snowboard bindings

The Best Snowboard Bindings of 2021

Snowboard bindings are a vital piece of gear that can make or break your time on the mountain. We’ve got the best of the year lined up and ready to shred.

Often overlooked for the flashier graphics on snowboards and boots, a good set of snowboard bindings is an essential part of enjoying your day on the slopes.

Bindings are your point of contact with your snowboard. They act as your steering wheel, allowing you to surf powder, carve groomed trails, and hit features in the terrain park with confidence. Bindings come in all shapes and sizes, from rigid freeride and big-mountain bindings to flexible park bindings, with multiple entry and exit styles.

Here are our picks for the best snowboard bindings of the year, from the park to freeride to the backcountry. For help choosing, check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ sections at the end of this article.

The Best Snowboard Bindings of 2021

Union Force

union force

If you want one binding for every type of terrain, Union’s Force binding ($260) is the way to go. The Italian company’s all-mountain workhorse is built for everything from double blacks to deep powder and everything in between.

The 20/21 model is the Union’s 16th iteration of the Force. This year, they added the Exoframe 2.0 ankle straps for added durability and response. The Duraflex baseplates and highbacks are designed to maintain consistent flex in a wide range of temperatures. This gives you a predictable ride, so you won’t be surprised by a snappier response when the weather gets cold.

For added versatility, the forward lean and strap adjustment let you make adjustments on the fly, so you’ll be prepared for whatever terrain you find. If you need one binding that will handle everything, the Force is the way to go.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium/rigid
  • Pros: Versatile, comfortable, and responsive in any terrain
  • Bonus: The Force’s magnesium ratchets are stronger and lighter than the more common aluminum ratchets.

Check Price at Amazon

System MTN Men’s 2021 Rear-Entry Step-In Bindings

system mtn men’s 2021

If you’d rather step in quickly and get riding than having to fiddle with straps every time you get off the lift, System’s MTN rear-entry step-in bindings ($110) are a great choice. Instead of strapping and unstrapping every time you want in and out of the bindings, these bindings feature highbacks that lay down so you can kick your feet in, then pull the binding back up to lock yourself into your board.

A rear cable locks the highback in and is designed to tighten as pressure increases. So, the harder you carve, the stiffer and more responsive the highback is. When you want out, flip the lever, pull your boot out, and wait for the chair lift to come around.

  • Style: Rear-entry step-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Price, quick boot entry
  • Cons: Takes some tweaking to get the straps set up initially.

Check Price at Amazon

Burton Malavita

burton malavita snowboard bindings

Comfort is king with Burton’s Malavita bindings ($320-350). The AutoCANT Full-bed cushioning system uses dual-density EVA foam to settle your boot into the perfect riding position. This reduces fatigue and provides better board control over a long day of riding. Canted highbacks follow the natural contours of the leg, adding to the control and comfort, and the zero forward lean offers a relaxed, playful feel on the mountain.

The single-component baseplate features one material throughout, giving you a consistent ride on varied terrain. The B3 gel cushioning in the footbed is made to resist hardening to keep your ride the same no matter how cold it gets. This also helps it resist breaking down over repeated impacts, so feel free to stomp all the kickers you want.

We still don’t recommend clearing the landing. Your bindings will survive, but your knees might not.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Price, quick boot entry
  • Cons: Zero forward lean may not be responsive enough for aggressive riders.

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Union Atlas

union atlas binding

Already one of the most responsive bindings we’ve seen, the newest version of the Union Atlas ($330) has been re-engineered to tighten down response and durability. This all-mountain rockstar is bolstered with high-density Vaporlite bushings that are stiffer and more responsive than traditional Vaporlite with the same damping ability.

The highback is a blend of Duraflex and carbon fiber for added stiffness and a drop in weight, while the steel hardware bumps up durability. All of this adds up to a setup that delivers instant response and solid board connection, so your board will feel like an extension of your body.

Coming up on unexpected terrain? No problem: the quick, tool-free adjustment lets you stop and tweak your settings for whatever style of terrain lies ahead.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Rigid
  • Pros: Extremely responsive, tool-free adjusting
  • Bonus: Baseplate and heel cup come with a lifetime warranty.

Check Price at REICheck Price at Amazon

Union Flite Pro

union flite pro binding

Park riders are going to love the ultralightweight feel of Union’s Flite Pro binding ($160). As the name suggests, this freestyle binding is built for air: the light weight gives it a skateboard feel when putting lines together in the terrain park. Plus, the soft flex gives you the mobility to tweak tricks and make surfy turns.

