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Marker Kingpin 13

Paul Forward reviews the Marker Kingpin 13 for Blister Gear Review.

Marker Kingpin 13

2015-2016 Marker Kingpin 13

Maximum DIN release value: 13

Available Brake Widths: 75-100 mm; 100-125 mm

Climbing Aids: Flat, 7˚, and 13˚

Toe Stand Height: 21 mm

Stated Weight: 768g

MSRP: $649

Skis Used:
Blizzard Zero G 108, 185 cm
Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm

Boots Used:
Salomon MTN Lab 27.5

Test Locations: Porter’s Ski Field, Craigieburn Ski Field, Mount Cheeseman Ski Field, New Zealand. Turnagain Pass Backcountry, Alaska

Days Tested: 15

[Editor’s Note: While we weighed in on the Kingpin in our Buyer’s Guide, we’ve waited to offer our more complete reviews until we could get more days in the binding. Today, Paul Forward offers his take, Jonathan Ellsworth will be posting his review shortly, and we encourage those of you who have been getting time in the Kingpin to share your impressions in the Comments Section below.]

Intro

Marker describes the Kingpin 13 as, “a high performance, innovative alpine touring binding; Marker’s KINGPIN PinTech binding with DIN/ISO 13992:2007 certification from Germany’s prestigious TÜV testing organization redefines the standard in PinTech binding technology. Developed for a wide range of skiing environments, the KINGPIN is a standout product in three key areas: added Protection and safety Performance via optimal power transmission and Comfort in the form of easy operation in both ski and walk mode.”

We’ve been testing the Kingpin since last season, and have come away quite impressed.

Release Testing

Several tech bindings now have various forms of release certification and Marker is definitely making efforts to highlight the DIN/ISO and TUV certifications of the Kingpin. A more detailed breakdown of the testing parameters and the true significance of this would be a good topic for a future Gear 101 article. For now, we’ll keep it relatively brief.

The idea behind these certifications is to give the consumer some confidence in the general safety, and more specifically, the reliability of the release function of the binding. In addition to various forms for measurements and evaluations of the release function, the testing involves a number of evaluations that try to emulate real world situations like ice and snow packing into the binding.

Paul Forward reviews the Marker Kingpin 13 for Blister Gear Review.

Paul Forward on the Marker Kingpin 13, Porters Ski Field Backcountry.

It should be noted that there is a different standard for Alpine bindings (ISO9462:2014) than AT bindings (13992:2007), and that the Kingpin meets the AT 13992:2007 standard. TUV is an independent testing organization.

Overall, we think that this testing and certification is a good step in creating safer tech bindings, but we acknowledge that some of the momentum for this certification is probably related to marketing new products.

In addition, it’s unclear how small (or large) variations in any given boot’s tech fittings and toe width will affect the reliability of the release function. I have personally seen certain boots that exhibit different release characteristics than other boots when placed in the same binding. (Dynafit has partnered with some boot manufacturers to try to standardize tech fittings, but there are plenty of great boots on the market that don’t meet this standardization.)

Look for more information on this in the future, but for now, suffice what we can say is that the Kingpin has met these TUV AT 13992:2007 standards, and that’s probably a good thing in the big picture.

Design

For a quick intro to the Kingpin’s design and features, check out this video from Marker:

The toe piece of the Kingpin doesn’t look much different from any other modern tech binding except that it has a three rows of opposing springs instead of the two that is seen on most other tech bindings. It’s tempting to say that this is somehow stronger or more retentive, but we have no data to back that up.

Paul Forward reviews the Marker Kingpin 13 for Blister Gear Review.

Marker Kingpin 13 toe

The heel piece, however, is a significant departure from any other tech binding on the market, and resembles the heel piece of the Marker Jester much more than it does any tech binding. It is also unique in that it does not utilize the tech fittings on the heel of the boot, and instead relies on a retention system very similar to a normal alpine binding with a pivoting, spring-loaded lever holding the boot in place, in conjunction with spring loaded forward tension.

