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REVIEW: 2013 Salomon Guardian 16 Binding - by a BC Noob

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Me: 5' 11" / 170 pounds / 33 years old

 

Boot / Binding specs: Tecnica Cochise Pro 130 - 300mm BSL, so small binding size with 115mm brake.

 

Mounted on: 2013 Salomon Rocker2 115 in 188cm.

 

Days Skied & Where: 2 uphill, 5 lift assisted.  Tahoe area, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood, Northstar.

 

As someone whose only previous experience in the back and side country involved carrying my skis over my shoulder, this year I decided it was time to get a little more serious and invest in an AT binding and some skins.  I'd resort skied for a day in the past on some Marker Dukes and while I thought they were decent enough, they didn't inspire a great deal of confidence in firmer or chopped up conditions.  So when Salomon / Atomic announced the release of their new Guardian / Tracker 16 binding while promoting a more stable, responsive feel for the descent, it was exactly what I was looking for (in theory at least).  The intention of my setup was to mount them on a powder ski that I could use at a resort without feeling compromised and then take outside the resort to go chase after more powder after everything was tracked out.

 

The highest praise I can give the Guardian in terms of downhill performance is that I simply forgot I wasn't skiing on a regular downhill binding.  If you were to blindfold me and have me ski one run on this binding and another run on a Look Pivot 14 or Marker Jester, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell you which was which.

 

After I had them mounted I noticed a very small amount of play in the heel piece and was initially concerned it would lead to a sloppy feel when skiing, but upon clicking in my boots and applying pressure/weight to my skis, the wiggle disappeared and they felt rock solid.  I've since taken them at high speed on hard pack, busting through chopped up crud, a couple of 8-12 foot drops, and a very ungraceful 360 with a sketchy landing, and I have as much confidence in the Guardians now as I do any other binding.

 

As for the uphill, being a back country noob I can't provide a great deal of comparison to the other AT options out there, but I can share my observations.  First, at 1482 grams per binding, they're obviously very heavy compared to a tech option like Dynafit.  Plus, having them mounted on a 115mm wide / 188cm long ski isn't going to help matters in the weight department, so I was admittedly a bit concerned about how much work I had ahead of me.

 

After a couple of tours through boot-deep powder I was pleasantly surprised.  The weight really wasn't bad at all and when setting the skin track they had a nice smooth gliding motion and what felt to be a fairly efficient pivot point.  It's worth noting that my Cochise boots have a walk mode to increase range of motion and are notably lighter than regular alpine boots, so that likely helped my cause on both points.  The flat walk mode, which is actually about 2 or 3 degrees because of the way the climbing bar flips down and must take up some space under the heel, felt just fine during flatter stretches.  I know some folks have complained about this but it didn't bother me at all.  The fully upright climbing mode was confidence inspiring and there wasn't any slipping as my heel came down each time to make contact with the bar.

 

When transitioning from climb to ski mode, it was easy to accomplish using my poles.  There was some build up of snow under my heels where the metal connector hooks to lock you into ski mode are located, but one or two kicks and I was able to lock back down without any problems.  I have yet to try to remove my skins without stepping out of the bindings (mainly because they're new and G3 glue is particularly sticky), but for those who are able I can definitely appreciate the value in being able to transition that way.

 

Overall I'm extremely impressed with the Guardian 16.  For someone who is just getting into the back country or really values downhill performance and intends to use the same setup in-bounds at a resort, it's a great option and/or way to get started.

post #2 of 13

Thanks for this review.

I am deciding between new Marker Duke or Atomic Tracker 16.

 

Question since you have some "problems" with snow to lock them from walk to ski position...is this locking safe when skiing or in this case Marker Duke have safer solution?

 

In other case you have to step off Marker Duke to lock to ski mode which can also be a bit awkward.

 

Thanks for replay.

post #3 of 13

Maybe just a picture comparison with Marker Duke :)

 

 

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cayzi View Post

Thanks for this review.

I am deciding between new Marker Duke or Atomic Tracker 16.

 

Question since you have some "problems" with snow to lock them from walk to ski position...is this locking safe when skiing or in this case Marker Duke have safer solution?

 

In other case you have to step off Marker Duke to lock to ski mode which can also be a bit awkward.

 

Thanks for replay.

