The Guardian does share the same problem as the original Marker Dukes in that it only has a couple of riser settings. In this case it is up or down. This is a feature that Marker took care of and something I can only guess is in the works for Salomon at some point as well.
These bindings are big. They are lower to the ski than most AT bindings, and are wide, and heavy, which certainly helps in ski handling. They really are the perfect fit for someone trying to ski like they are in a Matchstick Productions film, but who might have to actually climb to get their prime terrain. They do feature unrelenting control on the downhill.
DetailsIf we take a quick look at the comparable 2012-2013 Marker Duke EPF, Salomon’s design does seem preferable in most areas.
The Guardian has a 26mm stack height over the ski compared to 36mm on the new Duke. (In testing the MFD Alltime system with the FKS 140, we also measured a 26mm stack height)
The Guardian’s 80mm-wide base is designed to improve energy transfer when mounted on fatter powder skis. For 12/13, the Duke has a much wider chassis than the 76mm interface of previous years. (Marker says that it is “28% wider,” but we’ve also been told that it’s 90mm wide, which isn’t 28%…. In any case, the Duke EPF is recommended for skis over 88 mm.)
Unlike with the Duke or Baron, you won’t have to step out of the Guardian to switch between touring and ski mode. The release mechanism is designed to be operated easily with a ski pole, yet it seems totally secure.
The Guardian’s climbing riser, when fully flipped under the heel piece in touring mode, is designed to help prevent ice from building in the locking mechanism. The Duke has been known to freeze up, making it difficult to switch the binding back into ski mode, so we’ll see if Salomon’s design solves the problem.
We’re also happy to see that the Guardian has an adjustable toe height. While it’s not identical to Salomon’s Driver toe (which also has adjustable wings), this seems like a more durable design than the adjustable AFD plate Marker uses on the Duke. Salomon says the Guardian is designed to be used exclusively with alpine ski boots, though with this option to adjust toe height it’s likely that some folks will explore compatibility and fitment with AT boots.
The Guardian is mounted with four screws in the toe piece and six on the heel (compared to 4 in the Duke), with a slightly wider spread pattern than that found on Marker’s bindings.
A common complaint about the Duke is the play that tends to develop in the toe’s pivot mechanism. Unlike the Duke, the Guardian’s toe pin interfaces with metal bearing which should make for a more durable and long lasting pivot mechanism.
The Guardian weigh 6.52 lbs./2,960 grams per pair.
My opinionI've bougth a pair of Guardians few days ago in Livigno (Italy). The price is around 350 euros, but fortunately I've got them for 200.
I combined the bindings with the freeride skis Armada JJ. The bindings are quite heavy, but they seems very strong and durable when skiing.
In case of backcountry, the overall is too heavy, and not recommended for steep and long ascent. Definitely not for ski mountaineering.
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