Boot Punching and Binding Swap Methods

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Sitting here in the backcountry skiing blog command center, I can’t help but look up and out the window and thrill at a sky full of nice dark clouds. Last night’s storm dumped up on the mountains, I know because Mount Sopris peeked out for a few minutes during the morning cloud lift, and it is coated. Rain is falling here. That’s a good thing as it indicates the snow up higher is coming in nice and dense, which will perhaps help bridge over facet layers I’m certain have formed above timberline during the last week of clear-cold nights.

Today, I’m building a tech binding “boot holder” for heat punching boots. Does your boot fitter have one? Turns out that when you aggressively punch a backcountry skiing boot with tech fittings you can easily throw the fittings out of alignment, necessitating having a right and left ski so the bindings will line up with your boots. By using a boot holder consisting of a Dynafit toe unit and some kind of heel holder, you can keep the boot straight while heat manipulating the plastic. Ditto for boot sole toe rocker, which needs to be held up while punching for added length, otherwise the rocker will flatten out.

Project number two for today or tomorrow: Quiver Killer sent me a sack of ski binding inserts to play around with. With the cost of bindings and continued popularity of owning more than one ski (the quiver), methods of swapping bindings between skis continue to make sense. Onyx bindings include a swap plate system, but other bindings require aftermarket options. I like the idea of inserts because they add insignificant weight and no stack height. But plate options such as those from Binding Freedom and B&D have their pluses, such as ease of installation. (Note: B&D is working on an insert system that we hope to be reviewing soon, said to be highly engineered specifically for ski binding application.)

The thing I’m curious about with inserts is this: When mounting Dynafit backcountry skiing bindings, even with a jig you usually end up biasing the binding toe a bit one way or the other so the boot heel centers perfectly on the heel unit pins. Do machine screw type inserts allow this, or eliminate the need for it? We’ll know in a few days.

One aspect of binding swap plates that interests me is the pop theory that somehow wider skis need a wider binding platform. Two reasons for this come up: resistance to binding screw pullout, and less flex in the ski/binding interface. See comments below for my take on the pullout issue. As for the wider stance somehow being better for skiing, Marker touts this as a plus of their Duke/Baron series, and Binding Freedom claims their plates are designed to “maximize torsional stiffness.” My take is that most skiers, no matter how wide the ski, simply do not have to worry about how wide their binding platform is. Considering the amount of flex you get in ANY binding/boot/foot combination, the small amount of flex you get in the binding/ski interface is so minimal as to not be a factor for anyone but perhaps a racer seeking to have hundredths of a second off a run. More, even the widest bindings and plates are really not that much wider than the base plates of present AT bindings. In other words, to really make a difference in the tiny amount of flex you get in the ski/binding attachment, the binding platform would need to be out near the edges of the ski, not just a bit wider than normal. Unless you’re going that wide (no product does), this whole thing about wider binding stance being “stiffer” or “flexing less” is nothing more than an urban myth.

Well, there you go, a bit of blog fodder for a snowy day here in Colorado. Now, out to the shop to make some stuff!

Comments

34 Responses to “Boot Punching and Binding Swap Methods”

  1. Mark November 9th, 2010 10:20 am

    Lou, I think the wider binding mount touted by some of the new bindings (Fritschi Freeride Pro, for example) is insignificant in terms of real physics, but it is akin to the four boot mantra. Some people insist on four buckles, while most of us know that the metatarsal buckle often simply flaps in the wind once all other buckles and such are tightened and it’s nearly useless, though performance, power, and even prestige are part of the marketing myth that is that fourth buckle.

  2. Jonathan Shefftz November 9th, 2010 10:39 am

    Good point about potential misalignment from boot punching, but for a boot holder, why not just use the already mounted ski?

  3. dongshow November 9th, 2010 11:18 am

    I had been reading the wider binding footprint as a marketing gimmick like ice or dry beer

  4. Lou November 9th, 2010 11:37 am

    Dong, that’s my take as well.

  5. Lou November 9th, 2010 11:39 am

    Jonathan, can’t use the mounted ski for a holder because the rear binding unit allows the boot to move side-to-side too easily, and all the heat and forces applied to the boot wouldn’t be good for the ski or the binding or the binding mount…

    Working on the holder as we speak. Don’t know where it’s going at this point. Lots of hacking.

  6. Nick Webb November 9th, 2010 2:37 pm

    Hey Lou, Im interested in what you are saying about “biasing the toe unit left or right to center the heel of your boot in the heel unit.”

    Are you actually rotating the toe unit slightly or moving the toe unit closer to one edge to center the heel?

