Select Page

Reviewed by our Gear Geeks:

THE BEST SKI BINDINGS IN 2021

Z

Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Check out the leading Ski Bindings available now and write reviews of the best.

The result is 8 of the best Ski Bindings on the market today.

christos nicolaou

Christos Nicolaou

Divemaster and Paddler
Christos is a passionate diver, enthusiastic paddler & amateur SUP racer.

Bradley Axmith boating & sailing editor

Bradley Axmith

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Vikingship building gear enthusiast and waterworld fanatic.

Choosing ski bindings is tricky. This has a lot to do with the fact that they aren’t as interesting or exciting as selecting a new pair of boots or skis, and they can feel like another few hundred dollars to slap on top of your winter budget. Having a proper set of bindings is just as important to your performance and safety on the slopes as any other piece of gear.

Backcountry skiing is on the rise and that shift is being reflected by manufacturers in every sector of the industry, ski bindings are no exception.

We’ve chosen the best alpine and hybrid bindings on the market, so you can spend more time skiing and less time comparing break widths to the waist of your skis.

The type of binding, the DIN range, the brake width, and what range of boot soles the binding is compatible with are all important factors to consider, and for more on that, be sure to check out our buyer’s guide below.

Top 8 Ski Bindings In 2021

See our quick top 8, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

  1. Marker Jester 16 ID Ski Bindings
  2. Marker Griffon 13 ID Ski Bindings
  3. Marker Duke PT 16 Ski Bindings
  4. Salomon STH2 WTR 13 Ski Bindings
  5. Salomon Shift Ski Bindings
  6. Look Pivot 14 Ski Bindings
  7. Tyrolia Adrenalin 16 Ski Bindings
  8. Tyrolia Attack 13 Ski Bindings

Check out our Featured Ski Bindings

In terms of sheer slope presence, the Marker Griffon is one of the most popular ski bindings on the market. It’s basically a less overbuilt version of the Jester, and resembles it in design in every way aside from the materials and the price.

It splits the difference between performance and weight, not really failing or excelling in either case. Practicality and base-level dependability are the words to focus on. The Griffon is among the most affordable bindings on the market worthy of your attention and money.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Marker Griffon 13 ID:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Alpine
  • Weight: 1030g
  • Din Range: 4-13
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, GripWalk, Touring
What we like:
  • Super affordable, super practical
  • Pretty standard and straightforward alpine binding
  • Dependably fills the budget niche for skiers of any skill level
What we don’t like:
  • If you’re looking to drop big cliffs and ski with the best, you’ll want something with more power

For most riders, the Griffon is plenty of binding to take you anywhere you need to go. It has a full DIN range from 4-13, so there’s plenty of opportunities for new skiers to grow into their bindings as their skills and demands progress.

It’s still a Marker binding, with the same caveats that run through the rest of their line, snappy heel pieces and all. It can be difficult to engage in deep snow or steep slopes.

If you ask around serious freeride circles, the Griffon doesn’t have the reputation of the Jester or any Look bindings. Certain hard chargers are quick to criticize anything without a full-metal toe piece, which is fine. In reality, the Griffon is put through the same tests and held to the same base standards as any other ski binding on this list. It’s an alpine binding, nothing more, nothing less.

The ski industry has gone through several periods of rapid development. The rise of the fiberglass ski, the development of modern alpine bindings, massive advances in boot technology are some of the obvious examples. You could argue that, since the release of the original Duke binding in 2007, we’ve seen a similar revolution happening within the realm of alpine touring.

The Duke was one of the first frame bindings on the market, and the newest incarnation is a forerunner of the latest hybrid binding technology.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Marker Duke PT 16:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Touring/Alpine
  • Weight: 1350g (1050g without toe piece)
  • Din Range: 6-16
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, Touring, GripWalk
What we like:
  • Alpine performance with easier uphill access than a frame binding
  • Removable toe piece to save weight uphill
What we don’t like:
  • Risk of losing your toe piece if you take it off
  • You need to take your skis off to transition

The Duke takes a different approach than the Salomon shift. They have a full pin binding setup that an alpine toe can be mounted on top of. It’s very similar to the CAST system paired with Pivot bindings but just sold in one package. The toe piece can be flipped up for ascents or is totally removable if you prefer to save weight at the risk of dropping them on the skin track.

