The most honest and in-depth reviews of outdoor sports equipment on the planet.

2012-2013 Salomon Guardian 16 & Atomic Tracker 16 AT binding

2013 Atomic Tracker Binding, Blister Gear Review

Binding: 2012-2013 Salomon Guardian 16 & Atomic Tracker 16

Weight – one binding, with all screws, size small: 1482 grams

We’ve been getting inundated with requests for what we found out about the Guardian / Tracker bindings down in Las Leñas, so we have decided to go ahead and offer some of our preliminary findings.

To be clear, this isn’t our typical or preferred way of doing things: we definitely need more time on these in order to write a more comprehensive review.

But given that many people are trying to decide right now whether to pull the trigger on these bindings, we believe that some amount of honest, albeit limited, information is better than no information.

2013 Salomon Guardian 16 Binding, Blister Gear ReviewSo this will be preliminary, and we will try to be very clear about what we are in a position to say, and what we aren’t.

And if you haven’t yet read our preview of the Guardian / Tracker 16, please do that now.

 

Three of us skied these bindings in Las Leñas:

Jonathan Ellsworth: 5 days on the Atomic Tracker 16 / 186cm Atomic Automatic

Will Brown: 3 days on the Salomon Guardian 16 / 188cm Salomon Rocker 2, 115

Ryan Caspar: 2 days on the Salomon Guardian 16 / 188cm Salomon Rocker 2, 115

 

Obviously, with any AT binding, there are two big questions: downhill performance and uphill performance.

Given the nature of this review trip (we knew that we weren’t going to be skinning much) and given the nature of this binding (it is supposed to be a no-compromise alpine binding that also climbs), we brought the Guardian and Tracker down with us primarily to focus on their downhill performance.

Downhill Performance

After ten total days skiing everything from smooth groomers; bumped-up groomers; off-piste hardpack; on-and-off-piste variable; dense, grabby mank; refrozen death cookies; steep, techy entrances; and no-fall zones, Will, Ryan, and I are all in agreement: this is a very confidence-inspiring alpine binding.

None of us experienced any slop or play in these bindings, and the torsional rigidity was excellent. Of course, I can’t say how different the Atomic Automatic would have skied with a dedicated alpine binding, but I can say that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.

Over the course of the trip, each of us was switching out skis and going from the Guardian or Tracker to Rossignol Axial 120s, Marker Jesters, or Salomon Z14 Speeds—all dedicated alpine bindings—and, personally, I was equally happy skiing the Jesters or the Trackers (though I’d definitely rather boot pack with Jesters—the additional weight of the Guardian / Tracker is noticeable if you have to shoulder them up the mountain), and all of us agreed that we would rather ski the Guardian or the Tracker than the Salomon Z14 Speed.

At various moments on the trip, all three of us were clicked into the Guardian or Tracker when standing on top of consequential lines, and none of us were worried about our bindings. (For what it’s worth, these same lines are ones that I would have skied my Dynafit Vertical FT 12 tech bindings with the toes locked, and I still wouldn’t have felt wholly confident. Clearly, that only says something about me, so again, FWIW.)

* Caveat: Conditions were such that we weren’t jumping off much of anything, just skiing hard and very fast in a lot of very variable conditions. And so, as Will Brown put it, “Basically, I still need to go throw myself around and see if anything scary happens.”

So we can’t yet weigh in on cliff drops and landings, but we can all say that any of the usual stuff we’d otherwise jump off, we’d hit in these. (Will Brown skis the Salomon STH 14 Driver binding on a daily basis, and I’m pretty much always on Marker Jesters.)

Downhill peformance: Long and short

So far, the Guardian and Tracker feel like a fully legit downhill binding. We don’t know how much the footprint of these bindings affects the flex of the ski, but nothing felt “off,” and the consensus so far is that, while skiing, we’d simply forget that we were on an AT binding at all. Nice.

25 Comments

  1. Lorne September 18, 2012 Reply

    Are you guys able to measure the ramp? Some quick & dirty Photoshop measurements look like just 3mm delta to me.

