* 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?