Dynafit Technique — Prevent Inadvertant Release in Touring Mode

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 2, 2010      

* Our WildSnow Dynafit how-to video has quite a bit of information about prepping the bindings and setting them up for walking. Check it out.

* The sockets in your boot must be clean clean of debris such as frozen mud, and the binding fully closed on your boot after you step in. It’s easy to overlook this, as you can walk away with the binding partly closed, with the pins riding on ice or dirt packed in the boot sockets. Carry a 16d nail for cleaning out the sockets, or use the awl on your multi-tool, or use the small tab on the end of the metal buckle of a “Voile” ski strap (thanks Lee). Know that your boot toe fittings can have some ice in them and the binding will eventually clean this out as you walk (small notches on the binding toe pins act as cutters), but before the ice is ejected, you may tend to walk out of the binding.

* To prevent pre-release, before you step into the binding, check for packed ice and snow under the visible toe-unit springs. Junk packed in the deep pocket under the springs will keep the binding from closing properly. This is the number 2 most common reason the binding won’t stay on your feet in touring mode, and can also cause inadvertent ski loss in downhill mode.

* For walking/touring mode, the touring lock lever (plastic tab up front) must be pulled up firmly after you’re in the binding. You may notice a series of clicks when pulling the lever. Don’t obsess on the number of clicks, so long as the lever is pulled up firmly it will lock the binding for touring (provided things are not obstructed by ice or dirt).

* Once the binding is closed and locked, the WildSnow suggested act is to swing your foot and ski a few times to work the pivots and make sure they are seated. Stomp and torque your foot to the side and make sure it feels locked. This is especially important if going to alpine mode after being out of the binding

* Technique. Avoid wild moves on steep terrain. Learn how to do elegant and efficient kick turns. Dynafit and other “tech” style bindings such as Onyx are an incredible boon to ski mountaineers, and used successfully by millions of skiers worldwide. But the tech type binding might not be the best choice for inexperienced ski mountaineers, as they certainly require more care and feeding than bindings such as Fritschi or Marker.

* Due to wear or poor factory shaping, some boots may not have a thick enough sole under the toe to push down on the toe-unit “trigger” and cause the binding to snap closed. Fix by building a small pad of duct tape on the binding so the boot has something to press on. For a permanent fix, build up with a dab of JB-Weld.

* Backcountry skiers frustrated by “surprise release” have told me they suspect their boots might be defective — perhaps with the wrong dimensions, or something like that. The tech fitting molded in the boot is a solid steel block with the sockets machined at each end. Thus, the sockets are always the correct distance apart. Could the fitting be molded in crooked? Yes, this happens and is obvious when the bindings are being mounted. Likewise, fittings can be defective. Test for defective fittings by using a different pair of boots in your bindings, and seeing if you have the same problems.

* While backcountry skiing in heel-lift touring mode, glance down at your bindings occasionally and make sure your touring lock lever is still up in the locked position. I’ve stepped on mine a few times during a bush thrash or while taking photographs, and ended up walking out of the binding.

* All new users should torture test their bindings at home, on carpet. Practice getting in and out. Practice pulling up the touring lock lever. Practice rotating the heel lift. Try dropping to your knees and observe how doing so may place extreme stress on the binding. Shuffle around the room and make sure everything seems to work correctly.

* If you put in a few days on the binding, do all the above, and are still frustrated by touring release, it could be wise to cut bait and use a simpler binding. As I like to say, “Using Dynafit and other tech bindings requires more intelligence and athletic ability than other AT bindings, but the results are worth it.”

Comments and tips, folks?



89 Responses to “Dynafit Technique — Prevent Inadvertant Release in Touring Mode”

  1. Tuck February 2nd, 2010 9:58 am

    I had a problem with pre-releasing a few times when I first got my dynafits last year, skiing around the resort. Your suggestion about swinging your foot forward and back several times after seating the pins has done the trick. I do this everytime I get in the binding, and have not had a single pre-release since.

    Thanks, Lou! Love the Dynafits. Don’t know why I’d ever switch to something else.

  2. Lou February 2nd, 2010 10:03 am

    Tuck, excellent!

  3. andrew C February 2nd, 2010 11:11 am

    I’ve used the “swing-your-foot” technique and my ski brakes have popped off on two occasions. I think this is because they got lodged in the snow on my back swing. I am now more cautious about making sure my ski, and brakes, are off the snow when I use this technique. Works fine. It’s remarkable how many skiers I see with the forward toe latch thingy in the up position while skiing down (even at the local hill). I’ve reread the dynafit literature and, I have to say, it’s not very clear. Dynafit should recommend that all buyers of their bindings watch your exhaustive related videos Lou. I found them tremendously helpful.

  4. sherryb February 2nd, 2010 11:32 am

    I’ve been out about 8 times since I got my new rig. I watched your how-to video and practiced on the carpet. I’ve skied powder, hardpack, chickenheads, refrozen crud and have been towed at 30+ mph behind a snowmobile over whoop-de-doos. I think I’ve worked the inadvertent release terror bugs out of myself.
    The only times I’ve inadvertently released were “gee, I forgot to pull the toe lock up” (in tour mode) and an experimental run on some steep bumps inbounds (I know that is not the place for tech bindings).
    I found that the plastic mechanical pencil that is always handy on the front of my radio pack works great for cleaning out pin holes and under the toe springs. I think I’m going to ask a golfer friend for a tee and see how that works.
    I had a little worry about the DIN. The shop I got them from wouldn’t be responsible for that so I had to read the little book and work it out myself. I also read of your method of setting them till you ski out and cranking them up a notch from there. I’m 175 lbs, not a super aggressive skier and find that 7 is holding me in just fine.
    After demo-ing some Fritschis last year, I decided there was no way I was going to drag those things around. Most of the places I like to ski BC have long approaches or are just long tours overall.
    By the way, those K2 Mt Baker SLs are really making me happy with the float, lightweight and PREDICTABLE handling. Not the greatest resort ski, of course. They get knocked around easily in heavy going. :ermm: But then, that’s not what I bought them for.
    Thanks, Lou, for being THE go-to Dynafit q&a sourcebook. You rock.

