Alpine Touring – Binding Comparison

Ian Harding October 12th, 2008

Its time to go BC…

This year I have decided that it is finally time to go backcountry. I’ve been wanting to get into it more and more, but this year I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’m so sick of lift lines, increasing ticket prices, and the dissatisfaction I get when I complete a wimpy 30-second groomed run only to be greeted by a line of “I’m only skiing because I’m on vacation, have never tried it before, and felt that denim jeans would be the warmest piece of clothing for a day on the hills in -20 temperatures” kind of people. You know who I’m talking about. Ya, the people who stand so close to you in lift lines with their skis on top of yours, they’re practically trying to hug you as they try to move the line along quicker so that they can get indoors and talk about world peace.

I digress. What I’m getting at is, its time for me to take a step forward in my ski career and say “F-you” to resorts and their bullshit.

As a result of this, I need to get some new gear. Not everything, but some key essentials. And one of those essentials is bindings. There are many sites out there where specific product manufacturers have comparison charts of their products, but I could not find a comparison chart for multiple brands that I was interested in. I needed to have 4-6 browser tabs open with a different products on each and then cycle through them to compare the specs. LAME!

What I wanted and what I could not find, I have decided to create. Below is a comparison chart of the top four alpine touring freeride bindings that I am considering buying this season. Hopefully this will help other potential buyers in making the right decision. And as a side note, I wanted a Freeride binding over a Dynafit because I just got some new Nordica Speedmacines boots a couple of seasons ago and want to be able to continue using them (Dynafit bindings require AT specific boots). I am an expert skiing having lived on the slopes for around 23 years and to be honest, price is no option to me when it comes to gear. My priorities are to get something both reliable and durable that will last a few years.

Note that the information stated below was gathered from various websites. I found that information was inconsistent, so what you see below is the most common of what I found. Use this info under your own discretion.

Marker
Duke

Marker
Baron

Diamir (Fritschi)
Freeride Plus

Naxo
NX22 b

Manufacturer:

Marker Duke

Marker Baron

Diamir Fritschi Swiss

Naxo AG

Made in:

USA

USA

Switzerland

Switzerland

MSRP:

$495.00 USD

$435.00 USD

$439.00 USD

$465.00 USD

DIN Range:

6-16

4-12

4-12

4-13

Weight / Pair (grams):

2600 gr

2450 gr

1980 gr

2250 gr

Brake Width:

110mm
(90 and 130 avail)

110mm
(90 and 130 avail)

100mm

100mm
(120mm avail)

Sizes:
(boot length in mm)

(S)265-320
(L)305-370

(S)265-320
(L)305-370

(S)245-300
(M)280-335
(XL)325-365

(S)240-284
(M)280-324
(L)320-354

Climbing Positions:

3 positions (0, 6, 12)

3 positions (0, 6, 12)

4 positions (0, 3, 9, 13)

3 positions (0, 6, 12)

Stack Height:

34mm

34mm

39mm

43mm

VRS (virtual rotation system):

Triple Pivot

Triple Pivot

Triple Pivot

Triple Pivot

Manufacturer’s Notes:

Marker Duke
For the big mountain freeskier who wants an easy climbing function combined with the ultimate in security and performance coming down the mountain.

Marker Baron
The Baron features the same revolutionary toe and heel design as the Duke, but with a 4-12 DIN range and a lighter weight construction that shaves 150 grams of weight, for an overall weight of 2450(sm) and 2480(lg) grams per pair, about 1/3 of a pound less than the Duke. The Baron is suited for lighter-weight big mountain skiers who want the performance of the triple-pivot toe and inter-pivot heel. Lighter than the Duke, it’s also suited for longer tours.

Diamir Freeride Plus
With the performance and convenience of an alpine binding plus a first-rate touring mode, the Fritschi Diamir Freeride Plus is designed to transmit maximum power to skis for exceptional downhill control. The Diamir Freeride Plus increases turning stability and passes power directly from ski boot to ski edge for unsurpassed precision. Power Transmission Control™ technology lets the boot attach directly to the binding bar, which slides freely as the ski bends, allowing the optimum natural flex of the ski. The Freeride Plus is reliably releasable at all settings and a maximum DIN setting of 12 keeps big skiers clicked in. An adjustable-height toe fits both AT or Alpine DIN-approved mondo-sized boots. The four-position climbing post and a neutral front pivot point create excellent touring efficiency.

