Marker Duke PT 12 Review
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Marker Duke PT 12
|Price||$459.99 at Amazon|
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|$599.95 at Backcountry|
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|Check Price at Backcountry|
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$349.95 at Backcountry
|Pros||Certified release, adjustable release, elastic boot retention, removable toe piece for uphill||Light, solid, adjustable, three heel lifts, good brakes||Light, innovative downhill performance||Light, adjustable release, three heel elevations, included sturdy crampon slot||Surprisingly durable for how light they are, killer price, lighter than most|
|Cons||Heavy, complicated transitions, lots of moving parts||No certification, limited release adjustment||Unsophisticated heel lifters, untested aftermarket brake||Limited other features||No brake option, heel risers are more of a pain to learn|
|Bottom Line||A downhill optimized binding with all the resort attributes you need and rudimentary touring ability||This minimalist binding has exactly what most of you should want, and nothing you don’t need||These are excellent all around functioning bindings made for human powered skiing||The lightest bindings we know of with adjustable release||A simple binding design that has been proven over decades now, available for a fraction of the price of others|
|Rating Categories||Marker Duke PT 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist||Dynafit Superlite 150||Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0|
|Downhill Performance (25%)|
|Touring Performance (20%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Marker Duke PT 12||Atomic Backland Tour||Marker Alpinist||Dynafit Superlite 150||Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0|
|Weight (pounds for pair)||5.38||1.26||1.18||0.79||1.63|
|Weight of one binding and screws, grams. Lightest possible configuration (no brakes).||1219||286||297||179||370|
|Weight of 2 bindings, grams. Multiple options are noted where we have tested multiple options.||2438||572. 770 with brakes||594. 796 with brakes||358. 492 with adjustment plate||740|
|Release value range||4 to 12||"Men", "Women", "Expert"||4 to 10||4 to 13||4 to 10|
|Stack height (mm. average of toe and heel pin height)||42||37||36||36||38|
|Toe/heel delta (mm difference in height between heel pins and toe pins)||14||10||3||10||17|
|Brake width options||100, 125mm||80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm||90, 105, 115mm||75, 90, 105mm||N/a|
|Ski Crampon compatible?||Yes. Marker Duke PT specific.||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible||Yes. "Standard" style. Not all crampons will be cross-compatible|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Marker Duke PT is the latest offering in the binding business' quest to offer alpine binding performance to those that wish to tour into the backcountry. Backcountry AT binding design will always be a compromise between uphill and downhill. At the very least, lower weight helps going uphill while downhill performance attributes require parts with mass. On the spectrum, the Duke PT 12 sits on the downhill-optimized end. Recent binding developments have lightened up this end of the spectrum considerably and the Duke PT is a step further in that direction. Nonetheless, this is not a lightweight backcountry product; it weighs almost seven (!) times as much as the lightest binding we have tested.
In assessing touring performance we examine range of motion, heel lifters, and icing propensity. As compared to dedicated touring bindings, the Marker Duke PT 12 suffers greatly. The toe range of motion is compromised, all the moving parts are prone to extensive icing and the heel lifter is limited and difficult to deploy. On the other hand, as compared to other downhill-optimized touring bindings, the Duke performs pretty well.
The biggest touring performance advantage of the Duke, as compared to downhill-optimized touring bindings, is the toe range of motion. For uphill travel, the downhill toe piece of the Duke moves entirely out of the way. You can even remove it entirely and put it in your backpack if you wish. This leaves a ton of room for your foot to make nearly full pivot range of motion. As compared to its closest competitor in this way the Duke PT 12 is much better. As compared to balanced or touring optimized bindings, the Duke PT12 has a little less range of motion. In the other touring performance attributes (icing, heel lifters) the Marker Duke PT 12 is very similar to its closest competitors.
As compared to typical recreational skier resort bindings, there are (almost) no compromises to downhill performance with the Duke PT. It is fair to surmise that Marker made this binding guided by a goal to make a resort binding that could be pressed into touring. The performance we experienced confirms this.
With the Duke PT, in downhill mode and terrain, you get the certification, boot compatibility, release value adjustments, and binding elasticity you expect of resort bindings. There are race and pro-level resort bindings that are better for downhill, but few of us need that performance, especially in the backcountry. Those that truly need optimal downhill performance with the ability to tour a little bit will get what they need from the Duke PT. Most others, though, will not need all the downhill performance of the Duke. It is overkill for most of us. This is good for the truly charging downhiller.
Ease of Use
To accomplish their design goals, Marker had to compromise ease of use with the Duke PT. Transitions are complicated, usability attributes are secondary to downhill performance, and normal function (especially uphill) is a little fiddly.
Transitions require removing your boot entirely and at least pivoting (if not entirely removing) the toe piece out of the way. Stowing the brake for uphill travel is a little finicky. For some testers, especially at first, transitioning the ski brake required removing gloves. Accessing the one heel lifter lever requires dexterity and reach and flexibility. Our test team learned of another user that inadvertently left their downhill toe pieces behind on a tour and didn't notice this until the top of their run. Forgetting or losing a part of your binding is something that owners of any other touring ski bindings never need to worry about (split boarders can have this happen; one of their many burdens to bear…).
The Marker Duke PT 12 weighs, on our scale, 1219 grams per foot. The lightest binding in our test is 1/7th that, at 181 grams. This is a huge, huge difference. You will notice this difference. Interestingly, you will see the Duke PT advertised for its light weight. This isn't entirely disingenuous. As compared with the previous generation (and now largely out of date) of "frame bindings" (some of which shared branding with this exact binding), the Duke PT is indeed a weight savings. Don't be fooled; you can get much, much lighter backcountry ski bindings than this.
As compared to its closest, downhill-optimized competitors, the weight of the Duke PT deserves some closer analysis. On the surface, the close competitor is quite a bit lighter; 905 grams vs Duke's 1219g. However, in touring mode you can remove the toe piece of the Duke and carry it in your backpack. Yes, you still carry it. But weight on your feet is more draining than the same weight on your back. The option to move each 309g Duke toe piece to your backpack roughly equalizes the touring weight of these prominent competitors.
The Duke PT is relatively new. We had it in action for most of one season and had no problems with it. A survey of other online reviews, dedicated users, and mountain guides suggest no major patterns of issue. Especially as compared with our first season in the Duke's closest competitor, we are pleased with the durability of the Duke PT.
We expect resort bindings to be pretty reliable. We also expect heavy gear to last pretty well. On the other hand gear with many moving parts and gear that is newly on the market is automatically suspect. We will keep testing the Duke PT, while keeping our ears to the ground, to draw out any patterns of unreliability.
You might be drawn to these bindings for their "2-in-1" value promise. You might be seeking the "quiver of one" for resort and backcountry use. That could work for you if your resort:backcountry ratio is upwards of 10:1. These are definitely downhill optimized bindings. For extended, dedicated human-powered backcountry skiing, the weight and usability compromises of the Duke PT will greatly affect your experience in a negative fashion. Be very, very cautious in your expectations of saving money with the Duke PT. There are better ways to reduce the cost of your ski experience.
The Duke PT is Marker's effort at creating a no-compromise downhill binding that can tour. It doesn't tour well or efficiently, but it tours. You get to decide how you use this technology but proceed with some caution. We recommend these for the predominantly resort-bound skier that might, occasionally, skin for some turns.
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