Dynafit’s New Firmer Toe Springs

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 7, 2010      

This was kept on the downlow insofar as even after traveling to Europe last winter as a journalist, I’m embarrassed to say WildSnow didn’t somehow get the info sooner. Of course, if we had gleaned the inside story we’d probably have been sworn to non-disclosure. Whatever. Here is the story.

Dynafit backcountry skiing binding toe springs

Normal ST/FT Dynafit spring in left binding, firmer FTZ12/110 spring is in right hand binding. Difference is obvious. Firmer spring is darker, and has more space between coils. It's about 20 percent firmer. Click image to enlarge.

Ostensibly due to a small percentage (but nonetheless important group) of backcountry skiers who have trouble staying in Dynafit bindings even after making sure everything is being done correctly (in terms of ice removal and such), Dynafit is now selling their 110 mm brake FTZ12 model with stronger springs in the toe. The net effect of this is that the toe will have more holding power in situations where the boot exerts sideways pressure and/or vibration that could open the toe wings and cause inadvertent release (“pre-release”). At this point the springs only come on the binding sold with the 110mm brake, which is said to be so because skiers with wider skis are more likely to have the retention problem. My crystal ball tells me there is no reason these springs won’t eventually be available on all Dynafit binding toes as they appear to work fine, and because of binding mechanics don’t appear to change the release values in any noticeable way.

We have an FTZ12 binding with the new springs, and our crude but nonetheless repeatable testing indicates that the new springs are around 20% firmer than the old ones.

Below is a video of the type of force and motion I believe could cause occasional pre-release for a very small subset of skiers out there. I debated sharing this, as some of you will probably needlessly obsess on it. But since Dynafit opened the can first by making what’s essentially a new binding model with the stronger spring, I’m duty bound to analyze what’s perhaps behind that.


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109 Responses to “Dynafit’s New Firmer Toe Springs”

  1. Colin December 7th, 2010 6:19 pm

    Several hundred “Maggot” hearts were just warmed with Christmas cheer. 🙂

  2. Lou December 7th, 2010 6:22 pm

    Yeah, one rule of mag club membership, is whether you need it or not you’ll ski on the widest skis and the beefiest bindings imaginable, and if you pre-release you will always blame it on the binding, especially if it’s a Marker, or nowdays, a Dynafit? 😀

  3. Greg Louie December 7th, 2010 6:25 pm

    Be careful who you call obsessive, Lou.

    Now how about some aftermarket DIN 13 heel pins . . .

  4. Lou December 7th, 2010 6:28 pm

    Good point there Greg.

  5. laseranimal December 7th, 2010 6:29 pm

    But does it go to 17? I keep loosing a ski when I throw myself off a 500 foot cliff 😀

  6. aviator December 7th, 2010 6:36 pm

    so how do we actually buy dem springs as spare parts?
    and wheres that tutorial on how to pull the toe apart.
    or rather, how to put it back together… : 😕

  7. Lou December 7th, 2010 6:42 pm

    Av, taking the toe apart is actually pretty easy, but as far as I know it’s near impossible to get those springs as a spare part. Hopefully Dynafit will be wise and sell some just the toe units as an upgrade for folks who actually need them, or imagine they do, anyway.

    I get cynical about this as I do acknowledge there are skiers such as Walt (a commenter her) who appear to need this, but the vast vast majority of Dynafit users simply do not need any sort of change or upgrade.

  8. dave downing December 7th, 2010 6:45 pm

    well, i know what i want for my new skis now 🙂

  9. Nathan December 7th, 2010 7:06 pm

    Does it matter that the toe lever is not up in the ski position? Would putting it in the tour position make it impossible for this to happen?

  10. Lou December 7th, 2010 7:21 pm

    Nathan, I don’t understand the first part of your question. As to the second part, yes, people do engage the touring lock for downhill so they effectively lock out release and possible pre-release. Problem is, doing so yields a ski binding without lateral safety release.

  11. Nathan December 7th, 2010 7:48 pm

    Maybe my understanding of the toe piece is flawed, but I thought that when you first step in you need to lift the toe lever all the way up and then put it down one click to be in “ski mode.” In the video the toe piece looks like it’s in the “just stepped in” flat position. Does going from the lowest position to the second highest position (ski mode) make a difference with that kind of release? Thanks for your insight. It’s awesome to have direct access to the North American Dynafit guru.

  12. Lou December 7th, 2010 7:48 pm

    Laser, I was thinking they’d at least go to 23, that way it would be two times 11, right? (Grin).

  13. Lou December 7th, 2010 7:56 pm

    Nathan, yes, your understanding is flawed. Ideally you just step into the toe, click your heel down, and ski (downhill mode). When using the binding as designed, you only have to fiddle with the touring lock lever to use it as a touring lock for touring.

    There is an amazing amount of mythology surrounding that lever, heck, it’s now practically as storied as some lingus of the ancient Saxon or earlier culture, shoot, you could probably find hieroglyphics of it if you looked in Egypt, or even rock carvings outside of Moab.

    Seriously though, some folks have found that clicking the lever part way up while downhill skiing increases the binding’s lateral release value and helps them to not pre-release. Perhaps so, but I’d only recommend doing this if you have problems with lateral pre-release in the first place, while using normal RV settings, and making sure you’ve done your due diligence with ice removal and such.

    If you are partially locking the binding in alpine mode, and don’t need to, you are risking serious leg injury.

  14. Nathan December 7th, 2010 8:00 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. Lou Dawson, saving knees one skier at a time.

  15. sherryb December 7th, 2010 8:06 pm

    Ah yes, one more bookmark for my Dynafit folder. Nice to know but I never have any problems with my bindings pre-releasing unless I try to ski Highline bumps in Vail. 🙄 I’m a happy camper….ummmm, would the new springs let me ski Highline bumps without ejecting? 😆 Thanks for being my number one source of info for all things Dynafit!

