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Thread: Ski Bindings

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    Default Ski Bindings

    Iíve been out of the skiing game for a few years and going back down that rabbit hole now that the kids are able to ski. The gear has changed a bit since my last purchase back in Ď92!

    I have dual interests: downhill at your traditional Ďresortí with groomed trails, lifts etc and Iíd like to be able to do some light touring. By touring I mean some skinning to the top of a hill and riding back down. Most of the activity will be on groomed lift served trails with my family.

    For those that have experience in this area, are the alpine touring bindings where the heel can be released for skinning suitable for resort- style skiing? Or is this an N+1 problem ( meaning Iíd be better off with traditional alpine bindings and skis + a cross country rig) ?

    I suppose the same question applies to boots. I ask because sometimes multitasking solutions donít to any one thing well but if I can buy one rig for both and be happy that would be a win. Iíve seen people running AT gear on resort mountains, but they could just be nuts!! Need some advice from those with real life experience.

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Depending on your expectations you can have one set of gear that does it all, but there will be compromises. Touring on anything other than pin-tech bindings is unpleasant at best but the only one that I would want to ski inbounds is the salomon shift. If you are looking at an 80/20 inbounds to BC ratio, I would buy beefy boots with a walk mode and dynafit inserts (Lange XT, Techina Cochise, Atomic Hawx XTD), an inbounds setup with compatible standard bindings and a cheap used BC setup with pin bindings. If you are willing to spend more money you can get dedicated setups for each. If you want to be as cheap as possible, one set of boots and skis with frame style touring bindings will work but you will suffer going uphill.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    You really want dedicated skis for inbounds stuff. The touring bindings don't have the same elasticity as a proper alpine binding and they don't tolerate snow buildup as well. Fussier to put on and off too.

    I had a longer comment, but I think the short answer here is, just get a basic ski area setup and enjoy skiing with your kids. Rent or demo first and decide what you like. You can get quality rentals now and it will blow you away how good alpine skis are if you take the time to work out the modern technique (less driving the knee, more rolling the ankle).

    I was away from alpine skis for about 12 years - I was tele skiing in leather boots on skinny skis, and the kids were little, and I was working in Boston and not skiing much. Then in 2003 I went to Jackson Hole for a funeral and rented some modern skis, wide ones with sidecut. There was no looking back after that.

    Get yourself a second, focused touring setup later. Learn from my errors: I use frame bindings and wish I didn't. The pivot point is just in the wrong place. And get boots with as much range of motion in walk mode as possible.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    For context, I grew up randonnee skiing. I would buy a pair of modern backcountry touring skis. If you keep them waxed and with sharp edges, they will work for most of what you to do (ski with kids). For the few times where that won't work, rent a pair at the resort.

    Regarding pin bindings, I think it's silly to buy anything but, and the boots have become amazing. I have a pair of Dynafit boots that i can lock down like a vise. The pin bindings take some time to get used to but they're no more difficult to step into than a clipless pedal, even in deep powder. On the other hand, if you're doing crazy, rockies-style back country ripping, a) you're nuts, and b) consider that your life depends on 4 small stainless steel pyramids. I dunno. There are decent options available that aren't pins where the turning axle is moved backwards towards your toes. That style of skiing is completely different from the randonnee skiing I am used to so I can't speak to that.

    In short, your backcountry enjoyment depends, in order (IMO) on 1) boots that fit, 2) decent skis with skins that stick when conditions aren't ideal (!), 3) bindings you can rely on.

    Happy trails!
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    See, I can't imagine skiing icy crappy East Coast bumps relying on that pin interface. There's no elasticity in the binding fore and aft to the best of my knowledge so if you flex the ski good and hard the boot has to come out. Also, the binding release isn't as calibrated and reliable as on an alpine binding. Obviously it can be done, I know lots of good skiers who have one rig and use tech bindings at resorts but they don't fall and they are always skiing light on their gear and "centered". If I was just getting back into alpine skiing after a long stretch away from the sport, and I might be falling or sliding sideways down something steep, I'd be a lot happier in an alpine binding.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    i am pretty happy skiing in and out of bounds on my tectons (with x-lab boots). I don’t miss the alpine bindings at all even driving the skis hard. The Tectons and Shifts have some elasticity. This seems like a good case for the Shift.