  7. jason November 9th, 2010 2:49 pm

    Lou,

    I’m really interested in how your testing on the ‘quiver killers’ goes, specifically the reliability of the inserts after repeated binding swaps as well as if there ends up being any performance difference (ie binding flex). I’m wondering if there are issues with the inserts backing out during binding removal, and perhaps from over-tightening the machine screws into the inserts.

    If all goes well, they seem like a godsend, as good bindings can cost more than half the price of skis. even on a comparison to the onyx swap plate, they’re half the cost and don’t add stack height, but unlike the onyx swap plates don’t allow for adjusting the toe-piece location.

  8. Lou November 9th, 2010 4:32 pm

    Nick, yes, when you mount Dynafits the toe/ski/screw interface has some give, so you nudge it one way or the other so the boot heel falls perfectly on the rear binding pins. This is done because no mount is perfect. It also corrects for boots with slight mis-alignment, though in that case you end up with a right and left ski.

  9. Nick November 9th, 2010 5:32 pm

    Lou, forgive me as this vaguely applies to this post, but I want to keep in harmony with your contact policy of if it can be public, so shall it be public.

    Im trying to mount some used Fritschi Diamir’s on used BD zealots that I picked up earlier this year, and want to get your take on how to go about it. I’ve read the guide to mounting for the 1st time but what things differ between a 1st mount and a remount, especially in consideration for using the same drill holes, cuz it looks as though they match my bindings that I have currently. Ive read around on the various backcountry forums and see that there is a divide between people saying to use epoxy on a remount and not to use epoxy on a remount and rather just stick with carpenters glue etc.

    This is my 1st experience mounting bindings, so a little guidance is more than welcome!

  10. Lou November 9th, 2010 5:40 pm

    Nick, if the holes line up, just a couple of things:

    1. Set binder on ski and see if the raised area around the holes holds the binding up off the ski. If so, smooth with scraper or light touch with sandpaper disk grinder.

    2. Use epoxy, it’s no big deal. Carpenter’s glue is a joke.

    3. When inserting screws be careful not to strip, and if you find a stripped one de-mount and go through the process of fixing stripped hole.

    4. Follow the binding mount instructions here in terms of mounting heel first, centering binding, etc.

    5. Let us know how it goes, that’s your fee.

  11. jondrums November 9th, 2010 7:22 pm

    Hi guys-
    What fun to see my products linked here on wildsnow! I guess its time to get Lou some DynaDukes for review…

    I wanted to add a few comments about swap plates versus inserts:

    *Inserts are really only for the serious DIY folks who are skilled in the use of tools, and really perfectionist minded. A mistake in mounting causes some seriously big holes in the ski. For this reason, I don’t believe we’ll see shop installs anytime soon.
    *It is nearly impossible to get suitable inserts in place to swap between multiple types of bindings. I’ve fount that only a few combinations can be made to work based on hole-conflicts. Plates aren’t beholden to the structural minimum 20mm center-to-center restriction of inserts.
    *plate kits are dead-simple to install – a bit more tolerant to install than dynafit bindings themselves.
    *I know plenty of people who have pulled out correctly mounted dynafit toepieces on wide skis. Inserts or plates should really help this.
    *Dynaduke or Sollyfit plate kits are about 130g per ski. 9 inserts and screws is about 30g

    Swap-Away!

  12. Erik November 9th, 2010 7:54 pm

    I don’t see why doing inserts would be THAT different for a ski shop who would use a drill bushing fixture anyway. But I do agree that doing it at home with the venerable paper template will be more challenging with inserts, as the number of places to have a fit error doubles. Curious to see how the folks at B&D deal with that.

    I suppose in that regard it would be nice to see the fasteners in bindings migrate away from being a full set of only countersunk screws which inevitably have to be a little bit off.

  13. Lou November 9th, 2010 8:03 pm

    Jon, thanks for dropping by! My take on pulled out bindings is if they’d been mounted with the care people are supposed to exercise when they mount swap plates, then the binding would not have pulled out except in extenuating circumstances. Let’s just say that ramming some Dynafit screws in without tapping, using wood glue, and perhaps over torquing is not exactly the strongest way to mount a binding, and I’ve seen those things more times than I can count. But hey, that’s just my opinion. If folks are getting results from plates then so be it.

    Excellent point on the limitations of inserts. I’m into them for swapping same binding more than anything, so they should work. I’m thinking it’s probably essential to do them with a true running drill press so the holes are totally perpendicular, but I might try it with a hand-held drill just to see how it goes.