Paul Forward reviews the Marker Kingpin 13 for Blister Gear Review.

Marker Kingpin 13 heel

To swap into touring mode the entire heel assembly slides backward with a small lever located under the instep of the boot similar to the Marker Duke. Built into the heel piece are two flip-down heel elevators that provides the binding with three climbing positions including a flat mode.

Mounting and Setup

Our Kingpins came already mounted, but I’ve spent some time using the Kingpin jig at both Gnome’s Alpine Sports and Powder Hound Ski Shop. Mounting them is at least as straightforward as any other tech binding, and setting the release values and forward pressure are essentially the same as adjusting a set of Jesters or Griffons.

Boot Compatibility

Most AT boots with tech fittings should be compatible with the Kingpin without any modification or adaptor. The only exceptions are those boots that have very short, rockered soles like the Dynafit TLT 5 and 6, the Atomic Backland, and various randonee race boots. This can be addressed with the Dynafit TLT 5 and 6 through the use of a special adaptor made by Marker that slight extends the heel shelf.

It is doubtful to us that this adaptor will work with the Atomic Backland due to the cutouts in the heel of that boot, but we have not yet received confirmation of this.

NEXT: Transitions, Heel Pieces Up, Etc.

30 Comments

  1. Doug December 30, 2015 Reply

    Great review as always. Would you say that this binding, along with the Beast now mean that the bindings such as the Salomon Guardian are now redundant, or does the solidness of an alpine toe piece mean that there is still a place for them?

    • Author
      Paul Forward December 30, 2015 Reply

      Hi Doug,
      The Beast and Kingpin are great bindings and are certainly very capable for a lot of people in a lot of situations. I still think that there will be skiers who want the full capability of an alpine binding that is capable of short tours when the situation arises and for that application, the Guardian and Beast may still be the answer.

  2. Niklas December 30, 2015 Reply

    I’ve been using Kingpin 13 around 30+ days, mounted on a pair of K2 Shreditor 112, along with K2 Pinnacle 130 boots during last season. I’m 6’1 and 200 lbs. and have skied them in almost any snow condition. This season, I am using Beast 14 on Dynafit Chugach with Khion Carbon boots so I can add my view on Kingpin vs Beast 14.

    Except for toe pieces that were changed on warranty, I didn’t had any issues with the Kingpin. I experienced a bit of icing in the springs on the toe pieces, but nothing major. Touring is excellent and the binding feels very solid and stable downhill.

    So far, I have mostly skied the Beast on hard groomers and chopped pow, and in these conditions, I think the Beast 14 shines over Kingpin on downhill performance! I find the added elasticity of the rotating toe piece to make a big difference, and they feel very, very close to an alpine binding. I find Kingpin to be a much rougher ride on hard groomers, but note that I did not use the same skis or boots which may affect the result, but I feel more confident on the Beasts!

    I only made three quite short tours with the Beasts so far. I will not make many long flat approaches, so the lack of flat touring mode will not be a big issue for me and if I do, flat mode can be achieved by turning the heel piece and using a rubber strap for the brakes. For transitions, I been using the pole to snap the climbing aid of the brake (tip taken from this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8jyUvgSRo). I found this to work just fine and did not have to struggle to get into skiing mode again as Paul did and could rip the skins of with skis on! Main drawback for me is that the beast power bar makes the boot incompatible with Dukes or other bindings made for AT boots, at least officially.

    Currently, for my type of skiing, type of terrain and typical snow conditions, I am biased towards Beast 14 on downhill performance. If I would only ski soft snow, I might reconsider!

    • Author
      Paul Forward December 30, 2015 Reply

      Hi Niklas, Thanks for reading and for your comment. Super helpful and interesting! Like you, I’ve skied the bindings using different skis and felt that the Kingpin had just as much elasticity but I’ll certainly keep your observations in mind going forward. The tip about the transitions was also great to read. I’ll give that a go the next time I take out the Beast 14’s. Thanks again for reading and for the great comments!