  16. Lou December 7th, 2010 8:06 pm

    He he, glad to be of service. But, if you quit locking the binding make sure you can ski it without throwing a shoe! That can be injurious as well…

  17. Lou December 7th, 2010 8:09 pm

    Sherry, yeah, when I used to ski harder and spend more time at the resort, I’d try to take my Dynafits into the bumps at my normal RV settings. Usually I’d just jerk my boot up at the heel in a vertical pre-release, since the amount of elasticity in that mode is minimal at best. If I dialed the RV settings up I could do it without pre release, but I didn’t like how high the settings were. I guess my point is that the type of pre-release you get in the bumps is probably just a function of the heel unit, and having the stiffer springs wouldn’t make much difference. But then, who knows for sure…

  18. Bar Barrique December 7th, 2010 10:29 pm

    My experience is similar to Lou’s; when I have skied the “bumps” with Dynafits, I tended to get heel releases. One concern that I have with stiffer toe springs is that it could worsen the problem of the dreaded “knee drop” onto the ski. This occurs when your heel releases, but, the toe does not release.

  19. Greg Louie December 7th, 2010 10:59 pm

    I doubt it, Bar. The forward and lateral releases operate as separate systems.

    I’ve never had a problem with Dynafit toes opening or heels releasing inadvertantly in the lateral plane.

    I don’t really ski “bumps” in Dynafits (not man-made ones at least), but I’ve released a number of times in the forward (vertical) direction while running through creek beds, ramming avy debris, and crossing buried logs. There’s a fine line between the release being warranted and not, but many of the resultant falls were situations I’m sure I could have skied out of had my heels not come loose.

    That’s why aftermarket thicker/stiffer heel pins (or bindings like the Plum Guide) seem attractive to me.

  20. Sbunch December 7th, 2010 11:36 pm

    Just kidding guys. The Dynafit setup I have was never intended for area skiing, but when I first got it, I wanted to see what I could get away with. The ominous clicking I heard when the skis flexed in the bumps was enough to tell me what I needed to know. Like Lou said, dialing the RV to accommodate that kind of skiing was not an option for me. I tested some Fritschis in the same way and they did well but I didn’t feel like hauling those around in the BC.

  21. Walt December 7th, 2010 11:53 pm

    Nice… I’ll check with my nearist Dynafit rep and order some right away. Don’t you think they should fit in their other bindings? TLC and Vertical FT bindings. I do disagree though, that pre-release happens to oly a few people or that it only happens to bigger and stronger people. I see it a lot where I live. I know a 135lb women that had pre-release problems so bad that she actually gave up on Dynafit and went to Fritschis. It is true that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So, if your dynafits work for you, then you don’t need these. But these new springs are going to be the answer to A LOT of people’s prayer’s. I’m glad dynafit came around. I often thought the perfect AT binding would be onyx toe pieces and dynafit heels, but now maybe just the new dynafits?

  22. Tim M. December 8th, 2010 1:09 am

    Hi Lou,

    Thanks for the cool video. The Riddle of the Sphinx (ie. “touring lock lever”) is pretty interesting and of course now I’m curious to see what 1 (or 2 or 3 or 4) clicks up of the lever looks like in a similar type test.

    P.S. I usually ski with one or two clicks up. Not sure why, though I’ve released only once (good thing) and polled a lot of people, two of whom at least ski no clicks, no problems.

    Cheers, Tim

  23. RHS December 8th, 2010 2:55 am

    I skied my FT12’s on Monday mounted on my Manaslu’s through 30cm of heavy powder in resort over big, soft bumps at great speed (Rock and Roll skiing where you do big carves through bumps and hold the hell on). My Dynamisfits stayed locked in (without toe being locked) and I was amazed that i could keep up with big booted, alpine skier on Legends and Baron’s 😉 and that skiis stayed on my feet.

    I even think the DIN is only set to 9 on the heel too. I put it down to supreme skiing skill yes? 😉

  24. Tay December 8th, 2010 3:18 am

    You may not have got the scoop but take some solace in the idea: http://www.wildsnow.com/2794/dynafit-binding-experimental/

  25. Lou December 8th, 2010 6:48 am

    Tay, yeah, I was wondering if someone saw my post, or perhaps as happens there were a few people out there thinking the same thoughts at around the same time. Thing is, ATK and other tech binding companies were showing bindings last winter that had adjustable toe tension, that’s probably what lit the fire for Dynafit. That and the fact there are just a few (grin) freeride skiers in EU who are pushing the limits of all ski gear.

  26. Lou December 8th, 2010 6:58 am

    Walt, I’ll concede you are in a hotbed of pre-releasing skiers, but I still can’t figure out why you’d see that so much, and I’d see it so little. But whatever, you are the man when it comes to evaluating this change in the Dynafit binding, so I’m eager to get your report, as I’m sure others are here as well!

  27. Lou December 8th, 2010 7:12 am

    Tim, I wish Dynafit would just get rid of those clicks. I’ve got carpel tunnel from writing about them for ten years. I’ll play around with more testing, but my test is easy to replicate. Just find a workbench, tilt ski on side, and press sideways on toe of boot. If you get the angle and pressure right you’ll see the toe wings start to open. It’s basically the same thing as bench testing an alpine binding’s toe release by pushing sideways at the front of the boot, only the Dynafit has a lot more resistance, and a bit different angles involved.

  28. Tay December 8th, 2010 8:01 am

    Slightly off topic, but do you know if the base plate for the vertical lite (yellow housing) is different from the TLT lite or has dynafit just put a shim into the binding housing to remove the slack and kept the same plate? I was thinking of making a ST/Lite hybrid. Not much more weight than the lite but with the benefits of a heel post.

  29. Jonathan Shefftz December 8th, 2010 8:27 am

    Love how the new burlier version of the Dynafit toe piece is demoed with the new wussiest Dynafit-compatible boot.
    Tay, I’m pretty sure that everything about the toe pieces is identical on the discontinued Vertical Lite vs new Low Tech Lite (if that was indeed your question), except for the latter having the little ridges and wing cutouts.

