Tech Binding Ruminations Part 2 – The Move to TUV

Post by blogger | March 23, 2012      

Part One, Epic Details of the Dynafit Radical Ski Touring Binding

Why TUV? Why do binding companies work hard to have their products certified by TUV to conform to standards such as DIN 13992? Established consumer standards tend to help more than they hinder. Dynafit (and any other binding company going for TUV) wants to do good by their consumers. But in my view, simple economics is also playing a big role in this issue, perhaps the biggest.

Ski shops have never liked selling non-certified tech bindings. The first company to have a tech binding certified by TUV to the DIN/ISO touring binding standard will sweep the retail market. This is axiomatic.

But will any TUV certification (to the existing standard) truly benefit the end user and be an ultimate improvement of the tech binding? Lovely if it happened — yet the results could be mixed.

TUV is the European outfit that certifies everything from baby bottle warmers to automobile tires, with “certification” meaning the items in question conform to some government standard (adding confusion, TUV can actually be paid to certify to your own standard, so beware of that when evaluating TUV certifications — e.g., even Dynafit bindings had a TUV stamp at one time.). Standards such as the DIN/ISO touring binding standard are well intentioned, but conversely it’s not unusual for such standards to stifle innovation because “out of box” thinking frequently doesn’t conform effectively to a standard. Most importantly, the existing DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard simply does not accommodate tech ski touring bindings.

In cases such as this, the solution is often a new standard.

Indeed, I’ve heard murmurs that a standard for “tech” ski touring bindings is being attempted. Perhaps DIN/ISO has that in the works to roll out soon, or TUV will simply certify to their own “standard.” But everything I’ve heard indicates that a tech binding standard is years down the line, and could be impossible due to the difficulty of agreements amongst industry principles (just imagine Italian guys from ATK, French guys from Plum, Germans from Salewa and Canadians from G3 in the same room trying to agree on a standard? Perhaps Canada could bail out Italy? And come to think of it, is the lack of an American tech binding indicative of our decline as a world power? BD, save us. And then there is Greece.)

The bump is back.

This mysterious bump on the heel unit of Dynafit Radical model series bindings is probably part of an ongoing process to build a binding that can receive TUV certification to the DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard. This is a good example of how such things end up being included for TUV, but in real life do nothing to help binding function, and in this case could even be detrimental to performance (by limiting amount boot can move between binding heel and toe unless complex and heavy mechanicals are added to the heel unit to allow it to slide for/aft to absorb pressure from boot heel).

More, a “tech” binding standard based on current designs is a bit ludicrous on the face of it. For example, when the tech binding was invented more than 30 years ago, some parts became the sizes and shape they did simply because of the drill bit that was handy, or the time and method it took to hand-make a part. To convert that to a “standard?” Unwise. If we want a tech binding standard it needs to be tech 2.0, engineered from the ground up: a frameless concept mated with boot fittings as existing tech binding are, but everything re-thought (including the boot). TUV baby bottle testers are not going to help with that process — only hinder it.

In the case of backcountry skiing bindings, we have DIN/ISO standard 13992 which is pretty much designed for frame/plate bindings. Standard 13992 has no provision for tech type bindings. None. Furthermore, once a DIN standard is promulgated, TUV engineers who have little to no knowledge of the practical side of ski touring my be in charge of developing testing methods, as well as interpreting the standard.

Result: Parameters such as weight and basic reliability get overshadowed by “features” such as brake AFDs for boots that, unlike alpine bindings, are suspended between toe and heel units and perhaps need little in the AFD department. Or weird and complex attempts to compensate for ski flex. Who knows what else.

The conclusion is obvious. Companies seem to have an incredibly difficult time improving the tech binding even without the involvement of TUV. Their efforts are admirable, and Dynafit’s efforts to help with heel lifter issues and release reliability are admirable.

But how successful are these efforts? They stutter. And if a binding company starts building in features to satisfy some faceless engineer at TUV, what on God’s snow white earth are we going to end up with? A binding that sells well at Sportler or REI, but no core skier of any intelligence will use?

Please don’t construe my rant as any accusation that Dynafit is a sellout. They are far from that, being managed by core skiers and providing what is easily the best complete line of ski touring gear out there. I know these guys, and can testify that we owe them huge for the amazing array of gear (both theirs and the competition they’ve energized) that makes our tours so fluid and fun. But a company has to survive financially. No, it’s not being a sellout to be a wise business person and direct your energy to financial success. If Dynafit needs REI and Sportler sales to survive, then so be it. Yet I think it’s obvious that focus on TUV certification could easily be problematic and should not be rushed. In the end, if Salewa/Dynafit’s energy is indeed going to producing a TUV certificable binding, I wish them the best on all fronts.

Luckily, Dynafit is covering all their bases and will continue to offer their non-TUV designs for some time yet (and that alone tends to validate the above points, does it not?).

Techincal note: Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the main sticking points with TUV certification of tech binding to the current DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard is provision for ski flex. As tech bindings currently function, the flexing of the ski changes the heel gap, which in turn changes the release values as well as possibly causing accidental release if the boot heel hits the binding heel unit. Keeping that in mind, keep your eye on binding developments.

Also, I have a solid insider source that tells me Plum is on the case with this as well, and has already tested and passed some variety of “standards” at TUV. Unknown at this time if they actually got certified to the DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard.

Other sources have told me that another sticking point for TUV is that they tend to consider the boot fittings as part of the binding, and thus any certification they do would need to be only for a certain brand or model of boots and specified that way; a difficult proposition.

You can bet there is going to be some smoke and mirrors with all this, as the race is on to see who can stick a TUV stamp on their products. Consumer beware, as always. If someone says their binding is “certified” you need to know to WHAT it is certified and by whom, otherwise you are listening to BS.

