Marker Duke and Baron Backcountry Skiing Bindings

Post by blogger | November 7, 2007      

Shop for Marker Duke and Baron backcountry skiing bindings.

Got your fork and knife at hand? Beef is definitely the hot subject this year, but not the kind you get from cattle. Rather the meal at hand is burly bindings and boots for backcountry skiing. I was looking at my website stats this morning and was amazed at how much traffic our Marker Duke and Baron information page is getting. FYI, Along with that, interest in stiffer AT boots has certainly reached an all-time high.

Whatever happened to the weight weenies? Did they all go back to bicycle racing or something? Perhaps not, since the introduction of true carbon fiber structure in an AT boot (Dynafit Zzero to be specific) is indeed resulting in some weight savings that can be applied to stiffer boots, though we’ll need the full-on carbon fiber ski boot to really see significant results from that trend.

Worthy blog reader T.G. has been checking out this exact subject and sent me an email the other day that I thought I’d pass on:

In pure coincidence I happened to walk into a local mountain shop (Bag and Pack in Avon) during their Pro Night.” I’ve been a long time alpine ski instructor, so I’m familiar with pro nights usually being invitation only affairs. This was cool because no one seemed to mind a guy walking in off the street and perusing the goods. Of course I was immediately drawn to the Dynafit table and had the great opportunity to spend about 15 minutes talking with Kyle, who is apparently the Dynafit sales rep for this area.

I was able to look at the three different 4 buckle models in the Dynafit line, but the most interesting thing was the loose Power Stringer? pieces that Kyle had. I was able to handle the Power Stringer pieces made of both Rislan and carbon fiber. The Rislan stringers are really soft, they felt like Tupperware plastic, and I concluded that they can’t really provide much stiffness and are primarily cosmetic. On the other hand the carbon fiber stringers are very stiff and must certainly contribute more to the stiffness of the boot. It will be interesting to see ski comparison reviews of the Green Machine with the carbon stringers and the red boot with the Rislan stringers. Although the Rislan stringers probably don’t add much stiffness, the PU plastic used in the red boot is noticeably stiff than the Rislan used in the green boot, and will certainly get more stiff in the cold. On the other hand the red boot is definitely heavier, but it is quite a bit less expensive. In the cold the red boot could end up being more stiff and a better choice for side country or more alpine oriented skiers on snow tests should reveal the truth (hint, hint).

It was also interesting to see the growth in interest in alpine touring gear. This has been well documented, but it’s exciting to see. Of particular note was how much more widely available Dynafit products have become. When I bought my Dynafit bindings three years ago there wasn’t a shop nearby where I could get them, even in the central Colorado I-70 area. Now Kyle tells me that there are multiple shops within an hour of my home that are selling boots, bindings, and skis. One thing that’s really cool is that Bag and Pack in Avon is going to have a demo fleet of Dynafit gear this winter including skis, boots, and bindings. Wow. And Kyle added that the flow of Dynafit product being imported into the US is quite good so there shouldn’t be any problems getting a hold of the stuff.

T.G.’s experience with the stringers is exactly my take. The carbon fiber is amazingly stiff for such a small piece of material, while the regular plastic stringers do make you wonder if they’re really necessary. On the other hand, because ergonomics comes into play here, I suspect even the softer plastic stringers might yield a beefier feel in real-world use. As for plastic that gets stiffer in the cold, I’m not a big fan of depending on that for performance, as the temps we get while skiing vary from sub-zero to blistering hot. But for the person who does most of their touring in winter temps, plastic that hardens in the cold will indeed provide more beef than is indicated during on carpet testing. So that’s a good thing to keep in mind while trying on in the store.

Shop for Marker Duke and Baron backcountry skiing bindings.


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14 Responses to “Marker Duke and Baron Backcountry Skiing Bindings”

  1. Marc November 7th, 2007 10:00 am

    Lou- I’m psyched on all the attention the Dynafit compatible beef boots are getting. It’s a huge resourse of information for those interested in the market. Having just purchased the “Red Dogs”, Dynafit Zzero U model, I’m especially interested in the PU vs. PB debate. I’m curious as to just how sensitive PU is to temperature and wonder if we are giving it more attention then it warrants. Is the flex difference of the temperature sensitive PU plastic is really that noticable in real world conditions? i.e. when you are out making turns in cold, dry snow vs. spring corn. And, if there is a noticible difference, then might it not work in one’s favor? For example, you get to the trail head in May and have several miles of walking before being able to skin. The outside are temp is 26 degrees and rising with a high expected to reach 38. The PU plastic might give you a bit more flex and comfort while walking in the spring conditions compared to that of the PB. Then, after you get to the top of your boot pack, shady coulouir, the temps are still winter like and you get more support and riggidity out of the PU while schralping some fine turns down the steeps. At this point it’s purely theoretical for me, but would love to hear what you and others think. Also, what about the Garmonts? Are they as sensitive to temps as well?

