Our suggestions aren’t binding, but our top choice for the best ski bindings is the Marker Griffon 13 ID.
No bindings are more versatile. Lightweight, competitively priced, and highly agile, these bindings are the best fit for skiers who are ready to hit the big slopes and need gear that can manage it. Designed for intermediate to expert level skiers, the Griffon gives you maximum control over your skis. They’re versatile enough for alpine, backcountry, or resort slopes; powder or hardpack; aggressive slope-rippers, casual weekend warriors, or freestyle skiers looking for spins. With a long track record of excellent performance from avid skiers, the Griffon is safe, reliable, and transfers energy beautifully.
Ski bindings are usually the last pieces of ski gear you add to your arsenal, so you cross a threshold when you purchase a pair: It marks you as a fully realized skier. But their late addition does not suggest they are an afterthought. Ski bindings are the connection between your boots and skis. Their role is essential, and a poor purchase can be all the difference between a gnarly day on the alpine and a grueling one.
A ski binding is the principle piece when it comes to power transfer, control, responsiveness, and safety. But choosing a pair is not like comparing your budget along a scale of the best and worst ski bindings. There is no such thing as a best or worst ski binding — only ones that are best or worst for you. There are multiple factors to consider before you purchase, such as your weight, level of expertise, age, what kind of boots and skis you already own, and even what kind of skiing you tend to do.
Overwhelmed? Stick with us. Here we have a varied sampling of the most popular and celebrated ski bindings on the market. Whether you are old or young, a beginner or an expert, prefer the backcountry or the groomed resort, or whether or not you are on a budget, there is something here for you.
The Ski Bindings We RAVE About
As you build your ski gear kit, bindings tend to come last, which also happens to be good practice. You should have other pieces of gear squared away before you consider bindings. But once you start looking into ski bindings, things can get overwhelming. With a variety of bindings and features in a constantly transforming market, any decision involves an avalanche of matters to consider.
Don’t worry. We’ll help you find your feet and the main considerations to take when you purchase a new set of bindings.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s make sure you’re actually ready to buy some bindings. Hit these three points, and you are good to go.
1. Buy Your Skis First
Your skis are the holy grail of your ski gear kit. Ideally, you should have your skis on hand before you look into boots or bindings. This will ensure that your bindings are compatible with your skis. Pair like with like: lightweight bindings with lightweight skis, heavy bindings with heavy skis. For example, don’t slap a pair of ultralight tech bindings on skis designed for downhill carving. You will only muddle the best aspects of each.
2. Know Which Type of Ski Binding You Want
There are three main types of bindings, each with a different set of features. Some require specific equipment, so make sure you know which type is best for you.
Alpine (Downhill) Bindings
These bindings are the most traditional, durable, versatile, comfortable, and affordable. They are also user-friendly and accommodate all traditional downhill ski boots. To slip them on, simply slide your toe inside and press your heel down firmly to lock in your boot. To release, press the heel piece and slip out your foot. Alpine bindings are good for all levels of expertise, including beginners. Their construction is solid, which makes them safer but also heavier. They are the best choice for resort days.
Relatively new to the market, tech bindings have become extremely popular among avid skiers and freeriders. The main advantage of tech bindings is their lightweight construction, making them ideal for traveling uphill or long-distance ski touring. Instead of a toe piece, tech bindings lock the ski boot with two pins, which require a special type of sole. GripWalk, Walk to Ride, and non-compliant touring boot soles are all compatible with tech bindings. With less weight comes less power transfer, so tech bindings are better suited for intermediate to expert skiers. They are also less suitable for heavy or aggressive skiers.
Alpine Touring (AT) Frame Bindings
These chaps are the latest type to appear on the market. They strive to be a sort of hybrid between alpine and tech bindings, bringing the best of both worlds. They have a distinctive frame construction, making them lighter than alpine bindings and better at transferring power than tech bindings. This makes them better suited for heavier or more powerful skiers who like to bomb downhill. Unlike the tech binding, AT bindings are compatible with a wide range of boot types.
3. Be Careful When Purchasing Ski Bindings Online
If you purchase online, we strongly recommend visiting a local sports shop. Peruse and sample their gear and ask an expert for advice on what to look for. Then, when you shop online, you’ll know exactly what you want. Do the research.