According to inside sources, getting a TUV certificate for a ski binding costs at least 15,000 euros per model, plus an annual fee of about 1,500 euros. The certificate expires after 5 years.

Again, your comments folks?


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


67 Responses to “Tech Binding Ruminations Part 2 – The Move to TUV”

  1. DM March 23rd, 2012 9:57 am

    Interesting thoughts. It sounds like a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist (other than a marketing/sales problem).

  2. brad March 23rd, 2012 10:03 am

    Ah, the “standards committee dance”. In my industry (most others too, prolly), it means that Company A tries to convince everyone to write the spec around A’s existing design, while trying not to reveal any of their “secret sauce” intellectual property, while also trying to get as much info about the others’ “secret sauce” as they can. What fun!! Takes ages and ages for any significant specification to be developed, lots of compromise and added features, and good technology often gets left out because their company doesn’t “dance” well. The problems in specing a touring binding seem to be more difficult too. A downhill binding’s functions and limits can be pretty easily described and measured (“Hold the boot in fixed fashion up to the release point, then release.”, much more detail of course), but a touring binding has much more dynamic operation, more degrees of freedom, that make a complete spec for a workable, affordable consumer product very difficult indeed. Tech bindings are a pretty small market, compliance to the spec could add significantly to the price of an already expensive item.

  3. doug March 23rd, 2012 10:08 am

    Seems like TUV, DIN/ISO certs. is the wrong motivation of tech binding ‘innovation.’ Unnecessarily complex features and gadgets to satisfy someone in a lab-coat rather than an end consumer in a skin track. The sheer simplicity of current ‘low-tech’ binding designs is the genius of those products. Aspiring for certifications that have little to do with how the binding will function for the end user and more to do with whether or not the plastic bits can choke a child strikes me as a terrible mistake by Salewa.

  4. Lou March 23rd, 2012 10:43 am

    Main thing I’d agree on is that existing, simple versions of tech binding are incredibly perfect for 95% of the ski tourers out there, including Lisa and I. In fact, for this next Europe trip I’m going back to an older TLT system as that’s what I enjoy in springtime, lighter weight, less ramp angle, easy on the eyes. Anything heavier or more complex had better be better, or it will suffer our wrath (grin).

  5. Lou March 23rd, 2012 10:54 am

    One of my sources just told me Plum has had their binding at TUV and “passed” a variety of tests. Unknown if they will be certified to the DIN/ISO ski touring binding standard, but they are no doubt trying. I added some verbiage to the end of the blog post. Main thing for all you consumers, is watch out for smoke and mirrors with this stuff. Anyone, for example, can say their product is “TUV tested.” They can even have TUV test to their own standards, and use that as marketing speak. My main point is instead of using any sort of TUV certification or testing to indicate a good ski touring binding, a better approach would be to just use it, read gear reviews, and see what the general consensus ends up being. Tech is the perfect example of that. It was never TUV certified, and ended up being the most popular ski touring binding. And we’re supposed to think that suddenly having TUV involved is supposed to somehow improve that situation?

  6. Todd Frank March 23rd, 2012 12:27 pm

    As a retailer who spend 10 plus years in the alpine industry as it evolved to have to “test” every binding to make sure it worked I have a slightly different point of view. The goal here in my view is to get everyone building bindings on the same page so that settings are “universal” for release. the DIN settings and release values in the alpine world are based on real testable torque values measured in newton meters or deca newton meters as it were.
    I have some significant fear that attorneys are licking their lips in anticipation of the first guy who sues Dynafit because the binding did not release. Hell likely to be the guys insurance company who sues. I had a customer, (attorney no less) look at me when I explained that we do the boot to binding adjustments when mounting but do not set the release values as we WANT the end consumer to understand how it all works and be comfortable with changing it to find the best compromise between release and retention. He said “this is a Dynafit Boot, a Dynafit Binding and a Dyanfit ski and you are telling me you cannot or will not set the release value! That’s BS. With the alpine binding guys now fully in the business of selling alpine touring bindings, it is just a matter of time before an attorney says well you adjusted and tested that marker/atomic/ whatever and it can be tested on a Vermont tester, why did you not test this one….. this is in my mind a liability issue that needs to be solved not a performance issue. And that is a bummer, all the crazy growth the AT world is seeing is going to bring the eyes of the legal Establishment with it, for in the masses lie opportunity…

  7. brian h March 23rd, 2012 1:42 pm

    Is that possible? Is there a precedent? Doesn’t the “inherent risk” in skiing trump equipment failure? Has a Vermont tester device ever been the hinge in a liability suit? I’m asking ’cause I don’t know…

  8. Tom Gos March 23rd, 2012 2:32 pm

    I have to say that I don’t see “standardization” as a bad thing. I would like to know that when I set my Dynafits on 9 that the force required to relase will be similar to my Marker alpine bindings set on 9. What’s wrong with that? And, as Todd describes, having a standardized release value will probably help to protect the manufacturers and retailers against liability. We’ve already seen that non-official and non-standard tech fittings in boots can be problematic, so having a standard for those fittings would also be quite useful and beneficial to the consumer. Maybe Lou has too much old hippy in him to support any kind of standardization 🙂

  9. Dave Bell March 23rd, 2012 2:45 pm

    @ Todd Attorneys licking their lips? Do they have chapped lips because they have been out skiing?

  10. Maki March 23rd, 2012 2:50 pm

    My honest comment is that this is possibly the only place where I have ever seen people discussing about TUV testing Dynafit bindings. In Europe people is used to see them from day one, we know how they work and that’s it. I don’t know a single person that has bought Diamirs instead of Dynafits because of the TUV logo. Actually around here the current craze is using race bindings that don’t release at all and so much for DIN standards.

