combined with alpine boot are probably still superior. We all need to get out of the land of Oz and be realistic. These are frameless touring bindings and still may compromise. Lou

  124. Rick Howell January 4th, 2015 9:28 am

    For USD 5,000 I will perform and provide a comprehensive set of biomechanical tests that are similar to those found in the other thread here on WildSnow that pertains to testing pin-tech bindings authored by Jason Borro. Data can be available 3 weeks after commencement of the project. If a couple of you ‘group together’ on this — maybe you can achieve the answer to your good question re ‘alpine performance’.

  125. Stefano January 4th, 2015 3:08 pm

    Rick wrote: “For USD 5,000 I will perform and provide a comprehensive set of biomechanical tests that are similar to those found in the other thread ”

    I’m curious about that because this will the first serious think (I hope) will be wrtten on Skimo Bindings…

    I already did several test by myself but I can’t share since I’m already in a lega fighting with a Skimo bindings manufacturer.

    Interesting will be:

    1- DIN compliance real, or not ?
    2- Release: real, or not….
    3- Icing: whant happen…
    4- Legs, joint damege when falling with torsion…

    Thanks
    Ciao
    Stefano

  126. Rick Howell January 4th, 2015 3:42 pm

    @ Stefano: The other thread here on Wildsnow is, “Ripping Ligaments & Snapping Bones — Tech Binding Release Testing”, by Jason Borro (I performed the tests). The direct link is: [ https://www.wildsnow.com/15123/tech-binding-release-testing-acl-broken-leg/#comment-65737 ]. This article and test data were posted only a few weeks ago.

    Not only does that article publish the first comprehensive release testing on pintech bindings — its also the first published test data on what happens to the tibia AND the ACL when injury-producing loads (forces, torques, and moments) enter the middle-third of the ski (as during Phantom Foot and Slip-Catch ACL-injury mechanisms) AND all lengths of skis, including with ‘shorter’ length skis.

  127. Stefano January 4th, 2015 11:10 pm

    Thansk Rick, GOOD OLD STYLE JOB, I miss it !

    There is much more to do: robotec (at) netsurf.it if you’re interested to discuss more.

    80% of the Pin lowtech binding skiers go dowhill with fully locked TOE…

    Thanks
    Ciao
    Stefano

  128. Andy January 5th, 2015 5:18 am

    @Lou:

    “The best alpine bindings combined with alpine boot are probably still superior. We all need to get out of the land of Oz and be realistic. These are frameless touring bindings and still may compromise. Lou”

    But reading comments like this it seams that binding still offer same performance or satisfaction to users if we compare them with Duke, Guardian. So it seems it depends by person expectation and performance:

    “Pete: They tour nicely. No issues on groomers and even ice.”

    As said many times I do not have any experiences with pin bindings so I can not tell. But reading above similar comments I get confused a lot.

    Take care and all the best in 2015!

  129. Rick Howell January 5th, 2015 5:35 am

    @ Stefano: I’ll be glad to host you here at my humble biomechanics lab in Stowe, Vermont USA at any time. 🙂

  130. Rick Howell January 5th, 2015 6:30 am

    @ Andy: One way to sort-out “confusion” regarding the gap between the comments from on-snow skiing experiences and the biomechanical release test data is to think about an analogy with cars. We may love the driving experience of a certain car — but did we know from that great driving experience with a specific car that the air-bag was functioning proper or not? Few of us are ever in a position to evaluate the efficacy of a given car’s air-bag function. So it is also with ski-bindings. The Mean-Days-Between-Injury (MDBI) for ‘properly functioning’ alpine ski bindings is ~40,000. (( By ‘properly functioning’, I mean when a statistically-large (statistically-correct control) population of skiers are largely utilizing bindings that meet ALL of the actual release provisions of ISO 9462. )) Few of us ever have a chance to ski 40,000 skier-days from which we could then experience an injury-producing load to which a ski-binding may or may-not ‘properly respond’. There are also many different types of injury-producing loads on skis, meaning that for each type of injury-producing load, we would need to re-set the skier-day time clock, then re-experience another 40,000 skier-days for each different type of injury producing-load in order to ‘properly evaluate’ any given binding’s release function, on-snow. Just as with a car’s air-bag function, an evaluation of a specific ski-binding’s release function is nearly impossible to test, ourselves, personally, due to the amount of days needed to become exposed to injury-producing loads.

    The ‘correct approach’ toward performing a ‘proper release evaluation’ of a given ski-binding is to utilize a biomechanical model that’s connected to ski-bindings that’s exposed to a full set of simulated injury producing loads, experimentally. This is how it’s done with the evaluation of air-bags in cars (cars are crashed with instrumented crash-dummies) — and this is how it’s done (correctly) with ski-bindings at independent testing labs, NOT WITH REAL HUMANS.

    Therefore, although we may love the on-snow experience of any given ski-binding (just as we may love the driving experience with a given car), objectively, we need to reach beyond that experience — to simulated experimental lab-testing — to evaluate a given binding’s release performance under a wide range of injury-producing conditions. On-snow testing does provide meaningful feedback about retention, edge control, and durability — but it will NEVER serve as a proper evaluation tool for measuring ‘release performance’ in terms of performance during exposure to a wide-range of injury producing loads.

    This may be why there’s a gap between what ‘skier’s report’ about their on-snow experience with a given binding (which experience can be truly great in terms of retention, edge control, and durability) compared to what is learned in the lab regarding ‘release performance’ when utilizing simulated experimental testing of a wide range of injury-producing load conditions. Exposure to a full range of release tests under a wide range of loading conditions that cause injury — cannot be measured by humans, on-snow, in a single lifetime.

    ( Please also note that the ISO alpine-touring standard expressly exempts release testing for all alpine-touring bindings that allow rotation of the boot of more than 45° above the ski-surface. Almost all pintech bindings provide more than 45° of rotation above the ski surface — and, hence, almost all pintech bindings are not tested for release in any lab in order to gain ‘Certification’. Fyi.)

  131. Lou Dawson 2 January 5th, 2015 9:52 am

    Rick, all the frame type touring bindings also rotate beyond 45 degrees in touring mode, are you saying those are not tested for release when they get their certification? That sounds kind of odd. If true, I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes for years!

    Lou

  132. Rick Howell January 5th, 2015 10:03 am

    Lou, I don’t know about ‘frame bindings’ or how the combination of frames plus alpine-touring bindings might apply or might not apply to that exemption in the alpine-touring international standard. However, if we don’t try to make pintech bindings something they are not — all of us may be better off. Here’s what they are: they’re light; they can provide non-release during certain situations where no-release might be favorable (such as extreme mountaineering); they provide a touring-mode; many of them are beautifully machined (almost works of art). ‘But to try to loose hair over the perceived qualities of pintech bindings relative to alpine bindings is a waste of time: they do not provide the release characteristics of alpine bindings. Again, if we classify pintech bindings for what they are — and not what they’re not — maybe we can move forward.

