We receive regular reports about failed boot heel tech fittings. Thus, this post needs to be better indexed and known so we brought it to the top today, with edits and additions so it indexes better.
Regarding boot heel fittings for tech bindings, they are indeed sometimes too weak for aggressive skiing with big boots and skis. On the other hand, don’t panic, the vast majority of backcountry skiers do fine with existing versions of boot heel tech fittings. Nonetheless, overall what we really need is tech 2.0 or at least something like the tech fitting that Dynafit will be providing with their Beast binding (The Beast fitting will work with any tech binding with some attention to clearance during release and possibly a slight modification. I worked on this a bit yesterday with our Beast test fittings and they looked good when paired with Dynafit Vertical and Radical heels.)
In the meantime (before you can acquire Beast fittings) you have a few options.
1.) If the tech fittings on your boots are removable do the process outlined below to possibly strengthen them. Or at the least, check the tightness of the attachment screws once or twice a season.
2.) If you are a hyper agro skier with huge boots and skis, consider acquiring boots with beefed rear tech fittings that are molded in rather than being attached with a screw, such as Black Diamond’s used to be (we’re not sure many boots have this type of fitting, but it’s worth looking for). Another option is to modify and through-bolt the fitting to the boot if the design of the boots allows it. When you think about it, it’s ridiculous that given big bindings and boots, you depend on one #8 wood screw to hold you in your bindings!
Again, at the least, if you’ve got many days on your tech compatible boots paired with tech bindings, check and make sure your heel fitting screws are tight. Loose heel fitting screws will eventually sheer or pull out and cause catastrophic failure of your binding system.
Give the screws a firm but careful (don’t strip!) twist with a screw driver to evaluate. If loose, simply tightening them may be all you need.
In my case (the screws were slightly loose), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to remove my fittings and bed in epoxy. To do so, I simply backed out the screw, popped the fitting off, cleaned the parts with wire brush and some rubbing alcohol, then re-installed the fitting with a SMALL amount of JB Weld on all mating surfaces. Do this in warm temperatures so the glue flows well. Don’t use too much glue, as the bit that oozes is difficult to clean out of the slots in the boot. Once the fitting is on, tap with a plastic hammer or block of wood to seat it. Be sure the rubbing alcohol is totally dried out of small holes before applying epoxy. Epoxy won’t stick well to the boot plastic, but it fills up space and in theory keeps the fitting from making micro movements that might loosen or weaken the screw. If you find your screws to be quite loose, chances are they’ve become fatigued and may snap. In that case, order new screws from customer service and replace.
When tightening screws remember you’ve essentially got cutting threads in soft plastic, so don’t over-tighten and strip. If you do strip the screw you’ve essentially made your boots unusable in tech bindings (though with many boots this can be repaired by through bolting the tech fitting).
|Any excuse for some tool time between backcountry skiing trips. ZZero Dynafit boots get some attention.
Come to think of it, any time you get your boots onto your bench is a good time to again check the clearance between your boot heel and binding, as well as your DIN settings. While doing so, rotate the heel unit with your hand and make sure it doesn’t feel catchy or grabby. If so, back out the spring barrel, pull out the spring and thimble bushing (check bushing for wear)and lubricate with binding grease available from G3 or your friendly shop rat.
WARNING: It’s all too easy to cross-thread the spring barrel when assembling the Dynafit binding heel unit — that can get expensive. With this in mind, take care if you do lubrication and wear check; don’t bother unless the binding feels like it needs lubrication. More, if you know a good Dynafit mechanic consider turning the job over to the guru.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.