  5. sherryb February 2nd, 2010 11:37 am

    Sorry, me again. I forgot to mention that I am still on the fence about whether to ditch the brakes for BC skiing and use a leash on the few occasions that I might go inbounds with these. I would sure like to be able to change from ski to tour mode without taking my skis off. A lot of use of these skis will be at night in natural snow. It could be one less hassle not to have to even deal with icy pinholes in these situations.
    Anybody else have opinions about leashes/no brakes?

  6. Lou February 2nd, 2010 11:48 am

    To leash or not to leash, that is the question. I love not using Dynafit ski brakes because of the lighter weight and easier to operate binding, but I love having them for ease of use when getting in, prevention of ski loss while at an icy summit, and the avalanche safety they provide over that of a leash. Always a dilemma. My advice is to just pick one method or the other and master it. I think the tradeoffs are a wash, though if I’m in avy terrain with avy possibilities, I think using brakes has the edge.

  7. Lee Lau February 2nd, 2010 12:03 pm

    Re a tool to clean out the ice from under the toe plate.

    If you get a Voile strap or any strap with a metal buckle then you’ll have an easily pocketable ski strap and you can use the metal buckle piece to clean out ice.

  8. SedgeSprite February 2nd, 2010 12:59 pm

    Are ‘elegant and efficientkick turns’ the same as ‘conversions’ when climbing? With fat skins we are used to going straight up, but when conditions call for the conversion, say steep uphill with new snow, nothing beats the flick of the ski tip and placement for the new switchback.

  9. Lou February 2nd, 2010 1:49 pm

    Brent, that’s a happy accident but I’m glad it’s working out that way. Never had that specific problem myself, though almost every mount seems to require a bit of tweaking for perfect alignment. Oh, and thanks for utilizing what we have here.

  10. Brent February 2nd, 2010 1:22 pm

    I started using Dynafits a little over 2 years ago and thanks to Lou’s advice and how-to videos I was able to learn how to use the bindings very quickly and have never had issues with pre-release or walking out of the binding. Its like second nature to use them now and I couldn’t be happier with these bindings. I’ve even mounted 3 of my own rigs now and things are working great. The techniques described on this site really work and I’m very grateful to Lou for sharing them. Thanks Lou!

    Speaking of the mountings, on another topic… I noticed that the cosmetic carbon fiber connector between the toe and heel units on the FT-12 reduces the problem of torquing the toe unit clockwise when tightening the screws. I didn’t need to do the boot-as-wrench technique nearly as much while mounting the FT-12s. I wonder if Dynafit intended this or if its a happy accident. Purely anecdotal evidence of course.

  11. Jack February 2nd, 2010 3:11 pm

    I used an older pair of Dynafit bindings on the Grand Traverse last year. I iced up near the Friends Hut and your “carry a 16d nail in your pocket” thought is a great idea. I also will “pam” the sockets before this years race. Lou-thanks again for your information and blog. I learn a lot each time I check-in.

  12. Sam February 2nd, 2010 3:27 pm

    I took my new Dynafit/Wayback set-up out for the first time last week at Mammoth Mtn. Thanks to your great videos I clicked right in and had an epic day in all the new snow we had. I’ll take your advice and throw in a 16d nail (and a tongue depressor) when I head out into the backcountry in a few days. Thanks for all the tips!

  13. Lou February 2nd, 2010 4:27 pm

    What a fun day on the blog! More than anything, starting with roots in outdoor ed and guidebook publishing, I just love to help the community. Thanks everyone for visiting!

  14. Toby G February 2nd, 2010 4:37 pm

    Bought Dynafit ST and Dynafit 4C-TF boots based on feedback from this excellent site. Mounted the bindings using Lou’s directions. Have used inbounds without any issues yet (including moguls). Tour great. Really happy I made the decision to go with these bindings.

  15. Mats February 2nd, 2010 5:03 pm

    I am new to Dynafit´s and have been skiing on Manaslu’s and FT12´s maybe 20 days now. The first days I was cautious in skiing in hard snow as I have heard of the pre release problem. The 3rd day I had a prerelease even after using the swing technique. My mistake was to swing in ski mode and not in tour mode. The spring does not put enough force into the holes to push the ice out. After that experience I always swing in tour mode. No pre release after that and I now trust the binding totally and do not think about if I am on Dynafits or alpine bindings. Logged +90 km/h on my GPS in hard piste on Dynafits with no worries.
    That¨s +55 mph for you non metrics :devil:

  16. bryan February 2nd, 2010 5:25 pm


    Ironically, the more I read your web-site, the more I keep reconsidering the switch from Fritschi to Dynafit.

    The fritschi design is far from perfect, but it’s like that old stand by booty call you had in college: usually does the trick, without drama or strings attached.

  17. gringo February 2nd, 2010 8:43 pm

    Brakes or no brakes…
    it almost seems funny that in the age of Dynafit brakes that finally work reliably skiers actually STILL consider leashes…Avalanche anyone?
    I had a partner years ago who lost a brakeless Dynafit equipped ski near the summit of a 5000 meter peak in South America….thats a long way to fly to walk up AND down a ski-mountaineering objective simply because you want to save a few (important) grams…

  18. Lou February 2nd, 2010 9:14 pm

    Also, there is the idea that having leashes on a glacier is a good thing, so if you fall into a crevasse you don’t permanently loose your skis. On the other hand, if I really fell into a crevasse, I’m not sure I’d want my skis dangling from my feet…

  19. Fernando Pereira February 2nd, 2010 11:48 pm

    For the last couple of seasons I skied on Dynafit Vertical STs almost exclusively both in the backcountry and inbounds, in all conditions from deep powder to breakable crust, boilerplate, and frozen moguls. They’ve mostly been a great ride, but there are a few caveats 1) release in a deep flex does happen, and in my case it was in a situation where the release could have had big consequences; 2) lack of toe release does happen, and I was happy that I was able to hip check before my knee ripped; and 3) there’s a weird interaction between the brakes and the heel post in walk mode when breaking trail in heavy, wet snow that causes icing up that will torque the heel post from walk mode to ski mode and lock the heel while skinning, an annoying experience when side-hilling a steep slope with a veneer of wet snow over boilerplate. For 1), I can tighten the bindings or lose weight :cool:; for 2-3), I’m not sure of what to do.

