How To Choose the Right Snowboard Bindings

Make sure your bindings properly match your board, boots and riding style.

It can be hard to temper the excitement of a new snowboard. But before you hop on and ride off into the sunset, you need to think about how you’re connected to it. Your bindings impact your performance, safety, and comfort. So, you need to consider several factors when purchasing a pair. Select your bindings based on the type of riding you like to do, your ability level and board-boots compatibility. Find the right pair that complements your skills and board. And don’t skimp on this critical piece of equipment that attaches you to your ride. When properly matched to your board and boots, as well as your riding style—be it all-mountain cruising, laying fresh tracks, hucking cliffs or sliding rails in the park—your bindings transfer energy and power from your body to the board, enhancing control and performance.  


The binding flex you choose depends on your ability level and terrain you like to ride. It should also match that of your boots (i.e., if you use a stiff boot, pair it with a stiffer binding). Beginners and freestylers often choose bindings with shorter, flexible highbacks for a softer, more forgiving ride and easy recovery when landing jumps. More serious riders often opt for taller, stiffer backs for better edging on firm snow and support in powder and steep terrain. Consider your riding style before choosing. 


Binding baseplates include either discs (most common) or bolts that attach to the binding interface on a board and can be adjusted to accommodate different riding-stance distances and angles. Most bolt patterns follow a standard four-hole pattern, relying on four screws to mount each binding. Note: Burton offers a unique diamond-shaped bolt pattern and other configurations specific to Burton boards; make sure the baseplate pattern of your binding is compatible with that on your snowboard.   


Despite the variety of binding types available, they mostly fall into the traditional, strap-in category. Other styles include speed-entry bindings and step-in bindings, which are more for hard boots, racers and hardpack riders.   

Strap-in bindings

This binding standard is suitable for most riding styles and boot flexes, offering great support and cushioning. The design allows you strap your snowboard boot down onto a baseplate with a highback using two straps: a toe strap that holds your toe in place and an ankle strap securing your ankle. Both are usually tightened with a ratcheting system. They can be used with any brand of snowboard boot, but a given manufacturer’s boots generally fit their bindings the best. Drawback: They require unbuckling at the bottom of each run before boarding the lift. 

Toe straps vs. cups

Some toe straps have changed over the years, thanks to Burton debuting a “toe cap” covering the boot’s toe. Other manufacturers have since followed suit, and now also make a strap that can be converted either way. Toe cup benefit: It’s designed to push the boot back into the binding, reducing forefoot pressure points and enhancing energy transfer. 

Speed-entry bindings

Similar to strap-in bindings but slightly heavier, these have reclining highbacks that allow you to slide your boot in easily, replacing the buckling required of strap-in bindings. A yoke-like system tightens across the forefoot to hold you in. They work with both firm and soft-flexing boots. 

Step-in bindings

Usable only with specific, stiffer boots, step-in bindings feature a pin or other metal piece on the bottom of the boot that clicks into a special plate, making it easy to get in and out of without sitting down and strapping in. Without the strap support of strap-in bindings, they require a stiffer boot that’s harder to flex. Drawbacks include: ice buildup on the binding and boot bottom, making it hard to engage; and lack of support from the binding. 

Women-specific bindings

These have lower highbacks to accommodate lower calves and are narrower to better fit women’s boots and to enhance energy transfer to the snowboard.


As with boots and boards, bindings are designed for different riding styles and types of terrain—with plenty of overlap between model types.   


This soft- to medium-flex type of binding favors riders who search out everything from high-speed groomers to untracked terrain and hucks in the park. Designed for general cruising and carving in all conditions, they often include padding to dampen vibrations and enhance energy transfer, with different price points ranging from softer, entry-level configurations to higher-performance and more responsive straps and backs. 


With softer flex for easier turning, landing tricks and riding switch, these bindings work best for freestyle riders seeking out jumps, rails and boxes in terrain parks. While still providing plenty of support, the straps and highbacks offer more flexibility than those on all-mountain bindings, as well as softer cushioning for shock absorption after those big hucks. 

All-mountain freestyle

This is a hybrid-type binding that serves those who want it all: the ability to ride all over the mountain as well as sending it in the park. They’re slightly stiffer than freestyle-specific bindings, yet still soft enough for grabs in the park.  


Often mounted on wider, longer boards with more float, powder-specific bindings tend to be slightly stiffer for better control. 


Stiffer bindings for better edging are used for Alpine and boardercross racers focusing on speed and control on hardpack. 


You get what you pay for, with differences in quality and performance throughout the industry. Entry-level bindings (less than $200) often include plastic buckles (instead of aluminum), with minimal padding and soft straps. Mid-level bindings (around $200) often have more durable aluminum buckles, as well as stiffer, more responsive straps, plus thicker padding on bottom and highback for enhanced absorption. High-performance bindings (over $200) are more durable with even more cushioning and better materials for performance, weight-savings and comfort. Bonus: Most bindings can be easily moved from one board to another, so spend more for a good one that you might use down the road on another board.  

Fit tips

Make sure your binding fits your boot, holding it securely, side to side as well as fore and aft. It should slide in easily but firmly. Also, pay attention to any pinch points and other areas of discomfort. They should let your boots flex freely without any lift in the heel, wobbling or pressure points. After tightening, make sure there’s not too much strap leftover that could catch on branches, pant cuffs, etc. Bring in your bindings to a specialty retailer or any Public Lands location for a custom fitting.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.