Bindings aren’t the flashiest piece of ski gear you’ll buy, but they’re certainly a foundational one. As the connection between boot and ski, they play a fundamental role in power transfer, responsiveness, and safety. When purchasing an alpine binding, you’ll want to pay attention to DIN, boot sole compatibility, brake width, and more. Below are our top downhill ski bindings for winter 2024. For additional background information, see our ski binding comparison table and buying advice below the picks. To complete your setup, check out our articles on the best all-mountain skis and downhill ski boots.

Our Team's Ski Binding Picks

Best Overall Ski Binding

1. Marker Griffon 13 ID ($270)

_Marker Griffon 13 ID alpine ski bindingDIN: 4-13
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, WTR, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 110, 120mm
What we like: Solid reputation, great power transfer, and a reasonable price.
What we don’t: Despite recent improvements, it’s still not the easiest to step into in powder.

Quality bindings are safe, reliable, and transfer energy supremely well. Marker’s popular Griffon 13 ID does all of that with aplomb and is an excellent choice for skiers of nearly all ability levels. With a respectable DIN range from 4-13, premium materials, wide variety of available colorways, and a long track record of durability and top-end performance, they’ve been a favorite of ours for many seasons. In a recent update, Marker made some modest tweaks to the heel piece to improve the feel and consistency while stepping in, but the rest of the proven design remains.

The “ID” in the name refers to the Marker’s boot compatibility, which is among the widest ranging on the market. The toe piece is set up to accommodate anything from a standard downhill model to GripWalk, Walk-to-Ride, and even touring-specific soles (ISO 9523). In addition, the brakes are easily swappable for varying ski widths and available in sizes that should accommodate the vast majority of all-mountain shapes. For expert-level skiers looking for a higher max DIN, check out the Marker Jester below, which is essentially the same binding with a 16-DIN release.
See the Marker Griffon 13 ID


Best Binding for Hard Chargers and Freeskiers

2. Look Pivot 15 GW ($430)

Look Pivot 15 GW ski bindingDIN: 6-15
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 95, 115, 130mm
What we like: Standout elasticity with its heel piece; high-quality metal construction.
What we don’t: Pricey and overkill for casual skiers.

The Look Pivot series is a classic in the world of alpine skiing. Its signature piece is the Pivot heel, which Look nailed the mechanics on over a quarter-century ago: It gives the binding a short footprint on the ski, allowing for natural flex, and has industry-leading elastic travel to help prevent knee injuries and avoid pre-releasing (a plus for aggressive skiers and those hitting big features). This binding has served some of the world’s best skiers for decades, and it continues to be a solid choice for intermediate- to expert-level riders.

Essentially a toned-down version of the legendary Pivot 18, the 15-DIN Pivot offers full metal construction (including the toe piece) for standout durability. What’s more, the design is compatible with GripWalk as well as standard alpine (ISO 5355) boot soles, which is a nice modernization that brings it up to speed with most bindings here. It’s true that the Pivot line is overkill and pricey for casual riders—even the “entry-level” 12 model comes in at $330—but it’s hard to beat the combination of build quality, lateral release, and longevity. For those who like to drive their skis hard, you’d be hard pressed to find a more capable binding.
See the Look Pivot 15 GW


Best Budget Binding for Intermediate Skiers

3. Tyrolia Attack 11 GW ($229)

Tyrolia Attack 11 GW downhill ski bindingDIN: 3-11
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 85, 95, 110mm
What we like: Well made and priced right for an intermediate skier.
What we don’t: Lower performance threshold.

Transitioning from high-end bindings to a more budget-oriented model, the Tyrolia Attack is a no-brainer for beginners to intermediates putting together a new ski package. Its lightweight toe is strong enough for most resort days and contributes to a very playful feel, and the Tyrolia’s platform is well-suited for an average to moderately stiff setup. And as with the options above, the Attack also has a low stack height, which increases your feeling of connectedness with your skis.

