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Nordic bindings | getting them straight

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old wood skis

Remember this binding system?  It was probably top-of-the-line in its day, but hardly anyone alive now has actually skied on it.

Many of us DO remember cross country skiing on old three-pin bindings, though.  This 75mm system was developed in 1927 by Rottefella, which in Norwegian translates to "rat trap".  

three pin binding

The three-pin system was great if you had stiff, beefy backcountry boots.  But with the flexible sole needed for flat-country skiing the boot was too flimsy for the binding, and control suffered.  And how annoying was that hunk of snow that built up under the ball of the foot?  Thank goodness things progressed in the binding world since then.

 1970's cross country skiers

The above photo shows one of the first kinds of bindings that replaced the 75mm system.  On this Salomon Nordic System (SNS) there was a bar that extended out from the toe of the boot that hooked into the binding, and a ridge on the binding plate that fit into a groove on the boot.  A vast improvement, but things would get better yet. (And check out the knickers!  Yes, Eb's used to sell them.)

While Salomon was developing the SNS, Rottefella was improving the rat trap.  Their New Nordic Norm (NNN) system differed from Salomon's by having two ridges on the binding plate that fit into two grooves in the boot, whereas SNS had only one ridge.  This remains the same today and is the reason you cannot use Salomon boots on the NNN system (and vice versa).

SNS and NNN binding system

Today, there remain the two nordic systems (SNS and NNN) but there are a few variations in binding types.


  1. Profil - has a single metal bar under the toe of the boot
  2. Pilot - has two metal bars under the toe and forefoot of the boot
  3. X-Adventure - wider and stronger for backcountry skiing

If you have a Profil boot, it won't fit in a Pilot binding.  However Pilot boots may fit a Profil binding, as long as there is a wide enough groove in the binding plate where the second bar sits.

Pilot boot on a Profil binding

NNN came out with the Nordic Integrated System (NIS) which consists of a plate attached to the ski and the NNN binding which can slide onto it.  This allows skiers to adjust their bindings in the field.  You can mount any binding - even an SNS binding - onto a ski with an NIS plate.  NNN also has the Xcelerator binding which is 40% lighter than regular NNN bindings, and they make wider backcountry (BC) bindings as well.

 NIS plate on ski

 There you have it.  If you're still not sure about bindings and have some questions, we love talking about this stuff so give us a shout :)

Note: Bindings have changed in recent years and there are new products not mentioned in this post.  There is a new post with updated information here

cross country skiing

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  • Hi Olaf,
    You can check for replacement bails at your local ski shop. Most likely you’re looking at buying a new set of bindings however. They are still made and sold and should be available through any reputable cross country ski shop.
    -the Eb’s team

    ebsadventure on
  • Do you where I can get replacement bails for those Rottefella bindings?

    Olaf Sorenson on
  • Hi James,
    Assuming you mean 3-pin bindings, yes, you can take them off and install an NIS plate directly onto the bare ski (just fill the old holes with wood glue). Then an NIS binding can mount onto the plate. If you have a ski shop where you live, they should be able to set you up with the appropriate plates and bindings.
    -the Eb’s team

    ebsadventure on
  • Hi Michael,
    No, an XADV boot won’t fit on a Profil binding. It has a wider bar at the toe and requires an XADV binding to accommodate that. The reason for this is better stability (and stronger) for a wider, heavier ski.
    -the Eb’s team

    ebsadventure on
  • Hi Amanda,
    You certainly can swap SNS bindings on your skis, many people do this when upgrading boots/binding systems. If the screw pattern isn’t the same simply fill the old holes with wood glue. If this is the case you’ll need to drill new holes which is waaaaay easier and safer with a jig – we recommend getting that done at a ski shop.
    Hope this helps,
    -the Eb’s team

    ebsadventure on

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