Here’s the most important thing to know about alpine ski bindings: Don’t try to adjust them yourself unless you are a certified binding technician.
Alpine bindings keep your boots secured to your skis via metal springs under tension. The more tension on the spring (i.e. a higher DIN setting,) the tighter the retention between your ski and boot. The trick is getting just the right amount of tension—enough for your skis to stay attached when you want them to, but not so much that the bindings don’t release if you tumble. Your height, weight, age, skiing ability and the length of your ski boot all factor into the equation in a fairly complex matrix. And, the DIN is completely useless unless the forward pressure is set properly.
Getting the right binding tension really matters for your safety, as well as your performance. If bindings are underset, the danger is that they could pre-release going over a bump or making an aggressive turn. If overset, the bindings may not release during a fall—and usually your knees bear the burden of that mistake.
The Definition Of DIN
Binding tension is measured in settings called DIN, which stands for Deutsch Industrial Norm. DIN settings range from 3-14, but most recreational skiers have their bindings set between 5 and 9. To accommodate a full range of DIN settings, the springs are available in three sizes, one for DINs of 3-10, a second for 4-12 and a third for 5-14. Springs perform best in the middle of their intended settings. So, if a DIN setting of 9 is right for you, you’ll likely be looking at either of the two stronger springs.
Forward Pressure Is Just As Important As DIN
Forward pressure is a measurement of how hard the heel binding is pushing the boot into the toe binding. If there’s too much forward pressure, the binding won’t release even on the easiest of DIN settings. Conversely, not enough forward pressure means you can crank the binding as tight as you want and the ski won’t stay on – and it will slop around on your foot as well. Proper forward pressure is every bit as critical to a binding releasing correctly as the DIN setting is. That’s why you can’t just trade someone skis, even if you can step into their bindings. Please, please visit a certified ski shop to make sure the forward pressure and DIN are set properly for you. Your knees (and lots of other body parts) will appreciate it.