  2. Jake September 19, 2012 Reply

    Hey guys I am thinking about putting these on the 193 cochise, I am 99% going to be using these for resort skiing (I normally only tour about 10 times a season and I ski 120+ days a year) I am a patroller in colorado and also on the backcountry rescue team so it never hurts to have a setup that you are able to do some quick tours on. The past 2 seasons I have spent the vast majority of my time on the on3p 191 Caylors and I love them, even with the terrible snow we had last season. I am 5’10 180lb and my old touring set up is the 09/10 179 Obsethed with the dukes, I liked this set up, but most of the time I felt like i was overpowering the skis and felt i really had to hold back from how I like to ski. I like to ski as fast as possible and I need something that can bust through the chop in the bowls and I would like to be able to limit my caylors to when there is some deep pow to ski. I know you guys haven’t spent any time on the 193 cochise and not as much time as you would like on the guardian/trackers but you still know more about both products than myself so I was wondering what your opinion is of that setup now that you have a little background info on myself.

    Thanks guys, I love all the reviews you do they keep me sane during the summer and fall

  3. George September 23, 2012 Reply

    Jonathan, on that second to last photo of the climbing bar, the black plastic piece looks like it has sustained some damage/wear. Was this the binding that had the issues with the dropping climbing bar?
    Almost ready to pull the trigger on these, & have been annoyed by my Dukes slop, (toe ,plate & lever rivet )after less than 60 days use.

    • Author

      No, George, I was on the Atomic Automatic / Trackers. Ryan Caspar was skinning on the Salomon 115 / Guardians in that photo, and he experienced no issues. In my judgement, the wear you see in that photo wouldn’t affect anything.

      • Jake October 11, 2012 Reply

        Thanks for getting back to me Jonathan. I pulled the trigger and bought the cochise and I am waiting to hear back from our rep about the guardians. I was wondering where you guys would suggest mounting the cochise? right at boot center? I will write back after i have logged some days on them and let you know what i think.

  4. Sklar September 24, 2012 Reply

    I’m excited to see how these hold up over time, my dukes are starting to get sloppy…

  5. TheColeMan October 3, 2012 Reply

    Hi. I am looking for a binding for my Rocker 108s and I am stuck between the guardian and the duke or baron. This will be an on hill/slack country set up. I like the idea of the low stack height of the salomon but am concerned about their weight and a touring mechanism that never allows you to be flat on the ski and that relies on a wire lift to keep you out of ski mode. For real touring I always use dynafits and I quite like the feel of their low stack height. Do the guardians feel noticeably heavy under foot while skiing, especially if they were skied at the resort all day? Would the extra stack height and decreased durability of a baron be a worthwhile sacrifice for the approx. pound of weight savings? I have never skied a binding with a stack height of 36mm and don’t really know how it affects skiing.
    Thanks for your input.

    • Author

      Hi, Coleman – neither Will Brown nor I thought the Guardians seemed “noticeably heavier” than our regular alpine bindings, but that might just be us. Having said that, I toured the past two seasons on dynafits, so have a much lighter point of reference. You may feel differently.

      Also, I don’t believe the Guardians are a pound heavier than the Barons – think it’s about ~100 grams per binding heavier. And I can’t imagine that you’ll be bothered by the bar that won’t allow you to be absolutely flat on the skis. Again, I tour on dynafits, and I wasn’t bothered by this at all.

      As for your other questions, I can’t say more about Baron / Duke comparisons, so I’d just reiterate my review & our preview.

  6. Eric October 5, 2012 Reply

    Im in a similar situation as Colman, I ususally keep my DIN at 8-9 and will only be doing a few backcounty trips a year. Which is why I was considering the baron, I dont need the DIN of the duke and didnt want to spend the extra money. But with the lower stack height of the tracker/gaurdian got me thinking this would be a better binding for all the time Im not in the backcountry… And this will prob be my set up for a while so Id like something that will last. Any advise?