Considering the lightweight plastics and lower DIN, these bindings are not for hard chargers or heavier skiers trying to extract every last ounce of performance from their skis (the Griffon and Pivot above easily win out for those folks). But for casual resort-goers that stick mostly to green and blue runs, the Tyrolia Attack 11 is a solid pick. And compared to Marker’s popular budget offering (the Squire below), it offers a better step-in feel and is almost a pound heavier, which translates to better durability overall. 
See the Tyrolia Attack 11 GW


Best Hybrid Resort/Backcountry Ski Binding

4. Salomon S/Lab Shift MN 13 ($600)

Salomon SLab Shift MNC 13 ski bindingDIN: 6-13
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, WTR, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 110, 120mm
What we like: Uncompromised uphill and downhill performance.
What we don’t: Expensive and heavy compared to touring-specific tech bindings.

For those who like to split their time between the resort and backcountry, the Salomon S/Lab Shift MN 13 is our favorite quiver-of-one binding. The key ingredient is the toe piece, which functions like a touring-specific tech binding for uphill travel, but converts into a traditional downhill design once you’re in ski mode. This gives the Shift impressive versatility: You can wear your downhill boots and put down the power in hardpack and crud, or go lightweight with your touring setup on a backcountry adventure. 

Skiers looking for a do-all binding simply won’t find a better design than the S/Lab Shift. It’s noticeably lighter and lower slung than hybrid frame styles like the Tyrolia Ambition below, and unlike Marker’s high-end Duke PT it doesn’t have removable parts that might get lost in the bottom of your pack. Further, the Shift is certified to alpine safety standards (you even get 47mm of lateral elasticity—good news for your knees). But the Salomon is heavier than standard tech bindings, and you’ll have to be a bit choosy with your boots (it’s not compatible with boots that don’t meet the ISO 9523 touring standard, including many racing and ski mountaineering models). Of note: the Shift is also sold under the Armada and Atomic brand names (all three are part of the Amer Sports group), with the only difference being color... Read in-depth review
See the Salomon S/Lab Shift MN 13


Best of the Rest

5. Salomon STH2 16 MN ($350)

Salomon STH2 16 MN alpine ski bindingDIN: 7-16
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, WTR, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 115, 130mm
What we like: $80 less than the Look Pivot and compatibility with all boot soles.
What we don’t: It's hard to match the all-metal Pivot and its long-standing and reliable performance.

The Salomon STH2 and Look Pivot above are two of the most popular bindings for aggressive downhill skiers, and for good reason. They both offer a sturdy feel, good power transfer on a wide ski, and are known to hold up over the long haul. You truly can’t go wrong with either, but for most skiers, the Pivot gets the edge for its all-metal build, low stand height, and excellent shock absorption with its class-leading elastic travel. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s available in four colorways compared to the Salomon’s one.

But at just $350 (compared to the Look’s $430), the STH2 16 still has a lot to offer. It features a higher DIN and multi-norm compatibility (unlike the Pivot, it can be paired with Touring and WTR boot soles), along with the two modes that adjust power transfer (direct for immediate response or softer to absorb impacts), which is a great option for expert-level skiers who are particular about feel. It’s also the easier of the two to click into. But hard-charging resort skiers don’t always need the boot compatibility, and—although we haven’t heard any negative reports—the Salomon lacks the Pivot’s all-metal construction. We’re not quite ready to dethrone the cult-classic Look, but for $80, the STH2 MNC 16 certainly gives it a run for its money.
See the Salomon STH2 16 MN


6. Atomic Strive 14 GW ($260)

Atomic Strive 14 GW alpine ski bindingDIN: 5-14
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 115, 130mm
What we like: A low-profile binding that helps you get the most out of your skis.
What we don’t: Not time tested; lightweight materials often have durability issues.

A relatively new offering, the Atomic Strive represents an evolution in binding design, prioritizing a responsive, close-to-the-snow feel and high-end power transfer. The philosophy is this: If you can lower the boots’ center of mass and reduce the weight of the toe piece, you can effectively eliminate the binding from the ski-boot-binding equation, thus allowing the ski (and the skier) to shine. True to form, the Strive’s toe piece is significantly lighter than similar Salomon designs, and the binding sets the boot a lot lower than most of the multi-norm competition. And to add to the strong base, it also features an extra-wide toe pedal that helps you get power to your edges with ease.