Naxo NX22 b
The Backcountry Access Naxo NX21 binding is for all you freestyle skiers who love shooting the chutes and need a binding that you can rely on during those burly descents. The Naxo N21 has a DIN setting of 13 but still is light enough for long ascents. Solid VRS arms and stiffer rails offer maximum torsional rigidity. The Virtual Rotation System creates a natural rolling stride. The downhill lock insures against inadvertent switch to touring mode during a steep chute run. The adjustable climbing post has three levels: 0, 6, and 12 degrees with a height and lock down that is easily controlled with a ski pole. The Naxo NX21 fits any Alpine Touring boot or Downhill ski boot. With a 43mm boot height and a 3mm forward ramp, you get the control you want without forgoing stability.

Conclusion:

As a results of about 3 hours of perusing ratings, reviews, and spec sheets, I think I have decied to go with the Diamir Freeride Plus this season. Now I just have to get some new planks to put them on.

Helpful Links:

Fritschi vs. Naxo at WildSnow.com

Marker Duke – http://www.markerusa.com/bindingsFreeride.php
Marker Baron – http://www.markerusa.com/bindingsFreeride.php
Fritschi Freeride – http://www.diamir.com/en/produkte/freerideplus.html
Naxo NX22 b – http://www.naxo.ch/naxo.php?lid=0&cid=230

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  • Nice put together of back country bindings.. Last year I outfitted my Armada’s with some Naxo’s… Good times. Looking forward to hitting the untouched terrain with ya this season. :)

  • Anhedonia

    Wow, awesome comparison of all the bindings! Did you have an opinion on the dynafit ones that are just the tiny clip ins? They always intrigue me!

  • So you got the Naxo’s eh Gluz? I thought you got the Fritschi’s, like I’ve chosen to try.

    Either way…

    Now that I’ve chosen a set, I need to hunt for the best price. MEC is expensive, but I may go in to check them out, then buy online. We’ll see.

  • MEC I think is one of the cheaper ones.. Granted I’d wait till you get planks, then buy them and ask for a free install. ;)

    I got my Naxo’s from the Ski Cellar.. I wanted to buy local since I figured if anything went wrong I could get them serviced locally (soo many moving parts!)

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  • Mike Zeoli

    Over on TGR recently I read a comment saying that 90mm+ + AT binding = Sloppy ski. I don’t know if this is true, but it is worth thinking about. I have Fritschis mounted on Dynastar 8800’s and love the set up – the ski has a mass and flex I like and at just 88mm under foot, the lateral ‘play’ in the Fritschi binding (and there is some) doesn’t make a difference in the conditions I use them in most of the time.
    I’ve been looking for more of a surf-type ski lately (Dynastar Huge Trouble, Rossignol Koopman/Ravyn, Fischer Porohete, Sir Francis Bacon…), but don’t want to make the investment in such a wide board for the backcountry only to find the the width together with the lateral play of the Fritschi doesn’t work very well. I’m still working this concern out for myself and don’t know what I’ll find – Any thoughts or experience to share?

  • Hey Mike..

    I can’t speak for the Fritschi, however I have used the Naxos (NX21) with my Armadas which are 103 in the waist and haven’t noticed much flexing.. Granted I went with the naxos for that exact reason (the two bars vs. one). I also got stuck using these mammoths on a normal ski hill and they were fine (granted my turning took a lot more effort than my noodle sticks).

  • I’ll have a response after the weekend of Dec. 12 … stay tuned. ;)

  • Well, after completing the Dec. 12 weekend and then a full week at Wells Grey Park, BC… its a pretty easy conclusion to say that the Naxo’s are f-ing heavy. They have great ergonomics with movement, I have no problems changing the elevation under the heel, and downhill they’re rock solid. The AT lock at the back is a bit of a pain (I can never do it with poles).

    Again though, biggest downfall, especially with my Salomon 1080 Gun skis, I’m hauling around 7 lbs/foot… and that is just too much.

    Oh, one more thing… you can go ahead and scratch Naxo from the comparison list. Just this week, Rottefella AS has decided to close Naxo AG for good and refocus all of its resources on the Nordic and telemark skiing market, where it dominates ski binding sales worldwide and has introduced 13 new binding designs in the last five years.

  • Heavy.. Yep..

    I’m thinking of actually switching to Dynafit now.. I wish someone would have mentioned this option to me while I was building out my skis.. Oh well..

    I’ll have some sweet Garmont Endorphine boots for sale..