It can feel disconcerting to look at the detached toe piece, but the overall construction is up to the Royal Family standard that you see in the Jester and the Griffon. Magnesium housing, a full 6-16 DIN range, and compatibility with normal alpine boots and GripWalk makes it a totally acceptable downhill binding as well.

Marker is a dominating force in the binding market, so much so that it’s difficult to stand out from the “Royal Family” line unless you have some kind of touring capability or other special features. The exception to this rule is Salomon’s STH2, another one of those bindings you’ll see a whole lot of on the slopes. They occupy a very similar space to the Griffon, incredibly practical and relatively affordable.

The only reason we would hesitate to recommend the STH2 over other alpine options such as the Griffon is less compatibility with different boot soles.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Salomon STH2 WTR 13:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Alpine
  • Weight: 1145g
  • Din Range: 5-13
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, WTR
What we like:
  • A solid alpine option that can hang with the Marker line
  • Easy step-in
  • Low stack height for improved edge engagement and responsiveness
What we don’t like:
  • There are stronger bindings out there for bigger and more aggressive skiers
  • Limited boot sole compatibility

The STH2 has a relatively low stack height and great lateral stiffness. These two factors combined make it a great binding for your wider waisted skis, something that you can dependably rail on hardpack and float in powder alike.

It’s similar to Tyrolia in that they are easier to click-in in deep snow, which might be a deciding factor if you spend a lot of time stomping around the top of boot-pack zones trying to get your skis back on your feet.

In total, it’s a great ski binding. While there’s nothing that really sets it apart from the rest of the pack it’s an option, it’s out there, and it might be right for you.

Two years ago Salomon released the Shift binding and brought the true possibility of a single quiver frontside and backside setup to the average consumer. The Shift was the first single-piece touring binding that offered the downhill safety and performance features of a frame binding, without necessitating the suffering on the way up.

It’s truly a revolutionary piece of equipment that is being imitated and played with across the ranks of their competition.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Salomon Shift:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Touring/Alpine
  • Weight: 885g
  • Din Range: 6-13
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, Touring, GripWalk, WTR
What we like:
  • Unparalleled uphill/downhill performance in a single binding
  • Really unique product that offers a glimpse into the future of freetour skiing
What we don’t like:
  • This is still a new product and is very much in its troubleshooting phase
  • If you’re going to be trekking deep into the backcountry, you want something completely bombproof

What we appreciate about the shift is its wide range of appeal. The Shift is an awesome product for dedicated alpine skiers who are anticipating spending more time exploring the backcountry, and for seasoned backside skiers who want the freedom to huck without worrying about not releasing if they don’t stomp the landing.

It’s truly a frontrunner in the industry, and though the Baron and the Kingpin offer a similar compromise, no one is doing it quite like Salmon. But the Shift is not without its caveats.

As much as Salomon would love to market the Shift as an instant transition super ski binding, it’s subject to many of the same problems as any other touring binding. They’re finicky when it comes to snow buildup, and chances are you’re going to end up taking your skis off between topping out and dropping in. We’ve also received some feedback with uphill brake detachment, and the occasional break in the toe piece, presumably from cold making the plastic brittle.

Look’s reputation on the slopes and ski gear message boards is sterling. There’s a good reason for this: the Nevada was released in 1950 and is largely considered the first modern ski binding. The design was widely imitated through the 1960s, and the basic design of Look bindings remains the same to this day.