Similar to the debate between minimum and maximum cushioning in the running shoe world, there will always be skiers who appreciate the added leverage of a binding that towers over their racing skis. But tall stand heights are less effective the wider a ski gets, which is where the need for a binding like the Strive comes in (we mounted it on the 102-mm-wide Blizzard Sheeva 10). Our tester did find that it wasn’t as easy to step into as other bindings she’s used (such as the Warden), but it wasn’t enough to affect her overall experience. Finally, keep in mind that the Strive is also available in a 16-DIN version, which offers the versatility of multi-norm compatibility.
See the Atomic Strive 14 GW


7. Marker Jester 16 ID ($400)

Marker Jester 16 ID alpine ski bindingDIN: 6-16
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, WTR, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 110, 120mm
What we like: Bomber construction without adding too much weight.
What we don’t: Too much binding for most skiers; expensive.

Marker’s Royal Family of bindings covers a wide range, from the intermediate-friendly Squire (below) to the burly Duke PT for backcountry specialists. For the hardcore alpine skier that needs a high DIN, the Jester amounts to a beefed-up version of the Griffon above. In short, you get a bump up in max DIN from 13 to 16 and the addition of magnesium in a few strategic places. The extra metal increases rigidity without a big weight penalty, and it also adds a degree of security for those who like to hit big jumps in the park (although the plastic Griffon is very tough).

Despite its reputation and popularity among professional skiers, the Jester is bumped down on our list because it’s more binding than most skiers will ever need. Even expert-level riders will be plenty happy with the 80-gram-lighter Griffon in most instances. And tacking on $130 to what is essentially the same design feels pretty steep. But for the skier that’s out every day all season and likes to drive hard, the Jester is a proven option. And if 16-DIN is (somehow) not enough for you, there is an 18-DIN Jester Pro, which is made for those taking big mountain lines and drops.
See the Marker Jester 16 ID


8. Atomic Warden MNC 13 ($280)

Salomon Warden MNC 13 Alpine Ski BindingsDIN: 4-13
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, WTR, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 115, 130mm
What we like: An MNC binding that gives the Griffon a run for its money.
What we don’t: Fixed-AFD bindings will offer a bit higher performance.

The original of the multi-norm-certified (MNC) category, Atomic's Warden nailed the formula on its first go, setting the standard for modern ski bindings. Like Marker’s Sole.ID technology, this means you can pair just about any boot with the Warden, lending versatility in a market that’s increasingly flooded by do-all, touring-capable designs (i.e., GripWalk and ISO 9523 soles). And you don’t compromise much on performance either: the Warden has a solid feel that charges hard on everything from corduroy and park jibs to fun lines in the slackcountry. Added up, the 13-DIN version is a very close competitor to the Griffon above (albeit $10 pricier), and the 11-DIN variation is a burlier and better-built alternative to the Squire below.

To maximize boot sole compatibility, Atomic's Warden MNC uses a height-adjustable toe and sliding anti-friction device (AFD). On the other hand, Salomon’s STH2 above utilizes a fixed AFD, which translates to slightly better precision and energy transfer at the cost of versatility. To put it simply, if you don’t anticipate moving away from a standard alpine (downhill) boot, the STH2 is the better binding, especially for expert skiers. But if you want some leeway in your boot choice, you can’t go wrong with the Warden.
See the Atomic Warden MNC 13


9. Marker Squire 11 ($230)

Marker Squire 11 alpine ski bindingDIN: 3-11
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 110mm
What we like: A dependable binding and decent price for casual or lightweight skiers.
What we don’t: Not quite as durable as the Tyrolia Attack above.

Marker’s freeride lineup is headlined by high-powered, versatile designs like the Griffon and Jester, but the Germany-based company appeals to the entry-level market with the Squire 11 here. This is one of our favorite bindings for lighter weight and beginner-to-intermediate skiers, and a brand new redesign last year features a sleek aesthetic and improved durability on the toe piece. Marker was also able to keep the Squire’s stack height relatively low (24mm) despite the GripWalk compatibility, which is great for power transfer and control.