Going big? No problem. The EVA bushings will soak up that shock if you overshoot a big jump. And the Duraflex construction and 3D aluminum heel cup allow it to take a beating. So, you can keep trying to ride out that rainbow rail without worrying about your bindings breaking when you slide out and bail. And in the off chance that they do, the lifetime warranty on baseplates and heel cups has you covered.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium/soft
  • Pros: Lightweight, price
  • Cons: Soft feel is less responsive on steep and icy slopes.

Check Price at EvoCheck Price at Amazon

Burton Cartel X EST

burton cartel x est

One of the OGs of the Burton binding line, the Cartel upgrades to be lighter and more responsive with the Cartel X EXT all-terrain binding ($300). For park rats, the new rubber wings in the lower part of the highback keep your boot in place while you hit the tabletops. Also, the highback hinge flexes with your leg for increased foot roll, less pressure, and easier ollies.

For big-mountain riders, the chassis has been tweaked to be more responsive for steeper terrain. And the rotating dial on the highback lets you adjust the forward lean to accommodate whatever terrain you find.

The Hammock ankle strap and highback hold your boot securely and enhance response, while the zero forward lean lets you customize your stance. The SensoryBED cushioning in the baseplate adds control and comfort for long days on the mountain.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Rigid
  • Pros: All-mountain performance
  • Cons: Only compatible with Burton’s Channel board mounting system

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

Burton Step On Re:Flex

burton step on reflex

Step-on bindings have come a lot way since they first came out — they were basically a metal plate that hooked into your boots’ soles, with no highback or baseplate. Burton’s Step On Re:Flex ($270) is a showcase of the advancements that step-on bindings have made since then.

The traditional highback and baseplate give you the feel of your favorite strap-in bindings with the convenience and speed of your favorite set of step-in bindings. Built specifically to work with step-on boots, these bindings offer three points of attachment to make sure you don’t kick a leg out in the middle of a turn. And the single-component highback sports zero lean for a more laid-back feel but can be adjusted to your preference.

  • Style: Step-on
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Quick, secure locking system, responsive highback
  • Cons: Only compatible with Step On boots

Check Price at Amazon

Rome Vice

rome vice

Rome’s all-arounder Vice binding ($290) was built to give you a great ride whether you’re in the park or hitting some off-trail powder. This lightweight binding offers a supportive feel and plenty of adjustment, so you can tune them in perfectly for however you ride.

The PivotMount feature lets you adjust the strap position to dial in how responsive you want it to be: looser for park and powder, tighter for big-mountains and groomers. The mid-stiff flex rides the line between going steep and fast, but it offers enough flexibility to tweak a grab.

This is due to the AsymWrap tech, which eliminates the outer wrap of the heel cup to add flexibility for tweaking in the park while still maintaining the support to provide carving power on steep lines.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Asymmetrical heel cup provides flex without sacrificing power
  • Bonus: Super-grippy toe strap locks boot in for extra security

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Gnu Freedom

gnu freedom

Gnu’s super-stiff Freedom binding ($300) is built for big-mountain dominance. Starting at the bottom, the baseplate is built with superlight aerospace aluminum for solid response on sketchy slopes.

The stiff asymmetrical highback contours to your leg for added comfort and reduced fatigue. It’s stiff enough to respond immediately to pressure for quick adjustments on steep terrain or speedy tree runs.

And when those runs get choppy, the triple-damping wrap helps absorb those bumps, so your knees won’t have to. Micro-buckles offer tool-free adjustments, so you can dial in your fit on the fly.

The Freedom offers traditional strap-in entry to dial in the fit, as well as a quick rear entry and exit option, so you can run to the lodge to beat the lunch rush.

  • Style: Rear-entry, strap-in
  • Flex: Rigid
  • Pros: Stiff support, step-in and strap-in options
  • Bonus: Triple-damping wrap soaks up bumps from choppy, icy runs

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Ride C10

ride c10

Super stiff and responsive for aggressive riders, Ride’s C10 binding ($380) is made for riders who want flawless control at high speeds and steep descents. A big part of this is because of the super-stiff highback, eliciting immediate response.

This is key when flying down a steep slope, and the composite tray offers more damping than an aluminum chassis. The design damps chatter at high speeds and keeps you in control of your board. The canted footbed uses subtle angles to put the ankles and knees in a more comfortable position, reducing fatigue and keeping your reaction time to a minimum.