    • Lee Lau January 1, 2016 Reply

      Hey I use the same method as Niklas does for transitions for Beasts. It works very well

      At my weight 75kg i consider the Beast 16 and the Kingpin to be a tie even for inbounds. Interesting that bigger guys like you feel more of a difference. That makes sense to me

      • Author
        Paul Forward January 2, 2016 Reply

        Thanks for the comment Lee. Totally agree that it’s important to factor in body weight with this stuff.

  3. David January 1, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for another in-depth and interesting review.

    Does Blister have a Radical2 review in the works? I’d be very curious about the comparisons with the Kingpin and how it fits into this spectrum of tech bindings that are more capable than the old generation.

    • Author
      Paul Forward January 2, 2016 Reply

      Hi David, the Radical 2 is on the list. We’d love to put some time in on a pair as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!

  4. Evan January 1, 2016 Reply

    Backland does work with this year’s adapter. It has a new set of holes to make it work

  5. Lindahl January 1, 2016 Reply

    Will be interested to see what you think of the Vipec if you eventually get that chance (hopefully the new black version).

    I received a major ankle sprain last year that took me 2 months before I could ski again. The unlocked binding failed to release laterally due to the tech binding blind spot. This is where lateral forces to the ski near the toe piece will cause the binding to fail to release laterally, because the part that laterally releases is the heel, not the toe (https://www.wildsnow.com/15123/tech-binding-release-testing-acl-broken-leg).

    My ski tip digging into deep snow during a mellow over-the-bars caused my injury. Unfortunately this type of fall is pretty common when skiing aggressively and hucking cliffs in deep snow (i.e. front punching). I’ve permanently moved over to the Vipec when skiing aggressively because of this and am pretty damn happy with it so far. The Vipec feels much nicer in firm and choppy snow compared to a normal tech binding (same ski and boot) – curious to hear what you think about it compared to the Beast and Kingpin in this respect. It has its quirks (which the new black version resolves?), but I’ll take that over an injury any day. Bonus is that it’s significantly lighter, too.

    I’d be curious to know if I’d be just as happy with the Vipec as an alpine binding in firm snow conditions. I need to have my firm snow charger ski mounted with the Vipec first though. After firm snow experiences on my soft snow charger ski, it’s potentially promising.

    • Author
      Paul Forward January 2, 2016 Reply

      Hi Lindahl, Thanks for reading. Great comment as always. The new black Vipec has been on the top of my list for new gear since I first learned about them. Interesting thought on the lateral release. It makes sense in theory and I’m glad to hear you’ve had a good experience with yours. I can’t wait to check them out and will definitely do some side by side comparisons when we get our hands on a pair.

  6. J January 2, 2016 Reply

    I’d also be very interested in your views on the new Vipecs – I can’t see how you could recomend a binding that doesn’t release lateraly at the toe for inbounds skiing. Having said that I’ve not skiied the Kingpin so the review was an interesting read, cheers!

    • Blister Member
      Jamie February 13, 2016 Reply

      I’m currently skiing a set of Salomon Guardians on a pair of Kingswood Rocketypes. All-in-all it makes for a pretty heavy set-up, particularly for a blokes who only punches in at 75 kegs.

      As I’m due for a new pair of boots, I’m thinking of switching to touring boots and a TUV-certified binding. The Kingpins sound as though they would work well but I am really curious about the Vipecs and keen to see a review.

  7. kyle January 11, 2016 Reply

    Broke the kingpin 13’s on my 4th day using them. Heel piece completely gone after taking a nice tomahawk. The plastic threads on the binding plate (that let you adjust the heel piece forward and backward) completely stripped and the heel piece ripped off the back of the plate in the crash. Wasn’t the most violent crash, and I was extremely surprised to find that the binding had broken.

