Salomon Guardian Ski Binding 2012/13 – Exposed

Post by blogger | May 30, 2012      

Get a good deal on Salomon Guardian backcountry skiing binding.

Salomon’s Guardian backcountry skiing (and resort) binding looks good. Check out this binding’s guts along with a few specs.

Large Salomon Guardian binding without screws 1462 grams

Large Salomon Guardian binding without screws weighs in at 1462 grams. Stack height at boot heel is 26 mm, similar stack as major competitors in this same binding class, 10 mm lower than some, more than 20 mm below others.

Toe piece and plastic hinge

Toe piece, metal pivot axle, and plastic hinge. This is of course a weak point in many AT bindings, so we'll see how Salomon does. Nice they at least made the pivot user serviceable -- and it does look strong. Kudo to Salomon. Addendum: we became aware in 2017 the attempts to remove the thread locked axle may cause the axle nut to rotate within the plastic housing and thus become difficult to remove.

Plastic hinge with Blue Loctite

Plastic hinge and axle with blue Loctite -- probably a good idea.

With increased use came a squeaking noise emanating from the binding.  A quick dose of white lithium grease quieted the binding considerably.

After I used the binding for several days, it began to squeak. A quick dose of white lithium grease quieted the noise.

Rear binding to ski attachment.  Above are the two aluminum plates that help with additional de-icing capabilities.

Rear binding to ski attachment. Above are the two aluminum plates that help with additional de-icing capabilities.

The best feature of the binding is the ability to go from tour mode to ski mode without the need to remove your boot.  Press the grey button rearward and the plate is free to move.

For some of us, the best feature of the Salomon Guardian backcountry skiing binding is the ability to go from tour mode to ski mode without the need to remove your boot. Press the grey button rearward and the plate is free to move.

Ski side down of the rear plate.

Underside of the rear plate.

The rear climbing attachment has two levels of climbing rise.  I found there to be no problem keeping the riser in the highest position but when the time came to ramp the angle down it had a tendency to go flat.  Overall binding and heel strike was fairly quiet.

The rear climbing attachment has two levels of climbing rise. I found there to be no problem keeping the riser in the highest position but when the time came to ramp the angle down it had a tendency to go flat. Overall binding and heel strike was fairly quiet.

Underside of entire plate system.  Salomon anodized blue adversely Atomic will be yellow.

Underside of entire plate system. Salomon is anodized blue. The Atomic branded binding will be yellow.

Rear heel piece.  Note ease of visual DIN numbers.

Rear heel piece. Note ease of visual release value (RV) numbers, also known as DIN.

Front toepiece features easily read Din up to 16 as well as adjustable toe height for both AT boots and standard Alpine boots.  Models test fit were Scarpa Rush, Dalbello Kyrpton, Dynafit Titan, and Head Raptor 130.

Front toe piece features easily read release value up to 16 as well as adjustable toe height that allows fit of rockered AT boots (though note that the binding is not certified to DIN 13992 standard for AT randonnee touring bindings, probably because it does not have a sliding AFD for release reliability with rubber soled boots. Boot models we used for testing fit were Scarpa Rush, Dalbello Kyrpton, Dynafit Titan, and Head Raptor 130.

Salomon supplied their 2012-13 Rocker 2 for test purposes.  In the 188 length with a not so uphill friendly weight of 2306 per individual ski or 4612 for the pair.  Dimensions of 139 x 115 underfoot x 139 as well as a tip rocker of 510mm and tail of 240mm.

Salomon supplied their 2012-13 Rocker 2 for test purposes. In the 188 length with a not so uphill friendly weight of 2306 per individual ski or 4612 for the pair. Dimensions of 139 x 115 underfoot x 139 as well as a tip rocker of 510mm and tail of 240mm.

The complete Salomon Guardian 16 Large binding weight of 1480 grams per binding with all hardware.  146 more grams then Marker's Duke and 440 more then the Tour F10 & 12.  Keep in mind places where the Duke or Tour features plastic the Guardian uses Aluminum.  2960 grams total for the pair.

The complete Salomon Guardian 16.

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

Get a good deal on Salomon Guardian backcountry skiing binding.


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113 Responses to “Salomon Guardian Ski Binding 2012/13 – Exposed”

  1. joe vallone May 30th, 2012 8:52 am

    I still don’t understand why anyone in their right mind wants to use any of the bindings mentioned in this thread. “the Beef Class” bindings as you put it, are the worst things to tour on and make no sense to an educated and experienced skier. They are way to heavy, way too loud when they tour, pack with snow in the worst places, require lifting the binding with every step, Stand you way too high of the ski, terrible pivot at kick turns,and worst glide stroke due to the pivot and bulky design.

    I still don’t get it, But I am willing to bet that there is nothing I can’t do on my low techs and soft boots that anyone out there claims they need their beefy set ups for and 16 din.

  2. Samo May 30th, 2012 8:55 am

    Hi, nice to see something new, but plastic at the toe piece could be a weakest part.
    What about Tyrolia Adrenalin, does anyone have any informations?

  3. Lou May 30th, 2012 9:04 am

    I don’t know why this “weak plastic” mythology continues to pervade our thinking. Recent binding failures in the industry have been both metal and plastic. It’s all about engineering and design, not necessarily whether the machinery is plastic or metal. For example, my 7,000 pound truck’s winch rope is plastic. It’s super strong, but melts easily. It could be steel, which is weaker, more dangerous, but doesn’t melt. I prefer the plastic winch rope. Ditto for climbing ropes (to state the obvious).

    One recent addition to the tech binding genre attempts to present the image of being stronger because it’s all metal, but in reality, it was probably made that way because the people behind it were more familiar with machining and casting metal than they were with injection molding. Ultimately, any good binding these days will be a combination of plastic and metal, both used where appropriate, pre consumer tested (I can dream, can’t I?) and not influenced by marketing (grin). Lou

  4. Greg Louie May 30th, 2012 9:05 am

    They are a “gateway” binding, Joe. Very good skiers who have just started dabbling in touring will buy them in droves. Heavy and fast skiers who think they need a high DIN binding and are fit enough to lug it uphill will too, as will believers in the “one ski quiver” theory. Many people will buy them and never tour in them.

    Hopefully Salomon can now focus on developing a sub-1000 gram tech bindings with a DIN of 14 . . . and you thought Fede was going to be doing running shoes?

  5. Verbier61 May 30th, 2012 9:07 am

    salomon has a great chance to improve its reputation in the freeride field after the quest fiasco: sell the front hinge and the rear plate separately (for a decent price), so one can drill them and use just one pair of guardian for several pairs of skis….. I’m very curious to know whether they’ll do that.

    If this will not be possible, I’m not interested at all in these superheavy stuff…

  6. Lou May 30th, 2012 9:11 am

    Joe, I tend to agree. But there is one thing, some guys do need a binding that basically screws their foot to the ski with little to no chance of release. Bindings with RV 12 or higher can provide that, and such bindings also tend to have better vertical elasticity in the heel than tech bindings. Thing is, about 1 billionth of 1 percent of backcountry skiers out there need such a binding. The other ones that use it just like looking down at their feet while they’re on the ski lift and seeing something hip (grin).

    Why do we review this stuff on WildSnow? Two reasons. I respect the people who need this binding, and we do want to stay complete in our overview of what’s out there.

    But I do get a chuckle every time I get out doing powder laps and along marches a poor soul hauling stuff like this on their feet when they could easily be doing their laps on skimo race gear or even hippy sticks. This especially true for smaller women and men who just don’t have the mass and don’t ski in a style that really requires Mongo the binding monster.


  7. Lou May 30th, 2012 9:20 am

    One other thing: If a person wants a binding that’s mostly resort skiing, easy step-in step-out but the occasional short tour with skins, these sorts of bindings are quite nice.

  8. Dostie May 30th, 2012 9:35 am

    Greg Louie,

    You are spot on when you call these “gateway” bindings. And why do all the experienced skiers who know that weight matters get so negative about bindings like these for backcountry converts who don’t yet understand that the extra beef they perceive now as an assurance will most assuredly become a penalty. If they’re “real” bc skiers they’ll wake up and become dynafiddlers (or – gasp – telemarkers). 😉

    In the meantime, I have no problem welcoming these guys to the fold. And I’m darn glad they have these heavy tanks on their feet because it’s the only way I can keep up with them on the skin track since they’re 20-30 years younger. 🙂

  9. Lou May 30th, 2012 9:51 am

    I get to go with a “freerider” in Europe once in a while, who’s using bindings such as these as well as huge skis and boots. Chances are, they’ll be under 27, march up 6,000 vert in a few hours, then straight-line back down in 5 minutes. Later, I show up and hope they’ve got a beer ready. Sometimes, I wonder where all this is going!

  10. Samo May 30th, 2012 10:07 am

    In last few years I had some failures. I broke Naxos, Pures, Dynafit twice, alpine Marker bindings. At tech bindings there is very pointed load on the boots so I broke toe pin holes on Garmont Axon. I also pulled out Dynafit FT12 of Head Monster88 (alu plate). All happened while skiing not jumping or hucking. This are just some failures connected with bindings that I remember at the momnt. I made some improvements on my dyanfits so I am not scared when I’m riding them. Maybe I will make a report. I still made some 1500m+ vertical tours with Dukes and wide skis and didn’t have problems.
    Lou, you have a point. I haven’t have any problems with my Dukes yet. We will see how these bindings will prove.

  11. Tom Gos May 30th, 2012 11:20 am

    I’ll say that I think these sorts of bindings have a place in the market as well as a purpose, and I use them. I have a dedicated touring setup with Dynafits, but I also have a heavy setup with big wide rockered skis and Dukes. I use this second setup for resort skiing and so called sidecountry skiing too. My side country trips might involve 30 minutes of skinning or hiking, and that is usually preceded by a few hours of resort skiing. For this sort of day the Dukes (or Guardians) are perfect – they ski like the alpine gear I am acustomed to. The weight and poor stride are not a concern for a 30 minute climb where I find skinning to be more efficient than hiking, and I just don’t find my dedicated touring setup to be as enjoyable for resort skiing. In addition, having the ability to skin if necessary on a sidecountry lap gone wrong is a big benefit. Imagine having a friend injured 800 vertical feet above you, will you be able to get to them more quickly postholing or skinning on a beef binding? So for me the beef bindings are definitely attractive and have a purpose, although I would never use them for a full day of touring or a hut trip (and, yes, I do chuckle at the folks I see slogging this heavy stuff around for true touring). Oh yeah, FWIW, I’m no where near 27 in age (I’ll hit the big four-oh this year).

  12. Eric May 30th, 2012 11:49 am

    It is disappointing to see the stack height at the same spot as the duke. I thought getting closer to the ski was one of the design goals of Solly. The serviceable pivot is nice.