  133. Lou Dawson 2 January 5th, 2015 11:05 am

    Agree, and the first steps in that process might be to cut through any BS in the ISO certification, which has people in a tizzy. So I’ll look into it eventually. If you could quote the relevant section from IS0 13992 that would be helpful. I’m having trouble believing they would exempt touring bindings from release checks for certification. Thanks, Lou

  134. Rick Howell January 6th, 2015 7:26 am

    Lou, I can see how there might be confusion about ‘certification’: ISO has never “certified” anything in its history. ISO is an international standards consensus organization: it organizes a common standard among national standards. Its working group members are the representatives of the various national standards organizations.

    Much of what is posted here on Wildsnow about ‘standards’ (expressly, “DIN”, “ISO”, and the commentary on specific aspects of the ISO standards) as well as the role of TÜV is incorrect. I’m certain that these incorrect myths within Wildsnow are at the root of the confusion. Once there is better understanding about these standards — noting that they are always a work-in-progress with many improvements that are necessary — I’m confident that the tension that you express about these standards will dissipate.

  135. Lou Dawson 2 January 6th, 2015 9:33 am

    Rick, that’s a pretty strong statement. I fully understand ISO, TUV etc and have worked my rear end off writing blog posts to attempt to explain how it works. Any failure in my writing is of course my own, but I’d argue I’m not perpetuating any “myths.” On the other hand, I’m always happy to edit for clarity, so if you can give me some specific examples I’ll take a look at doing some edits.

    Writing “ISO certification” is of course a short way of writing “certified to ISO standards” perhaps it’s lazy writing but I think it’s ok. For example, in the comment above I write “BS in the ISO certification, which simply means “BS in the certification process.”

    Thus, what I’m wondering is if you could quote us the section of the ISO standard that would be used to exempt touring bindings from release testing.

    Lou

  136. Rick Howell January 10th, 2015 1:11 pm

    Here is the above-referenced exemption in ISO 13992, page-9, sub-clause 6:


    6 Requirements and Testing

    6.1 General Requirements

    6.1.1 Function and Form

    6.1.1.1 In the downhill position, the binding shall release at least in two cases:

    — when applying a torque Mz about an axis perpendicular to the ski gliding surface;

    — when applying a torque My about an axis parallel to the ski surface and perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the ski.

    The binding is said to release when the above mentioned torque reaches a maximum value (release value) and then drops to a value that is harmless for the skier. After release, all the loads applied by the ski and the boot on the leg shall remain under the dangerous level for all possible movements, and until all the risks associated with the coupling boot-ski are no longer apparent.

    In the advancing position, the binding shall release in the same cases as before if its maximum angular displacement is less than 45°. For bindings allowing a greater angular displacement, the requirement for release is optional.

    The last sentence is the exemption in the international ISO alpine-touring standard.

  137. SteveR January 10th, 2015 2:45 pm

    So the exemption applies solely to the requirement to test the binding ‘in the advancing position’

    i.e. there is no exemption to the requirement to test the binding’s release characteristics when it is in the down hill skiing position.

  138. Rick Howell January 10th, 2015 3:34 pm

    It says what it is.

    It does not say what it is not.

    Never-the-less — and how ever any individual bias chooses to interpret this standard — this clause (6.1.1.1) is why most pintech bindings are exempted from the ‘requirement for release’.

  139. See January 10th, 2015 7:02 pm

    Ok, so when tech bindings like the Beast 16 and the Kingpin are touted as being TUV certified to ISO 13992

    https://www.wildsnow.com/14464/din-beast-16-dynafit/

    that really just means that said bindings meet the standard without invoking the “optional” release exemption?

  140. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 12:08 am

    See, Rick introduced an element of confusion about this “release exemption” issue. I have to doubt the bindings received their TUV certification without the release check component of the ISO standard. For example, checking the binding release levels is integral to how the whole standard is written. I am checking on this but it’s difficult to get source information. For now, I would assume the bindings actually are checked as to if they conform to DIN values. More, what’s important is to note that the TUV certificate does point out that the bindings are only certified if they’re used with boot fittings conforming to Dynafit specifications. A fact is that over the years not all boot fittings have conformed and there is no way to know for sure if fittings not made/certified by Dynafit do conform, so this is a super important part of the situation. It’s all basically a big mess, in my opinion.

    Like I wrote the other day, the TUV certification is over rated. The ISO standard that TUV uses is archaic, and has parts that don’t even apply to tech bindings. I’ve covered this as a story because companies have indeed pursued getting the cert, but I apologize for ever implying it was the end-all be-all. It’s entirely possible that the best tech binding out there could never receive TUV certification to the ISO touring binding standard, due to innovation and features the standard has no way of accommodating. A good example is ION, which as an innovative geometry in the toe unit that increases elasticity, as well as possibly having slightly stronger toe springs, but this feature would not make one iota of difference in whether the binding received the TUV certificate or not. Or consider Dynafit Radical, with “power towers” that do help prevent pre-release in my opinion, but again would make no difference in TUV certification as opposed to another binding without that feature.

    A better approach on the part of the tech binding companies might be to find another independent testing lab, and only have the bindings tested for release values and elasticity. For example, it would be nice to simply know that the numbers printed on the binding were for sure an approximation of the DIN values. At this time, with the vast majority of tech bindings you have to totally take that on faith (and hopefully do release checks).

    Lou

  141. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 12:40 am

    I can say this stronger. If Marker and Dynafit are touting their certifications by TUV and the bindings were actually exempted from any testing for release, that is utter and total B.S. and will be very embarrassing to all involved. Frankly, if they’re not tested for release values those certificates are worth about as much as toilet paper. I’m working on clarifying all this. Will work on it today. Lou

  142. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 12:43 am

    BTW, I need to thank Rick for quoting the standard. I didn’t see that at first due to the furious pace of this comment thread! I’ll speak with a key binding engineer about it this morning. ‘best, Lou

  143. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 12:52 am

    Rick, I think you might be wrong. The latter part of the clause you refer to is referencing the “advancing position” meaning when the binding is set to walking mode. The first part of the clause requires release testing when the binding is in downhill mode. I get the impression you are not very familiar with ski touring bindings?

    It’s perhaps a good example of archaic parts of the ISO standard. No present touring binding has a maximum angular displacement of less than 45 degrees, they all allow the boot to move up to about 90 degrees in relation to the horizontal plane of the ski topskin. The standard is clearly specifying that if the binding allows this kind of broad angle, it doesn’t have to be tested for release in _touring mode_. Otherwise, it would need to be tested. There were some old bindings in olden days that did NOT allow much boot movement in touring mode. The standard would require that those limited motion bindings be tested for release in touring mode, what they’re calling the “advancing position.”

    I’ll triple check this but again I think you might be wrong in calling this out.

    (I’d add that this reminds me of another thing the standard does nothing to test for, that of what happens when a DIN/ISO shaped boot toe encounters the binding toe unit when moved to maximum forward position in touring mode. This has been an ongoing source of problems with tech bindings over the years.)

  144. See January 11th, 2015 1:57 am

    The standard apparently says that “(f)or bindings allowing a greater angular displacement, the requirement for release is optional.” I’m assuming that Dynafit and Marker chose not to exercise that option. In other words, they didn’t technically have to have the Beast or Kingpin tested for release in order to meet the standard (because of the weird 45 degree exemption), but they did anyway. Otherwise, touting certification would be mostly pointless.

  145. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 2:07 am

    See, Rick and all, I just spoke with an engineer who works with Dynafit and he helped me with the standard. The section quoted by Rick does NOT exempt bindings from testing for release in DOWNHILL MODE.