While previous iterations of the Squire have had Marker’s “ID” technology, the latest version is only compatible with standard ISO 5355 alpine boots and those with GripWalk soles. It’s also quite a bit lighter than most bindings here (second only to the Atomic Strive), which can translate to compromised durability. But it’s hard to deny Marker’s brand cachet, and the Squire gives the Tyrolia Attack 11 above a run for its money as our top pick for beginner and budget-conscious skiers. Finally, it’s also sold in a 10-DIN version for $190, which is an even better value for younger riders and lightweight skiers.
See the Marker Squire 11


10. Tyrolia Ambition 10 ($379)

Tyrolia Ambition 10 ski bindingDIN: 3-10
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 85, 95, 105, 125mm
What we like: A reasonably priced backcountry binding that’s compatible with standard downhill boots.
What we don’t: Not great stability and power on the descent.

The Salomon S/Lab Shift MN above is the clear winner when it comes to hybrid performance for front- and backcountry skiing, but at $600 ($550 for the 10-DIN) it’s a tough sell for beginners or those who spend most of their time at the resort. Enter the Tyrolia Ambition: a frame-style touring binding that’s compatible with a range of boot designs (including downhill, touring, and GripWalk soles) thanks to its sliding, tube-like frame and toe piece. This translates to easy versatility—unlike the Shift, you don’t need tech fittings for uphill travel—which is great for skiers who want to dip their toes into the backcountry without investing in a new (and expensive) pair of boots.

The Tyrolia Ambition manages to stay fairly lightweight for a budget frame-style binding, which is good news for the ascent. Cutting weight does result in compromised stability and power on the descent (including a towering 38mm stack height), and aggressive riders will be better off with a harder-charging and lower-slung design like the Shift. But the Ambition is completely serviceable for beginner to intermediate skiers, and it’s also a nicely stable option for those new to the skin track: you get a grand total of four climbing heights (some may find this overkill) and the option to add a crampon. All told, for backcountry-curious resort skiers or those on the hunt for a cheap and versatile touring setup, the Ambition 10 is well worth a look.
See the Tyrolia Ambition 10


11. Salomon Stage GripWalk 11 ($180)

Salomon Stage GripWalk 11 ski bindingDIN: 3.5-11
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 115mm
What we like: Purpose-built for smaller skiers; makes stepping in easier than most.
What we don’t: Trimmed-down build isn’t good for heavy or aggressive skiers.

Getting into your bindings in soft and deep snow isn’t always an easy task, especially for particularly lightweight skiers. Salomon’s new Stage tackles this issue head-on, with a smooth-triggering heel piece that doesn’t require too much force to lock in the boot. Further catering to its user group, you also get a short footprint for better ski flex on small skis and a competitively low weight of just 3 pounds 13 ounces. In fact, Salomon claims the Stage to be the lightest 11-DIN flat binding on the market—great news for beginner or intermediate riders that don’t want to throw a ton of weight around with every turn.

The Stage is an ideal ski binding for teenagers and smaller adults who are new to skiing, and the price is right at just $180. But it’s important to recognize the limitations of the design. The Salomon is not built to handle the force exerted by heavy or aggressive skiers, and younger riders are bound to grow out of it. Further, it’s only compatible with standard alpine boots (ISO 5355) or those with GripWalk soles. But if you’re a casual resort skier who’s had difficulty stepping into bindings in the past, the Stage is certainly worth a look.
See the Salomon Stage GripWalk 11


12. Tyrolia Protector PR 11 GW ($379)

Tyrolia Protector alpine ski bindingDIN: 3-11
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 85, 95, 110mm
What we like: An innovative option for those particularly worried about their knees.
What we don’t: Expensive, hard to get into, and tall stack height.

Every year, thousands of skiers have season-ending knee injuries, which gives the newly developed Tyrolia Protector a lot of appeal. Here’s how this binding works: rather than a standard alpine binding that releases either laterally at the toe or upward at the heel, the Protector adds a lateral heel release to alleviate potentially dangerous pressure on your ligaments. If your boot moves 7 millimeters (or more) laterally, the heel will twist 30 degrees to release it. And to address potential unwanted ejections, Tyrolia has developed a system that quickly recenters your boot following small lateral shifts. For skiers with knee issues (or those wary of joining the club), the Protector is well worth a closer look.