    I’m sure you can look back at the duke review (or even the freeride) to scan through all the banter surrounding why there is a market for this class of binder, but the bottom line is the market exists. Someday, perhaps, we will all become smart, proper backcountry skiers.

    Lou, thanks for including the beef boots and bindings. It’s nice to have the consistent and reputable wildsnow reviews even if they are fringe products for much of your readership.

  13. XXX_er May 30th, 2012 12:20 pm

    You gotta start somewhere, not everyone has the $ to have a quiver of dedicated alpine or lowtech setups and the $ challenged are usually young people so I am more likely to see a young person touring in overlap alpine boots and an AT/alpine beef binding because thats all they can afford, as long as they are buying the beef there is money to be made selling the beef and besides … it slows them down a bit

    I don’t need to wonder I know that “Fading” is where its all going and 40 is still just a kid

  14. Edward M May 30th, 2012 12:35 pm

    Before I add to the redundance, I must say that the only view that I disagree with is assuming that consumers are rational and that all skiers desire the same attributes in a setup. If there wasn’t a market for these types of bindings, they would not be produced. Like Tom and others have said, these types of bindings appeal to people like me transitioning from 15 years of resort skiing, and will be used mostly for sidecountry, short tours, and resort skiing (basically a replacement for regular alpine bindings). While I have years of experience playing hockey, snowshoeing, xc skiing, and resort alpine, I am new to backcountry. However, I am known to tour ungroomed xc/snowmobile trails as well as hurtle down groomers on my metal-edge xc skis, so perhaps after this gateway binding, an ultralight Dynafit or Tele based setup is in my future; in case you haven’t guessed, I’m 26. Btw, awesome blog, Lou. Thanks to all contributors for the wealth of info and shared experience. I will be commenting from the Alps beginning in August.

  15. Xavier May 30th, 2012 12:39 pm

    joe vallone….not everybody has the same tastes or incredible ski skills you think you have….get over yourself. what a conceited post!!!!!
    As other have said, many people consider these type of bindings for sidecountry skiing or entry into the touring world. Most of the people I know that bought Dukes when they started have also bought tech one they got more experienced and committed to BC touring.

  16. ptor May 30th, 2012 3:00 pm

    In terms of this style of heavy performance touring option that is understandably popular, the MFD system makes the most sense to me. One factor that it addresses (that is mostly overlooked and overshadowed by the all-mighty DIN number in such discussions) is the release itself. Duke style bindings are designed with release elasticity compromise to be able to configure it’s touring capabilities. Mounting regular bindings on a plate/hinge system actually gives the full performance of an alpine binding with touring capability. Also being transferable between skis with mere extra hinge and heel piece gives it an ‘economic’ versatility. One can have one pair of bindings and plates for multiple pairs of skis. In terms of weight, for example, MFD with Jesters mounted on them weighs the same, rides lower and can switch to tour mode without exit. The Guardians look great but they are just a modified Duke in reality.
    I for one am all for heavy setups as well as the light tech style. They all have their place. Personally i avoid skiing on tech bindings while just lift riding or knowing I’ll only do a short tour, alpine bindings are just the right tool. Tech bindings are just too fragile for purely downhill use, have a relatively very poor release and their skiing performance sucks compared to alpine bindings. But in my opinion, the Duke style bindings are still a compromise to the ultimate heavy solution, the adapter plate.

  17. Tim M. May 30th, 2012 3:18 pm

    good points, ptor, thanks. i love my dynafit set up, but i do prefer alpine boots for downhill performance in and around the resort. it begs the question – what’s the lightest and generally solid and well-liked alpine binder to combo with the MFD system?

  18. Andy May 30th, 2012 5:11 pm

    Tim M.: Jesters (the non-pro version) tend to get mentioned as being among the lightest “well-liked” alpine bindings. Yeah, everyone loves Sollys/Looks (including me), but they’re not as light.

    There are people who don’t understand wanting rocker or skis wider than 80 underfoot or plastic boots or air conditioning, too. Whatever.

  19. Mike Bromberg May 30th, 2012 5:25 pm

    There is certainly something to be said for having the right tool for the job. Sometimes that means a large binding quiver… and a quiver of skis with quiver killers.I love the convenience of having an alpine or even heavy touring binding when gravity fed skiing. It’s a hassle to fiddle with icy tech inserts after a big cat/heli/lift ascent and the associated hot/cold transition. I often found myself skiing the duke or baron when there was very little chance I’d need to go uphill. Finding that heavy uphill robot mode was increasingly rare, I switched to a jester and carried alpine trekkers. The trekkers never left my pack, but in an emergency (paired with light split skins to fit any of my skis) they will work fine. When touring, I ski the plum. Guardian seems fine for it’s intended purpose.

    Joey, you’d probably ski just fine on telemark gear. Certainly the worst tool for any job.

  20. rangerjake May 30th, 2012 5:38 pm

    HA! Too bad nobody can get an MFD plate with a Jester on it yet. So at least for the moment enjoy the Solly, Rossi, or Tyrolia interface options.

    Listen, some folks may think another super beef binding is the stupidest thing ever. And others may be salivating at spy shots of protos years before their release date. Bottom line is it is another option. A choice you as the consumer can make. Do you lose something you love when a new product like this is introduced? No. So why complain? I think it is great. It will challenge the Dukes for the super beef sidecountry crown (along with Tyrolia’s new offering). And competition drives innovation. So here’s to a new flavor at the ice cream bar that is AT ski bindings. Eat up!

  21. joe vallone May 30th, 2012 9:25 pm

    Ok, all, sorry if some of you folks got your panties in a bunch over my post, I did not mean to offend you Xavier and sorry if I came off as Conceited in your eyes, My post was not intended to fire up sensitive folks like yourself. I just wanted to know who was using this and what their reasons were. Maybe I didn’t ask it the best way.

    It’s been nice to read most of the responses and hear peoples thoughts. Very different to the usual responses I get from folks when asked about there big set ups. 9 times out of ten folks tell me I need 16 din, low tech can’t hold me, I ski to hard for those, they don’t make stiff enough boots for me to use those bindings, Or I am a freerider, which I am still trying to figure out the definition of. I usually just go skiing but have not figured out this freeriding thing yet. 😉

    As to all defending the reasons for having these types of setups, I know and understand their place in the market. There is an overwhelmingly big market for this type of gear. In my opinion I think it comes down to personal preference.

    With that being said you still need the right tool for the job. I have skied everything that is available on the market now. I know what I choose and love. It works for me, and about 90% of the time I choose Low Tech. I even ski them in the park and pipe, and yes I have slid rails all day in low techs. I have raced mogul lanes while skiing with the groms on local mogul teams and hit the uprights. I am pretty sure that I have not put my bindings through those types of abuse and forces in any of the ski touring or big mountain ski settings I have done. Basically I don’t want to come out of my skis and I get that performance from low techs.

    I don’t understand the argument for not being able to or wanting to ski low techs at a ski resort or while lift skiing. 12 din is just that, the same release values you get from a Salomon or any other din rated binding. The boot is actually more vulnerable then the binding from the forces it takes to release from a binding set at 12. I have broken more alpine bindings then I have broken low techs.

    I prefer low tech to alpine because for my style I feel that they out perform my alpine bindings. I get more response from my skis because I am closer to them, I have less weight on my feet for quicker turn initiation. I feel a completely different flex pattern in my skis from low techs. I stay locked in my low techs. Please understand these are the results I get for my style, others here feel they get the most from alpine bindings or these beef setups. As the old saying goes, if the shoe fits wear it.

    Being closer to the ski seems to be the game that the beefy guys are trying to accomplish anyway. That was basically one of the main goals and perks to the new Salomon. That and the ability to switch modes without stepping out. It really is just an improved duke for the most part, but nothing innovative by any means. I would bet mostly because of their name and long standing reputation as one of the best bindings ever made, I bet they are gonna sell a shit ton of guardians. Most likely gonna be many skiers first touring binding. I remember how many of my friends back in the day wouldn’t ski tour until the Duke came along. They would painfully boot pack everything. I guess I also don’t weigh as much, nor am I as tall as some of you that are in favor of heavy stuff. I am quite small in comparison to most of you that I know in here. So maybe that is why I get away with being on lighter gear.

    I remember working in Alaska and the rep and actually an old team manager of mine from back in the day showed up on my ship and had a prototype Duke before most of you probably even saw them. He asked me to use them for the day and what I thought of them. I gave them a full day in AK and at the end of the day told the rep that I hated them and didn’t care for the way they skied or toured. I didn’t like the weight and the height at which I stood from the ski. They packed with snow instantly and took awhile to close again. And the worst part was the noise they made while walking in tour mode. Frankenfooting. I said I would never buy them and I won’t use them. I gave an honest opinion, but I did say I bet you are gonna sell a ton of these. Everyone that has never ski toured is gonna want these. I don’t think he had a clue as to what I was saying to him, because in all the years that I knew him, I could never get him to ski tour or go in the back country with me. It wasn’t his thing and he wasn’t in to it. It’s amazing how his attitude changed after that binding was released and he got his first taste of Heli Skiing.

    Probably two years prior to that I pretty much drew the MFD all time on a napkin. It was my own version of it, but accomplished the same thing. I showed it to one of the main product developers of a big company that actually makes a touring binding as well. I told him here is something I would never use or want, but I bet you could sell a ton of these. He laughed at the idea and said nobody would ever want it and it doesn’t fit the companies ideas.

    The MFD adds 600 grams to each foot, adds another interface between your ski and your binding and costs $300. After you spend $300 you still don’t have a binding. I guess it’s great for folks that can afford to have the ultimate quivers, or maybe they are sponsored pros and are gonna take whatever is given to them anyway, but for one ski quivers, I just don’t see a set up like this or any other beefy class setup being versatile enough to do it all and give value to the retail paying customer.

    @Ptor, you are an exception to the norm and can truly justify your reasons for the beefy set ups better then most, and you can ski a little. Rumor has it you get out once in awhile LOL

    @Mike, I am terrified of telemarking and would rather snowboard.

    @rangerjake. Your post is spot on, +1

  22. David B May 30th, 2012 10:54 pm

    Just like there is really no such thing as a one ski quiver, there is no such thing as a one binding quiver.

    Sounds great in principle and sounds wallet friendly but in practice doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

    Touring versus resort is no longer the discussion because the fastest growing sector is the middle ground, slack country or side country, call it what you will.

    I love all kinds of skiing. As long as I am on the white stuff I am happy, going up or coming down both have their attractions.

    OK! down is better.

