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Looking for 2 sets of AT bindings and skins

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

My son and I are just getting into backcountry / AT scene.  We've been hiking up and skiing down for starters, and definitely realize the need to convert our skis to an AT setup.  Any 'industry' folks out there that can package a deal together for 2 pairs of AT bindings (Salomon Guardian 13 or 16, Atomic Tracker 13 or 16, Marker Barron or Marker Duke - 13 DIN is plenty, but can use the 6 - 16 range also.  BSL is 305 for both of us, so small binding for all above).  Also need 2 sets of skins.  Will have mounted in Seattle area.

 

I prefer new, but would consider a used setup if in good shape and really much less expensive than the sale pricing I'm seeing out there on end of season AT gear.

 

Thanks - Feel free to PM me if you've got anything.  I'm hoping to get this all put together in the next week or so, hopefullly stretching out the season another month.

post #2 of 16

When you say AT, are you just doing some hiking and a little touring (2500'ft per day)? Or are you doing dedicated backcountry no in from the resort sort of stuff? This is important. Also assuming you already have your avy gear and some experience with it under your belt. If not, that has to be budgeted for as well, though you're probably aware of this. 

 

The frame AT bindings... are heavy. They're great for a one set up compromise, but if you're putting together a dedicated AT setup, just go straight to a dynafit/plum/G3 tech binding system and compatible boot. The weight DOES matter unless you're a fitness speciment looking for more work. 

post #3 of 16

If I understand your post correctly, you are (at least initially) going to be using your alpine boots for this endeavor.  If you simply unbuckle your top buckles without a walk mode on your boots there is a good chance you will get blisters after a fairly short amount of climbing with skins.  It is different than hiking up with your alpine boots unbuckled.  If you are going to eventually have a dedicated backcountry/AT (alpine touring) setup then you may be putting the cart before the horse.  With the proper boots you will not only have the right tool for the job, but it will expand your binding options and possibly save over 5 lbs. on your feet.  (I believe the old saying is "a pound on your foot equals five on your back.")  As noted, all the bindings you listed are quite heavy (heavier than regular alpine bindings instead of lighter like real AT bindings) because they are combo of the two that ends up being a lesser version of both. In addition they are more hassle to use in the backcountry than true AT bindings.  They will certainly work for your purposes, but if you are serious about getting into AT skiing, and considering the size of your investment, I would suggest that speed of purchase should not be your first consideration.

 

Perhaps you can rent some skins and skis with the alpine type bindings you mentioned and try that type of set up out before buying.  It is very common for people to jump into AT skiing and quickly decide to upgrade their equipment.  A little more homework and thought at the front end might save you some money in the long run, and give you a setup that will work better for where you ultimately want to use it.  Pairing the bindings you mentioned with skins and alpine boots can be a good setup for "side country" where you are doing a lot of flat traversing and minimal climbing, but if you intend to actually "get into the backcountry/AT scene" then you might want to slow down the plunge into equipment buying and take a good look at your long term goals.  AT skiing is fantastic and can give you some of the best turns of the season, as well as extending it, but dragging the "wrong" gear around in the mountains is not much fun.  Just a word of caution from someone who has gone through many permutations of backcountry gear over the years.

post #4 of 16
FWIW, this group helped talk my cash-strapped student daughter into tech bindings and after closing her eyes and taking that plunge, she was relieved she'd spent the money. Another compadre on their tour was just about whipped by the summit and actually turned back and went down the goat path they'd come up rather than tackle the run out. It proved to be the 100% right choice as "out" proved to be twice as long as "in", in spite of the benefit of down compared to up. They would have had to call for rescue if that guy had come.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

If I understand your post correctly, you are (at least initially) going to be using your alpine boots for this endeavor.  If you simply unbuckle your top buckles without a walk mode on your boots there is a good chance you will get blisters after a fairly short amount of climbing with skins.  It is different than hiking up with your alpine boots unbuckled.  If you are going to eventually have a dedicated backcountry/AT (alpine touring) setup then you may be putting the cart before the horse.  With the proper boots you will not only have the right tool for the job, but it will expand your binding options and possibly save over 5 lbs. on your feet.  (I believe the old saying is "a pound on your foot equals five on your back.")  As noted, all the bindings you listed are quite heavy (heavier than regular alpine bindings instead of lighter like real AT bindings) because they are combo of the two that ends up being a lesser version of both. In addition they are more hassle to use in the backcountry than true AT bindings.  They will certainly work for your purposes, but if you are serious about getting into AT skiing, and considering the size of your investment, I would suggest that speed of purchase should not be your first consideration.

Perhaps you can rent some skins and skis with the alpine type bindings you mentioned and try that type of set up out before buying.  It is very common for people to jump into AT skiing and quickly decide to upgrade their equipment.  A little more homework and thought at the front end might save you some money in the long run, and give you a setup that will work better for where you ultimately want to use it.  Pairing the bindings you mentioned with skins and alpine boots can be a good setup for "side country" where you are doing a lot of flat traversing and minimal climbing, but if you intend to actually "get into the backcountry/AT scene" then you might want to slow down the plunge into equipment buying and take a good look at your long term goals.  AT skiing is fantastic and can give you some of the best turns of the season, as well as extending it, but dragging the "wrong" gear around in the mountains is not much fun.  Just a word of caution from someone who has gone through many permutations of backcountry gear over the years.