    The latter section in Rick’s quote simply exempts release checks on bindings that in TOURING MODE (advancing mode) allow the boot to rotate up farther than 45 degrees. That is 100% of presently available bindings.

    In other words, the bindings don’t have to be tested for release in TOURING MODE. A.K.A., “advancing mode.”

    The engineer explained to me that testing for release in touring mode when the binding allows a lot of stride motion range is complex and ultimately pointless, because depending on the angle of the boot above the ski, the forces vary substantially, along with other factors.

    As I said before, in the old days there were indeed a few touring bindings that allowed limited heel lift. Under the standard, those bindings would have to be tested for release in touring mode. But they do not exist.

    Put simply, the latter part of what Rick quotes simply says that ski touring bindings don’t have to be release checked with the heel unlatched and in touring mode. Makes total sense.

    Is this all clear, everyone? It’s a none issue. When ski touring bindings are tested for certification by TUV, including tech bindings, they are release checked.

    (BTW, it’s unfortunate the ISO standard doesn’t specify some kind of release in touring mode, that would occur if a person was caught in an avalanche. But it doesn’t. All presently retailed bindings are exempt from release checks in TOURING MODE.)

    Lou

  146. See January 11th, 2015 2:49 am

    What does it say about the standard when the last touring bindings with less than 45 degrees heel lift are antiques?

  147. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 3:20 am

    See, it says the standard needs help. On the other hand, the standard does need to differentiate between testing for release in latched heel downhill mode as opposed to touring mode. Also, it’s always possible a binding could be released that has limited travel in touring mode, and then the standard would require release check in touring mode for that binding. Lou

  148. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 3:29 am
  149. Rick Howell January 11th, 2015 6:25 am

    That engineer has not been to the testing lab where this standard is applied for certification. Pintech bindings do not pass the ‘release requirements’ of 13992 (these requirements are far beyond “release checks”): that is why the exemption is in place. In the absence of a certificate from a validated independent lab — indicating that a binding is certified according to the appropriate ISO standard — ski bindings cannot be sold in Germany, Switzerland or Austria. Switzerland actually enforces the need for a certificate. Therefore, to gain a ‘certificate’ from an independent lab, ISO 13992 was developed as a ‘go-around’.

    Further, pintech bindings do not “conform to DIN values” as is noted above (please see the article by Jason Borro here on Wildsnow).

  150. SteveR January 11th, 2015 7:55 am

    @ Rick

    The manufacturers of of pin tech bindings make no claim that the majority of their bindings models conform to ISO 13992.

    To take Dynafit as an example, they only market the Beast binding (which has turntables at the toe and heel) as being ISO 13992 compliant. The Radical 2.0 also has turntables at the toe and heel, so maybe that will be ISO certified soon, if it isn’t already. The other Dynafit bindings (which account for the majority of their sales in Europe and the US) are not marketed as being ISO compliant.

    I’m really interested in your expertise Rick, so i hope you’ll stick around, even though commentators on the blog are putting alternative viewpoint.

  151. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 8:54 am

    The engineer actually has been to the testing lab. But just to totally put this one to bed I’ll keep checking. If the bindings with the certificate do not pass the release requirements’ of ISO 13992 I’ll eat my shirt. It may take me a few days to follow up as I have to get hold of the Marker guys, as well as others. Lou

  152. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 8:59 am

    I just heard from another binding engineer who’s involved in building one of the latest and perhaps best pintech bindings out there, he says

    “They JUST don’t check RELEASE IN TOUR MODE in a tuv test. I think they should. ”

    Lou

  153. VT skier January 11th, 2015 9:06 am

    Recently had a set of Speed Tour bindings mounted at a VT shop which does a lot of AT mounts. They insisted on having me fill out the full indemnification form for their ALPINE bindings, then set forward and lateral release scales, on the binding to a value of 7.
    The release values on this (and any pintech binding) do not conform to a DIN setting off a skier weight/age/ability chart.
    But they wouldn’t listen.
    I wonder how many skiers, are blithely skiing off on a pintech binding that has been setup up by a shop as though it is just another Alpine binding with a DIN release scale on the binding.

  154. swissiphic January 11th, 2015 9:18 am

    General question about tech binding release…how does normal wear of heel piece in terms of lubrication/cleanliness affect release? For example, after many days of spring skiing with water, gunk and goo accumlating and flushing off of skis, I noticed that the heel piece rotated with much more ‘stiction’. Now, i’m curious if the stiction affects release or if skiing forces adequately naturally overcome the friction/resistance to smooth elasticity and release values remain ‘somewhat’ consistent. After noticing this effect years ago, I regularly pop the heelpiece off the post, clean the innards and keep it lightly lubed with grease. Any opinion? Just wondering, over the years, if this ‘effect’ could have contributed to folks having release issues if the release values change? I’m speculating this would be more of a lateral release issue than vertical, if in fact it is an issue at all?

  155. swissiphic January 11th, 2015 9:38 am

    Another general wear and tear tech binding release question: How does the wear of the SOLE RUBBER beneath the toe pins affect release (prerelease?), if at all? I have high mileage Dynafit Mercury boots that have the toe rubber completely worn off and plastic exposed. Practically, this results in the toe being suspended in the air without any plastic or rubber contact with the wings that hold the pins…purely metal on metal. When new, there was minimal but noticable contact with the sole rubber…on many previous boots I’ve had to carve away some rubber to ensure precise step in engagement. When I ‘step in’ with these more worn boots, the pins engage higher than the holes requiring some funking manouvering to close the toe pins. Any opinion?

  156. Stefano January 11th, 2015 10:36 pm

    swissiphic suggest to me a very important note:

    We are just back from a NWP test on the snow. The friend of mine has a BRAND NEW very famous manufacturer Skimo boot in the feet…

    THIS BOOT CANNOT EXIT FROM THE DYNAFIT STANDARD BINDINGS AT ALL ! We have several type of Pintech bindings on several skis… NO ONE WORKS…

    Once in SKI mode we have to TORQUE THE REAR BINDING MANUALY WHILE PUSHING THE FRONT LEVER (so we are 2 peoples !) TO FREE THE BOOT !

    This boot is made for FRAME bindings, but has STD PINTECH ADAPTER…

    This is absolutely Crazy, and prove you/us that SAFETY in SKIMO world is, at the moment, just an empty of sense word…

    Thanks
    Ciao
    Stefano

  157. Lou Dawson 2 January 11th, 2015 11:02 pm

    Good example of why Dynafit has their certified boot adapter program. Lou

  158. Rick Howell January 12th, 2015 5:37 am

    At the end of this day, those who has been deceived on this topic include myself — and everyone who has suspected that pintech bindings have ‘issues’.

    I was told by my binding engineering colleagues that the clause that’s numbered 6.1.1.1 within ISO 13992 allows BINDINGS that have more than 45° of rotation to be exempted from the release requirement within ISO 13992. That provision would allow pintech bindings to be classified for what they are. This action-step would make sense — because pintech bindings do not meet the release requirements of ISO 13992.

    However, we now find this is not true. So, here is an example of where business trumps biomechanics.

    I now have another new mission: I will expose this fraud.

