Are you new to skiing? If so, one of the most important aspects to gear selection is choosing your bindings. It is also one of the most complex decisions that has to be made. This guide is designed to help you choose the right ski binding for your particular needs.
The first step in finding your perfect binding is Din settings. DIN stands for Deutches Institut for Normung (Germany), which is the industry standard scale for binding settings and safety. This is the amount of tension in the toe and heel piece of the binding. The windows on the toe and heel piece are the visual indicators for what that setting is. This setting will allow the ski and binding to release from the boot in the event of an accident. The DIN setting is calculated by the skier's age, height, weight, boot sole length, and skier ability. Ideally the skier should be in the middle of the DIN range of his or her binding. The Din setting is a very important safety feature and should not be overlooked.
The second step to choosing the proper ski binding is to know how wide your skis are. The reason the waist width is important is because it determines what size brakes you need. Alpine ski bindings often have replaceable brakes. If the binding you choose does not come with the correct size brake you need, check with a proffessional to find the right item and discuss options.
Anti Friction Device (AFD):
An anti-friction device is designed to help your ski release from your boot sideways. The device sits under the toe area of the binding.
The elastic movement of a binding varies from binding to binding and the level of elasticity in a binding will depend on your preferences. The elasticity of a binding prevents an accidental release of a ski during use by allowing a certain level of travel both vertical and horizontal movements by the skier. It can also help to provide additional comfort during jump landings or when skiing over uneven terrain.
Flat Skis vs. Skis with Integrated Bindings:
To make binding choice easier, some ski manufacturers have begun offering skis with integrated bindings. This ensures that the bindings are the right size for the skis. Flat skis will accept just about any bindings assuming they meet the brake width and DIN criteria. The main drawback to using integrated bindings is that they are designed to work with a specific ski, making it necessary to purchase new bindings when you buy new skis.
In addition to Alpine Bindings, there are multiple bindings on the market for every flavor of adventure. The following is a brief overview of specialty bindings.
Variable Mount Bindings:
Variable mounting-position bindings allow skiers to adjust where the bindings are mounted on the ski, up to a total of 6mm of total adjustment. This helps skiers use their set up for a number of different uses. What's even better is that the adjustment can be made on the fly, allowing you to switch from powder skiing to park skiing quickly.
Demo Ski Bindings:
These kind of bindings were developed to help skiers who are demoing or renting skis because they accommodate a broad range of boot sole sizes promptly. These usually accompany the purchase of used ski packages. While these bindings are easy to adjust, because they have a direct impact on the safety of your experience, it's best to allow a professional to adjust them for your particular needs.
These specialty bindings are specifically designed to allow skiers to raise their heels as they climb with their skis on. They also allow skiers the ability to lock them back down onto the ski when skiing. While Alpine tour ski bindings are specifically built for touring use, they can also be used successfully for those who enjoy using a lift to ski. There are many different options available for those looking for this feature.
When looking at Alpine touring bindings, know that there are two general types: Tech bindings and Frame Alpine Touring ski. The frame category has a built in heel and toe piece that are joined by a frame while the tech version uses the sole of a specially created boot to act as the structure. There are pros and cons for both styles. If you are unsure as to which version will be the best for your needs, ask a professional.
Telemark ski bindings are intended for telemark ski boots. The main draw for using the Telemark system is that the boot and binding bends under your foot, which gives you greater mobility while you are dressed to ski. The heel end of the boot in this system offers the most freedom when it comes to heel travel, which lends itself to allowing skiers to make the best Telemark turn on the slopes.
Maintaining Your Bindings:
As with all other ski gear, bindings do require a bit of maintenance in order to get the best and longest use out of them. The good news is that they don't require a lot of complicated maintenance. Generally speaking, it is important to keep your bindings clean and free of debris in between uses. It is good practice to rinse your bindings after use in order to remove dirt, salt, and other debris that can cause the surface to breakdown. You should also visually inspect your bindings to check for wear and breakage before each use. Lastly, have your bindings professionally inspected at least once per year, more often if you ski frequently.