  30. Lou December 8th, 2010 8:30 am

    He he, Jonathan, I’m glad you caught that. I grabbed those for the test because I thought they’d garner some interest and perhaps a joke or two. They’re interesting boots, am in the middle of testing but have not gotten past the fitting stage, which takes me a while and it’s gotten pretty busy around here for some reason!

  31. Jonathan Shefftz December 8th, 2010 8:32 am

    Be sure to wear your helmet during the fitting stage — otherwise, sounds like if you give them a firm flex test then you’ll go flying forward over the handlebars and hit your head on the floor.

  32. Lou December 8th, 2010 8:39 am

    They’re actually pretty stiff, but that can be the problem with such boots, they sometimes are stiff with not much progressive flex, making them light but not the sweetest on the down. The walk/ski mode switch is pretty minimalist as well. Compromise. But I’m looking forward to getting out on them as my training cycle is on the upswing, and I should be moving pretty fast uphill in a few more weeks.

  33. Mark Sweatman December 8th, 2010 9:31 am

    Just to check – so this Dynafit model (110 FTZ12) now has a stiffer spring and other models may also soon come with the spring? Is there now going to be another choice in the shop between spring stiffness? Given the choice I would want the softer spring (which I have currently and haven’t had a problem with so would worry that a firmer spring might cause more issues)

  34. Kelly December 8th, 2010 1:37 pm

    “At this point the springs only come on the binding sold with the 110mm brake”….
    Hi Lou, I bought FT12’s that came with the 110 mm brake a few months ago, but they look like the left toe-piece (shiny springs). Is that because what I actually bought were 110 FT12’s instead of 110 FTZ12’s?

  35. Lou December 8th, 2010 2:50 pm

    Kelly and all, there is going to be some confusion during the time when there is still back stock of the FTZ12/110 that has the original springs. In other words, there are now two or three versions (depending on how you define) of the FTZ12 out there. All the box on my stronger spring model says is Vert FT 110m, anyone got an older box to see what the tag says?

  36. Kelly December 8th, 2010 3:09 pm

    Thanks Lou –
    Does anyone have a contact at Salewa that can verify whether of or not they are considering offering the stiffer springs as an upgrade to the older FT12’s? I agree with Walt that quite a few people with fat skis will want them, even if they don’t need them – just for piece of mind, (me included but don’t have enough time on mine to support that claim….).

  37. Lou December 8th, 2010 4:10 pm

    Folks, the only way that spring upgrade could happen is if Salewa/Dynafit made a whole replacement toe unit available. Otherwise they’d be opening a Pandora’s box since the toe unit would have to be taken apart to install the springs, including removing and re-installing press-pins or rivets. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a toe unit available, since they can simply sell it and make money. But making the springs available on the retail market sounds like a nightmare.

    As to who needs these things, everyone please just calm down. There is a big difference between a “need” and a “want.” I need a car. I want a Citation and contract pilot. Walt needs the springs. I want them because it is my job — but I’ll still be skiing and enjoying my other zillion pairs of Dynafit bindings.

  38. Lou December 8th, 2010 6:29 pm

    Mark, good comment about stiffer spring perhaps causing issues. I would offer that there are few things you can do within the Dynafit binding mechanical system that don’t have more than one consequence. The stiffer springs might prevent some skiers from pre-releasing, but they might do other stuff, such as:

    1. Cause more boot damage when the toe pins are closed on plastic instead of metal socket.
    2. Allow lighter weight skiers with good uphill technique to tour with the toe unlocked, thus increasing their safety in avalanche terrain.
    3. Cause more socket wear.
    4. Cause more damage to binding and ski during knee fall while touring since the binding will have even more resistance to coming off your boot.
    5. Make it easier to clean ice out of boot toe sockets by closing binding on boot then swinging boot and ski in a simulated touring motion.


  39. Stefan December 9th, 2010 5:43 am

    Hi Lou,
    Apparently Dynafit is modifying their superior FT12 bindings to go with wider and bigger skis. I got a new pairs of Bent Chetlers and I really really would like to mount FT12´s on them. I´m just worried about the toe piece ripping off because of narrow mounting points cause a lot of momentum on the screws.

    What do think about mounting FT12´s on this wide skis?

  40. Michael December 9th, 2010 8:35 am

    Lou or other,

    I bought what was supposed to be the FT Z12 from MEC in Calgary, but on the box it says FT 12 … should it be saying FT Z12 ?

    Based on this post, seems like the only way to know if I have this year model is the spring collour ? I would hate to find out they sold me last year model at this year price … not that I would need the 20% more on the toepiece, but it’s the principle of selling something for what is not…


  41. Lou December 9th, 2010 9:00 am

    Dynafit and their retailers are in for some consumer confusion on this one, it sounds like. All I can say is that prior to the new springs in the 110 wide brake model, all models of Dynafit that go to RV 12, whether they be FT12 or FTZ12 are virtually the same. In other words, last year they slightly changed the name of the binding, and they made a slight change in the way the toe wings/pincers look. Along with that, they said they made the binding stronger, but I felt that was more marketing speak than reality, and might have even been all marketing speak.

    So Michael, while you asked for an FTZ12 and didn’t get it, you essentially have the same binding with some minor cosmetic differences. You can probably go back to the store and have a case, but you’re splitting hairs in my opinion.

    Now on the other hand, if you went into the store and asked specifically for the FTZ12/110 with the new springs, and they sold you an earlier binding, that would be poor service on the part of the store as the springs do make that binding different enough to be a factor.

