DIN Numbers — The New Macho Meter?


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
My DIN is bigger than your DIN.

My DIN is bigger than your DIN.

A slope inclinometer used to be the skier’s macho meter. Is obsession with DIN numbers the new gauge? Is the max DIN of a binding any indication of quality or durability? Is a “DIN 12″ skier better than a “DIN 6″ skier?

What we skiers call “DIN” is a standardized and calibrated rating of how “stiff” the release of a binding is set to. The term comes from a German standards organization, more here.

The maximum DIN number of a given binding is NOT a rating of binding quality. We’ve seen a trend in using the number this way, and we’re going to repeat the truth every chance we get. Having a higher DIN can be useful if you need stiff release tension because you’re bigger or ski aggressively and inadvertently pop out at lower numbers, but higher max DIN is NOT a general indicator of binding quality or durability (other than the manufacturer optionally building the binding stronger to cope with stronger springs).

Also, skiers are assuming a binding with higher maximum DIN is somehow more resistant to unintended release (prerelease) — no matter what DIN the binding is set at! Or worse, they’re assuming they can blithely crank up to a higher DIN to prevent prerelease — with no consequences.

Worst of all, I’ve heard skiers sharing their chosen DIN setting like it rated their skill level.

It’s extremely important to know that the elasticity range, return to center force, anti friction mechanics and general engineering of a given binding is equal if not more important to binding retention and performance than the DIN setting.

Be it known: If you’re needlessly setting your DIN numbers at the max you might indeed get something to brag about over beers, that something being the new macho meter you bought for your orthopedic surgeon — his private jet.

Comments, anyone?

Comments

58 Responses to “DIN Numbers — The New Macho Meter?”

  1. Randonnee November 26th, 2008 11:02 am

    That is a great point, Lou. Unless one is hucking, racing, or maxing out one’s ability downhill, smooth technique may not require a big DIN.

    Using Dynafit and even Fristche bindings has necessitated my development of a smooth and precise skiing technique. With my mass, I have easily walked out of both Fritsche and Dynafit (locked) while in touring mode, and one may understand how easily I can come out when cranking turns. The result for me has been the development of precise walking while touring and balanced, precise technique for skiing downhill. That is actually efficient, and not necessarily limiting. I do not fear steeps or hard snow, chutes, etc, since I have developed confidence with the bindings and technique that I use. I feel joy when carefully putting together smooth, fluid turns at speed in powder or packed snow.

  2. Sean November 26th, 2008 11:04 am

    Great post, Lou. One can find the one-upmanship of DIN ranges on full display at the Teton Gravity Research forums, where people brag on using race-stock bindings with DIN that goes to 16 or higher. Every time I read such nonsense I think of the thing that you captured with the image of a boot screwed onto a ski.

    I think people get caught up in DIN because they want to appear macho. They hear or read that mountaineers like you or Andrew McLean get into situations where you don’t want to lose a ski, and so they imagine themselves in similar situations and in dire need of security against such things. I’m always thinking they should just permanently fasten their skis to their boots.

    I’m a firm believer in using the lowest DIN setting that holds me in while I ski in my normal manner. Cranking up the DIN is a macho show, not evidence of wisdom.

  3. Carver November 26th, 2008 11:32 am

    So, here’s contoversy that comes up often.

    Should you step into your Dynafits and reach down and pull the front tab up one click for descent?

  4. Tucker November 26th, 2008 11:43 am

    I’ve always skiied at the factory-prescribed DIN setting, and, until I got my dynafits, have never prereleased.

    Now, having taken the dynafits on the resort (after two days at the end of last season skiing Tuckermans), I’ve discovered prereleasing. Thanks to the many discussions on this and other sites, I was not suprised when they did prerelease. (OK, I was suprised, but not shocked, ;)

    As the first commenter indicates, I’ve taken this as an indication that I need to modify my style, not adjust the bindings. I like my knees just the way they are, thanks.

    I also had the experience of skiing for several days in Chamonix with two guides who skiied on dynafits, on piste and off. One has been guiding for 20+ years, the other trains the French military. Our group included a bunch of extremely skilled skiiers, some who had racing experience. The two guides in their dynafits schooled us.

    With good technique, you can definitely do all you need to on dynafits, I’ve seen it myself.