    Except for edge cases like hucking big cliffs, I think what tou gain touring on a pin binding vs anything else massively outweighs any difference at the resort. I also like the idea only having one set of boots.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    And if you are just getting back into it for the first time since the 90s - go about three times as wide on the skis as you think you need. My NARROWEST set is now 106. I am an ex-high(ish) level racer and easily my favorite ski I have ever been on is 138mm at the waist...
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Quote Originally Posted by lumpy View Post
    See, I can't imagine skiing icy crappy East Coast bumps relying on that pin interface. There's no elasticity in the binding fore and aft to the best of my knowledge so if you flex the ski good and hard the boot has to come out. Also, the binding release isn't as calibrated and reliable as on an alpine binding. Obviously it can be done, I know lots of good skiers who have one rig and use tech bindings at resorts but they don't fall and they are always skiing light on their gear and "centered". If I was just getting back into alpine skiing after a long stretch away from the sport, and I might be falling or sliding sideways down something steep, I'd be a lot happier in an alpine binding.
    Absolutely agree - there is a tradeoff here and the release isn't calibrated well on my Dynafit (TLTs, I think). you can set these bindings so they will not open. But being that they are designed for backcountry skiing, bumpiness and sideways chatter isn't a problem I've experienced.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Lots of good info here. Thank you and keep sharing

    I was last on skis about 12-13 years ago. My gear was from mid 90s because it served the purpose and I didn’t see the need to replace it. It’s gone now so starting from scratch and just as well because things look a lot different! Boards are wider and they seem to turn a lot easier than I remember. Oh, and a lot more expensive!!!

    I was never better than a solid intermediate Blue trail skier. I’d occasionally hit a black trail if it wasn’t littered with moguls. So I’m not going to be jumping off cliffs etc. A ‘win’ would be being able to skin/ hike up something moderate and ski back down a couple of times for the exercise, solitude and experience.

    The boots will be the linchpin I think. The last pair I had, some Langes, had to be heated up in an oven to fit properly. I need space for my toes which often creates too much for my heel. I have that issue with rentals now: the size needed for comfy toes allows my heel to slop around. This was way before the customization that’s possible now with molding and inserts.

    Maybe I don’t need the touring skis after all. I’ll just fat bike up the hill and ski down ;)

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    yes, for sure. having one pair of boots allows you to learn your boots and figure out how they behave. Plus my pair of randonnee boots was flipping expensive ... I think I paid $450 for them which I think was more than my skis/bindings/skins combined!

    Quote Originally Posted by Toddykins View Post
    i am pretty happy skiing in and out of bounds on my tectons (with x-lab boots). I donít miss the alpine bindings at all even driving the skis hard. The Tectons and Shifts have some elasticity. This seems like a good case for the Shift.

    Except for edge cases like hucking big cliffs, I think what tou gain touring on a pin binding vs anything else massively outweighs any difference at the resort. I also like the idea only having one set of boots.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    This year I got a pair of Marker Kingpin 13 mounted on Stockli Edge 88 skis. Awesome. You can definitely use this setup inbound and backcountry.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    When my daughter was starting to ski, I demo'd a few skis and found I wanted to go with a softer ski, because at the speeds I was skiing, there just wasn't much point in getting stiff skis. Just what I found; from not a great skier. Now we just hang out at the ice rink for figure skating, and don't have much time for downhill.

    We had some great times on the slopes though.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Quote Originally Posted by MMM View Post
    When my daughter was starting to ski, I demo'd a few skis and found I wanted to go with a softer ski, because at the speeds I was skiing, there just wasn't much point in getting stiff skis. Just what I found; from not a great skier. Now we just hang out at the ice rink for figure skating, and don't have much time for downhill.

    We had some great times on the slopes though.
    Good point that you should get skis that work for the kind of skier you are, and the conditions you're skiing in. Chairlift time was great family time for us, too.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    I been reading and re-reading the responses and asking myself how often I'd "tour" versus downhill off a lift.....and then I remembered I live 3 blocks from a preserve with trails and hills! Unfortunately we've only had one storm of consequence this year on Long Island, so there's that!

    Some of this driven by envy/aspirational dreaming. We got upstate twice in the past two months and both times saw people who toured up one side of the resort hill and used the trails to descend. I'm sure it's a lot harder than it looks, but I like the idea of combining a hike with a downhill run and not having to have two sets of gear.