  42. Oli C December 9th, 2010 11:53 am

    i think i could do with these,

    i’ve had some great days on my dynafits, but i’ve had some frustrating days.

    repeated toe release while skinng despeite good cleaning. and several releases whilst skiing downhill on piste which is dam scary as your carving and smilling, then all of a sudden your are on one ski and then quickly after, the floor. i’ve tried with the toe lever in various positions, my boots can even come out when in locked, climbing mode!!

    i had my local shop of the time speak to scarpa italy and dynafit who had no good answers. now its always in the back of my mind.

    i was thinking of making the holes in my boot ever so slighty deeper to see if that makes any difference. but new springs would be great.

    i understand what you ssay Lou about it being difficult for dynafit to release them by their self. shame i might have to buy new toe units.

  43. Jan Wellford December 9th, 2010 2:46 pm

    Wow, I opened a can of worms. Sorry Salewa, and any poor shop like MEC who will now have customers complaining that they got “last year’s” version!

    Nobody knew about this inline change–Salewa didn’t make a big deal out of it. If Lou didn’t know about it what are the chances the ski tech at your local shop knew about it? The binding didn’t get a new name (it’s still just FT 12 on the 2010/2011 order form). They only made the change on the 110mm brake version. Unless you KNOW you need it, you don’t need it (and I for one don’t think it’s going to work for those who need it anyway, sorry Walt).

    Everybody take a deep breath, get your bindings mounted and go skiing. If you’re the rare person who pops out of the toe, either lock your toe on hard snow (as many do anyway) or get a different binding. The FT(Z)12 110mm 2010/2011 whatever isn’t your answer.

  44. Lou December 9th, 2010 2:53 pm

    Jan, thanks for chiming in! Yes, you did open a can of worms, but then, it would have been opened eventually anyway, might as well be someone as knowledgeable as you starting the discussion.

  45. Tim December 10th, 2010 10:53 pm

    Speaking of changes to the Dynafit, what is this I hear about a new step-in toe piece design, and a new flip-up clmbing post for 2011-2012?

  46. Lou December 10th, 2010 11:20 pm

    Tim, I’m headed back over for the annual Dynafit Cool-Aid drinking and skiing fest in January. All shall be reveled at that time (or at least I hope so.)

  47. Russ December 12th, 2010 6:45 pm

    Would the G3 Onyx binding perform better in the lateral release situation?

  48. pioletski December 12th, 2010 7:45 pm

    Lou, slightly off-topic, but I thought I would mention a Dynafit FT 12 failure that I experienced last spring, and see if anyone else has had this problem. I was skiing the east couloir of Eolus with the toepieces in locked (up) position. Apparently I kicked a frozen marmot-head or something, as when I stopped at the bottom, I found the lock/release lever pushed all the way over “backwards” onto the toe of my boot, and I couldn’t get out of the binding without breaking the lever. Salewa was very gracious and gave me the necessary parts to repair it (lever and a couple of pins) and a local shop rebuilt the toepiece for me. Any comments?

  49. Lou December 12th, 2010 8:18 pm

    Pioletski, yes, I’ve heard of this happening a few times. I vaguely recall dealing with it once here in the workshop, I think we fixed by removing the latch lever and then re-installing. The latch goes “over center” and there you are, stuck in the binding. It’s the downside of the longer latches, which can indeed get nuked by stuff like frozen marmot heads and willow branches. Downhill skiing with the binding toe locked, which is not how the binding was designed (but nonetheless is common) exacerbates this because the toe lever is standing up there in a rather vulnerable position. If I ever get around to it, perhaps I’ll bash a binding into the “over center” configuration and play around with it.

    And, I should add to the big FAQ!

  50. Kelly December 13th, 2010 11:07 am

    Lou –
    I was able to get out on my FT12’s mounted to 182 Stokes (original model springs in toe piece – not new stiffer springs). I tested them at Crystal over the weekend on the leading edge of the pineapple express that just came through. It snowed heavily all day with new snow accumulations of over a foot at the top. Conditions ranged from fast groomers to 18-24 inches of powder in the trees and plenty of cut-up crud in between.
    Given the discussion about pre-release I was tentative first few runs -especially on the hard snow, but by the end of the day I was skiing almost as aggressively as with my Barons/Prophets. Not a hint of pre-release on any terrain. I’m very happy with these binders and hope that others out there are not too concerned about pre-release issues mentioned above. Thanks for all the Dynafit info Lou – (FWIW I’m 5’11”, weigh 170 – boots are Radiums).

  51. pioletski December 14th, 2010 9:27 am

    Thanks Lou. If you do come up with a way to fix this in the field (or at least get the ski off without breaking the binding) I’d like to hear about it – I’ll stay tuned.

  52. Lou December 14th, 2010 9:34 am

    Kelly, thanks for the comment. Yeah, about 99.9% of Dynafit users have no pre-release problems. In fact, I’ll bet there are some commercial alpine bindings that users have more trouble with. Again, proper mounting and use of the Dynafit are key, and the binding is indeed tricky to use compared to a basic step-in.

  53. Kelly December 14th, 2010 10:55 am

    Lou, I have a friend coming from an alpine background that purchased the same FT12 bindings (older springs) and tested them at Whistler a few weeks ago (5 days – varied conditions). He had the same experience I did – no problems with pre-release. Needless to say, both of us are blown away with these bindings. They’re simply amazing. Your comment above about ‘need’ vs. ‘want’ is right on the mark!

  54. J.C.Simpson December 21st, 2010 5:48 pm

    Lou, was the binding in the video test the new one with the stronger spring? I reckon prerelease could be a problem here in the North Island of New Zealand where much back-country skiing is on steep hard ice.

  55. Lou December 21st, 2010 6:51 pm

    Whoops, correction, it’s the stronger springs in the video, and I do mention that in the vid, saying “these stronger springs.” As for prerelease, it’s only in your mind unless it really happens…

  56. J.C.Simpson December 21st, 2010 7:10 pm

    Thanks Lou, I guess a fall isn’t a fall unless you break some bones…

  57. Lou December 21st, 2010 8:53 pm

    Touche 😀

  58. TR December 26th, 2010 2:44 pm

    Had a different experience at Crystal this year – first day, first run, new 182 Stokes, new FT12s w/o brakes, new Titan boots… very conscious of ice in the toe pieces and holes. Groomed run, firm, first headwall making a turn with some edge pressure and flew out of both skis. Chased after them, put them back on, locked out the toes to get down… slower speed turn, went flying out of both again. Din 10, heel space perfect, 5’11” 170 lbs. Four years of no problems with Vertical STs- sounds like a few others are having similar issues? I put the brakes on and cranked the Din up to 12 for the rest of the day, no problems. (do brakes affect the Din with added friction?).

