Which cross-country ski bindings are best?
Cross-country skiing is much cheaper and more approachable if you want to get out onto the snow this winter but don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars on an excellent downhill skiing setup. If you want to explore the wide-open expanses of the backcountry or just ski around the local track, a good set of bindings is key. If you want something you can trust, you can’t go wrong with the Salomon Prolink Access CL Binding.
What to know before you buy cross-country ski bindings
The quickest way to decide on cross-country ski bindings is just to look at what boots you have. Certain boots will be compatible with certain bindings. The most common boot is a New Nordic Norm style, which will be compatible with most bindings. If you don’t already have a pair of ski boots, the NNN style is a great place to start, especially for recreational skiers.
If you’re used to downhill skiing, picking a cross-country ski binding may be a bit perplexing to you. You won’t have your heel strapped down like you’re used to, but this allows you to move freely. There really isn’t an equivalency for cross-country and downhill ski bindings, though anyone who backcountry skis will know how cross-country skiing operates.
Your level of commitment to the sport and the terrain you plan to ski on is another major factor. If you’re an amateur cross-country skier, you can get away with more recreationally oriented bindings. If you’re someone who gears up from hat to socks and heads to your local skiing track every weekend, your options may be limited to higher-level bindings.
What to look for in quality cross-country ski bindings
Automatic or manual
Most cross-country skiers will want automatic bindings. Automatic means that you push the metal bar located under your toe into the binding and they click in. To open them, use your ski poles to press the release buttons. Manual bindings require you to open and close them by hand. Some cross-country skiers may prefer manual bindings as they give you a slightly better hold on your boots. Likely, recreational skiers won’t notice any significant difference.
The type and width of your ski are other major factors in making the correct binding purchase. Most skis can use any binding. However, if you have a set of metal-edge touring skis, your options are 3-pin bindings or NNN Backcountry bindings. These are more appropriate for the shorter, wider metal-edge skis you use when you aren’t in-track skiing. If you skate ski or race, look for options geared more specifically toward those disciplines.
Plate or no plate
If you already own cross-country skis, check if they have binding plates installed. If they do, you’ll want to make sure your bindings are compatible with the plates on the skis. If not, you need to do the extra drilling work, but you can choose whatever binding you like.
How much you can expect to spend on cross-country ski bindings
Cross-country ski bindings tend to be cheaper than their downhill counterparts. You can get a set for anywhere from $50-$120 usually.
Cross-country ski bindings FAQ
What style of cross-country ski binding is best for a beginner?
Most beginners will want to start classic skiing, which moves linearly with your legs going in a straight line, unlike skate skiing. NNN bindings are a great starting point for classic skiing as they’re versatile and easy to get used to.
Which plates are my boots compatible with?
There was a time where there was very little cross-compatibility among boots and bindings. In more modern times, you have some options.
- NNN boots: NNN, NNN Nordic Integrated System, Turnamic, ProLink
- SNS Profil boots: SNS Profil
- SNS Pilot boots: SNS Pilot
- Turnamic: NNN, NNN NIS, Turnamic, ProLink
- ProLink: NNN, NNN NIS, Turnamic, ProLink
As you’ll see, NNN, NNN NIS, Turnamic and ProLink bindings have the greatest number of compatible options. SNS styles are only compatible with their respective boots.
What are the best cross-country ski bindings to buy?
Top cross-country ski bindings
What you need to know: If you want a user-friendly binding for NNN, ProLink or Turnamic boots, Salomon is a well-known name you can trust for winter sports.
What you’ll love: These are easy to attach and easy to use. With a low profile, your boots can stay close to the skis and give you confidence off track. These are lightweight at a claimed 9.1 ounces per pair.
What you should consider: If you skate ski, these aren’t your best option.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Top cross-country ski bindings for the money
What you need to know: If you want a jack of all trades binding for an entry-level cross-country skier, these fit the bill on a budget.
What you’ll love: You can take these on or off the track and have success with them. With multiple compatibility options for boots, they likely will work with what you already have.
What you should consider: You will need a Rottefella NIS mounting plate which is sold separately.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you’re a serious backcountry skier, these cross-country bindings are tough enough for whatever mission you have in mind.
What you’ll love: These NNN bindings are wider than the average, giving you great off-trail stability. With a manual mechanism, enthusiasts can get that extra bit of efficiency in their locking system.
What you should consider: These aren’t well-suited for skiers who only ski on the track.
Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Joe Coleman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.