First and foremost, all of the bindings listed below are trusted by our editors to safely secure skis to boots. That said, not all bindings are equal in terms of performance. Certain bindings are designed for hard-charging freeride and freestyle skiers, some are made for World Cup Racers, and others are no fuss no muss bindings for weekend warriors.
Most of the pictured ski bindings in this article have release values—commonly called DIN settings—that range from 4-16. We've also listed alternative bindings that use similar technology of those reviewed but have different release values to accommodate different body shapes, abilities, and budgets.
Keeping in mind that many high-performance carving and frontside-specific skis come with integrated bindings, these particular ski bindings listed below are designed to work with flat skis that don’t come with bindings. All bindings should be professionally installed and adjusted by certified technicians at your local ski shop.
Marker Jester 16 ID
The entire Royal Family line from Marker gets a makeover for 2021, including the iconic Jester 16 ID. The toe piece is noticeably larger, adding visual confidence as well as an effective anti-ice rail for those who use their bindings to scrape their boot soles. The AFD adjustment screw is extended in front of the toe too, making for easier adjustments. What sets the Jester apart, however, is an oversized spring on the heel of the ski boot that provides a resounding “thump” of assurance every time a skier clicks in.
Marker Jester 16 ID Details
- ISO Release Value Range: 6-16
- Boot Compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk, Backcountry
- Brake sizes: 90mm, 100mm, 110mm
- MSRP: $465
Look Pivot 15 GW
With a solid metal toe, burly pivoting heel, and even more unique colorways than the beloved Pivot 18 GW, the Pivot 15 GW provides all of the durability of its stronger sibling with a much more accessible ISO release value range and more options to match more ski top sheets. While most other companies have wider toes with springs that run perpendicular to the ski boot, Look maintains a spring that directly pressures the toe of the boot, providing a classic feel that sets the binding apart.
Look Pivot 15 GW Details
- ISO Release Value Range: 6-15
- Compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk
- Brake sizes: 95mm, 105mm, 115mm
- MSRP: $475
Salomon Warden MNC 13
Salomon’s Warden MNC 13 adds two new color schemes this season—copper and metallic blue—but still keeps the proven oversized toe wings that engulf the front of the ski boot, plus a low profile that optimizes control for wider skis. The binding’s multi-norm certification (MNC) means that these bindings are compatible with any ski boot with an ISO certification. Add in a release value range that works for most and a great price, and it’s hard to go wrong with this do-it-all binding.
Salomon Warden MNC 13 Details
- ISO Release Value Range: 4-13
- Compatibility: Alpine, GripWalk, Backcountry
- Brake Sizes: 90mm, 100mm, 115mm, 130mm
- Also branded as: Atomic, Armada
- MSRP: $325
Tyrolia Attack2 16 GW
The Austrian brand’s top freeskiing/all-mountain option has proven to be a reliable ski binding over the years. It was recently updated to accommodate GripWalk soles, making it more versatile than ever. The metal-plated AFD provides both strong power transfer from boot to ski, as well as a high level of durability compared to plastic options found elsewhere. But the Attack2’s strongest element is the Race Pro heel, which confidently snaps into place and keeps a strong grip on the ski boot in variable conditions and terrain. Plus, with a slew of brake sizes and DIN options, there’s a Tyrolia Attack2 option for every skier.
- ISO Release Settings: 5-16
- Brake Sizes: 85mm, 95mm, 110mm, 130mm, 150mm
- Also branded as: Fischer, Elan
- MSRP: $425
Salomon STH2 WTR 16
The Salomon STH2 WTR 16 binding is still the ultimate way to attach your skis to your boots. The oversized toe piece wings swallow the front of the boot, providing seamless energy transmission to the ski when paired with the beefy heel piece. I especially love the thunderously confident clunk the heel piece transmits when stepping in. The STH2 WTR 16 minimizes the use of plastic in key locations, which means that the binding is both built to last and a heavy load to lift. Both the toe height and wings are adjustable to accommodate most ski boots, and the plethora of brake options will fit every frontside, all-mountain, and powder ski on the market. [MSRP: $320, BUY NOW]
- ISO Release Setting: 7-16
- Brake Sizes: 90mm, 100mm, 115mm, 130mm
- Also branded as: Atomic, Armada
- MSRP: $320
Look Pivot 18 GW
Besides looking awesome in both the Forza Fade and jet-black colorway options, there is some serious technology packed into the GripWalk compatible Look Pivot 18 GW. Most importantly, the pivoting heel piece is solid, but during twisting falls, it releases in conjunction with the toe piece to reduce knee strain. The all-metal toe piece is also beefy and is trusted by some of the best skiers in the world (including World Cup racers, X-Games gold medalists, and top Freeride World Tour competitors). And if you don’t need a release value that goes to 18, the Pivot 14 GW and Pivot 12 GW incorporate many of the same features at easier-to-swallow prices.
