Bindings are often the last piece of ski gear you choose, but remain a very important one. As the connection between boot and ski, they play a fundamental role in power transfer, responsiveness, and safety. We’ve separated the best bindings of 2017-2018 into three categories: traditional alpine bindings, tech bindings, and alpine touring frame bindings. All the models 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. For more background, 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, backcountry skis, and downhill boots.

Alpine Ski Bindings

These are traditional downhill bindings and all that most skiers need. They provide the most security for skiing in a resort and are the least expensive. The heel is fixed, so you cannot tour with these, however, plenty of people hit resort’s sidecountry zones (like Jackson Hole) on alpine bindings that only require a short traverse or bootpack to access.

1. Marker Griffon 13 ID ($229)

Marker Griffon BindingDIN: 4-13
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 3 oz.
Brake sizes: 90, 110, 120mm
What we like: Solid reputation and performance.
What we don’t: Not much, for the right skier they are pretty ideal.

Quality bindings are safe, reliable, and transfer energy supremely well. The Marker Griffon does all of that with aplomb and is a proven choice for skiers of nearly all ability levels. With a respectable DIN range from 4-13, premium materials, and a long track record, they get our top spot for the 2017-2018 season.

The Griffon's signature wide footprint is built for excellent power transfer on today’s wider skis. The brakes are easily swappable for varying ski widths and available in sizes that should accommodate the vast majority of all-mountain skis, and now the bindings can safely accomodate AT boots. They have a confidence inspiring “ka-chunk” when stepping in and are an easy, no-nonsense option for resort rippers. Larger, more aggressive skiers should take a look at the Marker Jester below, which is essentially the same binding in a 16-DIN version.
See the Marker Griffon 13 ID


2. Look Pivot 14 Dual WTR ($330)

Look Pivot 14 bindingDIN: 5-14
Weight per pair: 5 lbs. 1 oz.
Brake sizes: 95, 115, 130mm
What we like: Great pop between turns and top-of-the-line safety.
What we don’t: Limited adjustment range: if you get new boots you may need to remount.

The Look Pivot series bindings are classics in the world of alpine skiing. 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 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. On the plus side, the binding is now compatible with Walk to Ride (WTR) boots, although the price has gone up $30 to $330. The Pivot comes in a hardcore 18-DIN version, and for lighter weight skiers, try the 12-DIN model.
See the Look Pivot 14 Dual WTR


3. Salomon STH2 WTR 13 ($230)

Salomon STH2 WTR 13 alpine bindingDIN: 5-13
Weight per pair: 5 lbs. 1 oz.
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 115, 130mm
What we like: Low profile, solid feel, and good release.
What we don’t: As with the Griffon’s, not a whole lot for an advanced downhill skier.

The Salomon STH2 and Marker Griffon above are two of the most popular binding options for aggressive downhill skiers, and for good reason. They both offer a sturdy feel, good power transmission on a wide ski, and proven durability. And they’re essentially the same price. You can’t go wrong with either, and for some the decision is so close that it comes down to which color option matches your skis best.

If you’re using an AT boot, one consideration is compatibility. Both bindings work fine for alpine (downhill) boots, but the Salomon STH2 only works with Walk to Ride (WTR) models, while the Marker Griffon ID have a wider compatibility with traditional AT boots with the ISO 9523 standard. If you have an AT boot with that ISO 9523 sole, get the Griffon ID. If you’ll be using a standard alpine boot, look for the best deal—we’ve had a little more luck finding the Griffon’s on sale. And for a true multi-norm option from Salomon, check out their Warden MNC bindings.
See the Salomon STH2 WTR 13


4. Marker Jester 16 ID ($359)

Marker Jester 16 ID alpine bindingDIN: 6-16
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
Brake sizes: 90, 110, 136mm
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 to the burly Duke 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 keeps weight in check while increasing rigidity. And for those that are concerned about hitting big jumps in the park, it adds a degree of security (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 100-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 skis 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


5. Look SPX 12 Dual WTR ($230)

Look SPX 12 Dual WTR binding (2018)DIN: 3.5-12
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 13 oz.
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 Look SPX 12 lands in between a true beginner/intermediate binding like the Tyrolia below and the expert-level options above. Now in its third iteration, the binding is a great fit for an all-mountain ski in the 80 to 100mm width range that’s used primarily on piste. 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 has a slightly lower max DIN compared with the Griffon and STH2 above and no difference in price. But it’s plenty for weekend warriors—the toe and heel offer good lateral elasticity and aren’t prone to releasing early, and the Look offers WTR boot compatibility. For bargain hunters, if you can find a Rossignol Axial3 120 on the market, it's the identical, discontinued version of the SPX 12.
See the Look SPX 12 Dual WTR


6. Tyrolia Attack 11 ($170)

Tyrolia Attack 11 alpine bindingsDIN: 3-11
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 0 oz.
Brake sizes: 90, 100mm
What we like: Priced right for an intermediate skier.
What we don’t: Lower performance threshold.