 

The problems during transition were minimal.  The snow build up under my heel was only an issue one time when I transitioned without stepping out first, and even then I just had to shake / kick the ski a little so some snow fell off and they clicked into place with ease.  I don't see it as a safety issue - once it does click in, it's in.

post #5 of 13

So if you compare it with Marker Duke...

 

Do you find it more stable and able to control ski better due lower high etc..I also notice that Salomon / Atomic binding is heavier. Maybe this is good or a bad sign since plate on Marker is made of plastic???

 

Please give some opinion Marker Duke vs. Salomon due to your experience on field.

 

Thanks :)

post #6 of 13

I have the tracker. I am too much of a noob to comment on the AT aspect but I can echo that they ski just like an alpine binding. THey are very solid underfoot. I did find the need to crank them up a bit. I normally ski my jesters/griffs @ 8, I have to ski the Trackers at 9. Granted, I have been fortunate to ski in some very deep powder this season but the releases (from the heel) have been unwanted. Once I brought them up to 9, they have been fine.  I am still waiting to get out on a proper tour and learn the correct way to skin so any comments regarding that at this point are moot. 

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cayzi View Post

So if you compare it with Marker Duke...

 

Do you find it more stable and able to control ski better due lower high etc..I also notice that Salomon / Atomic binding is heavier. Maybe this is good or a bad sign since plate on Marker is made of plastic???

 

Please give some opinion Marker Duke vs. Salomon due to your experience on field.

 

Thanks :)

 

My only experience with the Duke was at a resort, and only for one day.  In chopped up conditions and on hardpack, I did notice they felt not quite the same as regular Marker bindings, but they weren't bad either.  Keep in mind that this wasn't the latest version of the Duke so perhaps the newer model with a wider footprint has addressed some of those issues.

 

The weight difference between the two is pretty minimal (they're both heavy).

post #8 of 13

I have skied the Duke and it's little sister the Baron quite a bit, toured on them a little.  I don't have any issues with skiing them in any kind of snow, and they feel almost alpine binding like, but I have "heard" that the new Guardian/Tracker has a better feel and hold while skiing.

 

As for touring, all these bindings are heavy.  I have not had any issues though while touring with the Markers but then again, I only use them for short side country type jaunts.  As for icing I have had issues with that and would advise anyone to be careful to clean out any snow or ice build up carefully after skinning in them before clamping them back down.  I failed to do this last year and thought they were locked in but after 10 minutes of skiing I went instant tele on them - not much fun.  But talking to others who have tried all of these bindings, everyone seems to say it's an issue with any of them.

post #9 of 13
For folks at DIN 11 or lower... why aim for a heavier, bigger binding like a duke or guardian... and not a baron?

My barons are this year's and ride as locked down or more than my griffs... over crud, 10 ft drops, even bumps back to the lift when needed. As long as you check the afd height once in a while and forward pressure.

I will say a lighter guardian... baron range... would tempt me. It can be a pain switching between walk and tour when really cold. Particularly on one of my bindings. But the lever isn't easy to grip and move.
post #10 of 13
justruss - use your ski pole tip to initially pop the lever up when its cold, or if its iced up; works like a charm
post #11 of 13
DIN soles on the boot? I hear the Solly binding is compatible with the Cochise tech sole too (has a couple hard plastic points for meeting the AFD).
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by spknmike View Post

DIN soles on the boot? I hear the Solly binding is compatible with the Cochise tech sole too (has a couple hard plastic points for meeting the AFD).


If no one answers, read this, as I am sure your question has been answered.  http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/249454-REVIEW%28s%29-12-13-Salomon-Guardian-16-Atomic-Tracker-16-AT-Binding?highlight=soloman+Guardian

post #13 of 13

Absolutely love the marker jester as my fixed binding.

 

Having said that, the Guardian/Tracker kills the Duke in skiing performance.  Yes it has one less step for touring, but it skis much better.  Lower height and fatter base plate makes it feel like an alpine binding.  You also have to take the Duke off the get in and out of touring mode (big deal you may think, I take my skis off to remove my skins???  trust me on the side of a cliff in deep powder I much prefer staying clipped in, pulling the skins off and stick them in my backpack before jumping in).

 

I'm a marker guy, and have never had any time for an Salomon products before this, but for this type of binding its the best.  But think of it as an Alpine binding that you can tour on, not a straight touring binding.

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