  5. Lou November 26th, 2008 11:44 am

    Carver, I’ve never seen that pulling the lever up one click really did much of anything when it comes to release. Even locking it all they only locks out lateral release, not vertical, contrary to the myth of it being a “release lockout.” (Said myth could be partly my fault for not writing how-tos with more clarity…)

    The variety of clicks on the Dynafit touring lock/latch are there to compensate for small variations in boot/binding dimensions.

  6. Randonnee November 26th, 2008 11:45 am

    Carver,

    Yes. One click or more for me.

    I release right away on hard snow from five different Dynafit bindings with five different Dynafit boots. I am a big boy with lost of years working or walking in the mountains. I could not ski Dynafit on hard snow if not able to lock the toe. If not locked I may feel the front pins opening sometimes, and at times the binding releases very easily. The release on hard snow for me is from downward pressure to the ball of my foot. I have demonstrated this on the carpet in front of the shop guy.

    Rob

  7. Lou November 26th, 2008 11:50 am

    Technique does have a lot to do with using DIN settings intelligently . But I guess throw it all out the window if your hobby is cliff hucking…

    Tucker, in which direction were you prereleaseing? Up or to the side? Since you can set these independently as with most other bindings, nothing wrong with doing some tuning. DIN numbers off chart do have fudge factor on either side, due to subjective things like skier skill.

  8. Njord November 26th, 2008 11:57 am

    Even racers don’t crank their bindings past 12 or 13 for GS and SL…

    SG and DH was a different matter (I only ever had 1 set of binding that went to 24, which I was scared of ripping my legs off with in a crash). The DIN conversations always remind me a little bit of “Spinal Tap” and how Nigel’s amp goes to 11, when he needs that little bit of extra!

  9. Dongshow November 26th, 2008 11:57 am

    A couple of things; first you touched on the myth that got the whole cycle started, the stronger spring = stronger binding myth. This is reinforced in peoples minds by the fact the super weak alpine bindings that people often break or pre-release with have low din numbers. The “race stock” bindings that go to 18 are more rare, not often seen on store shelves, and people have much less experience with them breaking or pre-releasing, because, well, there are fewer of them and they’re often set astoundingly high, so there are less stories of their failures to go around. There also seems to be a conventional wisdom that it’s easier on the binding to be towards the lower range of it’s din setting. Then you have the types worried about losing skis in the powder…

    This is mostly a resort skiing reality that is crossing into backcountry skiing because people are resistant to two types of bindings and would like one set to cross over. Resort skiing is often frantic, and the conditions are worse, and it’s done at a much higher speed. You go from smooth high speed powder to jarring traversses or moguls without warning, and bindings pre-realease commonly facing that stuff. The skis I ride around the resort (which is rare these days) are set way higher then my backcountry set up, which is so low it shocks me but I don’t really care as I’m yet to have a problem. Like Randonnee said, it’s a different technique in the backcountry. Most skiers don’t take the time to think about stuff though, believing the bigger, higher, better hype is simpler.

  10. Tucker November 26th, 2008 12:00 pm

    Lou, I was prereleasing to the side on hard snow while initiating a hard turn. Happened twice in quick succession.

    I may also have had some snow/ice in the toe-thingie that the front pin goes into. After I fell, I certainly had some snow in the toe thingies, so it’s hard to figure out exactly what happened. (Obviously this is not good…)

    I plan on doing some more resort skiing so I can experiment some more and become more familiar w/ the bindings.

    I don’t think I know enough yet about these to determine exactly what the cause was. But clearly I’d rather do the practice and the resort than back up at Tuckermans. :)

    Thanks for the advice, it may come in handy.

  11. BullWheelRider November 26th, 2008 12:43 pm

    Lou,

    I learned the DIN lesson the hard way, last year. I admit that, on occasion, I do like to spend time in the park with the kids… and in the park a DIN below 10 is usually an automatic release upon landing for me. There is nothing worse than stomping a jump… and leaving your skis behind you the second you hit the ground.

    On the first day of the season last year I was screwing around on a green run with some friends… fell… and my skis didn’t come off. I wasn’t hucking a cliff, I wasn’t throwing a rodeo 540, I was cruising a groomer. Major ACL/MCL Meniscus surgery followed. It may sound crazy, but after missing a powder year for the ages, I’m taking no chances. I plan on skiing with a screwdriver this year… and tailoring my DIN to the situation. There is NO reason to set your DIN above 9 (unless you’re a big guy) to ski groomers.