    Maybe you yankees are a bit more sensitive on legal stuff 🙂 and they are trying to serve you better, but IMHO it’s just that Dynafit has now some competition in what was an exclusive territory, and that competition is here to stay (and grow). Dynafit needs to differentiate themselves and the easier way is to have some exclusive feature, be it power towers, new heel risers or a logo that they can promote as sign of superiority until the others catch up.

    In short, if they didn’t bother with TUV for 20 years it’s because they didn’t need it, and technically they still don’t.

  11. Ed Stevens March 23rd, 2012 2:54 pm

    Hi, Lou and backcountry friends.
    My girlfriend is a newcomer to AT touring and we are looking for a hut/lodge in Colorado for mid-April that offers moderate terrain to comfortably build her confidence and skills. A lodge the offers meal preparations by staff would be preferable. We have looked at the new OPUS hut in the San Juans and it is great for comfort and amenities, plus the possibility of meals included. But something closer to Colorado Springs would be preferable.
    Anybody got any ideas. Thanks.

  12. Maciej March 23rd, 2012 2:58 pm

    Naxos were TUV certified, and they sucked (broke a pair myself). If there are going to be testing standards for Tech bindings, it should be the manufacturers who get together and develop the standards and testing protocols. Since only a handful of companies make Tech bindings, I don’t think it would be an impossible task, and would be more likely to provide relevant metrics for the industry (and, by extension, user safety).

  13. Charlie March 23rd, 2012 4:12 pm

    An independent standard has value when it comes to knee/limb safety. It’s valuable to know that a binding set to a specific release setting cannot reasonably exceed a defined set of torques and forces. If the standard is constructed with the limits of the human body as a reference, there’s a lot of freedom left for binding design.

    The “bump” doesn’t seem entirely useless. I broke an ankle in a twisting fall on a decambered ski. In that incident, my dynafits were locked out at the toe, but as anyone who’s tried to release an improperly adjusted tech binding knows, heel pin insertion that’s too deep tends to raise the effective release value (or block release entirely).

  14. Lou March 23rd, 2012 4:28 pm

    Tom and all, nothing wrong with them trying to match the tech RV values to DIN standard (which has a ton of fudge factor by the way). In fact, that’s already what they try to do. More, take a boot and get some dirt on it, stick it in a Diamir, and watch the “DIN” values change. It’s all very imperfect, which is why people still blow out knees, but helmets of course do a nearly perfect job of protecting your skull (grin). Lou

  15. Lou March 23rd, 2012 4:32 pm

    BTW, in German speaking countries (and perhaps elsewhere) they pronounce TUV as Toovvv, hence my clever little rhyme in the post title, yeah, the “move to Toovvv…” TUV is going to make a lot of money….

  16. Sam F March 23rd, 2012 6:28 pm

    Whoever said they wanted their tech bindings at 9 to behave like alpine binding at 9, fully illustrates the problem with all this certification BS.

    The mechanics of release are ALOT different. One of the biggest can of worms Dynafit has opened up is putting the number “12” on the heel piece. Is that supposed to mean that my FT 12 are going to ski like my alpine binders at DIN 12? If your think that, I want some of what your smokeing!!

    Dynafits are awsome and some of my most epic adventures have been had on them. Just seems like R and D should go towards something that matters.

  17. duchbgnco March 23rd, 2012 6:35 pm

    if you have to stomp on rain crust/etc, to set a skin track, set a purchase..

    just looking at those lever lifters ain’t going to cut it. after 500 days my speed classics, they are showing wear, i should replace them

    by buying radicals at pro and selling them.

    wtf do i know, the world evolves..

    we bought 12k of bindings from germany, yrs ago, 150 per to the door.

    i think the world is broken..

  18. shoveler March 23rd, 2012 9:55 pm

    Dynafit rules. But if they divert their design talent to trying to make TUV happy instead of me, then I’ll shop elsewhere.

  19. rangerjake March 24th, 2012 1:17 pm

    As a manager of a big BC ski shop, this is an issue that has come up a fair amount. How to explain the numbers that Dynafit puts on their bindings, relative to the numbers on folks alpine bindings. The simplest way is to say that the release on them is fundamentally different than an alpine binding. Smooth plastic on plastic, and holding a boot in via forward pressure, is inherently different than metal on metal suspended above a ski.

    Dynafit (N.A.) says that they in no way guarantee the release of bindings, even if properly calibrated. The “DIN equivalence” is in the stiffness of springs relative to those of alpine bindings. Having done bench testing on Dynafit (FT and Rad), Plum, Sportiva (ATK), and G3 I have had some interesting results as to which bindings have the best and smoothest release. Plum and G3 seem to be the most consistent. The Rads are pretty damn close to in the zone, FTs always come out a little high (maybe due to no AFD?), and Sportivas don’t release well at all.

    At my shop, we set the correct “forward pressure” (read; gap), set DIN based on charts, and test. But in our printout from the test we make sure to state that the test is for amusement only (for tobacco use only :lol:) and that tech bindings are not indemnified by us or the manufacturer. Sometimes I wonder if this is the best method. Anyway, it is a tough grey area especially for shops, to explain all this to the customer without scaring them away. Certainly thoughts in regards to this are appreciated.

  20. Maki March 24th, 2012 2:57 pm

    Rangerjack, I think you are making things more complicated than they are.
    Dynafit gives you a chart to set release values. Just use that and forget about the meaning of the numbers, you don’t need to explain any meaning to anyone. They could have used letters or icons as well.