    Looking forward to playing around with all this stuff, but it looks like a real time hole and the snow is getting deeper and whiter…

  14. Lou November 9th, 2010 8:24 pm

    In my view, key with DIY inserts is to first do a binding mount that works, then remove bindings and change to inserts. We’ll see if that’s the approach. I’ve noticed the holes I drill with my Dynafit jig are never perfect, due to slop in the jig bushings. Might actually be better to use paper and center punch…

  15. Nick November 9th, 2010 10:34 pm

    i actually have the dynaduke plate from jondrums.

    As for the wider footprint…i noticed no difference going from straight dynafit vertical st’s to having them on the plates. This is on my K2 Mt. Bakers. On my pm gear Lhasa pows 186 carbon (aint that a mouthful!) i also noticed no difference. So theres one persons perspective!

    One feature that could be nice thing to consider on the plates is they have a unique, wide mounting pattern. The big plus i see for this is it wont be effected by previous mounts. you can have three mounts on a ski, then get the plates to remount again if you need. Just a consideration.

    As for their ability to hold up….i swapped dukes and dynafits around 15 times last season (well more last year than just n season) and had no problem with the threads. The screws didnt loosen up at all without loctite. (but id still check after every use). I can do a full swap (using a purchased t-wrench thingy) in ~10 minutes. Depends how much i pay attention vs my mind wandering off.

    As for stack height….its 7mm for the dynaduke plate. I didnt notice it at all but im not a racer, nor have a racing background so your experience could be different.

    So far after a season of abuse they have rocked. Allowed easy switching from dukes to dynafits and are awesome products!

  16. Biggsie November 9th, 2010 10:45 pm

    I agree that mounting insert on existing holes is easier. That’s what I did to replace my original O1 mount. I had great success using this drill guide in lieu of a drill press:
    http://m.sears.com/productdetails.do;jsessionid=4IM059xRMAI1ZJoNh4sahA**?partNumber=00967173000P

    Using the instructions on Wildsnow, I mounted the toe pieces on my Dyna’s perfectly using inserts. Got a little sloppy in the heel pieces but it still worked out.

    As I mentioned before, finding compatible bindings is key. I’ve been meaning to look into the ideal alpine binding to swap with Dyna’s. I’ve heard Look is a good place to start but would like to hear the experience of others.

  17. jondrums November 10th, 2010 2:04 am

    @Biggsie
    I know this sounds crazy, but there are no alpine bindings I know of who’s mounting pattern is compatible with dynafits and inserts. You’ll need at least 20mm center-to-center when using inserts and all alpine bindings I know of conflict in the toe area – even with up to +/-2cm on mounting point. I tried FKS, Look (all types), Jester, Salomon, and Tyrolia.

    Duke/Baron works pretty good with certain BSL (heel conflicts depending on BSL). I haven’t looked at Naxo, Fritchi, or any tele combinations, but I suspect some of these will work pretty good because they mount so far forward and back.

  18. jondrums November 10th, 2010 2:07 am

    @Nick and Lou,
    I’m pretty sure that a wider mounting pattern isn’t actually noticeably stiffer. I would contend that the wider mounting pattern puts less stress on the screw/ski interface and therefore reduces the chances of pull-out.

  19. Colin November 10th, 2010 2:45 am

    Jon,

    I’ve used allen wrenches from Park Tool in the bike context that had a nice beveled head so the you could use it from a slight angle as well as perpendicular to the screw head.

    Incidentally, I did a brief writeup with photos on my (crappy) blog last winter that shows the install and final photos of the Binding Freedom DynaDuke plates. They’ve worked great for me so far.

  20. Lou November 10th, 2010 7:23 am

    Jon, yeah, I was calling BS on the murmurs I hear about a slightly wider mounting platform “flexing” less and thus skiing better. Binding pull-out is another issue, but as I’ve said a million times, for 999 out of 1000 users, a properly mounted Dynafit is most certainly not going to be a problem in terms of pull-out. I’ve seen the proof with my own eyes.

    I might devise a test for this that’ll make a fun blog post. We shall see.

  21. JimmyAwesome November 10th, 2010 12:44 pm

    Hey
    First – great site! I’ve been lurking for years.

    I find this article very interesting! At first I was excited about the quiverkillers but my goal is to have Dynafit and Telemark on the same ski. Looking at the hole patterns and the sheer number of holes I am leary about using them; which leads me to some sort of plates. Unless anyone can strongly support that the standard G3 Tele hole pattern and Dynafit holes all together on one pair of skis will not comprimise the ski?… I’d prefer not to have that extra stack & weight.