    This binding skis extremely well for a tech binding, and climbs great too. I want to love the kingpin, but I have definitely lost some confidence. Luckily Marker is being awesome and told my local shop to replace the heel piece out if their inventory for quick turnaround. Hopefully this was just a faulty heel piece and not a recurring problem.

    • Author
      Paul Forward February 17, 2016 Reply

      What a bummer Kyle. Keep us posted on how you do with your replacement pair.

  8. Bengt Luthman February 16, 2016 Reply

    Hi,

    Great review and food for thought. At the moment I’m trying to debate with myself wether I should get a pair of Kingpins or the Radical 2’s. I intend to mount them on my Gotamas and I use a pair of Salomon MTN Lab boots. Up until a few weeks ago I used alpine boots for touring combined with Dukes on before mentioned Gotamas. I like that set up going down, but sweat like a pig going up (I have a tendency to bring a couple of kilos of cameragear) and was constantly outrun by my buddy on radicals and light AT-boots (hence my new Salomons). Buuut (get to the point damn it), I can’t really decide on what touring binding to get. I like the idea of the Alpine-style heel on the Kingpin, but I also like the idea of the rotational toe piece on the Radicals. I’m a somewhat normal-sized guy weighing in at around 185-190 pounds with gear on. I tour on all kinds of snow and I’d like to think that I ski pretty well and somewhat aggressively. My plan is to use the same gear on resort-days as well, I ske pretty much 50/50 resort (backcountry) and touring.

    What would you do, and why should I do the same?

    Thanks for all the good work!

    //Bengt

    • Author
      Paul Forward February 17, 2016 Reply

      Hi Bengt, I haven’t skied the Radical 2 yet but we do have a review up on the site that is worth a look. I’m hoping to get on a pair soon to do a direct comparison between them and the G3 Ion and, hopefully, the new black Vipec. Stay tuned. For now, it’s hard for me not to recommend the Kingpin for a 50/50 resort/touring binding. I really like how they ski and tour as long as you’re not afraid of the weight. The durability issues raised here by some of our readers are also interesting ad we’ll follow that closely and report back if we experience it on any of our pairs.

  9. Jay February 16, 2016 Reply

    On my third pair this year, pins are still backing out! Easy to tell when it starts happening, the toes get more an more difficult to release, when the pin gets far enough out you can see where the pin begins to narrow again. My third pair are already moving, a few more days and I can tell I will be on my fourth set this year! Too bad, otherwise this binding is the Panacea we have all been waiting for, cliffs, ice, switch, fast, never prereleasing, no failures except this one ridiculous issue that still haven’t figured out! If the pin simply widened on the outside as well (which I’m sure they will figure out) then it will be all-time.

  10. Murphy February 17, 2016 Reply

    Great reviews and comments. I ski patrol at a northwestern Colorado ski resort and would like to use this binding with AT boots and a TST size ski. This means all conditions, all types of terrain and slow to high speed. Plus in and out of them more often than manufactures plan on I think.
    What are the thoughts for this ?

    • Author
      Paul Forward February 17, 2016 Reply

      Hi Murphy, If I was a full-time pro patroller it would be really hard to justify not just skiing in alpine bindings all the time unless you spend a lot of time skinning while at work. If you want one pair of bindings to use for ski touring on your days off but also to patrol in, the Kingpin is probably a good choice but, based on my time ski patrolling, I wouldn’t like the hassle of dealing with any type of tech binding while getting in and out of my skis all day and skiing inbounds unless I was skinning at work which I’ve never had to do. Maybe check out Salomon Guardians or Warden MNC for bindings you can use at work with your AT boots?

      • Blister Member
        Jamie February 17, 2016 Reply

        Hi Paul

        I’m due for new boots and will be leaning towards an AT boot. I’ve never skied in anything but an alpine boot and so will be looking into your articles on this topic.

        In particular, I’m currently using Salomon Guardians and was wondering how AT boots would go with them. My next bindings will be an AT binding of some sort but for now I’ll hang onto my Guardians.