  20. gringo February 3rd, 2010 3:00 am

    i’d wager that for a good 95% of the ‘touring public’ getting smoked by a slab factors notably higher in the probabilities than falling in a crevasse…at least for North Americans.
    sorry, but for this guy leashes are still a death trap…

  21. Lou February 3rd, 2010 7:13 am

    Gringo, you are correct. I was just interjecting the point that leashes do have their uses.

  22. Lou February 3rd, 2010 7:19 am

    Fernando, item 2 is axiomatic for any ski binding. That’s why ski town orthopedic surgeons all own nice houses and aircraft (or at least nice houses). I’d love it if Dynafit or Marker or anyone else could put them out of business, but that aint going to happen any time soon.

    Not really sure of the solution for pre-release when ski is radically flexed. At least make sure the gap between boot heel and binding is perfectly set. An FT 12 with the connector plate glued with some JB-weld could also help, but out-of-the-box the connector plate is mostly (or in my opinion all) cosmetic.

  23. Matus February 3rd, 2010 8:17 am

    FT 12 connector plate is definitely cosmetic – I am sure that the only purpose is to give FT 12 more expensive look and to make something visually different than ST. It is the basic marketing trick. I did not even mount it.

    In my view, the solution to flex caused pre-release is either using the stiff plate under the whole binding or using stiffer skis.

    The correct gap is really crucial. If the gap is too small, the binding can break when the ski flexes extremely.

  24. Lou February 3rd, 2010 9:08 am

    Matus, exactly. But I think the FT 12 plate could be made to function as a stiffener if it the front piece was glued into the rear. Simpler to just mount your binding on a stiff plate, really. Or use a stiffer ski.

  25. Matus February 3rd, 2010 9:20 am

    Lou, I am afraid that the plate is just too weak to make any difference to the overall stiffness. I think that the forces that are able to flex the ski full of carbon, wood, metal, more carbon and some titanal are really high. It would probably require some lab testing to prove the functionality of glued plate.

  26. Lou February 3rd, 2010 9:40 am

    Matus, yeah, you’re probably right… wishful thinking on my part…

  27. Arne February 3rd, 2010 10:52 am

    Comment on “Carry a 16d nail for cleaning out the sockets, or use the awl on your multi-tool, or use the small tab on the end of the metal buckle of a “Voile” ski strap (thanks Lee).”

    I’ve found that a golf peg works quite well, and it should also be usable for cleaning out packed ice and snow under the toe-unit springs. The good thing is it will not scratch the binding, weighs very little, and is of course very cheap. The bad thing is it wears out quickly.

    Disclaimer: I have not tried this on all types of ice, so it may not always do the trick.

  28. Greg Louie February 3rd, 2010 10:58 am

    Hmmm, I’m pretty sure I could work my feet into prusik loops and ascend a rope with a ski or two dangling from my boots, which I would still prefer to having one or both skis at the bottom of a crevasse . . .

    re: snow buildup under the toepiece arms – snapping the toe open and closed (wear gloves) a few times usually clears this up effectively. Combined with the swinging the ski back and forth, I seldom have to go into the pack to fetch a tool.

  29. Jack February 3rd, 2010 11:15 am

    I have some questions and comments about the FT12 toe releasing in downhill mode. I use the FT12’s on Manaslus but also on a pair of 4FRNT CRJ’s. On either ski, when skiing pretty agressive on the groomers (I am over 200 lbs with backpack and boots) I had about a dozen unwanted toe releases during 40 days of skiing. I’ve found out most releases happened when the skis start chattering in a turn (i.e. when I force the skis in a turn about half of the radius of the skis). The chattering makes the toespring to ‘pop up’ and releasing the boot at the toe. What makes matters worse (at least for me) that after the front of the boot starts going sideways, the heel of the boot is still pressing down on the brake, and I pivot almost 90 degrees, actually locking the brake with the heel unit (like putting it in touring mode). And hunting for a ski without brakes half a mile down the mountain is no fun, I had this once in a million chance happening to me already 4 times in one season…….
    Questions: Locking the toe is of course the simple solution, but how (un)safe will that be ? Will a 200 pounder still release from the toe unit without tearing up the moving parts in his limbs ? Or is there another solution, like trying to increase the spring pressure of the toe unit ? Some of my buddies say the FT12’s are not suited for my downhill style, but I refuse to believe a binding that is set at 10 would release at 5, strong chatter or not.

  30. Lou February 3rd, 2010 11:42 am

    Sometimes the lugs of the boot sole heel interact with the climbing post in such a way as to gradually rotate it. Combine this with wads of snow or tension on a sidehill, and sometimes the heel unit will rotate. I’ve even had it happen while breaking trail, not sidehilling. For most people the problem is so rare it’s a non issue. If it happens much, try filling the space between the boot lugs with Shoegu.

    You also might check the twisting/side DIN settings of the binding. When they’re set really low it’s obviously easier to twist the heel.

    Not sure there is a solution that totally prevents this, as the rotating heel unit is indigenous to the Dynafit design.

  31. Lou February 3rd, 2010 11:44 am

    Jack, that sounds terrible! I’d try skiing some other boots in the same bindings. If that doesn’t work, perhaps Dynafit isn’t for you. Onyx might be an option.

  32. Thomas B February 3rd, 2010 11:47 am

    my $.02 :no brakes, no leashes, except for glacier travel and then leashes are a must.
    Never use metal to scrape dynafit settings or toe plate, the more you scratch the surface the more it will stick, Theres nothing warm breathe and a ski pole grip can’t get.
    Properly adjusted dynafits do not pre release. Period. A back seat heavy skier going beyond speeds his form should allow can make a binding release. This is what they are designed for. This is not a pre release.
    Check your binding fit, improve your skiing.