  7. Stefan November 4, 2012 Reply

    Regarding weight questions it seems like the guardians are about 100 grams heavier per binding than the new Dukes and I expect that would be hard to notice, but they are about 250 grams heavier a pice compared to barons and that might make a difference when your touring.

  8. Gerry November 6, 2012 Reply

    Hey Jonathan!!
    I have got a question about the stack height: Is the stack height real 26mm?? Is there a different stack height in the toe and the heel?? And compared to the “mfd with rossi fks 14”: is the stack hight realy the same (26mm)?? And what about the weight difference. Is the mfd-fks setup “noticeably heavier” than the guardian??
    ……a lot of questions, but i really don’t know what system of both i should take!! :/
    What would you prefer???

    Ps: sorry for my bad english ;)

  9. Alex December 10, 2012 Reply

    Hi!

    First of all – thanks for the review.
    I’m ready to go for salomon guardian 16 for my dynastar legend pro rider

    For me it is important that I have 85-90% binding for skiing (free fide) – stable, solid (weight does not matter that much) but reliable- means does not open for no reason when skiing on rough off road (you know what I mean.. pow is not everything we have off piste )
    I have very positive impression of visual reference from salomon guardian 16- it has nothing common with the cheap way looking plastic f12 has.

    Would you recommend me to go for salomon guardian 16 ?
    thanks a million !!!
    cheers, Alex

    • Author

      Hi, Alex – given my limited time on the Guardian, I really can’t say more than what I’ve reported above. But personally, I have no reservations about the downhill performance – or security – of this binding.

  10. Marcel December 24, 2012 Reply

    Any chances you guys are gonna be checking out the Tyrolia Adrenalin bindings or any of its branded counterpart?

  11. Claude Lambert January 8, 2013 Reply

    i read your review with great interest, and was upset when you mentioned that the salomon guardian binding is an alpine sole boot, i’m about to buy a complete at kit k2ski black diamond quadrant boots and the salomon binding, since you mentioned sole grinding to fit, would it be better to buy the dynafit vertical binding instead, and is that binding as good for downhill skiing.

    Claude

  12. mac February 22, 2013 Reply

    does anyone have problems popping out of these bindings i have them at full din ow and when i do any cliffs that 10+ they like to pop off. is there anything i can do to tweak them? did they just get mounted poorly?

  13. Charlie April 10, 2013 Reply

    Honestly I was a huge fan of this binding until it broke on me. The durability of the baseplate sucks. I broke my right one, fixed it then the next time I went out my left one broke in the exact same place. Both happened during mellow tours.

  14. Ed September 20, 2013 Reply

    Hi,

    I’m was so intrigued by this review that i’ve just changed my binding preference for my newly ordered DPS Wailer 112RP’s Pure skis. I’ve decided to try the Look XM 16 bindings (the same design as the Salomon and Atomic, just with a look sticker) instead of my previously specced Marker Duke. I was going to go for the Salomon’s, but they only make the Guardian in that blue colour, and I wanted something a bit more neutral for my DPS skis. The Look’s are black and white and in my opinion, much better looking. Only time will tell if that was a good decision!

    Ed

  15. Ben November 26, 2013 Reply

    Hey There. I assume you still haven’t had a chance to test the new EPF Dukes? Really curious to hear your/others thoughts on the Guardian/Tracker vs. the new EPF Duke. Thanks, Ben

  16. Franco December 22, 2013 Reply

    Hi guys,
    I’ll buy the news volkl mantra and I’m looking for a touring binding for them. My two first options are the Marker Baron 13 and the Atomic Tracker 13. Could you guys help me?? I’m a 16 years old boy recently retired from racing, I’m 6 ft tall and 137 lb aprox.
    Thanks, Franco

    • Dylan January 14, 2014 Reply

      I found that barons stiffened up my mantras way too much underfoot. I switched them out for griffons and it is a totally different ski. I would not reccomend barons, I’m waiting for reviews on the tyroolia adrenaline.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*