  23. ptor May 31st, 2012 12:30 am

    @Joe – I sincerely hope you never NEED to release from skiing locked in to tech bindings. May the force be with you. When Bode Miller gets into the starting gate with a pair of low techs, then I’ll believe you. Right now, you have a very extraordinary and dangerous opinion about using low techs everywhere. It’s about as extreme as doing the Pierra Menta rando race with alpine trekkers. You are missing the point again with this DIN stuff. It’s not the number, it’s the release elasticity and performance. Locked tech bindings release on failure.
    You are lucky to have never broken a low tech because tons of people have and unlucky to have broken alpine style bindings (maybe you weren’t using good ones)
    Your comment about the plates however, doesn’t make sense. They are not designed nor intended to do it ‘all’ nor are Dukes or Guardians. People have been making in their garage and dreaming of MFD style of plate adapters since before you started high school and is a solution many of us have been waiting for to be well manufactured. Also, the value given to a retail customer is the satisfaction and good use of a product. Your condescending comment regarding pros using/endorsing anything that’s free is not becoming of you, a sponsored pro.

  24. Wookie1974 May 31st, 2012 2:41 am

    I use dynafits to tour, but have ended up skiing the resort in them a few times…there is something vaguely unsatisfying about them in that situation. I have had problems with early release, but more than that, they seem very “chattery” somehow stiff and not damp at all … a quality I value highly in my set-up.
    I know it comes from the bindings, because I mounted inserts on the skis to try out different set-ups. The same ski, with a duke on it, feels much different, at least skiing the resort. (Noticeable on pistes and chunky but funky – pow is pow.)
    After all my experimentation, I’ve decided on a few things:
    1) I still tour on dynafits – the weight is great, they work great on the uphill and the downsides I’ve noticed while skiing harder stuff is not a big deal on most tours. I can drop cornices and (moderately) whack on them and they take it.
    2) I mount ALL my resort oriented skis with dukes (or maybe this one now?) because I am certain that about half the time I go out, I will spontaneously decide to go bag some little spot just a little way off – or I will be skiing someplace I don’t know well and have to backtrack to get out of a bad situation. I keep a set of kick-skins in my pack at all times (thanks Lou for the DIY construction tips!) Having a step-in binding helps a lot with gondola loading, picking up crying kids and their gear, etc.

    As to Ptor’s point – that the MFD could be used to swtich bindings around on different skis…..I agree – but the shops near here sell their skis in a set with bindings for such that the bindings go with for about 50 Euros! (for Dukes – Dynafits are more expensive) I take them with and never have to mount and unmount.

    This may be a local and temporary phenomenon – but I wonder how long the shops can go on selling skis at cost and the bindings under their cost. (They DO make money off of 800 Euro pairs of pants though)

  25. Massimo May 31st, 2012 4:51 am

    Hi everybody! I was waiting for this review because my great expectations in Salomon work. I’d love have ’em on really fat skis for short ascents, helped by lifts. They allows you to reach good runs not so just a little bit too far and high for those who’s got alpine bindings only.
    I suppose this kind of binding arer’t a true alternative to hi techs, yet. Ther’re just another thing. No backcountry skier, using hi-techs, will be inclined in adding weight to his skis. This’ s just the first step of a challenge: every season, salomon will try to make them lighter, but Dynafit can relax till they reach the “1 kg weight”. Dynafit shoud use this long time to improve the release of its hi tech bindings: that’s even an hard challenge, because they can’t absolutely add weight.
    Let’s see.. and let’s hope that backcountry skiers will increase their number, so all brands can start the challenge for the best gear!

  26. Lou May 31st, 2012 7:11 am

    Massimo, many of the tech binding makers are working on trying to _appear_ to have a better release system. I’ll have to see it to believe it. Lots of what they might be doing is probably driven by marketing rather than engineering. Nothing wrong with that if it works, but I have my doubts. See

  27. SB May 31st, 2012 12:04 pm


    I hope your knees like the low techs. They are definitely more harsh when you get on anything that isn’t soft than an alpine binder. Frankly, my alpine equipment skis way better than my back country equipment. That’s why I use it in alpine skiing. As good as the backcountry gear has gotten, it just isn’t is as good as alpine ski gear for nearly everything in the resort or slackcountry.

    When I can feel good about hucking in my dynafits, the elasticity is better than my alpine binders, and my boots are as good, I might consider using only my backcountry setup. Then again, the weight on your feet is actually good for the down, so I doubt it.

  28. Xavier May 31st, 2012 3:04 pm

    @joe.. the irony is I actually use tech bindings for resort and BC same as you and sold all my heavy gear and only have dynafits on all 5 sets of skis I own and am constantly berated by my friends for not using alpine bindings in the resort.

    However these bindings are a valid piece of gear for those that don’t feel the same as you and I about tech bindings…..and trust me I was not offended but merely found your smugness hilarious and worthy of a reply.

  29. Gringo May 31st, 2012 3:34 pm

    The reality is that this binding will be a great daily driver option in the Alps for users of big skis who leave the house in the AM not knowing exactly what the day will bring. I have many years of 100+ touring day seasons ( on Dynafit) and I certainly see a place for this binding, as a reliable release value and no- brainer step in can instill huge peace of mind on super technical sidecountry hits and the extremely variable snow you encounter when your runs are worth more than 6,000 feet per lap.

  30. joe May 31st, 2012 5:45 pm

    @Ptor, I hear you loud and clear, I know the risks I take with skiing in locked out gear, Seems to be the lesser of the two evils in my opinion, so I choose locked and accept that risk in exchange for another one. Really no worse then the risk you take when you fly around and test your homemade apparatuses. 😉

    It seems most of the arguments defending the beef is because they are less likely to release in the minds of the users. So isn’t that what most of you are after anyway?

    As for a Bode Miller comparison, I don’t ski that hard and even in my biggest descents and biggest hucks, I could never generate the forces he does on a pair of skis. That is a niche situation; very unique to anything we are talking about here. Maybe I don’t know what kind of skiing folks are doing these days on their beef country kits, but I would have to guess they are not generating the speeds, forces, or demanding the performance of that of a world cup downhill skier on an iced up course.

    I’m a little man, and I don’t ski that hard. I bet most of the folks skiing on Side, Slack, Front, whatever country you all want to call it (to me your either touring or your not), don’t ski as hard or as well as Bode. If we want to talk about racing at the World Cup Level, then yeah, I understand your point. But for the application, which is a binding of any kind that can tour, I don’t understand how it is simply better.

    I don’t ski as well as you do, but personally, I ski better in my low techies, and they tend to be more responsive and sensitive for my style. I don’t get that in an alpine binding, and ironically even more so on hard pack, piste, or choppy seas. I even ski them in high-speed switch carves on hard pack quite regularly as well. Maybe I am doing something wrong,

    I have not found my self in a lift skiing situation where I said I couldn’t do this or ski that fast because I am in my tech weenie binders. Nor have I been in a big mountain setting where the same excuse applied.

    I am fully aware of how my bindings release. I have just never been able to create the forces necessary to get my techs to failure. I am not as big as most of you and I can only assume that I am not skiing as hard on my gear as others may be.

    I always thought the evolution was to make stronger, and lighter, the whole Beef Country thing is still industry development and that is great, but it just seems like a step backwards.

    Ok, so we all know I can’t write very well and my grammar sucks, never was my forte. But,

    My point, which I was not so good at making in regards to DIN and the actual number. I was not addressing the mechanics of the bindings functions and or design or release mechanisms. I was referring to the general consumer or retail customer of this product, all they really see is that number and it sells. It is purely marketing to those that may not be as educated as you.

    Unlike you Ptor, or maybe most of the folks that care for this discussion, you know how your bindings function, and truly care about the mechanics, engineering and design of your equipment. Most retail consumers in the sales demographic for the beefy bindings are buying the binding solely based on that number and nothing else. It is a great marketing strategy. Just like in spinal tap, why wouldn’t you rather have an amp that goes to 11 instead of 10? Just in case you need just one more level. 16 sells.

    That is why I was curious and asked in my OP, who is using this gear, why and where? I didn’t exactly phrase it that way, but I have heard some really lame reasons over the years, folks in here seem to know why they are on it more then the general consumer.

    As far as the one ski quiver comment or the tool that does it all, I was only responding to folks in here that were implying that they would put a duke on a ski that they don’t know the purpose of the day, and would like to have a one ski does it all option. I feel like I have more versatility and options from a tech, that was my opinion there.

    Finally to quote you Ptor
    “Your condescending comment regarding pros using/endorsing anything that’s free is not becoming of you, a sponsored pro.”

    Lets get one thing straight, I am not a pro skier. I don’t get paid to ski and as I may have some product thrown my way, I don’t have a single contract with any company. Not one, and nobody is paying me. I have turned down my share of offers. The equipment I choose and use is the equipment I would go buy anyway, and I actually do buy quite a bit of the gear I use, in fact most of it. I am not opposed to it, but I have a hard time with exclusivity.

    The only free product I accept is stuff I believe in and would use anyway. In return companies get a link on my webpage, that’s were it ends and an occasional field photo. I can field questions about the product to my guests who actually represent one of the biggest retail customer groups in the industry. I probably started receiving that gear because of the enthusiasm I showed while using the gear, without contract or money. The companies that do support me have been in most cases guided by me or have first hand field experience with my skills; it was only then that they offered up gear. I didn’t make myself look pro on a Microsoft Word Doc and solicit the product, as do many in this day and age. Everyone is a pro on paper these days. Likewise if I was a rep, I would not want to endorse someone I didn’t meet on a personal level, spend some time with and actually see his or her trade in person. I learned a valuable lesson about signing years ago and found myself in a guinea pig situation for what might of been the worst binding ever made, No money was involved but I had a near miss on equipment failure while being under contract, LOL. I was trying it out and seeing for myself. My immediate feedback was brushed under the rug.

    I am only a mountain guide, I guess a professional mountain guide in the eyes of Europeans and Canadians, but explaining that to Americans, might be tough. That is very different then a Pro Skier. Really I provide a service, so you could consider me more of a trade worker as opposed to an athlete.

    Anyone can be a guide, If you live in America, just go get some insurance, a few permits and hang up a sign. Or if you want, go get some certificates and you can do it over seas. Oh yeah, and take a few of those Avalanche detector classes too.

    I get paid to guide, not to ski, and unless you have done both at the levels I am talking about, there is a big difference. Pros are paid to travel, shoot, film, compete, and even paid retainers in the best cases to stay on a certain product. All they do is ski and work for the next shot, movie, or small piece of exposure that will keep the product and the money coming, all while keeping the sponsors happy and interested. Maybe the select elite can actually give input on product design, and in the best cases actually get to make a pro model. Not so many are truly skiing on their own terms, a very few elite can call their shots, but most chase around photo shoots, contests, or their next movie segment. I’m not saying that is a bad life or am I ripping on it; I am only defining the parameters as to how I view the term Pro Skier. Ironically I guide pros quite a bit. It’s kind of funny to me that so many professional skiers with amazing skills still need guides to get their shots or ski their lines in the places they want to go. Film crews are actually some of the worst gigs you get. You watch sponsored pros rip lines that some old duct tape wearing nobody skis everyday for his warm up and rips it twice as hard. If you’re a pro, can’t you do it yourself?