If you are ordering skis along with bindings online, you should know that the bindings don’t usually arrive mounted on the skis. We recommend getting your bindings mounted by an expert at a local retailer like REI, rather than having it done at a resort — it’s cheaper.
How to Choose the Best Ski Bindings
With the rules of thumb out of the way, let’s get into the specs you should always consider before you make a purchase.
DIN refers to the amount of force at which a binding releases a locked-in boot. The highest DIN is 18. The higher the DIN, the greater the force required to unlock the boot. Naturally, a low DIN under a powerful skier risks releasing too soon, which could cause injury. A DIN on a young, light, or casual skier might release too late.
To find the right DIN for you, we strongly advise visiting a ski shop. Online charts, while helpful, are no substitute for an expert. It’s best to choose bindings with a DIN larger than the one you need.
Weight has less to do with safety and more to do with the type of skiing you do. If all your skiing is done at a resort, weight is not much of a consideration. Five pounds for a pair is common. However, if you like freestyle skiing, doing tricks, or if you spend hours hiking in the backcountry, look for lighter bindings.
Brakes for bindings come in multiple sizes, usually measured in millimeters. To find the brake size you need, measure the waist width of your skis. Get the brake size that most closely approximates this measurement. An approximation will do, but it should not be even 1 millimeter smaller than the width of your ski’s waist, and no more than 10-15 millimeters wider.
How did we go about determining the best ski bindings? We cross-referenced product tests (both by companies and individuals); applied critical analytics to hundreds of customer experiences; researched the policies, principles, credentials, and methodologies of manufacturers; and finally, consulted sports authorities on particular brands. In short, we strived to put ourselves in your position, only we did the research for you.
Below are the criteria we considered to compile this list:
- Branding: We started with established, praised, and popular brands that have a devoted following among avid skiers.
- Safety/Testing: We gave more credibility to products that have been lab-tested for safety. For instance, Dynafit products are often awarded an ISO/TUV certification for safety-of-release in the event of a crash.
- Comfort: Your first impression once you step into a fitting is the comfort level.
- Fitting System: We valued bindings with an adjustable heel height to accommodate multiple types of boot soles.
- Weight: After several hours on the slope, bindings can begin to feel heavy. Freestyle and backcountry riders praise lightweight constructions.
- Construction: How is the binding built, of what material, and what are the safety features?
- Versatility: We included bindings that are suitable for daily use and for ski resorts, backcountry, or bike trails.
- Innovation: We favored bindings that include unique features.
- User-Friendly: We looked for bindings that are easy to put on, take off, and that switch smoothly between descending and climbing modes.
- Style: It’s important to be safe, but why not look your best at the same time?
- Warranty: How long is the warranty, and what does it tell us about the product?
- Price: We chose products that demonstrate a degree of performance and quality either equal to or below the price tag.
- Reviews: What are the experiences of buyers? Are they positive?
The Best Ski Bindings
Marker Griffon 13 ID
The lighter sibling of the Marker Jester, the Griffon is often marketed to younger skiers. However, younger does not mean inexperienced. These bindings suit a range of ability levels, and no bindings are more versatile. Lightweight, competitively priced, and highly maneuverable, these bindings are the best fit for skiers ready to hit the big slopes and need gear that can manage it.
The Griffon differs from the Marker Jester in two respects: These bindings feature both compact mounting and a cross toe axis spring, making them a dream to maneuver (especially if you’re attempting spins, twists, and other tricks). The slide plate is easy to adjust to fit any kind of ski boot, which is a rare feature. Stepping in and out of the binding is easy with the pivot heel design.
The Griffon, which is agreeable to alpine, backcountry, and resort slopes, is ideal for any type of skier. Freestyle skiers will enjoy the lightweight and agility. With a long track record of excellent performance among avid skiers, the Griffon is safe, reliable, and transfers energy beautifully.
- Respectable DIN range: 4-13
- Brake sizes: 90, 110, 120 mm
- Lightweight: 4 lbs 8 oz
- A bit pricey
Salomon T S/Lab Shift MNC
Tech bindings have increased in popularity in recent years. Their ultralight construction makes them ideal for hours on the slope, but lighter weight trades off power transfer. The T S/Lab Shift MNC by Salomon is a game-changer. It is the first tech binding to offer full downhill performance, making it ideal for freeriding or the backcountry.