  33. Jack February 3rd, 2010 12:05 pm

    Improving my skiing will not be easy 😉 I’m an old ski pro and always ski forward, never in the backseat, even when it’s 5 feet deep pow. But it’s not with the the adjustable heel unit I have problems, it’s the unwanted release of the toe unit (as far as I can figure out because of heavy vibrations in the ski)

    And I can’t imagine my Zzeus wouldn’t comply with the FT12’s.

    Maybe it is bad luck combined with a bit of snow or ice left behind ? (I always swing after stepping in, but don’t normally clean below the springplate)

  34. Euro Rob February 3rd, 2010 12:08 pm

    Jack, not sure this help, anyway, I’m tweaking my FT12 as well for good performance/safety balance. Frame is 6’1″ 170lbs, Getting a release 7 consistently across ski shops. This seems to be rather conservative, the skis come off rather easily, including sometimes when i really put myself into a carve and there’s a bump or something. However when just pulling the lever up one click I still get smooth release when bailing, but didn’t have a prerelease so far.

    Lou and everyone, is there a way to estimate the release increase at the first toe lever notch?

  35. Matus February 3rd, 2010 12:09 pm

    Jack, have you tried to ski with the toe locked in the touring mode? I am 77 kg + skis and backpack and I ski 90% with the front locked. I just do not want to lose my ski as it is much harder to stop without skis.

  36. Euro Rob February 3rd, 2010 12:11 pm

    Jack, now that I see your reply, I’m on ZZeus too, for what it’s worth.

  37. Lou February 3rd, 2010 12:12 pm

    Rob, I’m going to shout this:



    I’m going skiing.

  38. Jack February 3rd, 2010 12:13 pm

    Putting it in touring mode is probably THE solution for unwanted toe releases, but how unsafe is it ? Will I (200 lbs without equipment) release from the toe after a heel unit releases, for instance during a bad spill ?

  39. Matus February 3rd, 2010 12:17 pm

    How unsafe? Try to get out of the binding locked on the first click.

    What is safer? To fall down the icy couloir without skis or to fall with the skis on? Plus there is an avalanche anchor danger… Consider all this before each ride.

  40. Jack February 3rd, 2010 12:18 pm

    Lou, got the message. How about tweaking the toe mechanism a bit. I wonder if I can find a machine shop to make some sort of springed wedge instead of the plastic wedge. Or are there ‘stronger’ springs for the toe unit available ?

  41. Brooks February 3rd, 2010 11:29 am

    My wife will echo Fernando’s last comment. She is on brand new Vertical ST, (with brakes) and occasionally while in touring mode on a sidehill, her binding will twist into ski mode, opening the brake and locking her in when she steps down. I ski on comforts without brakes and have never had this problem. Any suggestions?

  42. Lou February 3rd, 2010 12:32 pm

    Jack, interestingly, one of the alternative bindings being made (can’t remember which) has adjustable toe spring tension. It would indeed be nice to adjust that. Very cool, actually. But it would whack out any attempt to have release setting numbers so I doubt you’ll ever see it mainstreamed. Dynafit did decrease the space between the toe pins over the years, and I believe they increased the spring force a bit as well.

    Still trying to get out of here, and test my K2 Waybacks for Denali. Here I goooooo…..

  43. Jack February 3rd, 2010 12:38 pm

    Lou, given the fact you’re the grandmaster of the Dynafit universe, maybe you can convince Dynafit to come up with a solution ? Also considering the use of Dynafits by other users, like freeriders, it would mean more sales for Dynafit….
    Have a great day, over here it’s 7:30 PM so my fun day is already behind me.

  44. Lee Lau February 3rd, 2010 1:34 pm


    Respectfully – maybe you should re-read the comments. Lots of people (Matus, myself etc) ski with the toe lever locked out. Lots of people ski with it unlocked. There’s no definitive answer as to how much it adds to release/non-release tension by pulling up one, two or three notches on the toe lever (probably because there’s too many variations in the equation).

    I don’t believe Dynafit needs a solution since the majority of users don’t have a problem.

    FWIW – I have ZZeus and Megarides with Comforts, Verticals and TLT speeds with brakes and am 160lbs. Any pre-release has been my error.

  45. Jack February 3rd, 2010 2:31 pm

    Thanks Lee for your comments. I did read some earlier comments about locked in/out, but not all, it seems there are many views. In my particular case, I think I will follow your and Matus advice to do some tests with a locked toe.

    You mentioned ‘any pre-release has been my error’. Obviously anything that happens while skiing is our own doing, but when a Diamir (for instance) will not release when a ski starts shattering and a FT12 does release (under the same conditions and DIN settings) I like to be so bold and point towards the (Dynafit) binding being the weakest link……

  46. Matus February 3rd, 2010 6:01 pm

    Jack, the DIN setting is more or less just a theoretical number with Dynafits. If you set 10 Dynaftis of different age and different temperature on e.g. DIN 7, I am pretty sure that the difference in real DIN would be 2 to 3. So, look at the DIN settings on your Dynafits in an analog way. Experimenting and field testing is the way to proper settings.

  47. gringo February 3rd, 2010 7:46 pm

    To lock or not too lock…
    My first (and hopefully last and only) time being buried i happened to be skiing my Comforts locked…big powder skis make for big sea-anchors is what I learned. I was suprised at how quickly I was rendered more or less helpless with my skis dragging me down.
    In that era I was skiing my Dynafits locked most of the time due to chronic pre-release issues with a Mega-Ride – Comfort combo…
    now after a few years scared away from Dynafit I am again experimenting, and hope for better results this time around.

    the only ‘good’ thing was that due to them being still attached to me, i did not have any trouble locating skis which otherwise would have been lost till spring and was able to shake it off and ski out under my own power…there is always a bright side …right?

  48. Mark W February 4th, 2010 12:27 am

    Brakes may not do anything if you click a ski near the summit of Peak X. Brakes on very steep, sustained, icy, or deep powder slopes sometimes fail to do their job. Leashes may not be a suitable alternative either in many cases. Dilemma indeed. I once bruised my left tibia with a ski tethered by a leash. Ouch!