The Carbon Slimeback highback isn’t as gross as it sounds. It combines the response of carbon fiber with the damping of urethane, giving you the best of both worlds. And no, there’s no actual slime involved.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Rigid
  • Pros: Stiff support, high response
  • Bonus: Composite tray absorbs shock.

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Arbor Sequoia

arbor sequoia

Arbor’s Sequoia bindings ($210) are built for every aspect of the mountain, from groomed trails to tree runs to hitting up the terrain park. The System X baseplate efficiently transfers and distributes a rider’s energy onto the snowboard for a quick response.

The outsole features a TPE-damping rubber to absorb shock on choppy trails and hard landings when you finally hit that kicker you’ve been eying on your last few runs.

The bindings feature low-mounted asymmetrical highbacks that add comfort and freedom of movement. The pre-curved straps swing out of the way for easy entry and exit, and the heel has a secure, locked-in feel.

The aluminum heel and buckles add durability without extra weight. And the universal disc lets you mount these on any board, making this a great binding for bargain hunters.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Price, responsive, versatile
  • Cons: Pressure from the ankle ratchet can get uncomfortable.

Check Price at EvoCheck Price at Backcountry

Arbor Spruce

arbor spruce

Another great bargain binding from Arbor, the Spruce binding ($175) offers a lot of bang for your buck. The adjustable EVA footbed is canted at 2.5 degrees to encourage a natural foot position, minimizing fatigue and maximizing comfort.

The asymmetrical highbacks contour to the lower legs for more comfort. The baseplate in the newest model has been bolstered with double the fiberglass for a stiffer, more responsive feel.

In addition, the beefed-up outsole damps shock, and the laterally supportive highback gives you plenty of edge-to-edge response for high-speed carving. The ankle and toe straps can be adjusted without tools, so you can fine-tune your fit whenever you need to.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Costs half as much as most of the bindings on this list.
  • Cons: Straps can grow brittle and break in extremely cold weather.

Check Price at Evo

Salomon District

salomon district

Simple and durable, Salomon’s District binding ($250) is built for a comfortable, laid-back day at the terrain park. It’s the only binding we’ve seen with a totally flexible heel cup for added mobility and comfort.

The heel cup not only provides a secure, nonrigid fit, but it also gives you more mobility for tweaks and grabs. It’s great for riding rails and boxes as well, as the soft heel cup allows you to move freely to find the perfect center of gravity while you slide over features.

The flex continues with the asymmetrical highback, which also offers mobility, so you can tweak any jump however you’d like. The baseplate adds to the comfort factor with its high-density damping ability, which takes the shock out of stomping big jumps. Add the MicroMax strap adjustments to dial in the perfect fit, and you’ve got the best bindings for park riding on the market.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Comfortable, extremely flexible
  • Cons: Soft profile not ideal for hard charges down steep hills.

Check Price at EvoCheck Price at Amazon

Nitro Team Pro

nitro snowboards bindings

The Nitro Team Pro ($280) is another great binding for the terrain park, with its snug fit, responsive straps, and durability. The highback sports an aggressive forward lean for last-minute speed checks as you approach a tabletop.

A canted footbed aligns your knees and ankles, which reduces fatigue and the risk of injury. We love the details in the build, especially the Bergrip toe strap designed by noted outsole maker Vibram, which locks your boot in and gives the binding a responsive feel.

The damping base plate absorbs shock from hard landings, keeping your knees and back happy when you overshoot landings and soaks up the chatter on icy approaches.

It’s even got a feature to keep your board safe — the rounded corners on the baseplates reduce friction where the board and bindings meet. This not only keeps your board face looking good, but it also provides more natural flex and feel while you ride.

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Medium/rigid
  • Pros: Durable, responsive
  • Bonus: Rounded baseplate corners keep your board face safe at points of contact.

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Evo

Flow Fuse Hybrid

flow fuse hybrid

One of the more versatile bindings on this list, Flow’s Fuse Hybrid binding ($270) sports a softer highback for freestyle riding, while still providing support and stability for steep riding. The glass-filled nylon baseplate is rockered to provide flex, and the canted footbed puts your knees and ankles in a natural riding stance.

Rear-entry bindings offer a great mix of speed and support. The Fuse Hybrid’s highback kicks down for quick entry and exit, but its heavy-duty cable keeps it locked in for plenty of support during aggressive carving. The rear entry pairs with adjustable ankle and toe straps, so you can dial in the perfect fit and readjust whenever you need to.