Look can be credited with saving thousands of knees. The word on the hill is that they more consistently and reliably allow for lateral release than any other binding on the market. Their “turntable” heel piece rotates in event of a fall and effectively absorbs impact when you’re stomping jumps.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Look Pivot 14:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Alpine
  • Weight: 1115g
  • Din Range: 5-14
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, GripWalk
What we like:
  • Unparalleled reputation in the ski industry
  • Great energy transfer and lateral rigidity
  • Sleek, stylish aesthetic
What we don’t like:
  • Not as solid as the all-metal Pivot 15 model

The Look Pivot’s legendary reputation doesn’t stop with the safety features. It’s an intimate pairing with your ski, it allows for the full range of natural flex across its length. The binding’s low profile design also allows for a lot of lateral stability, meaning you can accurately get your ski on edge and trust the transfer of power throughout the length of your turns.

The heel piece has 7 separate points of connection with your boot, so you can trust it to hold you in place despite its reputation for reliable bailing. Pivot bindings have been trusted by ski professionals and the hardest recreational riders for years. If you get on the wrong ski message boards and recommend anything but Look bindings, you’ll be ripped apart in the threads.

In an exciting side note, we thought it was worth noting the CAST system is an awesome way to turn your Pivot bindings into a hybrid touring set-up. Before there was the Shift, Kingpin, or the Baron; these guys delivered a revolutionary product. Even though there are lighter ways to get your hands on a touring setup, this gives you the option to use your Look Pivot bindings in the backcountry, and it’s the setup that I’m working on transitioning to in my own, personal kit.

With the recent uptake in tec/hybrid technology, frame bindings are slowly becoming something of an antiquated thing. And while the engineering behind newfangled ski bindings is rapidly improving, there are plenty of kinks left to work out. That’s where frame bindings come in, and our favorite of the lot is the Tyrolia Adrenalin.

This is by no means a lightweight touring setup; but, it is lighter than a lot of frame binding options, and in that regard, you should check out the Ambition 12 to push the weight even further down.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Tyrolia Adrenalin 16:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Frame
  • Weight: 1210g
  • Din Range: 5-16
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, GripWalk, Touring
What we like:
  • Big, beefy frame binding that you can trust to get the job done
  • Metal construction leans into the downhill performance
  • Touring option that’s compatible with alpine boots
What we don’t like:
  • You need to love to suffer if you’re taking them on extended tours

I love frame bindings. As a new skier I knew right away that I had a vested interest in the backcountry, and I learned the basics of alpine skiing on a pair of Salomon Guardians. For a long time, the only thing I had ever toured in was alpine boots without a walk mode, so the earn-your-turns ethic always sat well with me. I liked the fact I could transition with my skis on, which is sometimes tricky even with the newest tech bindings.

That being said, if I could do it over again, I would have opted for a pair of the Adrenalin 16s. If you’re interested in the backcountry and want a single-quiver option without a tech toe, I can’t recommend these enough. At the very least, you can expect your quads to get toned.

The outdoor gear industry is always trying to push the boundary when it comes to weight, the Lange XT3 or the K2 Recon boots new to this season are evidence that lightweight construction no longer means balking on durability or performance. They also show that there’s a real market for lightweight alpine gear, not just ski touring.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Tyrolia Attack 13:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Alpine/Freeski
  • Weight: 1035g
  • Din Range: 4-13
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, GripWalk, WTR
What we like:
  • On the lighter side of performance bindings
  • Low stack height for increased maneuverability
  • Built for flying
What we don’t like:
  • If you’re looking for a truly burly binding, you’ll be better off with the Jester or Baron

The Tyrolia Attack series is the undisputed lightweight champion in the Freeski category. It occupies the coveted, paradoxical space between endurance and maneuverability. From the moment you click in, the quality of engineering is apparent. From a practical standpoint, it’s much easier to get the ski on your foot in powder or steeply angled slopes. Playfulness is the focus. The low stack height makes landings a little smoother, and they allow you to engage your ski without too much twisting.

The Attack is a great option for dedicated park skiers and freeskier jib-fanatics. The lightweight construction and low profile make it a great option for people who spend a lot of time in the air. It’s also compatible with a wide range of boots, which gives you as a skier a lot more freedom.