    It may take years to accomplish — but I will take the proper (and legal) action steps that are necessary to expose this fraud to my fellow skiers. At the end of the long-term-day, through my long-term action-steps on this topic, skiers will be provided with the proper biomechanical provisions to make informed decisions on this topic. We are free to make our own choices — but the information that we utilize to make these choices should be free of fraud.

  159. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2015 6:14 am

    Rick, I’ve been writing for years that “classic” pintech bindings don’t have the same level of elasticity or the same release characteristics as good quality alpine bindings. I’ve written over and over again that they require more athletic ability and more intelligence to use, and should generally be used by good to expert skiers who don’t fall often. More, I’ve written at least a thousand times that they’re not intended to be resort bindings, but rather touring bindings that receive much less use on the downhill and make compromises so they’re efficient on the uphill. This is not news.

    It’s true that the new pintech “beef” bindings such as Diamier Vipec, Dynafit Beast, Marker Kingpin and G3 ION are being marketed at “freeride” bindings, which indicates they’re intended for both resort and backcountry. Some of these bindings are certified by TUV to ISO 13992, is this where your concept of “fraud” comes in? Are you saying that TUV is committing fraud?

    Fraud requires a human perpetrator…, or at least some sort of entity such as, TUV?

    ‘best, Lou

  160. Stefano January 12th, 2015 6:29 am

    Rick I, as I think 90% of real skimo skiers agree with Lou: we ALL well know what LowTech pin bindings are…
    What few people really know is how & why some “new” obtain TUV, and what it means…

    SAFETY DURING FREERIDE ?
    Not AT ALL !

    In better case, just COMPLIANCE TO THEORETICAL OLD INAPPROPRIATE LAB STATIC TEST…

    So is not better to SUGGEST a NEW CERTIFICATION TEST for PIN and FRAME ?

    We all know how to do, but just 2-3 company need this, and JUST to cover their shoulders by INSURANCE PROBLEMS…

  161. Ted January 12th, 2015 10:43 am

    Wow! Seems like this thread drift should get a new title since it is not longer about just the Kingpin.
    So, the “exception” says that touring bindings do not need to be release tested IN TOUR MODE? Does that really surprise anyone?
    Why would you test the release of a pin tech binding with the toes LOCKED? How would you test any touring binding if the heel can lift anywhere from 0 to 90 degrees? Would you test it flat or with the heel raised? Would any test have anything to do with how a touring binding might or might not release in real world conditions where the force at the toe would change as the heel went up or down?
    And how is there any fraud in an exception for something that can’t be realistically tested?

    Regarding the report cited by Rick; I conclude three things from the hand drawn graphs:
    One, Pin tech bindings DO release as a result of lateral force. YEAH! I think there are still folks who don’t believe that.
    Two, At any given RV, pin tech bindings may require more or less force to release than a particular alpine binding. No big surprise here. Same is probably true for two different alpine bindings but the variability may be smaller.
    And finally, In a controlled test one can CREATE a scenario in which it takes a lot of force for a pin tech binding to release laterally. I don’t know if this test has any relation to real world conditions since a fall is very dynamic and the forces involved are continuously changing but good for them that they could create this situation in the lab.

    Have a great season and be safe!

  162. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2015 10:45 am

    Ted, you get it, thanks. Lou

  163. See January 12th, 2015 11:23 am

    I don’t think there is much if any real disagreement here. Obviously, a regular tech binding is not going to do too well in a release test with the toes locked. The problem would appear to be that the standard doesn’t explicitly state that release testing is to be conducted in ski mode (I’m assuming, based on Rick’s quote), obvious though it may seem. Probably not fraud, but as Lou stated, “the standard needs help.”

    I do think it would be interesting, however, to release test some tech bindings with the lever in various “locked” positions to see if it there is any truth whatsoever to the notion that the lever can function as a quick and dirty rv adjuster. I wouldn’t count on it, but I have twisted out of my Verts with the toe locked on at least one occasion.

  164. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2015 11:38 am

    See, there is no ambiguity, the engineers I’ve spoken with tell me that the verbiage “in the DOWNHILL POSITION, the binding shall release at least in two cases…” is plenty clear. It means the binding is release checked/measured when latched or otherwise configured for downhill skiing. What is more, the standard specifies using data from release checks in a number of ways, all of which couldn’t be done without release checks/measurement. This whole thing is a waste of time, it’s just a bunch of unnecessary confusion. Torks (sic) me off, actually.

    We need to get back to what’s important. How much elasticity do tech bindings have? Do they have adequate safety release combined with retention? What does real-world use (epidemiology) show? What do tests such as Rick’s show, and could they be done on more bindings, with perhaps several different boots to eliminate the possibility of bad tech fittings?

    Lou

  165. Codey January 12th, 2015 12:34 pm

    @Rick Howell

    I am having trouble understanding what your motivation is behind your discussions on WIldsnow (the BACKCOUNTRY Skiing Blog). You flat out said that engineer did not know what he was talking about. So Lou talks to another engineer, for a different company, and gets the same answer, thus proving your previous statements wrong. Your response? To take on the industry for perpetrating such an injustice as to allow you to be wrong. For all of our sake, you will martyr yourself to make sure we can make informed decisions.

    The only fraud I see is you continually claiming that these new bindings are not tested for release. Lou has put an end to that misinformation. You are fighting a battle that I, for one, do not care about. No binding claims to be completely ‘safe’. I am okay with that, but how does parsing peoples words to the minutest detail about whether it is ISO or TUV that certifies (for example) really help anything?

    There are some very smart and capable people working on making touring bindings better and better. They work withing the existing (though flawed) system that exists today, and while it could be better or more efficient, they are producing an actual product to use. Yes, we would all love a perfect binding that is safe in every way, but trying to pick apart current products for making some improvements doesn’t seem to add anything.

    There is no arguing that you are well versed in the world of binding design and bio-mechanics, so perhaps, if you want to help your fellow skiers, through your long-term action-steps, put your efforts into developing a binding that meets your standards.

  166. Ted January 12th, 2015 1:24 pm

    Codey – Good points and I agree with you but google “knee binding” to learn of a binding that meets Rick’s standards.

  167. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2015 1:43 pm

    So, we need the tech binding knee binding, no kidding.

  168. Rick Howell January 12th, 2015 1:51 pm

    @ Cody:

    A binding: [http://www.howellskibindings.com]

    Motivation: As a co-author of the DIN-System, we standardized ski-binding release characteristics. These standards are hardly about “perfection”: they are the MINIMUM standards: they are the floor, not the ceiling. Binding with release characteristics similar to pintech bindings did not meet these minimum standards. They were weeded out of the market. The result: over a 50% reduction in skiing injuries, worldwide.

    As a former top alpine ski racer (5th in the U.S. In DH); a member of the winning team of the Canadian Ski Marathon (from Ottawa to Montreal ~100-miles); a former ski shop owner catering to elite racers; as the former long-standing product manager of a major ski binding company; inventor of the 1st hands-off clipless bicycle pedal system; the inventor/developer of Tubbs 1st line of high-tech snowshoes & bindings (by far the market leader); co-developer of a #1-selling bindings (for Salomon); & as a frequent BC-skier here in Stowe, Vermont — I prefer truth when it comes to product claims. That’s my motivation.