    The word PRO has become so generic to me in the last years, Ironically, I use it as a play on words for my business, but the word has lost so much credibility and has become a blurred image in my mind. I am not really sure what it means anymore because I keep meeting so many of them in my line of work and it is becoming hard to tell the difference of what actually makes a pro.

    That being said, I guess by definition, I am a professional guide, not to be confused with professional skier. Although those that know me best I refuse to be truly professional, and choose to ski more then most guides. In the last years and especially this year I have found it harder and harder to wear my pin and in most cases don’t. I guess that’s not so pro in a place like Europe. I also didn’t just learn to ski so I could get my ticket, which is all too common amongst the guiding community these days. I was a skier long before I started guiding. Who knows how many years I have left, but I might go back to the other side of the fence one of these days and rejoin the dark side. It might be time to come out of retirement all while retiring from another field. I enjoy giving others the experiences they have, and keeping them safe, but the more I guide the more I miss skiing.

    I can be very opinionated, but when it does come down to my work and responsibility, regardless of my equipment, clothing, hair cut, or lack of Guide Badge propaganda all over me, I do consider myself very professional, and take my job seriously.

    Sorry for the long-winded response, but I felt I had to justify my definition of a pro for ya Ptor, and under that definition, I don’t qualify. But at some level I guess I am guilty and pro at something. I know worse skiers, guides and athletes that throw that name around all too much, I don’t want to be associated with them. Many are taking crap gear so they can just say the word sponsored and it’s not until in the field do they realize how bad their gear is. But unlike you or I they are not willing to break down and pay for the goods when they need it or buy what they believe in. I saw many regrets this year from folks who signed for crap gear and an endorsement only to realize they hated their gear while being over seas and trying it for the first time. I watched frantic folks look for handouts and cringe at the fact that they would have to go buy something because they realized their gear sucked and was the wrong tool for the job. Ironically, it was mostly American guides that really don’t ski that much and don’t know what to expect from their gear.

    My comments about taking gear were in no way directed at you Ptor.

    @Lou, sorry for getting off course , seems like I went on a tangent their and hijacked your thread.

    @wookie, Nice justification for your choices in gear,

    @SB, I ski on more hard pack, frozen, and icy terrain then you could imagine. I love powder but it’s not my ultimate quest, I don’t learn or progress my skiing by skiing powder, it’s just too easy. If it’s there I will ski it, but I spend quite a bit of time in firm conditions. I have had two knees blown, both times on hard pack and in Alpine bindings. I prefer my techies on hard, firm and tech situations, they are just more responsive and quicker then my alpine setups for me, maybe it’s just a weight factor thing too. If you’re near the Summit area this fall, I will rally the frozen ribbons with ya before I get to the Alpes for winter again.

    PS. Off Subject, @Ptor, do you know anyone in the village that does translations officially for France? I need my Birth certificate translated officially for my Carte Vitalle. Did you have to do that?

    PSS. Next year maybe all views of tech weenie binders will get a second look when you all get your eyes on the J’Envoie Du Gros Maybe that will change your minds. But it really is just the same binding on a bigger plate. At the end of the day, the binding didn’t change, but it will be interesting to see how many folks will accept a tech weenie binder as a hard charging tool after it’s release based on one thing. If the thread allowed I would post a photo. It looks great!

  31. David B May 31st, 2012 5:52 pm

    This binding will make a mark.

    Where I come from they are half the price of a set of Fritschi’s and on par with the Dukes.

    Not having to remove your skis to switch to tour mode is a winner. Particularly for short non skin recon work.

    Appropriate anti-spam quiz Lou.

  32. Tim May 31st, 2012 7:51 pm


    Can you share a bit more info about this new binding development you wrote of?

    J’Envoi Du Gros?

  33. Sam F May 31st, 2012 9:12 pm

    I have no way of proving it but haveing held the solly next to the duke. I would have sworn the stack height was significantly less on the solly.

    Im going to wait and see if it skis like a 16din solly….but almost no doubt its lower than the duke.

  34. Tim M. May 31st, 2012 10:32 pm

    @Sam F: According to Salomon, the Guardian stack height is 26 mm (not 36). Couldn’t find any specs on Salomon’s site, but this video mentions it at 7:01 (

    The stack height of the Marker Dukes and Barons, and/or perhaps the toe high or low configuration, combined with its bizarre flex patterns and the litany of other issues mentioned in the thread, turned me off to those. Which is why I was interested in the Guardian, when I saw what I thought was its lower stack height last winter.

    Maybe Lou can clarify on the “prototype”/design stack height vs. the one he’s looking at.

  35. joe May 31st, 2012 11:25 pm

    My fingers are shredded from bouldering longer then I should have and it hurts to type so I will keep this short,

    Having skied on the Duke and the Gaurdian, I really don’t see a significant difference in overall downhill performance. They both ski quite the same. In my opinion, bulky, heavy, sluggish and too high off the ski is how I felt on them. For me no comparison to the benefits and performance that comes from tech bindings.

    I have toured in all the Markers, tour, duke, and Baron, I don’t care for any of the touring performance in any of these models and although I have not toured in the Guardian, only skied in it. I did open the binding just to feel the pivot, the glide stroke, and to play with the transition. As far as I was concerned it was hard to feel the difference between the two. They are quite the same, but without actually spending a day touring in the Salomon as I have the Markers, it is just a quick assumption. The Salomon’s are by far easier to operate.

    As with most products in the industry, folks are gonna be loyal to their brands despite features, fabrication, and or durability. Some people only ski Marker and some will only ski Salomon, so despite the specs or features, I think folks will stay true to the name they trust regardless of performance.

    @Tim, PM me with your email and I would be more then happy to share specs and photos of the binding I was speaking of.

  36. ptor June 1st, 2012 12:59 am

    Bode Miller and world cup racers have a lot to do with everybody’s equipment regardeless if one can ski like them. They use the stuff that skis and releases the best, hence they don’t race on low-techs.
    Of course advanced skiers are looking to not come out of their bindings prematurely, hence locking out low techs and beef bindings that go to 16.
    My question is, if the Guardian skis like a 916, does it release like one too?…which nobody talks about. How important is this to the educated consumer?
    For example, with the Duke/Jester scenario, the difference in elasticity of release between similar looking mechanisms is not the same and the duke has a markedly reduced release motion. This has always been an engineering problem in designing performance touring bindings.

  37. Lou June 1st, 2012 6:27 am

    Tim and all, that 36 mm figure for Salomon stack needs verification if you’ve seen different numbers. We’ll work on that. Possible the 26 number comes from measuring at the toe, or perhaps we did a typo. It’s been tricky dealing with a whole new company with a new product. Went through the same thing with Marker, now years ago… Lou

  38. Lou June 1st, 2012 7:01 am

    Ptor, suggestion: The original Dynafit bindings were called “Low Tech” and Fritz Barthel the Dynafit inventor still calls his design and engineering business “Low Tech.” More, Dynafit sells bindings such as the Low Tech Radical and Low Tech Race.

    As has been promulgated throughout the industry, when you write about Dynafit type bindings as “tech” that’s clear, but when you use terms like “low techs” it’s potentially confusing, especially for folks somewhat new to all this stuff.

    Perhaps when you use the term “low techs” you’re referring to the actual Dynafit race models? If so, that would be best capitalized. But my impression is in the comment above you’re referring to all tech bindings; Dynafit, Plum, G3 and so on.

    Just trying to keep the water from getting too muddy (grin).

    Thanks, Lou

  39. Lou June 1st, 2012 8:40 am

    Tim and all, thanks for calling us out on the stack height. It’s indeed 26 mm, not 36, thus making it 1 centimeter lower than Marker at 36.

    We were misinformed and neglected to verify our own numbers before we sent the bindings back.

    I’m embarrassed by this and apologize to you all. Totally my fault as I should watch these facts more closely as editor.

    As for whether you’ll ski like a god because you’re 10 mm lower on your bindings but still stilted up 26 mm, who knows?

    At penance, I verified some stack heights in the museum so they’re solid info for you guys to compare:

    Fritschi Eagle 44 mm
    Fritschi Freeride (notPro) 41 mm
    Duke 36 mm
    Salewa Tour 1987, 20 mm
    Silvretta 404 circa 1980s, 20mm
    Dynafit Radical 30mm (due to extreme ramp of boot, difficult to measure exactly, so I averaged)


  40. Frank K June 1st, 2012 8:40 am

    I thought I’d reiterate Mike Bromberg’s point above, as it is seldom discussed. One of the key benefits of this type of binding is the ability to tour in an emergency situation. Even if you’re bc skiing without any need to tour (sled laps, lift accessed slack country, etc.), there may be a time when you need to tour (as in the case of a slide, or a broken snowmobile, etc.) I consider my Dukes to be a piece of safety gear in those circumstances, as well as a compromise when traveling and I want a setup that is functional inbounds (which I don’t consider a dynafit setup to be, like many of the commenters here.)

    I’m fairly certain that the tow height on the Guardian is lower than the duke, because the duke has a ramp that comes UP to meet the sole, whereas the guardian toe comes DOWN to reach the top of the boot. What I dislike about this design is the fixed AFD of the guardian, which would make me quite nervous about skiing the guardian with a rubber soled boot. The duke AFD moves side to side, which theoretically would be a more consistent release from the toe. That said, I thought the binding skied great, and I really appreciated the easier mode changes compared to the Duke.

  41. Greg Louie June 1st, 2012 8:59 am

    If you’re measuring at the toe, the Duke height varies due to the ramped AFD used for toe height adjustment – anywhere from ~32mm for my Endorphins to ~37 for a flat alpine sole (Lange RS 130). The Salomon/Atomic stays at 26mm regardless of boot sole type (but they don’t recommend using rockered AT boots). So basically the Salomon is lower . . .

  42. Josh June 1st, 2012 9:10 am

    I think Joe might be talking about this:

    The proto seamed to have an all metal heel, which is now absent. Maybe there were some mechanical problems with that, but going all alu seemed to be getting rid of the weakest link in the system. The only issue i’ve had with my plum’s is a slight compression of plastic under the heel posts. I didn’t get a version with the heel post though. If it was was an alu lower heel piece then I fell you could eliminate that post for better touring ergonomics (flatter).

    After this year I’ve become a tech binding evangelist. I tweaked my knee a bit and skied on my touring (softer) set up while it was healing. After I felt better I kept skiing on my touring set up exclusively. Through the process I started to gain confidence in bindings ability to be ski hard with the toes unlocked, and after a couple of weeks I wasn’t really holding anything back.