The Tyrolia Attack is very reasonably priced and a no-brainer for beginners to intermediates putting together a new ski package. The lightweight toe is strong enough for most and contributes to a very playful feel, and its platform is well suited for modern skis. As with the options above, the Attack has a low stand height, which increases its connectedness with the skis.

Considering the lightweight plastics and lower DIN, these bindings are not for powerful skiers trying to extract every last ounce of performance from their setup, but for casual resort goers (both men and women), the Tyrolia Attack 11 is a solid pick. They also beat out the popular 11-DIN Marker Squire in price by $20 with no substantial difference in performance, which makes them our top value choice.
See the Tyrolia Attack 11


Tech Bindings

Tech bindings are much lighter and preferred nearly universally by the touring crowd these days. Even some aggressive big-mountain pros, like Eric Hjorleifson, ride them whether they are banging in-bounds laps or doing multi-day tours. Recently, tech bindings have received major upgrades to make them feel much more like an alpine binding going downhill. They were always fine in soft snow conditions, but when things got icy they had a very rigid feel. Models like the Marker Kingpin are changing the market landscape.

1. Marker Kingpin 13 ($649)

Marker Kingpin 13 BindingDIN: 6-13
Weight per pair: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
Brake sizes: 75-100, 100-125mm
What we like: Unbeatable combination of power, safety, and usability.
What we don’t: Heavier than the Dynafit below.

While growing in popularity in recent years, tech bindings have long been cast aside as insufficient for the hard charging types. And while the discontinued Dynafit Beast was a big step forward at the time of its release, the Marker Kingpin brings it all together. Fully DIN certified, the Kingpin has the paperwork to stamp its place in the market. You get the safety and secure feeling of a quality 13-DIN alpine binding that releases both vertically and laterally at the heel, but at a weight that easily undercuts a frame binding.

The Kingpin’s weight is impressive considering the freeride performance, but the full alpine heel does make it among the heavier options in the tech binding market. Those that take long backcountry treks or need to trim weight will prefer an option like the Dynafit below. For a solid feel and proven performance, however, the Kingpin is hard to beat.
See the Marker Kingpin 13


2. Dynafit TLT Radical 2.0 ST ($550)

Dynafit TLT Radical 2.0 ST alpine touring bindingDIN: 4-10
Weight per pair: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
Brake sizes: 90, 105, 120, 135mm
What we like: The best lightweight models keep getting better.
What we don’t: Less stiff than the Kingpins on the downhills.

Dynafit is credited with starting the tech-binding craze—some still refer to the category simply as “Dynafit bindings”—and their core offering is the TLT Radical. Updated a couple years ago, the Radical 2.0 remains the premier lightweight option for deep backcountry tours. It’s also now more alpine-friendly with a pivoting toe piece, and like the Kingpin above, received an ISO/TUV certification for the safety of its release in a crash. The standard TLT Radical is offered in two models: 10-DIN ST and 12-DIN FT.

You can find higher DIN options, but most will be really happy with the Radical, and weight-conscious skiers should likely go for the ST. What you’ll get is one of the most refined touring designs in the business, with easy transitions between ski and hike modes and smooth performance up and down hill. It may not have the solid, alpine heel piece of the Kingpin above, but the Radical easily undercuts the Marker in weight and is a solid option for those that exclusively ski in the backcountry.
See the Dynafit TLT Radical 2.0 ST


3. G3 Ion 10 ($539)

G3 Ion 10 alpine touring bindingDIN: 4-10
Weight per pair: 2 lbs. 9 oz.
Brake sizes: 85, 100, 115, 130mm
What we like: Light, great toe piece, and user-friendly.
What we don’t: Not as stiff for carving on hardpack.

G3 shook up the tech binding market with its Ion bindings, which have arguably the most user-friendly toe piece in the business. Tech bindings are known to be finicky when stepping into them, particularly in powder, but the Ion’s make it easy to clear out snow and hook up consistently with your boots. Also, switching into touring mode is best in class in terms of ease: just rotate the heel in either direction and flip over the lifter bars.

