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Best Overall: Marker Griffon 13 ID at Amazon "They’re compatible with every kind of ski boot thanks to the SOLE.ID tech."
Best Buy: Salomon T STH2 WTR 13 at Amazon "Earns its rep as a low-cost option in all the tech it bakes into its (relatively) low price point."
Best for Backcountry Skiing: Dynafit ST Rotation 10 at Amazon "They provide the low weight coveted by backcountry skiers."
Best for Confident Release: Look Pivot 14 AW at Amazon "Provides snow feel, control, and forgiveness as you power through a turn."
Best for Beginner and Intermediate Skiers: Tyrolia AAAtack at Amazon "Delivers the power you need in an all-mountain ski binding."
Best for Racing: Head Freeflex Evo 14 Race at Amazon "Floats on a metal spine, so you can ski fast but react quickly."
Best for Saving Your Knees: KneeBinding Shadow at Amazon "Detects the forces that cause injuries and releasing before calamity ensues."
Best for Touring: Atomic Backland Tour Brake at Amazon "Supports the twin pillars of tour skiing: nominal weight and simplicity."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Marker Griffon 13 ID
It’s a strong testament that Marker classifies the Griffon 13 ID as a freeskiing specific binding considering it performs wonderfully in practically any alpine skiing scenario. They’re compatible with every kind of ski boot (alpine as well as those with touring soles) thanks to the SOLE.ID tech, which utilizes a height-adjustable gliding plate. The DIN rating, which is how the scale of release force settings are measured using your weight, height, and skiing ability, swings from 4 up to 13, with no-pull-out screws and a cross-axis toe spring and compact mounting that offers a shorter binding ideal for quick maneuvers. That control is buoyed by the binding’s centralized swing weight. Engineered for advanced and expert skiers, it’s optimal for skis with waists over 76 millimeters, and is available with 90, 110, and 120 brake-width options in two colors. The only thing it can’t accommodate is skiers with more heft. If you tip the scales more than 250 pounds, opt for the Marker Jester, a more robust binding optimal for the heavy-set skier.
Best Buy: Salomon T STH2 WTR 13
High-quality low-cost bindings still cost around $250, simply because the tech that governs how well your bindings work doesn’t come cheap—and you don’t want to skim on such an essential piece of gear. They’re the only thing that really helps control your skis and saving you from injury in a disastrous crash. Where the Salomon T STH@ WTR 13 earns its rep as a low-cost option is in all the tech it bakes into its (relatively) low price point, including XT Toe Pedal that ensures the best transmission from skier to ski, wide wings at the toe and heel to better-envelop your boots for assured connection, and a heel arch that provides lateral reinforcement.
That said, the bindings have a low-profile chassis for increased terrain feedback and bolstered power transition, while the “elastic travel” secures the boots when chatter and shocks increase, preventing pre-release. The pivoting 3D Toe Driver also dampens the shocks when landing, which further increases confidence in the binding system. The DIN scale ranges from 5 to 13, and its waist measurements range from 90 to 130 centimeters.
Best for Backcountry Skiing: Dynafit ST Rotation 10
Like other backcountry-specific bindings, the Dynafit ST Rotation 10s are the transformers of the ski binding space. The heel component sits on a bayonet locking mechanism that’s hub-centered, making it easy to rotate and shift from touring to ski modes on the fly without sacrificing the confidence you need when heading downhill. The front toe also rotates and pivots to combat pre-releasing from sudden impacts. You anchor your toes into the binding by clicking either side of your boot into the step-in side towers, one of the easiest backcountry configurations on the market, thanks to the integrated centering system that helps align the boots into the proper position.
Standard ski brakes make it very resort-friendly as well, and a mix of chromoly, forged aluminum, and high-tech synthetic materials assures years of rugged use and abuse. The DIN measurement stretches from 4 to 10, and at only 599 grams, they provide the low weight coveted by backcountry skiers. The width ranges from 90 to 135 centimeters.