What are the downsides of this unique setup? The Protector requires a lot of force to step into, especially for those with shorter boot sole lengths or at the higher DIN settings. What’s more, its tech requires a tall stack height (33.5mm), which can leave you feeling like you’re skiing on demo bindings (it's especially noticeable when mounted on wide skis). And finally, they’re not cheap at $379 when you factor in the relatively low 11-DIN max. But for skiers with pre-existing injuries or weak knees, the Protector could mean the difference between getting out and staying home on the couch.
See the Tyrolia Protector PR 11 GW


13. Look SPX 12 GW ($250)

Look SPX 12 GripWalk ski bindingDIN: 3.5-12
Sole compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 120mm
What we like: Great choice for intermediate to advanced resort skiers.
What we don’t: A step down in power transfer.

The final binding to make our list is Look's long-standing SPX 12. With a max DIN of 12 (a 10-DIN model is also offered for $190), it lands in between a beginner/intermediate binding like the Tyrolia Attack and the expert-level options above. Now in its fourth iteration, the binding is a great fit for an all-mountain ski in the 80- to 100-millimeter width range that’s used primarily on-piste. And as with the Marker and Salomon options above, the SPX has a solid feel that is very confidence-inspiring.

It's close, but the Look does come up a little short in terms of value. It features a slightly lower max DIN compared with the Griffon and Warden, doesn’t provide any notable upgrades in ease of use or performance, and costs just $20 to $30 less. That said, the Look is plenty for weekend warriors—the toe and heel offer good elasticity and aren’t prone to releasing early, and the SPX line has GripWalk boot compatibility. Finally, for bargain hunters, there's also the Look NX 11 GW, which has a less burly heel but saves you $90.
See the Look SPX 12 GW


14. Cast Freetour Pivot 18 ($735)

Cast Freetour Pivot 18 bindingsDIN: 8-18
Sole compatibility: Alpine, Touring, WTR, GripWalk
Brake sizes: 95, 115, 130mm
What we like: The original hybrid binding with no-holds-barred downhill performance.
What we don’t: Lots of moving parts and overkill for all but the most aggressive riders.

Salomon's Shift is the dominant player in the hybrid binding market, but for truly unmatched downhill performance, Cast's Freetour Pivot is worth a look. The unique setup takes Look’s popular Pivot alpine binding—modified so that the toe piece can be removed—and adds Cast's pin-tech touring toe for swapping in on the ascent. In other words, you’re getting one of the most capable and powerful alpine bindings on the market (available in 15- and 18-DIN variations) along with all of the uphill benefits of a tech binding. For the small group of expert skiers for whom the Shift falls short, the Freetour Pivot is a functional and highly capable solution.

For the rest of us, however, the Cast Freetour Pivot probably isn’t worth the trade-offs. The swappable toe system has a lot of moving parts (don’t lose your spare toe piece) and requires additional time and tweaking at each transition. It also adds considerable weight and heft, you’re paying a sizable premium at $735, and a DIN of 15 or 18 is overkill for most riders, especially in the backcountry. But the legendary performance is unmatched for those who find themselves in no-fall zones or hucking big cliffs. And one final note: If you already own a Pivot binding, the Cast Freetour Upgrade Kit ($350) includes all the parts required for conversion.
See the Cast Freetour Pivot 18


