We’ve already sussed out skis and boots, so now it’s time to focus on what brings them together – bindings. Bindings have the difficult task of balancing retention vs release – keeping your boots securely clipped to your skis for the most part, but due to inevitable crashes and awkward landings, they need the capability to quickly release your boots in moments of need. As you progress to a more advanced skier, the focus shifts from release to retention.
The secret of this balance is in the binding settings. We don’t really want to encourage you to play around with your binding settings, this is something that should be left to an experienced technician – especially if you’re a beginner – but it’s always good to have a basic understanding of the mechanisms you’re riding. It’s important to make sure that you’ve got the correct DIN setting, which is calculated by your weight, height, ability and riding style. The lower the DIN the lower the force required to release your boots from your bindings. Many a rider’s knee has been busted by an overly cranked up setting – as riders we often find ourselves trapped between DIN recommendations and the wisdom of the freeride veterans you might catch in the gondola, so once again, if you’re unsure leave it to the real experts.
If you’re getting your skis set up by a technician, remember that they don’t know your skiing style or ability, so don’t push their already reduced understanding of you by outing yourself as the hardest freestyle-gangster – unless of course you are! Rather try and convey to him your riding experience and terrain preference – maybe then you’ll get lucky and your skis won’t pop off after the first lift. Let the professional handle it – this goes even more for bindings than it does for boots and skis.
When you’re looking to buy a pair of binding, the first line in deciding which type is right for you is not your body weight, but your riding – so what kind of terrain and how well you ride. For the hardcore freeriders, you should seriously consider a model with an ascent function. Sure, they’re more expensive, but after a fresh dump, you’ll be laughing when you can get easy access to the spots where those relying on lifts are dreaming of.
Another point to be conscious of is the durability of the bindings. As the connection between your skis and boots, bindings act as a shock absorber and need to be able to stand up to the force of the mountain. Using that logic, the harder you drive, the tougher and more durable your bindings should be. Your skis waist width is another aspect to bear in mind when purchasing bindings as breaks come in all sorts of sizes, so it’s important to check that the break is at least as wide as the ski’s waist, but preferable not more than 20mm wider.
While bindings aren’t the most exciting piece of kit, there are now some interesting models on the market. There are bindings that can be shifted with just a few moves forward or backward. With this option, you are much more versatile on the go with very little effort. You can stick with a central position when scoring switch through the park, but then should you have the impulse between your park laps to take a detour to the powder, you can simply shifts the binding towards the back of your skis for some added lift.