Friday, December 2, 2011

Dynafit Bindings - What are they and how do they work?

Backcountry skiing is becoming enormously popular in the mountain regions of the United States. Enthusiasts are demanding more from their ski equipment and in response, the ski industry has been constantly improving its products. Recently, bindings have become an important decision when purchasing a new alpine touring set-up. Consumers are looking for a binding that provides good control over the ski, lightweight, uphill efficiency, durability, and ease of use. Enter the Dynafit binding, a well-designed and lightweight binding choice with few limitations.

The original 1993 purple and pink model!
Dynafit bindings have gained popularity in the US after decades of development and use in Europe, mainly amongst ski mountaineer and randonee racers. In 1993 the Dynafit TLT type binding became the first available in North America. Today the company sells more than 13,000 pair a year and as many as 8 different models of bindings here in the US. Even after this type of popularity many new to the ski world have never seen this type of set-up.

The Dynafit TLT type binding with boot attached
After seeing my first pair of these bindings in use during a ski trip on the Haute Route of France I returned to the US sans my telemark bindings with my prized new Dynafit set-up. Simply put this binding offers the lightest option for ski touring and offers the downhill performance that most are looking for in the backcountry.

The Haute Route French and Swiss Alps
The Dynafit binding works by rather ingenious engineering. Unlike most AT (alpine touring) bindings that have a bar connecting the toe and heel plates, the Dynafit binding uses the entire boot to attach the two together through the rigid nature of plastic ski boots. This means that a specific Dynafit compatible boot is necessary for the system to be complete, where the toe and heel piece of the binding actually “prongs” itself into the boot. This eliminates much of the extra metal that would construct a binding made in the more classic downhill style.
The Fritshi Diamir type binding with a more classic alpine type construction

The Dynafit compatible boot. Notice the metal toe and heel inserts.
Dynafit products have some small limitations. These are really limited to only a few problems including the overall release mechanism which can be somewhat trigger happy if you are a super aggressive cliff jumper and bump skier. The binding can also not provide enough power for a skier to handle a super fat ski. So if you are looking for a binding and boot combination for super fat, big mountain heli-skis you might look elsewhere. In terms of tourability this is the right choice for the touring-minded backcountry skier. For more information on Dynafit bindings online check out or give our backcountry skiing courses a try!

-- Ben Traxler, AAI Guide

1 comment:

Mike Barter said...

I have used these bindings for about 15 years perhaps longer. I am not a aggressive skier but ski well enough to be a heliski guide.
I have not had a issue with prerelease
and they have always released when they needed to.
The thing folks will notice is it is finiky to get that toe in especially in deep powder. The newer models have improved this a bit.
Second issue is that you have to take your foot out of the binding to change modes, ski to walk and visa versa. If you are touring off the ski hill perhaps a dyamier or marker are a better choice. Pure touring they are the way to go.