Marker is one of the trusted titans of the binding scene. The “Royal Family” line of bindings has set the standard for alpine and frame bindings for a decade. Despite the lighthearted implications of its name, the Jester is their most serious downhill binding.

It’s been favored by big, aggressive freeride skiers who need their ski binding to hold their boot like an eagle claw around a salmon’s belly. Despite the trappings of tenure, the 2021 Jester holds up to standard. This year’s model is fully updated with some exciting features that make marked improvements to a proven design.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Marker Jester 16 ID:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Type: Alpine
  • Weight (per binding) 1070g
  • Din Range: 6-16
  • Boot sole type: Alpine, GripWalk, Touring
What we like:
  • Truly one of the hardest-skiing ski bindings on the market
  • With the magnesium toe and ice scrape bar, you won’t break it
What we don’t like:
  • The rigid heel can be difficult to get onto your foot if conditions aren’t perfect
  • Realistically too much binding for most skiers

The Jester is a burly ski binding, that much has stayed the same. The biggest update to this year’s model is the expanded boot sole compatibility, so they pretty much work with any alpine boot, along with 95243 touring boots. They’ve also rebuilt part of the toe and heel housing from magnesium to save on weight and add a little more stiffness for driving power.

If, for some reason, this isn’t enough for you the Jester 18 ID Pro model is just what you’re looking for.

The Jester 16 is major overkill for the majority of skiers, but it has a wide enough DIN range to be acceptable for nearly any adult. There are cheaper, more practical options on the market, but none of them do quite the job that the Jester can when it comes to freeride playfulness and stomp-power.

Ski Binding Buyer’s guide

This might get technical, so take a deep breath and take your time.

As much fun as it is to look for new skis and boots, ultimately you need something that can bring the whole package together. That’s where bindings come in. They’re the major piece of ski gear that gets the least amount of attention, but this doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. Having the wrong bindings, or bindings that are improperly mounted or adjusted can have far worse consequences than other gear miscalculations.

They’re a polarizing topic, more so than even skis or boots. You’re sure to garner plenty of unsolicited advice about the binding you’ve already mounted, but don’t be discouraged.

Finding the right set of bindings is very much informed by your personal abilities and the style of skiing you want to move towards, and most of the time opting for one set of bindings over another is far from the death sentence that some would have you believe.

From the types of bindings to finding the right break width for your ski waist, here in our binding buyer’s guide we hope to unravel some of the mystery and give you the tools you need to make an informed decision.

The Types of Ski Bindings

Ski bindings have come a long way. The first wood, metal, and leather bindings look like medieval torture devices specifically designed to break your legs. Now, bindings are safer than ever, and literal centuries of development have allowed for unprecedented specialization. There are as many styles of binding as there are types of skiing.

Alpine Bindings

Alpine ski bindings are your classic downhill numbers. They were–and still are–built exclusively for gravity-powered descents usually in lift-accessed terrain. The first product that could be reasonably recognized as a modern alpine binding came from our friends at Look in 1950, though it would be another decade before a functional heel piece was introduced, and well into the 1970s by the time there was a collective standardized take on how they functioned with different kinds of boots.

Contemporary alpine bindings, and the later introduction of Anti Friction Devices, function in a way to help prevent injuries caused by torque. They’re intentionally designed to release your ski at a certain (adjustable) threshold, known as your DIN rating. This way when you suddenly catch an edge, ideally the most you’ll come away with is a bruised ego.

There’s a lot of variation in intent between different models of bindings, mostly related to the materials they’re made of and the DIN range. It’s also important to make sure that your bindings are compatible with your boot sole, and that your brake width is compatible with the waist of your ski.

Hybrid Bindings

As the popular ethic behind backcountry skiing shifts towards a freeride-oriented approach, and the general interest in skiing off of the resort grows, we’ve seen the rise of the hybrid binding. The appeal stems from the desire to have tech/pin efficiency while you trek uphill, and still be able to enjoy your descent like you were riding an alpine binding.