  • Style: Rear-entry/strap-in
  • Flex: Medium
  • Pros: Durable, responsive
  • Bonus: Rear-entry or strap-in options

Check Price at EvoCheck Price at Amazon

Burton Grom

burton grom

Designed by Burton employees in collaboration with their kids, the Grom binding ($90) is a perfect binding for teaching your little ones to love the sport of snowboarding. A single-strap entry makes it easy for kids to get in and out of the bindings. The oversized strap buckle makes it easy for kids to use without having to take off their mittens.

The lightweight single-component baseplate provides a consistent response and feel. This consistency helps young riders develop confidence and speeds up learning. It’s also extremely durable, which will keep it intact during any potential meltdowns (which can happen to riders of any age).

  • Style: Strap-in
  • Flex: Soft
  • Pros: Simple, mitten-friendly entry and exit
  • Bonus: Lightweight highback combines flex and responsiveness.

Check Price at REICheck Price at BurtonCheck Price at Amazon

Buyer’s Guide

Snowboard Binding Terms Explained

Flex

A snowboard binding’s flex refers to how rigid the construction is, particularly in the highback and the heel cup. This affects responsiveness, or how quickly the snowboard reacts to varying amounts of pressure you create as you carve.

A rigid flex provides stability and increases the binding’s response to your movements. This is ideal for high-speed runs and steep hills, where a quick turn can make a difference between holding your edge or catching it and cartwheeling down a hill.

A more flexible binding is ideal for park riding. Snowboarders who ride mostly in terrain parks value a more flexible binding profile, which allows for more mobility. This is ideal for tweaking grabs and for adjusting your center of gravity on rails.

Baseplate

The baseplate is what attaches the binding to your board. It can be adjusted to vary the angle of a rider’s foot in relation to the board. This is based on the rider’s stance preference.

Some riders prefer a narrower stance or a neutral angle. However, others may want a wider stance or have their toes pointed slightly outward, based on their anatomy and style of riding.

Baseplates also generally feature some sort of damping technology that allows them to act as shock absorbers. This is usually made up of rubber or a composite. The damping helps absorb the shock of landings and minimizes vibration (also known as chatter) on icy or excessively bumpy terrain.

Highback

The highback is the wing that comes up the back of the binding, supporting the back of the leg. Highbacks are what give you control of your snowboard and add power when riding on your heel edge.

They vary in flexibility — more rigid highbacks increase the board’s response, while flexible highbacks are generally more comfortable.

Straps

Not only do straps secure your boots to your binding, but they also provide control and power when carving on your toe edge. Most bindings feature a larger ankle strap that wraps around the ankle and top of the foot, as well as a toe strap that wraps over the forefoot.

Some bindings’ toe straps go over the toecap of the boot, which can more effectively secure the boot in the binding. Straps are secured via ratcheting buckles, which allow for fast entry and exit. The ratchet levers also let you adjust your straps, tightening and loosening them as needed.

Riding Style

Bindings are built to accommodate riding styles starting with freeriding, which consists mostly of surfing through powder or carving down groomed runs. Bindings that are ideal for freeriders are stiffer and more aggressive. This provides the quick and reliable response that carvers need to make fast turns on steep downhill slopes.

Freestyle riders — also known as park rats — are the riders that you see bombing off kickers, sailing over tabletops, and grinding everything that you can slide on. Freestyle bindings tend to be more flexible to allow for tweaking grabs and for adjusting your balance on rails.

All-mountain riders to a little bit of everything — hitting the groomers, finding powder off-trail, and making a few park runs here and there. All-mountain bindings need to ride a delicate balance between flex and rigidity.

They need enough stiffness to provide control on steeps while maintaining enough flex to hit the park. All-mountain riders should look for bindings that are in the medium range of flexibility.

snowboard bindings style

Board Compatibility

Some bindings do not work with every board, so it’s important to make sure any bindings that you are considering buying will work with your snowboard. Many bindings come with universal baseplates or multiple baseplates that allow them to work with different mounting styles. Others are designed to work with specific boards.

When you’re considering a binding, check the binding’s webpage. There should be a list of boards and mounting styles that the binding will work with.

Sizing & Fit

Instead of the specific fits that you’ll find in shoes and snowboard boots, bindings tend to come in small, medium, and large sizes, with additional sizes for youths.

