Shopping for skis is easy. All you need is to do is to find a pair that suits your skiing style and budget. While shopping for skis is easy, shopping for the best ski bindings can confound even the most enthusiastic skier. Unlike skis, there is no stiffness to check or side cut to examine. When looking for ski bindings, all you see are confusing inner workings.
Ski bindings are basically the mechanism the attaches your boots to your skis. As a safety feature the bindings are designed to release from the ski when the pressure is exerted on them is greater than the release setting.
Basically a ski binding has two pieces: the heel and toe. When you fall, the toe piece releases to the side, sometimes upward. The heel piece also releases but upwards or multi-directionally.
When choosing a ski binding remember 2 things:
- They must be compatible with your boots.
- Have a professional adjust the binding settings. Never do this yourself.
How to Choose Ski Bindings
There are three easy but different ways to choose ski bindings.
You can choose using your skier profile (beginner, intermediate, advance or junior), you can stock to your budget, and you can use the waist width of your skis and personal DIN settings to guide you on your purchase.
- Beginner and Intermediate: For skiers that are cautious and moderate (Type 1 and 2), you can save money by opting for a lower end to mid-range model because you don’t need the highest release setting or impact resistant materials. The only exemption to this is if you’re on the heavy side. You might need to purchase next level ski bindings that have higher release setting.
- Advanced: Type 3 or aggressive skiers need bindings that have a higher release setting. These ski bindings are also made for speed with their lightweight bomber bindings and titanium to help you speed up on steep slopes.
- Juniors: These ski binding settings are for kids and have lower release settings compared to adults. While junior settings are made for kids they can also work on adult sizes as well.
If you’re still confused on which ski bindings to buy you can also consider budget as a factor. For value minded skiers who want to get their money’s worth, they should go for the intermediate. They won’t cost as much as advanced profile bindings, but they have everything you need to hit the slopes.
While advanced profile settings look tempting if you can afford them, these bindings are built for sophisticated skiers who need longer travel and retention before release. They usually have higher DIN (release) settings and are constructed from beefier materials which contribute to their higher price range.
Lastly, you can choose ski bindings by figuring out:
- Waist width of your skis and
- DIN settings also known as release settings
The waist width of your skis will determine the size breaks you need while your skiing ability, weight, height, boot size will determine DIN settings.
For example, if the skier is 65-200 lbs, with an ability level of beginner to intermediate and DIN settings of 3 to 10, the recommended ski binding is intermediate ski bindings.
For skiers of the same weight but are expert skiers, they might want to consider ski bindings in the advanced section so that their bindings will have greater DIN to compensate for their more aggressive skiing style.
What Is DIN?
DIN or Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization) is the standard adopted by the skiing industry for release force settings for ski bindings. Even though an identical setting was published by the International Standards Organization (ISO), most skiers still refer to release settings as DIN.
Generally speaking, the lower the release setting the lower the force required to release. When getting your ski bindings, a shop technician will set the DIN for you based on your height, weight and skiing ability level.
There are also binding features that you can consider when shopping for ski bindings. Here are other features you need to look out for.
- AFD (Anti-Friction Device): Found on the binding’s toe piece, the AFD is usually a sliding mechanism or low friction device that sits under your ski boot. The smooth piece is designed to minimize friction between binding and boot during lateral release. The purpose of the AFD is to allow the boot to slide smoothly sideways when released.
- Riser Plates: Riser plates became popular during the mid 2000’s when racers and carving oriented skiers wanted more leverage and steeper lean angles. Riser plates enable more pressure to be put on the edges to make the skis drag in the snow less. They are usually found on skis that need to perform well on hard or icy snow.
- Elastic Movement: To reduce inadvertent release, ski bindings have a certain amount of elastic travel for vertical and lateral movement before the skier releases. The elastic movement on your bindings also provide significant shock absorption during landings or when experiencing bumps. Some ski bindings provide more elastic movement than others.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some good examples of ski bindings that you should consider for your next purchase.
Ski Binding Review
Dynafit TLT Radical St 2.0 Ski Binding
Price: $465.95 – $549.95
Special Features: Step-in side towers, Easy lock brake system, Crampon slot, Rotation toe piece, 10 mm forward pressure for length adjustment when ski is flexed
Description: The TLT Radical is Dynafit’s newest ski binding in the market today. It looks very similar to its predecessor the Radical ST but with major upgrades.