    As far as DIN being a Macho Meter… it does seem a lot like 200+CM skis were in the 80′s/90′s. There will always be riders amongst us who are focused on outward appearances… but most of us are just out there to have a good time- and to save our knees for the next shot of powder.

  12. Ralf November 26th, 2008 12:53 pm

    Interesting discussion. I’m from Germany and want to chime in on the topic as to me, there seems to be a significant difference between ol’ Europe and the US.

    In fact DIN ISO 11088 is the norm that defines construction, adjustment and inspection of ski bindings. Within this norm the Z-Value is defined in relation to the amount of force necessary to release the binding. To determine the right value DIN ISO 11088 allows two different methods:
    First the Weight-Method which is usend in the US and Switzerland and uses the skiers weight and heigth to determine the Z-Value.
    In Germany and Austria however, the Tibia-Method is the most commonly used one and until 1994 only this method was approved. This method is based on scientific research on the toughness of the tibia head, it’s width is measured elow the knee in order to determine the Z-Value.
    Tolerance is 10% for the Tibia-Method and 15% for the weight method. This means cranking the Z up or down by 1 unit is allowed according to the individual skiers skills. For peopel jounger than 10 or older than 50 yrs. the determined values are usually lowered by 15%.
    The two methods are significantly different and might produce very different results. As I mentioned before, usage of the method depends a lot on location.

    In addition to that, a binding that allows high DIN Z-Values might make sense. ARGE, a German research group specialized in testing mountaineering and skiing equipment, found out that bindings of all manufacturers release most reliably when set to a Z-Value in the middle of their range due to the phisical properties of the springs. So if you are very heavy or have a strong tibia and need a DIN Z-Value of 12 picking a Duke ranging from 8 to 16 instead of a Fritschi Explore does make sense (at least if you don’t care for the extra weight).

    But I tele, so who cares about DIN ISO anyways? ;-)

  13. Dave Cramer November 26th, 2008 12:56 pm

    Just starting this fixed-heel thing. Never came out of Diamar IIIs at the lowest setting (3), except when I was knocked off a lift (ugh!). Haven’t come out of Dynafit yet at the lowest setting, either. Must be those years of parallel skiing on really light Tele gear! Of course, I’m perhaps the slowest skier on the mountain…

  14. Tucker November 26th, 2008 1:15 pm

    One other point that didn’t come out in the posts above: I love the dynafits. My first time out in them was skinning up and skiing the headwall at Tuckermans Ravine at Mt Washington in NH. Forgot about locking the front binding for touring (duh!) but even so skinning up was great . Flew by all the hikers. Carrying the skis up the headwall was cake as they’re so light (mounted on BD Havocs), and my second run on the dynafits was over the headwall.

    Had no problems at all on the entire run.

    One of the reasons I tried skiing them in resort is the Megarides I got are so much more comfortable than my Langes that I’d be really happy wearing them all the time.

    My AT experience so far has been a great one, I’m stoked to get back out off the resort.

  15. Dongshow November 26th, 2008 1:20 pm

    BullWheelRider: as Ralf mentions the Din number corresponds to the force to break a leg, the force to tear knee ligaments is significantly lower and is possible standing with ski boots not clipped into skis at all. Using the DIN to protect knees isn’t going to do much good.

  16. Sean November 26th, 2008 1:43 pm

    Dongshow, I don’t follow the rationale you’re suggesting. You’re suggesting that bindings are intended only to prevent leg bone fracture? You’re suggesting that the engineers want soft-tissue trauma because they only care about bone injury? You’re suggesting that a releasable binding can’t prevent an knee ligament tear, or knee cartilage damage?

    Help me out here. If I understand you correctly, and you are indeed telling the truth, then it seems I have been told a whole lot of lies by a whole lot of orthopods, ski binding engineers, and skiers

  17. Lou November 26th, 2008 1:54 pm

    Dongshow brings up a good point. Indeed, the original engineering that is still the basis of most safety bindings was done to prevent broken bones and definitely was NOT designed intentionally to prevent soft tissue injury. Any soft tissue injury prevention was just a side effect. Proof of this is two things. 1. Hjalmar Hvam invented the first safety binder in 1939 after he broke a leg, and it’s amazingly similar to most bindings 70! years later. 2. Amount of knee soft tissue injuires for skiers is epidemic.