        I’m pretty light (5’8″ and 75kgs) but am concerned that they wouldn’t release if they needed to. What do I need to take into consideration when buying new boots?

        Thanks

        Jamie

  11. charlie246 November 22, 2016 Reply

    Hi. I have Tecnica Cochise 130 boots with interchangeable sole plates – could I use the alpine heel plate and tech toe plate on the boot with the Kingpin? Or would that cause unsafe release? Cheers

    • mike green February 12, 2017 Reply

      Hi Charlie, I have the same setup. I just ordered the Kingpin bindings, so I will find out before too long if it works OK. I have to assume it will work (why wouldn’t it)?
      I’ll report back after I find out for sure.
      Mike

      • BDog March 14, 2017 Reply

        Any issues with this combo? I have the same set up but found they do not work well together as there are problems stepping into the toe piece. Am I missing something?

        • mike green March 14, 2017 Reply

          BDog, you need to change both the toe sole block and the heel sole block. They are different heights. If you look at the sole blocks it is obvious they are different thicknesses.

          • BDog March 14, 2017 Reply

            They are the new version so the soles are not interchangeable.

            • mike green March 14, 2017 Reply

              OK, they should work fine, but have a look at the rubber on the sole to see if it is interfering with the levers as they close? Some boots need to have the sole ground away slightly.

  12. Chris Hanson January 30, 2017 Reply

    Paul,

    Awesome review, thanks so much. I’m curious if you know how well Dynafit’s Beast Carbon boots will fit in the Kingpins. All I can find is Marker makes a DIN adaptor for Dynafit’s TLT series boots. I believe the sole length and heel ledge is shorter on the TLT’s. The beast looks longer and not sure on heel ledge? Would love some tech drawings to compare how the beast boots measure up to your MTN labs.

  13. Killian April 21, 2017 Reply

    “To be clear, I have not skied the Kingpins with the same abandon that I do with my Salomon STH2 16’s (my favorite alpine binding), and I doubt I ever will, since I’m a relatively big guy (6’ 190 lbs without gear). I like to get my fat skis into high edge angles that create a lot of torque on bindings, and I’m not willing to risk my life on a relatively inelastic tech toe-piece.”

    Would you mind elaborating on what that “abandon” consists of for you? I spent all last season at Loveland and A-Basin, and next year I’ll be at Winter Park, Copper, and Eldora. A typical day for me is a few some shorter, fairly steep runs off the top, in anything from fresh to tracked and wind-blown chop, then 1-3 full-on double-black cut runs (like Pali or Over the Rainbow), and then the rest of the day just messing around in trees, bumps, bowls, and fast groomers. So, just about everything the resorts have to offer, but nothing like extreme big-mountain lines or anything. FWIW, I’m 5′ 11.5″ & 190 lbs.

    I understand it’s kinda a personal question of risk, but would you consider the Kingpin 13 reliable enough to be my “quiver of one” for resort days, but still allow me to do the occasional laps at Berthoud? Or is it worth picking up a cheaper pair of rock/sidecountry skis for those days and just spending $200ish on some good DH bindings to put on the Libertys? Probably gonna lean heavily towards downhill use.

    Thanks!

  14. Blister Member
    Robb Steinke October 4, 2017 Reply

    I just purchased the Kingpin 13 bindings on a year end sale back in April, 2017. Have not purchased any boots yet. I have read that some boots do not work as well with the Kingpin bindings. I had been looking at the Dynafit TLT7 or the Salomon Mtn Lab. Since the Kingpin is a heavier binding, I was looking more towards the Dynafit to keep the weight down for the uphill but the Dynafit does not have the ratings for the downhill portion that the Salomon has. Not sure if the weight difference is worth the choice of going for the Salomon’s since they are better in the downhill, based on the ratings. What is your thought and is the Salomon a good fit for the Kingpin bindings? What about Scarpa, have not seen much for reviews with this boot and the Kingpin?

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