  59. Lou December 26th, 2010 6:20 pm

    TR, I keep hearing reports such as your but I’m at a loss since I can’t examine the bindings/boots. I’d say if everything is correct (mount, de-icing) RV setting) then something is wrong. But I’m only guessing.

  60. J.C.Simpson December 26th, 2010 7:47 pm

    Hey T.R., were the bindings the 2011 FT 12 model i.e. the ones with the 20% increased toe grip? If so, I hope Dynafit come out with a fix that works coz I need new bindings and don’t fancy plates.
    Lou have you performed the same release test on the G3 Onyx?
    Cheers foe Xmas, Jim

  61. TR December 26th, 2010 8:32 pm

    Purchased that pair of bindings last Spring – while I’m hopeful that the extra 20% stiffness makes a difference in the newer ones, it’s still concerning when a DIN 12 binding can’t handle moderate edge pressure on a blue run. I wonder if it’s a small batch of FT12’s? I haven’t read as many similar incidents with Vertical STs…

  62. Lou December 26th, 2010 8:50 pm

    J.C., I don’t have the instrumentation to be comparing in terms of precise numbers between brands, but the Onyx is so much stronger in that direction there is really no meaningful comparison.

  63. Jason January 1st, 2011 10:57 am

    That’s funny, I just got some Dynafit 12’s and love how light and little they look, however, coming from Fritschi Freeride Plus, it took me a second to TRUST the toe… I know it’s going to hold me, I just need to ride them more to gain that trust. I found myself trying to ski with less weight up front. lol…

  64. Matthew January 1st, 2011 11:26 am

    One possible culprit is soles that are too thick. See post 394 in this thread, also the rebuttal from Dynafit in post 399:

    IMHO this could happen with a boot from any manufacturer and is probably very rare, but is a real issue and people need to check for it.

  65. Kim January 1st, 2011 7:50 pm

    TR, I’m in the same boat as Jason. Just swapped from Marker Barons to 173 Stokes with FT12s. Don’t tell my wife, but I’m in love! 1st day in the resort was really getting to know the bindings and the skis. 2nd day really steep – I was so impressed! Absolutely bomber, feel even more secure than the Barons – I really had trouble believe it – even cornice drops and jumps were all rock solid. Toured on the third day, a beautiful feeling, such a natural stride.

    I also have to say that for a light, touring, mid-fat ski, the Stoke really does it all. But wow, it excels in the soft stuff.

  66. John January 1st, 2011 8:18 pm

    TR – Brakes do affect the DIN setting on Dynafits; if you look at an ST that came with brakes and an ST that came w/o, they’ll have different lateral springs. I’m told they add about 1 DIN worth of resistance. The FT12 isn’t sold without brakes so no off-the-shelf replacement spring options, probably best to run them with brakes.

  67. Kelly January 3rd, 2011 2:44 pm

    Per Mathews suggestion, I would highly recommend checking out potential boot/binding clearance issues in the toe jaw area.

    My Radiums have pre-molded cutouts in the soles above the toe jaw arms apparently designed for Dynafits to maintain proper clearances. When the boot is fully engaged (in ski mode) there are several spots where the boot soles at (the edges for the cutouts) just barely touch the arms, as the cutouts are not perfectly aligned with the arms below. When I step down on the binding they make contact – but apparently not enough to cause pre-release. I plan to trim them anyway.

    I can see where applying edge pressure on hard snow might be a big problem if you have boot clearance issues with the toe jaws……worth checking.

  68. Lou January 3rd, 2011 3:14 pm

    Kelly and all, I can tell you that an ongoing issue with Dynafit is how compatible boots are shaped to work with the binding. Problems have been ongoing for years, are usually easy to correct by removing material, but to do so you have to have a good sense of how the boot/binding combo works to execute such mods. Sounds like you’re on the right track.

    The problem boot companies have is that they’re used to working to the DIN/ISO standard for an AT sole, which has quite a bit of fudge factor built in. In the case of Dynafit, make the boot sole just a couple of millimeters too thin or thick in critical areas, and things won’t work correctly. If there is any Achilles heel of the tech binding system, the boot is actually it, not the binding, in my opinion…

    As you can imagine, this is pretty annoying for binding makers. A boot that’s incorrectly shaped causes problems, and the binding gets blamed. Dang.

  69. Kelly January 3rd, 2011 3:30 pm

    Thanks Lou – some good insight!

  70. Jason January 3rd, 2011 3:38 pm

    Lou, how well are the Factors working with the Dynafits? The ski shop did a little heal area work making the heal insert into the binding smoother. He was saying not doing this might cause some din issues or pre-release problems.

    Any recommendations on a fairly stiff boot similar to the Factor that would be a better option?


  71. Lou January 3rd, 2011 3:43 pm

    Jason, I tested quite a few BD boots in Dynafit when the first production ones were out, and they seemed to work well. So what can I say?

    I can say that of course Dynafit brand boots are pretty carefully made to work with the bindings, but we are having no problems with current model Scarpa or Garmont.

  72. Kelly January 3rd, 2011 3:49 pm

    In case anyone missed this, check out Mathews link to the TGR discussion on clearance issues; post 394, 399 and especially 400. Exactly what Lou is talking about.


  73. Wasnatch Jerry January 6th, 2011 1:09 am

    Lou, Did you ever develop an impression of the incremental increase in lateral release value with each click of the toe lever? Seems to me that there should/could be a graduated response; i.e.: 20%, 50%, etc. Or perhaps it’s an all or none mechanism?

