Do bindings really make a difference to your riding and how do you get started choosing the right pair?
Snowboard bindings are usually an after thought to most when planning to purchase a snowboard set up. They aren’t as flashy as a snowboard and they aren’t as personal as snowboard boots – we get it. However, they ARE just as important as your snowboard or boots and finding the right pair of bindings that suits you will have a huge influence on your riding.
There is a substantial amount of technology that goes into bindings these days and it might get a little overwhelming figuring all of it out. In this guide, we will show you how to narrow down the choices and help you select your first pair of bindings. With so many aspects to consider, here are our top 5 tips to look out for when picking out a pair of bindings.
1. BINDINGS FLEX RATING
Most snowboard brands will have a separate flex rating for snowboard bindings, ranging from 1(soft & playful) to 10 (stiff & aggressive):
- Soft flex: 2 – 4 (Very playful)
- Medium flex: 5 – 6 (All rounded)
- Stiff: 7 – 8 (Aggressive)
- Very stiff: 9 – 10 (Very aggressive)
The binding highback, baseplate and straps are the main components of a binding that affect its flex, and snowboard companies use different materials in these parts to achieve the overall desired flex of the binding. While stiffer bindings are usually more expensive than softer bindings, it is important to note that it doesn’t always mean stiffer bindings are the best choice for everyone.
The key is to match your riding style and ability level to the binding flex and this will help you select the most suitable binding for you.
2. MATCHING SKILL LEVEL & RIDING STYLE
Similar to snowboards and snowboard boots, you should match the flex of your binding to both your ability level as well as the terrain you see yourself riding on.
In general, beginners should start out with softer bindings while more advanced riders should look at a stiffer pair. The main concept behind this principle is that beginners want softer bindings which are more comfortable and forgiving. This will give you more allowance to make mistakes while learning. On the other hand, advanced riders want a stiffer pair for greater support at higher speeds and better response when riding on steeper and more technical terrain.
Here are some recommendations for suitable binding flex based riding ability and terrain preference:
Flex: 2 – 4 (Soft & playful)
Rider Type: First timer, Beginner riders, Freestyle (Ground tricks and jibs)
Beginner riders as well as those who love freestyle and the terrain park should consider snowboard bindings with a softer flex. For beginners, this would help with overall comfort and a more forgiving ride. For freestyle riders, a softer flex allows for more room for error, better recovery and softer flex for buttering and ground tricks.
- Top rated soft flex bindings (Men): Burton Mission, Burton Custom, Rome Slice
- Top rated soft flex bindings (Women): Burton Scribe, Burton Stiletto, Rome Glade
Flex: 5 – 6 (Mid Flex)
Rider Type: Intermediate riders, All-mountain terrain
Intermediate riders looking at all mountain riding should go for snowboard bindings with a medium flex. They have the greatest versatility to take you all over the mountain and perform well in all conditions. This ranges from riding on groomers to off-piste terrain, powder and even park.
- Top rated mid flex bindings (Men): Union Force, Burton Cartel, Rome Crux
- Top rated mid flex bindings (Women): Union Trilogy, Burton Lexa, Rome Flare
Flex: 7 – 9 (Stiff – Very Stiff)
Rider Type: Advanced riders, Freeride terrain, Carving, Freestyle (Big Air, Half-pipe)
Advanced riders will prefer stiffer bindings for faster response and greater energy transfer in helping you to navigate challenging terrain such as deep, ungroomed powder, backcountry and tight tree runs. With stiff bindings, you can go fast and go big while still remaining stable.
- Top rated stiff flex bindings (Men): Union Atlas, Burton Cartel X, Rome Katana
- Top rated stiff flex bindings (Women): Burton Lexa X, Rome W’s Katana. Rome Guild
3. MOUNTING COMPATIBILITY
While most bindings are now designed to work across multiple mounting systems on your snowboards, there are 3 main mounting systems that you should take note of. The most common system is the traditional (i) 4 hole mounting system (either 4×4 or 2×4), while the (ii) Channel System is used on all Burton snowboards and usually paired with Burton EST bindings. The (iii) Burton 3D system is the least common of the 3 and are slowly being phased out.
Traditional 4 hole system:
- Compatible: All 4×4 or 2×4 baseplates; Universal baseplates
- Not compatible: Burton EST bindings
- Compatible: Burton EST Bindings, Universal baseplates
- Not compatible: Traditional 4×4 or 2×4 baseplates
Both systems are suitable for all levels and have their own pros and cons. The key take away here is to make sure your bindings fit and work with your snowboard.
