Marker Duke ReviewApril 12, 2012
- Rock solid downhill performance.
- Easy step in design, just like an alpine binding.
- New and improved heel lifter.
- Stack height off of ski.
- Need to remove ski to change for hike and ski modes.
The new Duke is a good improvement from Marker in the touring department, and is still the go-to for hard charging backcountry skiing, especially where you aren’t looking to walk uphill TOO much.
Marker set the standard for alpine ski bindings with a touring capability when the brand first introduced the original Duke. I have used Dukes for a few years now in different applications, and while I’m not a huge fan of touring on this binding, the security of downhill skiing on them is unmatched.
Stepping into the Duke, I get a loud click that lets me know I’m in to stay. The 16 DIN binding is more than enough for what most mere mortals will find necessary on the backside. I have skied the Duke as my every day frontside binding for a lot of this season, and have had no problems with pre-release whatsoever. The handful of times I have ejected from these bindings, it has been more than warranted, even set at 14 DIN.
I found the new Duke to be much improved on the uphill side. Still heavy, but the extra level of heel lift makes a big difference by providing an extra level of leverage for hiking steeps. As for longer tours, the Duke was still not my go-to for anything more than a quick skin out of bounds, but it certainly made sense doing roadside mini-golf hikes and hits while I practiced my front flip prior to a trip to Japan.
Every step of the way on a Duke, you are lifting almost the entire binding off of the ski, which seems pretty unavoidable to me considering the bomber set up that these bindings provide. But it is tiring nonetheless, especially when you are chasing your buddies up the skin track and they are all on tech bindings.
My biggest gripe with these bindings is certainly the need to step out to switch modes in both directions. For those who don’t know, you have to step out of the binding, pick up your ski and flip a switch with your hand any time you want to switch from hiking to tour mode, or vice-versa. There is also a bit of trouble with ice getting in the tracks and making it slightly more difficult to put it back in ski mode, which is a real problem when you are freezing your tail off at the top of a skin track.
Huck it, stomp it, flip it, and rail it, that’s why they made the Marker Duke. For in-bounds skiing with the ability to head into the backcountry for fresh tracks without switching gear, this binding has set the standard for a whole new generation of bindings to come. If you are looking to do several miles and thousands of vertical over the course of the day, then perhaps look elsewhere.