    I’ve had dynafits (comforts) for a few years, and it was pretty easy to kick a ski off going fast with the toes unlocked. I find with plum I can ski like an alpine binding, even with the toes unlocked. There were points where I felt like a crash test dummy going 50mph through rough terrain, but in the end I figured out the bindings could take. I feel like everyone needs to do that testing on their own. I never sent any thing big to hard pack, but i’ve easily been 20 feet off the ground with speed. Even spins in the terrain park. I would always lock the toe on something really sketchy, because why take the risk.

    I find that the boots are the limiting factor, mostly fit. I’m looking forward to that vulcans next year, something that is stiff and tours well. Hopefully the fit is snug also.

    I’m starting to have the thoughts that I should fully transition to tech bindings. I’m with Joe on his assessment that the beef is useless. Last year I would have thought this was the binding for me, but after putting plums through the ringer I can’t honestly see any other choice beside low tech as a viable touring option. Or generally skiing either. They work.

    I like the direction that plum went (not with this “yak”) with the guide binding because there isn’t a weight penalty to the burliness. Dynafit’s, burly options might be great binding (haven’t tried), but with a real weight penalty. And it’s just to make it look burly. I want to see a melding of high retention (still releasable) and high strength, with the minimalism of rando race bindings. That’s the future in my opinion. Give an efficient design so you can squeeze some stainless steel into critical areas. Just because I like to jump off things all of the time doesn’t mean I can count OZs 😛

    For reference I’m 25. I guess just a little ahead of the curve.

  43. Lou June 1st, 2012 9:10 am

    Frank, excellent points. I totally agree that the tech bindings out there are not resort bindings. However, a person who doesn’t ski too aggressively at the resort can easily get away with using them that way, ditto for a guide or other sort of pro who knows the limits of the binding.

    At one time or another I’ve used tech bindings extensively for resort skiing. First thing I noticed was that simply the heavy amount of use eventually wore out the heel pins, and the bashing of one ski against another caused some wear and breakage.

    The other thing any good skier will notice about using tech bindings at the resort is that if they set the RV to normal settings (instead of dialed up way high) and hit the bumps or chop with any kind of aggression, there is a tendency to per-release vertically at the heel since all tech bindings have super limited vertical elasticity at the heel.


  44. joe June 1st, 2012 10:59 am

    It blows my mind that anyone would ski a binding in the front, back, side, slack, or any other remote country place that you don’t have the confidence to ski in a resort.

    If a tech binder is not ok for resort skiing, then what makes it ok when it really counts?

    I find myself pushing it more when I am up high in the mountains, If I don’t have confidence in my gear in the resort, then I am not taking it away from the security of the resort.

    It sounds to me that most in favor of the beef class setups do so because they are still looking for an alpine binding. Sounds like you need alpine binding specific release mechanisms, weight, and performance.

    I think the solution for folks in this category is to give up your Dukes, Gauradians and especially MFD set ups and go back to an Alpine DayWrecker. Problem solved, isn’t that the ultimate solution? If weight is not the issue. Get some Alpine Treckers. Then you can stay in your Green Spring race stocks and why stop there, Throw some Derby Flex in the mix since you can with an Alpine Trecker system.

    Now you can have a Bode Miller set up where ever you want to go if that is what you’re aiming for. Wouldn’t that be the best? Maybe next year MFD will have Derby Flex hole patterns for the hard cores?

    The only time I ever threw a shoe in techs was on a level III avalanche guide detector course. It was circa 2000 or so with Karl Claussen. I finished my pits early and made kickers out of my pile while waiting around for the rest of the folks to finish. I released on back seat landings throwing some mighty large inverts in Dynafits. I think I would of released out of anything given the size of the hot tubs I was landing in.

    I still have not come out of a plum that is properly engaged and snow free. I guess I am just not skiing hard enough or as hard as the folks that can’t use them at the resort, but I have literally tried all I could to release from them, like purposely under rotating 3’s, 5,s and 7,s off park hits. I have thrown disasters onto rails. I have tried to trash my AT gear at resorts, in bumps, hard pack, pipes, and parks to gain the confidence to do what I want in demanding ski mountaineering and backcountry environments without having to think about my gear.

    There were many times this year that I came off some big high speed lines that included some ice hucks and schrund hoppping. I noticed after one run in particular that I had not locked my toes out. It was actually pointed out to me by the engineer from Plum who was standing right next to me at the end of the run. I laughed and said it doesn’t really matter does it?

    I have spent some time skiing them in ski mode and have not released from them just to see. My biggest fear and reason for locking them is the lack of brake, and I will not use straps, so I guess it just gives me piece of mind and serves as a reminder when removing them that they have no leash or brake. (there will be brakes available next year)

    For those of you using plums and like to ski hard and or jump. I suggest getting the heal post inserts that are now available, or you can very easily make your own. That might reduce some of the wear and tear that Lou suggests.

    I think I am getting close to about 200 days using Plums and I am yet to have a major issue. I have seen broken toe levers in the field, but it doesn’t stop the bindings from being used and they are easily replaced. There is a new design in the toe lever and for those that have current models, it is advised that you lube the joints with a water and cold resistant juice of some kind. Plum has developed their own lube that accomplishes both.

    My first pair was taken apart and looked at after about 75 days of abuse just to see how they were holding up. Some small stresses in the plastic in the housing, probably due to abnormal use, but still solid and holding up. This was the first generation guide, and this pair was used without the currently available heal posts.

    I am heading to the Tetons this week and can’t wait to go rando trashing on them some more. But now I am having second thoughts, if they are not appropriate at the resort, and don’t give the performance of a world cup alpine binding, should I take them into the spring mountaineering environment of the Tetons?

    PS, on a side note to my previous post, while skiing the guardian, I did feel a bit closer to the ski then on the Marker, but overall not enough to make a major difference.

    Here is a nice review that compares the Duke, Gaurdian, and the Tyrolia Adrenalin for anyone in the market.

    @josh your link is blocked, I am not sure if it has to do with the fact that Redline took over as NA distributor quite recently. If anyone wants to see pictures and or specs of the J’Envoi Du Gros PM me.

  45. Xavier June 1st, 2012 3:36 pm

    (Personal attack redacted.)

  46. joe June 1st, 2012 4:34 pm

    (response to personal attack redacted)

  47. joe June 1st, 2012 4:59 pm

    (More redacted)

    back on topic,
    I guess what I am still trying to figure out,

    I have heard the defense or reasoning from some respectable people here why they choose these beefy setups, or what they need from them that they can’t get from a tech binding. Yet most of the reasoning contradicts their own use of tech bindings. It seems some demand all this performance, strength, alpine release, and extra din in these more demanding situations close to the lifts, but in reality the very same users go much further, and into way more demanding situations were the gear is relied upon in a more committed setting. Why is it ok to take tech weenie setups into those situations. Based on most arguments for beef setups, it seems that any situation would be sketch on Techs?

    Seems most of you reserve tech set ups for more committed situations. I go back to my question, why is it ok to take a tech setup way out there into demanding, steep , most likely firm and variable mountaineering situations, but they are not good enough in the close vicinity or lift accessed back country.

    On another note,
    I have a problem with the use of slack, side, front, near, or whatever you call it these days for describing the backcountry. All uncontrolled terrain, near or far is considered backcountry to me. I feel that slack, front, or side, gives a false sense of security to the younger and newer generation of backcountry enthusiasts these days. My two cents, but the industry is throwing those words around way too loosely these days, it’s either controlled or it isn’t. I guess if you want to you can give it a climbing grade scale to clarify the distance and commitment factors, but that’s a bit absurd IMO.

  48. Sam F June 1st, 2012 5:57 pm

    For myself and others 1cm is probably significant. In that Dukes DO NOT feel the same as say an STH.

    Most of the added stack height in my mind comes from the anti-friction device, and the way Maker chose to handle to height.I dont like it, but i think it might work better with your standard rockered and rubber soled touring boot.But these bindings are made for alpine boots, so i really dont see the point.

  49. Mike Bromberg June 1st, 2012 8:14 pm

    @Joe I can only speak for myself here, but recently I am choosing to use the duke or jester (actually jester PROs – and no I don’t ski em at 16, but I love the scraper bar on the toe!) when I am in and out of my bindings a lot. You’ll have to admit that it is nice to toss your skis down on that firm snow when you are just out of the telecabine and not be worried that they are going to take off down the hill. This is new to me as of the last two years as I’d always been one to go uphill far more than down. @joe I’m sure you remember I used to ski on wambly rando race skis and actual LOW techs.

    So here is my formula:
    If I am planning to use skins (even at all) = Plum
    If I’m not planning to skin uphill much <300m or so = non-Tech

    I've definitely skied tech binders (first dynafit and now Plum guides for the past 2 seasons) in far more committing and/or remote terrain than I have the non-techs. I've also skied a ton of gravity fed (both firm and pow) with the Plum without issue.
    Anyhow, I can't say that I would recommend that folks new to tech binders use them in places where numerous transitions and firm and variable snow are likely to be encountered. I've observed that it takes most folks a couple seasons to get good enough at clearing the toe pins, understanding the pros and cons of skiing in 'locked' mode, brake operation and every other subtlety that Lou has built an empire off of. Conversely, I wouldn't recommend that anyone goes backcountry uphill oriented ski touring with a non-tech.

    Sorry to hijack your Guardian post, Lou. Obviously it's off season for ski guides.

  50. joe June 1st, 2012 8:42 pm

    Nice mike, I remember your setup in AK.

    I am not suggesting or recommending to folks to use techies. People should use what they want and are comfortable with. I was only probing and asking for the reasons folks chose these beefy setups. They are not without place or purpose.

    I just find it amusing because I am yet to hear a reason for the use of the beef that my techies don’t accomplish for me. Most arguments have been that they are not for resort skiing or close proximity to the resort backcountry skiing were folks suggest they ski harder then they do in remote backcountry settings. I guess I am hearing that they are not durable enough to ski hard on? So if they are good enough to take to remote backcountry, then why are they not good enough for resort and close proximty backcountry? Do folks just tone it down when they go further out because they decided to take tech binders?

  51. Bill June 1st, 2012 9:23 pm

    To me, the pivot axle and housing around it looks like it was taken from a rollerblade design. I’m willing to bet that it’ll stand up to a lot of punishment.

  52. Tim M. June 1st, 2012 9:28 pm

    Thanks for looking into that, Lou. No biggie, and good to know. I love Joe’s aggro passion for the 24/7/365 “low tech” approach.

  53. Lou June 2nd, 2012 1:40 pm

    Joe has some excellent points. I’d agree that for many of us, if we’re comfortable with using tech bindings for all our backcountry skiing, why not use them at the resort? I’d say the answer depends on if there is a shift in your style of skiing when you’re at the resort, and if you ski terrain and snow conditions at the resort you don’t encounter much in the backcountry. If your style and snow conditions shift, perhaps a different ski/binding/boot system is appropriate. If not, then I’d agree that the same would work for backcountry and resort.

