Hands-on Gear Review

Marker Kingpin 13 Review

KingPin
Price:  $650 List | $498.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Super durable for its weight, among the best downhill performance for tech style bindings and excellent energy transition, fully ISO/DIN certified
Cons:  Heavier than most tech bindings, won't fit all tech compatible boots; specifically a handful of the super light ones
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Weight (pounds for pair):  3.25
Tech or Frame?:  Tech
Release value range:  5-10 & 6-13
Manufacturer:   Marker

Our Verdict

The Marker Kingpin is half tech binding, half traditional-binding in what is the best 50-50 binding out there. If you only have one set up to do everything and want a binding that performs close to an alpine binding on the descent, but is light and efficient enough for extended tours, this contender should be a top consideration. This model, along with the Dynafit Beast 16, was the best performing downhill tech style bindings in our review. It was is easy to step into and has very simple to engage heel risers. Its powerful energy transfer and fantastic downhill performance does come at a slight weight penalty; this pair of bindings is around a half, to a full pound heavier than most other tech bindings and was among the more challenging to transition.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bindings for Backcountry Skiing


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson
Review Editor

Last Updated:
Tuesday
March 15, 2016

Share:

Performance Comparison


KingPin
KingPin

Ease of Use


This model is one of the easier overall touring bindings to use. When stepping into the toe piece, it uses two very functional toe guides to help line your boot up in the correct spot; the toe piece ease of entry was slightly above average overall (when compared to other tech bindings). After extensive use and side-by-side testing, it required marginally less body coordination and was easier to get into when compared to the Dynafit Radical ST 2.0. It was far easier to get into than the Fritschi Vipec EVO 12, but wasn't quite as easy to get into as the G3 ION 12. The heel risers are easy to engage and rarely flip when they are not supposed to.

Our testers really appreciated how the design of this competitor's toe made it easy to clean snow and ice out of it. The gap is big enough to fit the end of a pole in, which helps to easily facilitate cleaning ice. This larger opening also makes it easier for snow and ice to fall out on their own.

Transitions


In addition to its heavier than average weight, this model's only other disadvantage (among tech style-options) was that it's nearly impossible to transition with your boot still in the binding. If you're someone that always steps out of their binding to rip skins, this contender's easy-to-flip leaver and smooth sliding heel piece helped the binding to switch both from ski to skin, and skin to ski, and was just as easy as nearly all other options.

To transition this model from skinning to downhill skiing, the user must flip the heel piece down into the open position; this is very similar to "opening" the heel piece of a traditional alpine binding. Then flip the leaver under the arch of the boot; this brings the piece closer, and allows the binding to go into downhill mode.

When transitioning this pair of bindings, our testers did find it easier to press the brake down when flipping the leaver over, which made switching the leaver much easier. The leaver was WAY easier to flip in comparison to the Marker Baron 13 EPF or the Marker Duke and the heel piece moved very smoothly. As an added bonus, the auto brake deploys once you flip the leaver back over for downhill mode.

Touring Performance


This model offers an equally as efficient of a pivot point as all the other tech bindings; unlike beefier tech bindings, such as the Dynafit Beast, this competitor allows you to tour flat-footed. Ease of transitioning and weight aside, this competitor offers equal overall touring performance to most other top touring bindings out there. The heel risers offer 7 and 14 degrees of climbing assistance which is slightly, but still noticeable less, than the Dynafit Radical ST 2.0.

Downhill Performance


This binding offered some of the best downhill performance of any tech binding we tested, with the Dynafit Beast 16 being the only tech style design to come close. This pair of bindings was the first tech binding to receive the ISO/DIN certification from the German testing organization TUV, for its safety and consistent retention, as well as its release values (AKA DIN settings).

Our testers agreed that the more traditional, alpine style heel offered our testers the best and most efficient energy transfer from our boot to the ski (of any tech binding in our review). After side-by-side comparisons in a ski resort, we even felt this model performed better than the Dynafit Beast 16 in the downhill performance category. Compared to other tech bindings, we could feel marginally better downhill performance while touring, but our testers felt it was even more apparent at higher speeds on firmer snow. Marker makes a big deal about their six springs in the toe piece, though we aren't necessarily sold that this is a big reason when compared to the elasticity created with the downward and forward pressure of the heel piece; this model offers good elasticity and therefore more consistent releasability, and better overall performance. The binding's 38 mm hole pattern is in line with the widest mounting patterns among tech bindings, allowing the binding greater leverage on the ski, and better energy transmission from your boot to the ski.

Durability


This competitor is one of the burlier tech bindings on the market. We would easily recommend this binding for day-in day-out in-bounds skiing; while it might not perform quite as well as a traditional alpine binding, or a framed AT Binding like the Marker Duke or the Marker Baron 13 EPF, it isn't far from it. While heavy, we wouldn't hesitate, at least from a reliability standpoint, to take this binding on more remote trips. An issue that Marker had with the some of the bindings that released in the earlier portion of the 2014-15 season was that the pins in the toe of the binding would come unscrewed; the newest version binding toes can be easily identified, as they have grey springs (instead of black). Marker recommends that users check the toes of their bindings and to contact them if the pins have moved (for a free exchange).