    They also tell you that there is no guarantee that the binding will always release: that’s true for every binding, it’s in the Diamir notice too. What that means is that the whole concept of releasable binding cannot take in account 100% of possible falls. It’s a standard disclaimer, people gets injured on alpine bindings every day.

    Anyway, RVs are always half wrong anyway since the proper value is influenced by skiing style an possibly snow conditions. In the same tour you may have slow sections on soft snow and high speed ones on hardpack, do you change settings on the fly? That’s the first thing you need to make sure people understands when you sell them a binding. There’s no such a thing as the “right” RV.

  21. Greg Louie March 24th, 2012 4:25 pm

    rangerjake, I’d love to see a summary of your RV “consistency” results!

    If I were a customer, particularly if I had a bunch of experience with alpine bindings but little to none with tech bindings, I would think the printout showing how they stack up would be quite interesting.

  22. Skian March 24th, 2012 10:00 pm

    IMO, TUV is irrelevant in the performance of tech bindings or the evolution to the next level. Testing on a Vermont calibrator is irrelevant to tech bindings and wasn’t designed for the type of release and pressures put on the system and there is no money in the tech binding industry to develop their own system. An industry standard is definitely needed. Pressure for TUV is a huge issue in litigious old USA but not a big issue abroad. I would like to see a standard presented by TUV for testing RV for tech not a muddied down or inclusion in their current systems. We need to stop using Vermont calibrators to test tech product and produce machines designed for tech release. VC was designed for a different system and is nothing more than a bandage for legal recourse for big box stores. Tech needs it’s own test, it’s own standard and it’s own equipment to perform those test’s. I do not want to see TUV in bed with any one manufacture to create a standard that potentially could lead to the compromise of innovation going forward. We need production parameters and constants that will aid in safety and performance. Let’s face it we want a tech toe with a conventional heel. Will somebody get after it?

  23. Greg Louie March 24th, 2012 11:00 pm

    “Let’s face it we want a tech toe with a conventional heel”.

    I’m with you, Skian – maybe not “conventional” but one that twists under friction to allow lateral release and has a spring actuated vertical release with a DIN of 14 or so (and doesn’t require goofy mutant bars installed in the sole like the TR1) . . . someone could absolutely kill it in the AT market for years to come.

  24. Sam F March 25th, 2012 10:56 am

    I could be wrong but I think to use a conventional heel piece would require a complete redesign of the tech toe piece. For one it would require elastic lateral release at the toe.

    Also in a tech binding the toe is “locked” so to speak, this is allowed only because a tech heel piece doesn’t really relie on “forward pressure” to function. I would assume that a conventional heel piece with a locked toe would result in a wildly variable vertical release. For instance aggressive jump turning would all most certainly result in a prerelease

  25. Sam F March 25th, 2012 11:01 am

    in other words. Like it or not the tech heel piece is actually an ingenious invention to allows the use of the much more straight forward toe piece that we all love.

  26. See March 25th, 2012 11:25 am

    I doubt if it’s possible to achieve the same performance with a tech binding, in terms of release consistency and retention elasticity, as heavier frame bindings. So I guess I agree that changes made simply to achieve certification would probably not be for the better (although I am interested in just what the standard specifies, and what prevents tech bindings from meeting it).

    That said, I’ve been a fan of Wildsnow long enough to have observed that for every person with prerelease or auto-rotate issues, there is another who says they’ve used tech bindings for years with no problems. Why the variation?

    That (combined with cases of boot/binding incompatibility) suggests to me that some standardization may be in order.

  27. See March 25th, 2012 11:57 am

    To clarify: I realize that prerelease and autorotation have both been addressed in the new version Dynafit, my point is that it has always seemed to be the case that any discussion of tech bindings eventually comes down to “your mileage may vary.” This is apparently still the case with the hydrogen embrittlement of heel lifters, and toe tower to boot gap. Perhaps manufacturing specifications and tolerances need some tightening.

  28. j walker March 25th, 2012 2:31 pm

    from my perspective this sounds like the AT binding world we know will change soon. I will purchase a few sets of bindings before the improvements happen to maintain access to the bindings I want. I suppose the next thing will be AT apps and magazines.

  29. Lou March 25th, 2012 2:56 pm

    For you Plum fans and those interested in alternatives, as I mentioned above, Plum has received some sort of testing certifications from TUV. Not sure exactly what. If someone from Plum cares to contact me, I’ll be happy to relate the facts. Use contact option in main menu above. Lou

  30. Frank K March 25th, 2012 4:40 pm

    Looking forward to tech 2.0… tech 1.0 is pretty darn mediocre on so many levels…

  31. Lou March 25th, 2012 5:44 pm

    Frank, exactly. Tech 1.0 works great for classic style ski touring and ski mountaineering. Go past that, and you start seeing limits.

  32. rangerjake March 25th, 2012 6:37 pm

    You are right that I am making things more complicated, but in a way I have to. It is my job.

    If I don’t present a full picture of what a tech binding is and isn’t to a customer, as they wade through a number of binding options for their setup and skiing desires, I am doing them and our shop a disservice.

    Dynafit does provide that chart. It is the same exact chart line-for-line that Marker provides. It includes the test and operational release ranges for a given skier code. So one could infer from that info being on their list that the bindings can and will test out. I have it on good info from friends at Salewa NA that most of the big Dynafit retailers offer this service.

    You may not think I have an obligation to explain the numbers on a Dynafit binding to a customer, but if that is the case you have a very low standard for customer service. Most people just assume that a Solly STH 12 that has a 4-12 on the side would be the same as a Radical FT cause it has a 5-12 on it. If Dynafit didn’t want to insinuate a relative equity they should do like NTN; have a release chart with unrelated numbers (1-5) based on weight and boot size. Make no mention of Newton meters on your chart, no skier codes, then there will be no misunderstanding. And you will lose potential customers.