- ISO Release Settings: 8-18
- Brake Sizes: 95mm, 115mm, 130mm
- MSRP: $400
This binding was awarded a SKI Editor's Choice award in 2019. See all of the winners.
Marker X-CELL 16 GW
Perhaps the most frontside-oriented binding on this list, the X-CELL 16 GW is the perfect blend of Marker’s vibration-reducing X-CELL toe piston technology with the versatility of GripWalk compatibility. The toe wings are also extended to generously wrap around the front of a ski boot, and the heel piece has been widened to increase boot contact as well. With a single 90mm-width brake option, the X-CELL 16 GW is made for frontside skis and shredding the piste, but helps ensure a smooth ride when the snow is less than perfect.
- ISO Release Settings: 6-16
- Brake Size: 90mm
- MSRP: $350
Read about the best backcountry ski bindings
People also ask
What size binding do I need?
- The brake width of your binding should be 2 to 15 millimeters larger than the waist of your ski. For example, if you are skiing the Völkl Kendo 88, your ski binding brake should be 90mm-100mm. If a binding’s brakes are narrower than the ski's waist, they will not properly release when the boot comes out of the binding and fail to stop the ski. If your bindings are too wide, they are likely to drag on the snow during turns and could cause injury.
Will any ski boot fit any binding?
- No. Ski boots now feature different types of soles, including traditional alpine, GripWalk (GW), and Alpine Touring (AT). Each type of sole corresponds with a specific International Standards Organization (ISO) norm that ski bindings need to meet in order to work with each specific type of boot sole. All of the bindings featured in this article with a "GW" in the title are compatible with Alpine and GripWalk soles. It is important to verify with your local ski shop that the boot sole you have will work with the bindings you want.
Additionally, bindings need to be adjusted for ski boots that have different sole lengths. If the bindings are mounted to the ski, it is important to make sure the binding can accommodate the size of the boot sole length in the current mount position. If not, the binding will need to be remounted, which can possibly damage the integrity of the ski. Always check with a ski tech to make sure your ski boot sole length will work with a pre-mounted ski binding.
What is DIN?
- DIN stands for "Deutsches Institut für Normung," or the German Institute for Standardization. “DIN” and “DIN settings” are colloquial terms when referring to ski binding release settings. Modern release value settings are now standardized by the International Standards Organization (ISO).
ISO release settings are the same for every ski binding and assume the user is using a matched ski boot and binding (If the boot has GripWalk, the ISO release values are standardized only for bindings that are GripWalk compatible. Both will have “ISO 9523” listed directly on the product, usually in fine print). Using a non-matched ISO standard for boot and binding, such as an AT boot in an alpine binding, can lead to increased friction which can cause injury due to the result of a fall and possibly invalidate any sort of warranty. SKI highly recommends only skiing in boots and bindings with the same ISO compatibility and have been properly installed and adjusted by a professional ski technician.
Can I adjust my ski bindings?
- Think of your ski bindings like your car's power steering: If you go in and start recklessly turning screws, you’re probably going both invalidate the warranty and break something (your car, your binding, and/or yourself). Just like taking your car to a mechanic to get the steering properly fixed, you should take your bindings to a certified ski technician if you think something is wrong with your ski bindings. SKI highly recommends only skiing in boots and bindings with the same ISO compatibility and have been properly installed and adjusted by a professional ski technician.
What is GripWalk?
- GripWalk is rockered ski boot sole made with rubber that makes walking easier. The special sole features plastic reinforcements at binding contact points to enhance skiing performance. Boots with GripWalk require bindings designed to accommodate GripWalk (ISO 9523 certified, usually indicated with a “GW” in the name of the binding).
What is an AFD?
- AFD stands for anti-friction device. It is a part of a ski binding’s toe piece designed to assist releasing the ski boot during a twisting fall. It can be made out of plastic or metal, and sometimes slides on a spring. Many modern AFDs need to be adjusted to work with different boot soles. If you are unsure if your AFD is properly adjusted for your boots, ask your ski technician for assistance.
What is forward pressure on a ski binding?
- Most binding heel pieces need to be adjusted to accommodate different boot sole lengths, which is commonly called a binding’s forward pressure. If a ski binding is already mounted, then it’s important to make sure the forward pressure can properly accommodate a boot’s sole length before going skiing. SKI highly recommends only skiing in boots and bindings that have been properly installed and adjusted by a professional ski technician.
What is the difference between alpine bindings and backcountry bindings?
- Alpine bindings are designed for going downhill, while backcountry bindings are designed to go both uphill and downhill. Because of this, alpine bindings are usually heavier and perform better while descending, while backcountry bindings are lighter, release (and sometimes break) more easily in downhill mode, especially when skied on hard snow and moguls. Some bindings, including the Salomon SHIFT, act like alpine bindings in ski mode but feature an uphill mode if your ski boots have tech inserts.
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