Weight


At 3 lbs 3 oz for the pair (1430g), this is one of the heavier tech bindings on the market and weighs in around half a pound heavier than the Dynafit Radical ST 2.0 or the G3 ION (both 2 lbs 9 oz), but does offer slightly better downhill performance. This model is almost a pound lighter than the Dynafit Beast 16 (4 lbs 2 oz) and offers at least as good of downhill performance and certainly superior uphill tour-ability.

Best Applications


This binding is great for someone who has one set up for everything, and wants a binding that's not super heavy to tour on, but also performs well enough if you're just ripping groomers. While an okay option for pure-touring, we might go with something a little lighter. We feel the downhill performance given up by going with a Dynafit Radical ST 2.0 or a Fritschi Vipec is minimal, though we appreciate the 8-16 ounce weight savings these bindings generate.

Value and the Bottom Line


At $650, this model is on the more expensive side of touring bindings, but for folks looking for a quiver-of-one type set up for resort days and really, touring with this model is tough to beat. It is around $100-$150 more than most other tech bindings that cost mostly in the $500-$550 range, including our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice the Dynafit Radical ST 2.0; however, the Kingpin offered better downhill performance.

Conclusion


Our testers love the Kingpin for its downhill performance and overall ease of use. it wouldn't be our top choice for a pure-touring binding, because it's heaver and we didn't have the option to rip skins with the skins with skis still on our feet; however, it should be considered by anyone looking for a binding in which they want to ski the same set up, both in-bounds (because of the touring efficiency and downhill capability) or because they just want the best performing downhill tech binding for their backcountry and touring adventures.

Other Versions and Accessories


It comes in two DIN settings a 5-10 DIN and a 6-13 DIN.

Ian Nicholson


You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 1, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.3)

50% of 4 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 60%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 20%  (1)
1 star: 20%  (1)
Skier

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jan 1, 2018 - 02:11pm
Ivonni · Skier · Geneva, Switzerland

So, I only read positive reviews about these bindings, because indeed, I enjoyed skiing them, very easy to use. BUT, noone - including MARKER marketing team itself, mentions, and rather highlights, that regardless this rare TUV Safety Certificate, there are circumstances that these binding will not release !!!!! which is when your body flies forward! when you hit hidded rock in the powder -skis stop and your body continues the speed or like in my case, I skied into 1 meter drop (perhaps if I had more speed id jump it over, but with low light i didnt see this drop). So, my tips of skis jummed in the deep snow and my body went forward and the bindings DID NOT realese so broke my leg on the edge of the boot. Both, TIBIA and FIBULA had complicated multi spiral break, resulting in big plate and 11 screws. I was lucky that they didnt amputate my leg as with such break it is likely to develop compartment pressure and then your tissues die very quick. the pain and recovery pain was attrocious. Skiing with this plate is horrendous, the tissues basically get ripped apart from those screws especially when charging through bumps on the slope. Mental pain… no comment. I wanted to buy plate binding as I always cared about safety (as never had accident in my life) - but got delluded and misled by that SAFETY CERTIFICATE, which is a joke. I read somehwere that apparently they placed the skis backwards to pass the test???!!!! it took me almost 2 years to finally take time and share the real experience, cause I am so full of hatred for KINPINS that it made me sick just thinking to write about them. Perhaps there are others too who just cant be bothered to have anything to do with Kingpins anymore. I lost so much money ofcourse to get back on two feet. So, think twice, I know that such circumstances to fall forward do not happen often, but if they do - good luck for release.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Skier

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Apr 2, 2017 - 03:59pm
BkQueak · Skier · Denver
Not really sold on these. Broke 2 pairs this year, and the first wasn't even in a fall. I was skiing bumps in powder, on 115mm waisted skis. The bindings had about 7 days on them.
failure #2
failure #2

In both cases, it was plastic bits that sheared catastrophically in the heel piece, though different parts failed in each incident: In the first, I was in 6-8 inches of powder. In the second I was in solidly frozen crud.

I am glad nothing more serious happened than binding breakage. And I hope Marker addresses these flaws.

I am 250 lbs, 6'4" and ski aggressively. The bindings were set at 11.

Hope this helps.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Mountain Biker

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 9, 2017 - 04:39pm
Doctor Powder · Mountain Biker · Horton Bay, MI
Dumped my old alpine gear looking for one set up to do it all. I have been very please with the Marker Kingpin binding. They are mounted on Dynastar Mythic skis using Scarpa Maestrale boots. I weigh about 155#.

This set up has been great skiing blacks, double blacks, and touring out of bounds at Jackson Hole, Alta, and Mount Bohemia. No pre releases and they did release appropriately. Couldn't be happier and the set up is so light.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 16, 2016 - 01:35am
Craig Copelin

I agree with all but the part where you talk about removing skins. I have that down and do it without removing the ski from my boot. It is possible and can be as fast as my friends in their dynafits.

Overall this is an amazing binding.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...