Ski Bindings

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Overview

The bits of machinery that connect your boots to your skis. Bindings perform two important and mutually exclusive functions. The first is to keep you connected to your skis for as long as possible. The second is to disconnect you from the skis when the forces developed in a fall are likely to hurt you. The basic way they achieve this is spring loading, so that they release when the force of a fall exceeds the force of the spring.

One tip is that, if you eject from your bindings in deep snow so that the ski is under the surface and not immediately visible, your ski will almost certainly be just above or near the top of the impact crater. Use a pole or ski to chop downwards into the snow. Eventually you will hit the missing ski, which can then be dug out.

Links to Binding Manufacturers' Web Sites Although there are many brands there are only a small number of manufacturers as there has been significant consolidation in the industry over the last couple of decades. This is true for most of the ski industry.


Downhill Bindings

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Different skiers have different heights, weights and abilities. The force of the spring is adjusted to compensate for this. The likely forces are calculated and set out in a table, and the bindings set accordingly. Unless you are reasonably knowledgeable this should be done by a trained technician.

DIN Setting

There is a standard called the DIN setting which relates to the forces needed to make bindings release. Bindings can be adjusted across a range of DIN settings for each individual. They are numbered from 1 to 20, and beyond. The higher the number the greater force is needed to make the binding release. No binding covers the full range, so manufacturers make different models with different ranges of release forces, or DIN numbers. A binding designed for an adult expert may have a range from 8 to 20+, whereas a binding for a child beginner may have a range from 1 to 8. While it may be tempting to set the bindings on a low DIN setting to protect your ligaments a binding set too low will release at inconvenient times and will be a real pain in the bum at the least and may be dangerous at worst. Setting the bindings too high will stop them coming off, but the release mechanism created by your bones and knee ligaments may release early to protect the binding.

Brakes

Ski bindings also incorporate brakes. These are retractable arms that tuck away under the boot when the boot is in the binding. If there is not a boot in the binding the arms project below the running surface of the ski and (generally) prevent sliding. Brakes are not 100% effective, and skis should still be placed across the fall line when not on your feet.

Compatibility

If you are concerned about whether a particular brand of alpine boot is compatible with a particular binding, relax. The boot/binding interface is stanndardised and all boots will be compatible with all bindings.

Cross Country Bindings

Cross country binding information

MUST BE REFORMATTED AS A TABLE

These notes are a summary of opinions expressed in the ski.com.au forums.

Trekkers

Recommended use

First steps away from the lifted slopes, with lower capital outlay

Pros

Works as an adaptor on your normal downhill bindings and boots

Can hire

Cheaper than dedicated set-up

Cons

Heavy, awkward, discouraging to use

Still expensive enough to not be good value to buy your own

Marker Dukes

Recommended use

Use in bounds with some front country excursions

Jumps and aggressive skiing

Pros

Good downhill performance

Good (best?) release and retention

Robust

Cons

Heavy

It’s a nuisance changing to walk-mode: you have to remove skis, and probably gloves

Marker Barons

(not yet available at time of writing)

Recommended use

As for Marker Dukes

These are a variation on the Dukes, new for 2009. The DIN will be 4-12 so they are more suitable for mere mortals. They are also expected to be lighter and cheaper.

Pros

Expected to be the same as Dukes.

Hopefully lighter and cheaper than Dukes.

More moderate DIN range for non-experts.

Cons

Expected to be the same as Dukes, but not so heavy.

Fritschi/Diamir Freeride Plus

Recommended use

Heavy touring

Jumps and aggressive skiing

Inbounds and out of bounds skiing

Pros

Generally regarded as the benchmark for all-round performance

Light, while still taking standard downhill boots

Higher DIN setting than Fritschi Explorer = better retention

More robust than standard Explorer

Can be used with mountaineering boots

Cons

Some contributors believe release/retention not as safe as other options. Others believe later models have addressed this issue.

Off-the-shelf brakes do not fit wider waisted skis - adjustment is necessary - can lead to weakness/ overstressing of base plates.

Fritschi/Diamir Explorer

Recommended use

Touring

Pros

Lighter than the Freeride Plus

Easier to use than Dynafit, and take standard boots

Cons

Not as robust as Freeride Plus

Some contributors believe release/retention not as safe as other options, even more than other Fritschis. Others believe later models have addressed this issue.

Naxo NX21

Recommended use

Heavy touring

Inbounds and out of bounds skiing

Pros

Nice walking action because or a double-pivot system

Cons

Not as robust as Freerides

Heavier than Freerides

Dynafit

Recommended use

Alpine Touring and Ski Mountaineering where speed and lightness matter more.

Older TLT model now known as Speed is lightest of all and still a valid option, but cant change modes easily using ski pole, and minimal adjustment for different boots

Not for aggressive extreme skiing with big jumps, but have the scores on the board for technical extreme descents

Pros

Very light, but durable

The benchmark for light AT gear

Tight connection to the ski, more so than other lightweight options

Cons

Need special compatible AT boots, not downhill boots. Limited range of such boots available in Australia.

Awkward to get into

Awkward change from fixed heel to touring, but not the reverse.

Silvretta

Recommended use

Light Alpine Touring where speed and lightness matter more

Pros

Very light; only Dynafits are lighter

Relatively less expensive

Some models can be skied in climbing boots

Cons

Only rudimentary release mechanism. Pure models do at least have some toe release. Older models with a fixed toe bale release at the heel only, with highly questionable safety.

Not as durable as other options


Telemark Bindings

Tele binding have only lateral stability, they have no longitudinal resistance to movement. They retain the boots by forward pressure imposed by cables or rods running under or around the boots and pushing the heels forward. This is derived from the cross-country 3 pin rat trap binding. In fact modern boots still have the holes to attach to a rat trap binding. Most telebindings have no release mechanism

SPECIFIC BINDING INFO SHOULD BE IN A TABLE

Bomber Bishop

[1] A very solid binding made from large chunks of aluminium, or sometimes titanium.

Linken

A fairly solid binding made from pressed steel. it has a flat plate going under the foot and is hinged at the front. The hinge is possible too far forward, and I managed to twist one of these 30 degrees in a crash.

Cable

cables go around the boots and have a clip at the heel to hold them in place, there are spring cartridges to hold them in place.