    Sean, of course a release binding can prevent some soft tissue injuries, but I actually am of the opinion that we’ve definitely been sold a bill of goods when it comes to thinking they do as much as they should in this area, or are very effective at all.

    Meanwhile, we worry about what model helmet to buy. If ski bindings were an automobile safety system, Ralph Nader would have been involved and things would now be entirely different (grin).

  18. Lou November 26th, 2008 2:01 pm

    Ralf, indeed, it stands to reason that a spring mechanism compressed to around half its travel is going to work better, then one that’s compressed or unloaded to one extreme or another. In that sense the higher DIN bindings are indeed appreciated, especially by larger stronger skiers who need DINS around 8 to 10.

    By the same token, a smaller skier needs to watch that they have some “headroom” and “legroom” on either side of their chosen DIN setting.

    All this reminds me. When my son was small, I took one of the springs out of the Dynafit heel (there are usually 2) to make a really nice super-low DIN in lateral mode. Worked great. For the vertical release we just had to use the lowest setting and it was a bit stiff.

  19. Lou November 26th, 2008 2:09 pm

    Tucker, yep, make SURE you have those sockets in the boot toe cleaned out. When using Dynafit for resort skiing, they tend to get iced up when you’re walking around, and since you’re not using the binding for touring the ice never has a chance to get worked out by the tiny cutters on the toe pins.

    Trick is to first make sure the holes are clean, but also swing your ski and foot a half dozen times with toe engaged and heel free, to “seat” the toe pins and let them clean the holes.

    If you keep prereleaseing to the side after getting those better habits, look at your ski technique and possibly dial up lateral release setting a notch or two.

    Since you can twist out of most bindings (when they’re set to recommended DIN) while simply standing and making a twisting motion with your foot, it stands to reason that that same motion could be duplicated while skiing, and if that’s happening it’s time to adjust technique — or dial up to DIN 19 if you’re lazy (grin).

  20. Ralf November 26th, 2008 2:11 pm

    Only avoiding broken bones might have been the original intention of release bindings but the IAS (International Workgroup for Skiing Safety) that developed the Tibia-Method does focus a lot on avoiding ACL, PCL injuries. As I said the DIN number is related to the physical force which is required to release the binding. Yet this force is a lot smaller than the force required to tear ligaments. However, the problem is the direction and the point at which this force is applied. That’s why alpine bindings already distinct front, rear and side release. But these mechanisms still can’t cover all possible situations which is why severe knee injuries still happen. Even at low speeds with low DIN settings. A slow rotary fall is a worst case and can mess up your knee pretty badly.

  21. Lou November 26th, 2008 2:26 pm

    Ralf, the road to misfortune is paved with the best intentions. I appreciate the effort to make bindings that protect knees, and perhaps there are some models out there that actually do so effectively. But the proof is the numbers, and the reality is a sad medical disaster and I believe somewhat of a consumer ripoff.

    What amazes me is how accepting people are of the rash of knee injuries, some of which are career ending, or will be so as the biological clock ticks and old injuries reap their consequences of osteoarthritis, failing ligament repairs etc. Not to mention the financial cost of all this.

    What we might need is a bio-sensor system. Something attached to the knee that interfaces with the binding, and tells the binding to let go when motion and forces will damage knee.

  22. Dongshow November 26th, 2008 2:37 pm

    Thanks for clearing that up Ralf and Lou, we’d discussed all of this in a full semester “ski instruction” coarse at U of U that was super informative, but it’d been a while and I was working from memory.

    I’m actually more bothered with people blaming injuries on equipment malfunction. The number of broken bones blamed on Marker bindings rather then the 40 foot huck to ice that preceded it is stupid. We all laugh about the absurdity of “the beacon will save me” mentality, but then people go and do the same thing with their bindings. I think it’d be better to understand that ,yes the safety features are nice but injuries happen. I’ll quit before this rant branches out…

  23. Ralf November 26th, 2008 2:45 pm

    Lou, I think the problem with most injuries is not the binding providing insufficent protection but the skier. There are so many people out there who don’t know their limits. Ski resorts are overcrowded and weak skiers go at top speed. Last winter there was a discussion going on in Switzerland whether to introduce speed limits on the slopes. Statistics prove that mostly young, untrained or tired skiers suffer severe injuries. And to get back to bindings settings, 90% of the skiers that were injured had their bindings not set up properly.