Like all tech bindings, the Salomon connects to each boot with two pins, so it’s perfect for uphill travel, but not for hitting big lines or bombing laps at a resort for hours at a time. The Salomon features a simple design in the toe piece, which converts into a traditional design when you’re ready to go downhill.
The Salomon blurs the line between traditional and tech bindings, promising “uphill freedom plus downward power” at the same time. While heavier than tech bindings, the Salomon is not compatible with alpine touring boots.
- Respectable DIN range: 6-13
- Full downhill performance
- Not compatible with all boots
- Heavy: 3 lbs 13 oz each
Tyrolia Attack 11 GW
A well-recognized top performer, the Attack series by Tyrolia has always been a bestseller. And it’s no wonder why: Part of the appeal, beyond the enticing price tag, is that these bindings are perfect for beginner skiers putting together their ski package for the first time.
The Tyrolia is lightweight but has a solid feel that boosts confidence. It can’t take the brunt of powerful skiers ripping slopes, but for casual resort-goers or weekend skiers, it is ideal. With the new FR PRO2 toe piece, you can adjust the Tyrolia to fit both alpine and GripWalk soles, so the Attack series is more versatile than ever!
Though bindings with a higher performance threshold are warranted if you plan to reach a higher level of ability, the Tyrolia is the recommended starter. It is available in four different colors, suitable for all-mountain skiers, and won’t break the bank!
- Very affordable
- Brake sizes: 90, 100 mm
- Low DIN range: 3-11
- Low performance threshold
Look Pivot 14 AW
Perhaps the most easily recognized series in skiing, the Pivot 14 AW by Look is used by some of the world’s best skiers. Over a quarter-century ago, Look designed the now-classic “turntable” design. Nothing else comes close to achieving the same levels of safety, power transmission, and ski control.
The turntable design connects the binding with the ski at seven points of contact, minimizing the footprint of the binding on the surface of the ski, and naturally increasing flex and control. The binding also features industry-leading elastic travel, which absorbs impact and helps prevent knee injuries or pre-releasing.
The Look is compatible with both traditional alpine boot soles and GripWalk boot soles. However, the adjustment range is limited, and remounting may be required if you buy new boots. That said, the Pivot is true to its name and gives you maximum control so you can turn corners with pop.
- Broad DIN range: 5-14
- Brake sizes: 95, 115, 130 mm
- Top-notch safety
- Non-swappable brakes
- Limited adjustment range
G3 Ion 10
Years ago, G3 changed the binding game with the exceptionally user-friendly Ion series. G3 delivered real innovations to tech bindings, which can be troublesome to step into, especially in soft snow. But the Ion’s tall stand height makes it easy to clear away any snow with a ski pole.
In fact, the Ion really excels in powdery conditions, but on firm snow or hardpack, it’s less easy to maneuver at high speeds. These bindings are a little awkward on resort slopes, but a dream in the backcountry. A beefier 12-DIN version is also available for more aggressive skiers.
While it’s not the jack-of-all-trades binding it claims to be in marketing campaigns, the Ion is a surprisingly versatile bit of gear. At any rate, it involves the least hassle: The auto-rotation lock, simplified step-in, and beefed-up brake spring help keep long days on the slope maintenance-free.
- Lightweight: 2 lbs 9 oz, each
- Innovative design
- Low DIN: 4-10
- Extremely expensive
- Poor downhill performance
Dynafit ST Rotation 12
Dynafit is credited with starting the tech binding craze a few years back. Some still refer to tech bindings as “Dynafit bindings,” much like we still refer to all brands of nasal tissue as Kleenex. Dynafit revolutionized the market so that the brand and innovation are interchangeable.
And they continue to innovate. As the name implies, the ST Rotation 12 by Dynafit is made specifically for aggressive and heavy skiers. It is exceptionally light, and the new pivoting toe piece makes it more alpine-friendly. The ST Rotation 12 even earned an ISO/TUV certification for a safe release in the event of a crash.
