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How to use ski touring bindings

Are you new to ski touring? The function and use of ski touring bindings may look complicated but there’s no reason to panic. We’re here to tell you how to use your ski touring bindings so that you’ll have total confidence in any situation.

Because frame bindings are becoming less popular for ski touring because of their weight, this article will focus only on insert bindings (also called low-tech bindings or pin bindings). For hybrid bindings like the Salomon Shift, follow the instructions in the user manual.

Shift bindings

How to adjust ski touring bindings

Whether you’re using new equipment or rentals, remember to have your ski bindings adjusted by a professional before you hit the slopes:

  • Adjust your bindings according to your boot size (WOMEN | MEN).
  • On some ski touring bindings there is a release setting that regulates its release in case of a fall. The principle is fairly similar to the DIN setting on alpine ski bindings.

Getting ready to go

  • Stick your climbing skins to the base of your skis. It’s always nicer to do this in the comfort of your own home before you head out on a ski tour. Our skins WOMEN | MEN
  • Switch the heel piece of your bindings to climbing mode. Depending on the model, you will need to rotate the heel piece or lower a small cover over the rear inserts (two metal rods that protrude from the binding).
  • If your bindings have brakes you should lock them into climbing mode.
  • Put your skis flat on the snow.

--- Check out our ski bindings: WOMEN | MEN

man putting skins

Prepare for the skin up

  • Once your skis are on, attach your leashes (if you have them) to your boots. This will keep you from losing a ski in case it pops off. Our touring skis WOMEN | MEN
  • Clear the snow and ice from the inserts on your boots and bindings.
  • Doublecheck that your boots are in walk mode (WOMEN | MEN)
  • Line up the front inserts (the little metal holes) on your boots with the pins on the toe piece and press down with the toe of your boot. This can be a bit tricky. If the binding does not fully engage with the boot, open the lever at the front of the binding by pushing it down and try again.
  • Then lock the toe piece by raising the front lever (there are often multiple clicks). This will keep the binding from releasing during the ascent.

Are you ready? Check the avalanche transceiver of everyone in the group and get going! 

How to use your heel lifters

Some bindings have multiple levels of heel lifters to help maximize climbing efficiency:

  • No heel lifter is needed for flat terrain or low angle slopes.
  • The first heel lift level is for medium to steep slopes and is the one you’ll use the most.
  • The second heel lift level is for very steep skin tracks or for deep, untracked snow.

By using your ski pole, it’s usually possible to change the heel lifter without bending down. Try it!

--- Check out our bindings: WOMEN | MEN

How to use ski crampons

When the snow is hard or icy it helps to attach snow crampons – which provide extra traction – to your bindings.

Before you leave, make sure your ski crampons are compatible with your bindings. ;-)

Normally, you’ll have to take your skis off to attach ski crampons to your toe piece. Be prepared for this and if the snow is icy don’t hesitate to get on all fours before you take off your backpack!

So everything has gone smoothly and you’re now on the summit. RIGHT ON!

walking to the top
ready to the ski down

Getting ready for the ski down

Once you’re on the summit, find a flat place or a spot where you can relax. Take off your skis by pressing the lever on your toe piece with your ski pole until your boot comes free. Then buckle up your boots and lock the ski/walk mechanism into ski mode.

How to take off your skins

With a little (OK… maybe a lot) of practice you will be able to take off your skins without taking off your skis, just like Kilian Jornet on the Pierra Menta.

But for now, take off your skis and remove the skins. Ideally, you’ll want to immediately cover the glue side with the protective netting and put them in their stuff sack before putting them in your backpack.
Our climbing skins WOMEN | MEN

Switch your bindings to descent mode

  • Turn the heel piece or lift the cover so that the two rear inserts are protruding in the same direction as the ski.
  • Unlock your brakes if you have them. The brakes should now stick down into the snow.
  • Put your skis down on a surface that’s as flat as possible and then attach your leash to your boots.
  • Clear the snow and ice from your bindings and boots.
  • Put the toe of your boot in your front binding just like you did for the skin up but do not lock it by pulling the lever up.
  • Finally, with a sharp snap drive the heel of your boot down into the heel piece.

Reach for your ski poles and remember to leave your wrists out of the straps, for more safety. Now you’re ready for some epic turns!

When you’re at the bottom, take your boots out of your bindings by first releasing the toe piece followed by the heel.

If you’re not tired yet, you can put your skins back on your skis and head up for another lap!  ;-)

Check out our ski touring bindings for WOMEN

Check out our ski touring bindings for MEN

man descending