All avid snowboarders know that special feeling when the air cools and summers’ haze dissipates. It’s that time of year when you dust off the board and ready yourself for another season in the white stuff. You also know it’s time to look at your gear and see if there is a need for an upgrade, and bindings are no exception.
Usually, the board itself and the boots you get your feet into are the most important factors in getting the most out of your snowboarding experience. However, being the interface between your boot and the board, your bindings are also a significant component not to be overlooked. Having the right bindings will help in providing the most efficient transition of energy from your body to the slope. You want to have the best and most comfortable ride as well as ensuring your safety on the mountain. Also, wouldn’t you want to ride all day without the discomfort and annoyance of not having chosen the right bindings for you?
There are several varieties of bindings, each suited to the particular style or terrain that you are looking to handle. From flexible to stiff, and strap-in to rear-entry, it all depends on what is best for where you’re going and what experience you’re looking to get out of the ride. Here, you’ll find some valuable information to make your winter season at altitude the best it can be.
Top Snowboard Binding Comparison Chart
|Picture||Name||Ride Style||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Burton Cartel EST Snowboard Binding||Freeride, Aggressive ||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|2. Rossignol Cobra Snowboard Bindings||Freestyle, All-Mountain||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|3. Flow Alpha Snowboard Bindings||Freestyle, Park||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|4. Union Flite Pro Snowboard Bindings||Park, Freestyle||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|5. Union Contact Pro Snowboard Bindings||All-Mountain, Freeride||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|6. Union Contact Snowboard Bindings||Park, Freestyle||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|7. Burton Freestyle Snowboard Bindings||Park, Freestyle||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|8. Ride Ex Snowboard Bindings||All-Mountain||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|9. Gnu Freedom Snowboard Bindings||Freestyle, Park||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|10. Rome United Snowboard Bindings||Freestyle, All-Mountain||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Snowboard Binding Buyer’s Guide
Types of Snowboard Bindings
Essentially, snowboard bindings serve as the connection between you (or your boots) and your board. Bindings consist of three main components: a highback, baseplate and straps. The highback serves as a plate of support for the back of your foot to the upper ankles. It enables the rider to control the rear edge of the board. Baseplates form the bottom of the binding and is the part that physically connects to the board, held in place by bolts or disks. Finally, straps are what secures your boot into the binding in several places from the toe to the upper ankles.
As mentioned, choosing the type of binding can make the difference between a great experience and a forgettable one. Flexible or stiff? Strap-in or speed-entry/hybrid? Before we get into the different types, it’s important to know that there is not a correct type or an incorrect type. It all depends on your riding style and the level of performance and comfort you’re looking for. Keep in mind though, that your safety is also involved. Having the completely wrong binding type can put the inexperienced rider in a perilous situation. Of course, this also extends to the board you’re using as well as other gear such as boots.
How to Choose the Right Snowboard Bindings
Will you be riding in a resort or park with gentle slopes and well-groomed trails? Or are you more likely to be found on an undiscovered trail full of steep slopes and rocky outcrops? This is an important first question to ask yourself before deciding on the right type of bindings to purchase. Moving down the mountain is as different as the mountains themselves.
It can vary from a gentle cruise down the bunny slope through to an exhilarating adventure down the impossible mountain, navigating trees, boulders and 90-degree drop-offs. As a result, there are several different options available because manufacturers know that people have a different expectation of what they want out of their experience. It is more than simply choosing between the black or the grey ones. The types of bindings available reflect the amount and difference between riding styles and terrain that are out there.
When it comes to the composition, there are a few different materials available for commercial bindings. Plastic ones are more rigid and lightweight and are ideal for freeriding. Metal, which is also good for freeride, is slightly heavier but not much more and offer the high rigidity of the plastic. Getting into the more expensive range, there are bindings that also come with a plastic baseplate with a metal heel cup.
These are both flexible and rigid when required, which may be a good choice for riders that vary their terrain from the park runs to the steeper mountains. They are, however, more expensive. The top of the range (read: most expensive), are the carbon highback bindings. Super lightweight and responsive, these are the choice for the boarder with a high budget and a penchant for performance.
One of the first points that should be looked at when selecting the perfect binding is the flexibility rating. Measured on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is the softest and 10 is the stiffest, this is where the profile of you as a rider will make the biggest difference in what you’re going to get out of your equipment. Generally, the easier the terrain and purpose of your time on the snow, the softer your gear should be. Those more advanced and expecting to encounter big, steep mountains should be looking for higher numbers on their flex ratings.
Bindings are classified by the type of boarding you are going to be doing. If you’re staying in the park enjoying the cruise or a few tricks, then a softer option is preferable. Also known as ‘Park’, or ‘Freestyle’, these bindings provide a level of comfort that allows for softer landings and gentler maneuvers. They are more forgiving but lack the responsiveness of stiffer bindings.
