Gear 2002: Bindings

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binding intro

There's a bit of ritual in our relationship with bindings: that feel of scuffing a boot across the toepiece to clean off snow, the familiar click as the heel locks down, and that certain way we place our pole tip or boot on the heelpiece to get out at the end of the day. We know our bindings. We trust our bindings with our bodies. Yet we often leave their purchase up to chance.

But considering that a binding is a high-tech piece of equipment and that it really is a piece of "safety" gear, it's a buying decision worth a bit of thought. Different skiers need different bindings. Some skiers can't afford to come out of theirs -- unless they really, really need to. Racers, competitive freeskiers, and professional guides want their sticks to stay on -- their jobs (and sometimes their lives) depend on it. Other skiers don't worry so much about the binding releasing prematurely. Instead, they want to know the binding will release every time their health is in jeopardy.

Today, there are other binding matters to consider as well. Many bindings have become an active part of the ski, not just a clamp that holds your boot to it. Some bindings are designed to change, or enhance, the way a ski performs -- many of these dampen vibrations; some amplify the rebound energy of the ski, and others reduce it. Still other bindings are built to stay out of the way and let the ski flex as freely as possible.

We've taken a close look at the state of the art from each company on the following pages. We've identified the models that have what we think is the best combination of features and price to help you make that final determination about what you want what you need, and what you can afford.

Click on the related links (below or above right) to see the best that each binding manufacturer has to offer.