    “I’ll play around with more testing, but my test is easy to replicate.”

    “some folks have found that clicking the lever part way up while downhill skiing increases the binding’s lateral release value and helps them to not pre-release. Perhaps so,”

    “I’m curious to see what 1 (or 2 or 3 or 4) clicks up of the lever looks like in a similar type test.”

  74. don gisselbeck January 15th, 2011 4:01 pm

    I have had only one unexpected release – on September suncups skiing a pair of Shamans. The ski let go after about 15 aggressive turns. I have also had a non-release (face plant in slush) that sprained my ankle. In both cases the toe was in ski mode.

  75. Lou January 16th, 2011 12:46 am

    Jerry, I don’t know how many times we’re going to have to repeat this, but the clicks the toe lever makes while you’re locking are simply a mechanism to take up slack due to variations in the manufacturing process. They are not calibrated in any way shape or form. If you’re using them to increase lateral release resistance while in downhill ski mode, you’d better have a good idea of what you’re doing, and it’s going to be different for every binding/ski setup.

  76. Jerry January 16th, 2011 11:55 am

    I can answer your question Lou: “How many times we’re going to have to repeat this…”

    Only once correctly. There is ambiguity in your response. For example, as referenced in my query of January 6, 2011

    1. (Lou December 8) Tim, I wish Dynafit would just get rid of those clicks. I’ve got carpel tunnel from writing about them for ten years. I”LL PLAY AROUND WITH MORE TESTING, but my test is easy to replicate. Just find a workbench, tilt ski on side, and press sideways on toe of boot. If you get the angle and pressure right you’ll see the toe wings start to open. It’s basically the same thing as bench testing an alpine binding’s toe release by pushing sideways at the front of the boot, only the Dynafit has a lot more resistance, and a bit different angles involved.

    So Lou, can you please clarify once and for all, why you want to “play around with more testing,” if you already have the the answer ? Pardon my lack of binding sophistication but this seems a bit contradictory or ambiguous at best.

    2. (Lou Pearl Harbor Day) Seriously though, some folks have found that clicking the lever part way up while downhill skiing increases the binding’s lateral release value and helps them to not pre-release. PERHAPS SO, but I’d only recommend doing this if you have problems with lateral pre-release in the first place, while using normal RV settings, and making sure you’ve done your due diligence with ice removal and such.

    Perhaps so indicates that you make room for the possibility.

    Lou, I’m just asking if you did further testing as you indicated you would be doing. I’m also postulating that a cam or graduated mechanism incorporated in the toe piece may, if not already so (pursuant to your actual testing) add a quantifiable and incremental response, you know, the type that you might want to play around with:).

    Your comments would be greatly apprecieated and highly valued.

  77. Lou January 16th, 2011 12:52 pm

    If my take changes, please know It’s a blog, my latest take is my take. I’m allowed to change. And if there is ambiguity, once every few years I have an imperfect moment (grin). That said, I was planning on possibly finding a release testing machine and seeing what difference the infamous “clicks” made in the RV numbers. After thinking about that, I asked Dynafit engineer and he told me that depending on strength of ski topskin as well as manufacturing differences between bindings, there would be no consistency anyway so why bother, and that the “clicks” are NOT designed as any way of tweaking the binding retention while in alpine mode (though they of course do have some effect). Thus, I’ve not gotten very far with this and now with the Power Towers it might be moot anyway. Kapish?

  78. Wasnatch Jerry January 16th, 2011 1:13 pm

    Still would like to see the test done as I won’t be dashing out to buy new gear. Could use the same ski in tour, click one, click two and downhill and report results based on isolation of variables. Compare to several other skis. Gather enough data points from several skis and bindings and determine if the results are random or if there is a discrete relationship between clicks and lateral release.

    Thanks for keeping the BC community informed and knowledgeable so we may make our own decision regarding safety, retention and release.

  79. Lou January 16th, 2011 1:24 pm

    Jerry, how about this. Set binding heel lateral release to say, 3. Put your skis on. Click one toe lever up one click, leave the other down. Twist out of bindings, or try to. Report back.

  80. Wasnatch Jerry January 16th, 2011 10:11 pm

    Hey Lou, Reporting back:
    Dialed down the lateral release on my TLT and ejected with minimal effort. Added one click of tour lever and required significantly more effort to release. Added two clicks and was certain that my ligaments would tear before my binding released.

    So without further experimentation, I reach the same conclusion that you pointed out previously, “If you are partially locking the binding in alpine mode, and don’t need to, you are risking serious leg injury.” It’s an ALL or NONE response.

    That being said, at 6’3″ 225 + pack I dread throwing a shoe. At 50 yrs I detest heavy gear. Looking forward to your review of the Radical Power Towers. ‘Til then, I pray that I don’t prerelease in a precarious situation(been there done that) and dream that the new iteration will increase safety and improve release characteristics without sacrificing retention.
    Thanks for the lesson.
    All the Best!

  81. Lou January 17th, 2011 1:40 am

    Jerry, thanks for messing around with that, sounds instructive. So, what we know is that you can cick up the toe lever once click and increase release value. Why people would think that’s any different than simply adjusting the binding settings is beyond me.

    Also, show me a ski binding that never pre-releases when set to normal settings…

  82. Christian March 7th, 2011 8:16 am

    I guess the reason why people want to increase the release tention in the fore binding, is because it is not affected by release values…

  83. Zac March 25th, 2011 8:58 pm

    Ripped the dynafit FT 12 toe piece out of my Bent Chetlers. Is this common or was it installed incorrectly? Took a pretty nice fall.

  84. Lou March 26th, 2011 6:26 am

    Zac, my take after hearing lots of stories is if you’re skiing big skis and boots, you have to do a bomber mount using epoxy and lots of very careful work. Problem we seem to be having is that the mounting of Dynafits has been very inconsistent in terms of skill. Also, It is a known fact that the FT12 toe undergoes more side-to-side due to the skinny support plate under the toe. Thus, Dynafit sells the Power Plate support plate for the FT12, which while I feel is only psychological when it comes to making you ski better, does indeed strengthen the binding and mount.