Some of the biggest re-designs addresses safety which was achieved by developing a laterally pivoting toe piece and a gapless forward pressure-style on the heel.
Aside from being safer than the previous models, the TLT Radical also has the least icing problems of any tech binding with heel risers that are easy to engage. This ski binding from Dynafit is a bit expensive however; it has a dependable and solid design.
The engineers did a good job designing this binding and put a lot of thought as to the materials used. Some of the pieces are made with plastic but this is to ensure that they break first in order to protect the more important pieces made from metal and to prevent the binding from failing.
Overall the TLT Radical has a good balance in weight, ease of use, downhill performance, durability and reliability.
Marker Kingpin 13 Binding
Price: $648.95 – $649.00
Special Features: Recommended Skier Weight: 130+ lbs., DIN: 6-13, Stand Toe Height: W/O SKI 21mm, Brake width: 75-100mm & 100-125mm, Toe System: Kingpin PinTech Toe
Description: The Marker Kingpin 13 Bindings are the first to gain the coveted DIN ISO 13992:2007 certification from TÜV testing organization from Germany.
The toe uses two spring-loaded pins to better secure your boot. It also features a ski/walk switch and adjustable boot straps for easy step-in.
Aside from this it also has XXL power transmitter Alpine-style heel piece, two heel-risers, automatically locking breaks with an integrated crampon adapter and plastic and hot-forged body with carbon rails. This ski binding is lightweight, versatile and as powerful as a traditional Alpine binding.
Dynafit Speed Turn 2.0 Binding
Special Features: Claimed weight – 12 oz (without brakes, sold separately), extremely lightweight, Designed for speed touring/racing
Description: At 1 pound 10 oz, the Speed Turn 2.0 from Dynafit is one of the lightest ski bindings in the market. It is 7 oz lighter than other lightweight models like the Fritschi Vipec and almost 1 pound lighter than its cousin the Dynafit Radial ST 2.0.
While the Speed Turn did remove features to make it lighter, it can still perform basic ski tasks such as freeing a heel for uphill travel and locks a skier’s for descent while remaining stable and reliable.
This ski binding is ideal for people who don’t care about breaks and would like to save money and weight.
However, for those who really want to get into touring, perhaps ski breaks are worth looking in to. While backcountry skiers prefer adding $200 breaks, most skiers are fine without them.
The Speed Turn 2.0 is a great ski binding that performs very well but without a lot of extras. The only complicated thing about this binding is learning the trick to rotate the heel on the ascent. It’s hard to find a better backcountry companion with the 2.0 especially if all you need is simplicity.
You won’t win any awards on style and coolness but the bindings are lightweight, reliable and affordable.
G3 Ion 12 Binding
Price: $389.97 – $549.95
Special Features: high performing, reliable lightweight binding, winner of three prestigious editor’s choice awards, brake options: 85, 100, 115, & 130 mm, DIN setting: 5 – 12, weight (single): 585 grams
Description: The G3 Ion 12 Binding is a good combination of lightweight and functional design.
It will keep you smiling from top to bottom with its innovative features and super styling. It has a high vertical snow clearance so snow won’t build up under the toe piece.
Stepping in is easy thanks to the boot stops that are built into the toe piece. If you like cool looking bindings, the G3 is the one for you since this is one of the coolest available.
Flick your pole to the heel switch to go from walk mode to ski mode. Best of all it features a Full 360° heel rotation and ambidextrous risers.
The only thing we did not like about this model from G3 is the metal hook under the break platform that has a tendency to freeze and causing it to unlatch from the brakes when you switch over to tour mode. Make sure to remove any moisture and snow to prevent this from happening.
Black Diamond Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 with Brake
Price: $387.57 – $599.95
Special Features: Easy Switch heel and toe allow easy switching from ski and walk mode, Safety Tech System feature for ski and walk mode and avalanche safety, Three-level heel riser, Micro-adjustable width wings help compatibility with any model tech insert, brakes included
Description: This second-gen Black Diamond Fritschi Diamir Vipec 12 with Brake is easier to use than its predecessor.
It is built for rugged skiing and combines Alpine skiing with lightweight pin system of a tech binding to provide standardized safety release capabilities.
The result is a ski binding that is lightweight with extreme Alpine-style power transmission.
You can easily switch from walk to ski mode without stepping out of the bindings and the toe piece features a micro-adjustable width wings for a wide variety of tech inserts.
