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Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Updated: August 23, 10:18 AM ET
Marker F10 Tour bindings ($429)


The new F10 Tour weighs less than four pounds per pair.

Just a few years ago, if you wanted an alpine touring setup for backcountry skiing, you were forced to choose between the lesser of two evils: a wimpy, light AT binding that could get you uphill efficiently but was sketchy and releasable on the way down, or a heavy and clunky contraption that transformed your alpine bindings into touring ones just for the climb. There was nothing that performed equally well on the uphill and the downhill. All that changed in 2008 when Marker released the 16-din Duke binding, which created an entirely new market of sidecountry skiers (even though it was still on the heavy side for touring). For 2011, Marker is about to revolutionize the market again with the brand new F10 Tour.

WHAT IT IS:
The F10 Tour is a lightweight AT binding built from the same power-width platform as the Duke -- both are designed to be mounted on fat skis. But here's where it differs from the Duke: It has a smaller, more compact toe and heal design, it has aluminum rivets and some of the stainless steel undercarriage parts from the Duke have been replaced with carbon fiber, where the toe of the boot sits is beveled to fit the rockered sole of AT boots (whereas the Duke fits best with alpine boots) and the climbing aid is easier to adjust with a flick of a ski pole than the Duke's rather pesky one. "Everywhere we could, we've redesigned and reengineered the binding using lighter materials," says Derek McClellan, product manager for Marker Volkl USA. "This binding is for people who are going on longer, more extended tours but who still want downhill ski performance." The only bummer? You still have to step out of your bindings to switch it from tour mode to ski mode.

WHY IT RULES:
Marker's goal with the F10 Tour was to compete with step-in touring bindings like the popular Fritschi Freeride, which is distributed in the U.S. by Black Diamond. And compared to the Fritschi, the F10 weighs almost a pound lighter, costs $20 less and it provides better energy transfer from boot to ski. If 10 dins isn't enough, there's also a 12-din F12 Tour, which weighs 1,785 grams per pair (still lighter than the Fritschi).

WHERE TO FIND IT:
Get more details at www.markerusa.com. The bindings will be available online and in a ski shop near you this fall.