The End of Universal Compatibility Among Brands for Alpine Boot and Binding Systems?

Until now, all Alpine ski boots and bindings had been compatible with each other, regardless of the brand. Things have changed.

New Alpine ski boot sole with the GripWalk system
What is the current situation? We will try to explain it.

As of right now, there are two standards for ski boots:

  • ISO 5355 standard: in reference to alpine ski boots.
  • ISO 9523 standard: in reference to ski touring boots.

So far, it’s been fairly simple to choose alpine ski boots (ISO 5355) as all the models are compatible with all the bindings on the market, no matter the brand.

This has been possible because the standard has dimensions, radii and geometries that are fixed. Due to that, any alpine ski boot sole is compatible with any binding.

Alpine ski boot: Fischer RC Pro 110 Vacuum Full Fit Thermoformable, with straight classical sole.
One thing that doesn’t affect on-piste skiers at resorts, but causes headaches to freeriders, is having to move between the worlds of alpine and ski touring.

Many of them began to use ski touring boots, with rubber soles and cambers (curvature). This allowed them to move around the mountain more comfortably, despite the loss of benefits on the descent. In addition to the differences in the cuffs and design, the boots with ISO 5355 (Alpine) incorporate plastic plates in the front sole and heel that provide security when releasing the binding and increase the transfer of power, which is not found in ski touring boots.

The brands reacted, thinking what would be the best way that freeriders could have the full use and response on descents for alpine skiing boots, but with help to walk when they removed the skis?

That result was alpine ski boots with a rubber and curved sole, with a similar design to touring boots, but which still incorporate rigid plastic plates that allow them to function as an ISO 5355 downhill boot, although they are classified under ISO 9523. They are between two worlds, and they need new alpine ski bindings that, in addition to a "classic" boot, can be used with these boots that do not meet their standard. They are usually used specifically for freeride.

The most common systems are the Grip Walk (GW) and Walk To Ride (WTR), which, as we will discuss later, are found in different brands.

Top – ISO 5355, Alpine skiing sole. Middle - sole with WalkToRide system. Bottom – ski touring sole

Atomic Hawx Ultra Xtd 130, WalkToRide sole. Side view, you can see the curvature of the sole
We will only find cases of incompatibility in the case of buying new alpine ski boots with this type of sole. These are the possible situations:

  • If you already have or buy a "traditional" alpine ski boot, ISO 5355 (they are still the most common on the market) and buy new skis equipped with bindings prepared for any of the new systems with boots that have similar soles to those of touring, you will not have any problems: THEY WILL BE COMPATIBLE. The new bindings function with the new boots, but they are compatible with the ISO 5355 standard.
  • If you buy boots that incorporate any of the new soles systems (Grip Walk, Walk To Ride), these boots will NOT BE COMPATIBLE with traditional bindings.

That is to say: those who have a "traditional" ISO 5355 boot, do not have to worry about incompatibilities with the new alpine bindings system (Grip Walk, Walk To Ride) created for these type of boots.

Only those who acquire or have a boot with any of the new sole systems will have to make sure that their skis come equipped with compatible bindings for these systems.

When wearing the rigid plastic plates of the sole, the only problem of incompatibility that these boots have has to do with the dimensions of the toe, which incorporates some curve, is higher and does not fit in traditional alpine bindings.

The solution is simple: the new bindings that serve for this new concept of alpine ski boots have different positions that allow the tip to be raised. In this way, depending on the selected height, we can use them for boots with traditional soles or with more curved sole boots.

WTR sole, side view; Grip Walk sole, seen from below. Drawing, curvature and rigid plate
That is why we say that you will have a problem if you buy one of these boots and try to use it with a traditional binding (one where the toe can not be raised), but not if you use an ISO 5335 alpine ski boot type A (adults) in a binding adapted to the new systems (in which there is also a position for ISO 5335).

Each binding will indicate its compatibility:

  • The Grip Walk system bindings have the printed Grip Walk logo, and will ONLY be compatible with:

    • Boots ISO 5355
    • Boots with Grip Walk
  • However, the bindings for the WalkToRide system (WTR) -with printed WTR logo-, are more versatile, being compatible with:

    • Boots ISO 5355
    • Boots with WalkToRide system (WTR)
    • Boots with Grip Walk system

Atomic/Salomon and Fischer have released systems of bindings that are multi-compatible:

  • Fischer incorporates bindings with MBS system (Multi Boot Standard), with this logo printed, which is compatible with:

    • Boots ISO 5355 (alpine)
    • Boots with Grip Walk system
    • Boots with WalkToRide system

  • Atomic/Salomon go further, and with its new MNC system (MultiNormCertified) for this winter season 2018-2019, with this printed logo, they also support the crossing boots system ISO 9523.

    • Boots ISO 5355
    • Boots with Grip Walk system
    • Boots with WalkToRide system
    • ISO 9523 hiking boots (out of lightweight hiking boots that do not meet this standard.) We recommend consulting the article "Compatibility between hiking boots and ski bindings." A small world ")

It must be clear that they are "fixed" bindings, not for ski touring: they allow their use in descent with hiking boots, but they do not allow climbing with them, since the heel does not rise.

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