  24. Sean November 26th, 2008 2:48 pm

    Another often overlooked reason for continuing knee ligament/cartilage damage despite binding improvements — modern skis have more radical amounts of sidecut, which allows a whole lot more torque to get generated in a very quick period of time with no real speed needed. The same thing that makes them so fun, makes them more prone to setting a skier up for a knee injury.

  25. Lou November 26th, 2008 3:18 pm

    Thanks for the amazingly astute comments you guys! Ralf, I can see how poorly set bindings and crumby/tired skiers could really skew the numbers. And I’ve heard of the sidecut torque problem, it’s an interesting dilemma. I’m just glad I’m not a turkey .

  26. Tucker November 26th, 2008 3:47 pm

    Lou, thanks for the tips, much appreciated.

    It’s really a wonderful thing that a newbie at alpine touring can come to this message board and get advice from one of the legends.

    I added this site to my RSS feed last spring, and have been following it all summer. My friends all do think I’m nuts, btw. ;) But it’s been time well spent.

  27. Lou November 26th, 2008 3:55 pm

    Tucker, once your friends see that truly core guys like me ski with their boots screwed to their skis, perhaps they’ll come around?

  28. Rando Swede November 26th, 2008 5:14 pm

    C’mon Lou… throw us a bone here. All we really want to know is what DIN setting YOU ski and then we can all do the same thing! :)

    Great discussion though. Technique should always trump equipment.

  29. Lou November 26th, 2008 6:19 pm

    Something like screwtorque 38?

    Seriously, seems like I end up with my Dynafits set at 6 lateral and 7 vertical most of the time, though I go 7/7 sometimes, and or 8/8 for extreme skiing, and also use the lateral release lockout for extreme skiing. I used low numbers whenever possible, as I baby my knees like you wouldn’t believe. My body weight hovers around 155 and I’m 5-11 tall.

    Everyone has to fine tune for their own style of skiing, weight, etc., the charts are just a guideline in my opinion.

    WildSnow publishes a chart here:
    http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/naxo-mount/naxo_mount_5.html

    Which tells me to use 6.50 for regular skiing and 8 for extreme. That’s without an age factor, which they say can be one step back down on the chart if you’re over 50. I get my settings by trial an error, interesting how close to the chart they are.

  30. Scott November 26th, 2008 11:42 pm

    All this talk of knee injuries is making me want to snowboard more this year ;) Of course, then the wrists, back, and neck are in more danger, but the risk of knee injury is my biggest concern with skiing.

  31. John Gloor November 27th, 2008 12:42 am

    Interesting topic Lou. I used to routinely eject out of my Diamirs (10 din) before the freeride came onto the scene. I am just short of 6′-5″ and weigh 215 lbs +-. I do not huck much in the backcountry out of caution, but I did drop the punk rock band!. I have had eight surgeries and a skin graft from a 14 din setting when i was 22 years old and was fearless, so I have understandable opinions on binding settings. When the Duke came out i thought, at last, a binding I can ski and tour in at the same time, The reality is that for my budget and climbing oriented skiing, the Duke is overkill. I can’t justify the weight of a metal based 16 din binding, especially when following 145 lbs gazelles on most of the tours i do. I have seen several people with no touring history raving about their beefy setups while knowing full well that they did not tour ten feet in their Dukes. Total resort poseurs! This is a binding with a very niche usage. One or two hour sidecountry skiing trips in alpine boots seems reasonable, and I would buy them in a heartbeat if I had the financial ability. The reality is that my Freeride+ binding at pegged at 12 works fine for me and has released just fine on a few occasions. Do not expect your touring bindings to handle the abuse of your alpine race bindings. If you are in any touring boot, I feel it is very questionable that you need more than a 12 DIN binding for a forward release. The boots are just too soft! Twisting release settings are comparable for AT and alpine boots since the stiff structural sole along with the leverage provided with the long leverage arm of the sole can vastly overpower human anatomical strengths.
    How do cliff huckers release? My guess would be a straight back release from a backseat landing (good protection by Marker alpine) or any make in a forward loading. If this is your forte, then lug a heavy binding around.
    My Fiance on the other hand skis on a 12 din binding since we got it on sale cheaper than the 10 din bindings we could find. She is within the din range but on the lighter side. Ultimately, your bones or ligaments will determine what your proper din setting is,not your ego. I learned the hard/expensive and painful way. Think of your body as a crow bar. Are you as tall as me and can you exert as much force (weight X velocity)? My bones exploded at a 14 din alpine setting twisting forward landing. My advice is to err on the side or caution in the backcountry unless your filming heli can extricate you promptly. Then go for it!