    And according to those I have talked to at SNA, they say the “DIN equivalency” is in the stiffness of springs relative to other 12 din bindings. But they won’t stand by a setting of 7 releasing at the same Nm as a 7 on a Marker, Rossi, or Solly binding (all of which have an industry standard force to test for based on skier code). Thus indemnification. It has nothing to do with the general liability release of “skiing is a dangerous sport, and we can’t guarantee….in every situation.”

  33. rangerjake March 25th, 2012 6:38 pm

    OOPS. Long day of skiing, and I wrote who I was responding to in the name box



  34. See March 25th, 2012 7:11 pm

    And regarding standards stifling innovation: this may be one reason helmet design seems so stagnant.

    Certification to a standard focusses consumer attention on this single criterion when evaluating functionality. The design emphasis then shifts to styling and features as the way to differentiate one’s wares in the marketplace, once most helmets (for example) meet the standard.

  35. Lou March 25th, 2012 8:26 pm

    Ranger, I fixed it?

  36. Lou March 25th, 2012 8:34 pm

    Ranger, that is a SUPER good point about how the RV numbers on tech bindings appear to be DIN numbers. It would have indeed been much better and if they’d been an entirely different scale. I vaguely recall I was told that during the early days of the Dynafit binding one of the goals was indeed to match as well as possible to the DIN/ISO standard for release values, and then go for TUV certification. Thus, the DIN type numbers were used. TUV wouldn’t certify, but the numbers stayed. At least that’s my recollection of what I’ve been told over the years. It was nothing intentionally disingenuous, but again it would have perhaps been better not to have those dang Din-no-Din numbers haunting us.

    Of course, with other numbers there would be obsession on how they matched the DIN scale, and you could google at least 600 charts trying to do so (grin).

  37. Lou March 25th, 2012 8:39 pm

    Ranger, if you ever get a chance, test the same binding with a variety of boots from different manufacturers, you might be surprised at the variations in release values, especially to the side. At one time, there were even some boot fittings in the wild that had virtually no release to the side, or if they did, it was about the equiv. of DIN 20…

  38. Bar Barrique March 25th, 2012 10:28 pm

    Well; for me the Dynafit settings transfer pretty well from my alpine stuff. My (rare) “prereleases” on Dynafits tend to occur in situations where the alpine bindings would be somewhat inclined to do the same, although the alpine stuff tends to have more elasticity built in.
    I have known a few pros, and, they tend to “crank” their alpine settings to the Max, so it’s no surprise that they are locking the toes, when using Dynafits.
    Tech bindings may not work for everyone in every situation, but they (possibly excluding the radicals) are the most elegant engineering solution for BC skiing that I can imagine.

  39. rangerjake March 26th, 2012 11:28 am

    Lou- Well done, you have corrected my mistake.

    What you say about varying release values based on boot is very interesting. I have tried to do comparative testing of different tech bindings using the same boot, obviously to isolate and eliminate that variable. I will be sure to do one binding with numerous boots now to see those differences. If there is such a variation as you state, that really sullies the water.

    Do different boots release differently because of varied rubber thicknesses and how they may or may not be in contact with the toe wings @ the angles and next to the springs of the jaw? Or does it have to do with the possibility of varied depth of fittings on the boot toe?

    The rubber would be my guess. After finding in Oct. that Deliriums had so much rubber on the toe that it made it very tricky to “toe into” a tech binding, I used some other boots to see comparatively where contact points were. Many boots were fully suspended by the fittings, with almost zero contact. Others had more contact, but there was certainly A LOT of variance.

    As for Dynafit and the numbers they print on their bindings, I agree it is not something intentionally disingenuous, but it is an “oversight” that tends to mislead more folks than not, and just happens to insinuate something that is not necessarily true. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dynafit and their products. I have been a user of the bindings for 5 years (I am only 28 :-)) as well as their boots (Zzeus, Titans, and Vulcans). I agree that a different template is needed to “certify” bindings that is different from the current TUV standards. And understanding that these bindings are inherently different from an alpine binding, or a frame AT binding is very important. But those little numbers on the side of their bindings make my job as the link between the recreational/newcomer customer and the equipment very difficult, trying to explain why those numbers are _______ but not __________.

    Thanks for having this discussion. For some folks it means nothing, but in my line of work we spend a lot of time grappling with this exact dilemma.

    Oh, and call me Jake. Rangers are just my professional Hockey squadron of choice. 😛

  40. Maki March 26th, 2012 1:18 pm

    Jake, I understand your position, but as a mater of fact Dynafits do work and those numbers generally match the experience of other bindings *given the same boot* and “normal” skiing. Note that the chart is a standard one, but you have to sum 15 mm to the real boot sole length for one of the two values (can’t remember which one) to compensate for the different mechanism. Also AT boots are generally shorter than alpine ones, so if you ski at DIN 7 on a alpine rig your settings is likely to change for that factor alone.

    So, it’s not that you don’t need to explain things to your customers (rather the contrary), just that numbers don’t need to match so precisely. When your customer knows that his range is 6 to 8 on *that* binding that’s IMHO enough: “why” doesn’t really need to be explained.

    The biggest difference between TLT and others is that they release at the heel and are thus more prone to pre-release due to lateral load. In other words they are less good when it comes to differentiate a torsion from a lateral load (bad landing on a jump turn or sharp braking for example). It was the same with Silvrettas and no chart will ever compensate for that.

    Personally I think the real difficulty in setting Dynafits (or Plums) is the very short distance between markings.

