How to Choose Snowboard Bindings - Types, Flex, and Compatibility

Finding the right binding can be a bit of an afterthought compared to buying a board and boots. Yet it’s just as important and can affect how well your board and boots perform too. There are many differences in style, quality, and performance and by using this guide and our filters we can help you choose the perfect ones. It’s as easy as asking a little about yourself, your skills and what you like to do on the mountain.

Table of Contents

Gender

Mens Womens Kids
Men’s bindings tend to fit adult sized boots from 6-15. Women’s calves sit lower on their legs, and therefore the high backs of their bindings don’t need to come up as high. Also, since women usually have narrower feet, their bindings are made slightly narrower to fit women’s boots better. When you put a women’s boot into a men’s binding, it isn’t as good of a fit. Women end up losing some of the energy transferred to their board because the binding isn’t working as one piece with their boots and a highback that’s too tall will feel restrictive and uncomfortable. Just like women’s boots, kid’s boots have lower cuffs. Therefore, the high on a kid’s binding also needs to be short enough to accommodate this. Kid’s bindings are also narrower and sometimes only have one strap so they’re easier for a kid to do themselves.

Skill Levels

Getting a boot that reflects your skill level and matches your board and boot is important in making sure the entire package works as effectively together as possible.

Beginner: A beginner rider is normally within their first season of riding. For many, this means trying to keep control of your speed and basically make it down the hill in one piece. You may be starting to connect turns but aren’t consistently. A soft flexing binding will aid in keeping your set up forgiving so that you aren’t transferring energy to the board unintentionally.

Intermediate: This is generally the rider that has had a few seasons under their belt. If you’re getting more and more comfortable linking turns and can generally make it down a blue run without catching an edge then you probably could consider yourself at least an intermediate level rider. Riders at this level are starting to look for a little more performance out of their gear and are experimenting with a little more speed or possibly some smaller terrain park features.

Advanced: Rider’s at this level usually have a feel for what type of terrain they prefer. They are comfortable with making quick turns and are in control at any speed. They may be specifically interested in riding in the terrain park or prefer carving hard on steep runs but either way they are confident in their abilities and generally have a preference as to what they’re looking for in their equipment. They also want a binding with performance and response, which usually means added stiffness.

Expert: An expert rider is extremely confident in their ability to take on any terrain under any conditions. No inbounds run at a resort is too challenging and they may be exploring terrain out of bounds as well. A rider in this category is looking for the ultimate level for performance and technology out of their binding and the stiffest bindings will be found in this category.

Snowboard Binding Types

You’ve probably seen various styles of bindings and have questions regarding which is the best for you. The majority of what you will see today will be a traditional strap in bindings, but there are also a variety of other options on the market as well.

Strap In

Still the most common binding style out there, strap in bindings have held on since the beginning of snowboarding. The design simply involves strapping a boot onto baseplate with a highback using a toe strap and an ankle strap with ratchets. Over the years strap-ins have evolved greatly with various levels of quality and differences in features and materials. A strap-in binding will fit any snowboard boot, although manufacturer’s boots generally fit their bindings the best.

Step In

They’re back? If you’ve snowboarded for a long time you may remember the old Step In system that involved stiff boots with bails or click in attachments on the bottom. Those systems are gone but new ones that work much better now exist. Burton’s “Step On” system utilizes boots that are built with a similar flew to traditional ones but click into the highback of the binding as well on either side of the forefront of the boot. K2 also has a system on the market. These new versions of Step In bindings give the rider a boot they can flex and a system that can handle ice or snow buildup which are complaints against the old systems. They are fast and now just as efficient as a traditional binding but require specific boots to work with them.

Rear Entry

Some people want the convenience of Step In bindings, but just prefer the traditional feels of straps. A few brands such as Flow, K2 and Gnu have found ways to address this need. These bindings have straps similar to a traditional binding but the highback of the binding releases, allowing you to slide your boot in through the back of the binding. Once you’re in you simply pull the highback up and latch it into place. It’s fast and easy and you can use whatever boots you want with them.

