We got a pair of Marker Baron backcountry skiing bindings in for review a few days ago (Update 2011: F10 and F12 models now available, our mount instructions and general review information still apply). Plan is to pass the beefy grabbers around amongst the WildSnow crew for some testing. But first, always fun to unbox nicely engineered machinery.
What we like about Marker’s Duke and Baron is they pretty much mimic alpine bindings when in latched heel mode, but you can tour them (albeit with more weight and not much in the way of heel lift). For skiers not going for max human-powered vert and needing all the binding they can get, they’re a good choice. For those wanting efficiency but still a step-in option and alpine look, we of course always like the Fritschi offerings.
Many of you have asked for a downloadable Duke/Baron mounting template such as the others we’ve developed, so I whipped one up for the tribe. If you’re new to mounting skis, use the general instructions for our other mounts, for example, Fritschi backcountry skiing binding mounting. Instructions specific to mounting Duke/Baron are on the template, but you’ll also need to know the secret of getting the front screws in, which is to simply remove all the screws in Duke/Baron front plate, allowing it to thus slide freely and expose the front holes for screw insertion.
Another key thing is getting the heel plate the correct distance from the toe plate. For size “S” binding, when using our paper template we do this by measuring between the rearward pair of screw holes on the front plate template, to the front pair of screws on the rear plate template, at 218 millimeters. See binding template for more explication. You can download it here. Tip: READ EVERY WORD ON THE TEMPLATE.
Sound bueno? Remember to compare the actual binding to the template before using it, in case it doesn’t print at full scale. Also note that a new set of bindings DOES ship with a paper template so in that case you may not need ours. Either way, if you do a home mount, let us know how it goes.
As for our firstlook, as many of you know the Marker Baron backcountry skiing binding is quite similar to Duke in appearance, and is exactly the same in function. We have quite a bit of Duke info here on WildSnow.com. Main difference is the Baron max DIN setting is 12, meaning DIN 11 is probably the highest practical setting. That’s good enough for 90% of skiers out there. But if the size of your unit, I mean DIN, is what gets you rockin’, Duke takes you to DIN 16 for about an ounce more weight.
In my opinion, main downside of Duke or Baron is indeed the weight, as well as a heel lift that’s not very high and can be awkward to operate. Really, that’s it. Everything else works and you get a very solid alpine binding interface out of the deal.
Baron (our size large tester) weighs in a 45.4 ounces (1288 grams) per binding with brake and screws. Our size large Dukes from last year weigh in at 47.1 oz, 1334 gr. Weight difference is probably due to Baron being constructed with less aluminum and more plastic.
Brake width for Duke and Baron is 110 millimeters.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.