When is your DIN number not your DIN number? When it is not a DIN number. Confused? Well, for years we have been calling binding settings "DIN numbers," but that's not what they are. Take a look at any chart and see what it says: "Indicator Settings." Except for Salomon, the charts don't even say DIN (which is an acronym that denotes the German Institute for Standardization). We have all just assumed these were DIN settings. For many years I wondered, "If DIN is the actual standard, why are there variations in binding adjustment charts?" Well, because they are not DIN settings. There is not a standardized binding adjustment chart, and these numbers are actually indicator settings.

Will this revelation have an effect on your day-to-day skiing life? No. Will or should you do anything different in setting your bindings? No. Is this some interesting stuff? Yeah. I know, mind blown. Your binding setting is actually based off of an ISO table, and while the center of the table is pretty consistent from manufacturer to manufacturer, we do see variations in the outlying areas, and this is why each manufacturer suggests you consult its own table.

First let's discuss your binding settings. We will assume that we all know why there is a setting, aka the amount of Nm in torque that forces the binding to release, etc. etc. That setting is a combination of a skier's weight, height, age, boot sole length (BSL), and skier type. Another quick clarification is that skier type does not equal skier ability. The three basic skier type levels are I, II, and III, which relate to conservative, moderate, and aggressive. However, they are commonly misrepresented as beginner, intermediate, and expert. But just because you are an expert skier does not mean you are a Type III skier. Many experts are happy as Type II skiers because they ski smoothly and do not put much external strain on a binding. Once skier type s combined with weight, height, age, and BSL, we can figure out the release setting. (Of course, this is before we calibrate the binding and make sure it is functioning properly and within that specific range.)

How many times have you said, "I am a [insert your number here] DIN" and maybe even considered it to be a rite of passage? What does that number actually mean, how did it get calculated, and does it even matter? Let's use 6 as an example. A 6 could be anyone from a 5’1” 110lb 19-year-old Type III woman with a 275 BSL to a 6’2” 200lb 58-year-old Type II man with a 325 BSL. These two skiers are just the same to the binding and calibration bench, simply because of leverage. But this is where we find that all bindings are not created equal.

Next let's discuss how to pick the optimum binding for your application. Bindings have an indicator range where they are designed to function properly. Children's bindings come in 0.75-4.5 and 2-7; common recreational bindings have ranges from 3-9 to 4-13; and higher-performance and race bindings vary even more widely: 6-14 even up to 20-30. Of course, there are ranges in between, but you get the idea.

RED: Child/Junior
BLUE: Recreational
GREEN: Advanced/Expert​

If you are looking at a system ski with an integrated binding, you might not have a choice, but if you are looking at a flat ski, the world is your oyster. If you are a 6, you can pick from more than a half-dozen bindings from every brand, which means 30-plus options -- heck, Tyrolia alone has 10, and that doesn't even include touring bindings. If you put any of these bindings on a calibrating bench, they will all function properly at a 6 -- but how they will react in real-world situations?

Back to my two skiers with binding indicator values of 6: both of them are creating different amounts of force to achieve the same results. Now think about the amount of force created and what is required to retain it. This is where a better, more substantial binding will help the 200lb guy over the 110lb woman. There is a reason that some bindings are two to three times more expensive; even if they do the same job in release, their performance makes a difference.

So yes, there are better bindings for each of these skiers, but we do not have enough information yet to say which. What are we putting the binding on, how wide of a ski? Something under 90mm underfoot? A Marker 11.0 TP would be a great choice, as would a Tyrolia Attack2 11 GW or Salomon/Atomic Warden 11, all of which are well under $200. Each of these options is lightweight and will work great for this application. Now for the big guy? Well, while the binding only knows the forces put in for release, it is the retention that we need for him. We want a little more oomph in the binding, not so much a bigger spring but a more substantial housing, A binding like a Salomon/Atomic STH2 WTR 13, Tyrolia Attack2 13 GW, or a Look SPX 12 or Pivot 12, or if he is a Marker fan, a Griffon 13 ID. If our 110lb lady is a strong, aggressive skier, I would suggest any of these for her as well. On the flip side, though, I would discourage the bigger guy from using the lighter options. As long as the skier is within the adjustment range, I usually err to the better binding, because as Boris the Blade so eloquently said in the movie Snatch, "Heavy is good, heavy is reliable." Sure, he was talking about some gun I never heard of, but you get the idea.

So, to summarize:
  • Bindings do not have DIN settings.
  • Your release setting is just a point of reference based on numerous components in the calculation, a starting point in the binding decision process.
  • A binding is both a safety and a performance device; buy one that is built to a standard and not just to the lowest price point.