  32. Geof November 27th, 2008 12:51 am

    I run my Naxo 21′s at a 7.5. This is a tested din rating ( I teach with mine) I’ve never had them release when they weren’t supposed to. I look at a rated binding this way… I look to find the middle of the overall rating for my setting 7/8. So, the 21′s, at 14 are right in there. To me, this puts the springs in an optimal range for durability. Might be worthless, but makes sense a bit to me. I also have an older set of Naxo’s that are rated at 12… Never an issue with them either. I like the 21′s best cuz they look the shiz-nit ;-)

    We have an instructor (20yrs) that skis anything, everything and shreds. He can twist his foot out of his bindings standing still… Must be SOMETHING to technique…

  33. Geof November 27th, 2008 1:00 am

    To the above, I disagree that AT boots are too soft to work at a higher din (though I totally agree with your point)… A lot of the the newer AT boots are nearly as stiff as Alpine boots. Maybe not full race boots, but definately stiff. I just “moved up” to Tornado’s, which are so much stiffer than my old Denali’s (used to be THE boot) that it makes the Denali almost feel like a tennis shoe. I can’t even ski in them with the “stiff” tongue. To painful.

    The line of AT/Alpine is blurring SO rapidly, especially with the advent of the interchangable soles, that I wouldn’t be suprised to see more people buying AT boots, for all the reasons we like them. Or, seeing Alpine boots follow the same weight trimming technology that the current AT boots possess.

  34. John Gloor November 27th, 2008 2:30 am

    Geof, Thank for the agreement on the safety side my post. I have not skied the tornado, but I have owned the red and blue Denalies and I ski the Garmont Axon now which feels stiffer than either of the Scarpa boots. I can blow through the flex stops on the Axons with ease (a product of my height and weight and agression). I would suffer anke compression injuries before another tib/fib injury with a forward loading. They do not come close to my Doberman 130 boots which are marshmallows compared to the 150 flex plug boots. I feel that the crew buying 14-16 Din bindings are probably coming from the high end alpine race end of the spectrum and are very agro skiers. This is the market for the high din bindings. My point is that I feel any touring boot is overpowered by a din setting of 16 especially if is a lateral or twisting fall. In those conditions, almost any plastic boot will result in injury unless the settings are correct. The problem is that it is hard to rip at the official settings. I’m supposed to ski at a 8 or 9 when I really ski at an 11 or 12 which is still low for my size.. I carefully ski each new ski in to get a feel of how each binding is releasing and work the setting up from a conservative low. When I see a world cup victory on touring boots i’ll change my opinion of their abilities to exert power.
    As for the alpine soles, I feel they are a gimmick to tempt crossover skiers. Most, if not all of the hardcore backcountry skiers I know prefer a vibram/lugged sole for the desperate climbing that always happens when one leaves the crampons at home! When I ski the resort, there is no chance you’ll see me on some mushy touring boot. I’ll put the money aside to buy the proper boot for each usage and not try to make one boot pull double duty. on another note, how can BD sell the Factor with the alpine sole standard and make one buy the AT sole as an extra? It’s like selling a jeep with slick tires. WTF. I’d like to see a study as to whether the alpine or AT soles are stiffer. My guess is that they just appeal to different users. As stiff as todays touring boots are, they are not anywhere close to a race or high performance alpine boot, and they should not be. The very traits that make a good touring boot are avoided in a race boot. My Doberman has the upper cuff riveted to the lower boot and has no traction sole. The foam injected liner is cold and heavy. They suck for touring, but i’ve used them when my AT boots were broken. I will gladly take the skiing limitations of a touring boot for the BC and I have no need of a race din binding considering where I will be and how I will be skiing. (in re-reading my post it appears argumentative- not my intent. I do not feel like editing it now and it is bedtime for me).

  35. Lou November 27th, 2008 8:45 am

    Gloor, good points all. Keep it coming!

    Interesting, as the issue of boots being too soft for binding release at high DIN used to come up when people used climbing boots with bindings such as Silvretta 404. It’s indeed a valid issue. At some point, the boot simply can not transfer the force needed to effectuate a release, and thus the “release” happens inside the boot (groan).

