Ski bindings function as the all-important link between your body’s input – transmitted through your ski boots to your skis – and your skis’ reactions.
Often the least-thought-of piece of ski gear in one’s setup, properly adjusted bindings can mean the difference between a safe day out on the slopes and an injury due to a fall.
Selecting a pair of ski bindings that will perform as expected in the conditions you ski, will release when needed, and will get you where you want to ski, is thus a vital part of choosing your ski gear.
Modern ski bindings are all safe and standardized, so choosing between brands can be a matter of preference and specialty needs.
In this article, we will discuss the different aspects to consider when purchasing ski bindings online at SierraSnowboard.com or in our Sacramento retail store. Read through the entire article to get a good overview, or skip ahead to one of the sections below:
The function of ski bindings is to securely hold your ski boot to your ski, allowing for maximum transfer of energy from the boot to the ski, while at the same time allowing your boot to break away from the ski in a situation where doing so would prevent injury.
Bindings are designed to release if a certain amount of torque is reached, typically in a fall. And the amount of torque required before a ski binding releases is usually adjustable, within a pre-defined DIN range. (Note: DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. – in English, the German Institute for Standardization – which is the organization that oversees the ski boot release standard.)
The proper DIN setting for any skier is dependent upon the skier’s height, weight, ski boot sole length, and the skier’s style and personal preference. DIN settings can be adjusted at home or on the mountain; however, Sierra Snowboard & Ski recommends that all skiers take their bindings to a local, certified binding technician for adjustment and testing.
Ski binding DIN settings range from 0.75 (for little kids’ skis) up to 18+ (for racers and big-mountain skiers who do not want a ski to release under any circumstance), with most falling somewhere in between and offering skiers a range of usually around 8 to 10 different DIN settings.
High performance skiers (e.g. skiers who frequent no-fall zones, skiers landing big jumps or drops, and high-performance carvers) will typically want a higher DIN setting, allowing them to stay in bindings longer and trust in their own ability to ski out of a situation where a binding with a lower DIN setting might release.
Less aggressive skiers are often more interested in saving their knees from potential injury, and prefer their bindings release easier when excessive torque is detected.
In general, recreational skiers will want their bindings to have a DIN range from 4 to 10, while performance-oriented skiers will want a DIN range going up to 12 or 14, with racers and big-mountain skiers looking for DINs up to 16+.
These days, many ski manufacturers are designing binding interface systems that are designed to allow a pair of skis to flex through their natural range of motion without the bindings causing any unnatural resistance.
Typically these skis will either be sold with bindings already mounted and ready to ski (such as the Volkl Attiva Sols at right), or will come with special plates and specific binding mounting requirements that will be spelled out in detail.
The advantage of these systems is the ski manufacturer has devoted their time and energy to ensure a good synergy between ski and binding.
The downside is these integrated packages can often be costly, don’t allow you to mount the bindings on another pair of skis in the future, and restrict you to one specific binding.
Ski bindings come with brakes, which flip down when the boot is out of the binding, preventing runaway skis on the slopes. Be sure to purchase bindings with breaks wide enough for the waist width of the skis you intend to mount them on.
Each ski binding should list the brake width in the product description. And many binding companies will sell their bindings with a full range of brakes, designed to accommodate skis with waist widths from 70 to 132 mm.
You can also buy after-market brakes for most bindings on the market today.
As we said earlier, modern ski bindings have been standardized and tested to perform as advertised, so a lighter weight binding will perform just as well as a heavier one.
But weight savings can be an important factor in overall skier performance, and can certainly affect the price of a given pair of ski bindings, with lighter-weight options generally costing more.
Only an individual skier can determine how much he/she is willing to pay for a pair of bindings that are a few grams lighter than another pair.
Recently, binding manufacturers have designed bindings made to allow for a greater ski boot range of motion before release, which can be good for skiers who’d rather try to ski through more situations rather than have a binding come off.
These options include:
The Marker Royal family of bindings: Jester, Griffon, Duke and Baron.
The Look/Dynastar/Rossignol (all made by same company) Pivot/FKS bindings.
Salomon’s STH series of bindings.
With the increased interest many skiers are showing of getting out into the backcountry, many binding manufacturers have started making alpine touring bindings that are just as at-home in-bounds at a resort.
The Marker Duke and Baron bindings both switch between an alpine touring mode (in which the heel is freed from the ski, allowing a skier to ascend a hill with climbing skins attached to their skis) and downhill mode. Marker built both of these bindings to perform as well as traditional alpine ski bindings in downhill mode, meaning that skiers don’t have to sacrifice performance for function if they want to get into the backcountry without having a dedicated pair of backcountry skis.
Freestyle skiing, and especially the desire of freestyle skiers to initiate and land many tricks switch (skiing backwards), has had a huge effect on how ski bindings are designed and mounted lately.
Freestyle skiers who want to maximize their performance skiing or landing switch will often mount their ski bindings a number of centimeters forward of where they would traditionally be mounted (also called “center mounting” or “forward mounting”), which results in a truer twin-tip performance.
The problem with center-mounted skis is they tend to perform a little worse in powder, when a longer tip is desirable.
Marker has developed a slick way around this dilemma with their Griffon Schizo binding (pictured at right), which allows for easy, on-hill mounting adjustments that switch between freestyle and freeride orientation with a total of 6 cm of forward-backward adjustment.
Definitely something to consider if you’re going to use one pair of skis for both freestyle laps in the terrain park and on powder days at your local resort.
If the skis you’re pulling the bindings off of are played-out, the answer is yes.
In fact, if you’re even asking yourself this question, the answer is probably yes.
Sure those old Salomons or Markers or Tyrolias might technically still “work.” The fact is that modern ski bindings will perform better and will keep you safer than your out-of-date pair.
Plus, many ski shops (including ours) won’t even mount bindings that are 7+ years old for fear that you’ll come back and sue them when you fall and the bindings don’t release as they should.
So unless you’re pulling a pair of almost-new bindings off a pair of last-year’s skis you just didn’t like, it’s probably time to buy new bindings.
Shoppers with Sierra Snowboard & Ski can buy ski bindings with confidence because we offer a no-hassle Return Policy*, a Price Match Guarantee, as well as Price Adjustments if an item goes on sale within 30 days of your original purchase.
In addition, shoppers who also purchase a pair of skis or ski boots with Sierra Snowboard & Ski can bring in their skis, bindings and boots for free binding mounting in our Sacramento retail store. (Unfortunately, we cannot mount bindings to skis before shipping.)
* We cannot accept returns once bindings have been mounted or used in any way.
Click here to compare brands and options on SierraSnowboard & Ski.