What are the downsides of these bindings? In contrast to the Kingpin and Radical above, the Ion in both the 10-DIN and 12-DIN models is a little less capable on descents, although the difference will only be noticed by aggressive skiers or those spending a good amount of time carving at the resort. And with its thoughtful design and pain-free functionality, the G3 Ion has a well-deserved spot on this list.
See the G3 Ion 10 Binding


4. Salomon MTN + Brake ($500)

Salomon MTN + Brake tech binding (2018)Release value: 6-12
Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz.
Brake sizes: 80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm
What we like: Very light, reliable, and user friendly.
What we don’t: Only 3 pre-determined release settings.

One of the most highly anticipated binding releases for 2017-2018—in North America at least—is the Salomon MTN and identical Atomic Backland. The bindings have been available in Europe for a little while, and have quickly developed a following for their simple yet thoughtful design. As Salomon has done with their successful lines like the STH2 above and Guardian below, the MTN nails the details: excellent build quality, easy to use step in and climb modes, and strong power transmission that belies its feathery weight. For anything from long tours to aggressive descents, the MTN is a great match.

Trimming weight from a binding has inevitable consequences, and while the MTN balances impressive uphill and downhill performance, the simplistic release settings aren’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Salomon includes 3 different springs (listed as women’s, men’s, and expert), which can be swapped out based on release preferences. Discerning skiers used to setting an exact DIN likely will be unhappy by these limitations, but it does little to dampen our enthusiasm for this otherwise fantastic binding.
See the Salomon MTN + Brake


5. Dynafit TLT Speed ($500)

Dynafit TLT Speed bindings (2018)Release value: 6-12
Weight per pair: 1 lb. 4.7 oz.
Brake sizes: 75, 90, 105mm (sold separately)
What we like: Ultralight for long uphills or extended tours.
What we don’t: Minimalist feature set.

The burly Beast is discontinued for this season, but Dynafit hasn’t been resting on their laurels. New for 2017-2018 is the TLT Speed, which is a superlight alternative to the TLT Radical above for those that prioritize uphill performance. The binding isn’t a drastic departure from a standard Dynafit design, but the basic construction and lightweight materials produce a pretty impressive weight of 1 pound 4.7 ounces all-in. Don’t expect standout control on the descent, but the TLT Speed has enough strength to cruise through your typical array of mixed backcountry snow conditions.

As with the Salomon above, you do miss out on a couple features due to the lightweight design. First off, brakes are not included with the setup but can be purchased separately, so factor that into the weight comparison. Most importantly, Dynafit has a preset, fixed upward release on the heel. While you can adjust the lateral release between 6 and 12, the vertical is limited to a rather stiff rating of approximately 8. It’s apparent that manufacturers consider release values an area where most skiers are willing to give up a little in terms of customization, but given the wide range of sizes and ability levels of backcountry skiers, we’d prefer the option to match the settings more precisely.
See the Dynafit TLT Speed


6. Fritschi Tecton 12 ($650)

Fritschi Tecton 12 tech ski bindingsDIN: 5-12
Weight per pair: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
Brake sizes: 90, 100, 110, 120mm
What we like: Alpine heel provides security at a reasonable weight.
What we don’t: Unproven long-term performance.

Black Diamond’s Fritschi always have been on the outskirts of the pin binding market, but they’re looking to make a splash with the new Tecton 12. With a similar build concept as the Kingpin above—tech fit toe with an alpine-like heel piece—this new binding has a confidence-inspiring solid feel on the downhill. In addition, weight is very competitive at 2 pounds 14 ounces including brakes, which undercuts the Marker above by a significant 6 ounces. Fritschi bindings can be a little finicky to step in and switch between climbing and descending modes, but the new Tecton improves on the old Vipec design.

What pushes the Tecton to the bottom of our list for this season is its unproven track record. Nearly every new binding has had its growing pains—including the Kingpin and Ion not that long ago—so we hesitate to recommend jumping all-in with the redesigned Fritschi just yet. But the combination of an alpine heel and reasonable weight does make it an exciting new offering. To save even more weight, Fritschi has released the Vipec Evo, which trades the alpine heel of the Tecton for a more traditional tech binding design.  
See the Fritschi Tecton 12


Alpine Touring Frame Bindings

This is a fairly new category pioneered by the Marker Duke, and born out of the desire to have a binding with touring abilities that was as secure and responsive as an alpine binding on the way down. With all major alpine binding manufacturers now offering multiple alpine touring frame options, this is a popular category for those who want to do it all with one ski/binding combo. The downside is they are fairly heavy for touring—pure backcountry enthusiasts usually opt for a tech binding.

