Nordic Touring Bindings

Nordic Touring Bindings

Nordic touring bindings connect the boot to the ski at the toe - the heel remains free to lift up with each step. There are three binding systems for nordic touring bindings, 75 mm, NNN BC and Xplore, and one needs to make sure that you select the correct system that's compatible with your boots and skis.

75 mm Bindings.
These are the original telemark bindings using the original "3-Pin" toe piece, sometimes with a cable added. These bindings have a toe unit with a row of three metal pins that point upwards. These pins connect to the sole of the boots, which has an extension at the front of the sole with three lateral holes for these pins. Once the boot toe is in the right position a metal cover locks the boots into the bindings. Called "75 mm" bindings after the width of the front of the toe extension, these lightweight telemark bindings are robust and give good control so are a good choice for use with wider nordic touring skis. 
Some 75 mm bindings also have cable attachments, connected by a lever that clips onto the heel of the boot. These cable bindings offer additional control downhill, and so some models the cables can be removed when skiing on the flat or uphill. 3-Pin cable bindings proivde two mean of connecting the boots and so more security for skiers traversing remote areas where reliability is paramount.

NNN BC Bindings.
These are wider versions of nordic cross country bindings. The name is an acronym for "New Nordic Norm Back Country" and these are stronger, wider versions of the Rottefella classic cross-country bindings. These bindings are light, strong and reliable and easy to use. NNN BC bindings have a metal clamp that connects to a metal bar positioned in the front of the boot sole, under the toes. A manual lever or push-down button is used to open and close the binding clamp.
These bindings are light and narrow, and are not wider than the skis, which can be a problem for the 75 mm bindings with narrower skis. NNN BC bindings are also inexpensive.
NNN BC bindings come in three versions:
Automatic: with a push down button to open the clamp jaws.
Manual: with a manual lever to open and close the clamp jaws.
Magnum: while the clamping mechanism is identical to the manual, the Magnum has a wider baseplate so offers more control with wider nordic touring skis.

A new binding system that entered the market in 2022, the Xplore bindings are lightweight and ingeneously designed bindings, consisting of a plastic baseplate with two lateral lugs with recesses. The Xplore boots have spring-loaded metal pins that lock into these lugs, so entering the bindings is simplicity itself. To exit the bindings a metal lever at the front of the bindings pushed on the boot pins which retract, again very simple to use. The Xplore bindings have a wider footprint than the NNN BC bindings and so offer more control and are a good choice for wider nordic touring skis. While not designed for full-on telemark skiing, you can telemark with these in the right snow conditions.
Like the NNN BC bindings, the Xplore bindings have a rubber stopper or "Flex Plate"  that sits in front of the boot toe. This compresses when heel is lifted, and expands when the boot lowers. This Flex Plate increases boot-binding connectivity and releases power at the end of each stride for a better "kick and glide" action. The Xplore bindings are supplied with a standard Flex Plate. Available as optional accessories the Hard Flex Plate and Free Pivot Plate offer increased resistance (for more downhill control) and no resistance (for greater uphill climbing efficiency).
The Xplore bindings are light, easy to use and great bindings for use with the wider nordic touring skis. Xplore bindings and boots are more expensive than the other systems. 

Worth noting is the fact that the Norwegian company Rottefella has been behind the development of all three binding systems, starting with the 3-pin bindings in 1927. For almost 100 years Rottefella has been at the forefront of nordic binding development. All Rottefella bindings are designed, tested and manufactured in Norway.

Which should you choose?

Both the 75 mm  and NNN BC stnadard bindings have been used for crossing the polar ice caps as well and skiing around the local park - they are both tried and tested binding systems. The Rottefella Xplore bindings are too new to be sure, but to date we've not heard of any problems with these and they certainly seem to be very well made. If you're using narrow to medium width skis, and will be skiing almost all the time, so rarely walking in your ski boots, then the NNN BC is probably the best bet. Should you be using wider skis, and / or will be walking a lot in your boots - either scrambling along ridges, crossing rocky terrain or just slogging up long approaches in and out - then the 75 mm or Xplore bindings will be better, since they are wider and give better control on wider skis. The boot soles of these boots are also more rugged and practical for walking.

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