Marker has some excellent freeride bindings that you can tour with in their Royal Family of bindings. Their Kingpin free-tour binding was a game changer. They do not have a dedicated, lightweight touring binding though. Well, this is about to change. For 2018-19 season, the Marker Alpinist binding will be available - and the Ski Club's kit & equipment expert was the only one in the UK invited to the worldwide launch of the Alpinist this week in Courmayeur.
The binding was mounted to the Volkl VTA 98 ski in 170cm (shorter than I would normally use, but performed superbly).
In the interest of openess - I used my Scott Superguide Carbon boots. We were not paid by Marker for attending this test or writing this. The Ski Club paid for the insurance, flights and transfer. Marker provided the skis, bindings and skins (glued skins made by Colltex), food, lift passes and accommodation.
So, onto the binding.
It's a pure pin touring binding, and here's some info on it before we get into how it performs.
- 245g without brake, 335g with brake
- Two DIN versions: 4-9 and 6-12
- Anti-icing pads at toe and heel
- Lateral heel release, both directions
- 0°, 5° & 9° heel risers for skinning
- One pair of springs at front, as opposed to the standard two pairs
- Composite base plates with 30% carbon reinforcement in toe unit
- Anodised metal parts made by DMM in Wales
- 15mm length adjustment
- 4mm elastic travel to accommodate ski flex
- 38 mm screw mount width for power transmission
- Three brake width options: 90mm, 105mm & 115mm
- Marker PinTech crampons available in four widths: 80mm, 90mm, 105mm &120mm
- Newly developed Alpinist leash which includes a ski boot fastening ring (optional)
- RRP of €320 (UK RRP TBC)
- Available September 2018
Marker has been making bindings for 65 years, and knows a thing or two about binding function and safety.
Back in 1983 they did offer a touring binding (the M-Tour). I guess timing was not on their side with that one. Now, however, more and more of us want to access fresh lines by skinning, or go touring just for the love of moving in the mountains and fitness. 10 years ago they released the Duke freeride binding, which is a frame touring binding. The Duke is about skiing down rather than ease of skinning up - it does skin well but is not the lightest, however it skis like a beefy downhill binding.
Two years later, in 2009, they released their frame touring bindings; Tour F10 & F12. The F-Tour bindings are light for a frame binding, and ski like a downhill binding - a good option for most skiers. 6 years later in 2015 Maker released the PinTech binding called KingPin, which offers skiing performance like a downhill binding and the skinning function of a pin binding. It is not as light as dedicated touring bindings but it was a game changer when it came out.
With the Royal Family bindings, the F-Tour range and the Kingpin bindings, Marker serves the freeride community really well. However, ski alpinists had to look elsewhere if they wanted a dedicated, lightweight pin-touring binding. For 2018-19 season this will change with the release of the Marker AlPINist binding.