1. Salomon Guardian MNC 16 ($450)

Salomon Guardian MNC 16 ski bindingDIN: 7-16
Weight per pair: 6 lbs. 8 oz.
Brake sizes: 100, 115, 130mm
What we like: Versatile and accepting of all types of boots.
What we don’t: Climbing bar can be difficult to operate.

Salomon’s Guardian binding quickly jumped to the front of the alpine touring frame binding pack with its low stand height that keeps the boot close to the ski for optimal downhill feel. It's a supremely user-friendly design that's able to transition between ski and tour mode without stepping out via a switch near the back. More, the flat front on the toe of the Guardian makes for a 90-degree range of motion in the touring mode.

The “MNC” in the Guardian’s name stands for “Multi-Norm Certified”—this means the Guardian will safely accept a normal alpine ski boot sole or the lugged, rockered sole of a touring boot. Of note, the Atomic Tracker 16 MNC is the same binding as the Salomon Guardian and both are available in a cheaper 13-DIN version for smaller skiers.
See the Salomon Guardian MNC 16


2. Marker Baron 13 EPF ($379)

Marker Baron 13 EPF BindingDIN: 4-13
Weight per pair: 5 lbs. 12 oz.
Brake size: 110mm
What we like: Time-tested downhill performance.
What we don’t: Stand height is higher than most.

The Baron is the little brother of the legendary Marker Duke, and all but the most aggressive skiers should find that it sufficiently suits their needs. When locked into ski mode, this is a thoroughly alpine binding making a solid connection between the skier and ski going downhill. Flip a switch in the middle of the ski, throw on skins, and you are ready to tour beyond the boundaries for fresh snow. A three-position climbing bar can be flipped up to aid when terrain gets steep.

We consider the Baron a great entry-level alpine touring binding for anyone aspiring to more backcountry adventure. The aforementioned Duke is for those a bit more accomplished and looking to get the most downhill performance out of their touring setup. The good news is you can't go wrong either way.
See the Marker Baron 13 EPF


3. Tyrolia Adrenalin 13 ($349)

Tyrolia AAAdrenalin 13 BindingDIN: 4-13
Weight per pair: 6 lbs. 0 oz.
Brake size: 115mm
What we like: Great all-around performance for the price.
What we don’t: Snow and ice collects underfoot while touring.

A big reason to choose an alpine touring option is downhill performance, and the Tyrolia Adrenalin does a fantastic impression of a dedicated frontside binding. As with the Salomon above, this is another alpine touring binding that will accept alpine or touring boot soles safely, adding to versatility. When going downhill the Adrenalin is responsive and solid, and going uphill a three-height climbing bar will be there no matter how steep the terrain gets. The Adrenalin 13 also has a 180-degree release toe, which could be the little feature that saves your knees in a backwards fall. The Tyrolia Adrenalin series is the same as the 4FRNT and Fischer Adrenalin series and comes in a 16-DIN version as well.
See the Tyrolia Adrenalin 13


4. Marker Tour F12 EPF ($429)

Marker Tour F12 EPF alpine touring bindingDIN: 4-12
Weight per pair: 4 lbs. 12 oz.
Brake size: 110mm
What we like: Much lighter than the Baron.
What we don’t: Noticeable drop in resort performance.

One of the major downsides of a frame-style touring binding is weight, but the Marker Tour F12 is a proven lightweight option. At 2,150 grams (76 ounces), it’s 450 grams (16 ounces) lighter than the Baron above while retaining a similar max DIN of 12 (the Baron is 13). The Tour F12 also shares the Extended Power Frame with the Baron and Duke for increased control on a wide ski. As a result, its weight makes it a great pairing for long backcountry tours but it remains comfortable on the descents.

In cutting weight, however, there is a noticeable drop in resort performance. While less advanced skiers may not notice, aggressive riders will be better served with the options above. And the increasing performance of tech bindings further pinches the niche that the Tour F12 fills. That being said, it remains a great option for intermediate or lightweight skiers that want the security of a frame binding without all the extra weight.
See the Marker Tour F12 EPF