    In other words, the answer to this dilemma would be personal, based on each individual’s style and goals.

    Everyone, no personal attacks or what appear to be personal attacks and/or insults. I had to do some redacting in posts above.


  54. mason June 2nd, 2012 10:51 pm

    I prefer traditional alpine bindings over tech bindings at the resort because it feels like they flex more, providing a smoother ride over all the the other ski tracks and variable terrain. Joe, is this a valid reason to use alpine vs. tech? Kind of like progressive flex overlap boots providing smoother skiing than tongue boots. Tech bindings are twitchy.

  55. Steve June 3rd, 2012 5:03 am

    Here in the UK it is sometimes said that Tech bindings are inferior for resort use because they don’t release as well as other bindings. I’ve never read that on a US site, is it just a myth?

    (My question mainly refers to using bindings in the mid range of release settings, rather than turning the release setting up to 16 / locking the toes)

  56. Lou June 3rd, 2012 10:49 am

    Mason and Steve, the super stiff nature of tech bindings created an ongoing issue when folks first became aware of it, quite some years ago. I documented here:

    I always felt that the stiffer nature of tech or the Marker bindings (while in alpine mode) could cut both ways. With softer AT boots, it’s most certainly a plus and another cool way tech bindings compensate for ski touring boots. But yeah, a regular alpine binding can have a bit more “softness” to it and for sure work fine, and perhaps even have advantage because of that. What’s interesting is that the Marker AT bindings both are about the same stiffness as the tech bindings. In other words, if folks are theorizing about not skiing tech bindings at resort because of extra stiffness, they’ve better be applying that same theory to the Markers…

    What makes me laugh is I’m starting to think this is like stack height. For a while at was all the rage to be high off the ski, now everyone wants to be low. Likewise, folks have been wanting stiffer bindings — and will we soon see “flex plates” sold that you can mount a tech binding on so it’s not so stiff (grin)? Or better fodder for the laugh mill, just watch and wait for one of the tech binding companies to include the _softness_ if their binding in their marketing story. I wouldn’t be surprised…

    Note that when you unlatch a Marker or most other touring bindings and go to touring mode, then you get a HUGE difference between the stiffness of them and tech bindings. During our testing over the years, we’ve been certain that the stiffness of the tech binding was a gigantic advantage when in touring mode, while sidehilling. Yet another area where frame bindings cant’s hold a candle to tech bindings.

  57. ptor June 3rd, 2012 1:50 pm

    Yes Lou you are correct that I misuse the term ‘low-tech’ and I mean to say just ‘tech’. Thanks for correcting me.

  58. Lou June 3rd, 2012 2:58 pm

    Ptor, thanks for listening, just trying to reduce the fog a bit (grin). Lou

  59. tony s June 3rd, 2012 11:13 pm

    I just can’t imagine skinning in something heavier than Dukes. If it were the same weight I might consider giving them a try, but heavier than the Dukes, really? Maybe if I were Seth Morrison it would be worth it to lug that much weight uphill on my feet to ski powder.

  60. Chris Simmons June 4th, 2012 1:00 am

    I was reading these posts – and getting a little glassy-eyed – when I got to Lou’s comment about personal skiing habits in-bounds vs. out-of-bounds and said “ah-hah!”

    I think Lou hit the nail on the head: if you’re skiing habits become more aggressive in-bounds vs. OB, for whatever reason, than these bindings may be for you. Or, if you ride a lot of “sidecountry” – OB without any touring – than Mike’s assertion that having a touring option but not relying on it is a worthwhile consideration.

    Since most of my clients only own one or two pairs of skis, I recommend a 50% rule: if at least 50% of their time is spent touring on a particular pair of boards, they should consider tech bindings. If at least 50% is spent resort or sidecountry, than one of these bindings – and a heavier boot – may be more appropriate.

    I try to keep my quiver to three pairs, my skiing doesn’t change inside or outside of the ropes, and less than 25% of my ski days are spent with mechanized assistance: so tech bindings are on all three pairs of skis. But that doesn’t stop my students (and my ski instructor coaches and examiners), from looking down and asking about my bindings on the chairlift. Mike’s description of when he uses bindings like this made me take note.

    Still, most of my new backcountry clients simply don’t trust the look of tech bindings, and use equipment like this review’s to step into the touring world. If I think they can truly benefit from tech bindings, I’ll tell them so.

    Lou, we’re using “tech binding” to refer to Dynafit and Dynafit-inspired equipment. Is there a catch-all phrase for the Duke’s, Fritschi’s, and now Salomon bindings that look more resort-related? Thanks for another good review.

  61. Steve June 4th, 2012 1:29 am

    Thanks for your reply Lou. I think maybe you misunderstood my question (or maybe I didn’t explain it very well).

    An influential UK website states…

    ‘the front of a dynafit binding only offers upwards release, ie it has no sideways toe release (sideways release is possible, but only at the heel) which can have safety implications for some types of fall ie we do not recommend using dynafit bindings if you are a skier who takes regular falls in difficult snow conditions’

    So my question was ‘How come I never hear the above point mentioned on US websites?’ – Maybe you lot never fall over?

  62. Lou June 4th, 2012 6:23 am

    Steve, sure, the lateral (side) safety release of all tech bindings is at the heel. (Though the boot does pop out at the toe as well, otherwise it wouldn’t release.) Conversely, these days virtually all alpine bindings provide lateral release at the toe (over past decades, some released at the heel, and some still combine toe and heel release for what they claim to be more safety). In some types of falls the toe release might be better, in other types of falls the heel release might be better. After years of observing falling skiers, falling myself, and hearing anecdotal stories about falls, there is obviously no great issue about where the release occurs. Plenty of people get hurt on bindings with toe release, and people also get hurt on tech bindings. And lots of people fall and don’t get hurt — on either type of binding.

    More, bindings with releasing toe wings are subject to big swings in release values when ice or dirt compromise the toe area. Tech bindings are much more resistant to this effect, as the boot/binding interface is tiny.

    At this point, I’d say the issue is a wash in terms of actual safety.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, I still frequently do NOT recommend tech bindings to beginners, especially those who fall frequently. Instead, I recommend regular frame bindings. Why? Simply because the challenge of getting into the tech binding over and over again during the day is an unnecessary burden on top of all the other things a novice skier is probably struggling with. Their day goes much better (as does the guide’s) when they can just step in to the binding with a satisfying click.

    It’s also worth repeating and noting that tech bindings (when compared to a properly adjusted high quality frame binding or alpine binding) are more prone to per-release upward at the heel. Since the novice skier who falls frequently needs bindings that are adjusted at the low end of recommended settings, they can end up more easily per-releaseing vertically from the tech binding, thus causing a fall. This is another good reason for novice, frequently falling skiers to use frame type touring bindings, and use regular alpine bindings at the resort.

    As for falling, any skier who falls much will eventually get injured, especially in the knees and legs. So-called “safety release” in all ski bindings is incredibly primitive and of limited efficacy. Over the past years, helmet mania has taken attention away from this cold hard fact, but someday perhaps the spotlight will turn back to just how poorly any ski binding protects you from expensive and sometimes life altering injuries.

    Clear now?

    P.S., I’ve written about this issue many times, and you might be able to find some of my earlier writing that is more strongly opinionated one way or the other. Above is my latest take. Also, tech bindings are not the only touring bindings that release to the side at the heel. For example, all modern Silvretta bindings do so as well.

  63. Steve June 4th, 2012 8:36 am

    Thanks Lou.

    P.S. I was walking through the lift station at Grande Montets one afternoon in February this year and I thought to myself ‘That guy looks like Lou Dawson’. I was kind of surprised when I got back from my trip and read your Argentiere Glacier blog post.

  64. Lou June 4th, 2012 8:47 am

    Steve, I’m glad you didn’t call me out. The paparazzi had been chasing me all day and I’d finally gotten away from them by disguising myself (grin).

  65. Jesse June 6th, 2012 10:25 am

    One thing that nobody has mentioned, surprisingly, is that when you ski a low-tech binding, Dynafit or other, you are compromising performance with the boots that you have to wear. No question about it, the lightweight AT boots don’t perform as well as a regular alpine boot. Sure, you can ski powder in them, but a good skier can ski powder in anything. But when you really need to charge, or handle variable conditions, an AT boot leaves you wanting more. Thus, many skiers from pros to experienced BC skiers to beginners, don’t like the feel and lack of performance that many dynafit compatible boots offer. Therefore if your priority is to have a stiff and burly boot, you won’t be using low-tech bindings, and you’ll probably be using the Duke or Guardian. At least for now

  66. Chris Rubens June 7th, 2012 9:07 am

    Disclaimer; First of all I am a sponsored Salomon athlete that has put a fair amount of time into breaking and destroying this binding over the last couple of years(which I haven’t been able to do).

    When we first started talking about this binding there were two things that consistently came up; stronger and lower to the ski. We wanted a binding that didn’t compromise downhill performance. In my opinion this binding does exactly that, of course it is never going to compete with a low tech binding but that was never the idea. If you have one pair of skis, want to go ski touring and ski the hill hard, this is the binding for you. If you are fortunate enough to have more than one pair of skis this binding eliminates any need for an alpine binding. Always having the option for going for a walk is never a bad thing. Since we got these bindings the need for using my alpine bindings has almost become nil.

    Anyway my thoughts, looking forward to seeing this product in action, to see just how it stands up with the real testers. One thing I will say when you get to the top of your line and get to hear that Salomon heel click in, it is a great feeling.

  67. ty June 19th, 2012 9:33 pm

    does the binding have a flat riser position? or does it lock down when the riser is out of the way? thanks

  68. LePistoir June 21st, 2012 1:33 am

    The 90% resort+10% sidecountry/short tours function of these kind of bindings is a nice addition to a quiver. I have some Tour F10s that I mounted on Volkl Bridge. Good, all around ski and binding that will work inbounds and out and that I can loan to a friend who doesn’t have tech-compatible boots for touring if we want to plan an excursion. I have also worn out the toe fittings in some boots to the point of rattling in my Dynafits by skiing them 50+ days at the resort for 2 years. Would rather put that wear on a binding that can take it than my more expensive lightweight setup.

  69. jpvallone August 5th, 2012 3:23 am

    I’m not sure, but I am willing to bet that there is not a single person in this thread pushing their skis as hard as Eric as seen in the video link below.

    In a market that is quite new to Salomon, it might be a gamble to buy first generation product from them. Look at how well the quest went over during it’s debut. They claim to have fixed it and will be bringing it back with dynafit inserts again. Salomon is entering and fueling back country, touring specific gear far behind many that have been doing it for a long time. I feel like they are quite a few years late to the party if they are gonna try and enter this market. They are grabbing up athletes they probably wouldn’t even of talked too 5 or 10 years ago. The company seems to be claiming innovation all over the place, and somehow I fail to see how. They are investing quite a bit of money into the development of products that they claim are innovative and we will not see for 3 years. In 3 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if what we see from them is 2 -3 years old from the big players that have been brewing and advancing this technology for decades.