  49. Christian February 4th, 2010 3:59 am

    I experience much the same as you do if I ski as I would on non-touring equipment. Although I seldom ski very fast these days, I do like to ski ice and I hate skidding. To make my edges stick on ice I usually apply a burst of power in quick edging before I glide into the next turn. This has made my bindings release a few times. The more I release the more passive my skiing becomes, so I experience the problem less often than I used to.
    What I have found is:
    – a slight movement in the back binding increases the problem (this tiny movement varies from binding to binding, and (I think) with temperature.
    – tightening the lock 2 or 3 three clicks helps.
    – it seems like it happens more often with new boots (not sure about this) (had to pairs of zzero boots…)
    – happens more often on wide skis than on skinny skis (I have 102mm and 74)
    – Coomba and Snowwolf
    – I can simulate this on my living-room.
    – the force has to be applied in a burst for it to happen…
    – the problem is less if I ski more in the back-seat/straight…maybe because the turn initiation becomes less rappid?
    – it is a non-issue if the ski is able to sink in 10mm in the snow
    -It never happened to me with the old tlt 4 boot. It only happens when I feel the need to tighten the zzero boots – even the magic buckle. I think the reason is that I am able to apply more force.
    – a loose back-pin causes it to happen a lot.
    (Experience is from three pairs of vertical bindings, to pairs of zzero boots, and in the past tlt-speed and tlt4 (where I did not have the problem))

    That said. This is not a show-stopper for me. I can do slalom and giant slalom turns down an icy slope without problem, but if try to ski as if in a race…it will happen. Doing steep icy off-piste without a “fall line” I will just semi-lock the binding, as this will solve the problem for me, and the ski will still release.
    Doing off-piste in remote areas I usually do not use race technique. But if it is steep an icy, making the edge stick is the safest way….

  50. Jack February 4th, 2010 4:53 am

    Christian, thanks for the input. I was wondering if I was the only soul on this planet with this ‘problem’. In my case, I often participate in ski safaris. We (about 5 of us) travel from (Alps) ski area to ski area, using skins, bus, and train. More often than not we have to speed up our inbounds crossing, just to get in time to the other – outbounds – side of a mountain. During these crossings we tend to ski fast, between 30 and 60 km/hr. But laying wide, soft skis on an edge at high speeds, does tend to produce a violent shatter with pre-releasing results. And applying pressure to the front of the ski (i.e. pushing your tibia forward) actually increases the shatter and the pre-releases. I now – thanks to all that gave me input – I envision three solutions: Locking the lever in a suitable (for me) position, and/or trying to ski more accordingly to my age, and/or waiting for the toe-adjustable Trab to come out.

  51. Lou February 4th, 2010 8:30 am

    Guys, I’ve never doubted you can pre-release a Dynafit, and in your cases it sounds like you’ve got a legitimate problem with it. It’s just that most people who come to me with the problem end up solving it by just being more careful with binding icing and/or adjustments. It’s also super important to know that not only could a binding be defective, but so could your boot inserts, so if you have a big problem with it you need to experiment with some different setups.

    Also, you all should know that all the fiddling with the toe lever does is lock out the SIDE release, locking the toe lever makes no difference with the vertical (upward) release.

    Everyone should know there is one mode where the binding releases super easy, and that’s if force is applied directly to the rear. You can simulate this by simply applying some pressure backwards on the boot and banging the tail of a ski down on a hard surface. If you do this, the boot will pop out surprisingly easily.

  52. Greg February 4th, 2010 9:25 am

    Lou, in an email from one of the Marker tech guys in Germany has said that the new Marker Tour uses the same mounting pattern as the Duke. If replacing Dukes with the Tour, no drilling required.

  53. Lou February 4th, 2010 10:10 am

    Yes, the Marker Tour is pretty much the same thing as a Duke or Baron, just lightened up a bit and a few other things. I don’t think it’s revolutionary, but if it’s much lighter and still more solid than a Fritschi, and has a better heel lift, it could be a nice option for you guys that are blowing out of Dynafits.

  54. RobinB February 4th, 2010 10:50 am

    Timely post as I was cursing my way up a local tour the other day as I kept walking out of my right ski…

    One cause that you neglected to mention is that the binding may actually be damaged or worn. A close look at mine determined that the base plate bumps that engage with the teeth on the lock out lever have somehow worn or been damaged to a point where they offer no real lockout anymore.

    Oh well, I guess I will be emailing Salewa this morning.

  55. Christian February 4th, 2010 1:40 pm

    I think information is very important, and this site is an important source. Your tip regarding checking the boot did in fact make the problem somewhat smaller for me. (Through removing sole material that was pressing on the front binding. )

    This year hasn’t been very good for me. It all started with sole breakage and binding breakage – and more pre-releases than I like to think of. Most of these were connected with the faulty boot and binding. The replacement boots also had some problem (the sole).
    This whole process made me very aware of potential problems – and made me sure that there is a potential problem as I described in the previous post. I do not think it is very serious – but if going down a steep icy terrain, I will semi-lock the binding. I have friends that never experience the problem, and we are skiing in the same terrain and speed. The difference is that I am 85kg vs 75kg, and that I am an x-alpine-racer (i.e. I skid less). I also have no problem skiing bumps in skiing mode – just ice (and the park/jumps).

    The thing I am still pondering, is if the pre-release problem is decreasing with time as I tour – it feels like it…but I am not sure. The shiny part is disappearing from the inserts, so it is changing. Any thoughts?

  56. Jack February 4th, 2010 2:34 pm


    Thank you and others that provided input for on the pre-release topic. I have much more insight than before and will run some tests on the carpet and the groomers (I had no issues in the pow, so probably will not run tests there)

    I’m off to Central Switzerland, will be back end next week. If my tests provide interesting results, I will of course post them.

  57. L.A.U. February 6th, 2010 9:09 am

    Dear Lou,

    I have questions nobody was truely able to answer about Dynafit release so maybe you can help me out and hopefuly share some of your knowledge about the binding.

