Marker is shaking things up with the launch of a “hybrid” tech binding, the Kingpin (pun intended). Being information is a bit scattered and a press release yet to be disseminated we have done our best to aggregate the facts into one place. We’ll update this as time goes on…
Marker Kingpin binding First Reaction
While we applaud Marker for jumping into the tech side of things, their video leaves us with more questions than answers (embeded below). With the number of players who have jumped into the tech binding space now that Dynafit’s patent is up, its important to take a look at things for what they are, not just for the marketing laden buzzwords that may surround the object…
Lets start this off by stating the obvious: Tech bindings leave the competition in the dust when it comes to uphill efficiency. Anyone who has had the pleasure of going uphill on a set of Dynafit (or similar) bindings will attest, they kick ass when compared to the framed offerings from Salomon, Marker or Diamer. So it should come of little surprise that one of the Big 3 binding manufacturers has jumped into the tech binding arena.
With no press release out, we have to aggregate the facts from the media outlets that have better friends than ours. Notably, Wildsnow and Skiing.
Here is what we know…
- Models: Two – one with a DIN that goes to 10 at $599, one to 13 at $649
- Weight: 730 grams (650 w/o brakes) compared to Dynafit Beast 14 at 795 (with brakes)
- DIN ISO certification
- Intended to be skied everywhere – in bounds or the backcountry
- Interesting Tidbits: Has 6 springs in the toe, has a more conventional heel piece, can be switched from walk to ski without removing ski, crampons are going to be offered.
- Release Date: December 15th
Here is what we think…
Disclaimer: We’ve never skied this product nor seen it. So this is merely speculation. Still, the idea of this bit is to shed light on a few of the things that haven’t been discussed or considered.
To start, its great to see another company offering a tech compatible binding billed as a “do-everything” quiver killer. The closer we can get to having one setup that works everywhere the better we’ll all be. Obviously, gaining DIN ISO certification is great however we’ve been told the Beast is in process of obtaining similar certification, so they may only hold this exclusivity for a short amount of time.
UPDATE: Dynafit emailed us this quote from their binding engineers with respect to the Beast. Take it for what you will….
“We (Dynafit) passed laboratory and practical test for the TÜV certification according to the DIN ISO 13992 last autumn and this year January/ march. We do not have the certification paper in our hand, because some administration work like final user manual and technical manual with the changes Thomas Maier from TÜV wants to see are not finalized. But as already spoken, the tests are done and passed. So we can say the same like Marker.”
From a function standpoint, the hybrid design (utilizing a more conventional heel) could eliminate any vagueness we’ve previously felt in past tech bindings. Although Dynafit’s Beast may transfer power well, it doesn’t have the same lively feeling in the heel a normal alpine binding does (only noticeable in harder conditions). The Marker Kingpin could perhaps be the best of both worlds, bringing alpine like heel elasticity and feel to tech binding touring efficiency and weight. Moving on, the binding appears to be one of the easier pin style bindings to get into, but we’ll hold our comments on that until we get our hands on a set. Finally, we love the fact this has a variety of touring modes, including flat, a problem that vexed us a bit with respect to the Beast line.
Boot compatibility is going to be semi-problematic. Uber-light offerings such as the TLT line will not work just in the way a full on plug boot will not work. The boot needs to have tech binding compatible toes with framed binding compatible heel. Confused? Basically most of your “charging” tech boots will work. (Vulcan, K2 Boot, Cochise etc). This still leaves a lot of us out there wanting more for a boot-do-to-it-all.
The most obvious downside is a DIN that “only” goes to 13. Simply, this binding will not work for a number of harder charging skiers (word is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is banning them entirely, because everyone rips so damn hard there). On the other hand the Beast has a DIN (yes, DIN) value of 14 and 16.
Overall, its an exciting time in the tech binding world. Choices galore! Considering you only had one option (that was easy to get) 5 years ago its refreshing to see so many viable offerings out there…