Best Use

The next step is to determine what type of board you are looking for. It’s important to ask yourself where you’ll be doing most of your riding. For example, if you tend to ride groomed trails the majority of the time but occasionally go into the park it likely makes more sense to get an All Mountain Freestyle board rather than a true Freestyle board.

all mountain snowboarding

All Mountain

There are many different levels of all mountain snowboards, but overall they all provide riders with the ability to go anywhere on the mountain and do it all. Entry level riders through intermediate usually fall into this category as they Read more

All Mountain
freestyle snowboarding

Freestyle

Freestyle refers to the various types of riding often done in the terrain park including hitting rails, jumps, boxes and other tricks. Freestyle snowboards are generally soft and springy with lots of energy and pop for ollieing and doing tricks. Read more

Freestyle

All Mountain Freestyle

If you truly like to explore the entire mountain, including the park or any natural jumps an All Mountain Freestyle board is truly the most versatile option. While it may not be a true twin, such as with its Freestyle Read more

All Mountain Freestyle

Flex

Very Soft

This generally represents entry level bindings perfect for the beginner to learn on. Beginners aren’t quite sure of their movements at this point and therefore don’t want the binding to send every little movement they make to the board.

Soft

This includes bindings both ideal for the beginner looking to progress as well as the park rider looking for something to learn tricks such as small jumps and boxes on.

Medium

Riders looking for a little more performance without something too demanding will find a medium flexing binding ideal. This could be the solid intermediate looking to progress or the advanced rider that simply doesn’t want the drive and response a stiff binding would provide.

Stiff

Aggressive riders seeking performance will want a stiff binding. A stiff flex means better energy transfer to the board which translates into power and response. If a beginner gets a binding in this category they may find themselves catching their edges and may find it harder to control their board.

Very Stiff

Bindings in this category are ideal for the hard charger. This is the rider looking to carve hard turns at high speed and wants the ultimate effortless energy transfer to their board. These are generally found at the top of the line and are the most responsive options out there.

Channel Compatibility

Most snowboard use what is called a 4-hole pattern. Whether the board uses a 2X4 or 4x4 pattern, the binding is simply mounted using 4 screws in each binding. Burton boards are an exception and now all use what is called the ICS channel. These work with both Burton EST bindings or anything that is considered Channel Compatible.

EST Snowboard Bindings: These bindings are specifically designed to work with the channel. They are mounted with two screws on the outsides of the binding allowing for the feel of the true flex of the board. They cannot be mounted on any other type of snowboard.

Channel Compatible Snowboard Bindings: This includes Burton Reflex bindings as well as most bindings from about 2020 and on. It is always good to double check that a binding is channel compatible. Channel compatible bindings still utilize a disc and while they work with the channel they do not provide the same board feel as an EST binding.

Not Channel Compatible Snowboard Bindings: Some bindings simply don’t work with the channel so selecting this "No" under "Channel Compatible" will filter those options out completely.

Snowboard Binding Pricing

$169-$249

At this level you can usually get yourself into a mid ranged binding. There is usually some form of thicker shock absorbent padding on the plate of the binding and the highback. The straps also are generally a little stiffer and more responsive. Buckles are generally better quality and often aluminum.

$250 and up

This range usually gets you into a good quality binding that will last for a while, and take much more abuse. Features of bindings in this range now vary based on riding style. Shock absorbent pads are sometimes separate from the rest of the padding to give extra cushioning in key locations. Buckles are aluminum and ratchets are stronger and often quicker. Straps are customized to give the support and response expected in only the necessary areas. Overall, these bindings are also usually much lighter as well.

Snowboard Binding Sizing

Lastly there’s sizing. Binding sizing is tricky because it is specific to each brand. Once you’ve determined the model you’re interested in, use our brand specific size charts to determine your size.