Alpenglow Sports

With side-country skiing and riding absolutely booming in popularity, we knew it would only be a matter of time before the big alpine companies brought product to the table. Marker, with their ever-popular Duke, Baron, and Tour models, initiated the process and has been highly influential in the evolution of the sport. With the Guardian 16 for winter 2012-13, Salomon has followed suite and has brought a solid offering to the mix.

Skiers from strong alpine backgrounds can display a large dose of skepticism when it comes to the performance and durability of traditional backcountry bindings. And for some, this concern is valid. The current state of affairs for many side and backcountry riders is a desire for a binding that looks, acts, and performs like their tried-and-true resort binding. For these rippers, performance of the binding is the single most important feature. Weight and tour-ability are sacrificed for complete focus on the descent.

Salomon states the Guardian 16 is their “proven downhill perform(er) combined with convenient hike and ride technology.” The toe unit, shown in the above photos displays the girth and muscle of a traditional alpine binding, showcasing a 7-16 DIN. It possesses a 80mm toe unit width and a 26mm rise (to base plate). Additionally, the toe has a flat nose for 90-degree pivot, the result “optimal climbing capability.” Like any step-in backcountry binding, the toe height is adjustable to capacitate bindings of different toe heights/shapes.



The underfoot component of the Guardian 16 exhibits strengthened rigidity in order to “improve edge-to-edge power transmission.” It is clean, light, strong, and looks to be the area of the binding with the least amount of surface area for potential icing.



The greatest departure from other step-in backcountry bindings is the Guardian’s heel assembly unit. Shown in Photo #6, we can see an oversized platform a la the Marker Duke, a low profile chassis and the hike/ride switch.

Photo #7 shows the binding in low-rise climbing mode, while Photo #8 the hi-rise mode.


In testing the ease of use of the hike/ride switch (Photo #9), Salomon seems to have created a new interchange that will allow the user seamless movement between ski and tour modes. This is a direct departure from the Marker design that requires the user to remove their boot from the binding. The hike/ride lever is slightly spring-loaded and seems to be easy to use with a pole tip.

Photo #10 shows the teeth on the underside of the heel unit that retract when the hike/ride switch is manipulated. The user then moves the climbing riser over onto the teeth track, shown in Photo #7, which eliminates any potential clicking or rubbing. When the user is ready to ski, the process is reversed.

Photos #11 and 12 both show more detail of the underfoot component of the Guardian’s heel unit. Photo #11 shows the hike/ride switch, the climbing wire, and the adjustable componentry that act to either release or lock the binding into place. Photo #12 exhibits the base plate that has visible female receptors that consequently lock the binding into place for the descent.

All in all, the Salomon Guardian 16 looks to be a pretty sick binding that could give Marker a run for their money. Atomic will offer an identical binding with a slightly different color-way, which is identical to the Guardian 16 and manufactured by Salomon under a licensing agreement.

The binding comes with either a 100 or 115mm brake option, possesses a 7-16 DIN, an boot sole length adjustment of 55mm, and is 26mm high. The weight is a burly 1480g per ½ pair, or 6.5lbs for the entire rig. While this is heavy for us nerdy Dynafit folks, we’re convinced that this binding will be extremely well received.

Initial concerns that come to mind are the longevity of the spring load on the hike/ride switch, the degree of icing that so much plastic could create, and the structural integrity of the locking mechanism that holds the binding in place during descent. However, the proof is in the pudding and we’ll be eager to put these to the test when Salomon sends a pair our way. Stay tuned!

About Alpenglow SportsEstablished in 1979, Alpenglow Sports is Tahoe City’s original mountain shop. Specializing in backcountry and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, backpacking, hiking, camping, and the mountain lifestyle apparel, Alpenglow is always psyched to offer premier user-based customer service.


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  1. Alex says:

    I have been on this binding and it is awesome. Good for skiing on all day and skinning up. Great solid set up.

    • anon says:

      obvious salomon employee? considering it’s not on the market yet…

      • corey welsh says:

        might be an employee, but these were also available at all dealer demos last march, so he could also be a shop guy.

      • brian says:

        i know plenty of people who have used these for 1-2 years and arent employed or paid by salomon. think they just materialized last night?

      • Snowskier says:

        I got a chance to ski these for a half day last season when salomon had a demo with next years products. I got 3 runs (all alpine), they skied great, i didnt feel like the center of the ski was dead underfoot and was impressed how responsive they were. I didnt get a chance to try to tour, although I did use my pole to enter tour mode and it was super simple – I will be giving these a shot this season for sure.

  2. we will be on it tomorrow and will check back in.

  3. hmmm says:

    I really don’t like the idea of only having one heel riser. Thats the major downfall of Marker’s offering, wish they had learned something. Oh well, Dynafits already exist so who cares what others start selling.

  4. jahnknob says:

    6.5 lbs?!? lets get the Ti model out! That is way too heavy

  5. haha says:

    drop it like its hot!!!!

  6. Jumping at the bit says:

    So when exactly do these come on the market? I’ve looked around on the internet and all I see is fall ’12

  7. jah says:

    Glad there is now a product to compete against the duke; but being heavier, single touring position and with a larger rise, i think i will stick with my dukes

  8. ChemDog says:

    we already sold out. its definately available now

  9. HaytinHater says:

    squaw sucks. chumps

  10. Travis Ganong says:

    Love this binding (Atomic version). Toured all around Tahoe last spring and took it heli skiing at Points North as well! I trust it on big AK lines as well as on a climb up Jakes! The perfect AT binding for going downhill.

  11. Dennis long says:

    I skied these last march. I’m a ski mechanic and know some people. Binder is good, better than duke, but very similar. I lime the way it clicks into alpine mode way more.

  12. Jamal says:

    great binding, tested it last year at a demo. skis like a bomber Salomon 916 with touring capabilities. i thought i’d miss the second heel riser too, but you know what, for most slackcountry stuff, which is what this is designed for, one climbing bar is all you need. it’s not designed to be light, so stop bitching about the weight. tours well, skis well, low stack height, super easy to change from hike to climb and back again. big winner

  13. Bugbear says:

    Looks better than my piece of shit Dukes that ice the fuck up every time I try to switch modes. Looks sick that you can change modes without removing the ski.

  14. Pot dealer says:

    What’s the deal with this spring loaded switch? Might I accidentally click into tour mode while doing a big Japan grab? The duke may be slightly inconvenient but I know it’s never gunna switch while I’m in the air

  15. Changled says:

    Ive been using these bindings all season here in NZ we are lucky to have a few Atomic Trackers which are exactly the same except for the colour and brand name. I found that they were sturdy and bombproof but getting from walk mode to ski mode was annoying snapped one pole trying to push the lever back they sometimes jam up. Also going back to ski mode I found they tended to get clogged up with snow under the pivot point making it impossible to smack back down with out clearing the snow out first. All up I think Atomic and Salomon are on the right track at addressing the tour binding market and over the duke id still pick the Tracker. Its 2mm lower and boy that makes a lot of difference.


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