    Well good luck to them, I am sure they will sell tons of these bindings to folks that have no idea what they are buying or what they need.

    Here is the link of Eric slaying it harder then you without a 16din binding and in AT boots folks.


  70. Ryan September 11th, 2012 5:18 pm

    I can Tour all day on my Dukes and S7’s. You gotta be a weak individual if that kind of setup kicks your ass when all you’re doing is skinning up and skiing down.

  71. tV September 19th, 2012 1:56 pm

    Someone might be able to correct me here, but Hoji in “The Way I See It” is using both Dynafits and alpine bindings. Dynafits in the tree skiing sequence, and alpine on the big mountain terrain. I am 90% sure this is what he told me during an epic gear discussion had when freezing our toes off in the lift line last year. For most of us around Whistler, Rubens’ logic is where we’re at. We are constantly popping in/out of the resort in the high alpine. The idea is to ditch alpine bindings entirely so that we have touring capability 100% of the time. As for performance, the weak link for me isn’t so much the binding (I don’t huck that much) but the boots: touring boots still don’t do the trick for me; no brand fits well, are either too stiff or too soft, so it’s always a compromise (and it’s about flex patterns, not stiffness). When touring boots ski like alpine boots, then we’ll see some new futures. For some this has already arrived, for many it hasn’t. As for the Guardian, it could be a step forward from the Duke in regards to an *alpine binding* with touring capability (I have yet to ski them).

  72. Pat September 19th, 2012 8:57 pm

    The guardian vs duke (3rd gen) vs mfd (w/ din16 binder) vs tyrolia will be interesting to watch this year.

    One concern I have with the guardian is that the front is a simple pivot, compared to the duke’s locking front plate. This means when skiing a great deal of the load is being transferred through the pivot. That has always been a drawback to AT bindings in my experience, and is a significant benefit of the duke’s locking front and rear plate design. I have broken the front plate on the duke (first gen) and would expect the guardian and mfd to wear out their pivots quickly (though I haven’t heard of anyone having this problem with the mfd).

    Thanks for covering this, we need more unbiased info on these binders.

  73. tV September 21st, 2012 4:24 pm

    Lou, can you please confirm whether the Guardian is AT boot compatible? Apparently a few Salomon representatives say it isn’t… (!).

  74. Lou Dawson September 21st, 2012 9:30 pm

    tV, yes indeed, at least it looked to me like it was when we had it around here. Adjustable toe height, for example. Joe and I both used them, Joe more than me. Joe?

    Edit: Salomon is saying the Guardian binding is NOT AT boot compatible other than for Salomon AT boots that have a built-in AFD in their sole, ostensibly because the binding does not have a sliding toe AFD.

    Above depends on how you define the word “compatible.” You can put any AT boot in the binding, you can ski any AT boot in the binding, and Salomon says only their own boots will do so correctly. I’ll leave it it that, your interpretation is up to you dear readers.


  75. Rich G September 25th, 2012 5:28 pm

    I have ski’d on the first generation dukes (so a while ago now), mfd plates with sth 14’s on JJ’s all last season, and have recently just put a few days on the new guardians down in NZ.

    Dukes to me felt waaay too high off the ski, didn’t like the control over the ski, and the mechanism to change to tour mode kept icing up.

    MFD plates all last season performed great, apart from one of the pivot screws coming out mid-tour (and was lost). Luckily some guy gave me an old pair of headphone wires to cut and use to hold the plate in place until i got down. The switch between ski and different tour modes is excellent! So easy, all with your pole. And they have a pretty low stack height so my sth 14’s felt fairly normal on the ski. However….the long aluminium plate reeeeaaaally stiffened the tail up on my skis, which wasn’t too much of a bad thing as they held onto slight backseat landing drops a lot better, but the plate did change the performance of the ski. And, the whole setup (plate bindings and ski) suddenly becomes pretty darn heavy. Fine for shorter slack country trips, but when you start doing longer tours you really notice the weight. But that just means getting into shape faster!

    Just recently done a few days on the new guardians with the rocker2 115 stiff tail. Bindings handled great, felt really solid. They had great control over the ski in the pow and on hardpack. The stack height is pretty damn low for this type of binding and felt like a normal alpine binding. Touring they had a nice pivot point and a nice swing turn on the steeper climbs.

    I’m a 60/40 resort skier/bc skier. I love having the burly alpine binding for all the cliffs and easy accessible fun stuff, but to have a good touring function with it as well is great, so when things get tracked I can just throw on my skins and go elsewhere.

    Overall I really rate these bindings, lighter than my MFD setup, lower stack height than dukes. But then you also see Hoji skinning past you on a pair of 4FRNT renegades with dynafits, only to slay lines minutes later. But not everyone can afford a $1500 ski setup with $1200 dynafit vulcan boots… So my alpine boots with big skis and alpine tourer bindings do everything I need them to just fine without having to get a bank loan…

  76. Lou Dawson September 25th, 2012 5:37 pm

    Good take Rich, thanks. Ever try tech bindings of any sort? Lou

  77. Rich G September 25th, 2012 7:12 pm

    No unfortunately i haven’t had the chance to try any tech bindings… Would love to to see the difference. May have to wait til my pay increases for that though…

  78. Eric S October 1st, 2012 12:55 am

    After blowing my right ACL on an old school look with a teflon AFD in 1984, then doing my left ACL, on a Salomon alpine binding in 2000, also with a simple teflon AFD, I swore I’d never use another non-gliding AFD. Yes, I am a “smarter” skier now, but there’s just no way a person can be “on it” 110% of the time, and if you’re going down, always “plan” to go fall in a way that will “assist” your binding to release properly – or make sure you always have a PERFECTLY clean boot and binding interface, especially when you might be booting across rocks, dirt, etc.

    All of that being said, I’m torn about ditching my F10 (which i’ve skied for 2 years and have had zero issues or failures). I really like the low stack height of the Guardians and the tour switch mode – though I haven’t had a huge issue with the whole boot removal deal, personally. If the snow’s deep, I just need to do one ski at a time, and the nice Guardian video clip shows the sponsored athletes just ripping their skins off without even removing the ski – pretty trick.

    But, I just don’t think from a safety and risk management standpoint I can go back to the super low tech teflon AFD – “just keep your boot clean and fall right” concept. That’s why I “collected” the new(er) Look/Rossi turntables with the gliding AFDs – the new FKS models have another solid AFD. Yes, I guess it makes a more solid connection to the ski, but at what cost? 10mm stack heigh and an ACL, or two? Perhaps I’m the exception to the rule, but I guess I’ve answered my question.


  79. tV October 13th, 2012 10:56 am

    hey Joe & Lou, just a head’s up that the Guardian is NOT officially AT compatible. Besides standard alpine boots, it is ONLY compatible with Salomon’s AT soles, which feature a smooth AFD plate underfoot (see the Quest “AT” soles). This is probably because the Guardian has no sliding AFD underfoot. Though it will work with touring soles (with the adjustable toe height) “it wouldn’t be legally covered” (according to my source). This is direct word from Salomon, so you might want to adjust your review accordingly. Email me if you want the details / direct quote on this. In any case, this means the Guardian is NOT on the same level of compatibility as the Duke and should be reviewed accordingly. In tour mode, the only touring boots the Guardian is compatible with are Salomon’s.

  80. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2012 11:39 am

    Tv, thanks for clarifying. Not sure what you mean by “officially.” To me that would mean conforming with DIN/ISO standard for ski touring bindings 13992. So yes, in that sense Guardian is not “official.” On the other hand, I think a person can stick a pair of AT boots in there and test, if results appear satisfactory it is their choice to use the binding with AT boots or not. No tech binding is 13992 compatible either, and thousands of people are very happy with them.

    In terms of Salomon, of course they’re going to say thing binding is not “legally covered,” whatever that means…

    I’ll check the review and make sure this is clear.


  81. tV October 13th, 2012 12:01 pm

    I don’t know what “officially” means in this context either… but I think the point here is that while the Marker Duke advertises compatibility with all touring boot soles (again: designed with a moving + adjustable AFD) Salomon does not. This is a big deal say if you are thinking about using these as demo bindings… the limitations of legal liability here limit the usage of these bindings in such contexts.

    In short, Salomon appears to have designed the Guardian only to work with their own Quest/touring soles, and I am guessing the simple reason here is that the Guardian has no moving AFD. So this is a huge safety difference/factor from the Duke to the Guardian, imo, a point that Eric S raises above. Again, as noted, direct word from Salomon is that the Guardian is not AT sole compatible, period. This is the opposite messaging from Marker/Duke.

    I am guessing that the design team favoured lower stack height to a fully compatible moving AFD, and that this was the trade-off. However… Salomon appears to be advertising this binding like the Duke, as a full touring binding. Yet what you talk to the reps/company, they tell you it isn’t. It’s confused messaging.

  82. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2012 12:26 pm

    Tv, I think you said it all very well. Main thing to remember is that while the sliding toe AFD is definitely the best thing, for years people ski toured on AT bindings without it. In that case, bench testing and adjusting the binding so it has credit-card space above AFD are key things, as is being sure no dirt or mud is on boot sole or AFD… oh, and one other thing, folks are talking about an AT boot sole standard that includes the boot sole AFD area, and some AT boots already have this! For example, the Tecnicas I have sitting here HAVE THE SOLE AFD that perhaps would be compatible with Guardian.


  83. tV October 13th, 2012 12:36 pm

    Word, unfortunately my Titan ULs don’t have the flat sole AFD… so yah, it’s at your own risk. I get that.

    I’ve asked Salomon if they will have binding shop certification for non-Solly AT boot sole use with the Guardians. That will answer the “officially” question.

    On that note, Marker does have binding shop certification for the FT12s/Dukes, which releases the shop/tech from legal liability if done properly.

  84. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2012 1:25 pm

    What makes me laugh about this is meanwhile just about anyone who skis beef bindings, when they instead use tech bindings in downhill mode they’re locking the toe lock… that is “guaranteed not compatible with knee ligaments.” (grin)


  85. Sky October 13th, 2012 2:11 pm

    This falls under one of Lou’s responses, but fields of epic icy moguls don’t exist in any of the backcountry I’ve skied and this is exactly where tech bindings fail (especially if skiing agressively) in my experience.

  86. Lou Dawson October 14th, 2012 1:10 pm

    Ditto. Back when I used to ski bumps aggressively. With heel set to normal RV settings, I’d either pop out upward at the heel, or the heel of the boot would end up _below_ the heel pins. Latter can be prevented with a “stomp plate,” former is less likely with longer pins of ST/FT/Radical series, as well as dialing up the RV a step or two. I don’t have any trouble with this nowadays…

  87. jpvallone October 14th, 2012 1:28 pm

    I have never popped out of my techs while slamming ruts. I raced moguls for years and still enjoy slamming a lane when I can with the junior teams and local coaches. I still hit the uprights hard, still throw rotations, and still slam the lane. I have been doing this for years on Techs. I even role park and rail laps. I put 200 days on a plum before we were given the stomp plate mid season last year and i still didn’t have a malfunction.

