What Snowboard Bindings Should I Get? Tips for How to Choose Snowboard Bindings

As if choosing a snowboard was hard enough, what about bindings? How to choose the best snowboard binding must be up there with one of the most common questions I’ve been asked over the years in the industry and I feel it’s the one piece of key hard goods that gets left out a little. Everyone focuses a lot on their board choice, they also know that boots are the most important thing to have fit properly, so let’s shine a light on bindings and why they should be held highly in your thoughts when deciding which ones to buy.

Bindings are the only piece of equipment we buy that actually attach us to our snowboard so we should give them a little credit. Makes sense, so what do we need to consider when looking for new bindings to buy?

Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it may seem and we’re here to break down some info so you can make an informed decision for your next purchase. As it's rare that you actually get to try out bindings before you buy them, more often tan not they tend to be a blind purchase. With that said, we want to share some more info and insight into what to expect with bindings so you can make an informed decision. There’s a few factors to consider and as usual, it will boil down to personal taste so let’s get into it.

Types of Snowboard Bindings

Firstly, let’s take a look at the three major binding types available; strap in, step on and rear entry.

Strap In Bindings

Strap in bindings are your more traditional looking option. They have an ankle and a toe strap attached to the baseplate and require you to physically reach down and crank the ratchets to tighten the straps. Most, if not all binding companies offer a strap in model.

Step In Bindings

Step in bindings have been around for years but recently made a comeback thanks to a modern facelift from brands like Burton and K2, respectively with their own version. You’ll also find others on offer from companies like Nidecker and Clew. These bindings allow you to simply step into them and they will be secured down via a “clip in” style technology. Beware though, with step-ons you need to purchase a compatible boot so do your homework to double check everything will work together.

Rear Entry Bindings

Rear entry bindings have a highback release that allows the rider to fold the highback out over the heel edge to allow room to step the boot into a pre-configured ankle and toe strap, before “snapping up” or locking the highback back into position to secure your boots in position.

Overall, they all function in the same way - they connect you to the snowboard. In my eyes, the key selling points for step ons and rear entry bindings has more to do with ease of use and personal mobility/flexibility. You may be drawn to some designs based on the brand and the colours (which is totally fine) so before you hit buy, find out what else goes into them.

Riding Style, Terrain Preferences & Binding Flex

Depending on how you like to ride and where you like to ride, this could influence what you choose. Bindings do come with a brand “flex rating” to indicate how flexible they are. The language you’ll hear surrounding these ratings is generally “responsive” for a stiffer, less flexible binding and “playful” or “comfortable” for a softer, more flexible binding. This flex rating is put together based on how much natural “give” the binding has and overall movement you have when strapped into the bindings. Please be aware that there is no industry standard for this so a binding rated as a 3/10 from one brand may feel completely different to the same rating from another brand.

So how do I tell what is or isn’t a stiff binding without trying it?

Great question! Usually, you can look at the materials the binding is made from. Metal bindings tend to be on the stiffer side of the scale and plastics tend to be softer. There are some bindings with higher density plastics that can be stiffer too. When you look at the highback, do they look like a thicker, single piece? If so, you can assume they will be on the stiffer side of things. In contrast, do they look thinner with lots of cavities and shapes cut out from them? If so, expect a softer, more flexible feel. Finally, the ankle strap itself can be a giveaway too. If it is heavily cushioned and quite narrow across the strap itself then it’s likely going to allow more movement in your ankle joint, therefore be softer. If you see quite a wide, plastic/molded based strap then you can expect a more rigid feel which would indicate a stiffer binding.

Riders differ hugely in their binding preference which is what makes it such an interesting area to explore. If I shop at the softer flex end of the range, I can expect more movement in the gear (good for tweaking grabs you'll be told!) yet experience less overall support when riding. If I shop at the stiffer end of the market, I can usually expect a higher price tag and lighter weight materials. For me, I prefer to shop for a medium to stiffer flex binding. I find I get great response for riding all over the mountain.

The final piece of the puzzle with binding flex is to consider your body weight, or the weight of the person recommending a certain binding to you. The same model stiff binding for a 70kg rider is all of a sudden a softer flex binding for a 90kg rider (provided the boot size is similar). Take this into account if you ask for binding advice and as always, if you do get a chance to demo, take it! Oh, and check the size chart to make sure you get something that fits your boots.

I ride NOW Pilots (size M), rated as a 7/10 stiffness. They are sadly discontinued though a similar model would be the IPO. I ride all over the mountain and as an 84kg rider and feel they work very well for my riding preferences.

Binding to Snowboard Compatibility

This is a very quick check to make, but an important one. The way bindings mount onto your board can vary depending on the brand and model. Most boards have an insert pattern, typically 4x4 or 4x2. Other boards, like those from Burton and Endeavour have a channel system to mount their bindings to. When you find the bindings you love, check out that they are compatible with the mounting system. Some bindings have “universal discs” meaning they should be suited for all options out there. If you have a channel system snowboard then definitely be sure your bindings have “channel discs” to support that. If you can’t find the info you need then shoot us a message and we’ll get back to you with what we know!

Those tend to be the more important factors for us when we are deciding to get some new bindings. Whilst opinions of others are very useful, particularly when it comes to good vs bad experiences with brands, their longevity and overall build quality, remember that riding is very personal so don’t be afraid to ignore advice if you think there’s a better option for you.

We’re always up for some nerdy gear chat so feel free to reach out if you are having a tough time choosing!