    My understanding about the way Dynafits release (not talking about pre-release at this stage) is that heel will ALWAYS release first laterally or vertically, then followed by toes.

    Now, by locking the toe lever, it is supposed to lock (I think you mention around DIN 14 somewhere in your blog) lateral release. If I understand correctly, that means that locking toe lever has an effect on heel unit rotation. I can’t figure out how that would work though. Can you explain the mechanism? Wouldn’t a locked toe still make a perfect rotation axis for heel release?

    Also, if locking the toe lever prevents toe release but not completely heel release (lateral forces more than DIN 14 and vertical release), what happens when you get the heel released and have toe locked in?

    Finally regarding toe pre-release and your comment above : “Everyone should know there is one mode where the binding releases super easy, and that’s if force is applied directly to the rear”, I have myself witnessed my father experiencing several toe pre-releases in a very specific situation…..i.e. when he forgot to switch his boots into skiing mode (i.e. he was in walking mode). With poor technique and putting significant pressure to the rear of his boots which were still in walking mode, the toes did pop up incredibily easily, which was kind of scary before understanding the cause. I think what it does in this situation is lifting the toe box of the shoes out of the toe unit of the binding….and then has the very same effect as when you pre-release in walking mode without having the toe lever locked.
    Would you agree? Also, is there any other know situations of toe pre-release to your knowledge? (I know this is a very naive question, but just trying to figure out how to ski safely with this great binding) 😉

    Thanks for your time and happy skiing,


  58. Lou February 6th, 2010 9:18 am

    L.A.U., the lateral (side) release of Dynafit is controlled by settings in the rear unit, but is also a function of the toe wings opening as the boot rotates out. Just do it on a workbench, it’s obvious. Locking the toe lever makes the lateral release super high, and also messes up the binding’s elasticity, so once the toe is locked my opinion is you really have no side release in the conventional sense, though larger skiers do get some sort of side release even with the toe locked. To try and estimate what “DIN” number the binding lateral release would be with toe locked is a futile gesture into the unknown. I apologize for throwing numbers around. It’s certainly higher than DIN 13, but it’s not really “DIN” because it’s very inconsistent, varies between bindings, and lacks elasticity.

  59. Jan Wellford February 6th, 2010 9:40 am

    All the folks mentioning toe release when skiing aggressively on hard snow are not idiots. Most of them are doing nothing wrong. They have found the problem with the TLT Vertical series that DOES EXIST, although only a (growing) handful of us have noticed. Plus we keep being told we’re doing something else wrong whenever we bring it up.

    The Vertical ST/FT toe-piece WILL pre-release if skied a certain way on hard snow. The toe jaws just pop right open. For me it is extremely easy, and as all these folks mention it can be replicated on flat ground or on the carpet.

    There are only two solutions: ski with your toes locked (note as Lou says there is no “half-locked,” it’s either locked or unlocked) or switch to TLT Speeds and give up the brakes and boot sole length adjustment. The second choice is the one that’s worked for me.

    I have replicated the problem on at least five different pairs of Vertical ST/FTs and with at least six different boots (ranging in stiffness from the Scarpa Laser to the Dynaft Zzeus and everything in between). The stiffer the boot/wider the ski the easier it happens, but it’s very easy for me to replicate no matter what combo I’m skiing. This is not an icing issue, or a heel adjustment issue, or a DIN issue. It is a Dynafit Vertical ST/FT issue. I can make it happen with Comforts but it’s much harder, and I can’t make it happen with Speeds. Believe me, I’ve done a LOT to try to get to the bottom of this, and I am confident that I have.

    I work at a ski shop. I no longer recommend Dynafits to customers who plan to do much skiing at the resorts here in the East. I also tell my customers that they very well might have to lock their toes whenever the snow is firm to prevent pre-release. I still sell a ton of Dynafits and absolutely love them–although I try to convince people to go with the Speed over the Vertical–but I’m glad to know that this problem is not a figment of my imagination as it allows me to move on to how to correct it.

    For those having this problem: Lock your toes (and increase your risk of dying in an avalanche or destroying your knees); or better yet, sell your Verticals and get Speeds. Deal with the fact that you have no brakes or boot sole length adjustment.

  60. Jonathan Shefftz February 6th, 2010 10:37 am

    “Brakes or no brakes…it almost seems funny that in the age of Dynafit brakes that finally work reliably skiers actually STILL consider leashes…Avalanche anyone?”
    Or just come up with a custom leash design (as many of us have done) with deliberately designed failure points that would break away if caught in an avalanche.

    “…the DIN setting is more or less just a theoretical number with Dynafits. If you set 10 Dynafits of different age and different temperature on e.g. DIN 7, I am pretty sure that the difference in real DIN would be 2 to 3. So, look at the DIN settings on your Dynafits in an analog way.”
    – I bought a torque tester over the summer, and all my Dynafit setups (mix of Speed, Comfort, Vertical) have tested out spot-on (using the same protocol as for alpine downhill bindings).
    – Now that’s not to say that prereleases are impossible. (A shop torque tester simulates only pure lateral and pure vertical/forward forces, not the complex loads that actually skiing can create.) It does seem like certain combinations of boots + people can create toe wing prereleases in the Vertical models. Personally, I’ve never experienced anything like that, although of the nine different Dynafit-compatible boots I’ve used over the years, only three (all from Dynafit) have been used in Vertical bindings (as compared to Speed or Comfort). Overall, does seem possible that certain combinations of toe springs + wing shape + pincer spacing + boot sole shape = prerelease problems.

  61. L.A.U. February 6th, 2010 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the answer Lou. Much appreciated.

    Regarding the last paragraph, would you agree?


  62. Tim February 6th, 2010 2:55 pm

    Very interesting that the Comfort/Speed might pre-release less than the Vertical.

    I have used one pair of Comforts since they were new, and in MANY days of use have only had 2 pre-releases; once at the area, hitting an icy rut at high speed, and once in a powder filled rollers, where the tips bogged down and the heels both released… would never have happened w/alpine bindings.

