Ski bindings are an important part of your gear on the mountains. As your connection to your skis, they transfer your movements from muscle to slope and can make or break your time on the slopes, so it’s essential you get them right. As well as having to match your bindings to your skis, ski boots, and style for the best performance you may want to think about the extra features that will give you edge, so we've put together this handy ski binding buying guide to help you choose.
To choose a ski binding you first need to know the waist width of your skis to determine what size brakes you need. You’ll also need to know your DIN (release force) setting which can be determined by your skiing ability, weight, height, and boot sole length
The brakes are arms that attach to the heel piece of your bindings and stick out to the side of your skis. They are designed to stop your skis after release to prevent them running down the slope and endangering other skiers.
Your skis’ waist width will determine the width of your brakes; in the least they need to be the same width as your skis and at most around 15mm wider. If they are too narrow they won’t clear the edge of your skis upon release and too wide they may drag as you ski.
Once you know your brake width and DIN setting you can look at extra features and options.
ANTI-FRICTION DEVICE (AFD)
An AFD can be a sliding mechanism or a low friction fixed device on the toe piece that sits under your ski boot. It’s smooth, designed to minimise friction between the binding and the boot during a release.
Riser plates allow more leverage and steeper lean angles and are popular with racers and skiers who enjoy carving. The FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski) has placed a limit on risers reducing their popularity.
FLAT SKIS AND INTEGRATED BINDINGS
Skis that have a flat top sheet will usually allow most bindings, as long as the brake width is the appropriate size. Some bindings mount to a plate or track on the size, known as system or integrated bindings, and can only be paired with specific skis.
If you already own boots make sure you take them along when you buy bindings. If you buy new ski boots once you already have your bindings, you may need to get them adjusted to fit the new sole length.
Always have a certified ski technician mount and adjust your bindings for safety.
ALPINE TOURING SKI BINDINGS
Alpine touring bindings will allow a skier to lift their heel while travelling uphill before locking it down for the descent. They can be used for downhill skiing as well.
TELEMARK SKI BINDINGS
Telemark bindings are designed to be used with telemark boots and bend under the ball of the foot. The heel of the boot is free to travel up and down permanently in order to facilitate the unique telemark turn.
KIDS' SKI BOOTS
Adult and kids ski boots are made differently, meeting different standards and specifications. You cannot use kids ski boots with adult ski bindings as junior bindings tend to have lower release settings. Junior bindings can usually accept adult boots.
The ski binding must be compatible with the skis and usually kids skis are not deep enough to accept an adult binding, screws and hardware.
Once you have your bindings take them with your skis to a certified ski technician to mount and adjust your bindings safely.
You will need to know your height, weight, age, boot sole length, and what type of skier you are; beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Manufacturer's warranties will be void if the products are not mounted by a certified technician.
The mounting position is important for how your skis perform in different conditions and on different terrain. There is always a default setting for mounting your bindings on your skis, however, you may want to adjust the position depending on your skiing style.
Setting your bindings further back will give you a less responsive but more stable feeling on your skis, and more float in powder. Further forward bindings will give you a quicker turn response and better performance when skiing backwards.
Wear on the toe or at the heel of your boot can affect how it interacts with the binding. Always check for wear and ask a technician for advice if you’re not sure.
TOE HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT
Toe height is the height of the gap between the top of the toe piece and the AFD. Bindings usually require a clearance of about 0-0.5mm between the boot sole and the AFD. Many alpine bindings feature automatic toe height adjustment, while others should be manually adjusted.