  41. rangerjake March 26th, 2012 4:27 pm


    One must always explain the why. If at all possible. I find that Dynafit bindings work tremendously well, despite being a different sort of animal. And that in a very general sense, one can match up their alpine binding DIN with their tech “DIN”. But the fact of the matter is that without careful explanation from knowledgeable sales staff, the casual consumer will purchase a Dynafit binding and ASSUME that the number range has a functional equity to that of their alpine rigs. And from that infer that there are more similarities between an alpine binder and the tech binder. I would just like to see Dynafit use another scale (icon, whatever) instead of using numbers that so closely align with something they claim not to be.

    I am not sure what you are referring to with the;

    “but you have to sum 15 mm to the real boot sole length for one of the two values (can’t remember which one) to compensate for the different mechanism”

    As for BSL affecting initial indicator values, that is true to an extent. But testing is based on skier codes that are determined before factoring in BSL. So if I have a code M, my boot could be 285mm or 335mm, but the release range (Nm) is exactly the same.

    The alpine boot lengths being longer generally I find to be negligible if at all uniformly true. Here are some boots I have in a 26.5 in my house alone..

    Tecnica Cochise Pro LT – 310mm
    Scarpa Tornado- 307mm
    Rossignol Experience 130- 306mm
    Garmont Helix- 305mm
    Dynafit Titan- 302mm
    Dynafit Vulcan (27.5)- 304mm

    All of these would be in the same grouping on a chart, even in spite of the Vulcan’s much shorter BSL.

  42. Skian March 26th, 2012 7:23 pm

    It seems there is a lot of miss information here about release values and how they are attained. Also some misunderstanding on why Dynafit in the beginning set these values to match DIN settings. What is certification and do we need it?
    From the beginning of tech the objective was compliance and in the long run certification. Dynafit and Fritchi and Marker and G3 and Plum and any other AT style bindings that works with a non alpine sole worked to have their product to release as close as possible to in the interest of a release norm. However non of them have ever claimed “certified” only din style release. TUV is a certification company as has been stated here in this thread. To attain certification products must have constants with little variables in release when in use. As we have progressed over the years boot manufactures began building boots with lugged soles for travel on snow, different thicknesses of soles and different boot sole lengths and changing their boots either on the half sizes or on the full sizes. Also to remember is if you add a brake to the tech binding it changes the release values.
    Being that an Alpine boot has a specification on thickness of sole, width of platform and a heel spec and an AFD pad. Alpine manufactures are able to build around this and have a constant and a certified TUV product.

    Take the AT market, we have more than half a dozen boot sole lengths or more for a given size (say 27), all sorts of different soles lugged or not, flexing soles etc. The boot in just an AT standard (not tech) has all these variables and that is why to this day no AT lugged boot with a rubber sole is certified to work in an alpine binding. I see pro patrollers and every day skiers all year long with Denali’s and newer in their alpine setups and i guarantee you those don’t test out. Too many things are changing.
    Along comes tech a touring product for walking on snow. Now you throw inserts a ski boot that is part of the whole system and a completely different animal but let’s Test it on the same system designed for TUV DIN alpine product that releases laterally at the toe . Read above you see the differences of these systems. I applaud Dynafit, Plum and all of the tech manufactures for their efforts to meet these release values with what they have to work with and it isn’t much. All release values are is a torsional release you set so your boot comes out before you snap your bones.

    Yes we need a certified product and that is in the works but change takes time and if you ever sat Americans, Austrians, Italians, Germans Swiss all in the same room, boot and binding manufactures together to come up with a norm you are in for some entertaining conversation that means multi millions of dollars of investment. If I left out a few nationalities, apologies.

    Who wants an Alpine boot with tech?? I do, but you wont see tech in a true alpine boot because the norm is different than that of the AT tech specs for the inserts and inserts wont fit in the spec.

    Tech 2.0 to me is a multi million dollar re-invent the wheel process not just certifying current tech. Plenty of great ideas running around these day that could be it but people need the money and it aint cheap.

    Remember no one was trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes. It’s way more complicated than just try this. Oh we need a new mold, oh the metal is too brittle, oh the pins are too short….etc etc etc.

    Tech 2.0 is nothing like what we have today. We have learned so much over the last decade and know we don’t only walk or tour on glaciers to get to the hut’s we are ski mountaineering off Everest and dropping 30 foot pillow drops in Jackson Hole on a product basically designed to walk on snow. Pretty impressive if you ask me. All this is just 15 years of research to go to the next level. That will take boot ski and binding manufactures all working together to re-invent and innovate. Till then understand the limitations of the systems and realize that sometimes the alpine setup is the one for the day.

  43. rangerjake March 26th, 2012 10:20 pm


    I agree with a lot of what you have to say, and certainly with the overall message that tech (let’s say specifically Dynafit tech) is an amazing product that has come such a long way in a short period of time. It is fundamentally different from the TUV world and we shouldn’t feel the need to put something so different in the standardized box. I totally agree with you.

    I am not sure what the misinformation is that you mention off the bat. My main beef is exemplified by your statement that the tech companies never said they were “DIN certified” but that they have a DIN style release.

    That is the heart of it. What is a “DIN style release”? If DIN is a universal standard for alpine gear that requires soles of x width and x thickness, why invoke it if your medium shares no standards? Can’t we just say the binding has an adjustable release value? Make a chart that may have a root or equivalency to a normal DIN chart, but works on it’s own scale so as not blur the lines of what is “DIN certified” and what is “DIN style”?

    Look, I understand that initially (and maybe to this day for some folks) using the same number scale has helped to simplify understanding your tech binding’s retention. But, like you said, with so many variables (like brakes, boot rubber thickness) one can assume there is very little consistency of what a 7 setting releases at with setup A vs. setup Z.

