How to Adjust Your Ski Bindings - The Ultimate Guide
What’s a DIN setting? What do all those millimetre sizes mean? And why is my ski binding different from all my friends’?
The Importance of Properly Set Ski Bindings
The proper binding of your ski boots to your skis is one of the most critical pieces of your ski set-up.
Your bindings control how your feet and ski boots lock together, and perhaps more importantly, how you eject from your skis if you crash. Bindings need to strike a balance between hold and release.
Adjusting your own ski bindings can be a daunting prospect. When you’re attempting to change your bindings for a friend, or for a new pair of skis you’ve bought online, it’s all too easy to get tangled up in a web of measurements, binding types, and lingo.
But follow our simple guide below, and you’ll be safe and secure in your bindings in no time.
Can I Adjust My Own Ski Bindings?
The proper binding of your ski boots to your skis is fundamental to allow you to ski safely and ski with the best technique that you can. But for most recreational and even expert skiers, adjusting your ski bindings can be a confusing process with many variations.
This article will guide you through how you can adjust the most common ski binding types from major manufacturers, but there are many more types that are simply too numerous to cover.
If you’re unsure about any of the steps, or your ski binding doesn’t fit into one of the categories below, go to a ski boot fitting shop, where a professional boot fitter will help you out.
What Do You Need Before Adjusting Your Bindings?
The most popular ski binding types are all designed to be adjusted on the slopes as needed, so you don’t need any additional equipment besides a screwdriver (usually a crosshead).
However, the most important point to note is that your ski boots and ski bindings must be compatible with one another. For example, most alpine ski boots won’t be compatible with touring skiing bindings, because they have different fastening and adjustment mechanisms.
The world of ski bindings can sound overwhelming, but don't be put off. With a little patience and understanding of the most common types of bindings, you'll be able to easily adjust the bindings of your new skis, or next time you try out your friend's skis.
To set up bindings you'll usually need information on:
- The skier’s age
- Boot Size
- And their skill level
But first let's start by finding out about the major variations of ski bindings.
Ski Bindings: The Major Variations
There are many different types of ski bindings, but the three most common binding types are:
1. Traditional Piste Bindings
Traditional piste bindings are usually drill mounted (as shown here, without an adjustable toe piece to set your forward pressure), or rail mounted (with an adjustable toe and heel piece to set your forward pressure) to your skis.
You’ll find these types of bindings on most off-the-shelf alpine skis.
Traditional piste bindings are easy to adjust by hand on-the-move, as they predominantly have levers and common screws.
- Drill mounted bindings only have an adjustable heel piece, and so they only offer a small amount of forward pressure adjustment, and must be re-mounted using specialist drilling equipment to fit different boot sizes.
- Rail mounted bindings (AKA track mounted bindings) offer a larger range of easy-to-move forward pressure adjustment as they have adjustable toe and heel pieces, with rental or demo bindings offering the biggest range of adjustment.
This guide will predominanly focus on this most common type of binding, a rail mounted traditional piste binding.
2. Touring Bindings
Touring bindings are usually drill mounted (with limited or no toe or heel adjustment to set your forward pressure without using specialist equipment).
The key feature of touring bindings is free-heel action, which allows your heel to lift up, designed for traversing or ascending the hill.
Touring bindings have a very low weight to make mountain ascents easier, but this often comes at the expense of an adjustable DIN release setting (read on to find out more about DIN settings).
3. Freetour Bindings
Freetour bindings are usually drill mounted. These “hybrid” bindings combine the safety and security of a traditional piste binding when they are in the downhill mode, with the ability to use free-heel action for touring.
These bindings are usually more lightweight than tradiitonal piste bindings, to make them easier for mountain ascents, but not as lightweight as touring bindings due to their hybrid nature.
As most skiers using Carv want to work on technique on piste, in this article we will concentrate on the more traditional piste style of bindings.
However, even within the category of traditional piste bindings, there are many binding variations depending on which manufacturer makes your ski bindings. By far the leading established brands are:
- Salomon (sometimes branded as Atomic, Armada, or Scott).
- Tyrolia (sometimes branded as Head or Fischer).
- Look (sometimes branded as Rossignol).
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The 4 Steps to Adjust Your Ski Bindings:
When setting up bindings and boots with the brands above, there are four major steps to work through when adjusting your ski bindings. These are:
- Adjusting your forward pressure
- Adjusting your toe height
- Selecting the right DIN setting
- Finding the centre of the ski
The following binding setup is completed using one of the most common configurations: a Salomon Warden demo (branded Scott) binding, which is a rail mounted traditional piste binding, and Atomic Hawx ski boots.
