Marker’s answer to those who crave a fully certified resort-touring binding with a wide range of boot compatibility and release value adjustments is the Duke PT Bindings. Like Atomic/Salomon’s SHIFT Binding, the Duke PT (PT stands for Pin Tech) is a burly alpine binding for the down that converts over to a tech binding for the up. Marker has been working on the Duke PT for over three years and released it last season to complete their alpine touring (AT) binding family which also includes the lightweight Marker Alpinist tech binding and the Marker Kingpin M-Werks Binding with its tech toe and alpine heel.
While the original Duke was a frame AT binding this new version has done away with the frame and instead now uses a modified Jester heel piece with a brand new toe piece design. A removable alpine toe piece is built onto what looks like an Alpinist or Kingpin tech toe piece. This design provides the best of both worlds with the superior functionality and downhill performance of an alpine-style binding on the down and the properties of a pin binding on the way up. From a safety perspective, the Duke PT is about as safe as you can get for an alpine touring binding since it has DIN ISO certified toe and heel release, integrated gliding AFD (anti-friction device), elastic travel on both the toe and heels as well as lateral and vertical releases.
Most of the magic is contained with the toe piece of the Duke PT Bindings since there are essentially two toes pieces in one, the alpine toe which is removable reveals the underlying tech toe. For ski mode simply step into the Duke PT Bindings and enjoy. To transition over to walk mode, you need to aggressively push down on the forward-facing lever located at the front of the toe pieces. This unlocks the alpine toe assembly which can be flipped up and out of the way. By firmly pushing on this piece it will lockout of the way in front of the tech toe which is now revealed. To minimize overall ski/binding weight (approximately 350g each) the alpine toe can be removed and stored in your pack. To do this the alpine toe assembly must be in its free position and not locked down, you then press firmly on the two metal wings located at the pivot point to release it from the mounting plate. To reattach the alpine toe the process is performed in the opposite direction. Line up the smaller plastic hooks with the binding plate hinge point and then push down the metal wings to firmly attach it to the toe piece mountain plate. Next, flip the alpine toe piece back over the tech toe piece and snap it into the locked position.
With the alpine toe piece removed you have access to the tech toe piece that operates exactly the same as other AT bindings and looks very similar to the Marker Kingpin and Alpinist tech toes.
Another feature built into the Duke PT toe assembly is a metal ‘Anti Ice Rail’ that can be used to scrape off ice excess snow and ice from the sole of your boots. You’ll also find an alpine-style Stainless Steel AFD Gliding Plate in the toe piece which aids in quick and smooth boot release. These movable anti-friction devices can be individually adjusted to accommodate alpine or touring boots.
The heel piece of the Duke PT Bindings integrates Marker’s latest generation of ‘Inter Pivot’ design which uses a magnesium housing for improved stiffness and offers better step-in performance and holding power which in turn reduces pre-releases. A magnesium heel bracket is used to deliver optimal power transmission to the ski while also absorbing rebound energy. There is a ‘Lock and Walk Brake’ which is stowed during walk mode and free to move when the binding is in ski mode. Integrated into this is a climbing aid that offers a (relatively) flat platform while touring along with a 10˚ riser for steeper skin tracks.
The Marker Duke PT Bindings provide bomber downhill performance there is no debating that, their burly construction and metal heel & toe brackets ensure that there are no compromises in downhill mode. While they are much heavier than the competition they deliver a reliable and confident ski experience no matter how aggressive you charge. Sure, you sacrifice some weight for all this added confidence but this is not a binding designed for gram counters and weight weenies. After all, you get full DIN certification and release value adjustment in both the heel and toe piece as well as compatibility with several types of boots (ISO 5355 Alpine, ISO 9523 AT, GripWalk and WTR) as well as the binding elasticity you’d expect from resort bindings.
The Duke PT Bindings are twice as heavy as Marker’s Kingpin M-Werks bindings and 1,000 grams heavier than the competing Salomon/Atomic SHIFT Bindings. While the Kingpins offer no adjustable release value on the toe piece the SHIFT Bindings do, however, they are much more (what I call) ‘flippy floppy’—meaning you need to adjust several things in order to transition from ski to walk mode and back again. I like the simplicity of the Duke PTs much more since you don’t need to flip one thing over in order to make another engage. In order to convert the Duke PT's toe piece over to walk mode, you just press the lever at the front and the alpine toe flips out of the way. Leave it in place or remove it to save weight on your skis—your choice. If you remove the alpine toe piece you can store it in your pack and take the much-needed weight off your skis, approximately 700 grams in total.
When compared to an ultra-light tech set up such as the Plum Oazo Bindings which are the lightest bindings we’ve reviewed to date (weighing only 400g for the pair) the Duke PT Bindings work out to be almost seven times as heavy. The Oazo Bindings, however, don’t provide anywhere near the same safety features or the 'take no prisoners' skiability. The Oazo Bindings are made purely for the up and to ensure you can travel long and far as efficiently as possible so the comparison is not even worth making.
Performance aside, Marker’s Duke PT Bindings do have some areas that could be improved. Namely, there is only one riser lever of 10° and the flat touring mode is not exactly flat once the brakes are stowed, but you’d be hard-pressed to detect this while skiing. Also, the riser is almost impossible to engage with a pole and even a gloved hand as it is firmly stowed in the down position and there is little room for the purchase needed to free it.
While you’d be hard-pressed to find a more burly alpine binding than the Duke PT, I do worry about the binding's level of complexity which is required to allow it to do all that it does. While it’s designed well and made from solid materials and parts, there is a chance under the right conditions for it to ice up and be difficult to operate efficiently, although I never experienced this in any of my testing. More complexity and moving parts = more ways for potential problems to occur and have something fail. So far, so good, however!
I hammered as hard as I could skiing on these binding around the resort and they were super solid. I have no hesitation using them as dedicated resort daily drivers with the occasional side country lap. For those looking for bigger days in the backcountry though, you may want to check out Marker’s Kingpin M-Werks 12 Binding and if multi-day traverses are more your thing then the Marker Alpinist 12 Bindings will be well suited to your needs.
Price: $849.95CAN / $699US
Weight: 2,700g / 5.95lbs per pair. 2,000g / 4.4bls with out alpine toe piece
Release value: 4-12, 6-16DIN
Brake widths: 100, 125mm
Stand Height: 24 mm
Walk Modes: 0°, 10°
Heel adjustment range: 60mm
Compatibility: ISO 5355 (Alpine) and ISO 9523 (AT) boot sole norms, as well as GripWalk and WTR equipped boots.
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