Ski Binding Comparison Table

Binding Price DIN Sole Weight Brake Sizes Height
Marker Griffon 13 ID $270 4-13 Alpine, Touring, WTR, GW 4 lb. 8 oz. 90, 100, 110, 120mm 24mm
Look Pivot 15 GW $430 6-15 Alpine, GripWalk 5 lb. 8 oz. 95, 115, 130mm 19mm
Tyrolia Attack 11 GW $229 3-11 Alpine, GripWalk 4 lb. 6 oz. 85, 95, 110mm 17mm
Salomon Shift MN 13 $600 6-13 Alpine, Touring, WTR, GW 3 lb. 14 oz. 90, 100, 110, 120mm 30mm
Salomon STH2 16 MN $350 7-16 Alpine, Touring, WTR, GW 5 lb. 7.5 oz. 90, 100, 115, 130mm 24.5mm
Atomic Strive 14 GW $260 5-14 Alpine, GW 4 lb. 7 oz. 90, 100, 115, 130mm 20mm
Marker Jester 16 ID $400 6-16 Alpine, Touring, WTR, GW 4 lb. 10 oz. 90, 100, 110, 120mm 24mm
Atomic Warden 13 $280 4-13 Alpine, Touring, WTR, GW 5 lb. 90, 100, 115, 130mm 24.5mm
Marker Squire 11 $230 3-11 Alpine, GripWalk 3 lb. 10 oz. 90, 100, 110mm 24mm
Tyrolia Ambition 10 $379 3-10 Alpine, Touring, GW 4 lb. 5 oz. 85, 95, 105, 125mm 38mm
Salomon Stage GW 11 $180 3.5-11 Alpine, GripWalk 3 lb. 13 oz. 90, 100, 115mm 18.2mm
Tyrolia Protector PR 11 $379 3-11 Alpine, GripWalk 5 lb. 2 oz. 85, 95, 110mm 33.5mm
Look SPX 12 GW $250 3.5-12 Alpine, GripWalk 4 lb. 13 oz. 90, 100, 120mm 33.5mm
Cast Freetour Pivot 18 $735 8-18 Alpine, Touring, WTR, GW 6 lb. 11.8 oz. 95, 115, 130mm 19mm

Editor's note: "GW" is short for GripWalk

Ski Binding Buying Advice

Release Values (DIN)

A good ski binding stays securely attached to your ski boots while you’re cruising down the slopes, but is built to release under force, such as in the event of a fall (the last thing you want is to tumble down a hill with long planks attached to your feet). Standard ski bindings have two primary release points: the toe, which releases with side to side force, and the heel, which responds to front to back force (the Tyrolia Protector notably adds a lateral release at the heel). These release points can be tightened or loosened to find the right tension for your body and ski style—and this is where the DIN number comes in.

Skiing at Mt Bachelor Ski Area
A DIN number is reflective of a skier's body size and ski style

DIN, which is short for Deutsches Institut für Normung (you can see why it’s shortened), refers to a standardized test that defines the amount of force at which a binding will release a locked-in boot. The numbers range from 1 to 18, and the higher you go, the longer the binding will hold you. High numbers are great for larger folks and those who like to ski aggressively, while lower numbers are well-suited towards skiers with lighter frames or less powerful styles. Understandably, this is a very important number to get right as a binding that releases either prematurely or too late can have pretty serious safety ramifications—not to mention an impact on performance. And while you’ll see a release range provided for every make and model of binding in the industry, keep in mind that not every binding has actually been DIN certified from the folks in Germany.

Ski bindings (Marker Griffon DIN closeup)
DIN setting on the toe piece of our Marker Griffon 13s

For DIN recommendations, let us start by clarifying that even the charts put together by respected retailers like Evo,, or Backcountry are not a replacement for going into a ski shop. Our take is that if you’re not qualified and it’s a safety item, let the pros take care of it for you. Tools like the Professional DIN Calculator can help you estimate your DIN setting by compiling information like age, weight, height, boot sole length, and ability level; when shopping for your right setup, it’s a great idea to use this to ballpark your necessary DIN range. Finally, it’s best to choose a binding that doesn’t put you at the maximum DIN setting right off the bat (e.g., don’t get a 12-DIN binding if you’re planning on setting it at 12). You’ll want to have a little wiggle room to make adjustments once you spend some time on your new sticks.

Stepping into ski binding
DIN can be adjusted on both the toe and heel pieces

Elastic Travel

Elastic travel is less marketed than DIN, but equally as important. It comes into play after the initial force has been applied and the boot has moved in the binding (in other words, the release has been triggered). Specified in millimeters, a binding’s elasticity describes how far the boot can travel away from center before releasing completely. A higher elasticity denotes more “give,” which translates to more impact absorption and less unwanted prerelease. 