The more experienced riders who prefer the company of taller, steeper mountains may want to opt for a stiffer variety. This type of riding falls in the category known as ‘Freeriding’. The more direct energy transfer from stiffer kit will enable responsive, technical maneuvers on steep slopes and deep powder as well as giving extra speed.
If you’re the kind of rider who swings between parks, half-pipe and the untamed steep mountains, there is the option of something in between. This broader, medium stiffness category, also referred to as All-Mountain, offers the versatility of maneuverability, softness and performance. This might provide the best option if you think you may be at the stage to transition from the park to freeriding.
Ultimately, selecting the right flexibility is a major decision based on what you expect to encounter on the mountain. It also goes hand in hand with the flexibility rating of your snowboard and the boots you carry. There is no point in getting stiff bindings if you have boots that are designed for freestyle conditions, and vice versa. It’s the same with the board. Having stiff bindings attached to a more flexible board can have an adverse effect on both performance and safety.
Types of Binding Straps
Ok, so you’ve matched your riding style to the flexibility you’re looking for in your gear. The next step in selection is the type of strap you want. Remember that with bindings overall, you’re looking for the greatest amount of maneuverability. There are two main types, the Strap-in, and the Speed Entry, or Rear- Entry. The main difference between them is that strap-in bindings require you to tighten and lock your boot into place every time you get them on and off, whereas, with speed entry, you simply fold back the highback and ‘click’ your boots into place.
While that sounds more convenient, it also means that they have less adjustability when it comes to going for a tighter or looser fit on the run. This can be important for those that wish to tweak their style depending on mountain conditions or the maneuverability they require on any given slope.
Despite being older technology, many experienced snowboarders will still opt for the strap-ins for that very reason. If it’s just a casual ride and you want to save some time between the lift and the top of the run, then speed entry bindings might be more convenient for you. Most modern strap-ins now come with two or even three buckle straps. One strap is usually strapped across the top of the rider’s toe area, another is positioned across the ankle area, and the third nearer the center.
They can be adjusted closed for a tight fit and good rider control of the board. This makes the time difference in getting them on and off minimal when compared with the speed entry straps. The other difference is that with strap-ins, the highback is fixed into place. Other than that, the type of straps you select largely comes down to personal preference. As for the flexibility rating, the type of boots you have will have an impact on what type of straps can accommodate them.
Best Snowboard Bindings Reviews
We’ve covered the essentials in what constitutes a good binding and gave an overview of the type that would be most appropriate for your use on the slopes. Obviously, the more expensive the binding, the better technology, adjustment options and material they’ll have. Having said that, you don’t have to break the bank to get a good rider experience. There are some very good options in all price ranges which offer both good performance and value. In this list, we’ve tried to balance out quality and price, and presented it in a way that boarders across all levels will find insight into their next purchase.
The Burton Cartel range has been up there with the best for a long time. Consistently rated as a favorite among many snowboarders, these bindings offer the advanced rider extremely good quality build, high adjustability as well as being lightweight. Constructed with a stiff high back and utilizing lightweight materials in the thin baseplate, a serious enthusiast willing to shell out the big bucks will not be disappointed. Being on the stiff side, they are more suitable for advanced riders on the steep slopes but are versatile enough to be used when it comes time to gently cruise down the lift runs.
The downside is that they’re only compatible with the Burton Channel boards, so if you don’t have this, you’ll have to skip down the list. Also, being on the expensive side, they may not be necessary for casual riders getting their occasional snow fix. Burton is always coming out with the newest snowboarding technology and has developed a loyal following that eagerly awaits each new product release. So if you have an unlimited budget and are looking for the best performance, then these are sure to be on the top of your list.
- Excellent build quality
- Highly adjustable
- Compatible only with Burton Channel boards
The Rossignol Cobras are a superb example of where you don’t have to empty your bank account to get an excellent, versatile set of bindings. The baseplate is made from a full EVA footbed that boasts 2.5° of canting. This enables the feet to enjoy extra cushioning and increasing versatility. As a result, the rider can feel softness for landings, while maintaining a high degree of responsiveness.
Rossignol also makes their pads on different hardness scales to give the buyer an option to select one that is more appropriate for their particular style. Everything is made with comfort and performance in mind, from the tall bay straps to the 3D asymmetrical highbacks. The straps are constructed with varying foam densities, with higher density foam around the upper and toe straps and a lower density foam in the center section. With the highbacks, the asymmetrical frame wraps around the boot comfortable and tightly, in order to maximize the responsiveness while maintaining comfort. Finally, the buckles are made of die-cast aluminum for extra durability and lightness. All in all, these bindings are well made and versatile and at this price range, should be a target for a wide range of boarders.
