Marker is a relative newcomer in the world of tech, or pin-style, alpine touring bindings. Their first tech binding, the Kingpin, made an enormous splash when it was introduced a few years back. The Kingpin took the alpine-inspired design that was pioneered by the Dynafit Beast and fine-tuned it. Despite a few hangups resulting in some recalls, this binding has enjoyed huge amounts of success.
Well, Marker has taken the plunge into the minimalist, lightweight, tech binding category with the all-new Alpinist Binding. This is an interesting play by the giant binding manufacturer as this is uncharted territory for them.
The Alpinist comes in two versions, the Alpinist 9 and Alpinist 12. The only difference between the two is the release values. The Alpinist takes aim at the minimalist backcountry skier who wants a light and reliable binding for long days out in the backcountry. Marker takes aim bindings like Dynafit TLT Speed and Atomic Backland. It is not really trying to compete with the slightly heftier Dynafit ST Rotation, Fritschi Vipec or G3 Ion. The Alpinist is sold without brakes, but they can be purchased as an aftermarket accessory. That, right there, says a lot about its intended application.
- Release Range: Alpinist 9= 4-9 DIN. Alpinist 12=6-12 DIN
- “Extra Strong Spring”
- Step-in guide, Anti-Ice pads, Wide drill pattern
- Crampon compatible, brakes optional
- 0-degree, 5-degree, 9-degree climbing positions
- Active Length Compensation
- Claimed Weight: 245-grams without brakes, 335-grams without brakes
This is an interesting entry into the light alpine touring segment. When a company provides weights, things can get a little sketchy. It is difficult to rely on accurate measurements from a manufacturer as it is beneficial for them to shave some grams here and there. The main takeaway for the weight weenies is that the Alpinist boasts a competitive weight to the Dynafit TLT Speed and Atomic Backland. If we believe the stated measurements, the Markers are even a little lighter.
One interesting tidbit is the Alpinist has 0, 5, and 9-degree climbing positions. The Atomic Backland has 0, 7, and 13-degree positions. The higher, 13-degree climbing position on the Atomic makes scaling super-steep skin tracks a little bit more pleasant. That said, the 9-degrees on the Alpinist should get it done just fine. This is simply an observation. The type of skier interested in these lightweight and minimalist bindings likely have light boots with a huge range of motion in walk mode, this makes the climbing bar height a little less important.
The Alpinist has all of the downhill features we expect. The term Active Length Compensation is important. As your ski flexes under your weight and on the constantly changing snow surface, the binding needs to react to this. If the heel piece were to stay stationary under all of this movement, your boot/binding connection would get sketchy and the release values would be inconsistent. The Active Length Compensation allows the heel piece to move as the ski flexes and maintains a solid engagement with the tech fittings in the heel. This leads to a safer skiing experience with less pre-release.
It is nice that these bindings are sold without brakes to be competitive with the TLT Speed and Atomic Backland Tour. That said, we recommend giving some serious thought before running these without brakes. Mountaineers and minimalists use bindings without brakes frequently. That said, if you’re newer to backcountry skiing, we would advise you to use brakes. We have all seen that person who is transitioning to ski mode at the top of a line and their ski goes rogue due to one false move or a heavy gust of wind. Nothing kills a day in the backcountry like blowing your elevation by chasing your ski on foot.
It will be interesting to see if the Marker Alpinist has any growing pains like the Kingpin. The multiple recalls on the Kingpin doesn’t instill huge amounts of confidence. That said, maybe Marker has learned from these missteps. At any rate, it is good to see more competition in the increasingly popular alpine touring category.