Bringing new products to market especially bindings, at least their Alpine counterparts, that have mostly remained unchanged for a long time is quite a challenge. Two years ago the Salomon Guardian showed up in murky pictures on the Internet. It seemed like a vision from the future, combining the characteristics of an all Alpine binding with the flexibility of a technical binding. In short, you could say, it seemed like a product out of legend. Now two years later, the Guardian seems to have proven itself as a very good solution. Asking in specialty shops, I got the impression that the sales people like this binding for a simple reason. There have been virtually no returns, indicating that it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.
Now some of you, who ride technical bindings, will say the obvious thing. The Guardian (13 or 16) is far too heavy. The technical binding with these characteristics, or at the least compatible characteristics would whey maybe a third. A lot of my friends, who have been doing a lot of touring in recent years have all converted to purely technical bindings. Dynafit regins supreme. True that combination being a completely different world all to itself, I still, in the sense of wandering away from the pack, needed to satisfy my curiosity, and make up my own mind about these solutions. For the Sake of this little review I will leave the Maker Duke EPF out of it as I did not have the opportunity to test it.
Of course, like in every market, a product does not stay alone for long ans a second one comes, with the promise of improvement. Enter the Tyrolia AAA (Access All Area). Basically the same concept as the Guardian (13 and 16), with a bit of a different touch. The switch mechanism works differently, and it is lighter because it is made of more plastic then metal. Which one will work better ?
Before we say a few more words of comparison, check out the video below to see how the different switching mechanisms on both bindings work.
(Note: I did the switching video with a Guardian 13 on a Q115 ski, tested the 16 on the rocker 2 ski)
On the other hand, when you check the construction of the binding the Tyrolia feels a bit flimsy. The metal frame construction of the Guardian, has a really rugged feel, of course the counter to that is its weight. It is probably the heaviest binding I have ever ridden. Speaking of riding though, the power transition edge to edge is excellent. Here the Tyrolia also comes in second.Now we have two take into account, that while riding this combination I was also riding a Salomon Quest 90 boot, so it was a all in all solution which might not be ideal for real-world testing, as most people will not buy from one brand as a one-stop shop.
While riding of course, one falls from time to time and in this point both of the bindings released the way they should.
Being so close together overall, the decision for which one you would go, solely depends on what you’re going to do. If you will be riding 100 days of powder someone middle of nowhere and weight is not that much of an issue, as well as a bit of a learning curve for switching between the system, then the Guardian is for you. If on the other hand will be doing a little less and switch more often to hike, then stick with the Tyrolia. The switching mechanism on the Tyrolia in practice does work a lot better than the Guardian. While testing. I had a problem whereby standard K2 pole, a telescopic one, could not switch the Guardian because it snowcap was apparently placed to low. That could be quite a nuisance. So if you’re going for it, please check that it fits, so that there will be no nasty surprises or a need to buy new poles. Also, as a minus on the Tyrolia while walking you will see that it is somewhat flimsy in comparison to the guardians metal feel, but it does seem to have been considerably improved from what we saw with the prototype at ISPO in february. All in all they both get the job done but not with a few weaknesses that you will need to learn to live with. The ideal binding here would be the guardians frame with the Tyrolias switching mechanism.