Expert Review: Marker Kingpin 10 Ski Bindings · 2022
This review is my honest opinion of the ski bindings, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the ski bindings, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
The 2022 Marker Kingpin 10 ski bindings are perfect for folks who want a fully-featured alpine touring binding with robust construction and don’t mind a little bit of extra weight. Ideal for advanced-expert skiers or those who prefer the security and elasticity that the alpine heel piece provides.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Marker Kingpin 10
- Height: 6’0” (183cm)
- Weight: 200 lbs
- Preferred DIN range: 8
- Experience: 14 years of skiing
- When I bought these: November 2021
- Days tested: 15 days
- Boots: 2019 Scarpa Maestrale RS
- Boot Size: 28.0
- Skis: Weston Black Belt - 186cm
- Where I’ve used it: Crystal Mountain in Washington, Snoqualmie Pass in Washington, Mt. Rainier National Park (backcountry)
- Terrain: Powder, groomers, resort chop, and variable backcountry conditions. Low-angle trees, steep north faces, and everything in between!
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was looking for a tech touring binding for my powder skis that could also be ridden on the occasional resort powder day. Specifically, I wanted something with a robust construction that could handle some abuse, but I didn’t want the heft associated with Hybrid bindings like Shift and Duke PT.
Why I chose this gear
I landed on the Kingpin due to its tech toe and alpine-style heel. The vertical elasticity is significantly improved over lighter tech bindings with a u-spring heel, plus they are very natural to step into/out of. Another determining factor was weight, the Kingpin is much lighter than hybrid designs, and I was willing to compromise on the toe-piece design to save weight. I did consider the Fritschi Tecton 12 as well. However, I eventually decided against them due to their higher stack height (although I have not skied the Tecton, so I can’t speak to their on-snow feel).
What I love about them
- Release Reliability: My knees are important to me, and I do appreciate that the Kingpin seems to have reliable release characteristics. Not only does the heel piece have full release value adjustments for both vertical and lateral release, but one gets an AFD on the brake itself and rollers on the heel piece to make the lateral release even more consistent. I’ve personally never pre-release while skiing, and my skis do reliably come off when they need to.
- Downhill Performance: I try only to use my powder setup when the snow is soft, and of course, in those situations, they feel almost exactly like any other resort binding. On hard snow, however, they definitely transmit a lot more feedback to the skier in terms of vibration and bumps, but nothing too outrageous. Overall I’ve been very impressed with their ability to drive a big ski–like my 120mm-wide Weston Black Belts–and I’ve not personally been able to reach their limit.
- Uphill Performance: For me, this is where the Kingpin really shines. Compared to my lighter bindings with tech toes and heels (Marker Alpinist 10), the Kingpin actually tours the same, if not better. I really like the ease of use when transitioning, and the dual-stage risers are perfect. I’ve also found that stepping into them in deep snow is easier too. The only drawback, of course, is their weight when compared to lighter, more uphill-oriented choices, but unless it’s a particularly big day, the weight is manageable.
- Durability: In the world of touring bindings, the Kingpin certainly feels substantial. I’ve beat on them pretty good in and out of the resort, and aside from a few scratches here and there, I’ve had no problems with them functionally. That said, there are more moving parts than traditional options, which means more points of failure. I always have it in the back of my mind that if the ski/hike mechanism broke, I’d have a hard time skiing back down!
- Power Transfer: As mentioned in the downhill performance section, these bindings can certainly drive some big skis. In the world of tech AT bindings, the Kingpin is second only to hybrid designs like the Shift and Duke PT with their alpine-style toes.
- Other: I want to specifically call out the brakes, they retract so well that they can handle a 25mm range of ski widths (75-100mm and 100-125mm). I’ve found this to be accurate and love that they get out of the way without having to order narrow brakes just to bend them to fit.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: Given the alpine heel and burly design, I actually consider the Kingpin fairly light. Then again, in the world of AT bindings, it’s pretty much in the middle overall with regard to weight. I personally find that I don’t think about them too much on the way up, but someone who values lightweight at all costs might consider them far too heavy.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with the Kingpin so far was the Monday after Christmas last year, when a friend and I hiked the Silver King at Crystal mountain and skied the Hourglass off the north side. We had a couple of feet of untouched powder all to ourselves on a bluebird day, and the combination of my 120mm skis and Kingpin bindings made the ride down one of my favorite descents to date!
Value for the money vs. other options
The Kingpin 10 while, certainly not cheap, is right on par with other burly touring binding designs. In terms of features, weight, durability, etc., the price point is where I’d expect it, right between stripped-down light weight models and the burlier hybrid options.
Overall, the Kingpin is an excellent choice if the goal is to ski aggressively in the backcountry without giving up uphill performance. Moreover, for those who want a stronger binding for all their touring needs, I would happily recommend the Kingpin, so long as ultimate weight savings isn’t a concern.