What is Your DIN Setting, and What Does It Do?
So you've seen DIN on every binding you've looked at. But what does it actually mean? Expert Aidan Anderson breaks it down.
There might not be a worse feeling in the world than falling while skiing under the lift and losing a ski. Knowing all eyes are on you while searching around in the powder for the ski that popped off when you fell is something that never gets easier. That being said, it will always be better to look like a Jerry in the chairline than to take a ride in a ski patrol sled because your binding failed to release when you ate it. This all comes down to your DIN setting.
What is a DIN setting, and what does it mean?
Of all the ski industry jargon floating around out there, one of the things you’re sure to have heard of and likely been confused by is the concept of your DIN setting. It’s something that comes up fairly often, whether you’re renting skis, buying bindings, or just chatting with someone who skis a lot. However, for how common of an expression it is, very few people actually know where it comes from, or what goes into it. To clear up some of the confusion, let’s break down a few of the things that you should know about your DIN setting.
First off, what does DIN stand for? I’ve heard different answers to this question from people who should probably know the answer, and almost none of them are correct. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung, or, the German Institute for Standardization. Now, that’s probably the reason most people don’t know that, because it really doesn’t mean anything to the average person, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to just say DIN. The key part of that name however, is the word standardization. The scale of DIN settings is an industry-wide standard scale for ski bindings, and one that is crucial to the safety of skiers and the professionals who work with ski equipment.
Where can you find your DIN?
Your actual DIN setting lives on the toe piece and heel piece of your binding. Each will have a range of numbers built into the binding, that are adjusted by a screw adjacent to the window where you can see the numbers. The DIN range on a binding is one of the biggest differences you’ll find between bindings, from a children’s entry-level binding all the way up to a racing binding. These can span anywhere from as low as .75 all the way up to 17 or 18.
How is your DIN determined?
A number of different factors go into figuring out what your DIN setting should be. It’s specific to every skier, based on a variety of information that you provide to whomever is setting up your skis.
The main components are your weight, height, age, and the length of your ski boot sole. An adjustment is made to lower the setting for skiers under nine years old or over 50 years old to accommodate for the increased risk of tibia fractures in those two age groups.
Your skiing ability also plays a part in determining your setting, though that depends a bit more on your personal preference and assessment of your skier type. A standardized chart is used to put together all this information, and come up with a number. Most often, a ski tech at your local shop will determine your DIN for you after coaxing all the information out of you and measuring to find out that you’re actually 5’10” with your shoes off, not 6’. You know who you are.
What does your DIN do for you?
To put it simply, your DIN setting controls how easily your boot will release from your binding in the event that you crash. There are typically two ways for your boot to release from a binding: either by twisting left or right, or by your heel releasing upward out of the heel piece.
If you have a low DIN setting, it will be much easier to release from your binding. This is good for beginner skiers, lighter skiers, and those who have a prior injury that could be aggravated by not releasing at the right time. On the upper end, a very high DIN setting will result in much more force required to release the boot from the binding. This is common in advanced skiers, racers, and those who expect to encounter higher forces on their bindings but do not wish to release prematurely. Most people adhere to the recommended setting to match their ability level, but not always. This is why you might have that one friend who loves to talk about how they ski at an 18 DIN because they hit such massive cliffs and it’s the only way for them to stay in their bindings. Spoiler alert: this can be fairly dangerous and dialing up your DIN’s to match your ego is not the way to look cool.
Can you adjust your DIN yourself?
You absolutely have the ability to adjust your DIN setting on your own. All it takes is a screwdriver, and you can dial the setting up or down to whatever you need. That being said, there are a couple things to take into account.
If possible, you should always have a trained ski technician adjust your bindings for you. Ski manufacturers have specific certifications that ski techs have to pass in order to work on your bindings, and as a result, they know what to check, and what to look for when inspecting and adjusting bindings. Additionally, ski shops will have the ability to perform a release test on you binding after it has been adjusted to ensure everything is working properly. This involves putting your boot into the binding while adjusting the DIN setting, and applying force until the boot releases, which allows the technician to ensure your binding is calibrated correctly and will release when it is supposed to. This is also very important to test with YOUR boot specifically. Every boot is slightly different, and as the plastic heels and toes on your boot wear down from walking on pavement, your boot will begin to release from your binding differently. Additionally, many bindings will also have a height adjustment in the toe of the binding that should be calibrated by a trained ski tech.
If you do want to go ahead and adjust your DIN setting on your own, there’s a few things to know. Always adjust your DINs with your boot in the binding. The pressure can change a bit without a boot in it, and it ensures everything will match up. Also, double check that your heel and toe settings always match each other. If they are set to different settings, you run the risk of not releasing, or releasing too soon. For an easy way to calculate your recommended setting, check out this online DIN Calculator.
How does your DIN affect what binding you buy?
When shopping for bindings, it’s important to factor your DIN setting into the binding you decide to buy. Most bindings will have a number associated with them in the name, and that number will refer to the maximum DIN setting the binding can accommodate. For example, the Marker 10.0 will be able to go up to a DIN of 10, whereas the Marker Jester 18 will go all the way up to 18. Typically, you’ll want your DIN not to be too close to the minimum or maximum setting on your binding. For a skier with a DIN of 9, the Marker 10.0 will be a poor decision, as it’s meant for someone much lower on that scale. Additionally, bindings with a higher maximum DIN will also likely be more expensive, so if it’s not something you need, there isn’t much advantage going with that binding.
There is also a consideration of DIN settings with touring bindings, specifically tech bindings that are not technically DIN certified. Most of these bindings will have a DIN-equivalent release setting; however, it’s worth noting that these bindings are designed to accommodate force differently. Factor in that tech bindings are meant for weight reduction and lighter snow in the backcountry, and also take into account the backpack you might be wearing. All that gear on your back is part of your weight now too, and may well impact your release setting.
How often should you check your DIN setting?
It’s a good practice to get your DINs, bindings, and boots checked by a ski shop at the beginning of every season at the least. Make sure nothing has changed regarding your release setting, and that your boots and bindings are working together properly. If you notice that you are releasing either too early or not early enough, and decide you’re going to raise or lower you DIN setting yourself on the mountain or at home, don’t make too large of an adjustment up or down. A good place to start is by adjusting your DIN no more than one number up or down at a time, and then skiing on it to see how it feels.
If you have any questions about ski bindings, DIN settings, or how they relate to each other, reach out here on Curated and one of our experts will be happy to break it down for you!