The Best Salomon Ski BindingsPublished on 08/22/2023 · 10 min readExplore the finest Salomon ski bindings, designed for durability, safety, and improved skiing performance. Skiing Expert Leo C. helps you find your perfect match!
Over 75 years ago, in the French Alps city of Annecy, Georges Salomon alongside his father and mother, started using their metalworking skills to improve ski edges and bindings, setting the groundwork for what would become the Salomon brand we know today. In 1957, the Salomon Le Lift binding debuted as the first binding to release the heel of the boot which quickly evolved into the Salomon S505—the first modern step-in ski bindings.
My name is Leo Cocchiara and I’ve been working in the ski industry since 2014 as a rental and retail technician, store manager, and master bootfitter. I’ve been trained by the best in the business and have used my knowledge for years to educate other professionals in the industry as well as consumers about all of the little details that need to come together to produce a perfect ski setup.
Ski bindings play a crucial role in the performance and safety of a skier. It's the only piece of safety gear you have on your ski. You have to be able to count on it to keep you locked in when you need it. A ski flying off at the wrong time can be just as dangerous as a ski not releasing. You also have to have the confidence that, when you do find yourself in the situation where your skis need to come off, that it's going to release reliably and save your legs from getting twisted around in a fall.
In this article, we will explore the best ski bindings made by Salomon for adults, what makes them stand out, and how to pick the right one for you. It's worth noting that Salomon, Atomic, and Armada are all part of the same parent company Amer Sports, so they share the same binding styles, but with different logos. It's also fairly common for a ski manufacturer that doesn't make bindings, like Faction, to partner with a binding company like Salomon to get their ski brand logo put on a binding for their demo skis.
How to Choose a Ski Binding That's Right for You
Choosing the right ski binding is based on a combination of factors that your Curated Skiing Expert can help you assess to ensure that you're set up for success!
For starters, you need to make sure the binding is compatible with your ski boots. This can seem complicated, but the good news is that manufacturers go out of their way to specify the boot sole style and binding compatibility in the name of their products.
Ski boots have soles that are differentiated by their shape, materials, and ISO (International Standards Organization) identifier. There are three standard boot soles in circulation for alpine skiing: ISO 5355-Alpine soles, ISO 23223-GripWalk soles, and ISO 9523-Touring soles. All ski bindings besides tech bindings are compatible with ISO 5355-Alpine soles, so there's no special signifier you need to look out for when choosing your binding. However, ISO 5355 is no longer the mainstream boot sole for higher quality ski boots.
For a long time, one of the biggest complaints people had with ski boots was that they were hard to walk in, so companies worked to create a boot sole that solved that problem. From 2012-2016, two styles of "Improved Walking Soles" emerged: ISO 23223-GripWalk and the now-phased-out WTR (Walk to Ride). GripWalk requires a binding that is GripWalk compatible, and it's easily identified by the words GripWalk stamped right below the AFD (Anti-Friction Device) on the binding, as well as on the toe strikes of the boot. GripWalk and WTR boots—if you still have them—can also be used with MNC/MN (Multi-Norm Certified) bindings which, as the name implies, are compatible with any of the boot norms, including ISO 9523-Touring.
ISO 9523-Touring ski boots have rockered, rubberized soles that are designed to make walking and climbing technical terrains easier. They usually have tech fittings also compatible with tech or pin binding, so when choosing a binding to accommodate touring boots, you also have to consider if you'll be using the skis primarily at a resort, in the backcountry, or both.
DIN Setting Compatibility
Once you've determined the boot-binding compatibility, the next thing we have to consider is the DIN range on the binding. DIN refers to the retention setting your ski bindings are set to, and the calculation is based on your age, height, weight, boot sole length, and self-selected skier type.
The max DIN setting of a binding is usually listed in the title of the binding, such as the Salomon Warden MNC 11. Just by reading the title of the binding, you know that it's compatible with all standard boot soles, and that it has a DIN range of up to 11. You can find your DIN setting using an online DIN calculator, or a trained ski technician such as myself can determine your DIN using a DIN chart. Advanced and Expert skiers may eventually find that they need to set their bindings higher than their prescribed DIN to delay releasing in more extreme situations. When in doubt, always stick with the recommended setting based on the skier type you choose for yourself.
Brake Width Compatibility
The last thing we need to consider when choosing the right ski binding is the brake width. Brakes are a requirement for alpine ski bindings intended for resort skiing—the brakes keep the skis from running away downhill and potentially taking out other skiers in the event of a fall. If you intend on taking your tech bindings to the resort (not recommended), you are required to have either brakes or leashes on them.
