The uphill ease of a tech binding counts for a lot, but sometimes the smooth skinning isn't worth the occasionally questionable performance on the way down. When you need bomber skiing as well as solid skinning, an alpine-inspired AT binding like the Salomon Guardian MNC 13 Binding is where it's at. With retention that's virtually identical to trusted alpine clamps, the Guardian has a DIN that can be cranked all the way up to 13, so you won't worry about stepping out of your bindings in sketchy areas, and a sliding AFD and U Power toe piece for consistent lateral and twisting release and reliable power transfer. The Double Full Flex baseplate and burly aluminum tubes provide a flex-free platform, so you don't feel like you're floating independently of your skis, and the low-profile chassis keeps you close to the snow for increased control and a natural feel.
Of course, all this would be for naught if the Guardian was a POS on the way up. Luckily, it isn't, with features like a flat nose that pivots 90 degrees for a natural stride and an easy Hike & Ride switch that can be activated without stepping out of the binding. A single flip-up climbing bail provides heel elevation for steeper ascents. Even better, the Guardian uses Salomon's MNC (Multi-Norm Compatible) system, which means it'll work with traditional alpine boots, AT boots with rubber soles, Salomon's WTR boots, and even some tech boots, so you don't have to buy extra gear to access your dream line.