Ski Binding Comparison Table

Binding Price Type Release Weight Brake Sizes
Marker Griffon 13 ID $229 Alpine 4-13 4 lbs. 3 oz. 90, 110, 120mm
Look Pivot 14 Dual WTR $330 Alpine 5-14 5 lbs. 1 oz. 95, 115, 130mm
Salomon STH2 WTR 13 $230 Alpine 5-13 5 lbs. 1 oz. 90, 100, 115, 130mm
Marker Jester 16 ID $359 Alpine 6-16 4 lbs. 7 oz. 90, 110, 136mm
Look SPX 12 Dual WTR $230 Alpine 3.5-12 4 lbs. 13 oz. 90, 100, 120mm
Tyrolia Attack 11 $170 Alpine 3-11 3 lbs. 0 oz. 90, 100mm
Marker Kingpin 13 $649 Tech 6-13 3 lbs. 6 oz. 75-100, 100-125mm
Dynafit TLT Radical 2.0 ST $550 Tech 4-10 2 lbs. 7 oz. 90, 105, 120, 135mm
G3 Ion 10 $539 Tech 4-10 2 lbs. 9 oz. 85, 100, 115, 130mm
Salomon MTN + Brake $500 Tech 6-12 1 lb. 12 oz. 80, 90, 100, 110, 120mm
Dynafit TLT Speed $500 Tech 6-12 1 lb. 4.7 oz. 75, 90, 105mm
Fritschi Tecton 12 $650 Tech 5-12 2 lbs. 14 oz. 90, 100, 110, 120mm
Salomon Guardian MNC 16 $450 Frame 7-16 6 lbs. 8 oz. 100, 115, 130mm
Marker Baron 13 EPF $379 Frame 4-13 5 lbs. 12 oz. 110mm
Tyrolia Adrenalin 13 $349 Frame 4-13 6 lbs. 0 oz. 115mm
Marker Tour F12 EPF $429 Frame 4-12 4 lbs. 12 oz. 110mm


Ski Binding Buying Advice


Ski Binding Types

Alpine (Downhill) Bindings
Alpine bindings are for your classic downhill skier. They have a simple entry—slide your toe in and press down your heel to lock in—and can accommodate the soles of all traditional downhill ski boots. Exiting is just as easy, usually accomplished by pressing the binding’s heel piece downwards. A lower weight isn’t a be-all and end-all requirement in alpine bindings, so they have the benefit of substantial construction that has excellent power transmission. Additionally, their low stand height helps better connect a skier to their skis. And should you crash, the release is consistent and typically very safe. High-end bindings like the Look Pivot 14 are well known for their elasticity in the release as the heel piece actually rotates prior to letting go. This gives you a chance to push your skills without an accidental early release, but when it does go, it’s pretty smooth and the extra give reduces your risk of injury.

Best for: Anything and everything on a resort day.

Ski Bindings (Marker Griffon)
The Marker Griffon's are a top alpine choice

Tech Bindings
While weight of the binding is at least a consideration when choosing an alpine setup, dropping ounces becomes a necessity when you’re spending hours traveling uphill. Hence the popularity of what is referred to as a tech binding. These ultralight bindings replace the traditional alpine toe piece with two pins that lock into tech-compatible ski boots. This is an important distinction as standard alpine and touring boots are not compatible with tech bindings. These bindings share a similar intent as the alpine touring frame category below with the option to release the heel for climbing. You’ll also see low profile climbing bars that can be deployed on steep slogs to reduce calf fatigue. The drop in weight does come at the sacrifice of power transfer, and as a result, they’re better suited for backcountry specialists that are out to cut weight, however, strong and slightly heavier newcomers like the Marker Kingpin are blurring category lines.

Best for: Multiday or long distance ski touring and occasional in-bounds use.

Backcountry tech bindings
Marker's Kingpin (foreground) and the G3 Ion (background) are two of our favorite tech bindings

Alpine Touring (AT) Frame Bindings
Alpine touring frame bindings are a crossover category that aims to take the best attributes from both alpine and backcountry offerings. Their framed design offers excellent power transmission for bombing downhill, but when switched into touring mode, the free heel and climbing bars makes them an efficient climber. Another advantage of this binding design is that it can accommodate a wide range of boots. Most alpine touring bindings are able to handle either standard downhill boots or touring boots that have rockered soles. But don’t start thinking you can take any old boot out and convert your setup from alpine to AT with a simple binding swap. You still need the added mobility and range of motion of a boot that’s been designed for backcountry use. Weight is the price you pay for this dual functionality, and as a result, we don’t recommend them for longer tours.

Best for: Powerful backcountry skiers that cover moderate distances uphill or those that split their time between touring and resort skiing.

What is DIN and How Much Do I Need?