    Of course no binding needs to be release tested in the touring-mode.

    However, when a boot’s heel is secured to a ski, it’s release characteristics should behave at least per the MINIMUM international standards. Meeting a minimum standard is not about perfection.

    All pintech bindings have a natural blind spot that violates the intent of the minimum international ski-binding standards regarding release. I will take action to deal with the deviation between the intent of the minimum standards and what appears to be leading skiers to perceive that pintech bindings can meet the intent of the minimum standards.

    A binding that does not meet the intent of the minimum standards simply needs to state that — and not imply otherwise. I will take action to modify ISO 13992 to reflect the intent of the standards.

    Respectfully,
    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, VT

  169. Rick Howell January 12th, 2015 2:15 pm

    @ Ted: KneeBinding brand ski bindings do not meet minimum international standards for alpine ski bindings … I picketed a courthouse to block their shipment: thus, the lawsuit between myself and KneeBinding, Inc. — the company I founded, which was stolen from me (and stolen from two other shareholders, also). These bindings were shipped into the consumer market by the hijackers (who knew the bindings were not completed … and which FAILED the minimum international ski binding standards). I have applied over $630,000 toward legal fees during the past 6-years of still-active litigation to insure that skiers are not defrauded — by seeking to regain control of ‘my’ assets.

    Again, my motivation is to provide skiers with good ski bindings.

  170. Ted January 12th, 2015 2:25 pm

    Sorry Rick, Should have just said, “Google Rick Howell.” Was just trying to point out that despite the impression you give online you have “put your efforts into developing a binding that meets your standards.”

  171. Rick Howell January 12th, 2015 2:33 pm

    Indeed, Ted, thank you. Yes, I have applied my life’s work toward developing bindings that meet not only the minimum international standards — by also my standards. I was nicely introduced this way on WildSnow by Jason Borro and by Lou at the preface of Jason’s article here on Wildsnow … and that’s also why there’s no blogging-drift: my discussion about a binding’s release performance falls within the context of my experiences, as noted above in this thread.

    Skiers should be properly informed about product claims.

  172. Codey January 12th, 2015 3:00 pm

    Rick
    Yes, I have followed your link to your site about the development of your new binding, very impressive looking. I hope to see it come to market. However, the point I was trying to make, is that this is a backcountry ski blog, so I do not find any binding that does not have a tour mode of interest. My statement about developing a binding were in reference to your listed accomplishments: If someone has the knowledge and expertise to attempt to tackle this issue, you are likely on the short list.

    Lou has long rallied for the development for a tech standard (and tech 2.0), and has often questioned the validity of trying to apply alpine standards to tech bindings.

    (and as an avid cyclist I truly appreciate your work on clipless pedals)

  173. Lou Dawson 2 January 12th, 2015 10:44 pm

    Rick, I’d hope that someday ISO 13992 could be changed to have much stricter and more comprehensive requirements for retention and elasticity. In my opinion that’s the most important failing of the standard at this point. Just my opinion as a layman. Lou

  174. Stefano January 13th, 2015 12:36 am

    To all Folks,

    I already solve the problem:

    http://youtu.be/sYcOXxWUMsM

    Natural Walking Plate + Pin for Climbing,

    Market Jester / Lord for Dowhill.

    Still with 3,5Kg of skis you can climb for 2000 meter without feet or back pain.

    The installation of the bindings is now faster since is no longer necessary to remove the skistopper, you remove all the rear

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=757160621043113&l=5441700365916008782

  175. See January 13th, 2015 9:36 am

    I remember a day, quite a few years ago when I was on Comforts at the resort. I was skiing with young kids so I figured the shorter skis would be good for going slow on the firm conditions. I discovered that the bindings would pretty reliably prerelease doing a certain type of turn at certain places.

    If a backcountry skiing blog were to devote a thread to reports of experiences like these (describing conditions, turn type, binding rv settings, skier weight, skis, boots, etc. (even better with video)), it might make for an interesting “epidemiological study.”

  176. See January 13th, 2015 9:53 am

    Side note: the young ‘uns found this very amusing, but it was also a “teachable moment.”

  177. Rick Howell January 13th, 2015 10:26 am

    Yes, See, indeed — this would be helpful.

    Please note that UVM Medical School Professor Robert J. Johnson, MD, together with RIT Professor Jake Shealy, PhD, published a benchmark research paper on ‘self reporting’ of skiing injuries — including injuries relating to pre-release — where they discovered that ‘self-reporting injury event-mechanisms’ produced descriptions of the events that were significantly different from the actual video-taped events … and that the self-reported events were significantly different from the probable injury-producing-events that led to the MD-diagnosed injuries.

    However, the pool of information that you suggest, See, will most likely add — as you note — to ‘teachable moments’ for sure.

    Starting in the early-1970’s ‘we’ developed an on-slope test-method to quantify the measurement of pre-release. Millions of dollars and 3-years of focused activity involving about 40-people were invested in the development of the on-slope pre-release test method. Greatly paraphrasing — a large ‘test-group of skiers’ controllably backed-down their release settings in torsion and in the forward release modes until pre-release was uniformly imminent (by the group) within a specified amount of vertical-distance-skied for any given binding design. Skis and boots (and especially boot-fitting and adjustments) were controlled to be as uniform as possible. The skiers were all of approximately the same weight, height, and were full-time instructors. We then measured the pre-release thresholds that were discovered for each binding design.

    We then invested another 3-years developing laboratory test equipment that reproduced the same on-slope pre-release data. The results were so good that we kept the method secret — but we allowed a limited amount of this work to become publicly-known … which test-method-information then became part of ISO 9465.

    3-years ago, based on a number of fatalities that were caused by pre-release, I decided to disclose the special laboratory test method for quantifying forward pre-release. I decided to keep the special laboratory torsional pre-release method that matches the on-slope pre-release findings a trade secret (there’s no known fatalities resulting from torsional pre-release). I presented the special lab method for quantifying forward pre-release at the International Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS) conference in 2013 in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. The full research paper that’s an expansion of that presentation will be published, soon.

    🙂

  178. Lou Dawson 2 January 13th, 2015 10:45 am

    See, if someone wants to really give the details, I’m happy to publish if we are somehow CERTAIN the problem was not caused by ice in boot fittings or under binding toe. The fact that those two things are so serious, and often not checked after a scary fall from a pre-release, makes it difficult to do the kind of reporting you mention. The ISO standard doesn’t do anything much to evaluate this, by the way. For example, toe pins with tine cutting slots do a good job of clearing ice in boot fittings if you rotate your foot a few times before stomping down on heel to click in. Most good users of tech bindings do that as a matter of habit. But the binding has to have the cutters, I’ve seen ones without… Lou

  179. See January 13th, 2015 11:32 am

    I’m suggesting gathering data only on reproducible prerelease’s like I described. The conditions were not the sort that would cause alarm about human experimentation.

    Example: sliding turn on moderately steep ice with the texture of a basketball, 178 Musgtagh Ata skis, 170 lb skier, Comforts at 7 with brakes, Scarpa Matrix boots, (long time ago, some guessing here). No icing.

