Personal preference will also play a role but mostly it’s down to riding style, ability level and boot/board match.
Unfortunately flex ratings aren’t standardized. There are a couple of different rating systems and how flex is rated can differ between manufacturers.
The most common flex ratings you will see, and their rough corresponding flex rating out of 10, are shown below. As much as possible I will try to use both the word form and the number rating for clarity.
Also in terms of the word form, I will be using the wording from the first rating system below in the rest on the rest of this page.
Rating System #1
- Soft (1 – 2 out of 10)
- Medium-to-soft (3 – 4 out of 10)
- Medium (5 – 6 out of 10)
- Medium-to-stiff (7 – 8 out of 10)
- Stiff (9 – 10 out of 10)
Rating System #2
- Soft (1 -2 out of 10)
- Medium (3 – 5 out of 10)
- Stiff (6 – 8 out of 10)
- Very Stiff (9 – 10 out of 10)
If you are a beginner then ability level will come into play. If you are a more advanced rider then it comes down to your riding style (see the next section below).
Beginners are best to go with a Medium-to-Soft flex – a 3 or 4 out of 10.
This is the same as with snowboards and boots for beginners – so you will be matching the flex correctly.
But the main reason that a medium-to-soft flex is the way to go, is that it enables a more forgiving ride and will be more forgiving of errors.
The reason I wouldn’t go for too soft a flex (say 1 – 2 out of 10) is that it compromises too much on responsiveness. Medium-to-soft (3 – 4 out of 10) is the best compromise between responsiveness and a forgiving ride.
Intermediate riders don’t need to stick to this but I still wouldn’t go beyond a 6/10 or 7/10 in flex for an intermediate rider.
Different riding styles suit different levels of flex in a snowboard binding.
The following is typically the best set up for each different type style but some personal preference will definitely come into play. And you may well be a unique blend of different styles which may influence the flex you go with.
Like with the beginner rider it is important to match the flex of your bindings with your boot and board. Check out the link below for more on snowboard flex.
Freestyle riders tend to go with a softer flex.
This is because the softer flex allows for easier landings, greater room for error and allows the freestyle rider to tweak grabs more easily.
If you typically just stay in the park and like to ride really soft flexing boards for easy buttering and like that really forgiving flex then a soft flex (1 – 2 out of 10) could be the way to go for you. This is mostly for street/jib boards and riders.
However, a lot of freestyle riders like to use the rest of the mountain for freestyle riding and also like to occasionally ride the trails with mates who don’t ride in the park. In this case a medium-to-soft flex (3 – 4 out of 10) is the better way to go.
For larger jumps or for riding the pipe, it’s usually preferred to have a slightly stiffer flex. a medium flex (5-6 out of 10), in this case is probably better. You still don’t want to go too stiff because you still want to be able to tweak grabs and want some forgiveness on landings, but that extra stiffness can help make your landings more stable.
All-mountaineers like to do a bit of everything. They need their board, boots and bindings to be flexible enough to ride in the park, ride the trails and help them to conquer the back country.
This is where medium flex or medium-stiff flex (5 – 8 out of 10) is king. It’s the happy middle ground to allow you to do everything on one set of bindings all in the same day.
Some all-mountaineers may go slightly softer or slightly stiffer depending on what they like to do and personal preference. An all-mountaineer that spends more time in the park may want to be closer to that medium flex around 5/10.
Whilst the all-mountaineer that spends more time bombing down the mountain at speed and likes to carve and does more backcountry stuff, may prefer a medium-to-stiff (7-8 out of 10) in their bindings. Again it’s a good idea to match this to your boots and boards as much as possible too.
For those aggressive riders that like to live in powder in the backcountry and bomb the steep slopes at speed then you will need a binding that is super-responsive.
This is where stiff flex (9 – 10 out of 10) is the way to go to maximize responsiveness. It would be very difficult for a novice rider to ride with such a stiff flex so make sure you have the ability to handle this type of flex.
Some freeriders do prefer a bit more forgiveness than what’s offered in a stiff flexing binding and might prefer to go with a more medium-stiff (7-8/10) binding
Of course, these are only three very broad definitions of styles and you may be someone who likes to bomb the backcountry but also enjoys riding in the park. Really the best solution for this is to have two sets of gear, if you want to get the most out of each day.
Flex is not the only thing to consider when looking for snowboard bindings. Choosing the right size, type of binding and ensuring compatibility with your snowboard’s binding mounting system are also important considerations.
Check out the article below to learn more about these other considerations.
Questions or comments
Hopefully this has helped in your decision for which snowboard bindings are best for you. If you have any questions or comments just leave them in the comments section below. I try to answer all questions and comments within a day or two.