Photos by Alex Mager
The touring binding market has become one of the most hotly contested pieces of ski industry real estate in recent years. And that’s because the solution to going uphill and still enjoying the down isn’t obvious. Rewind to not very long ago and your basic options were super lightweight pin bindings, torsionally sloppy hybrids and the dreaded alpine trekkers. Nobody liked any of the options very much and everyone wanted a practical method of uphill travel and with the downhill performance of an alpine binding.
Since then the different basic designs have progressed in different directions. Beefier pin systems like the Dynafit Beast and Marker Kingpin were one direction of progress, but they still don’t work great for someone who loves to play around on their skis (and isn’t willing to risk locking out the toes). The Duke and Guardian provide more solid hybrid options but the stack heights are still strangely high, the walk motion is pretty uncomfortable and then there’s the weight issue of lifting that heel with every step. There are even new takes on what the optimal solution is like the CAST system. And all the while the trekker has plodded on unchanged and unloved. Yet, it was hard to shake the feeling that it was actually here that the answer might lie for the many occasional tourers out there.
The Trekker gives you the option of using your regular binding on the 90% of days you are riding lift accessed slopes or parks but the option to go touring if the correct alignment of the stars eventuated. The problem was the actual experience of touring on the damn things was so miserable, it was generally more tempting not to go at all.
And it was from this position that Giray Dadali and Chris Trunek concluded that they needed to come up with their own solution. And so starting from what was essentially the Trekker, they reworked the design so it wasn’t completely horrible to actually use. I reached out to Giray and Chris to further explain what it is they’ve built.
The principle of the Daymakers is the same as the Trekker. An adapter that clicks into your bindings with a walking platform set above it, but there the similarities end. Unlike trekkers, the whole platform is torsionally stable, so when traversing you aren’t doing the twist on the edge of terror. And the new binding boasts an innovative 4-bar walk system designed to replicate a more natural walking motion than any touring option currently available.
It's this feature that gets Giray most excited about what they’ve come up with. “The 4bar tech creates this huge stable platform. When walking up steeps, you typically have to rely on taking a step, then pivoting on your hinge as quick as you can until making contact between you boot and the elevator which gives you pressure into the snow over an area about the size of your boot, thus giving you proper traction once your foot makes this contact. But until it makes contact with your elevator, you're screwed from a friction and stability standpoint. With the 4bar, there’s a large trapezoidal platform to give you stability before you touch your boot to the elevator, and the way the rear link is activated actually drives pressure into the snow towards your heel as well, so you have friction over a large span. I'm able to walk up steep hills with stability on just the balls of my feet. I can literally go into sprint mode without ever using my elevators up a hill. Nothing on the market will give you this as consistently stable a platform.”
The Daymaker also fits every major alpine binding, including the FKS (unlike the BCA Trekker). Achieving this was a serious engineering challenge, as Chris was quick to point out to me. “The geometry of every binding is so different, but this was overcome by the usage of a 4bar linkage to create an elliptical pathway, sort of like a rocking motion of your boot while you walk. It allows you to clear your toe piece as you lift your boot from your binding, and clear your heel piece when you set your boot down.”
And there is more good news, “the new model will be also be lighter than a Guardian/Duke while touring up if paired with a Tyrolia Attack 13 binding. It’s slightly more with an FKS on the weight but very close! And at least you can leave them at the jump or not sidehill all day with the weight on your feet.”
It sounds like nothing but good news for me. I don’t really enjoy skiing, and especially jibbing, on bindings with the stack height of a Duke/Guardian. I certainly don’t tour enough to justify a pin setup, something I’m sure many people out there can relate to. When chatting with Giray he was quick to point out that I am the initial targeted market.“We created this for people like you and us alike! The drive and passion to make this product came from ourselves needed it and believing in making it happen day in and day out.“
It's always awesome to see skier owned companies breaking in to what is a very much a big brand marketplace and it's particularly impressive to see it happen in one of the most difficult to enter market segments. I'm stoked to be testing out a pair of Daymakers this coming winter and will attempt to keep regular updates coming on how they perform. Check out the pre-sale on the newest model, there are just 4 reduced price pairs left at time of writing.