  180. Lou Dawson 2 January 13th, 2015 1:03 pm

    See, sorry, it just would not be valid information, also due to the fact that there are different shaped boot fittings that have been made over the years, some of which perform better than others. The boot fitting situation is actually pretty disconcerting. Not only is there no official standard for their shape, metal hardness, etc., but there has been more than one “defacto” standard that well intentioned companies have worked with, and all but one of those “standards” are slightly off from the optimal design/shape of the fittings. Put simply, it’s been a mess, but might be better now as the boot makers have a lot of incentive to get it right now that the market is bigger and less experienced skiers are going to be in tech systems. I’d add that this could be a flaw in the testing that Jason and Rick did, as they only used one pair of boots/fittings, and who really knows how standard the fittings were, nor how wear progressed during the testing? To be truly scientific, they’d have needed to use a sampling of fittings, each one released the same number of times with the same forces, since the fittings do visibly wear when doing multiple release checks. And on and on. A bit of a bad dream, really. Lou

  181. kevin low January 17th, 2015 11:44 pm

    hi there lou, im not sure if these questions have already been asked, but here goes – 1. regarding screw locations, do you see any problems with remounting the kingpins on skis which had dynafits radicals previously mounted?
    2. do you feel the kingpins will take to occasional mogul skiing without too much attrition to its toepiece or that of tech boot toes?
    3. will my scarpa maestrale tech boots fit the binding without the heel adaptor?

    thanks much! kevin

  182. kevin low January 17th, 2015 11:54 pm

    o sorry, id forgotten to say, theyre radical ST bindings ; )

  183. Lou Dawson 2 January 18th, 2015 12:27 am

    Hi Kevin, occasional mogul skiing will be ok, most any boot will work that has a “DIN” shaped sole, including Maestrale, but there is always the possibility that the binding heel lever can have trouble with the boot walk/ski mechanism, so always try before you ski, or ask at the shop. I’ve not heard of that problem with Maestrale, but it’s good to have a heads up on it. As for your mount, I doubt you’ll have a problem. Move back a few mm if necessary. Lou

  184. kevin low January 18th, 2015 12:48 am

    thanks a mill lou! ; )

  185. Giver January 18th, 2015 9:37 pm

    I have the Kingpin mounted on the Volkl BMT 109. I can say that on the downhill it is a tremendous binding and skis superbly, you can charge super hard with no worries. I have been using the Maestrale RS boots and it’s a very effective setup. I haven’t toured on it yet but with the weight of the entire rig I am very confident it will be terrific.

    I have also a setup with the Dynafit Beast from last winter and to be honest the Kingpin is a much easier, lighter and better skiing binding than the Beast. Marker has produced a real winner in my opinion for the first effort out of the chute.

  186. Warren Groom January 27th, 2015 6:23 am

    Lou, I have a set of Kingpin 13 bindings mounted on a set of DPS 99 Wailers. I have a big concern with the brakes not engaging when I release my back binding. It looks like snow/ice is building up under the heel pad preventing its release. Do you know if Marker will have a solution for those of us who purchase the 2014/2015 models? Do you have any ideas of a fix to prevent the snow/ice build up? This Is the chance you take buying the first years model of a product…Warren

  187. Lou Dawson 2 January 27th, 2015 6:25 am

    Hi Warren, keep your eye on that problem and be sure it’s unique to Kingpin, in my experience virtually all ski bindings, both touring and alpine, can get ice on the brakes that causes them to fail. Lou

  188. Giver January 27th, 2015 8:19 pm

    Not sure if this is the right thread to post on about the the pin problem. After reading the posts I looked at my Kingpins (skied on in resort for 3 days) and I noticed 1 pin had loosened. I returned it to the shop, showed the manager the Widsnow website and photos. He immediately contacted Marker, they shipped new toe pieces (same as the ones in Dimitri’s photo) and it was fixed in a couple of days. He was pretty apologetic and advised that they were contacting everyone who had bought from their shop to bring them in for replacement toe pieces. Not sure if this is official Marker policy but my store (in Canada) is doing the right thing. BTW, I brought it to them on Jan 22 before the Marker press release came out on theWildsnow website.

    Thanks Lou for the excellent coverage of this subject, it was taken seriously by my shop and they (hopefully) fixed the issue. I am heading out this weekend for 3 days skiing and will report back if there are any issues.

  189. Simon February 9th, 2015 11:41 pm

    Just came back from a week in Japan skiing Kingpin’s mounted on DPS Wailer 112’s. Performance of the binding both up and down-hill was outstanding…. Right up until the the toe-pins started to come out on day 4.

    I am based down under but purchased the bindings in France. I contacted the local Marker distributor hoping I wouldn’t have to send the bindings back to France and it looks like they are going to sort it out (new toe-pieces) pretty quickly. I had a reply back within 12 hours, so hopefully new bits on their way!

    I am running Beast 16’s on Wailer 99’s and have the beast insert in the heel of my K2 Pinnacles. One point to beware of, if you have this set up is that this heel-piece interferes with the functioning of the lateral heel release on the Kingpins. I bench tested the release of the Kingpins after fitting and found the protruding rectangular edge on the Beast heel insert jams on the Beast heel, stopping it from rotating out.

    Anyone else had this problem?

  190. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2015 6:23 am

    Thanks for the positive reports you guys. I’m trying to get a copy of the “official” policy for returns, but the real-life results are better. Lou

  191. Giver February 17th, 2015 10:58 pm

    Took my skis with the replacement toe pieces on two trips and no issues with the new pins, they appear to be very solid. I have the Kingpins mounted on Volkl BMT 109’s and they ski and tour our beautifully. Skied 1 day in resort at Kicking Horse (steep and pretty firm) and toured 2 days, the binding performed really well. Lifters are very easy to use. Even with the problems I had with the first toe pieces (thanks again Lou for the great work) I think this is very good first effort from Marker. The big question will be long term reliability.

  192. Lou Dawson 2 February 18th, 2015 6:15 am

    I’ve some new upgraded toe units here as well, but we’ll use the originals for a few more days and see how it goes. I’d like to experience the issue myself (in a controlled environment, just doing some moderate uphilling.)

    I’ve gotten a few reports about how Marker supports dealers on this. Word is there is no official “recall,” and no specific policy dedicated to the Kingpin toes. It’s being treated as a warranty and customer satisfaction issue. That’s probably due to the tricky legalities of the word “recall.”

    Word is if a dealer sends in the old-original toe units on warranty they will be swapped, whether they show visible failure or not. One customer reported that he received his upgraded toes and found a note in the box that said the original toes didn’t show a problem, while actually they did show rotation of the toe pins. Probably poorly trained warranty people? Glitch is that Marker doesn’t always have the upgraded toes, they have to be shipped from Europe. In any case, no one should have any trouble swapping the toes whether they show visible problem or not. If you do, find a better dealer and give them your business.

    I’d imagine this whole thing is winding down by now. There were only 1,500 possibly defective bindings or so. Relief Marker didn’t go for full market distribution, what a nightmare that would have been. Probably would have had to have been a “recall.”

    Lou

  193. James Gibbs April 4th, 2015 1:04 am

    First of all, thanks Lou for a fantastic initial review and ongoing question answering.

    Im planning on going to Gulmarg, India skiing, next February and looking for set of AT bindings to mount to a set of Line Magnum Opus skis.