The Dynafit is a top choice for backcountry skiers, and is the Salomon’s main competitor for our best ski binding for backcountry. Lightweight skiers will prefer the Rotation 10 model, but this is a great choice for all-mountain backcountry and freestyle skiers. The Dynafit transitions smoothly between ski and hike modes, and it glides beautifully both uphill and downhill.
- Good DIN: 5-12
- Lightweight: 2 lbs 12 oz each.
- Good for backcountry
- Not so stiff downhill
- Not very solid
Fritschi Tecton 12
Fritschi is yet to tap into the tech binding market with great success. Up against more established and celebrated brands, it’s rare to see Fritschi on the slopes. The Tecton 12 may change all that by bringing together elements from both worlds of bindings. Like a tech binding, the toe is fitted with pins, and like traditional binding, it features a brawnier, alpine-like heel piece.
The heel piece manages to overcome the difficulties of many tech bindings. It feels more solid, which boosts your confidence. It can also take more abuse from aggressive athletes, yet it does not compromise on safety and weight. The downside is that it is more difficult to step into the Fritschi, and switching between descending and climbing modes can be an ordeal.
The Fritschi ranked seventh for two reasons: First, it is extremely expensive — one of the priciest on our entire list. Second, while a good product on its own terms, it simply doesn’t stand up to the others on our list. It lacks versatility and isn’t very user-friendly. However, if all you are looking for is the most lightweight option, this one might be it.
- Lightweight: 2 lbs 14 oz each
- Innovative design
- Very expensive
- Not user-friendly
- Not versatile
Cast Touring Freetour Upgrade Kit
Cast Touring is one of those rare manufacturers founded by star sportsmen. Freeride World Tour athletes Lars and Silas Chickering-Ayers got together to design gear to meet the expectations of avid and professional skiers. It’s like when celebrities act in the same movies they direct.
It’s a bit unorthodox to put this item on a list of the best ski bindings. Technically, it’s an aftermarket upgrade for any alpine bindings you already own. However, the Freetour Upgrade kit promises such excellent features that we thought it deserves a mention. Basically, it imbues your alpine bindings with the features of a tech binding. If you are climbing, you can utilize the lightweight touring toe piece. For downhill skiing, switch to the full alpine bindings.
The Freetour Upgrade Kit gives you the safety, durability, and comfort of alpine bindings with the lightweight efficiency of tech bindings. It tends to provide better release and retention features than most other touring bindings available. For the scrappy and frequent skiers looking to upgrade their good bindings with superb ones, but at a lower cost, this is a great option.
- Two-year warranty
- Innovative design
- A bit heavy
- Only works for DIN 18
- Somewhat expensive
Atomic STR WTR 16
Atomic is a fitting name for the manufacturer of this beast. Using the Atomic STH2 WTR 16 is like gliding two armored tanks on your feet. A long-time favorite of freestyle and big line riders, the STH2 WTR 16 features an oversized mounting platform and low-profile chassis. These features conspire to give you the maximum amount of control and power distribution.
The goal of the Atomic is to give riders full confidence. You can be as aggressive and trusting as you want, and the Atomic will hold up. And with the adjustable toe height, the bindings accommodate both alpine and Walk-to-Ride soles up to 28 millimeters.
Intended for expert skiers, the Atomic features natural ski flex and progressive transfer pads, which are special inserts placed beneath the toe and heel to increase damping and forgiveness. This model is the premium choice for expert skiers who want total trust in their bindings.
- Two-year warranty
- Excellent power distribution
- A bit heavy
- A bit pricey
- Not versatile
Armada Warden MNC 11
A firmly intermediate-level product, the Warden MNC 11 by Armada boasts many features we expect of traditional alpine bindings. The Warden is a generic but good choice for young skiers eyeing expert-level skills.
The Armada features an oversized platform like the Atomic, so it is effective at distributing power. With an adjustable tow height, it’s also readily compatible with both alpine and Walk-to-Ride boot soles. The low profile chassis keeps the boot sole close to the ski, giving you more control, and the progressive transfer pads beneath the toe and heel absorb impact.
The Armada does seem to drive wide skis better than other alpine bindings. While it aims for lightweight construction, there are other much lighter models on our list. However, it is easy to step into the Armada with a wide two-piece and mounting pattern.
