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How to adjust ski bindings in 10 easy steps

Your ski bindings are the link between you and the snow, so set them once and set them right

Ski boot clipping into binding from behind.

When you’re riding the chairlift or gondola up your favorite ski mountain and picturing the next great run down the ski trail, there’s a good chance you’re not specifically thinking about your ski bindings. However, once you get to the top of the mountain and plant your skis in the snow so you can clip your boots in and start cutting the trail down the ski slope, you’ll certainly be reminded of how crucial ski bindings are to the whole skiing experience.

After all, ski bindings are what attach your ski boots to your skis and allow you to stay connected and control your skis. Therefore, having properly adjusted ski bindings ensures you can ski safely and comfortably without risking injury to yourself or others by accidentally losing control due to an equipment failure.

Adjusting your ski bindings isn’t particularly complicated, but it’s clearly important that it’s done correctly — especially if you’re participating in the Winter Olympics skiing event! With that in mind, we will have you set for the best ski season yet with our guide to how to properly adjust ski bindings.

Skis with bindings on snow
Anne Nygård / Unsplash

Can you adjust your own ski bindings?

Your local ski shop or the ski rental shop at the mountain can certainly adjust your ski bindings for you, but it will cost money, and if it’s their busy season, you may have to wait a while for them to get the job done. The good news is that you can adjust your own ski bindings with little more than a screwdriver, a few pieces of information about the skier (yourself or whomever you’re healing), and the basic know-how.

Ski boot being clipped into binding
Simon / Pixabay

How do you adjust ski bindings for your shoe size?

The first step in adjusting ski bindings is determining the length of your boots, which is a function of your shoe size. However, rather than needing to know your regular shoe size, you need the actual length of the ski boots in millimeters. This information is usually stamped on the bottom of the ski boot, although it may be printed inside the ski boot lined instead. You’re looking for a number that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 250-320 mm, but of course, it depends on the size of your feet. The boot length will be a whole number — no decimals.

Showing the DIN on a toe piece of a Marker binding.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What should your ski bindings be set at?

One important component of adjusting your ski bindings is setting the DIN release setting. The DIN release setting determines the amount of pressure and force that must be exerted on the bindings to trigger them to release your boots from the skis should you crash. The DIN release is a critical safety feature, preventing serious leg and ankle derangement and injury, so it’s vital that you correctly calculate your DIN setting.

One reason that it’s unsafe to swap skis between skiers of different body sizes and abilities without adjusting the DIN is that the DIN setting is based on the skier’s height, weight, ski boot length, and skiing ability. Larger skiers, for example, will exert more force and pressure on the bindings, triggering a release easier than a light skier. Accordingly, if ski bindings are adjusted for a heavier skier but then used by a lighter individual, the bindings may fail to release the boot if the light skier crashes, putting the skier at risk of severe injury.

You can calculate your DIN setting with a DIN calculator. However, if you have any doubts, you should consult a ski tech or professional to ensure you’ve done it properly.

Skis hanging on wall with bindings.
henry perks / Unsplash

How much can you adjust ski bindings?

There may come a point when you want to adjust your ski bindings more than just changing your DIN setting. For example, if you get larger boots, you’ll have to adjust the bindings to accommodate the new length. Ski bindings are mounted on your skis in a set location, so while there is some adjustability, significant changes will require removing and remounting the bindings.

Generally speaking, you can adjust your ski bindings the equivalent of one shoe size larger or smaller, but if you’re going to be marking more significant changes (for example, in the case of a child whose feet are rapidly growing), the ski bindings will need to be remounted to ensure the ski boot is attaching at the ideal location on the ski. It’s best to bring the skis to a ski shop for this adjustment.

The forward pressure indicator on a Marker binding
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why is ski binding adjustment important?

For your safety, ski binding adjustment is very important. The DIN setting determines how much force is required to release your boots from the bindings in the event you fall. If your bindings are too loose, your boots may release too easily, causing you to fall. On the other hand, if your bindings are too tight, your boots may not release at all, which could lead to a serious skiing injury.

Another reason ski binding adjustment is important is that it improves your performance. If your bindings are too tight, they can restrict your movement and make it difficult to ski. Properly adjusted bindings can also help you feel more comfortable and in control while skiing.

Ski bindings are adjusted to boots

How to adjust ski bindings for new boots

Here are the steps to adjust your ski bindings when you get new boots:

  1. Locate the boot length in millimeters.
  2. Place your skis face up on a stable, flat surface.
  3. Lift the lever on the side of the ski binding heel component and hold it upright while you slide the heel piece until the markers on it are pointing to the numerical range that correlates with the boot size length.
  4. Perform the same step for the toe portion of the binding — lift and hold the lever and slide the toe piece until the markers are pointing to the correct range for your boot length.
  5. Grab your ski boot and insert the toe into the toe piece of the binding and then press down on the boot so that the heel snaps in. If you can’t get the ski boot to clip in, try lifting the heel lever.
  6. Slide a piece of paper between the bottom of your ski boot and the toe bar at the front of the ski binding.
  7. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screw at the front of the toe piece of the ski binding and push the toe bar backward until there is tension on the piece of paper. The proper tension level is when you can pull the paper out against resistance without ripping it, but you cannot slide it back in. Be careful not to overtighten the toe bar.
  8. The ski boot should click in comfortably without being overly loose or tight. Use the screws on the toe piece and heel piece to adjust as necessary until you have the fit you’re looking for.
  9. After properly calculating your DIN setting, set the DIN setting on the toe piece to your calculated number by tightening or loosening the screw on the side of your ski binding until the right DIN number is displayed in the window on the top of the toe portion of the ski binding.
  10. Repeat this with the heel of the ski binding until your DIN setting appears in the window on the toe piece

You have successfully adjusted your ski bindings and are ready to hit the slopes!

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