Despite the range of shoe sizes per category, bindings are designed to fit securely without feeling restrictive. You don’t want to allow any movement between the boot and the binding, as that results in a loss of control.

The ankle and toe straps offer a wide range of adjustability, which lets you dial in your binding’s fit every time you step into it. Check your binding’s webpage to see which category your shoe size fits in before buying.

adjusting snowboard bindings
Photo credit: Red Morris

Price

The price of bindings varies widely, from the least expensive sitting at under $100 to the higher end reaching into the $500-600 range. Usually, the cost comes with more durability and responsiveness, as well as more sport-specific features like aggressively angled highbacks for big-mountain riding.

If you know what style of riding you prefer, it can be worth it to opt for a higher-end binding that will accommodate your riding style. Beginners may want to look for a lower-end binding while they learn — they can upgrade as they improve without taking a big bite out of their wallets. Check out a snowboard bindings review or two to find a good, low-cost binding that doesn’t sacrifice functionality.

FAQ

What Bindings Do Pro Snowboarders Use?

Professional snowboarders tend to use bindings that are dialed in to their personal style. They often use different board and binding setups to fit where and how they plan to ride on any given trip.

Freeriding snowboarders tend to use bindings with less flex, as the increased rigidity provides better edge-to-edge responsiveness during hard-charging lines and high-speed carves.

Freestyle riders usually use bindings with more flex. The added mobility provides the freedom to tweak grabs and to adjust their center of gravity when grinding rails and boxes.

All-mountain riders usually use all-mountain bindings with medium flex. They need a binding that will provide the responsiveness required for reliable carving, but with the flexibility to hit a kicker or grind the occasional rail.

snowboard bindings freestyle

What Are the Best Snowboard Bindings for Beginners?

When learning to snowboard, simplicity is key. Go with a strap-in binding rather than a step-in binding when you start out.

The highbacks that come with strap-in bindings will make the board more responsive. This helps train riders to carve and to develop trust in the board and binding connection.

Less expensive bindings are great for beginners as well. Binding preference is specific to the user, and a cheaper binding will be easier to replace as riders improve and start learning what bindings will better suit their preferred riding style.

Can You Put Any Bindings on a Snowboard?

Most bindings are universal, but not all. Some bindings are made to work specifically with certain brands. For instance, many Burton bindings are made to work primarily with Burton boards, so they come with multiple baseplates for use with other brands.

The good news is that any bindings that will only work with one type of board will note that in the technical specs section on the website. If you’re considering a set of bindings, be sure to check online that its baseplate is designed to work with the board you’re planning to use.

Do Snowboard Bindings Fit All Boots?

Thanks to the strapping system, strap-in bindings will fit a wide range of snowboard boots. The sizing (XS-XL) refers to the length of a boot sole, not the thickness of the boot, so if you are considering a binding size, the only thing you really must worry about is whether the length of the sole will work.

Step-on bindings attach to the bottom of boots with soles that have anchor points designed to lock into that specific binding. If you’re considering a pair of step-on bindings, make sure that you have a pair of boots that are made to work with that binding.

snowboard boots and bindings
Photo credit: Buzz Andersen

How Tight Should Snowboard Bindings Be?

You want your boot to be as secure as possible without feeling uncomfortable. The boots should not move around in the bindings at all. The movement you provide by leaning and applying pressure to different parts of the binding is what steers and controls the board, so any slippage between the boot and binding will result in a loss of control.

However, the binding straps should not be so tight that they cause pinching or an uncomfortable amount of pressure. You don’t want to come out of your first run wanting to unstrap as soon as possible.

Step-In vs. Strap-In Bindings

The most noticeable difference between step-in and strap-in bindings is that strap-in bindings use two straps to hold boots in. Step-on bindings secure the boots via clips on the outsole of the boot that connect it to the baseplate.

Step-on bindings provide faster entry and exit, but the lack of straps (and in some cases, highbacks) has been known to sacrifice control.


Have a favorite pair of bindings we missed? Let us know in the comments below for future updates to this article.


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Billy Brown
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Billy Brown has a problem sitting still. His constant search for the next challenge has him doing everything from running ultramarathons and climbing 14er’s to gaining 40 pounds to compete in powerlifting, breaking several state records and growing a killer beard in the process. With over a decade of writing under his belt, his work, covering action sports, gear, and beer, can be found in a variety of publications. He lives with his wife and their two cats in Sacramento, California.