^This has been said before in several threads, and it's right on. It ought to be made into a sticky.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the excellent advice!  

 

My initial thought was that I would ease into backcountry / sidecountry, not really long alpine tours, mostly extending the resort season and see where it goes from there. 2500ft per day sounds about right - for now.  From what I've priced out, I can get mentioned bindings (frame type), skins and mount 'relatively inexpensively' for about $400 per setup on my existing skis (same for  my sons) during off-season sales.  Going to a true "AT" setup, would certainly cost many time that amount.  I personally don't have any real goals regarding backcountry / sidecountry, and will probably still spend the majority of the 'season' at the resort.  My son, I'm sure, has loftier goals.  Every time I've gotten into a new sport / hobby, I have followed a similar thought pattern (skiing, Mountain Biking, Hockey) I 'eased' into it with 'lower end' gear, than got hooked and ended up pulling the trigger on much better performance gear - so chances are, you're right, I'll just end up buying the 'right' gear in a short amount of time. I'll definitely give it more thought and any more advice is certainly welcome.

 

And yes, we do have beacon, probe, shovel, practiced a lot in and around the resort this season with friends that were more experienced. Planning on getting AIARE cert next season.  Staying on low angle terrain for now - specifically to stay away from higher risk / higher consequence terrain.

 

Question about frame binding 'compromise':  I can definitely see the compromise on the uphill, but what about on the downhill ?  Any slop in these mentioned bindings, or any chance the heel may inadvertantly release (from ski - not boot, inadvertantly going into 'touring' mode)  - my son does ski some more aggressive lines, hitting drops ~ 15ft, etc   - wouldn't want any compromise there, especially as he advances further.   I demoed skis with Marker Barons at the resort a few years ago, and didn't really notice any difference in downhill performance from my Marker Griffons - but that was just 1 day at the resort, was really more interested in the ski at that time and they just happened to have the Baron bindings.

post #7 of 16

As far as I know, most of the bindings mentioned work fine as alpine bindings, and can also be adjusted to accept Vibram soled AT boots and still release.  I do not know if they have changed them, but the Markers (including the top line Dukes) required you to take them off in order to switch back and forth from the ski/hike modes.  So they start with an alpine binding and add a releasable platform that jacks it up off the ski and adds weight.  Depending on where you use them, many people do not think having to take the ski off to switch the hike/ski mode is a big hassle, but in deep snow it can be.  If you are skinning up and need to cross an obstacle or very steep side hill it is nice to be able to use your pole to easily lock the heel.  It comes down to small things like climbing over a log or small creek where I can easily lock my heels and step over, where you need to take both skis off to lock them (and then put them back on), so you probably just don't bother and then end up flailing trying to step over with the loose tails of your skis hanging down and complicating the situation.  When I get to the top of a climb I can easily lock the heels, kick the tails up and strip my skins off without taking off my skis, as opposed to the guy with the heavy Dukes who needs to remove both skis to accomplish the same thing,  Not a big deal, unless you are in deep snow where you sink to your crotch if you step in with just a boot on.  Just something to consider when weighing price against performance.

 

In answer to your question, IMO the bindings you are considering are not bad for alpine skiing, with the drawbacks being extra weight and height off the ski, plus they have a little play that is only noticeable in hard snow conditions.  OTOH, I don't consider them a real AT binding because of the weight and lock mechanism.  They can be a good choice if you want to travel with one pair of boots and skis and be able to area and bc ski, or for limited side-country excursions but, unless you are a very strong climber, if you are skinning up a few thousand vert in a day the weight can be a serious issue.   Putting a couple extra pounds on each foot adds up pretty quickly on a climb.  When you get to super light AT equipment it not only is very expensive, but you start to compromise downhill performance.  In your case you are working on the other end of the spectrum where uphill performance is the issue.  As they say, "it is all about the down," but when bc skiing you spend 90% of the time going up, so choose your equipment wisely.

post #8 of 16
How about the kid gets the good gear, so since you think he'll definitely want to proceed? Why pay twice?

Looked around to see what the daughter got, stock is now quite limited since she bought a whole month ago, but still doable for roughly $400. http://www.mountaingear.com/webstore/Gear/Snowsports/Ski-bindings/Dynafit/TLT-Radical-ST-with-Brakes/_/R-235415.htm

She got hers at Backcountry.
Edited by sibhusky - 6/5/14 at 8:44am
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

... Markers (including the top line Dukes) required you to take them off in order to switch back and forth from the ski/hike modes.  So they start with an alpine binding and add a releasable platform that jacks it up off the ski and adds weight.  Depending on where you use them, many people do not think having to take the ski off to switch the hike/ski mode is a big hassle, but in deep snow it can be. 

I think this is one of the more significantly over-rated issues with AT bindings. I just about never strip skins without taking off my skis. YMMV, but IMO stripping skins with skis on is major PITA.