In the binding world, 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. 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 impacting performance. While you’ll see a DIN range provided for every make and model of binding in the industry, not every binding has actually been DIN certified from the folks in Germany, including a good number of tech bindings. That’s why the Marker Kingpin and Dynafit TLT Radical 2.0 are seen as such a big sign of progress in the market.

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. Snowsports retailer Evo has put together a helpful chart that breaks down DIN settings by weight and ability, and when shopping for your right setup, it’s a great idea to use this to ballpark your necessary DIN range. And as mentioned in this article by Evo, 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). It’s better to have a little wiggle room to make adjustments once you spend some time on your new sticks. 

Ski Bindings (release)
Setting the proper release value depends on factors like weight and ability level

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 not 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, and not any less. While ski shops may be able to bend the bars ever so slightly, it’s really not a great idea. 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 10-15mm wider than your ski's waist.

Dual Compatibility with Alpine and AT Boots

Dual compatibility between standard downhill and AT boots is a growing trend within the alpine binding industry. Boots used for alpine touring—you’ll see references to an ISO 9523 standard or Walk to Ride (WTR)—have a taller, rockered sole, which in the past wasn’t designed to fit or release smoothly from a downhill binding (there were a few multi-norm exceptions like the expensive Salomon Guardian and Marker Lord). Now there are a growing number of options, including Marker’s new Sole I.D. on the Griffon ID and Jester ID, which can be easily adjusted to fit both downhill and AT standards.

The simple benefit to the skier is that you don’t have to worry about buying two very expensive boots to match a different ski setup. Or if you’re planning on switching over to backcountry gear in the future, you can still ski a downhill binding in the interim. And for those that aren’t interested in crossing over to touring, the changes to the binding design do not negatively impact performance.

Ski Bindings (toe piece)
A growing number of alpine bindings can accommodate both downhill and backcountry boots

What About 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 an 11-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 highly recommend purchasing your bindings and skis separately. (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 and, which often include the alpine bindings we have listed above).

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 models, 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 basic compatibility issues between boots and bindings that we touched on above, it’s important to choose a setup with all parts complimenting one another. Don’t throw a tech binding on a heavy downhill focused ski—it’s just a waste of a lot of cool technology (and cash). And the same goes with an alpine setup. Avoid 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, backcountry skis, and downhill boots.

Ski Bindings (boots and skis)
It's worth the time and effort to make sure you 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 $40 to $70, but REI will do the work for $25 if you purchase from them (this is the current price at the REI Flagship in Seattle and it does vary by store). If you do not have a local shop, the only online retailer that we’re aware of that does the work prior to shipping is This requires you to purchase the skis, boots, and bindings all at once, and choose the $50 mounting option. While it isn’t ideal to then have the setup shipped to you, it’s a nice way of avoiding the exorbitant costs of having the work done at the resort.
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Best All-Mountain Skis of 2017-2018

If you're searching for that elusive one-ski quiver, this is the category to find it. The definition of “all-mountain” varies by manufacturer and retailer, but generally includes skis from 85mm to 105mm...

Best Downhill Ski Boots of 2017-2018

No matter your ability level, a comfortable boot is an absolute necessity. Nothing ruins a good powder day faster than cold or painful feet, and ill-fitting boots also run the risk of not properly transferring energy...

Best Ski Jackets of 2017-2018

From cold to snow to wind to sweat, choosing a ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain. The right ski jacket for you depends on the specific kinds of skiing you enjoy most—skinning up a sunny ridgeline...

Best Ski Pants of 2017-2018

Ski pants are a critical barrier between you and the elements, and there’s a pair to fit every type of skier and budget. Recreational skiers, especially in drier places like Colorado or Utah, can get away with less waterproofing technology...

Best Backcountry Skis of 2017-2018

Unlike their lift-assisted alpine cousins, backcountry skis have two jobs: getting you uphill efficiently while retaining enough power to make the downhill worth the effort (and fun). The good news is...

Best Midlayers of 2017-2018

In the typical 3-layer ski clothing system, the midlayer is given the all-important insulating duties. As such, it is the one article of clothing you’re most likely to swap out depending on weather conditions. Is it bristling cold and dry...

Best Ski Helmets of 2017-2018

No matter your ability level, picking up a helmet for skiing or snowboarding is a no-brainer. If you’ve been putting off replacing a helmet that’s years old or are new to the sport, recent advancements have made them lighter and even safer...

Best Ski Goggles of 2017-2018

No matter your experience level or budget, there is a great ski goggle waiting to be found. Interchangeable lenses dominate the high end of the market with systems that are getting quicker and easier by the year. In particular...