Update: I did get out and ski the Alpinist. Nothing unusual. Noticed the minimal ramp while skiing, as well as the lower than normal heel climbing lift height. No particular problems, but this was not extensive use. Just a few months of summer and we’ll have them on snow again for extensive testing. Lou
In a previous post, I alluded to the new Marker Alpinist ski touring binding being somewhat of a yawner. I might have been wrong, though we’ll need a season of testing to be certain. Sure, this is the “usual” U-spring binding, and I’d have preferred to see something more innovative from the big guys, but Marker’s weight is competitive (284 grams with screws for our “regular” version), and features such as above average toe jaw spring power and zero ramp could be highly attractive. My favorite checkmark so far? Other than the reasonable weight, I like the single damage-resistant T20 screw that adjusts lateral retention-release, though this might mean you’ll be carrying yet another bit in your repair kit. Least faves? Not much heel lifter height, and changing vertical tension does require a spring swap. Overall, very clean with state-of-art materials engineering. I’m also liking colors that don’t match those of an arcade merchandiser game.
Note, both flavors of Alpinist (12 and 9, alluding to max retention setting), will be available as “Long Travel” with 30 mm boot length adjustment and regular with 15 mm boot length adjustment. The binding we examine here is a 12 regular.
Regarding bindings that require “kiss gap” between boot heel and rear binding housing: Know that when you step into the binding, if the ski is even slightly flexed (such as while standing in soft snow) your boot heel will encounter and possibly be blocked by the top of the binding housing before pressing down on the binding pins. Some binding brands with kiss gap have a “ramp” on the housing to help your boot slip down past the heel housing, down to the pins. The Alpinist appears to have an abrupt transition in this area, rather than a ramp. Jury is out on this until extensive real-world testing, but last winter a helpful reader pointed out this important design concept, so it’s on my informal list of “things to cover” when a new tech binding comes out. This factor can be significant with larger skiers in soft snow, as while they’re standing on their skis after entering binding toe, the heavily flexed ski places the top of the binding heel unit under their boot heel, and the boot will hit the top of the heel unit, sometimes by quite some distance. Note that most boots have various configurations of “lead in” ramps below the rear tech fitting to help with this, enhancing those with some judicious grinding can help.
The numbers (know this is the “regular” version, with more boot length range at 15 mm, “Long Travel version has boot length range of 30mm and weighs slightly more):
– Toe weight with screws, 130 gr.
– Heel weight with screws, 154 gr.
– Total 284 gr.
– 0 ramp, negative 16 mm compared to classic Dynafit TLT, see our ramp-delta chart.
– Medium climbing lift is 11.7 mm above toe pins, high is 22 mm, we don’t mind the medium, but would prefer the high to be about twice as tall. Personally, I’d prefer more delta-ramp so I’ll probably shim up my heel units, that’ll give me a bit more climbing lift.
– Lateral release without heel is about RV 4 according to our Vermont calibrator and informal feel (this checks for possible minimum setting as well as toe spring “squeeze” force).
– Ski brakes: Long Travel will come with brakes at width of either 90, 105. Regular version will not come with brakes, but 90, 105 and 115 will be available under separate SKUs. In other words, if you wanted the Long Travel with 115 brake you’d have to buy the wider brake separate, while you’d also end up with the 90 or 105 brake the Long Travel came with. I know, I know… Marker has their reasons.
– Mounting screw patterns: Alpinist toe has same hole pattern as Marker Kingpin toe, 38 mm wide x 47 mm (pin line same, so direct swap is doable). Heel unit of Alpinist has same screw hole width as Kingpin, at 36 mm, but of course the pattern isn’t as long, Alpinist regular is 40 mm while Kingpin is 77 mm. The toe is direct swap for Kingpin, but heel will require at least another pair of holes, perhaps all four in some cases.
– Retail this fall.