    Ive researched everything from major brand frame AT bindings through to Techs, namely the Beasts and new Kingpins.
    The lack of flat touring mode steers me well away from Beasts, as Gulmarg has plenty of flat ridge top touring.

    The frame bindings from Salomon, Marker and Tyrolia are possible options, but seems a shame to put such heavy bindings on such light skis!

    Im seriously steering towards the Kingpins. Im mostly interested in downhill performance, lightweight uphill is certainly a factor though. However, I wont be dropping off anything to much higher than 15 – 20 feet.
    Do you feel confident that these will charge big mountains (minus the huge cliff drops)?

    Cheers
    James

  194. Lou Dawson 2 April 4th, 2015 5:10 am

    James, sure, in my opinion no problem with Kingpin. Lou

  195. Stefano April 4th, 2015 6:30 am

    If you plan to walk lot, pls consider to install an NWP Plate: you will save your feet, joint & back…

    http://www.n-w-b.com

    With King Pin too if you would like.

  196. Ross Stanton July 31st, 2015 6:56 am

    Hi Lou, Greetings from Downunder. I have just started using some Kingpins with my Scarpa Maestrale boots. DIN is set to my usual 7. Forward pressure screw head is flush with rear binding body as per Marker recommendation. I am concerned that lateral heel release is very difficult to achieve on bench testing. It seems to move easily enough to the slide limit on the Teflon AFD and then gets very stiff. The rubber lugs on the boot sole sit firmly on the AFD when the binding is closed. Should I perhaps grind the rubber sole down to get some clearance? Any other ideas on how the required release pressure can be improved? As it stands I am a bit too nervous to use them further – which is a shame as touring and downhill performance on our typically very icy mid winter snow pack is great.

  197. Philipp October 23rd, 2015 7:33 am

    very smart kingpin review (in german) from kundalini (an expert ski shop from zurich)
    http://kundalini.ch/2015/10/23/marker-kingpin-review/

  198. Thor February 5th, 2016 10:20 pm

    I’m seeing what Ross reports as well: what appears to be proper movement of the heel to the limit of the AFD, then inconsistent release. This on new Kingpin 10s shipped direct from Marker, mounted by the only local shop with the jig on hand. Release setting is at 6. Boot’s a Cochise 105W with Tecnica’s tech sole blocks. This is my wife’s setup and she’s switching over from Barons so the tech soles (which include the full heel shape on the Tecnica boots) are in new/unused condition.

    The shop’s measured release values from 4 to 8 testing per Marker’s spec for the Kingpin on their Wintersteiger release test machine and are contacting their Marker rep. They say they’ve mounted/tested several sets of Kingpins before and haven’t seen this issue. Hopefully it’s not an incompatibility with the Tecnica boots.

  199. Thor February 9th, 2016 8:47 am

    Update from the shop – I spoke to the manager who said they’d mounted and tested over 20 pair of Kingpins this season (!) and this was the first failure they’d seen.

    The bindings are not failing to release — the heel’s consistently releasing at values lower than indicated (from my initial conversation with one of the other techs, it sounds like as they played around with things trying to ensure their machine was set up right, they may have seen a high value or two, but the problem is now consistently low measured release values).

    Suspicion is either that this has something to do with the brand-new tech sole blocks installed on my wife’s Cochise boots — though hosing them down with silicone made no difference — or an actual defective binding. They’re having a follow-up conversation with someone better informed at Marker.

    *If* this is a defective heel unit it’d have to be both of them. Seems very unlikely that could get through Marker’s QC.

    Anyone here running the Kingpin at release values on the low side (5.5-6)? Maybe it’s my wife’s desired conservative setup that’s revealing an issue others haven’t seen.

  200. See February 9th, 2016 9:49 am

    Have you tried the bindings with different boots/sole lengths?

  201. Lou Dawson 2 February 9th, 2016 10:16 am

    Well, it’s easy to throw another set of bindings on a ski and run the same test, if no problem, then it’s the binding. Same with boots. Pretty basic A/B testing procedure. Further, the whole point of testing with a machine is that the values printed on the binding are just a guideline, the machine is used to figure out where to set the binding tension. Also remember that in the DIN/ISO standard the release values printed on the binding are only around 10% accurate, thus a setting of 5 could be 4.5 on the machine and be within manufacturing tolerances. Add to that the variable of boot sole shape, which is also allowed to vary. I’m not understanding where the mystery is coming from.

    I’d also add that when you throw tech bindings on a testing machine, things can be rather alarming as the values can be quite different than what’s printed on the binding. Due to a variety of things, including machines that are not set up correctly to measure tech binding release torque.

    If your wife is a good skier, beware of thinking that the most important thing about bindings is release. Staying in the binding is sometimes much more important. A leg injury from no release is a lot less serious (though still a drag of course) than a head or neck injury from flying out of your bindings while going mach 10 on piste.

    Lou

  202. Rick Howell February 9th, 2016 11:21 am

    .

    OMG. Please.

    As a significant co-author of the ‘DIN-System’ (DIN 7881; now ISO 8061 in conjunction with ISO 9462) — I must comment.

    The present numbering system on all alpine ski bindings and the related functional release testing values that correspond to those numbers are all based upon torsional-torque about the long-axis of the tibia (release co-planar to the snow-surface) and the forward bending moment of the tibia (release perpendicular to snow plane surface). In this (above) discussion, we are talking about numbers on the bindings that pertain to release that’s co-planar to the snow-surface: these numbers and their related (measured) functional release values are ONLY MEANT TO BE ABOUT TORSION ABOUT THE LONG AXIS OF THE TIBIA. I am one of the principle developers of this measuring and numbering system (1977).

    Ski binding toes and heels are force-imparting mechanisms that are intended to act over the length of the boot sole (together with the related pivot-points of the combined ski-boot-binding-system — which pivots in this discussion are largely virtual and have their axis oriented perpendicular to the snow surface) to generate torque about the long axis of the tibia.

    When a binding has lateral heel release with no lateral toe release, the binding is TOTALLY INCAPABLE of reading or reacting to torque about the long axis of the tibia. The DIN-System (ISO 8061 and its related counterpart, ISO 9462) do not anticipate bindings that are incapable of reading or reacting to torque about the long axis of the tibia NO MATTER WHETHER THE ‘NUMBERS’ ON THE BINDINGS ARE ARABIC NUMERALS OR APPLES, ORANGES OR BANANAS. Jason Borro’s article here in WildSnowthat shows in clear detail what happens to THE LEG with bindings that masquerade to have ‘lateral’ release — when IN FACT lateral heel release (which is great for ACL injury mitigation) is NOT lateral toe release — in terms of the torsional-torque on THE LEG. Bindings that provide ONLY lateral release at the heel cause leg fracture. Period. This is high school physics (middle-school, actually). Release-testing the lateral force of a binding that has ONLY lateral heel release is not biasing the loads that cause tibia fracture. To measure — with a force-imparting device — the intended torques about the long axis of the tibia that are associated with the proper numbering system on all ski bindings, the boot MUST be pushed laterally at the toe, not laterally at the heel. Release FORCE values that are provided in conjunction with lateral heel release — to imply that the numbers on the lateral heel release mechanism are associated with the intent of the DIN-System (and with anything that is biomechanically correct for the tibia) — is a safety cover-up and is illegal fraud. The present release force values that are implied in the new ISO pin-binding standard are fraud. Wide release variation is inevitable in any binding or standard-system that contains inherent functional defects such as lateral ONLY heel release (and related settings) that do not also provide pure lateral toe release.