  85. Ben April 4th, 2011 8:50 am

    Can the toe pieces with stiffer springs and/or the springs be purchased seperately?

    These would be a great toe piece option for folks using TTS 🙂

    What’s a good source for domestic (USA) toe piece purchases?

  86. Ty Falk May 8th, 2011 9:25 pm

    Hi Lou,
    In one of my Speed bindings from a few years ago is having a problem locking out one of the toes. It seams to still lock out but does not have that click. (Havent had any climbing problems) It seams like a part broke. Any ideas or parts I might need. You think it might be time to retire this set of bindings? 4 years old 100+ days/ season. Thanks Ty

  87. Lou May 9th, 2011 6:19 am

    Ty, they do wear out… when the satisfying “click” goes away, it’s usually from the plastic wearing out in the area that creates the click. If they still lock and you can climb, I wouldn’t worry about it. But a pair of TLT with 400 days of touring can develop a variety of wear issues, so pay attention.

  88. Matt February 19th, 2012 4:48 pm


    I stumbled on this article after having four consecutive lateral release events while skiing a very steep very icy section and searching the web for an answer. Have only had this happen on two seperate ski trips, but both times on very similar conditions. The rest of the time, even hard turns in the trees etc, it’s perfect. I’m running the binding on a praxis bc ski which is 106 in the middle so, although rare, I think this actually may be the issue. Cleaned the notches extensively after the first lateral release event today, to no avail. Also very reproducible. Any other ideas? If this sounds to you like the issue any idea where I can get the new toe piece? Checked on the Dynafit website but didn’t see anything. Appreciate any advice as I’m currently skiing with the toe piece in “don’t fall” mode. Thanks for your great blog and any help.


  89. Brent March 6th, 2012 5:18 pm

    Lou and crew,

    I’ve been skiing Dynafits for years and love them. I still have some old TLT’s (light gray) that I’ve remounted and have never had a problem. I have some newer TLT’s (dark gray) that have had recurring problems with the toe pieces opening up prematurely. They actually open up with simple downward pressure (vs. Lou’s lateral demonstration), which is obviously not safe or acceptable. I replaced one toe last year and when the other started doing the same thing this year, I replaced the whole set up and bought the new ST Radicals. Of note, my old TLT’s are on 82mm width skis and my newer TLT’s are on 100mm skis. For downward pressure though, that shouldn’t matter. The only thing I can think of is that the wider skis fatique the spring more easily and they eventually fail. Touring in the North Cascades this weekend…will let you know how the new set up does!


  90. Steve May 30th, 2012 9:57 am

    New springs … while I’m at it.
    I have skied on a pair of Comforts for several years now. They’re currently mounted on a pair of Rossi S3’s and I really like the set up. This past weekend though, I blew out the toe piece. The two plasticy looking metal pieces that dovetail together holding the springs in place cracked and fell a part.
    I’ve had no luck so far in locating repair parts on the DF website or elsewhere. Thought I’d install the heavier springs while I’m at it…
    Any advise on where to order teh springs and repair parts?
    Happy turns… Steve

  91. Tuck January 7th, 2013 9:19 am

    Hey Lou, I experienced an odd failure of my FT12s over the weekend, and I wanted to report it as an FYI, and also see if you have any (invaluable) advice.

    I’d been skiing in-bounds all day Saturday with no issues. Sunday morning, after about an hour of skiing, I lost a ski at speed on a blue groomer. No bumps, no drama, my foot just pushed out of the toe piece on one ski. Over the next hour or so, the toe piece springs seemed to lose their mojo, to the point where gently shaking my shoe would cause the toe to release. There’s a noticable difference in spring strength between the two toe pieces, even my 13-year-old daughter noticed it after I explained what happened.

    I went through all the usual ice-removal steps while on the slope (swapping skis left-for-right being one of those steps), and, being unable to make a turn on that binding, I locked the toe and skied gingerly off the mountain. I brought the ski and boots indoors for lunch just on the off chance that there was some bit of ice that my pen knife hadn’t been able to find, but no luck. Even after melting everything, there’s still a dramatic difference in strength and retention between the two toe pieces.

    I called the shop that installed the bindings, and they were mystified. (I was at a different mountain, and haven’t been able to bring them in yet.)

    The binding are three years old, they’re mounted on BD Verdicts, and I weigh 174. DIN’s set to 9. The rear pieces seem to be functioning just fine on both skis.

    Have you ever heard of such a thing? Are these springs replaceable? (If not, I need to order some Radicals ASAP!)

  92. Tuck January 7th, 2013 12:22 pm

    Update: I spoke to Dynafit in Boulder, and they said this is just “one of those things”. It’s not common, but does happen. They said they’d sell me a new toe piece, and that seems like the thing to do.

  93. Lou Dawson January 7th, 2013 12:33 pm

    Tuck, yeah, sometimes the springs weaken sooner than we’re all used to. All springs weaken, by the way, which is another reason when someone is on antique bindings I always advise them to upgrade unless they are perfectly happy. Three years of regular use on the ski resort is definitely exceeding the recommended life span for an AT binding. Not saying you can’t use them longer, but reality is reality and materials are materials and metals are metals. Lou

  94. Tuck January 7th, 2013 12:36 pm

    Would I be better off springing for a new binding? These are my go-to skis, and get beaten on. (Love them, btw!)

  95. Lou Dawson January 7th, 2013 1:10 pm

    Tuck, if the y’re beaten up and one failed, I can’t do anything but say it’s time for replacement of both. But repair the old one and use it for less strenuous use such as simple ski touring. Frankly, it should be said that no tech binding is designed for continuous massive vertical at resorts. For example, the heel post rests on the ski topskin, and will eventually wallow out a hollow spot and possibly even ruin the ski.

