Last October, Salomon announced the new Guardian 16 touring bindings. Since that time, I’ve been anxious to see them in person. Heading into Outdoor Retailer, Salomon invited a handful of media to Alta Ski Area to test out the new binders. I joined the crew for a morning of skiing and came away impressed with the overall function and performance of the Guardian 16’s.
In the shop, I gave the bindings a visual run-down. Some of the first things I noticed were:
- The torsion bars are much lower profile than any other similar bindings on the market
- Changing the bindings from ski to tour and back to ski modes is super-easy
- The toe pivot is smooth and stiction-free
- The climbing bar only has two settings but moves into and out of position easily
I took a few close-ups of the bindings to call out their specific features.
The overall construction is impressive with solid engagement into and out of touring mode. The ski shop pivot test felt smooth and the low-profile torsion bars really made the Guardian’s ride low to the deck.
Switching it to touring mode requires a thumb or some ski poles to slide the grey tab back and change into touring mode. It did require a firm movement just to make sure you don’t do it accidentally, but can be easily done with or without gloves or using your poles. And… drum roll please… you can do it all without un-clicking from them. Ta da! Switching back into ski mode was as simple as returning the climbing bar to the ski mode and stepping down — it latches back into place with ease.
The two-position climbing bar features a spring-loaded engagement into the highest position, thus making it very easy to hit that position with the flick of a pole in either direction. I found that dragging your pole basket from the back was the easiest way to move it from the ski position to climbing. I did wish for a position inbetween the two offered positions.
While on a short tour, I was impressed with the smooth and efficient stride. While these are no replacements for Dynafit’s in the backcountry, they felt smooth and natural. The ever-important switchback test yielded a 10 on the easiness factor. I was immediately whipping out switchbacks without any difficulty.
As far as ski-ability on the frontside, I didn’t do any twisty-flippy-switchy-pipe-charging-hucks, but I did ski them aggressively and fast. They did what I’d expect a good binding to do — held my boot in place and became invisible. Like any binding, if you are dropping insane cliffs and skiing Bode Miller-fast, you will out-DIN any regular bindings, but for the 99.99% of us, the 7-16 DIN will be perfect.
I can see the new Guardian bindings as the de-facto choice when I want to buy an alpine-friendly binding that doesn’t limit me to frontside use only. I like their overall function and am impressed with the package. They don’t come without some minor faults, but overall they are going to be my top choice for those seeking a “do-it-all” frontside/backside binding.
- Low-profile design keeps you low to the deck
- Smooth touring stride
- Super-solid clamps allow you to charge with chutzpah
- Switchbacks are easily mastered
- Getting back into ski mode is as simple as stepping down firmly
- I wish they had a middle-tier climbing bar setting
- Moving the climbing bar from ski mode and flat mode to climb mode wasn’t always easy to do with just your poles
Bottom Line: Salomon Guardian 16 Alpine Touring Bindings
If you’re looking for an alternative to the Marker Duke or something burlier than your Fritschi Freerides, these will be your ticket to ride. With a low-profile design and easy-to-use touring system, the Guardian’s are now the sidecountry bindings to beat.
More Info: Available at Backcountry.com
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I have Deliriums as well with the rockered vibram soles. Did you need to use the Alpine DIN soles with the Guardians? I’ve heard that the Guardians are not ideally compatible with rockered rubber AT boots. Thanks.
Rob. I had DIN blocks on mine when I tested them, so I can’t attest to their use with touring soles. That said, I haven’t heard any hubbub about them not working with touring soles.