As expected, there’s an important interplay between the release value and elastic travel: With a good amount of elasticity, even aggressive skiers can set a relatively low release value—thus guarding against injury—while still avoiding premature ejection. Case in point is the Look Pivot, a binding that has gained legendary status amongst hard-charging freeriders. The Pivot is known for its swiveling heel piece that provides industry-leading elastic travel, which provides the shock absorption needed to save your legs without losing your skis each time you fall or take a hard turn. In general, you’ll spend up for the added tech that leads to more elasticity, but the tradeoff is worth it for those who want the best balance of performance and safety.

Skiing aggressively in-bounds (ski bindings)
Bindings with high elasticity offer great shock absorption for aggressive skiers

Boot Sole Compatibility

Boot sole compatibility has been a moving target in the downhill and backcountry binding worlds for several years, and it’s very important to ensure that your setup(s) match. Starting with traditional downhill boot soles (listed as Alpine DIN or ISO 5355), it’s simple and clear—all the bindings above are compatible. Moving to GripWalk and Walk to Ride (WTR), these designs are found on both downhill and backcountry boots, and not all bindings will work. And finally, an even smaller number of bindings are set up to accommodate touring soles (ISO 9523).

Ski bindings (Salomon Strive toe piece detail)
Most modern bindings are compatible with alpine (downhill) and GripWalk soles

The good news is that there are a growing number of bindings that are compatible with a wide range of sole types, including Marker’s Sole.ID and Salomon’s MNC (multi-norm certified) offerings. For example, two popular designs, the Marker Griffon 13 ID and Atomic Warden MNC, can be adjusted to fit all of the sole types listed above. This comes with a simple benefit to skiers: you can ski multiple setups with one boot. To help navigate this somewhat messy world, we’ve included a “sole compatibility” spec in our product descriptions and comparison table above. And a final note: The sole types described here cover a good portion of the market, but there are outliers in the skimo racing and ski mountaineering categories (these boots are also referred to as "non-compliant," meaning they don't meet the ISO 9523 touring standard). The takeaway is that you’ll want to really do your research prior to purchasing both your boots and bindings. 

Marker Griffon ID ski binding (sliding AFD plate)
The Marker Griffon's sliding AFD plate accommodates a variety of boot soles

Brake Width

Sometimes the small details can bite you in choosing ski gear, so make sure not to overlook the brake width of your bindings. There will often be a number of sizes to choose from (listed in millimeters) for a particular model, and it’s a good idea to get a width that closely matches the waist width of your skis—part of the reason it’s always a good idea to select your skis prior to picking a binding. There are no hard and fast rules about what width to choose, but we recommend choosing one that is at a minimum the exact waist width of your skis (or not less than a few millimeters to allow a ski shop to bend the bars ever so slightly). On the flipside, you also want to avoid a brake that is too wide as it may drag if you’re carving on hardpack. The typical recommendation is to choose a binding that is no more than 10 to 15mm wider than your ski's waist, although we typically aim to be less than 10mm.

Ski waist width and binding brake width
A binding's brake width should be only slightly wider than its ski's waist width

Stack (Stand) Height

The stack height—also referred to as stand height—of a binding refers to how high it sets your boot off the top of the ski. Just as some runners prefer max-cushioned shoes while others go barefoot, stack height can be a matter of preference, although in most cases we recommend a lower slung design. With a shorter stack height you get a better connection to the ski and the snow, improving control and stability on uneven terrain (interestingly, ski racers love a high stand height for better leverage). Stack height is often a few millimeters higher in the heel than the toe, and most bindings here hover in the low-to-mid 20-millimeter range. Frame-style bindings and knee-saving designs like the Tyrolia Protector have higher stack heights due to added tech underfoot (the Tyrolia Ambition is 38mm), which is something to keep in mind when opting for these designs.

Atomic Strive alpine ski bindings
The Atomic Strive binding prioritizes a close-to-ski feel

Ski Binding Weight

The weight of a binding is typically not a serious consideration for resort skiers. Most bindings with a 12 or higher DIN rating come in around 5 pounds for the set, thanks to a sturdy spring in the heel, long-lasting plastic and metal, and advanced safety systems that reduce the risk of pre-release and injury. Bindings with lower DINs are often lighter given their less tech-heavy designs. A heavy setup can be a pain to haul around from the car to the lodge or when hiking into the sidecountry, but it’s widely accepted that the tradeoff in performance and durability is worth it. On the other hand, weight is a far more important consideration for backcountry skiers, which is why we see bindings like the Salomon S/Lab Shift MN clocking in a bit lower (3 lb. 14.4 oz.).

