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If you’re shopping for new ski gear, your skis must be of high quality, and your boots need to fit well and be comfortable. However, your bindings have equal importance. Depending on the type of boot you plan on using, or your skill level, you may need to reconsider your bindings.
Typically, most bindings are universal as long as the type of skiing you plan on doing matches both the boots and the bindings. For example, if you have boots designed for alpine downhill skiing, most bindings designed for alpine downhill skiing will be compatible. However, backcountry bindings require a specific style of boots different from alpine boots.
Styles of Bindings Available
The type of binding you will need will primarily depend on the kind of skiing you want to do. For most people, this means downhill skiing or backcountry skiing. The styles of boots, skis, and bindings significantly differ between the two main types of skiing. However, there are further categories to take into consideration when you choose what kind of skiing you will be doing.
1. Alpine Ski Bindings
If you are a downhill skier, you will want bindings built specifically for alpine skiing. Alpine boots are specifically designed to work with these bindings. Therefore, alpine ski bindings are universal to all alpine ski boots.
Integrated bindings are becoming more and more popular amongst alpine skiers. They are already part of the ski, so you don’t have to buy separate bindings. Integrated bindings tend to offer more flexibility to the ski, but they eliminate the option of choosing which bindings you want to be mounted on your skis.
Downhill ski bindings come with a separate head and toe piece. Brakes come down when your boot is out of the binding to prevent your ski from taking off without you down the hill and also to hold the ski steady while you insert your boot. The toe piece comes with a DIN setting window, allowing you to adjust the strength of the binding to your skill level and size.
2. Bindings for Backcountry Skiing
If you’re the type of adventurist that likes to skip the resort and chairlift, you are probably looking for equipment for backcountry skiing. Backcountry ski bindings are designed so that your heels are free and you and ski your way up the mountain. Once you’re on top, you can lock your heels back in so you can ski down.
You must make sure your boots are compatible with the kind of bindings that you choose to use for backcountry skiing. The difference between each style varies greatly. Alpine ski boots will not work with this style of binding.
Commons styles of backcountry ski bindings include:
- Frame bindings: The heal and toe pieces connect to the frame, much like an alpine boot. However, the frame lifts with your ski boot while skinning uphill. These frames are often heavier than tech bindings, but allow you to ski in the resort as well as in the backcountry. Frame bindings can be used with alpine touring boots and even some regular downhill boots.
- Tech Bindings: Specific ski boots are needed for the pins in the toe and heel pieces of these bindings. The pins hold your toes in place yet allow your heels to release when you are moving uphill. These are the lightest backcountry bindings and are preferred by serious backcountry skiers because they make the ascent somewhat easier.
- Telemark Bindings: Unlike other backcountry bindings, Telemark bindings do not allow you to secure the heal at any time. Instead, the heal stays free both during ascent and descent, requiring a considerable amount of skill. These bindings are only compatible with boots designed explicitly for Telemark skis. These boots are only available in three brands Scarpa, Garmont, and Crispi.
Can Bindings Be Adjusted?
As long as you buy ski boots that are compatible with your bindings, it is straightforward and simple to adjust your bindings to your boot size and weight. Ideally, you would have a professional at a ski rental shop, but if you want to know your DIN value – use our handy Calculator.
If your bindings need mounting or re-mounting – this may involve repositioning the bindings and drilling holes.
What to Take Into Consideration Before Buying Bindings
Before buying bindings, you want to make sure your boots will fit with the style of skiing you plan on doing. You will also want to take into consideration your skill level. For example, bindings that hold your heal it would be ideal for beginners wanting to learn to downhill ski.
While not all ski bindings are universal for different types of skiing, most of them can be used with different brands and sizes of ski boots. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about not being able to find the right boots for your bindings. There will be plenty of options in sizes and comfort that will fit with your bindings, ensuring that you will have a great day on the slopes.
Know Your Din Setting
Ski bindings should be fitted by a professional, but if you prefer to adjust them yourselves or want to know the approximate DIN setting you should be using – you can use the latest guidance from Salomon tech manual which we’ve compiled into an easy-to-use – Ski DIN Settings Calculator.