Most snowboard bindings on the market now come with baseplates that work with both systems. For example, all UNION bindings come with universal baseplates that work with both Channel and Standard 4×4, 2×4 systems. However, it is always a good idea to check or ask your local store for advise when selecting your bindings. The last thing you want to go on your trip and be stuck on the mountains with is a mismatched set.
Pro tip! Some bindings come with tool-free adjustments while others require a binding tool to make the adjustments. What’s more, mounting plate screws tend to come loose during the day, so for convenience, be sure to carry around a portable binding tool or screwdriver in your snowboard jackets. You never know when you may need it!
4. BINDING STRAP TYPES
There are 3 main binding strap styles in the industry today: (i) Traditional Straps, (ii) Step Ons & (iii) Rear Entry bindings. Find out which works best for you.
(i) Traditional Strap Bindings: Strap bindings are the most common type of bindings on the market and they feature a 2 strap (ankle & toe strap) system. The ankle strap goes over the top the ankle area of your boot to secure your feet into the heel caps. The toe strap goes across the front of your boot across your toes, preventing any forward shift. If you are looking for your first pair of bindings, we highly recommend starting off with this strap system as they have proven to be effective and comfortable.
- Comfortable & secure
- High adjustability
- Replacement parts readily available
- Takes a little more time to strap on than the other systems.
- Might be tricky for people with back or knee problems
(ii) Step On Bindings: Introduced by Burton in the winter of 2017/18, the Burton Step On system has been the talk of the industry ever since. They are designed similar to how skiers ‘step on and click into’ their skis. The Step On system offers a really fast and convenient option of locking onto your snowboard, without the need of sitting down on the slopes to strap in. If you value convenience and dread being the last one in your crew to strap in, the Step Ons are for you.
- Fast and convenient
- Very responsive
- Suitable for all levels, beginners to advanced riders
- Helpful for anyone with back problems or with issues bending down
- Slight learning curve. Takes a while to get used to
- Boot choices limited to Step On models only (Although more snowboard brands are jumping onto the Step On wagon with DC being the first to license to Step On technology from Burton)
(iii) Rear Entry Bindings: Designed to shorten the time taken to strap into your bindings, rear entry bindings offers a system where you fold your highback backwards and slot your boot into your binding, from the back. Snowboard brands that offer these binding systems are notably Flow and GNU. Make sure to test these out first before you make a purchase as there is quite a bit of debate over the efficacy of this system.
- Convenient and quick strapping in on-piste
- Some models give you the option to use straps as well as rear entry
- Takes time to get used to the system
- Can get tricky strapping in in powder
5. BINDING TO BOOT FIT
After choosing the right fit for your snowboard boot, you will need to ensure that you select a binding that fits your snowboard boot size. This is the most important step to ensure a correct fit and good performance on snow. Snowboard bindings come in a variety of sizes and this often differs between brands.
Your first step should always be to check the size guides offered by each manufacturing brand. This will indicate the recommended binding size that would fit your boot size.
While this is usually sufficient, you might want to take an additional step to be sure of the fit as boot sizes do differ between brands as well.
5 steps to check if your bindings fit your boots
- Place your boots in your bindings as if you were going to strap in
- Make sure the back of the boot is snug in the heel cup
- Your boot should be centred in the binding with ideally equal length of ‘toe and heel hang’ in the front and back
- You should be able to secure the toe and heel straps centred over your boots and secured
- Once strapped in, check that your boots do not move around inside the bindings
Pro tip! Before heading out to the slopes, be sure to try on your bindings to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that it will work for you on the snow. Things you can adjust include your binding straps, highback, and footbed. This saves you time and prevents discomfort when trying to get those turns in!
Snowboard, boots or bindings first?
With all this being said, you should always purchase your snowboard boots first. This will help determine the right width of your snowboard and bindings size to go with it.
Bindings are a very important part of your snowboard setup, so take your time to decide on what will fit you best. While colour and design might be an influential in your decision, keep in mind that your riding level should be the key factor when deciding your bindings purchase. If in any doubt, be sure to check with your local store for advice on the most suitable bindings for you.
Schedule a fitting session
Before making a purchase, we cannot emphasis how important it is to try on your snowboard gear, especially your snowboard boots and bindings. If you are unsure of your sizing, do not hesitate to visit our store or schedule a fitting session with us.
If you require further assistance with binding mounting, you may also book a binding mounting session with us. In this session, we will teach you how to mount your bindings onto your snowboard and what to look out for in your binding stance. Most bindings come with factory settings, so we will show you how to tune your bindings for optimum performance. Head over to to find out how you can schedule a fitting session and a bindings introductory lesson