The Universal Setup

   

The Marker Duke binding changes everything. Until now, alpine-touring bindings—the heels release into a walk mode for ascending on climbing skins—compromised performance on the way down. Where earlier AT models forced the skier to totter on riser bars, about an inch off the ski, the Duke uses a flat plastic plate to keep the boot on the ski and maximize carving leverage. Built with heavy hardware (DIN goes to 16), this means the Duke skis like a traditional alpine binding. Pair it with Völkl's all-mountain Gotama ($795; volkl.com) and Garmont's Shaman boots ($799; garmontusa.com)—hikeable stiffies that flex like alpine boots—for the ultimate backcountry descent. Total weight: 19.1 pounds. $496; markerusa.com

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