Alpine touring (AT) equipment is designed for ascending mountains and snow skiing down backcountry terrain. Skiers have been observed using AT boots in alpine (not made for Alpine Touring) ski bindings. We tested the effect on the retention-release characteristics of AT boots used in alpine bindings. Ten AT ski boots and 5 alpine ski boots were tested in 8 models of alpine ski bindings using an ASTM F504-05 (2012) apparatus. Thirty-one percent of the AT boots released appropriately when used in alpine ski bindings. One alpine binding released appropriately for all alpine and AT boots tested; 2 alpine ski bindings did not release appropriately for any AT boots. Altering the visual indicator settings on the bindings (that control the release torque of an alpine system) had little or no effect on the release torque when using AT boots in alpine ski bindings. Many combinations released appropriately in ski shop tests, but did not release appropriately in the more complex loading cases that simulated forward and backward falls; the simple tests performed by ski shops could produce a “false-negative” test result. These results indicate that using AT boots with alpine ski bindings could increase the likelihood of lower leg injuries.
Campbell, Scher, and Ching are with the Applied Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Scher is also with Guidance Engineering and Applied Research, Seattle, WA. Carpenter is with DRC Services LLC, Seattle, WA. Jahnke is with K2 Sports, Seattle, WA.