    All of us should deal with this outrageous safety cover-up by reporting this fraud to our respective states’ Attorney General’s Offices in order to cause our states to initiate government-supported whistleblowing fraud litigation. In the absence of initiating this whistleblower legal action — skiers are exposed to frequent and severe leg fractures. Additionally, ski shops will be exposed to litigation by injured skiers’ plaintiffs attorneys who seek to enjoin multiple parties.

    For a more detailed explanation of what is happening to the musculoskeletal system with most (not all — not with the Diamir Vipec that has pure lateral toe release) pin bindings — please see Jason Borro’s article here in WildSnow: “Ripping Ligaments & Snapping Bones — Tech Binding Release Testing”.

    Respectfully,

    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont

    .

  203. eggbert February 9th, 2016 11:50 am

    I think everyone is clear (at least Jason’s data supports the conclusion) that lateral toe release mitigates lower leg fracture and lateral heel release mitigates ligament injury.. At this point, it’s a question of picking your poison.

    I do have to say my physical therapist who rehabbed my broken leg was of the opinion that fractures are actually easier to successfully treat than soft tissue damage like ligament tears.

  204. Rick Howell February 9th, 2016 12:10 pm

    @eggbert: Indeed, your physical therapist is correct. However, why should we perceive that we ‘must make a choice’ — when, in fact, we can have it both ways? There’s presently an alpine binding that has both lateral toe release and lateral heel release (however, its stand-height is a bit thick for optimal AT frame-binding adaptation) … and there will be another binding that will be introduced within a few years that has an 18mm stand-height for use as an alpine binding or as an AT (frame) binding. Its low stand-height allows performance ‘frame’ adaptation. Of course, there is a Franken-pin-binding solution that’s possible now — though such use is in violation of manufacturer’s recommendations; will void warranties; and cost double. We should not perceive that we must select a false positive binary-choice — especially if an engineering solution is possible.

    Respectfully,
    Rick Howell
    President,
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  205. Thor April 29th, 2016 10:33 pm

    I thought I should pop back in here with the end of the story on my wife’s bindings.

    After a couple of conversations with shop techs and their reports of advice from Marker tech reps that, frankly, didn’t make a lot of sense, I sat down with a good ski buddy who’s a working engineer and we did what I should have done in the first place: drew some force diagrams and did some good old-fashioned Newtonian mechanics. Duh.

    I don’t entirely agree with Rick but I do agree _this_ far: it is impossible for a binding with the Kingpin’s design to reliably release at the standard test force thresholds for both vertical and lateral release when set to the same DIN values *except at a single boot sole length*.

    This is because the use of the boot sole length in DIN number lookup introduces a correction factor for the moment arm that results from the length of the foot forward of the center of the tibia. With a binding such as the Kingpin that releases laterally at the _heel_, this correction factor *will be wrong* because the moment arm that is relevant is the distance from the center of the tibia to the back of the heel; a much shorter distance and one which varies much less from skier to skier than forefoot length.

    Marker can calibrate the lateral release on the heel (note vertical and lateral release thresholds are set with two different screws though both are on the heelpiece) to compensate for this unnecessary correction *only at one boot sole length per DIN number*. Actually, to be more mathematically precise, their ability to calibrate for multiple boot sole lengths is constrained by the correlation of boot sole length to the distance between the centerline of the tibia and the heel lug of the boot; based on measurements of boots at my house, this correlation is quite poor.

    *It is important to note that the binding can be set to release safely at the correct force threshold both laterally and vertically for any boot sole length and skier parameters, but not by DIN table lookup!* It is my belief that Marker should mark the lateral release of this heelpiece in different units (perhaps letters) and publish a separate lookup table. The torque required to break the tibia is known and the skier parameters *other than* boot sole length (height/weight) are adequately correlated to this torque, and if the distance from tibia centerline to heel really varies significantly from boot to boot (my sample suggests it does not) it could be measured, so this could clearly be done. However, it would likely jeopardize DIN certification of the binding if they did so.

    In the interim, it is my personal opinion that the way to set these bindings safely is to set the vertical release per the DIN chart, and set the lateral release *so that measured lateral release force falls within the acceptable range for the desired DIN number* even if this means the lateral release screw is not set to the desired DIN value.

    In the case of my wife’s boots, this simply required adjusting the lateral release screw one DIN number. We signed a waiver and took the skis out of the shop set exactly as she wanted (DIN 6 at the toe, DIN 7 indicated (tested as 6) in the rear), but we did run one additional test to confirm that it would also have been possible to change her skier type and thereby bump her one DIN number with both tested values falling into the acceptable ranges, if one were in a shop situation that required that.

    Bottom line: I believe these bindings *do* provide safe release in both the vertical and lateral directions at the heel, but that there are cases in which they will not do so if adjusted to the same DIN number for both. My personal recommendation is to set the vertical to the desired DIN value, then use that as a starting point to set the lateral by testing. For greatest safety a re-test on a different type of machine might be a good step.

    I started to work out the math for a table mapping from DIN-table value and boot sole length to Kingpin lateral screw setting, one that would take out the problematic correction and give reliable values, but I realized I could never publish such a thing for reasons of liability. Marker, however, could; I wish they would do so.

  206. Lou Dawson 2 April 30th, 2016 6:47 am

    Thor, excellent. Interestingly, over the years I’ve set all our family tech bindings with the upwards (vertical) release one number above lateral, unless the bindings were cranked way up as in that case it doesn’t really matter.

    Main things with all this:
    1. If you want to protect your legs from injury due to falling with skis on, using tech bindings is problematic as it’s difficult to set them at correct (“chart”) settings, and some skiers might experience accidental release if the binding is set to correct settings.
    2. Some binding/boot combinations “spike” in release forces, especially to the side, and are difficult or impossible to set to consistently low settings. This is easy to evaluate by hand on the bench. Set the binding release, eject the boot by hand by rotating the binding heel unit, feel either a smooth release or a “grabby sticky” release that’s rather disconcerting when you think of what it might do to someone’s leg.

    2.a I repeat, along with a theoretical increase in lateral elasticity the Dynafit Radical 2.0 rotating toe clearly mitigates “sticky” lateral release, and of course the “hybrid” tech bindings such as Vipec and Trab can’t have the same problem.

    Regarding Kingpin specifically, I’ve found that how the lateral release behaves can be very boot dependent, due to shape of heel as well as thickness (height) of heel structure, along with fine tuning for boot length. Again, very easy to check on the bench. The boot will either come out smoothly to the side or it will get to a point where release resistance noticeably and alarmingly increases.

    Lastly, I’d remind everyone yet again that the famous “DIN” numbers on ski bindings are only a rough guide, they are intended to get the binding “close” to the correct setting, with fine tuning done by testing on a machine at a ski shop. This is obviously a de facto dysfunctional system foisted on skiing consumers, and needs to be improved. How? Every family has a binding tester in their garage? I don’t know… Main thing is, do your bindings go to eleven?

    Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

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Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use. ...

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