    In my old school ways I still think I should be able to release from my bindings by twisting my foot or jerking my heel upward — though I’m pretty careful when testing this as I’ve hurt myself doing it.

    Have a good Thanksgiving everyone, we’re outta here for some time up in the mountains.

  36. Mark November 27th, 2008 9:05 am

    Dynafits are my only binding now. Keep the sockets clean and you’re good to go. My DIN is set at 8. I’m 149 pounds and don’t leave the ground a whole lot anymore. Back in the day in high school, my DIN was a bit higher for mogul thrashing and the occasional drop. So far the knees are in decent repair. Wish I were skiing today! Went out with the dog for the first time Monday. What a great experience!

  37. BullWheelRider November 27th, 2008 10:11 am

    Dongshow.

    Your point is valid, and I’m no equipment expert. Talking with my surgeon (Richard steadman) it is clear that modern equipment has increased the rate of ligament injuries, while decreasing bone injuries. He did say, however, that plenty of thought goes into acl issues as well.

    I can only say this: had my din been lower, in that situation I’m confident my ski would have come off. The binding in question was the duke. I am in no way blaming the equipment. This year I did get my first set of dynafits… Because I have decided that i’m done chasing my youth in the park- and can’t bear a lost season. However, I still have those dukes, and will be carrying a screwdriver.

  38. chris davenport November 27th, 2008 4:50 pm

    I have a couple pairs of Salomon 12-20 DIN’s for sale LOL

  39. Lou November 27th, 2008 5:25 pm

    Count me in! Group buy? (g)

  40. stephen November 28th, 2008 12:38 am

    BTW Scott, the only time I’ve ever injured a knee was in the only 1/2 day of snowboarding I’ve ever done – I was forced into it at Whistler ~20 years ago. Yeah, I know – “Just say no.”

    When I fell, my body twisted one way and the end of the board caught and twisted the other way. Knee in middle => 1 damaged medial ligament. This has thankfully been quiet for several years now, but it used to be that one messy fall would leave me with a sensitive knee for the rest of the season. Hopefully all will be well in India next year.

    Snowboarding is NOT the solution to knee injuries! And no, I have no desire to try it again.

  41. Nick November 28th, 2008 10:57 am

    Both Salamon and Marker bindings upgrade the componants when upping the DIN. The Salamon “green springs” aka race bindings have substantially more metal and less plastic. In my experience the toe wings last much longer when made from metal and are usually the first thing to go when plastic. I’ve always thought the overall life of the binder is lengthened when skiing at the lower end of the DIN range, ie. I’m a hefty 210lbs and use a 14-16 DIN, I have a salamons with a range of 12-22 DIN. I am using the low end of this DIN range and lengthening the overall life of the release spring. Just like turning your DIN down for the summer storage season.

  42. al November 30th, 2008 9:17 am

    I have been skiing a din of 7 for many years ,I just look for a binding that is going to have 7 some where in the middle of the range.In the past I have set bindings a din or 2 low at beginning of season and then crank up the din till the ski quits falling off and for me thats alway at 7

    since going to the freerides I do find the heels pre release with an AT boot sole so I crank the heels only to 8

  43. Tyler December 1st, 2008 5:57 pm

    I love this quote, “If you’re needlessly setting your DIN numbers at the max you might indeed get something to brag about over beers, that something being the new macho meter you bought for your orthopedic surgeon — his private jet.” Its funny and so true!

  44. Lou December 1st, 2008 9:19 pm

    Tyler, thanks for the words!

  45. Sam Reese December 2nd, 2008 3:46 pm

    Ski Instructors don’t count: They have different reasons to dial the DIN up.

    I was a ski instructor for two winters, and My quiver consisted of Voelkl 724 Pro’s (DIN 6.0: Hard drivers), Line Mothership Flites (DIN 6.5: Park/Pipe) and some beater K2′s that I can’t remember the model of that I used for teaching (Din 7.5).

    Why were my teaching skis higher? Because if you fall or blow out while in uniform, you gotta buy the entire ski school a round.

    ~Sam

    (fyi: Planting a pole in the lumbar of a snowboard instructor on his toe edge is always good for laughs, free beer.)