Best for Confident Release: Look Pivot 14 AW
Look’s Multi-Directional Release technology sets the Pivot 14 AW bindings apart from their competition. The binding boasts a mechanical upward release (sort of like an ejector seat reconfigured for skiing) that functions independently from the heel for the most effective and reliable release protection in case of a fall. But seven points of contact with the boot assure that you’re not sacrificing any energy transition or driving power. In fact, the bindings excel at getting more power to the skis’ edge for max control, response, and snow feel.
It also delivers loads of elastic travel, both laterally and vertically, to absorb shock on chatter or jumps and cut back on unwanted pre-release, with 28 millimeters of elastic travel on the turntable heel and 45 millimeters and 180-degree release on the toe. A shorter mounting zone provides less swing weight to improve response and a deeper, more consistent ski flex.
In short, it provides snow feel, control, and forgiveness as you power through a turn, but sets you free when gravity is trying to take you down. DIN rates from 5 to 14, with a width that ranges from 95 to 155 millimeters.
Best for Beginner and Intermediate Skiers: Tyrolia AAAtack 11 GW
For those who are still learning the sport of skiing, you want a pair of bindings that perform well (of course) but also ones that release more easily and reliably when you need them to, lest a flailing ski adds injury to the predictable insults of taking a tumble. The AAAtack 11 GW delivers the power you need in an all-mountain ski binding, with a DIN setting that starts at 3 and ends at 11—plenty tight for intermediate skiers.
The bindings work with both traditional alpine boots as well as those with GripWalk traction treads under foot, with a durable AFD Metal GW construction. The heel piece comes with Tyrolia’s SX FR design, based on new kinematics that secures the boot and promises direct power transfer from the boot to the edge of the skis. The only modest limitation in these bindings are the limited brake width options, either at 90 or 100 millimeters, though four color options help you match the bindings to your skis.
Best for Racing: Head Freeflex Evo 14 Race
Serious races need serious control and absolute confidence in a pair of ski bindings, ones that deliver maximum power transfer and control from edge to edge, remain tight enough to know when to stay put, and sophisticated enough to release when you start to seriously tumble into a fall.
Unlike most bindings on this list, the Freeflex Evo 14 floats on a metal spine, which allows the heel and toe components to move as the ski flexes, so you can ski as speed and react quickly. The Race Toe increases aerodynamics, a sleek profile that carries into the heel construction. As you’d expect from a binding built for World Cup racing, the DIN can crank all the way up to 14 from its lowest setting of 4, and the weight is quite modest at only 2,500 grams.
And, as also expected, they only accommodate brake widths of 85 millimeters, which marries nicely to the waist width of the best racing skis.
Best for Saving Your Knees: KneeBinding Shadow
Torn ACLs (one of the two ligaments inside the knee) ranks as one of the most common—and debilitating—ski injuries on the slopes. KneeBinding’s goal is to change that. Studies show that while most bindings release up at the heel and sideways at the toe, most of the ACL injuries occur when skiers are rear-weighted as the skier starts to fall backward, bends at the hip and knees, and then catches an inside edge to twist the ski and cause injury.
These American-made bindings employ a third-dimension heel release for precisely that scenario, detecting the forces that cause those kinds of injuries and releasing before calamity ensues. Thankfully you don’t have to sacrifice tight DIN settings; the Shadow and other bindings in their line can be set from 3 to 12.
For more confident skiers, these may feel like overkill, but for those who’ve faced recuperating after a serious ALC tear may have found their gateway back into the sport. The bindings support a brake width range from 79 to 150 millimeters.
Best for Touring: Atomic Backland Tour Brake
The focus on the construction of the Atomic Backland Tour Brake supports the twin pillars of tour skiing: nominal weight and simplicity. A patented step-in aid at the toe makes it easy to position your boot so that the binding’s two pins automatically engage with your boot. On the heel side, a glove-friendly “Hike and Ride Switch” lets you toggle from skinning to skiing without fuss, and two climbing levers—set at seven and 13 degrees—are separate from the heel tower.
They also come with a 30-millimeter sole-length adjustment (which is longer than most backcountry/touring pin bindings), and they’re crampon-compatible. The brake width stretches from 80 up to 110 millimeters.