If you’re relatively new to cross-country skiing, then you might be a bit overwhelmed by all the new gear. Especially the bindings.
As you compare the skin binding options available to you know, you’ll notice that there are only two main types.
NNN bindings and SNS bindings.
But what’s the difference between these two cross-country ski binding systems? And which do you need to choose?
We’ve got those answers for you below.
SNS vs NNN Bindings: What’s The Difference?
As we’ve already discussed, there are the two main types of binding systems that you’re going to see in XC skiing.
- SNS stands for Salomon Nordic System
- NNN stands for New Nordic Norm
You’ll pretty much never seen them written out like that, but now you know what they mean.
The most important thing to know is that these two binding systems are not compatible with each other.
You have to match boots with skis.
For example, NNN ski boots only work with NNN skis. You cannot pair NNN ski boots with SNS skis.
In recent years though, there’s been some updates to this gear to offer more compatibility. Here’s what REI says about it:
With the release of the Turnamic system, featured on Rossignol and Fischer products, and the ProLink system, featured on Salomon products, there’s much more crossover among boots and bindings. Turnamic, ProLink and NNN are all interchangeable with one another.
Boot and Binding Compatibility
|Boot Sole Type||Compatible Bindings|
|NNN||NNN, NNN Nordic Integrated System (NIS), Turnamic, ProLink|
|Turnamic||NNN, NNN NIS, Turnamic, ProLink|
|ProLink||NNN, NNN NIS, Turnamic, ProLink|
|SNS Profil||SNS Profil|
|SNS Pilot||SNS Pilot|
Now, if you’re manually inspecting the bindings for each system, then you might not notice any difference at first. But there is one!
Pay close attention to the ridges that are present on the bindings.
- SNS = one ridge
- NNN = two ridges
Which Is The Better XC Ski Binding System?
If you’re like most people, then you might be wondering which of the two systems is better because you want to make sure that you get the best one.
The truth is that they’re both good options.
So, what you should do is first find a pair of cross-country ski boots that you really love and then base your binding system choice on whatever that boot uses.
Honestly, the different between these two main binding systems is no minimal that it really doesn’t matter which one you choose.
Everyone from beginners or professionals use each of these two main XC ski binding systems, so you’re good either way.
REI also notes that there are some features that vary, which may sway you towards one system over the other.
- Manual versus automatic: Some cross-country bindings are manual, meaning you bend over to lock your boots to the bindings or to release them. Others are automatic, allowing you to step into them without bending over and to release them with the press of a ski pole. The convenience of automatic is nice and it’s a feature many recreational skiers enjoy. But manual bindings typically make a more solid connection with boots and are something serious skiers prefer.
- Binding plates: Some skis come with binding plates installed on them. These offer several advantages, including quick and easy binding installation without drilling and the ability to reposition the bindings forward and back based on things like snow conditions and skiing ability. If your skis have plates on them, you need to buy compatible bindings. For instance, skis with NIS plates on them are designed for NNN NIS bindings. Likewise, skis with Integrated Fixation Plates (IFP) are designed for Turnamic bindings. In some cases, you may be able to put other bindings on binding plates either by drilling through the plates or purchasing adapters, such as the Salomon IFP Adapter Plates that allow ProLink bindings to go on IFP plates.
Best Cross-Country Ski Bindings for Beginners
Here’s a quick look at some of the best XC ski bindings for the money right now.
Kick and glide with ease with Rottefella NNN Basic cross-country ski bindings.
Their stable platform and hands-free click-in/click-out design make recreational jaunts at the ski track a lot more fun.
Their wider platforms aid in stability and support. And the auto step-in/out makes it easy to lock in or exit without having to reach down and mess with the bindings.
Salomon Pilot Equipe Skate bindings offer premier control and energy transmission, pushing you farther down the groomed trails with every kick.
The pilot system uses 2 connection points on each binding and a rigid link to enhance torsional rigidity and boost energy from every stride. It also eliminates the bumpers in front to enhance both comfort and efficiency.
Do note that these bindings are designed for skate style cross country skiing.
This easy-to-use, performance-oriented classic binding designed to enhance your ski experience.
You get user-friendly binding for classic skiers and the low boot-to-binding connection offers an optimal snow feel.
Its low boot to binding connection means less material between your boot and ski, providing a smooth, efficient feel on the snow; its lighter weight maximizes efficiency and maneuverability on varying terrain.
Note that this binding is compatible with Prolink, NNN, and Turnamic boots.
The Rossignol BC Manual Ski Binding keeps backcountry tours going smooth with a stable 56mm wide steering plate and easy-to-use design. Features NNN bindings for off-trail Nordic touring.
The manual open/close mechanism offers user-friendly grip, even while wearing gloves, and the soft flex is forgiving if you’re new to the Nordic scene.
These have a wide steering plate that offers stability in variable snow and the 40-shore flexbit provides forgiving off-trail glide.
Looking for something to take your XC skiing to the next level?
Used by World Cup Athletes, the Atomic Prolink Race Classic Binding is designed to get you moving out on the track.
Its 2 rail binding construction delivers an exceptional snow feel that is a result of a direct connection between the boot and the ski.
This creates a natural feeling in the kick and awesome acceleration.
Whats better, the bindings are compatible with all two rail boots (Prolink, NNN, and Turnamic boots for versatility) on the market so you can slip into your favorite shoes and go for a ski with a smooth kick and glide.
As you can see, even though there are two main types of XC ski bindings, it really doesn’t matter which one you choose.
Both are great options for skiers of all levels.
So, if you’re having trouble deciding, then take a look at our recommendations and base your decision on which type of system to use by picking your ski boots first.
image: Deposit Photos