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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 Eb’s, since you are The Nordic Binding Experts:
    Will an X Adv boot fit on a SNS Profil binding?
    Thanks so much!

    Michael Mareneck on
  • Can one install a NNN NIS plate on skis which have the three holes? This assumes no advanced knowledge of ski binding repair…

    James Martinez on
  • Hello, I have XC skis with the old SNS bindings on them. The boots I purchased are SNS Profil. Is it possible to unscrew those old SNS bindings and put a SNS Profil binding on these skis? Is it cost effective? Also is this something my husband and I could do ourselves? Thanks for your time!

    Amanda on
  • Thanks for the quick and detailed answer. I tried the new boots on the skate skis this week and they worked wonderfully. So I’ll see if I can find the proper kind of boots for my wife’s old classic skis.
    Isn’t winter great?!

    Terry Knowles on
  • Hi Terry from Montreal, thanks for the questions!
    Generally bindings should be mounted at the balance point of the ski regardless of boot size. Some skis come pre-drilled for this. The length of the binding plate or position of the heel plate is determined by boot size but with SNS bindings probably isn’t an issue moving from a size 40 boot into a 42. If the weight of your heel comes down off the back of the binding you might be able to get a binding plate extension piece from a ski shop. Unfortunately we don’t know the ski shops in Montreal, sorry.
    The issue with slapping skis is most likely due to the boots being skate boots. Skate boots have much stiffer soles than classic boots. Since skate boots don’t flex (bend under the forefoot) the ski is probably lifting more than it should and coming down harder – therefore the slapping. You’re looking for a gentle ski landing next to the other foot.
    -the Eb’s team

    ebsadventure on

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