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What are Different Types of Ski Bindings?

Ski bindings are critical for both performance and safety on the slopes. Alpine, or downhill, bindings are the most common type, designed to release the boot during a fall to prevent injury. They're categorized by DIN settings, which determine the force required for release, tailored to the skier's weight, skill level, and preferences. Tech bindings, on the other hand, are lighter and allow for free heel movement, making them ideal for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. They connect to boots via pins and require compatible boots with tech inserts. Both types have evolved with advancements in materials and design, enhancing the skiing experience and safety.

For those who enjoy both alpine and touring, hybrid bindings offer a versatile solution. They function like alpine bindings for downhill runs but can switch to a touring mode with a free heel for uphill travel. Meanwhile, telemark bindings are unique in that they only secure the toe of the boot, allowing for the classic telemark "lunging" turn. According to the Snowsports Industries America (SIA), the market for alpine touring equipment, including bindings, has seen significant growth, with sales increasing by 12% in the 2019/2020 season, indicating a rising interest in backcountry and hybrid skiing experiences.

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Ski bindings are devices that attach the boot to the ski. Bindings must always be compatible with the ski boot type. Different types include alpine, snowboard, backcountry, telemark, and Kandahar.

Kandahar ski bindings are cable bindings. They secure the foot in a forward position in the binding using a cable. Cable bindings are not interchangeable with three-pin binding systems.

Some types of bindings attach only the boot's toe area to the ski.
Some types of bindings attach only the boot's toe area to the ski.

The New Nordic Norm (NNN) telemark ski bindings are available in both cable and three-pin styles. Three-pin style has three pins off the base with a metal clamp to attach the boot. The pins must be firmly placed into the holes on the toe of the boot. Cable bindings can be more expensive than three-pin, but are less likely to damage ski boots than pin types.

Boots click into ski bindings.
Boots click into ski bindings.

The New Nordic Norm Backcountry (NNN-BC) ski bindings are not interchangeable with NNN bindings. NNN and NNN-BC bindings are compatible with different ski boots. Some skiers consider the NNN-BC type more comfortable than the NNN systems due to the placement of the fastening hardware under the toe area rather than in front of the toe of the ski boot.

NNN-BC ski bindings are used with some telemark boots to give a lighter weight skiing system. The material of the ski boot can make a difference to the bindings. Some skiers recommend plastic boots for controlling turns, while other skiers say some plastic ski boots are heavy and less comfortable than leather or NNN-BC boots. Telemarking on sloped terrain often requires a stiffer ski boot, while backcountry skiing may require a lighter ski boot.

Alpine touring ski bindings are designed to fit the heel in a unique way: when climbing, the heel is free. This type of binding lifts the heel to keep it free while the toe area stays level while climbing. When skiing, both the heel and the toe are clamped as in alpine downhill ski bindings. Alpine touring boots, which feature a plastic shell, rigid sole, and removable inner lining, are used only with alpine touring bindings. Most of these bindings are pressure sensitive and designed to release when the weight of a falling skier makes contact with them.

Snowboard bindings are usually available in small, medium, and large. Different types have different shaped heel holders and base plates. Most snowboarders buy the snowboard first, then find the bindings that fit.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone know which kind of ski bindings would be best for a beginner skier?

I am still tackling the bunny hill and find that when falling the current bindings I have tend to get stuck, so I don't always lose the skis as I should. I really need something more pressure sensitive, so that if I am rolling down a hill I don't end up poking myself in unmentionable places with a ski that should have been released.

I am willing to buy my own skis for this venture as I find the rental ones to be very sticky upon their release. This always ends up with me getting more bruises.


If you are going to try snowboarding and are looking to buy a board, it is a good idea to just choose one that you like and worry about the bindings later.

Snowboard bindings are meant to be purchased separately due to the way they are sized, so you can have a bit more freedom when choosing the actual board.

If you go to a local snowboarding shop you can work with a sales clerk to help you pick a perfect board then go over the bindings with you. Remember, you want the bindings a little snug, but not painfully so. The staff should be able to help you choose the perfect fit.

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    • Some types of bindings attach only the boot's toe area to the ski.
      By: Dmitry Vereshchagin
      Some types of bindings attach only the boot's toe area to the ski.
    • Boots click into ski bindings.
      By: Gary Blakeley
      Boots click into ski bindings.