Q: I’m interested in buying new cross country skis and bindings to replace my nearly twenty year old pair of Karhus. My boots are newer Rossignol NNN boots which I want to keep. I know I need NNN bindings, but do I need Rossignol NNN bindings? And what is the difference between NNN and NIS? Thanks!
A: Two great questions, and two that we get a lot! First thing to know is that NNN (New Nordic Norm) bindings and NNN outsoles are all made by Rottefella. There are NNN boots available from Rossignol, Alpina, Fischer, and Madshus, but they all build the boots on top of the same Rottefella outsoles. But because the boots are manufactured by different companies, there are fit and feature differences between the different NNN boots. As far as the different branded NNN bindings, other than the sticker or the color, there are no differences. To reiterate, all NNN bindings are made by Rottefella, but some have Rossignol or Fischer stickers on them. Other than the sticker, there is no difference between a Rossignol NNN binding and a Fischer NNN binding or one branded as Rottefella.
NIS (Nordic Integrated System) refers to the way the NNN binding is mounted to the ski. Simply put, NIS bindings are NNN bindings. NIS bindings use the same NNN two-ridge design and are compatible with NNN boots, but instead of the binding being mounted to the ski with screws, it mounts to a premounted NIS plate, so no drilling is required. With NIS, the bindings just slide and lock onto the NIS plate with a simple tool. And the bindings can be positioned on, ahead or behind the balance point of the ski to influence the performance characteristics of the ski based on the conditions of the day.
So when looking at new skis, you’ll see a lot of skis with NIS plates (referred to as NIS skis), in which case you’ll need a NIS binding. If you find a ski that looks just right but doesn’t have the NIS plate (referred to a flat ski), you can get a standard NNN binding that mounts in the traditional fashion with screws. But if you like the adjustability feature of the NIS bindings, you can mount a NIS plate onto a flat ski and then attach a NIS binding. Rottefella bindings and NIS plates can be viewed here.