This ski binding is a favorite among avalanche professionals thanks to the two-stage heel riser which allows 3 different configurations depending on the grade of the terrain.
It also has pre-defined safety release capabilities that uses gliding heel piece for consistent contact pressure and Lateral, frontal, and defined release capability for reliable release.
Black Diamond FRITSCHI DIAMIR Freeride Pro AT Bindings
Price: $379.97 – $569.95
Special Features: hard-charging AT binding for swift ascents and speedy descents, 4-12 DIN range assures reliable release values, wide toe piece hinge provides smooth glide while touring, Integrated lock on free-gliding heel bar for added protection, 108mm wide brake included
Description: The Fritschi Diamir by Black Diamond features a touring mode but it does not mean to say that it sacrifices downhill performance. This is a great ski for powerful skiers who are looking for technical lines that don’t belong in the resort.
The ski binding is made from robust materials which mean durability and a clever linkage that transfers all of your power to the ski. It also features a dialed release system to protect the skier from dangerous early-release scenarios.
The Fritschi Diamir features a Gliding Technology that has a wider toe piece to get rid of the annoying walking-on-your-tip-toe feeling. It also has a free-gliding heel bar to prevent accidental release when in tour mode.
Bottom line, the Freeride Pro is a solid binding and worth the price. If you are new to the AT market, you should definitely consider this ski binding.
Marker Griffon Binding
Price: $179.00 – $198.19
Special Features: DIN Range: 4 – 13, Triple Pivot Elite toe + Inter-Pivot heel, AFD stainless steel gliding plate, Stand Height: 22 mm, Claimed weight: [90mm] 4 lb 2.67 oz, [110mm] 4 lb 3.02 oz
Description: With a DIN range of 4-13, you can ski anything with the Marker Griffon binding. Many new skiers might doubt the durability of the Griffon due to its lower price range but many seasoned skiers think that this is not so.
The Griffon is durable even though some of its parts are plastic in fact, the rougher the better. If you’ve used this binding for a number of seasons you will find that the bindings can take a beating.
Even if you have big skis, you will find that there is no need for heavier or clunkier bindings.
The Griffon can be your go-to ski binding its quick release, lightweight design, height adjustable AFD which allows for excellent boot to binding allowance and short design for faster spinning.
The Marker Griffon is recommended for skiers who weigh at least 80 pounds who enjoys all mountain terrain, park and pipe and freestyle.
The bindings weigh around 4 pounds 3 ounces per pair so it is stable but won’t weigh you down too much. Lastly, Marker has a 1-year warranty on their products so you can purchase the Griffon with confidence.
Look Pivot 14 Dual Ski Bindings 2017
Special Features: 180 Degree Toe Release, 28mm of Elastic Travel in the Heel Piece, Compatible with WTR and Standard Alpine Boot Soles,
Description: The award-winning Pivot is one of the most trusted ski bindings in the market. Their Pivot 14 is an elite-level dual standard freeride binding. Many freestyle skiers and aggressive chargers favor this binding because its lightweight design can help increase transmission while enhancing the flex of the skis.
The new generation Pivot also features a platform that is 10% wider and 14% longer toe wings for better boot to binding ratio which increases energy transfer from the boot to the skis.
Some simple tinkering in the ADF allows the user to quickly shift to WTR. Choose this ski binding if you want something tough and time tested.
Unless specified by the manufacturer, the best ski bindings are maintenance free which is good news for all of us. However, for safety reasons, we recommend that ski bindings be examined by a certified technician before the start of a new season.
To keep your ski bindings in top condition always remember to keep them from dirt, rust, salt and other contaminants. Do not try to clean your bindings using soap and other cleaners because they might remove lubricants and oils that could be vital to their proper function.
During off-season, store your skis in a clean dry place and do not leave them in wet for long periods of time.
What Happens If My Boots Don’t Fit The Ski Bindings?
Some readers might be asking what happens if the ski boots don’t fit the bindings. If you bought new boots and want to use them with your skis, you will have to go to a certified shop technician to have them adjusted.
Almost all ski bindings allow for some adjustability, although there are models that are more limited in which case the ski bindings will have to be re-mounted to accommodate the new boots. Adjusting or re-mounting the bindings by yourself is not advisable and is highly recommended that you go to a certified technician to facilitate adjustments.
If you have a suggestion or a story you’d like to share with us about your personal ski bindings, then leave please feel free to leave a comment down below. We’d love to hear from you.