Once you’ve settled on new skis for the season, you will need proper bindings to keep them attached to your boots. We’ve separated the best bindings of 2013-2014 below into traditional alpine bindings and newer hybrid bindings, with the latter also being suited for touring in the backcountry. All the makes come in different DIN ranges. A heavier, expert skier will tend to go with a high DIN binding, while a less advanced or lighter weight skier can save money and go with a lower DIN option. Many binding companies license their models to multiple ski companies, so you can often find the same binding with different graphics under different brands (see our “other options” in the specs).
Editor’s Note: A wide range of ski gear currently is on sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2013:
• Backcountry.com deals page
• Evo.com deals page
• REI.com deals page
Alpine Ski Bindings
Look nailed the mechanics on the Pivot heel when they designed it over a quarter-century ago. It gives the binding a short footprint on the ski, which allows for natural flex, and it has industry-leading elastic travel to help prevent knee injuries. This binding has served some of the world’s best skiers for decades, and it continues to be a solid choice for intermediate to advanced level skiers. The brakes are not swappable on the Pivot’s heel, so make sure you purchase the correct width for the ski it will be paired with. The Pivot comes in an all-metal 18 DIN version as well, and is the same as all Rossignol FKS bindings.
DIN range: 5-14
Weight per pair: 4.7lbs
What we like: Classic design and classic reliability.
What we don’t: Brake arms are not swappable.
With a relatively low stand height of 22mm, the Jester is one of the top bindings on the market and is optimized for use with more modern, wider skis. The toe is fully automatic, which leaves no micro-adjustments that can come undone like on some other bindings. Despite being light for a high-DIN binding, the Jester has a confidence-inspiring snap when you step into it. It is available in Marker’s Schizo version as well, which allows the skier to move the mounting position around on the ski (i.e. more forward for skiing in the park and more traditional for skiing powder) up to 6cm with a simple turn of a screw. The Pro version has some metal reinforcements for durability and goes up to 18 DIN, while the Griffon is the 12 DIN version and perfect for lighter weight skiers. The all-new Lord SP is basically a Jester, but the only binding on the market that will work with both alpine and AT boots with rockered, lugged soles.
Weight per pair: 4.5lbs
What we like: Light and simple design.
What we don’t: Lots of plastic/composite parts
A classic high-performance option, the STH 2 WTR 16 takes the time-tested Driver toe from Salomon and marries it with the new Guardian heelpiece from last season. At 18mm, the stand height is very low, which is great for skiability. Salomon strategically reinforced many of the critical parts on the STH 2 with metal, so it can definitely take on seasons of abuse. The brakes are interchangeable and come in widths up to 130mm to accommodate the widest skis. Salomon and Atomic are owned by the same parent company, so their versions of this binding are exactly the same with different graphics.
Weight per pair: 5.38lbs
What we like: Metal-reinforced for durability and low price.
What we don’t: Micro-adjustment on toe are not automatic and need to be checked from time to time.
Tyrolia Attack 16
In the past, Tyrolia has repackaged their world-cup race bindings to sell to big-mountain and park skiers. This year, they’ve come up with an all-new model aimed at these two crowds. The Attack 16 has features like an all-metal AFD for durability and the lowest stand height on this list at 17mm. Tyrolia also made the toe quite a bit more compact from years past, which helps keep down weight and the swing weight when mounted on the ski. With a 180-degree release in the toe, these bindings are both safe and will perform very well from the park to the peaks. Tyrolia licenses their bindings to quite a few other brands, so you will see these as the 4FRNT Attack, Fischer Attack, Head Attack, and Liberty Attack series as well.
Weight per pair: 4.67lbs
What we like: Super low stand height and zero degree ramp angle.
What we don’t: While still very light, heavier than past generation Tyrolia bindings.
Hybrid Ski Bindings
The “it” binding when it hit back in 2007, the Duke was the first real touring binding that behaved like a standard alpine binding when you were ready to lock in and drop in. It pioneered the “hybrid” binding segment. Marker has made some nice changes to the Duke to keep it relevant as other manufacturers have brought their hybrid bindings to market. Most notably is widening its footprint on the ski and making the screw pattern 10mm wider in order to enhance torsional performance on the ever-growing waists of our powder skis. If you plan on touring more than you ski in the resort, you still might want to consider a Dynafit-style system, but if you mostly ride the lifts and make the occasional push to find good snow in the sidecountry, then the Duke will be a solid option for you. It also comes in a lighter, less-expensive 13 DIN version, the Baron.
Weight per pair: 6.13lbs
What we like: Widest platform for driving fat skis from edge-to-edge.
What we don’t: You have click out of it to switch between ski and tour mode.
Salomon went big last season when bringing their first hybrid alpine-touring binding to market. The Guardian 16 returns unchanged this season and has some excellent design features. The first is a class-leading low stand height of 26mm, which makes the Guardian ski the most like a normal alpine binding inside the resort. When you are ready to skin-up and tour out the gates, it can be switched into touring mode without clicking out of the binding, which is really handy when you are making multiple backcountry laps in a day. Salomon strategically reinforced certain areas with metal for durability, while still keeping things relatively lightweight. The Guardian also comes in a 13 DIN version, and both are also available as Atomic Tracker bindings.
Weight per pair: 6.53lbs
What we like: Low stand height is most like a regular alpine binding.
What we don’t: Only two climbing angle positions.
Tyrolia also jumped in the hybrid alpine-touring binding pool last season with an offering more similar to the Salomon Guardian than the Marker Duke in that it can be easily switched between downhill and touring mode without having to click out of the binding. Tyrolia employs their FreeFlex system on the adrenaline, which allows the binding to flex naturally along with the ski, which is important because a hybrid binding like this has a pretty long footprint on the ski and could otherwise affect how it flexes. The Adrenalin 16 is rock solid when inside the resort and its three-position touring mode lets you comfortably search out the goods in the sidecountry when everything in bounds gets tracked. It’s also available as the 4FRNT Adrenalin, Fischer Adrenalin, Head Adrenalin, and Liberty Adrenaline series.
Weight per pair: 6.03lbs
What we like: Lightweight with a three climbing angle positions.
What we don’t: Doesn’t improve on the Duke’s high stand height.
More on Skiing
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Best Ski Boots 2013-2014
Our guide to the Best Ski Boots features the top men’s and women’s ski boots from Tecnica, Atomica, K2, Salomon, Full Tilt, and more.
Jamey Voss has spent a decade honing his journalistic skills in publications such as Powder Magazine, The Ski Journal, Freeskier Magazine and ESPN.com. A self-proclaimed “gear nerd,” Jamey has a love for the fine coffee produced in his home of Seattle, WA, but you’ll often find him off seeking deep powder in the mountains or searching for the perfect wave off the coast.