  2. Matus November 7th, 2007 10:42 am

    I doubt that a normal human being may feel the difference of the stiffness of the boot in various temperatures. However, it is a good topic for an evening theoretical discussion at the mountain hut 🙂

  3. Lou November 7th, 2007 11:13 am


  4. jon crowley November 7th, 2007 11:29 am

    lou, i have two surprises in one for you. one, weight weenies still exist. im certainly one and youre about to meet another. second, carbon fiber boots already exist. Check it out: …randonee racing driving the edge of what is possible.

  5. Tom G November 7th, 2007 12:42 pm

    The increase in stiffness of PU boots in the cold is certainly noticable and quite familiar to most of us who spend time skiing in alpine boots. We are all familiar with how much more difficult an alpine boot is to take off when it’s cold at the end of the day, especially race boots with thick plastic shells. I certainly notice my PU alpine boots being much stiffer at -5 than at 45 degrees. Having said that, the plastic used in rando boots is generally much thinner than in alpine boots, and therefore the stiffening may not be as dramatic. Having a lot of familiarity with alpine boots I’m betting that the PU rando boots will be better downhill performers than pebax boots, but perhaps the combination of pebax and carbon fiber yields the best of both worlds. I’ve never thought the change in flex of an alpine boot was an advantage or detriment, but I’m probably just acustomed to having soft boots when it’s warm.

  6. Frank November 7th, 2007 2:43 pm

    No question about it at all, the stiffness of a pair of boots is very noticeable based on temperature.

    Back when I was a kid chasing sticks around (ski racing), i would watch every world cup race I could find. And they would always show Tomba waiting around at the start with his boots buried in snow (as if WC Langes weren’t stiff enough!).

    Come to think of it, I might have to start doing that before I ski in my AT boots– “Hold up guys, I need another 10 minutes before these boots are kinda sorta stiff enough to drive a turn.”

    I am absolutely loving watching what’s going on in the AT world. The success of stiffer boots and the Duke just goes to show that many of us were just waiting and hoping for the day that an AT setup would offer some downhill performance. There is still a long ways to go, but it’s a start. Weight weenies, don’t worry, it will come back around eventually. 🙂

  7. Lou November 7th, 2007 2:45 pm

    jon, sorry, neither is a surprise (you’ll have to work harder), I linked to those boots a long time ago on my links page, but I didn’t count them in the available boot mix as they’re not really a retail item but rather a custom operation. On the other hand, they certainly do show where things might be heading.

  8. Eyesack November 7th, 2007 3:07 pm

    I think there is a big flex difference between the shop and the slope. That and your feet are fatter in the warm weather. When I leave my endorphins in the back of the truck over night and try to were them the next day I cant get the plastic open enough with out crying and I would not even and try my Lange, I cant even take them off after a cold day of skiing. In my personal experience the garmont endorphins have a huge flex difference between warm and cold days.

  9. Matus November 7th, 2007 3:19 pm

    Having read all those comments, it is apparent that I am not a human being. I will have to watch my boots (Matrix) carefully in different temperatures!

  10. Tom G November 7th, 2007 7:03 pm

    Matus, I have a Matrix too, and the pebax material it is made of does not appreciably stiffen in the cold. Other types of plastic, like PU, do get stiff in the cold. One of the touted advantages of pebax is that it is not affected by cold, but it’s also quite soft (and light weight) and dosen’t necessarily make the best boot for going downhill.

  11. Mark Burggraff November 7th, 2007 8:31 pm

    Since we’re on the subject of Dynafit boots. Does anyone know of a boot shop/cobbler that would convert a Denall TT to be used as a Dynafit compatible boot. I’ve seen Lou’s demo on how to do it, however I lack the guts to start hacking away at a pair of boots that are probably the best fitting boots I’ve had.

    Mark B

  12. Lou November 7th, 2007 9:12 pm

    Mark, all the conversions I’ve heard of had marginal success. I wouldn’t go there if I were you. When I was in Europe last winter the Dynafit inventor showed me how they used to retro-install the fittings when they first started, and the toe fitting was totally different so that it could be inserted from the side through a drilled hole. Even so, I was told it tended to loosen sometimes. Sometimes, sigh, it’s better to just go skiing than try to do a mod like that…

  13. Bob Misu November 13th, 2007 9:12 am

    Everyone is talking about the boots. What about the bindings? Weight issues aside does anyone else have a problem with location of the switch between touring and alpine? Having that under the boot seems a tremendous disadvantage. Not to mention the video showing a bare hand making the switch. Can it be made with a gloved hand. Is it worth the effort considering lighter bindings exsist with a pole operated switch?

  14. Lou November 13th, 2007 11:36 am

    Bob, for most users of a one-rig binding, the mode switch is a minimal issue.

    Main thing to remember is that we’ve now got incredible choices in bindings, all have a niche.

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