Gear reviews

Dynafit for Dummies

If you're just getting into alpine touring and backcountry skiing, it won't be long before you start to hear other skiers rave about the lightweight, minimalist Dynafit AT binding system. Long favorites of Euro ski mountaineers, rando racers (and other weight weenies), and backcountry guides, Dynafit alpine touring bindings seem to be just now breaking into the North American mass market (if there is such a thing) for backcountry skiing.

I'm a recent convert to Dynafits, and in this article I'm going to explain how they work and why you should join the Dynafit cult too.

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Marker Duke Binding Review

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The Marker Duke is the alpine touring ski binding that hard charging sidecountry and backcountry skiers have been awaiting for years: a true performance alpine binding with a touring mode (as opposed to a touring optimized binding with some alpine features). The Duke is the shizzle for heavy, aggressive freeriders who ride the lifts and duck the boundary ropes to hike for fresh tracks. At a manufacturer's claimed weight of 2.63 kg (92.8 oz) per pair (size large), the Dukes are some of the heaviest AT bindings out there. This makes them more suitable as resort/sidecountry crossover bindings rather than true "earn your turns" backcountry skiing binders. The DIN range on the Duke is from 6 up to a knee busting 16, but new for the 2008-09 season is the Marker Baron, a 4-12 DIN version of the binding that shaves 150 grams (per pair), and about $50 off the price.

Marker Baron Review

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (9 votes)

New for the 2008-09 season, the Marker Baron alpine touring binding is the little brother to Marker's highly successful Duke binding. Like the Duke, the Baron is an AT binding that makes no compromises on downhill performance, yet still offers decent touring capabilities. The difference is in the DIN ranges: 4 to 12 for the Baron vs. 6 to 16 for the Duke. Really you should not be cranking your ski bindings anywhere near DIN 16 unless you're 250 lbs +, straightlining Alaskan faces or hucking big cliffs, and carrying top-notch medical insurance. The Baron binding is a better choice for mere mortal skiers (i.e. most of us), and it will save you 150 grams in weight (a size large pair is 2.48 kg or 87.5 oz) and around $80 compared to the Duke.

Backcountry Access Alpine Trekker Review

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Many alpine skiers get their first taste of true backcountry skiing on Alpine Trekkers. The Alpine Trekker from Backcountry Access is a ski binding adapter that converts a regular alpine skiing setup into an alpine touring rig. It's a great system for getting into alpine touring and backcountry skiing at low incremental cost. Until the advent of the Marker Duke and Baron AT bindings, Alpine Trekkers were the tool of choice for backcountry and sidecountry skiers who refused to give up the downhill performance of their alpine ski gear.

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