Step 1: Forward Pressure
The forward pressure (the pressure applied to the ski boot by the toe and heel of the binding) needs to be exact in order to make for safe skiing. Too little forward pressure and the binding will pre-release, too much pressure and the binding will not release.
To adjust this demo binding both the toe and heel can be moved to ensure correct pressure and the boot remains centred on the ski.
The boot we are using has a shell length of 315mm. This is neither the mondopoint size or shoe size, but rather is the mm length of the boot shell. This mm length is engraved on the side of the heel on every ski boot.
To adjust your forward pressure, use the levers on the toe and heel piece to slide the piece along the rail until the marker aligns with the shell size of your boot.
The toe position has been moved to accommodate shell size 314mm-321mm (as shown here).
The heel has been moved to accommodate shell size 317mm as this is the closest to 315mm.
The adjustments are only guides so the boot must be inserted before use to determine if the forward pressure is correct.
Step 2: Toe Height
Toe height is sometimes set automatically but in many cases, the toe height needs checking every few trips as the boots wear from walking.
If the toe height is too low the boot may not release in a fall and set too high the boot can move around and pre-release from the binding.
You can adjust your toe height using the screw usually located on the top of the toe piece, which will move the front of the boot upwards or downwards.
It is also worth checking the bottom of your ski boots for damage, small stones wedged under the toe can slow release in a fall by adding extra friction.
A quick and easy way to set the toe height to the correct amount is to fold a sheet of paper in half and place it under the boot forefoot before closing the heel in place.
The picture above indicates there is too much pressure pushing down on the paper.
The paper should slide out with only a slight tug, but at the same time, it should not fall out without a slight pull.
A correct toe height usually leaves a tiny gap of between 0.5mm-1mm clear between the toe of the boot and the binding AFD (anti-friction device) that sits beneath it.
NOTE: Many new styles of boot use Gripwalk soles. These are thicker and more shaped than older styles of boots and in some cases, these new boot soles will not fit older bindings! Look out for terms like Grip Walk, MNC (multi norm certified) and Sole ID on your bindings. Often there will be a large screw on top of the toe piece of the binding.
Step 3: DIN Setting
The penultimate step to adjusting your ski bindings is setting your DIN release. But before you do any adjusting, you'll need to work out your release setting number.
The best way to find out your DIN release number is to go get your bindings adjusted in your local ski shop by a professional. This is important because having an incorrect DIN release setting can cause you to either prematurely eject from your bindings if the number is too low, or not release at all if it is too high. Both scenarios can cause serious injury.
There are many online tools to work out your release setting, but you should be wary of using these. Don't use a tool that does not ask for at least the following details:
- Ski boot sole (mm) length
- Honest skiing level (this is important!)
- Age is also a factor if you are over 50
When you've got your DIN setting number, it's time to make your adjustments. The DIN release is set using screws on both the toe piece and heel piece of the binding, as shown here.
Step 4: Finding the centre of the ski
Some skiers like to adjust the position of their bindings on their skis relative to the center point of the ski, to dial-in the performance of the ski for certain scenarios.
When using a Slalom ski, people often like to move the binding forward to make it easier to turn faster or with a shorter radius. Conversely, freeride skiers often move the binding backwards to take the weight off the tip for more floatation over deep off-piste snow.
Bindings that use a rail or demo system (for example the Salomon Warden, the ski we've been using as a demonstration for this article) can be moved forward or back of the ski centre with ease.
On all skis apart from twntip freestyle skis, the ski centre is a line, arrow or other marking to indicate where the centre of the ski boot should sit (as shown here).
It is important not to confuse this centre line with the ski centre as marked on freestyle skis. Freestyle skis use the balance centre point of the ski, which is much further forward than the centre by length. On a traditional ski, the centre balance point is usually under the toe.
Bindings that have no rail systems will need to be redrilled if the binding centre needs moving forwards or back, so you need to be sure before making a radical decision like this.
Thanks for reading this guide to adjusting your ski bindings. We hope the tips and 4 steps have left you empowered with knowledge about your binding, and how it can be adjusted!
If your binding type has not been covered (there's so many out there!), or if you require assistance to make sure you've got it right, don't hesitate to visit your local ski shop. They'll be glad to help you adjust your bindings, or to clarify how yours work for you.
Written by: Ski Exchange
Boot fitters and winter sports equipment specialists
The Ski Exchange are boot fitters and winter sports equipment specialists based in Cambridgeshire, UK. Their team of 4 main fitters have a combined over 70 years of experience, making them one of the best fitting, servicing, and repair shops in the world.