- Competitively priced
- Brake sizes: 90, 100 mm
- WTR compatible
- Low DIN: 3.5-11
What does DIN stand for?
DIN stands for the German term Deutsches Institut für Normung, the German Institute for Standardization. Today, it is the standard scale for measuring the release force setting for ski bindings, and refers to the amount of force at which a binding will release a locked-in boot. The highest DIN is 18, and the lowest is 1.
An expert at a ski shop can determine which DIN setting you need by calculating your weight, height, skier type, age, and boot sole length. Many ski shops provide this service free of charge, and they often also adjust your bindings to your preferred DIN.
Each pair of bindings has a range of DIN values to which it can be set, and the DIN can be adjusted separately for the front and the back of the binding. Each binding can be set to a different value, but they are usually set to the same value.
Determining the correct DIN is the single most important part of buying a pair of bindings. The higher the DIN, the greater the force required to unlock the boot. Naturally, a low DIN under a powerful skier risks releasing too soon, which could cause injury. A high DIN on a young, light, or casual skier might release too late.
Ski bindings release ski boots in two different ways. When your ski boot is subjected to a large twisting force, the toe piece of the binding will release. Your boot then slips out sideways. If there is great forward force on the boot — for example, if you experience a frontal collision — the back of the binding will release the heel of the boot, and you will fall forward.
Should I buy a pre-packaged ski and binding combo?
Most skiers purchase their skis and bindings separately, sometimes months apart. However, as more and more skiers buy their gear online, many manufacturers offer a value package of both skis and bindings.
There are pros and cons to these value packages. Let’s look at the pros first.
The principal advantage of these packages is the value: Usually, bindings and skis are several hundred dollars cheaper in a package. If you are a new skier, an infrequent skier, or on a budget, they are worth considering. However, the advantages end there.
There are more cons to buying value packages than pros. First, they give you less power to choose which skis or bindings are best for you. When you purchase them separately, you have room to experiment and find the perfect ski-binding combo. There are many different types of skiers out there. Having room to personalize is essential for safety and comfort.
Second, almost all value packages include low-quality gear. That is not to say they’re unsafe or poorly made, only that it’s typically uninspired equipment with minimal features and a low DIN range. While that’s fine for beginners, anyone at an intermediate level and above should pass on them.
What are the best ski bindings?
The best ski bindings for one skier are not necessarily the best for another skier. In short, there is no such thing as the best ski binding — only the best ski binding for you.
Here are the characteristics of the best ski bindings:
Obviously, safety is the principal concern. Good ski bindings are lab-tested and well-made. The best indicator of safety is determining the correct DIN. The lighter and more casual the skier, the smaller the DIN should be. The heavier and more aggressive, the higher the DIN. The best ski bindings are adjusted by a professional technician at a shop like REI.
The best ski bindings for backcountry skiers are ultralight tech bindings. The lighter weight makes these bindings safer and more comfortable for several hours of uphill hiking. The best ski bindings for resort skiers tend to be traditional alpine bindings. They have a heavier, more solid construction. Freestyle skiers also tend to prefer tech bindings.
The best ski bindings come from established and reputable brands like Marker, Salomon, and G3. These brands have served the skiing community for decades, and their gear is worn by the best skiers on the planet.
Whether you like skiing or snowboarding, hitting resorts or the backcountry, and whether you ski every day or only now and then with friends, you are always looking for ways to make your time more fun and comfortable. To make your next ski trip the best it can be, check out these other products.
- Smith Optics I/O Mag ChromaPop: Designed to pair beautifully with your helmet, these goggles offer great ventilation, clarity, and protection. We think they’re the best ski goggles you can buy!
- Black Diamond Lightweight Screentap Gloves: Best for sunny winter conditions, these gloves are perfect for a day trip to the slope. You can even snap photos on your smartphone without removing your gloves.
- Jack Black Pit Boss Antiperspirant and Deodorant: After a few hours of carving the slope, you (and your neighbors) might appreciate another application of deodorant. Check out our review!
- Simple Modern Summit Water Bottle: The cold air can trick you into feeling more hydrated than you really are. Come prepared with an insulated water bottle that won’t freeze in cold conditions — it’s one of our favorites!