  96. Tuck January 7th, 2013 5:00 pm

    Thanks, Lou. It’s a pity that they’ve been so much fun for continuous massive vertical at resorts… 😉

  97. Tuck January 15th, 2013 2:51 pm

    To follow-up: Got the Radicals mounted up (drop off at 10pm, pick up at 8:30am: thank you Alpine Options!) and skiied at Mad River Glen.

    They are some wonderful bindings.

    Oh, and the tech said the old toe piece fell apart when he unscrewed it from the ski. Haven’t had a chance to look at it myself yet.

  98. Kevin Lalli October 13th, 2013 1:29 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Remembered seeing this post a while back and I am having this problem BAD with a combo of Speeds and Technica Cochise boots. I am only 150lbs, but a fairly aggressive skier; not sure I fall into the group that should be having this problem. I Had been in Titans/Radicals and never had a problem with the binding interface. Now that I found a tech boot I can actually drive a big ski in, I am very discouraged that they won’t work with the Speeds. These are on a pair of Rossignol Sickle’s, by the way. A “modest” 110 underfoot for staying on top of SW Montana fluff. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  99. J.C.Simpson October 13th, 2013 2:17 pm

    My advice is to switch to a frame style touring binding such as those made by Marker. Much sturdier therefore safer and after a while your fitness catches up to the extra weight. Where do you find that SW Montana fluff? Any lifts nearby?

  100. Tom December 18th, 2013 7:26 pm

    Although many have asked, I’m not sure if anyone addressed this. Can you buy stiffer replacement springs somewhere?



  101. Coby March 31st, 2015 5:47 am


    I was skiing some steep icy snow the other day and could literally feel my toe lifting and the pins wiggling. I checked the toe for ice and didn’t find anything other than snow. I cleaned it. Took about 10 more turns and BAM…..the toe popped and I went flying down a VERY steep slope. I came home, began searching the web and found this video that you guys posted:

    I have the same ski in the video and the problem is getting worse. Is their a fix? I really don’t want to buy new bindings. Please help!

  102. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2015 9:23 am

    Coby, about all I can tell you, not being there, is triple check and clear binding (and boot sockets) for ice and make sure binding snaps all the way closed _without_ your boot in it. Snap it closed three or 4 times, by hand. The slightest icing can have an effect, especially in the pocket under the toe springs. Beyond that, some bench testing and more skiing. Make sure binding is tightly screwed to ski. If all else fails you might have a defective binding. The only “fix” is replace bindings. Lou

  103. XXX_er March 31st, 2015 9:45 am

    I make it a ritual to do this ^^ every time I pick up the ski, also there are slots in the pins at 9 and 3 oclock (so not visible from above) which will clear the sockets of ice.snow if you step into the toe/cycle your foot up and down a few times before locking the heel in

  104. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2015 9:53 am

    Tiny amount of hidden ice in the boot toe sockets is sometimes a culprit. Like Xer says, cycle boot (heel up and down) before snapping into the heel when entering binding for downhill. I’d add, also wriggle heel left to right and watch for excessive movement of boot toe sockets against the toe pins. There should be almost no movement. Lou

  105. Lou Dawson 2 March 31st, 2015 9:54 am

    10 Tips to Prevent Tech Binding Pre Release


  106. Brent March 31st, 2015 11:29 am

    I had this problem a few years ago and went as far as replacing toe pieces, new bindings, new boots (Garmont Radium), etc. I ultimately concluded that the cause was due to faulty tech inserts in the Garmont Radium boots, i.e. I had the same problem with both pair of boots on multiple Dynafit bindings. Garmont was making their own tech inserts as opposed to Dynafit made inserts to save money and the tolerances must have been off. I switched to Dynafit boots two years ago (Mercury, which I highly recommend) and have not had one pre release since.

  107. Coby March 31st, 2015 11:41 am

    Brent I was skiing in a pair of Garmont Radium’s and just switched a couple days ago to a Dynafit TLT6. I’ll post in a couple weeks if I notice a difference.

  108. Wasnatch Jerry March 31st, 2015 11:20 pm


    I agree with most everything previously mentioned regarding your shoe pitch and pay strict attention to the top 10 things to prevent pre-release. Sorry, but it still happens, especially at 6’3″ and 225#. Been there done that.

    I’ve been deprived of much fun skiing the Wasatch this year due to dismal conditions and this reply may serve as the most exciting BC event of my season. Accordingly, please excuse me if I speak out of school…

    The tool (binding) selected is not the best choice for the job (VERY steep icy snow).
    That said it is an awesome tool (all things considered including toe piece) for riding powder and usually performs well in more stressful (physics) situations.

    If you find yourself in the precarious situation whereupon a pre-release is worse than no release (steep icy slope with extreme consequences for falling), click up. Of course there are significant risks to riding in the touring mode that must be factored into the decsion. I go with one click up as the response seems to be graduated. I believe that despite the lack of reproducibility and multiple variables (top sheet, ski width, factory tolerances, rider characteristics, etc.) the retention response to clicking up is not binary (all or none). In other words, one click mitigates the risk of failing to release more than 3 clicks. Similarly, the retention characteristics are somewhat less with one click vs more clicks, but much stronger and much less elastic than downhill mode. I’m sure you have experienced numerous unintentional releases while touring with the toe piece in downhill mode (or am I the only idiot that forgets at least once per tour). Please refer above to January 2011 if you’re not already bored enough. Regardless of the ‘truth’ concerning this strategy, the mere act of pondering the situation has brought me much closer to understanding the possibilities. I WILL however gladly defer to Lou and his experience /expertise.

  109. Jack November 8th, 2016 12:46 pm

    Hmmm. Saw a friend exit from both skis on performing a hard hockey stop with pin bindings. I was looking right at his feet when he stopped and this looks like the release mode – hard sideways load at the toe and some torque from weighting the edge at max. Just don’t do that!

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