CAST is a small company credited with popularizing the idea with their “freetour upgrade kit” compatible with Look Pivot bindings. In the simplest terms, this gives you the ability to swap out your toe piece from a pin set up, back to the Look toe piece. This was built with the hard-charging backcountry explorer in mind, who doesn’t mind taking the time to transition before dropping in.

Salomon and Marker have since released their Shift and Duke ski bindings, respectively. These function in the same way- offering uphill ease without balking on downhill performance. The difference is the Shift and Duke are single piece affairs, making for faster transitions. While they too offer the benefits of a freetour setup, they also seek to provide a touring option for resort skiers who are looking to branch out into the backcountry.

Tech/Pin Bindings

Tech bindings are the uphill enthusiast’s answer to the considerable bulk of frame bindings. They’re a low-profile, minimalist take on the ski binding and the product of attempts to make an uphill set up that was as light as possible. They function much differently from your typical alpine model or frame set up, in that the toe of the boot becomes a pivot point connected to the ski through locking pins.

They won’t go downhill with the same efficiency or safety as a frame binding or one of the hybrids, but they do weigh significantly less. Dynafit was the first company to run a patent on this style of binding back in the 80s and remains a driving force in the industry.

Fame Bindings

Frame bindings have long been the favored point of entry for alpine skiers looking to make the switch to the backcountry. I can personally testify to their usefulness and affordability, especially for those who don’t want to have multiple setups or spring for one of the new hybrid kits that are all the rage nowadays.

Frame bindings are essentially an alpine set-up mounted on a track that hinges at the toe piece. You click in like you normally would, but once you release the frame, your heel can swing up and allow you to move uphill effectively with a pair of climbing skins. They’re also great for people who feel uncomfortable with the additional risk that pin bindings have traditionally presented, due to the full alpine toe piece.

Frame bindings do, however, have their limitations. Namely, these come in the form of weight and bulk. Ultralight skiers and uphill enthusiasts won’t be at all interested, and at a certain point in your backcountry career, you may decide you want to make the switch. They’re also limited by their lack of specialization. They don’t typically have the same freedom of movement on climbs and aren’t appropriate for every tour.

I quickly discovered this in the middle of a multi-day tour. I heard a loud snap during a kick turn and watched the heel piece of my Salomon Guardian go rocketing down the steep and perilous couloir that I was climbing. Needless to say, it was not a fun glissade and I was disappointed I had to bail on the route. To be fair, I probably should have been boot packing by that point, but a pair of tech bindings likely wouldn’t have been irrevocably broken in the same way.

Telemark Bindings

Telemark skiing is an early form of backcountry access skiing originating from the eponymous region in Norway. It set a precedent for the way that future dedicated touring bindings would function, and the cable design was the basis for early alpine bindings as well. The main difference is your heel is never locked down while skiing. You can recognize your local Tele skier from their sweet drop knee turns, and the air of well-deserved superiority that follows them.

Boot Sole Compatibility

Before you go purchasing gear with impunity you should be aware that there are limitations with compatibility between different boot and binding models. As a general rule, you should check with the company’s specifications before making any final purchases. To be honest, the system is confusing and some compatibility oftentimes only works in one direction.

For example, an ISO 5355 boot works in a GripWalk binding; but a GripWalk boot won’t work in an iSO 5355 binding. As is the case before making any major gear purchases, it pays to be informed about the product.

Following is a breakdown of the main types of boot soles, and the types of bindings they’ll work with. But, as mentioned, be sure to double- and triple-check compatibility between bindings and your boots before you commit to anything. The best advice we can give you is to talk to a boot fitter and certified technician to help you with your selections and adjustments.