To choose the right brake width, it should be no larger than 15mm wider than your ski's waist width, and no less than 5mm smaller. You can stretch a brake, if needed, to accommodate a slightly wider waist width: for instance, you can put a Salomon Warden 11 MNC 90mm brake binding on the Salomon QST 92 ski, which has a 92mm waist width. Ideally, you want to have enough space for the brake to travel freely when stepping in and out of the binding, but not so wide that your feet get caught if they’re skiing close together.
Best Salomon Ski Bindings
Now that we know the criteria to look for when choosing a binding, let's dive into the top bindings that Salomon makes and what they're best used for.
The Salomon Stage GW 11 is a GripWalk- and Alpine sole-compatible binding with a DIN range of 3-11. It is the lightest weight alpine binding in the Salomon lineup and touted by Salomon as the lightest 11 DIN binding on the market. It is geared towards beginners and intermediates primarily, but it can accommodate more advanced skiers as well. It's very easy to step into and has automatic toe height adjustments to seamlessly transition between Alpine and GripWalk boots. For those reasons, it's become a popular demo binding for rental shops to mount on their skis. This binding is not the most durable, though. The lighter weight plastic and short baseplate won’t accommodate more aggressive use, like park or freeride skiing.
Salomon Warden Series
The Salomon Warden series has been the main attraction for Salomon Alpine bindings for the last decade and are now, in 2023/2024, starting to be phased out after a long run of high acclaim. Warden's have a reputation for delivering excellent power transfer, durability, and the reliable release Salomon is known for. They remain versatile for all boot soles with their MNC rating while many other models and brands have foregone that with automatic adjustments to accommodate GripWalk but not touring boots. While that decision might please the ski tech doing endless binding adjustments from September through March, I for one have always appreciated the boot binding connection that Wardens offer.
Salomon Strive Series
The Salomon Strive series is taking over as the next generation for Salomon's all-mountain freeride ski bindings. The Strives takes design cues from Salomon bindings across generations, but most noticeably, the binding’s toe piece is inspired by the S/Lab Shift model, which we'll cover below. It stands out from its predecessor, the Warden series, by being impressively lighter weight (over 200 g less) and sporting a low-profile chassis that sits flat to the ski for better power transmission—both of which are noticeable improvements. It also retains the industry-leading 47 mm elastic travel Salomon is known for, which is the wiggle room your bindings give you to stay in them—rather than snapping out of them—when you're moving over variable terrain at high speeds. All in all, an exciting step forward for Salomon.
Salomon STH2 16 MNC
Experts Only! The STH2 is a long-standing classic from Salomon designed for the most extreme freeride skiing. It has gotten minimal design updates over the years because there's no need to mess with perfection: there's a lot to love for the skier that demands the best in retention and power transfer. It has a patented toe piece design called the 3D Driver Toe with XL toe wings that allows for exceptional elastic travel, both horizontally and vertically, to ensure reliable multidirectional release. The oversized heel platform still provides a low profile chassis with plenty of power transfer and dampening for big landings. Plus, the main material the binding is made of is steel, so you can count on it to be durable. As someone who can still pop out of their bindings at a DIN of 10, I hope Salomon never stops making a version of the STH2.
Salomon S/Lab Shift Series
Salomon achieved the holy grail of ski bindings when they came out with the S/Lab Shift in 2017. The Shift, with its Transformers-like design, can be used as a pin binding for lightweight uphill ski touring and can quickly be converted into a full alpine binding to charge downhill with reckless abandon. There's no tools required to change from touring to ski mode, making it effortless to go from backcountry to resort. You can even use a regular alpine boot with it because of the MNC designation and adjustable toe height, making it a good investment if you see yourself wanting to get into touring down the road. It's not the lightest-weight touring binding on the market, but that isn’t its purpose. With the S/Lab Shifts, the possibilities of what you can do with one set of skis are endless.
The Salomon MTN is a lightweight tech binding with excellent uphill capabilities, and weighs in at a mere 295 g per binding. You can get it with or without brakes, and it's compatible with any boot that has tech inserts. It has multiple heel lift options, known as climbing aids, to provide additional support when making your ascents. Salomon has made a beautifully simplified construction here, thus allowing the skier to focus less on messing with their bindings and more with the task at hand. They're light, reliable, and offer solid power transmission for this class on the descent. Overall, the MTN Pure is a fantastic choice for long backcountry excursions.
Picking the Right Salomon Bindings for You
In conclusion, a ski binding is an essential component that plays a vital role in both the performance and safety of a skier, and Salomon has been a leader in the industry for decades. When choosing the right ski binding, it's important to consider factors such as boot-binding compatibility, DIN range, and brake width. Salomon offers a wide range of bindings for different skiing levels and disciplines. Whatever your skiing style and needs, Salomon has a binding that can meet your expectations and take your skiing experience to the next level. Chat with me here on Curated, where I can be your personal ski expert, and we'll get you dialed into the right fit for your needs! Thanks for reading!