    There is a guy making plates that will do exactly what I want (G3 Tele and Dynafit threaded holes on one plate).
    http://dobishsolutions.com/Products.html

    I gotta say though that the quality and appearance of the Binding Freedoms looks sooo nice – too bad he doesn’t make a Dynafit/Tele plate….

    Also, in your article you mention that B&D is in the process of making some inserts as well – is that a typo? It appears the BindingFreedom has some on his site that are “out of stock”.

    All the best,
    Jim

  22. Lou November 10th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Jimmy, no typo, B&D is the company with the ad in our left sidebar.

    http://www.bndskigear.com/

    His plates look to be be exactly what you’re after.

    Funny how everyone now wants less stack height. It was just a few years ago when everyone wanted more. I spoke against it and got laughed at :D

  23. XXX_er November 10th, 2010 1:12 pm

    “nudge it one way or the other so the boot heel falls perfectly on the rear binding pins. This is done because no mount is perfect ”

    I don’t have a jig so I mounted the FR+ toe piece 1st but by one screw ONLY so the toe piece can still pivot L or R , mount the heel unit dead center L-R on the ski

    jam some tape in the bar/heel piece interface so the toe piece/bar/heel piece is centered in the latch but can’t move and drill the rest of the toe piece screws … perfect mount

    I know you recommend mounting the toe piece 1st but this slight variation worked well for me

  24. JimmyAwesome November 10th, 2010 1:47 pm

    Hi Lou,

    From what I can tell the BND ones are not quite what I need. They are for mounting Dynafit onto a four hole pattern that already exists on the ski (such as what comes on a bunch of the K2 backcountry lineup from a few years back).

    Instead I want a plate much like the Bindingfreedom – DynaDuke but Dyna/Telemark instead.

    Do you have thoughts on using the stainless inserts instead of plates for an application like this? This is the number of holes and inserts that would be required per ski:

    G3:
    4 toe
    2 heel

    Dynafit:
    5 toe
    4 heel

    That is a total of 15 holes per ski! Seems like lots. The heel holes don’t interfere. I don’t think there is much interference on the toes but I’d have to do some doodling with dimensions.

  25. Lou November 10th, 2010 2:07 pm

    Jimmy, I’d call B&D and at least talk to him about it. That does seem like a lot of holes, especially if they’re close together.

  26. Lou November 10th, 2010 2:12 pm

    Xr, yeah, using the binding as the jig is the trick, that’s the final step in nearly any AT binding mount.

  27. JimmyAwesome November 10th, 2010 2:15 pm

    Thanks Lou
    I’ll get in touch with BND. That is too many holes eh! Some of the toe holes would be pretty close together.
    Jim

  28. Keith November 10th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Lou
    I wonder if you can explain the effects of stack height. I can’t imagine that 7MM (~1/4″) would be that significant. But I have no idea of how the dynamics work. Please enlighten me. Thanks

  29. Mark November 12th, 2010 10:45 am

    So is the issue with “too many holes” just that a few end up too close and are therefore pull-out prone, or is the ski actually more likely to break in half from being swiss-cheesed?

  30. Lou November 12th, 2010 11:26 am

    Mark, both. Depends on ski and how big/agro the skier is. Some skis are incredibly strong and can take a ton of holes, others are fragile.

  31. Mark November 12th, 2010 12:18 pm

    Makes sense. I guess I would assume that foam cores are weakest and many of the light BC specific wood cores are marginal as well for a two-binding insert set up. I have a pair of pretty light Voile Asylums and it would be nice to be able to use a step in binding at the lifts and dynas in the BC, just to reduce wear on the dynas. But I do not go off cliffs voluntarily, so the dynas would probably do fine.

  32. Lou November 12th, 2010 4:53 pm

    Mark, it’s more about how thick the fiber wrap is around the ski, and how thick the binding reinforcement area is. Wood is stronger than foam, but the foam they use in most skis I’ve seen has also got some strength once the screw is epoxied in there. But again, if properly mounted it’s not wood vs foam, but more just how the ski is made.

  33. Mike R November 13th, 2010 8:45 pm

    hey lou,
    do you think quiver killers would work in manaslu inserts?

  34. Jay O. November 14th, 2010 6:52 pm

    I really need some advice. I have a pair of G3 Saints and had to remove the Dynafit Vert ST bindings(loaners that had to be returned to rightful owner) Can I now mount something like Duke/Baron? I’m also currently in the Midwest and nobody has a clue about AT gear. What would you recommend for getting this done properly, I’m not opposed to doing it myself, but it would be a first. thanks. J.

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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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