Related: Marker Issues Kingpin Binding Recall
The Duke Pro is a frame-style alpine touring binding. The main appeal of this binding is that it offers consistent downhill performance. Aside from a slightly higher ride height, they feel just like an alpine binding. The other key piece of information is that these frame-style options do not require you have boots with tech fittings. This means you can click into these big burly bastards without having to buy another set of boots.
New Features on the Duke Pro
–8-18 DIN Range – This binding is ultra-hefty, burly, brawny, and stout. We recommend going to a ski shop or using an online DIN Calculator to get an idea of your ideal release setting. Unless you’re 7 feet tall and 300 lbs, you’ll likely be somewhere close to the 7-12 range. Lighter and more timid skiers may not actually be able to find a light enough DIN setting on the Duke Pro. Skiing with too tight of a retention setting is a recipe for knee surgery– no fun.
–Triple Elite Pivot 2 Toe Piece and Inter-Pivot 2 Heel – This sounds like marketing speak to us. The main takeaway is that Marker claims these bindings have better power transmission than ever before while also offering more consistent release.
–Weight: The Duke Pro is approximately 15-grams lighter than the outgoing Duke 16 model. This is a negligible difference and equates to two less bites of your gas station breakfast burrito.
- Type — Frame Binding
- Din Range — 8-18
- Boot Sole — Alpine DIN (ISO 5355), Alpine Touring (ISO 9523), Walk to Ride (WTR), GripWalk
- Warranty — 3 years
- Weight — 1380grams
We can’t criticize anyone for buying a frame touring binding. Yes, they tend to be an economical entry into backcountry skiing and can be a viable option to throw on a one-ski quiver. That said, they offer poor uphill performance and a very heavy on the downhill. Every step you take, you are pulling that entire plastic frame with you. In addition, the climbing bar makes an incessant clicking noise every time you take a step. This kind of binding is best suited for the skier looking to mostly use it at the resort with a couple backcountry missions a year sprinkled in.
A binding like a Marker F12 still offers the Extended Power Frame design with a top-end DIN setting of 12 that will work for 95% of skiers. In addition, these bindings offer significant weight savings of approximately 260-grams (roughly a half-pound) per binding. Better yet, they are $50 less expensive. While they are heavier than the Duke Pro and F12, the Salomon Guardian 13 is also a reliable and economical entry into this category. The Guardian sells for $379 which is $100 cheaper than the Duke Pro.
If you think you are going to do extensive amounts of alpine touring, we highly recommend moving toward a tech binding. The Salomon/Atomic Shift, Marker Kingpin and Dynafit ST Rotation 12 all offer solid downhill performance that approaches the same type of stability a frame binding boasts. Yes, this can be a big investment if it entails getting a set of alpine touring boots. That said, it will make for an infinitely more pleasant experience.
With all those disclaimers out of the way, the Marker Duke Pro does have a place in this wild world. That place is probably under the feet of pro skiers and the gnarliest huckers around.