Ski Bindings

Ski bindings are an often overlooked but crucial part of your ski equipment. If you're reading about buying bindings, you're probably not a brand-new skier. You might not realise, however, just how many types of bindings are on the market.  Each kind of ski has its own type or types of bindings, which can then be further tuned based on your size, sex and skill level. These four are the main types you'll find in a ski shop.


Traditional alpine or downhill bindings are a two part system comprised of a toe and heel piece. They are installed on the skis at the right distance from each other so that when the skier steps down into them, his or her weight locks the device down around the ski boot.


There are four types of telemark bindings, as discussed below. All types enable the heel to release by only connecting at the toe.

Alpine Touring 

AT bindings, or randonnée, are meant for slopes and touring in back country.  They allow for more versatility and convenience by either locking or disengaging the heel. It's like purchasing two bindings for the price of one.


Cross-country skiing is performed solely on flat terrain, which demands a free-heel binding that enables you to skate across the snow. They are designed to fit cross-country boots  by connecting at the toe.

Alpine Bindings

Skill Level and DIN -- The DIN (Deutsche Industrie Normen) setting indicates how easily a ski boot releases from the binding. Depending on your skill level, you will need to choose a higher or lower DIN number. The lower it is, the easier it is to unlock the binding. Most new bindings will come with an adjustable release  to apt your needs as you become a more advanced skier.

  • Beginners want the lowest DIN (3-6 ).
  • Intermediates and advanced skiers can choose from 5-9  and 6-12 , respectively.
  • Racers and pros need the highest level DIN (12-24 ).

Gender and Mounting Placement -- Women's bindings need to be mounted differently from men's bindings because their center of gravity is slightly lower. To counteract this, women's bindings should be mounted slightly forward of centre on the skis. For-aft adjustments may help to balance skis out better.

Noteworthy Features -- Here are some other things that you might want to know about alpine ski bindings.

  • A ski brake, a small lever that flips out once the boot is released from the binding, prevents the ski from sliding down the hill (or into the trees) after a crash.
  • Anti-friction devices (AFDs) make sliding in and out of step-in bindings easier. They can even be adjusted to favour a certain release direction.
  • Adjustable forward pressure is crucial to allow the bindings to adapt to the torque when skis bend and twist. This is something that only advanced skiers should consider.
  • Vibration dampening is available on more advanced models and should be considered for pro skiers.
  • Fore-aft adjustments can move the bindings slightly forward or backwards depending on whether you are skiing in deep powder or on the piste. Don't try this unless you are a extremely sure of yourself -- you should usually leave binding adjustments to the professionals.

Major Brands -- Atomic ,Marker ,Rossignol ,Salomon ,Tyrolia ,Voile 

Alpine Touring Bindings

There are a few big brands to choose from, including Fitschi ,Dynafit ,Naxo , and Silvretta . First decide whether you want something lightweight, such as the new Dynafit (traditional alpine style binding geared towards climbing) or a touring step-in style binding that tends to be heavier but more stable. Keep in mind that Dynafit is a brand that works only with Dynafit AT boots. This is a big step which means sticking to a particular brand (all other AT bindings can be mixed and matched with other AT boots). On the other hand, these are the superior choice for climbing since they are lightweight and work with lightweight skis and boots. If you want to remain versatile and tend to do a lot of alpine skiing versus touring, opt for a step-in style binding, which also happens to be more readily available.

  • Look for models that feature a brake. Not all come with it as a standard. However, if you plan to have both step-in style stability for hills, you will want this protection so that in the case that you take a tumble, your skis won't fly off downhill without you.
  • If you know that you'll be doing lots of climbing, stick to very lightweight bindings.
  • Look for quick pole switch bindings that don't require stepping out of your bindings to switch from touring to alpine mode.

Cross-Country Bindings

There are three types of XC bindings available, each with a specific purpose and brands that they are compatible with.

NNN Bindings

These are the bindings that the pros use for racing, either in the R3 or R4 classification. They are compatible with the following manufacturers: Alpina ,Atomic , and Rossignol .

SNS Bindings

Salomon  and Fischer  are some of the manufacturers that make this type of binding suited to skiing from racing (equipe), active (touring/recreational), and back country, to auto touring.

SNS Pilot

This type of binding is meant for skate skiers, and they are compatible with boots made by the following manufacturers: Salomon ,Fischer ,Adidas , and Hartjes .

Telemark Bindings

Bindings will typically range in cost from $150 to $300. You will want to look at the spring tension or stiffness in a binding when selecting since that is what will determine the kind of support you will get from them. Here are the basic types, represented by popular models. For an expert article on buying telemark bindings, please see this buying guide or this excellent buyer's guide at


Cable Compression

Wire Compression



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