    Because of my Dynafit ravings, a friend got the Vertical, and combined w/Spirit 4’s, could NOT stay in the binding when skiing aggressively. We looked at the mount, we looked at the heel adjustment, we looked at the toe sockets. It all looked good.

    He has since given up on Dynafiit and is back on Fritschi.

  63. Jan Wellford February 6th, 2010 4:31 pm

    Jonathan said: “Overall, does seem possible that certain combinations of toe springs + wing shape + pincer spacing + boot sole shape = prerelease problems.”

    Not boot sole shape: remember I tested with six different boot models (from Dynafit, Scarpa and Garmont) last year with the same results.

    I think there’s something different about the toe springs on the Vertical series that causes the toe pre-release to happen.

    P.S. I too use leashes that are purposely weak so that they would break in an avalanche (or if the ski was caught on something). You don’t need brakes! Get the TLT Speed and you won’t pre-release in the toe!

  64. KevinD February 6th, 2010 7:42 pm

    I find this very interesting, considering I just mounted some Verticals on a pair of wide skis. (Coombacks) Five days on them so far and no pre-release, but the conditions have been fairly soft and only one day involved some return runs thru the ski area’s groomers.

    I have been switching back and forth between two pairs of boots (due to fit problems), both Garmonts, but with different sole lengths. Four buckle Megarides, well used tech fittings and new Heliums, softer 3 buckle with brand new tech inserts.

    I guess we’ll see how it goes and after reading this I’m a little paranoid.

  65. Jonathan Shefftz February 6th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Jan, one of these days you’re going to have to put your feet in my setups and see if you replicate the problem inside.
    (Tomorrow would have been a perfect day at the big rando race, but unfortunately the only race I’ve been able to do this weekend is the norovirus-inspired race to the bathroom….)

  66. Jan Wellford February 7th, 2010 10:46 pm

    Jonathan: I will be able to replicate it. There’s nothing different between your Verticals and every other Vertical.

    Kevin: Don’t be paranoid. The Vertical is a great binding and most everyone uses it with success (I’ll happily use it for everything but resort skiing). Just lock the toe when conditions are firm enough to cause the ski to chatter/skip, or any time pre-release would be a disaster.

  67. Lou February 7th, 2010 11:32 pm

    Tim, how hard did you look?

  68. Lou February 7th, 2010 11:36 pm

    Jan, can you describe how to do this on carpet? I’d like to try it.

  69. Christian February 8th, 2010 12:54 am

    This is what I do on the carpet.
    Stand up straight. Kick sideways into the carpet. (The motion should be 90 degrees to the ski-sole). Legg/floor angle about 60 degrees.

  70. Christian February 8th, 2010 1:04 am

    A different site claims that using one of the scarpa adapters will solve the problem – it has to be modified to fit dyanfit boots. (Haven’t tried it)

  71. Jan Wellford February 8th, 2010 10:04 am

    Just as Christian says. Kick the ski into the carpet at an angle, as if you were landing a jump-turn on an icy face and trying to set your edge hard. Use a hard carpet, not a soft cushy one!

  72. Tim February 8th, 2010 10:14 pm

    Lou, the person in question has been the shop manager and chief binding mounter at his shop since 1997, and is obsessive with his own gear, (and mine). He mounted these in the presence of the local Dynafit rep.

    The heel gap was correct, using the gauge. The toe pin engagement seemed normal to me. Are there any compatibility issues with the Spirit 4 that might have been the cause?

    I mounted my Comforts using your instructions, and they have been flawless!!

  73. Lou February 8th, 2010 10:19 pm

    As I covered a few days ago, it’s always possible that the boot inserts could be defective. This is super hard to spot. Best test is to use a different brand or model of boots. Until you do that, you’ve not eliminated the variable of the inserts. By the same token, you should take the same boots and test them in a different set of bindings.

    Please report back.

    And remember, Dynafits are only for people with superior intelligence and athletic ability (grin).

  74. Christian February 10th, 2010 2:42 pm

    For my part:
    I took my skis to my local slope for some night skiing.
    I have now full confidence in skiing my narrow skis unlocked. The problem I had with those were due to too much sole material under the boots. I skied at about the limit of my skis. Used ft10 bindings at din 9,5 horizontally and 8 vertically

    The wider skis did not give me confidence. This is a softer ski – so the ski is less suited to hardpack skiing. I did not have a complete release, but the front wings opened. Used ft12 (2010) bindings at din 10 horizontally and 8 vertically. Had the same experience with the 2009 ft12 mounted on the same skis. The two different bindings were mounted by two different shops using two different positions. The first pair of bindings I had moved from some 90mm freeride skis (2 meter ak rockets) where I had no problems. These skis were stiffer.

    So – the boots are ok…as they work on the narrow skis.
    I think the bindings are ok – as I see no difference, and I have tried two pairs with different mounts. (ok, the first pair broke after a while…)
    Could the wide and soft ski affect the equation? (might be that I am over compensating the lack of ice grip – but that should not be a problem if the discussed issue does not exist…).
    Is there a break-in period for the bindings?

  75. Lou February 10th, 2010 3:09 pm

    All I can think of is that the softer ski is flexing and running the binding up against the heel of the boot, and thus pushing the boot forward against the toe wings and opening them up, or at least pre-loading them so much that a slight lateral force opens them up.

  76. Win February 10th, 2010 8:29 pm

    Regarding ice and snow under the toe-unit springs: I have put a small piece of the thin yellow foamy under toe-wings (cut to size/shape; friction fit, not glued in). I haven’t had problems with snow/ice build up that closing-opening the toe springs doesn’t fix (Greg Louie: no gloves required: it’s all with the feet!). I’m sure I had read about doing something like this on this site but I can’t find it.