    This is all just my opinion on the issue as an enthusiast who works with these products on a daily basis. Be it for my own fun, or for my 9-5. My experience is one where I have to be the expert, I have to guide the decision making process for many who are just entering into this burgeoning sector of rugged AT gear. I don’t like seeing tech used by folks who plan on spending a significant amount of time resort skiing. 10% max is my rule for someone considering tech as their one binding solution. 90% BC. I think more folks are drawn in cause they see the printed numbers on the bindings “FT 12” “ST 10” etc. Just like a M 10 or an Axial 120. The mental link is made; this one works like that one. But it isn’t the case. If some completely different scale was used, it would force people to understand and acknowledge that this one IS NOT the same as that one. It would probably hurt sales. Actually, it would definitely hurt sales. But it would be a bit more objective that not all AT bindings are the same.

  44. Skian March 26th, 2012 10:42 pm

    @rangerjake. for 15 years i just told them “it’s better than teli, but no guarantees

  45. rangerjake March 27th, 2012 7:40 am


    that works too. though i am still in telemark’s last stronghold. I have friends who were devoted freeheelers (despite using 7tm tours) who are all jumping ship to Dynafit. Never thought I would see the day….

  46. Lou March 27th, 2012 7:43 am

    Skian, you young pup, I’ve been telling them (and myself) that for 30 years.

  47. Lou March 27th, 2012 7:44 am

    DIN stands for ‘dis is nuts ? (grin)

  48. Lou March 27th, 2012 8:57 am

    Ranger, where, pray tell, is “telemark’s last stronghold?” Is that anything like the one and only telemark mecca?

  49. rangerjake March 27th, 2012 1:25 pm

    northern Vermont.

    The Land of 20-25deg Gladed Terrain.

    Meadow Skipping for All.

    But I leave for my annual spring mountaineering trip to the San Juans in a couple weeks. I hope there is still some snow left, and that it hasn’t been dusted brown 😉

    Two years ago I went for Spring and got a long late winter of pow
    Last year it seemed to be a long stretch of inbetween, a bit of pow here, some corn there, and crusts prevailing.
    This year, corn harvest time????
    Hope so.

  50. Skian March 27th, 2012 2:21 pm

    If your headed to the San Juan’s check with San Juan Mountain guides. I was there last week and there was great snow but you needed to dig deep to asses the PWL at the bottom. Not related to this thread and I’m not hijacking it but check this out from the PNW. I hope this is ok Lou?
    One of the biggest rips this season (I would not want to be in that one) propagated by control work in Washington. We will see more of this, this spring. The good news is facets are starting to round in SW Colo and California. What a doozy.

  51. rangerjake March 27th, 2012 3:46 pm

    Yeah. I will be staying with some friends (ice guides in Ouray and ski patrollers in Telluride) so they should have a good barometer of what is ok and what isn’t. Been following along the avy reports for some time now. It does sound like the PWL is there and not going anywhere soon. Probably won’t push the envelope too much in light of what this year has brought upon us. Wait for some freezes and some alpine starts. Hit the early corn. And skeedaddle. I have been waiting and wanting to ski Sneffles for some time now. Not sure if I will get the opportunity this year. We shall see….

  52. rangerjake March 27th, 2012 3:47 pm

    And I heard speak of Grant’s photos of that slide, and that there were some “imposter” shots (misrepresented earlier shots of his from a different slide) being passed off as that monster.

    Thanks for linking to those. WOW!

  53. Maki March 27th, 2012 4:01 pm

    Jake, maybe I generalized too much, but for example my brother’s Salomons are 335 mm, his Maestrales are 322, jump one column in the chart. But that’s only for MZ, since for MY you have to add 15 mm (page 17, chapter 3 of the “for retailer” manual that comes with TLT Speeds). So the Maestrale is, for MY 337 and for MZ 322, you end up with two different settings.

    Re: “what is DIN?” It’s the German Institute for Standardization
    responsible for a lot of ISO standards, including ski bindings and boots.
    There are four separate standards for alpine boots, alpine bindings, touring boots and touring bindings building specs. Plus a fifth standard (ISO 11088) that “specifies assembly, adjustment and inspection procedures for the binding mechanisms of skis, integrating in a practical way, the requirements of those International Standards which are related to skis, bindings and boots.”

    Now, I really don’t understand what causes problems to you. Are you meaning that the release values you get from Dynafits are significantly different than the ones you get from the DIN ISO 11088 procedure? Jonathan Shefftz here in the comments
    says the exact opposite. I don’t have a testing machine, but real world usage of mine and friends suggests that Dynafit values match quite well the ISO norm when using reputable boots and normal settings, but a worn boot would cause problems to any binding.

    If you mean that some people associate “DIN 12” with hucking cliffs then that’s their problem: the DIN norm has nothing to do with that.

  54. Lou March 27th, 2012 5:39 pm

    Maki and all, see our DIN information in our Glossary:

  55. See March 27th, 2012 8:02 pm

    Jake wrote “without careful explanation from knowledgeable sales staff, the casual consumer will purchase a Dynafit binding and ASSUME that the number range has a functional equity to that of their alpine rigs. And from that infer that there are more similarities between an alpine binder and the tech binder.”

    I think this is an important point. Tech bindings require a somewhat sophisticated user for optimal performance. You have to clear the toe sockets and make sure there is no ice under the arms of the toe piece, for example. And people accustomed to alpine or plate bindings have to make adjustments for the different release and retention characteristics of the tech binding. Indeed, any binding that has a switch that disables release at the toe is fundamentally different from just about every other non-freeheel binding out there. (Just last week I was skiing with a very skilled alpine skier who was asking “Do you ski with the lever up or down?” This was not the first time I had heard this question.)