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    as mentioned by Lionel the Marker Kingpins can do everything. Or, consider quiver killer inserts. These mean you can swop bindings depending on your fancy - not too difficult. You could google The Piste Office in the UK for info. Very knowledgeable. Also they have skis from last year on sale. Not sure if he (Jon) ships to the US but you might save tax. Ski kit in the UK and Europe is cheaper than in the US, although almost everything else seems the other way round. If you are not going to ski a lot one set of skis which will involve a slight compromise both up and down is the way to go. If you are going to tour and ski hard a lot I think you still need, or at least would enjoy, 2 lots of kit. Boots are so good these days one decent pair will suffice, you can do everything in them.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Actually you can get this all in one binding now. Get the Salomon/Atomic Shift bindings, have run them all season so far and they've been excellent. Great touring mode along with all the elasticity of a DIN binding and if you're going to complain about only 13 DIN well there's quite a few pros who would say otherwise. The only negative with them is the heel risers only have a single 10* rise so depending on the skin tracks in your area this may be optimal or not.

    3 reasons to choose Salomon SLAB SHIFT Bindings
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Oh just a couple points i missed on my initial post.

    I have two other setups, one on Marker Jesters which are a frame touring binding and I really wouldn't recommend them as they don't tour very well, it still feels very unnatural and reliability has been suspect on them. My other "light" touring setup is on Marker Kingpin 10's and they have been great, use them at the resort and touring as well and have no complaints. The one thing I will say is that getting in and out of tech bindings with kids is a pain in the ass. Many times when skiing with kids you'll have to stop, take off the skis and walk to where they may have fallen and if the hill is icy or somewhat uneven getting back into tech toe pieces isn't as quick as I would like.

    So yeah, get the Shifts with any boot that has a walk mode and don't look back.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    So it's been about a year...

    We've been skiing a bunch of times on the East Coast since 'first snow' back at Thanksgiving. A fair amount of compacted surfaces with ice; only one true powder day and that was this past Tuesday. We did seasonal rentals locally to avoid lines at the resort, and I've learned that the way a boot fits in the shop is not how it fits after 3 consecutive days of downhill skiing! Things "settle in" and get sloppy. As Lumpy pointed out, the new skis require more ankle work and less driving of the knee (the method I was originally taught).

    I was at a mountain (lift serviced resort) this past week with a fair number of flat or uphill traverses to get from one trail to another, and was envious of the telemark/touring folks who just motored up the little hills. I still have a hankering to try a touring set up but will likely take a lesson/go with a guide because there's obviously different skills to learn and it doesn't make sense to throw money at a AT set up I don't have those basic skills to begin with. If anyone has a good Northeast reference (NY/NJ/CT) reference please share.

    But, honestly, since I typed the OP all of my time has been spent going downhill at lift serviced resorts. I should focus my $$ there, I think.

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Kind of late reading & responding to your thread---asked a friend's daughter who lives in Middlebury Vermont. She is a former college racer, now coaches the alpine team at Middlebury. She does some touring on the long trail up there, some skinning and a fair amount of alpine. She has a couple of sets of skis & boots because coaching trashes her equipment. She said, if you are not too serious, and stay on easy terrain you can get by with regular boots, just have to keep the buckles loose. If you do a lot on more aggressive terrain you should go with boots that can be used for both touring & alpine. She uses Marker Baron bindings. Said they work well. Skis, if you are going to tour a lot, the lighter the better.

    Bob M.
     

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    Default Re: Ski Bindings

    Quote Originally Posted by Bongobob View Post
    Kind of late reading & responding to your thread---asked a friend's daughter who lives in Middlebury Vermont. She is a former college racer, now coaches the alpine team at Middlebury. She does some touring on the long trail up there, some skinning and a fair amount of alpine. She has a couple of sets of skis & boots because coaching trashes her equipment. She said, if you are not too serious, and stay on easy terrain you can get by with regular boots, just have to keep the buckles loose. If you do a lot on more aggressive terrain you should go with boots that can be used for both touring & alpine. She uses Marker Baron bindings. Said they work well. Skis, if you are going to tour a lot, the lighter the better.

    Bob M.
    Track bindings like the Baron aren’t even in the same hemisphere as tech bindings when it comes to touring and it sounds horrifically painful to me to tour in an alpine boot with the ‘buckles loose’.

    The argument to use something like the baron in the past is that you could have higher DIN and better resort skiing - but with bindings like the shift there is literally no performance argument to use them now. Particularly with burly(ish) boots with 120+ flex with tech fittings, the baron class of bindings is dead.
     

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