Marker Duke Nukes em?

Last weekend we spent a day touring in the south-Savoie and a day in resort. The contrast to our backcountry eyes couldn’t have been more stark. Out in the high mountains with routes of 1500 to 2000 vertical meters nearly everyone is on Dynafit bindings even if skinny “matchstick” skis have slowly given way to larger “freeride” boards.  Our resort day was surprising, surprising in the number of skiers now equipped with touring bindings in order to practise a bit of “sidecountry” skiing. Short climbs from the top of ski lifts to find stashes of fresh powder long after the visible runs are tracked out.

marker duke binding
Marker Duke looks bomb proof

For sidecountry, the weapons of choice are Fritschi Freerides, Naxos and the derivative Dynastar Early Tram. These are recognizably touring bindings even if they can take a reasonable amount of resort pounding. Fritschi even made an alpine binding based on the same pattern.

dynastar early tram
Early Tram, coming to a resort near you

People have often asked why isn’t it possible to simply mount an alpine binding on a touring plate. You have all the advantages of good release and high DIN settings but would be able to unlock the heel for touring. We’ve been here before. One example was the Petzl / Sk’Alp 8007 binding from the 1980s. A Salomon 447 toe piece was connected to a modded Look heel unit via a plastic plate. The main disadvantage was that it used a seperate toe unit for climbing, requiring you to remove skis to go from climb to descent mode and the binding used leashes rather than ski brakes.

skalp 8007
blast from the past, the Sk’Alp 8007

It seems like an idea whose time has come. Marker are making a foray into the growing backcountry snowsports sector with the Duke. Unveiled at the Munich ISPO and Vegas SIA trade shows the Duke offers a DIN 16 alpine binding with freeheel functionality. Parts are shared with Marker alpine bindings but this unit is said to be the result of two years in research and development. A solid chassis links the toe piece with the heel unit and this also enables the heel to be adjusted for different boot lengths. Something that will please hirers. The binding integrates a ski brake. The front pivot point is just under the toe, none of the complexity of the Naxo so it should be solid but still offer a reasonable stride. The unit locks down onto a plate screwed to the ski using a level under the foot. Like the Sk’Alp 8007 you must remove the boot to change from climb to ski mode. In practise this probably won’t bother the majority of skiers. As with the 8007 weight seems to be a problem with the Duke said to be 400 grams heavier than a Naxo 21 although metal parts are used extensively. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The Duke has picked up the European Ski Awards best ski binding for 2007 category as wel as an ISPO Outdoor Award. 

The Duke will appeal to skiers who are going to be doing very little climbing. In France, with its extensive lift system, this could be quite a sizable market with many routes requiring just a few hundred meters of vertical to access. Assuming the binding proves to be reliable enough you can imagine the typical skier as someone spending a morning doing light tours, including some cliff hucking and an afternoon pounding the slopes. Will the alpine heritage and DIN 16, as opposed to the Naxo/Fritschi DIN 12 really give it the edge for skiers looking for a single quiver setup. We are not totally convinced.

Further Informaiton

Marker Duke review

Posted by davidof on Monday, 05 February, 2007 at 07:46 PM

I got to test The Duke in late January on a pair of Volkl Mantra’s and I was impressed.  As others have stated, this is the perfect binding for those who want to ski outside the resort boundaries and do short treks to powder stashes.  I see this binding as the perfect replacement to using Alpine Trekkers . This binding is ideal for those who ski at Alta/Snowbird, Jackson or Big Sky where you can do a lot of under an hour hikes or skins.

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 17 April, 2007  at 06:38 PM

Let’s see. Lot’s of marginal feedback from people who haven’t skied it. Great stuff guys. Kudos to the one guy who actually skied it. I’d like to hear more about it from you.

Posted by  on  Monday, 03 September, 2007  at 08:47 AM

For those who are going to whine a bit about some extra heavy weight of the marker hoo hoo.

I have skied professionally 30 of the 40 years I have skied and my knees today are fit and never been injured due to my bindings.  Every pair of mine are Markers.

Marker is a german manufacture and they build their bindings like their cars.  The toe pieces have been the envy of every other binding manufacturer out there.

I skied ski rescue and have done search and rescue and the extra few grams that my markers weigh are a small price to pay instead of the Frischi, naxo or other garbage made by the Froggies....sure they have Chamonix...but who cares..?

The fact is that these Marker bindings are going to totally bankrupt the others due to that your boot is going to be closer to your ski than any other one out there.....this is vital to having a great ski day....the others are hiked up so far that it makes you feel like you are on top of the mountain before the hike.....and they are an injury waiting to happen…

I have seen the new Markers and they ROCK...they are and have a long track record of making just bindings....and use the best materials....look at the morons that have gone out of business due to law suits over their bindings not releasing...ever....

It is a sad day when people on here....want to whine about weight....they are the same morons that ride their mountain bikes and put them on a scale....and have ever carbon and Ti doo hicky on their bike to make it lighter…

Markers are an industry staple...from the rotomat bindings in the 60’s to today.

I am biased...but looking at the 30 000 grand it costs a poor ski bum who does not have adequate health insurance....these Markers are the BOMB...they rock and if you are skiing on skis that have old bindings or some other less superior binding on them....then ask yourself if the extra C note you saved by buying some total piece of crap binding is worth your is a sad day when people get so hung up on something.

If ever company that builds a product put as much R and D into their product as Marker has...then chevy, ford and Chrysler would have been out of biz 20 years ago…

Be a smart consumer and buy the new Marker will be your best item for this winter to buy…

Markers set up at the correct DIN and more importantly the “ FORWARD PRESSURE” will prevent any pre some moron on here whines about how markers are always heavy and pre over 4500 logged ski days I have never had my markers ever prerelease..

Those worried about 200 extra grams need to perhaps focus more on not eating so much and focus on spending a few more sets on the leg press....

Markers forever, forever Markers.....LOL

Have a great winter and when you are stuck on the side of the hill with a blown knee and your Gucci Fritschi Free Rides due to smoking one too many bowls of good greenbud....then remember this email…

Posted by  on  Monday, 01 October, 2007  at 10:22 AM

the bindings are definitley heavy enough to make a difference in the big vertical one accumalates in the alps. i love the idea of the markers, but would love to see them refined, lightened and improved on. it is a great idea and really cool to finally see a big company go for this. so for this i commend Marker.... but the Dukes still don’t convince me: a main concern to me is the possibiliy of icing when going from touring to ski mode. i am interested to hear feedback from those who get to use it this season in deep powder, or freeze-melt storms where icing mostly happens. it’s a bummer spending 10 minutes on a stormy peak trying to get your bindings into downhill mode! also, the heel risers looked flimsy and remind me of the old emery heel risers that always would fail after a few outings. this is not only annoying but tiring, especially on long tours.

Posted by  on  Monday, 01 October, 2007  at 06:30 PM

It is definitely the best FREERIDE binding in 07/08 season, where I the MOST IMPORTANT is safety in higher speeds.
Maybe is heavy for touring like Colin criticised above, but no such stupid accidental switching into tour mode like Fritchi and Naxo due to material fatigue…

Posted by  on  Saturday, 06 October, 2007  at 06:12 PM
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