Alpine Touring Bindings 101: Fritschi vs. Marker

February 1, 2009

For those skiers who don't really fit the Dynafit profile (strictly backcountry, and looking for a superlight setup), there are 2 basic ways you can go in terms of choosing an alpine touring binding. Fritschi, who makes the Freeride Plus and the Explore, or Marker, who makes the Baron and the Duke. Fritschi Freeride Plus and Explore Bindings Fritschi is the way to go if you're a 60/40 backcountry to resort skier, and not a crazy charging alpine skier. The Freeride Plus comes with a brake (though not included with the Explore) and an added stability plate. However, this "stability plate" raises the binding, elevating you more than normal. For high speed skiing, this added height ends up costing you some stability, and adds unwanted lateral flex. DINs on the Freerides go up to 12 and Explores only to 10, so if you're a larger charger, these DINs might not cut it for you. Biggest advantage of the Fritschi over the Markers? The touring mode. Freerides and Explorers are both significantly more user friendly for touring, and can be popped into tour mode without taking off your boot. The climbing mode on both the Freerides and the Explore's have 3 different height settings, Marker bindings only have 2. The tallest Freeride touring "heel" is longer than the Marker's longest climbing bar. Fritschi's touring heels can be adjusted by maneuvering your pole the right way, Marker's require you to bend down and engage it with your hand. Marker Duke and Baron Bindings Are you a monstrous resort skier who occasionally ends up in the backcountry or sidecountry? The Marker's are the way to go for you. A much more stable binding that skis just like an alpine binding, you won't be sacrificing any of your power transfer just for a tour mode on your binding. With DINs up to 16 on the Dukes, the burliest of skiers can work with this binding, no problem. The Duke and the Baron are both the exact same binding as the Jester and the Griffin, mounted on a different plate which allows for touring mode. Disadvantages of the Duke and Baron? Touring in these guys is kinda a chore. The Dukes and Barons require you to take your boot out to switch to tour mode, the climbing wires are small, and the bindings themselves are heavy. Though only 10 oz more than the comparably size Freeride, weight starts to add up. Overall, both companies are making a killer alpine touring bindings! The big decision comes down to where you'd like the most performance- skiing or touring. Personally? I'm a small, non-aggressive alpine skier who loves to tour but still wants resort capability, so the Freerides are for me. My ski partner? Very aggressive expert alpine skier who occasionally joins me on a tour or two- he's in the Markers! Check 'em out! Fritschi Freeride Plus Bindings OR Marker Duke Bindings

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