- Excellent quality at an affordable price
- Not as responsive as the Burtons
We’ve been discussing the differences between Rear-entry and strap-ins and how each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Flow has virtually eliminated this dilemma by making their binding with a combination of Rear-entry for swiftly getting those boots in and out, and straps to fine-tune the tightness for when you need it on the run. As a result, Flow has built a big fan base for its ability to make things easy for the user.
Manufactured with a steel cable in a triangular geometry between the highback and the baseplate, the bindings allow for optimal energy transfer. Flow advertise that the baseplate and highback and comprise of molded, composite materials, which result in them being lightweight and forgiving. However, some users have commented that they felt the overall quality is down a few notches when compared with our first two products. An affordable binding with some great additional features, the Alphas are a good pick for the casual boarder sticking to the park trails or pulling a few tricks on the half-pipe.
- Convenience of Rear-entry and straps
- Full EVA toe and heel inserts
- Less durable with more plastic materials
- Softness rating may confine you to the park
Union pride themselves on manufacturing their bindings with high strength, lightweight steel and aluminum across all lines. In fact, they are so confident, they have pinned a lifetime warranty on their baseplates and heel cups. In the Flite Pro, they have made an attractive, all-around product that is ideal for beginners and also has features that will appeal to advanced riders. The straps are designed with a multi-layer strap core to evenly distribute pressure across the top of the foot. At the toe end, the straps are multi-directional and include an anti-slip material to keep your boot securely in place. There is not much to dislike about these bindings, except perhaps that the simplistic design may be a bit too simple for the most advanced users. As a beginner or for those intermediate riders looking to upgrade their gear for the next level, the Union Flite Pro is an excellent choice while still being rather affordable.
- High strength, lightweight steel construction
- Excellent for beginners and advanced alike
- Attractive design
- Lifetime limited warranty on baseplate and heel cups
- Highback is less durable
If you’re looking for more advanced technology, Union has done themselves proud with the Contact Pro. Billed as one of the lightest bindings ever produced, the feeling has been described as basically having nothing around your boots. Packed with a multitude of features, these bindings are a match for the Burton Cartels, with the added bonus of not being constrained to any particular board. Comprising one of the most innovative vibration dampening technologies available, the softness underfoot makes this one of the most comfortable bindings on the market. One of the biggest draws of these bindings is the Duraflex baseplate. Making up only a 5% binding to board ratio gives it the ability to flex as naturally as it can. This dramatically enhances your ride to give you exceptional responsiveness and ultimately performance. The straps have been fused together to form a single, articulated strap, reducing weight and increasing durability. Additionally, the pressure is evenly distributed across your boot improving comfort and lateral mobility. Being expensive, the Comfort Pros will be only within reach of those looking for maximum performance. If you’re in that category, grab a pair of these and a set of Burton Cartels and compare them to determine the ultimate binding for you.
- Super Lightweight
- Highly versatile
- Smoothness with all over dampening
- Lifetime limited warranty on baseplate and heel cups
- Soft highbacks not for everyone
Another Union product to feature in our top 10 list, the Contact is an excellent, feature-packed binding for those without the budget or desire to go top of the range. However, for this season, the Contact is not available, and only the Contact PRO is available for purchase. Here’s the lowest price we could find on the PRO.
The super-light technology is present once again and gives the same feeling of nothingness on the feet just like its superior counterpart. Backed by pro-rider Scott Stephens, these bindings are available in an array of bright and unique designs.
The softness underfoot, provided by the multi-density, full bottom EVA bushing technology, make themselves at home on the jumps and bumps of the park circuit. While this may make them unappealing to the more serious mountain riders, the tricksters will have nothing to complain about. All-day jumping is entirely possible without the pain and discomfort of more stiff arrangements. As with any other Union gear, the baseplate and heel cups are made with the same high strength metal, allowing for extra durability, supported by a lifetime warranty on those parts. All in all, a high-level binding perfect for those keen on concentrating on their jumps and letting the gear look after itself.
- Super Lightweight
- Excellent quality
- Attractive design
- Lifetime limited warranty on baseplate and heel cups
- Softness limits use outside parks
The next in line is the ever-popular Freestyle from Burton. An excellent entry-level binding featuring all of the quality and cutting-edge features that are standard in Burton gear. Here, they have managed to a pack in numerous handy and practical components in what is essentially a bottom of the range model. While these bindings are too soft for adventurous, technical rides, they have been manufactured with a clever blending of materials to enhance the flexibility. This makes them ideal for beginners considering a challenge on the more difficult runs. The straps are designed with FullBED cushioning, giving a very comfortable feel, while the Flex Sliders allow for speedier entry with a heel strap able to flex and fully open. In summary, an excellent quality and comfortable binding which are ideal for beginners on a budget.