As far as the rest of it goes, the OP has to decide whether supreme bomberness for the 10% of the time spent going downhill is more important than comfort, efficiency, and effectiveness for the 90% of the time going uphill. It's also worth noting that many people dial their skiing back a couple notches in the bc - hucking and hammering make somewhat less sense the farther back you get.

If you aren't going far, Markers et al can be good bindings for you. The farther you go, the more you'll appreciate tech and lighter fame bindings. Your choice.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post


I think this is one of the more significantly over-rated issues with AT bindings. I just about never strip skins without taking off my skis. YMMV, but IMO stripping skins with skis on is major PITA.

 

Bob:  You are obviously a better acrobat than I am.  Balancing on one ski in deep soft snow in free-heel mode while removing the other ski from your boot, then taking the skin off, switching it to lock mode and putting it back on is a good trick.  Then when you do it with the other ski your heel is locked on the ski you are standing on, but without the skin it is slippery.  For me it is much easier to kick up a tail and pull the skin off.  If it is hard snow you can stand on without your boot sinking it is no big deal to take a ski off, but that is usually not the kind of snow I climb to ski.  MF

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
 

As far as I know, most of the bindings mentioned work fine as alpine bindings, and can also be adjusted to accept Vibram soled AT boots and still release.  I do not know if they have changed them, but the Markers (including the top line Dukes) required you to take them off in order to switch back and forth from the ski/hike modes.  So they start with an alpine binding and add a releasable platform that jacks it up off the ski and adds weight. 

Actually the Salomon and the Atomic DON'T adjust to an AT boot, but the Markers DO - so the choice is btwn AT compatibility and switching on the fly.  Personally I'd choose compatibility even if I weren't planning on getting AT boots right away, since that would be an every trip difference, but up to you.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cometjo View Post
 

Actually the Salomon and the Atomic DON'T adjust to an AT boot, but the Markers DO - so the choice is btwn AT compatibility and switching on the fly.  Personally I'd choose compatibility even if I weren't planning on getting AT boots right away, since that would be an every trip difference, but up to you.

 

But they're rumored to next year.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post

I think this is one of the more significantly over-rated issues with AT bindings. I just about never strip skins without taking off my skis. YMMV, but IMO stripping skins with skis on is major PITA.

Bob:  You are obviously a better acrobat than I am.  Balancing on one ski in deep soft snow in free-heel mode while removing the other ski from your boot, then taking the skin off, switching it to lock mode and putting it back on is a good trick.  Then when you do it with the other ski your heel is locked on the ski you are standing on, but without the skin it is slippery.  For me it is much easier to kick up a tail and pull the skin off.  If it is hard snow you can stand on without your boot sinking it is no big deal to take a ski off, but that is usually not the kind of snow I climb to ski.  MF

biggrin.gif That's pretty confusing to me, because almost every time I've tried to take skins off with my skis on, I fall over. I just take both skis off, prop myself on/with the other one while I rip the skin. I'm not saying it's particularly easy in deep snow, but neither is getting up after I've fallen trying to get the skins off with skis on. FWIW, I climb to ski hard snow and soft - I'm not real,particular that way.

Different strokes, I guess.
post #14 of 16

Trying to read between the OP's lines a little bit so I might be off base...

 

Sounds like he's trying to get a 1-setup-does both deal.  If you're going to ski inbounds on potentially hard snow, you don't want tech bindings.

 

Also sounds like he's not sure about diving into the full AT scene.  I had doubts before I started...sounds like he has the same.

 

I'm with Bob Lee...I can't take skins off with skis on without falling over so having Marker bindings is no big deal.

 

There are a few deals out there but pickings are pretty slim on higher DIN AT bindings.  Take a look at Mammothgear.com and see if they have anything left.

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

So... I've made my decision on AT gear and have been out a few times for July  skinning and skiing on Mt Rainier .... here are my initial thoughts.   First of all..... darn exhausting, ascent is slower and a less efficient than expected .... but maybe that's just me (probably).  Definitely enjoyable, being away from the resort crowds, although there's plenty of people around Rainier in the summer, Paradise headed towards Muir.  We ended up getting Atomic Tracker AT bindings, BD Ascension skins - total price for new gear, including mount to existing skis - $350 per person - so a relatively inexpensive entry to backcountry skiing.  I can definitely see where people would go with tech bindings, and boots and super light skis -  after just a short skin the first 30 mins, I would have really appreciated lower weight and better efficiency. Seeing as I am just 'trying out' backcountry skiing, I did not want to get tech bindings and boots and be into it for well over $1,000 each (using existing skis).  And it's X 2 since we got a set up for myself and my son.  So, overall, yes, happy with my purchase decision. Yes, will definitely continue to mix backcountry with resort skiing, and most likely will end up with tech bindings and boots sometime in the future... maybe 2 years from now.  

post #16 of 16

Nice! As long as you are happy with what you got and are having fun you have it made.

I started skitouring the same year I started skiing (2 seasons ago) and I like it a bit more than than at the resort. 

 

Be sure to get setup with safety gear as well (avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe...) AND get some training if you have not already. 

 

scoTt

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