If you want to ski your best this year you’ll need to know how to choose ski bindings.
There’s a few things you must keep in mind when selecting this gear and you’ll see what’s most important in this guide. By the time you’re done reading I’m sure you’ll be ready to make a purchase.
Some of the highest-tech ski bindings weigh only a few ounces but have extreme strength. More than just a piece of hardware that holds your boots, bindings transfer all of your movements and inputs to the skis. They allow you to control your movement on the slopes.
Bindings also need to release properly in case of trouble, allowing your boot to detach safely from the ski. Choosing the right downhill/alpine, alpine touring (AT), or race binding depends on your skiing style, physical characteristics, and learning the best DIN range for you.
DIN Settings and Range
DIN stands for “Deutsches Institut für Normung,” the German Institute for industry standards that sets the scale for the release force settings on bindings. Bindings have a job to do while you are skiing and that job changes rapidly if you fall or otherwise get in trouble. You can have a different tension setting on the front and back of the bindings, but typically the DIN setting for each will be the same.
The amount of force required to release the boot varies depending on what type of skier you are, your age, boot sole length, and a few other factors. The DIN settings are usually set at the shop where you get your skis. You can learn what your DIN range should be through a DIN calculator.
The DIN calculator uses five factors to determine your DIN settings:
• Skier Type (Ranging from -1 very cautious, skis only very gentle slopes to 3+ highly aggressive, skis any slope)
• Age (under 9, 10-49, 50+ years)
• Boot Length (EU and/or US/UK lengths)
For downhill/alpine skiiers, a 30 year old women of average height and weight who is willing to ski most slopes moderately (Type 2 skier) has a DIN setting of 5.5. A 25 year old man of average height and weight who is an aggressive, experienced skier (Type 3) has a DIN setting of 6.5 using a DIN Calculator based on Salomon’s 2016-2017 adjustment chart.
Your DIN setting should be in the middle 75% of the range for the bindings you select. If you already have bindings you can check the range by looking at the small window on the heel and toe of your current equipment.
Here’s a video that goes a little more in depth:
Pretty simple, right?
Downhill or Alpine Bindings
The most common type of recreational skiing in North America and many parts of Europe is downhill or Alpine. Downhill ski bindings are manufactured to fit a rigid downhill ski boot and you can only put the boot in one way: it’s impossible to get into the binding backward.
These bindings are also engineered to transfer your body movements effectively to the ski. They will let you move your boot about 5 mm in either direction to allow for natural movement without any accidental binding release. You will also find junior and adult bindings, and due to differences in screw length, you can’t mount an adult binding on junior skis.
You will want to pick the best binding you can afford for your downhill skis. Make sure the binding features a pivoting, wide-angle, multi-directional release because the whole purpose of these bindings is to release your boots in case you take a wicked fall.
Just keep in mind that the alpine or downhill bindings are made for alpine/downhill skis and skiing style. It is very uncomfortable to walk up and down hill or transfer yourself off the ski runs in this set-up. That’s where Alpine Touring (AT) boots and bindings come in.
Alpine Touring (AT) Bindings
A lot of people who are used to rigid downhill boots, ski lifts, and ski runs had a hard time adjusting to the original AT boots and bindings. Now, AT bindings will fit both your AT boots, and regular downhill boots and ski needs. AT bindings will pivot to free your heel so you can climb in hiking mode. Once you’re skiing back down, the binding will pivot back so you can ski comfortably with good performance. You still need to know your DIN range and follow the same procedures to pick your AT bindings.
Alpine Touring (AT) boots, bindings and skis will allow you to explore the back country. You won’t be dependent on lifts and can get away from resort crowds. Some flexible skiers are using AT bindings all the time, whether or not it’s a day for downhill or backcountry.
The type of skiing you do the most or want to do will help you choose the best AT binding. Some bindings are best-suited for fast, light touring over moderate terrain, while others will allow you to go into the deep back country. Most AT bindings are heavier frame bindings, but tech bindings, sometimes called Dynafit after the original manufacturer, are a lighter, frameless option that uses your boot sole as the frame itself.
Here’s a great video that goes more in depth:
If you’re interested, you can check out my top picks for alpine touring skis here.
If you’re racing in the United States, you’ll find some options for discounted race skis, boots and bindings if you can show the retailer your school, club or formal association. Race skis will allow any binding, but actual race ski bindings are usually heavier weight and made of stronger materials than recreational downhill bindings. Race ski bindings also have higher DIN settings.
Most downhill racers want the bindings to be set slightly farther back on the ski than they would be for ordinary recreational skiing. You will also want to look for a variety of technologies that help keep the binding stable or transmit your moves faster while racing. Manufacturers have a variety of technologies and solutions and you will want to read reviews or look at what similar skiers use and choose accordingly.
Price and Quality
As far as price is concerned, the most affordable bindings are ordinary downhill or alpine bindings, with prices rising rapidly for more specialized AT setups. Quality depends on your needs, skiing style and safety. You might want the lightest weight possible, which will definitely be a higher price than heavier, older-style bindings. Armed with your DIN setting and a little bit of technical knowledge, you should be able to find the right binding fit for your skiing style and budget.
It’s Pretty Simple!
Selecting ski bindings isn’t the most difficult thing in the world – it basically comes down to the type of skiing you’re doing, your skill level, weight/height and age.
If you’re in the market for new ski bindings I would recommend checking out this website here. This is a website I trust a lot and they put a lot of effort in selecting the best ski bindings.
If you have any additional questions you can comment below and I’ll make sure to answer as fast as possible. You can search around the ski section up top for more ski tips and gear reviews.
Are you excited to get onto the trail with your new bindings?