- Excellent quality
- Easy entry and release technology
- Great entry-level Burton
- Too soft to take outside the park
This solid entry from Ride covers most bases when it comes to selecting bindings that are versatile enough to cover any terrain. Easy slopes in the park? Covered. Want to pull some tricks and then head over to the black run? Also covered. Looking to advance to more technical mountain runs? You have the ability to in these. Basically, the whole mountain can be conquered without the need to change out your bindings for more or less flexible ones. Providing an extra portion of convenience, the Ride Ex has a similar sliding strap technology to the Burton Freestyle. Also, the multi-density straps give you that extra comfort without reducing performance. Where it lacks is the reduced adjustability and lack of any groundbreaking technology present in more expensive models. As an all-around binding, in terms of flexibility, quality and price, they offer great value for the everyday boarder that likes to be everywhere.
- Excellent all round binding
- Durable aluminum materials
- Easy entry and release technology
- Not as adjustable as more expensive options
Super lightweight and extra responsive, the Freedom indeed lives up to its name when it comes to freestyling down those jumps. The new model has introduced the micro buckle on the toe strap, which allows for quick adjustments as well as entry and exit. As with the Flows, the combination of Rear-Entry and Straps allows for a super speedy changeover from the lift to the run, while still maintaining full adjustability of the Strap-ins. With the patented Asym technology, both the flat, soft highbacks and the straps are asymmetrical, with the intention to allow for the most natural movements.
The result is that the bindings are maneuverable and supportive, perfect for the freestyle rider. Freedoms come only with a 4×4 mounting disk, so if you have another mounting pattern on your board, then you will need to purchase an additional mounting disk that is appropriate. While the Gnus might not be for everyone, especially beginners, freestyle riders looking for excellent technology should definitely consider these. They are technically made for intermediate to expert riders.
Using an Asymmetrical Highback and Ankle Strap, this binding acts to give you the best support possible in a binding, offering a comfortable and responsive ride. The Gnu Freedom Snowboard Bindings are the stiff-flexing, ultra-responsive binders you need to properly tackle your biggest downhill challenges. The flex is definitely rated “stiff” so bear that in mind.
The set comes with a 1-year warranty so you can rest with some peace of mind.
- High quality – Made in the USA
- The convenience of Rear-entry and straps
- Aluminum baseplate
- Lacks cantered footbed
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense binding at a relatively cheap price, the United from Rome may be the one for you. While it lacks the technology of high-end gear, most boarders will find what they need in these, whether they are looking to stay on the park trails or require fundamental responsiveness for more technical runs. The asymmetrical highback with full rotation allows for your body to blend with the board more smoothly, resulting in the extra responsiveness needed on tighter runs. The straps are simple, however this simplicity allows for lightweight construction, while maintaining full serviceability. The baseplate contains 3D EVA and rubber on the corners, cushioning them well and providing a very comfortable base. In a nutshell, everything you need is here. They’re a great choice for a wide range of riders from beginners to pros, as the flexibility gives the option of taking them on all runs. The low price enables everyone to get good quality bindings at an affordable price.
- High quality at a budget price
- Asymmetrical highback
- Versatile for any terrain
- Basic Construction
Conclusion and Recommendation
Now that we’ve covered the top ten bindings currently on the market, you should now know which ones are the best for you this season. If not, Transworld is another great resource to check out. For the beginner, we recommend the Union Flite Pro and the Burton Freestyles for their ease of use in the park, while offering great technology and functionality without overwhelming the user. If you’re thinking you might want to advance your skills, the Rossignol Cobra bindings and Ride Ex will offer the versatility of excellent quality and reliability on all runs, allowing you to crisscross between the park and more challenging terrain. Tricksters looking for the best quality and maximum comfort will be eyeing the Gnu Psych. The high level of technology aimed at riders who jump and scrape their way down the mountain make these a worthwhile purchase. Then we have the top of the range, contended by the Union Contact Pro and the dominating Burton Cartels. Essentially, the Cartels are amongst the top of the range for the pro boarder and Burton fans in general. Although they are built for the untamed, off-piste adventure, they are versatile enough to be used in the park. The fact that they can only be used on Burton Channels will be off-putting for a whole bunch of riders. As a result, the Union Contact Pro might just be the dark horse that, measured by different parameters, might very well top the list. Its high-level technology matches that of the Cartels, while being more accessible.
While your budget may ultimately determine the gear you choose, always remember that your time in the snow is a special one to savor. Having the right gear around your feet, no matter what you spend, will ultimately determine whether your cruise down the mountain will be a fun experience or a frustrating one. Good luck and happy boarding!