    I don’t think manufacturers and their marketing folks can be let off the hook simply by saying “(i)f… some people associate “DIN 12? with hucking cliffs then that’s their problem.” If the good people at Dynafit are as conscientious as I trust that they are, they would not want to mislead people by perpetuating the notion that tech bindings are functionally equivalent to all the other mainstream bindings on the market that use the same numbers to denote release value, regardless of the money to be made by doing so.

  56. See March 27th, 2012 8:04 pm

    I meant to say “can’t be let off the hook.”

  57. rangerjake March 27th, 2012 10:00 pm


    You ask what is causing me problems with Dynafits. Nothing, really. They work great, sell great, and are popular as ever.

    But release on the bench for TECH bindings overall, with varieties of boots, and additions such as brakes vs. no brakes, is INCONSISTENT. Hence the fact that they fit into zero standardization and would be better served being on some other scale of release, not one that is so closely linked to the “DIN” number scale that we are familiar with on alpine bindings.

    And that is the only qualm I have. I feel it IS misleading to use a scale that is so widely associated with an alpine standardization. It leads the uneducated consumer down the wrong mental track. This is a FACT.

    I am not sure where you are from or what your line of work is, but as much as I admire the “live and let live” attitude of letting people make their own judgements and decisions to huck big with a tech binding, or not, I can’t just turn a blind eye. Cause when something fails on someone using the system in an improper way, it comes back to me. Again, I am the expert, the guide, the adviser through the process of deciding what is right for a given persons skiing aspirations. My job would be made easier if tech release values worked on a different scale. Just to make it perfectly clear that they ARE NOT THE SAME AS AN ALPINE BINDING.

    i appreciate the lively discourse. But I have stated my point a few times now. Agree or disagree, that is your choice. But I see this every day. I know what the reality is on the bench and with the typical customer just getting into this market. It IS misleading. There is no way around it.

  58. Christoffer March 28th, 2012 4:22 pm

    “One cool feature, which also sets these bindings apart is they have been TUV certified, making them the only TUV certified tech system on the market. ”

    I was just reading this about the Plum guide binding on:

  59. Skian March 28th, 2012 4:41 pm

    @Christoffer although Plum are seeking TUV certification at the time of this article they were not DIN TUV certified. Testing is still an ongoing process.

  60. Lou March 28th, 2012 5:12 pm

    Christopher, that is smoke and mirrors. For a while the Plum website stated something to that effect, but it had no meaning because they didn’t say to WHAT standard the binding had been certified. BS, in other words. Plum has some very savvy marketing people… Their website now says something about the binding “conforming to safety standards,” which means nothing. They have something going with TUV, but as stated above it’s doubtful it will have any meaning and will just be marketing BS. Also, don’t believe everything bloggers write (grin). Lou

  61. Skian March 28th, 2012 5:25 pm

    @Lou ….what marketing people? Their machinist?

  62. Lou March 28th, 2012 5:40 pm

    Now now, Plum does deserve cred for taking the venerable tech binding and doing some nice incremental improvements. Their race stuff is especially cool. The Guide bindings are mostly just an imitation of existing tech, but the monoblock machined stuff is sweet.

    Their marketing person is whomever wrote that copy on their website. I distinctly recall at one time that they used the word TUV on there. Probably got called out by TUVs legal staff…

  63. Lou March 28th, 2012 5:56 pm

    I’d add, funny thing about marketing people. I’m dealing with several gear makers who do not have a marketing person working with me, and more often then not I wish they did. Then, once I’m working with the marketing person, I find myself frequently wishing I was not. It’s a blogger’s life…

    Main thing is, when the marketing people start dictating design of complicated technical gear, disaster often follows.

  64. stephen March 29th, 2012 3:33 am

    “Main thing is, when the marketing people start dictating design of complicated technical gear, disaster often follows.”

    You’re being too kind to them Lou. It’d be more accurate to say “when the marketing people (or accountants) dictate design of anthing disaster usually or always follows,” but that’s just my point of view based on observing a number of industries over the years.

    For instance, here in Oz the bean counters decided it’d be a good idea to leave out anti-roll bars from a certain vehicle some time ago, the result being it basically wouldn’t go around corners. But hey, it saved ten or twenty bucks! 👿

  65. Lou April 26th, 2012 4:40 am

    Ranger, not sure I ever answered your question about how different boots may result in different RV values for a given tech binding. Main points on that are 1. The fittings are a manufactured part with some fairly tight tolerances, and are impossible to make 100% identical to each other. 2. Some companies make their own fittings, which usually work fine but sometimes leave a bit to be desired.

    The issue of the boot fittings being so important to tech binding performance is driving the tech binding makers crazy. They all constantly share with me how hard they work on their bindings, only to have problems created by boot fittings blamed on a perfectly functioning binding. Of course, with no real standard for the boot fittings, who’s to say what is “perfectly functioning?” Thus, the boot fittings are good example of what might actually benefit from a standard, as such a standard could simply be a dimensional and metallic hardness standard that allowed consistency for release performance. Of course, then they’d probably also try to standardize how the fitting is attached to the boot, which would then stifle innovation…

  66. Richard September 17th, 2012 9:51 am

    I have a couple of Dynafit catalogues from 1994/95 that you might find useful. If so, let me know your mailing address and I’ll drop them in the mail. Otherwise, they are going into the recycling bin.
    Dick Crumb

  67. Lou Dawson September 17th, 2012 10:04 am

    Dick, thanks, those would be useful. I’ve got a lot of catalogs but am missing those early ones. I’ll email you. Lou

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