Bindings: Heel and Toe Release Settings

DO NOT DO THIS YOURSELF. This table is provided for informational purposes only, to help you better understand how ski equipment works.

First, the binding technician determines the skier’s ability. Beginners and novices are a “Type I.” The next, “Type II,” are moderately cautious, average skiers who may ski the entire mountain, but certainly will not “bomb” a double black diamond. “Type III” skiers are ski anywhere, do anything hotshots. Type I skiers will have a fairly low level of retention, Type III skiers recognize that they will gain a narrower margin of release to permit higher G-force loading, and Type II skiers are a compromise between release and retention.

Step 2, he or she finds the skier’s weight and height. If they are not the same, the trained technician uses whichever is closer to the TOP of the chart. Then moves across to…

Step 3, find the column with the skier’s boot sole length in mm. This is the general release setting for a Type II skier. For a Type I skier, move up the chart (to a lower number) one level. For a Type III skier, move down the chart (to a higher number) one or perhaps two levels.

Step 4 is a judgement call; the experienced technician will adjust up or down further based on what he or she sees. Is the skier a flat-out beginner and nervous wreck? Move up. Is the skier a hotshot likely to jump off cliffs? Move down. Over age 50? Up. Extremely out of shape? Up again. The goal is to find the balance of g-force loading the skier is likely to submit the bindings to while skiing under control, and determine just where exceeding that force will indicate either impact or a fall. Again, when we say “move up” it refers to the chart — which is of course a lower DIN setting.

Remember, this should only be done by qualified technicians, not by weekend warriors.

DANGER! Severe injury/Permanent disability if not done by professional
Skier Weight Skier Height Boot sole length in mm
pounds inches <250 251-270 271-290 291-310 311-330 >331
    DIN setting
22-29 .75 .75
30-38 1 1 .75
39-47 1.25 1.25 1
48-56 1.75 1.5 1.5
57-66 2 2 1.75
67-78 2.5 2.5 2.25 2 1.75 1.75
79-91 3 2.5 2.5 2.25 2
92-107 4’10” 3.5 3 3 2.5 2.5
108-125 4’11”-5’1″ 4.25 4 3.5 3.25 3.25
126-147 5’2″-5’5″ 5 4.75 4.5 4 4
148-174 5’6″-5’10” 6 5.5 5.25 5 4.75
175-209 5’11”-6’4″ 7 6.75 6.25 6 5.75
210+ 6’5″+ 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.75
racing only 10 9.5 9.0 8.5 8.25
racing+ only 12 11.25 10.75 10.25 10
DANGER! Severe injury/Permanent disability if not done by professional

Adjusting the DIN setting either compresses or decompresses a spring. That compression determines just how much force is required for the bindings to move and spit out the boot. It’s simple physics, right? The problem is that spring forces change during the life of the spring due to oxidation, temperature fluctuation, and sustained compression. Another factor is that the springs in your bindings (usually one in each heel and toe, but sometimes two) may each be affected slightly differently, so four identical release settings could actually represent four different spring forces. For this reason, technicians have a jig for measuring release forces, and can compensate accordingly.

What about INDEMNIFIED bindings? Congratulations, you found a great pair of skis at a pawn shop, and you’re all set…until you bring them to the ski shop to have the bindings adjusted. The technician looks at your bindings, frowns, and then consults a chart. Finally, after not finding your binding model number listed, he shrugs and says, “we can’t work on these, they’re too old.”

What he really means is, “The factory no longer supports these bindings, so if we work on them, you can turn around and sue us.” This is the difference between indemnified and non-indemnified bindings. You may even have a set of bindings brand new — still in the box — and the ski shop will shake their heads and send you away. Unless they are on the list of Indemnified bindings, you are out of luck.

Can you ski on non-indemnified bindings? Well, let’s use an analogy. Can you still drive a 1967 Ford Galaxie on the highway at 70 mph? Sure, but you aren’t likely to hold the road anywhere near as well as the 2012 Ford Taurus, and you certainly won’t be as safe. Both have four tires, an engine and a transmission — and both will get you there — but the Galaxie is really only suited for show at this point. Sometimes you might take it on the highway just for a hoot, people will stare at you, and you’ll remember the old days. With no airbag and old technology, you’re taking a risk. You probably do your own maintenance. Your non-indemnified bindings are the same way.

Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down.