  77. Chris February 22nd, 2010 9:20 pm

    I searched the site but didn’t find anything on this–I was skiing yesterday and pulled up the toe piece into the lock position and the toe piece went “beyond” the normal touring lock position and basically “overcammed”. It was then impossible to open until I forced it open, breaking the toe piece in the process (bummer, I know, but I needed to get my boot out of the ski). I have used these STs about 20 times and they are a year old. Have you ever heard of this? Any idea of what went wrong?
    I am not that strong and didn’t use any extra force compared to the approx. 50 other times I have locked the toe. I’m pretty frustrated. Thoughts?
    Thanks, Chris

  78. Nathan Bryant February 23rd, 2010 7:14 pm

    Can’t say I recommend performing the test outlined above by Jan and Christian. My girlfriend was able to replicate the issue on her Vertical ST setup, but on my Comfort setup, I only succeeded in breaking one of the rear pins. (The Black Diamond store in Salt Lake was able to fix me up.) Don’t try this at home, folks.

  79. Mason February 23rd, 2010 7:29 pm

    Lou, can you describe the method of switching from ski to tour mode with your ski pole? I know you did this recently, but I can’t find it…

  80. Jack February 24th, 2010 8:08 am


    Came back (alive) from a splendid powder week around Andermatt and Disentis. Full of powseeking Scandinavians, some locals, didn’t find any North-Americans. Did some tests with friends on FT 12’s.

    Here are the brief results:

    1. if the ft12 toe unit is clean, it will limit the toe pre-release.
    2.there is a relation between the softness of the ski (shatter/vibrations) and the pre release.
    3. same goes for width. fat skis (100mm + underfoot) means more prerelease.
    4. weight of the skier is also a factor, the 200 lbs + skiers had more pre releases.
    5. terrain: soft powder almost no pre releases, almost all pre releases happened on hardpack groomers at higher (20 mph +) speeds.
    6. last but not least the skiers technique: relaxed non-agressive: almost no pre releases, agressive (ex-comp) skiers: lots of pre releases.
    7. locking the toe limited the pre releases to almost none (we had one ‘locked’ prerelease, but I suspect the lever came down first as a result of violent shatter)

    During all the experiments, there was not a single heel unit pre release….

    My 2 cents/bottom line:

    If you don’t clean off snow before stepping in + if you don’t clean the pins by swinging the ski + if you are a heavier skier + skies agressively + hardpacked snow + wide skis: look for another binding. I assume if you score 2 or 3 out of 6 you can live with the (rare) pre releases.

  81. Jan Wellford February 24th, 2010 8:10 am

    “on my Comfort setup, I only succeeded in breaking one of the rear pins.”

    Wow, that’s weird! I’m guessing it was ready to fail and it’s a good thing it happened on the carpet rather than hop-turning on a steep icy face…

    Also you shouldn’t be able to replicate the problem with your Comforts: it’s only the Verticals that pop out in the toe.

  82. Lou February 24th, 2010 8:12 am

    How about the stiffness of the boot being a factor as well?

  83. Lou February 24th, 2010 8:15 am

    Chris, I’ve seen that happen several times. With the longer toe levers it’s easier to do. Definitely frustrating. The binding can probably be improved to totally prevent that, and I’d imagine that’ll happen eventually. Meanwhile, the key is when locking toes to not get too agro.

  84. Lou February 24th, 2010 8:21 am

    Mason, use binding with no brakes. Lock toe. Rotate heel unit while pulling up on the heel of your boot. Some skiers pick foot up towards their butt then use ski pole grip inserted between boot and binding heel elevator (the weight of the ski causes it to drop down). Others just stand normally and rotate the binding with their ski pole as if they were changing heel elevator height.

  85. Jack February 24th, 2010 9:58 am

    Stiffness boot: Only used hybrids like Zzeuss and Radiums. I reckon stiffness would influence the pre release, i.e. a stiffer boot would increase the chance of pre releases. All in all I think pre release is a combination of factors, and it’s almost impossible to figure out which factor (other than cleaning up, because that’s number one) is the most important to cause the pre release.

  86. Chris February 24th, 2010 9:40 pm

    Update on the overcammed toe piece…brought the ski to Dynafit office today (I live in Boulder) and they said they’d have it fixed in the next day or two…I didn’t ask questions, but it seemed pretty routine when I told them what happened–and they didn’t question me at all. Hopefully they will fix this issue (some kind of stop can’t be that hard to put in) soon…in the meantime, one more thing to be careful of with these bindings…

  87. Nathan Bryant February 24th, 2010 10:16 pm

    Jan – funny you mention that. Actually on the first run of the day, we dropped into a steep chute (Mineral Basin @ Snowbird) and I had an immediate prerelease while landing a jump turn. It’s quite possible that I landed that turn on a hidden rock, because I noticed plenty of rocks after self arresting. The binding that broke while I was “testing” it, later that same day, was the same one that I had landed on and prereleased in the morning.

    I’m chalking that prerelease up as an isolated incident/possible pilot error for now, since I’ve landed plenty of other jump turns and bashed plenty of moguls in Dynafits without incident. Yet it sure seems like a good idea not to land jump turns on rocks.

    BTW, I’ve had a string of gear breakage lately – a pole strap, the Dynafits, and now today, the screw fell out of my Radium’s ski/walk mechanism.

  88. Arne March 30th, 2010 3:06 am

    “Brakes or no brakes… it almost seems funny that in the age of Dynafit brakes that finally work reliably skiers actually STILL consider leashes”

    I have on several occasions found that the Dynafit brakes do not stop my skis reliably. The first time the brake actually fell off, hopefully this was due to improper mounting. The second time I watched my ski continue speeding down the mountain with the brake fully engaged but unable to stop the ski. It was not that steep, and the snow was nice and soft, but the ski kept going. Fortunately, one of my ski friends stopped the ski.

    After these incidents I bought the B & D Ski & Board Leash and removed the brakes. The leashes have failure points in case of avalanche, and they stretch out really long which is very useful in certain situations.

    I have experienced that the zip tie failure point broke when falling at speed, so I might need to use a stronger zip tie, or I would have to use both leashes and brakes. :blink:

  89. Mark W March 30th, 2010 10:52 am

    Thanks for an anecdote demonstrating well that brakes sometimes are nearly useless. I don’t like leashes much either, but perhaps they’re the lesser of two evils??

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