How To Choose The Right Ski Bindings
When buying ski equipment, the choice of ski bindings is often overlooked as it's generally easier to buy a ski package where the bindings are included. However, you need to be sure that your bindings match your type of skiing, ability level, physical build and that they are compatible with your ski boots. Follow our advice to make the right choice!
Skis with or without bindings?
Skis can often be sold on their own, without bindings, or with a plate that is fixed to the ski and where a binding from the same manufacturer can slide on.
Generally, freeride, free touring, ski touring and freestyle skis are sold without bindings, so you are completely free to choose the best ones for you. In this case it's particularly useful to know which bindings to consider and we advise you to keep reading!
Alpine skis and all-mountain skis generally have a plate attached to the ski and are sold as a package with bindings. You can expect the manufacturer to include bindings suited to the ski range. However, remember to check compatibility with your boots and the DIN release setting range (we will talk about the different DIN settings and adjustments in more detail later in this article).
Which bindings should I choose for the type of skiing I do?
First of all, you should ask yourself what type of skiing do you do? The requirements will not be the same on groomed tracks, in snowparks or when touring.
If...I ski exclusively on groomed slopes
If skiing is only a pastime for you, resistance and comfort are the characteristics you should look for. Find light bindings that are easy to step into and mostly made out of plastic.
If you are a more advanced skier who enjoys high speed turns, you will need bindings that are dynamic and precise, providing you with good grip underfoot. In order to achieve this, they have metal parts (made from either steel or aluminum) integrated into them. These bindings are robust and resistant to the forces exerted on them. Your boots should be slightly inclined towards your toes and sit high on the snow, this helps you hold an edge.
If...I practice free skiing (freeride, free touring or freestyle)
For freeriding or skiing off the groomed slopes you will need to find a pair of light bindings.
Good power transmission will help you control your skis as you shift from edge to edge, while the high elasticity of the bindings will improve shock absorption, so they don’t release at each impact. With this kind of bindings, you will also be closer to your skis and therefore closer to the snow, a position which intensifies the sensation of 'floating' in powder!
When practicing freestyle, flexible bindings will act as shock absorbers when landing jumps.
In free touring, you must use free-heel bindings. They allow you to 'walk' with your heel free when climbing with your skis on, using your skins. You can choose either tech bindings (lightweight and efficient when climbing) or frame bindings (reassuring when descending).
Choosing ski bindings adapted to my level and weight
Paradoxically, the most important security feature of a ski binding is whether it releases well or more precisely the “range of release”. In the event of a fall, this release mechanism can help you avoid injuring yourself, protecting especially your knees.
In order to make sure the release threshold is adapted to each skier, there is a standard adjustment to be made on the heel and toe piece of your binding. This is called the DIN setting and is generally measured on a scale from 1 to 13. In order to find the right DIN setting for you, there are tables or smartphone applications based on five criteria: your weight, age, height, skier level and boot sole length.
If you have any doubt about the DIN settings on your bindings, take them to a specialist retailer.
Binding and boots standards
In recent years, we have witnessed the introduction of new standards of ski boots and bindings, which means that systematic checks on compatibility between the two are made.
There are 2 main ski boot standards:
- Alpine standard (ISO 5355) which was the first standard for boots with flat soles made from stiff plastic
- Touring standard (ISO 9532) which allows for a better, more natural walking feeling due to a rounded sole profile. Within this standard, the use of GripWalk has become common place in ski touring and also in alpine skiing
There are certain ultra-light tech touring bindings which are not certified by either of these standards.
The Technical Inspection Association (TÜV) is the organization which certifies the compatibility between skis and bindings:
- Alpine ski bindings without any other specific certification are only compatible with boots with the Alpine standard.
- Bindings with the GripWalk label (logo present on the binding) are compatible with both Alpine certified boots and GripWalk certified boots, without making adjustments to your bindings.
- Certain specialist alpine bindings are compatible with boots with 2 certifications, however, depending on the type of boot used, an adjustment of the toe piece may be needed. This is the case for Salomon's MNC bindings.
- Ski touring tech bindings, also called pin bindings, are not generally subjected to certification and are only compatible with touring boots which have a system of metal pins.
Don't hesitate to take your boots and bindings to a specialist store and seek help from a professional.
Thankfully, there isn't any certification that dictates the color of your ski bindings. If they are suited to your type of skiing, to your boots and are well adjusted, you can go with whichever color you like best!