ISO 5355 Alpine DIN Soles

  • Standard hard plastic alpine soles
  • Traditionally have the most consistent release pattern
  • Not great for walking around in
  • Cannot have tech fittings
  • Works with Alpine, Gripwalk, MNC, WTR, Sole ID bindings

ISO 9523 Alpine Touring Soles

  • Alpine boots with rockered and rubber soles
  • They work way better than true alpine boots when you’re not wearing skis
  • GripWalk and WTR Soles belong to this category and are just proprietary technologies developed independently to deliver the same result
  • Sometimes have tech inserts
  • What bindings they work with depends on whether you opt for WTR or GripWalk

GripWalk Soles

  • Have been used as a compromise for inbounds and backcountry skiing
  • The release technology has improved markedly over the years
  • Great traction, and more comfortable to walk in
  • Compatible with GripWalk, MNC, WTR, Sole ID, and tech bindings provided your boots have pin inserts

WTR (Walk to Ride) Soles

  • Essentially the same concept as GripWalk, but has fallen out of vogue
  • Compatible with WTR, MNC, and ISO 9523 bindings

Non-Compliant Touring Boots

  • The wild west of touring boots
  • Built solely for uphill results
  • Only work with pin bindings, and shouldn’t be expected to release like boots with alpine lugs

DIN

Your DIN is the standardized measurement of force it will take for you to pop out of your skis. It’s a safety measure standard in alpine bindings, and it’s one of the factors that have contributed towards significantly reducing the number of injuries in the extremities of alpine skiers over the last 50 years. Particularly nasty spiral fractures.

Let it be known now that your DIN isn’t something you should be calculating yourself, and it’s important to get your bindings tested to make sure that they’re releasing accurately before you get going for the season. Always go to a shop and talk to a tech.

DIN is determined by a number of factors related to your height, weight, skiing style and boot sole length. Generally speaking, bigger and more aggressive skiers are going to have a higher DIN rating than beginners and smaller, lighter people because of the increased force they will be exerting on their gear while they’re skiing.

To give you an example, I’m 6”5’ and weigh somewhere in the ballpark of 210 lbs. My boot sole length is 28.5 and, while I’m by no means a pro skier, I’m still at the upper limit of recreational skiers in terms of the terrain and the way that I choose to ski. This puts me at around an 11 DIN rating by most people’s reckoning. This in no way makes me a better skier than someone with a lower DIN setting, and bindings that have the option to crank up to something crazy like 16 aren’t necessarily better bindings.

You may hear some people complain about pre-releasing and that “ they’d rather risk the injury than have their ski pop off in a no-fall zone.” Which is all well and good, but the vast majority of skiers are never going to be in a situation like that, and bragging about how high your DIN is set isn’t a good way to make friends.

AFD

One of the major developments that came along with the development of contemporary alpine bindings is the inclusion of antifriction devices. The concept behind them is relatively easy to grasp, they’re just a means to help your boot disengage from your binding when it’s supposed to. They’re insurance that all of the work and adjustments that went into finding your DIN wasn’t in vain because of some sticky dirt or ice locking your boot in.

AFDs can be as simple as a slippery piece of hard plastic right under your toe piece or be an actual moveable mechanism attached to a track or ball bearings.

Brake Width

One more consideration you should make before purchasing a pair of bindings is the width of the brakes. It would be a shame to try and mount a pair of alpines on your new super fat powder skis, only to discover that the waist of your skis is too big to accommodate your brake.

You also want to take care to ensure your brakes aren’t ridiculously wide compared to your skis, aim for at most 15mm wider than your skis. Wide brakes can drag on the snow on steep terrain or high edge angles, and very much impede your performance.

Maintenance

It’s important to take care of all of your ski equipment. Bindings, once you get them properly mounted for the season, are relatively low maintenance. Aside from keeping them dry when you can, and avoiding solvents if you should clean them. However, there are some things you should think about at the beginning and end of each season.

When you hang up your skis for the season, it’s recommended that you turn your front and back DIN settings down to their lowest option to protect the integrity of the internal springs. You should also take the occasional look at the heel and toe pieces of your boots to make sure they’re not excessively worn or damaged.

Do you have favorite ski bindings?

What do you love about them?

Let us know in the comments below what you think makes the perfect ski bindings.

 

0 Comments