    I don’t get it, Are the people that can’t stay in techs in hardpack and or technical terrain and hard skiing conditions using bad technique? Is it pilot error, bad binding adjustments or have I just been really lucky for close to 13 years of doing everything I do on alpine gear on tech bindings?

    My binding’s are very important to me, but there is nothing I do inbounds that is as serious as what I do on remote missions to firm, steep, technical faces. That is why I still don’t understand the argument that skiing inbounds is more technical and harder on the gear making a tech binding an inappropriate choice for most. If I can’t slam a rut line on these, then they sure aren’t coming out to a remote locations with me.

    My 2 cents. I still fail to see the practicality of the beef class binding. Actually let me rephrase that, I still fail to buy into the argument that these bindings are for skiing hard and that a tech binding can’t handle that.

  88. See October 14th, 2012 8:56 pm

    Try doing stem christies down the blue slope at the resort on an icy day to reproduce the problem. This usually works for me.

  89. jpvallone October 14th, 2012 10:34 pm

    Stem Christies are a lost art. I use them in way more demanding places then on an icy blue resort run. But truth be told, I don’t ski blue slopes anymore, nor do I ski green or black ones. I only ski white slopes now, maybe that is why I never see you on the mountain. 😉

  90. See October 15th, 2012 2:20 am

    Sorry about the sarcasm, but my point is that even if it is bad technique or adjustment, it’s still apparently a problem for some of us. I assume you’re not locking the toes?

  91. jpvallone October 15th, 2012 8:34 am

    No problem with the sarcasm, I live for it.

    I usually lock my toes but at resorts have skied them open for experiments. If falling is not an option, I lock them out for piece of mind. But more importantly because I don’t use brakes or leashes. I have been skiing like this for close to 3 years without brakes. I still have all my skis, maybe that is a testament to the fact that I have never come out of them.

  92. Rob October 20th, 2012 6:29 pm

    Considering Guardians for everyday in bounds use with some short skins in the sidecountry here and there but have Garmont Delirium boots with the rockered vibram sole. Would this setup be similar risk wise to the Fritschi Freeride Plus set up I’ve been using with the Delirums (and before that Adrenalines) that don’t have the sliding AFD toe? Thanks for the site and any opinions!

  93. eric s October 20th, 2012 6:41 pm

    just doing some research on your freeride plus bindings, and pretty sure they DO have what amounts to very basic sliding AFD. check / test them again – I bet you’ll see it does. in which case, you would be fine. I’d be very surprise if Diamir didn’t address this..

  94. Rob October 20th, 2012 6:56 pm

    Freeride Pro’s have a sliding AFD (wife has a pair). Freeride Pluses that I have do not.

  95. eric s October 21st, 2012 1:33 am

    ok. it just looks like there is almost a metronome type thing swinging afd pivot from under the foo?

  96. Ben October 22nd, 2012 3:22 am

    original Diamirs (up to titanal 3) have a pivoting AFD, Freerides have something that looks similar but doesn’t actually pivot. I guess they added it back with the Pro? Who knows whether they are DIN certified for rockered soles? DIN certification isn’t a magic bullet anyway.

  97. Lou Dawson October 22nd, 2012 6:17 am

    Ben and all, I’m not sure if DIN/ISO standard 13992 for ski touring AT bindings requires a sliding AFD at the toe, but it certainly might. The sliding AFD does help make safety release more reliable, but in my opinion a properly adjusted binding can work fine with a fixed AFD. Over the years, various companies have had problems with their sliding AFDs breaking and coming off, which is why you see some that look like they were originally designed to slide, and are fixed.

    True that DIN certification is NOT a magic bullet. No tech binding is DIN certified, for example, and a heck of a lot of people have a lot of fun on tech bindings. Conversely, all alpine ski bindings are DIN certified, and orthopedic surgeons don’t seem to have any problem staying in business fixing blown out knees. In fact, undercurrent on the design and engineering side of things is that the whole DIN/ISO system for setting ski gear standards is quite problematic (or even mostly B.S.)., way too slow to change, and crumby standards to begin with. Ditto for TUV, the organization that interprets the standards and tests for them.

    It’s actually been pretty hilarious over the past decades to see the fastest growing parts of snow sliding ignore DIN and TUV (telemarking, AT skiing and snowboarding). Shows you how the real world works…

    More here:

  98. Motown October 22nd, 2012 9:52 pm

    Wow, aren’t we a pretentious bunch of ultra puritans… I look around for some help finding the right equipment that I can afford and matches my, obviously, low skills and here’s this site of Tele-Gods and mountain crushing studs.

    I thought this was supposed to be fun.

    Guess I’ll keep looking.


  99. See October 23rd, 2012 11:30 am

    Google “selfish climbers.” Food for thought.

  100. Lou Dawson October 23rd, 2012 6:44 pm

    ??? Puritan principle: “no pope or bishop could impose laws on Christians without their consent….”

    Also, I for one am happy to be a mountain crushing stud! My wife agrees… (grin)


  101. Lou Dawson October 29th, 2012 9:51 am

    All, we have Guardian here mounted on demo board for eval. Here are the stack height specs from my ruler.

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

  102. Scot Diamond November 11th, 2012 10:13 am

    I got on ebay a pair of skis with Fritschi Freeride bindings for my daughter. Please correct me if I have misunderstood the postings above but my understanding is 1) with modern AT boots that have rubber soles, some maintain it is only safe to use bindings with sliding or pivoting AFDs, 2) certain 2013 Fritschi bindings have fixed AFDs and 3) Salomon does not recommend their Guardians with anything but their own boots with built in AFDs at the toe.

    Is Fritschi not making the same kind of reserve? If not, shouldn’t they be, and why are the boot companies selling something incompatible with what the binding companies are selling?

    Do the Technica Cochise boots have the built-in AFDs at the toe?

  103. Lou Dawson November 11th, 2012 10:51 am

    Hi Scot, here is my take:

    First, the relative context of the word “safe.” Even with alpine bindings, ortho surgeons are doing quite well fixing a seemingly infinite mass of knee injuries.

    Next, if a binding _without_ a sliding AFD is properly adjusted and the user knows how to maintain it (don’t use with dirty or muddy boots, do a release check now and then, don’t fret about small amount of up/down play in the toe due to proper gap between boot sole and AFD) you can have a binding that does provide a certain degree of safety release. But as with alpine bindings, the main thing to realize is you’re not 100% safe from injury.

    As for sliding AFD, yes, they do help make release smoother and require less care with dirt and setting exact gap, but thousands of skiers have proved they’re not essential. Don’t get me wrong, I think every frame type touring binding should have a sliding AFD… but I also wish every binding weighed 3 grams.

    You ask why Fritschi is not making statements such as Salomon. No way to know for sure, but I do have a bit of insider info and know that they pretty much just do what their legal department tells them. Salomon made a bad mistake a while back with some tech fittings that didn’t work as people expect. From what I heard they went to court with that, and are subsequently being careful with their entry into the randonnee market.

    The Tecnica boots have the hardened area on the sole rubber, and have swap sole as well so you can use an alpine sole.

    For your daughter, I’d suggest you either know what you’re doing with setting and testing binding release, or find a ski tech who can do more than just twist a couple of screws.


  104. Scot Diamond November 11th, 2012 11:41 am

    Thanks Lou. I had read about the Salomon boot incident (ouch) so see what you mean by them maybe being more careful than most. It actually does not inspire confidence in their engineering group. Maybe the other manufacturers would be smart to learn without having to make their own mistakes. For sure I will have a competent technician set the bindings. Good advice, thanks.


  105. Brooks November 23rd, 2012 4:59 pm

    To me this (and the duke/baron) is the perfect binding for a ski patroller. I spend 5 days a week skiing the resort under the best and worse conditions. I skin only occasionally, either for control work, the sidecountry laps I can make on the clock, or in case of an emergency such as a downed lift (I can hike back up to the top) or some sort of rescue situation. For the past 4 seasons I’ve skied fritschis at work and have never enjoyed the skiing performance and always want to go back to regular alpine bindings, but never do because I don’t want to lose the skinning ability. I have tech bindings for my days off when I’m in the backcountry.

  106. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 6:09 pm

    Brooks, exactly, you should be on this or a Duke/Baron. Let us know how it works out. Thanks, Lou

  107. Mark Maher December 1st, 2012 8:38 am

    Pulled the trigger on these bindings after much hemming and hawing. I’m sidecountry/backcountry curious, but only have experience inbounds at this point. Thanks for the info on mounting, I went carefully and got everything done at home pretty nicely after reading the tutorials and using the template.

    Just would like to make a comment for the template. The 265mm between toe and heel sections is for the smaller size. The larger size is 305mm.

    Thanks for the great info on this site!

  108. Lou Dawson December 1st, 2012 9:00 am

    Hi Mark, good news, and thanks for helping with the numbers. It’s always tricky getting that toe-heel distance correct and noted. I added the number to the template just now. Anyone who mounts, always remember to dry-fit the binding on your ski to make sure you’re using the correct heel/toe space distance. Lou

  109. JB December 11th, 2012 12:32 am

    Lou – Heard any feedback on the adrenalin. So hard to find any info on these that isn’t just marketing. Thanks!

  110. Lou Dawson December 11th, 2012 6:42 am

    JB, we’ll review eventually, but frankly I’m getting a bit burned out on these types of bindings, as they basically seem to be cloning each other. Same with tech bindings these days, which is why we don’t review every last binding from every last home workshop in Italy.

    We need some disruption in the binding market. Fritz Barthel did it decades ago with the tech system, and Marker did it with the Duke, but we’re in a holding pattern now as everyone copies each other.

    I hear something disruptive may be announced this winter. Perhaps tech 2.0? We shall see.

  111. Jon December 12th, 2012 2:25 pm

    Lou (and cc: JB):

    I think the Adrenalin’s do offer something unique in that the pivot point is moved back quite a bit. For some of us, that’s quite a big deal (and harder to find with demise of Pure binding).

  112. Olly July 23rd, 2013 6:56 pm

    from someone who has skied on these bindings for a season.
    To start I was sold these as a solid binding to do 50% alpine and 50% touring.
    So off I went and did my modest 12 days touring and 12 days on field. This season on close inspection I have noticed a lot of movement in the plate holding that clips onto the rear mount. Closer inspection again I notice movement and wear in the toe pivot.
    They are back at the shop and will let you know what the retailer says.

  113. Randy Couture August 4th, 2013 3:08 pm

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

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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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