The key things to know to make the right choice are what’s under your boot, and what’s on top of your ski.
Step 1: What Kind of Nordic Boots Do You Have?
First things first. There are six types of nordic boot soles—all of which have corresponding bindings. Here’s a quick look:
75MM (3-Pin) Boots
75mm, or 3-pin, boots are the most obviously distinctive family of nordic ski boots. They have a 75mm wide ‘duck bill’ at the front of the boot, with three holes on the bottom of the bill that line up with the pins on their appropriate binding.
Spring Pin/XPLORE Boots
This is the newest backcountry nordic binding out there! The boots have pins on each side of the toebox that connect to pivot points on the binding. This is advantageous because it provides a gliding step without compromising on stability.
NNN (and NNN BC) Boots
NNN boots, or New Nordic Norm boots, come in both BC (backcountry) and non-BC styles. NNN boots have a single bar at the toe and two channels that line up with corresponding ridges on the binding. NNN BC boots have the same configuration, but with a thicker bar and wider, deeper channels. NNN boots and NNN BC boots are not compatible with the same bindings!
SNS (Profil and Pilot) Boots
Salomon Nordic System boots come in two different options: Profil and Pilot (the backcountry variant of SNS, X-ADV, was retired in 2015). All SNS boots have a bar at the toe and a single channel along the sole of the boot. SNS Profil boots have one bar, while SNS Pilot boots have two—one at the toe and one at the ball of the foot. SNS Profil and SNS Pilot boots are not compatible with the same bindings!
Have you figured out what boot and binding interface you need yet? Hopefully the answer is a resounding YES!
Step 2: What’s on top of your Nordic Skis?
Next, let’s look at your skis. They can come one of five ways: Bare, with NIS plates attached to them, with IFP plates attached to them, with Prolink Shift attached to them, or with bindings on them already.
If the skis are bare:
If the top of the ski is flat and has nothing on it, you can put any kind of binding on that ski, full stop. The world is your oyster!
If the skis have Plates:
This can be seen as an advantage! In order to cater to conditions, you may want to move the binding further forward (towards the tip) for more traction, or back (towards the tail) for more glide. There are three main types of plates on the market:
If the skis have NIS Plates:
If your skis have plates that look like the one above, they have Nordic Integrated System, or NIS plates. NIS plates are only compatible with NIS bindings, which are NNN bindings that slide onto the plate, making them adjustable. You can differentiate NIS plates from IFP plates (more about them below) by the notches along the plate and the lack of a numbered adjustment mechanism. NIS plates and IFP plates are not interchangeable—NIS bindings cannot be mounted to IFP plates!
If the skis have IFP plates:
IFP (which stands for Integrated Fixation Plate) plates are compatible with Turnamic NNN bindings only. Turnamic bindings slide onto this plate and are adjustable, just like the NIS system. If your ski plate has a numbered adjustment mechanism on it and no notches, it’s an IFP plate, and you’ll need a Turnamic binding. Again, NIS plates and IFP plates are not interchangeable—Turnamic bindings cannot be mounted to NIS plates!
If the skis have Prolink Shift plates:
Prolink Shift plates are Salomon/Atomic’s answer to the Turnamic IFP. Just like how NIS and IFP plates are only compatible with NIS and Turnamic bindings respectively, the Prolink Shift plates are compatible only with Salomon/Atomic Prolink bindings—they’re not interchangeable with other bindings. On the plus side, Prolink bindings are easy to match with boots as they are compatible with NNN-style soles.
Hopefully now we’ve figured out what bindings should go on your skis and can choose accordingly. Ski bindings—nordic ski bindings in particular—can be confusing, but don’t fret. Once we’ve figured out what kind of boots you have, and if your skis have plates on them, it’s smooth sailing!
Check out the table below for a drilled-down look at nordic ski boot and binding compatibility and make sure you’re getting the right gear!
Nordic Boot Compatibility Quick Reference
|Boot Type||Binding Compatibility|
|NNN Boots||NNN Bindings, NIS Bindings, Turnamic Bindings, ProLink Bindings|
|NNN BC Boots||NNN BC Bindings|
|SNS Profil Boots||SNS Profil Bindings|
|SNS Pilot Boots||SNS Pilot Bindings|
|3-Pin Boots||75 mm (3-Pin) Bindings|
|Spring Pin Boots||XPLORE Bindings|
Still have questions about nordic ski bindings? Contact our gear experts at 888-547-4327 or jump into a LiveChat!