  46. Tucker December 2nd, 2008 5:17 pm

    Followed Lou’s advice on making sure the pins were seated in the toe sockets of the boot, and no ejections last weekend. Skied hard.

  47. Lou December 2nd, 2008 8:33 pm

    Excellent Tucker, enjoy!

  48. Snowdog 23 May 20th, 2009 7:44 am

    Love the blog – I just worked through the whole thing! I worked as an instructor for 10 years before moving to the UK and working with equipment. I’m amazed that recreational skiers still fixate on DIN settings like they used to with length. I think I’m agreeing with everyone when I say that you should use the lowest DIN you can get away with for the end use you’re using it for. Obviously you’d be putting more stress on your gear carving at high speed in resort than grunting up an alpine pass. The chances are pretty good that you’d be using different equipment as well… Buy gear that suits what you’re going to be doing MOST of the time and accept that it has limitations everywhere else. As a parting shot, I’ll mention that if the sport were completely safe it wouldn’t be as much fun. In the words of my old ski school director “If you’re going down STAY DOWN – Pride heals faster than knees!”

  49. Lou May 20th, 2009 9:56 am

    Good points there Snowdog!

  50. Travis December 7th, 2009 11:05 am

    I was wondering what are people’s opinions about telemark non-releasable bindings are versus dynafit on preventing knee injuries. I can not find any information that directly compares the knee injury rate to each other. I have found studies that claim that telemark knee injuries tend to be less severe compared to alpine skiers.

    I just tore my MCL with telemark bindings skiing some early season conditions (trees, grass, some snow evident! :) I am not sure that a din binding would have prevented the tear. Anybody have thoughts on this or have seen similar injuries with din bindings?

    Thanks TS

  51. Lou December 7th, 2009 11:09 am

    My opinion has always been that using a non-release binding for backcountry skiing is a form of temporary insanity. I’ve been vilified for that opinion. Whatever. I still feel that way.

  52. Travis December 7th, 2009 11:17 am

    How about knee safety for all around skiing using a non-releasable binding telemark binding? In the backcountry setting having the skis attached in an avalanche is your concern correct, Lou?

  53. Randonnee December 7th, 2009 2:05 pm

    Travis, I would concur with Lou without question. Non-releasable bindings offer no safety in comparison to a Dynafit or any binding that is DIN rated. It is interesting that some would take exception to the obvious.

    In all likelihood the Dynafit would have released and prevented that injury. I own and use 1/2 dozen Dynafit bindings of various types and all release according to the DIN standard, and do so smoothly. Even in the skinny-ski 1980′s I hauled folks off of the mountain who had fractured their ankle, for example, while skiing moguls on their leather and skinnies.

  54. eric February 8th, 2010 8:54 am

    what would be a proper din setting on slilvretta 404′s paired with koflach arctis vario
    for a upper intermediate/lower advance 150lbs skier. and is it true that AT bindings tend not to release when skied with ice climbing boots because the boots are too soft ?

  55. Lou February 8th, 2010 8:57 am

    Eric, there is no correct DIN setting for climbing boots. The DIN numbers are calibrated to protect a person wearing ski boots. The forces are MUCH different in soft boots. Broken ankles are much more common, for example.

    Thus, the correct setting for the DIN numbers is whatever holds you in without unplanned release. And don’t hesitate to set the lateral and vertical release to different values. Also, ski them freeheel as much as you can. Much safer.

  56. eric February 9th, 2010 8:57 am

    thanx for the info. i’ll just go to a lift and experiment, start at the lowest and go up a notch at a time.
    but i think the boots i mentioned, the koflahs, are actual ski boots, or were meant to be at least. tho they do have the general shape of an ice climbing boot with a rockered treaded vibram sole, the plastic seems heavier, the ankle cuff is higher and stiffer, the inner bootie is higher still, they have buckles rather than laces and a strap/clamp thing in the back of the leg to switch from touring to descending.
    i come from a tely background with no prior experience with alpine or randonnee equipment so the gear is a bit foreign to me.
    thanx again for the valuable and useful information

  57. Lou February 9th, 2010 9:42 am

    Eric, those are probably rando boots, or close enough. So just use a DIN chart and do your settings that way.

    DIN chart here:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/naxo-mount/naxo_mount_5.html

  58. eric February 10th, 2010 8:52 am

    thanx again. very helpful. the whole conversation was also very informative. great blog

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

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