Carrying skis in resort (binding weight)
For resort skiing, the performance of a heavier binding is worth the weight

Hybrid Touring Bindings

A growing number of bindings can accommodate a wide range of ski boot soles (including GripWalk, WTR, and touring designs), but this versatility does not mean you get uphill capability. Sure, you can pair them with your touring boot, but most of these bindings (such as the Marker Griffon 13) can still only go downhill. However, within this multi-norm (Marker’s branding is dubbed “Sole.ID”) category there are a few innovative hybrid designs that get the job done both on the ascent and the descent, which is great news for skiers who want to use one setup for both frontcountry and backcountry travel.

The Salomon S/Lab Shift is the headliner of the hybrid binding department, featuring an innovative toe design with two modes. You get a pin binding for uphill travel—functional with a tech boot only—and in ski mode the pins are replaced by an alpine toe piece (compatible with many boot styles). With excellent elasticity and power transfer, the Shift is a legitimate one-quiver tech binding that truly performs while lapping the resort. Marker’s Duke PT offers similar versatility, and the unique Cast Freetour Kit also gives you the option to swap between an alpine binding (Look’s Pivot) and a tech toe. Given the excitement around the concept and increased backcountry interest in general, we fully expect to see more dual-compatibility tech options in the future. For a detailed look at the current market, check out our article on the best backcountry ski bindings.

Ski Bindings (Salomon Shift)
Touring in the innovative Salomon S/Lab Shift bindings

Pre-Packaged Deals on Skis and Bindings

If you’re new to the sport or haven’t made a purchase in a while, you’ll notice that ski listings fall into two general groups: expensive skis that do not include bindings and pre-packaged ski and binding combos. The benefit of choosing a pre-packed setup is value: you can find a 10-DIN binding and ski for $500 or less. The downside should be obvious considering the cost: they’re not as good in terms of quality, particularly as you improve your skiing abilities. If you fall into the advancing intermediate category or above, we recommend purchasing your bindings and skis separately in most cases. (Editor’s note: what we consider to be a pre-packaged ski and binding setup does not include a select number of high-end packages offered from retailers like Evo, which often include the bindings we have listed above).

Resort skiing in Crested Butte
Pre-packaged ski/binding combos are a great way to gear up for cheap

For beginners or those that are looking to save money, the pre-packaged models are plenty capable for having fun on a blue square run at the resort. To see our full list of recommended designs, check out our article on the best beginner skis. And to complete the setup, we’ve also detailed the best ski boots for beginners.

Matching Your Bindings to Skis and Boots

Realistically, bindings will be towards the end of your ski gear search. The flashy and fun stuff is the skis themselves, so get that part squared away before moving to boots and bindings. Outside of the basic compatibility issues between boots and bindings that we touched on above, it’s important to choose a setup with all parts complementing one another. Don’t throw a low-DIN binding on a heavy downhill-focused ski—it’s just a waste of a lot of cool technology (and cash). Similarly, you’ll probably want to steer clear of pairing a high-end binding with an ultralight touring ski that isn't powerful or stable enough for carving. To help in the process, see our top picks for all-mountain skis, intermediate skis, and downhill boots.

Ski bindings (profile of Look bindings on Rossignol skis)
It's worth the time and effort to get a good match between boots, bindings, and skis

Ordering Bindings Online

When ordering skis and bindings online, it’s important to understand that most of the time the bindings will not arrive mounted. If you have a local ski shop or order from a retailer like REI, it’s as simple as paying to get the bindings mounted on the skis. The typical cost is around $70 to $100+ (REI will do the work for $105 at their flagship store in Seattle, although members get 20% off that price). One final consideration here: You'll need to bring your boots as well so they can get everything set up and adjusted properly.
Back to Our Top Ski Binding Picks  Back to Our Ski Binding Comparison Table

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