Not all bindings are made the same. There are different snowboard binding types and some are more or less suitable for different ability levels and styles.
Below I will outline what each type is good for depending on your ability and on what you like to get up to on the mountain.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here and some riders will have personal preferences outside of the guidelines below.
Beginner bindings are not just the bindings that are the cheapest – though a lot of people still think this way. Price is important but there are also other factors that make a certain binding suitable or unsuitable to beginners.
The most important factor for a beginner binding is the flex level. Very stiff bindings are very difficult to ride with and are very unforgiving of errors. Trying to learn in stiff bindings would be very difficult.
So for beginners a soft flex (1/10 or 2/10) or soft-medium flex (3/10 or 4/10) is the best way to go (on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the softest and 10 the stiffest).
I usually recommend soft-medium but this will also depend on your physical strength. Stiffer bindings are also more physically demanding. So if you are quite strong and a beginner then something around a 4/10 is best (you still don’t want to go much stiffer than that). If you aren’t that strong then you can consider something softer – but even a 4/10 shouldn’t be too physically demanding.
It’s not an absolute must but it’s nice to have a binding that’s easy to get in and out of when you’re a beginner. Bindings are new to beginners and also if you are going to be doing shorter runs on beginner slopes then you will probably be strapping in and unstrapping quite often.
Some level of shock absorption is good to have because it aids in the comfort of the binding but they don’t have to be super shock absorbing given that you aren’t going to be going over any big jumps or off gigantic lips when you’re just starting out!
Whilst price is not the only factor, it is definitely a consideration for a beginner. So you may have to sacrifice on some things. Fortunately softer flexing bindings do tend to be cheaper so that’s a win!
If you like to ride freestyle, whether in the park, on natural terrain or in the pipe, there are different bindings that are more or less suitable for you.
There’s a bit of a range for flex for freestylers.
If you are a noodler that mostly likes to ride jibs and do small to medium jumps and ground tricks then you are probably going to appreciate having a softer flex – anything from a 1/10 to a 4/10 is going to be a good bet.
If you prefer your freestyle more extreme – like finding big natural hits or large to extra-large jumps in the park then you’ll probably benefit from something a little bit stiffer. Anything from a 4/10 to a 6/10 is a good bet in this case. Some like to go even stiffer but I prefer not to go too stiff here because I still like to be able to play around with more playful element like jibs and ground tricks that I like to have a bit more flex with.
If you like to ride the pipe then something around the 5/10 to 6/10 flex range is a good way to go too. Again it depends on the other things you are doing when you’re not in the pipe.
If you like to ride the whole mountain freestyle then something between a 4/10 and 6/10 works well in my experience.
Shock absorption becomes really important for freestyle bindings. If you’re going to be landing jumps and tricks all day then you want a binding that absorbs shock well. Your body will thank you!
This is partly down to the flex but it’s also influenced by the binding’s connection with the board. A binding that allows the board to flex naturally will have better butterability (assuming that you are riding a board that likes to butter of course).
Some bindings are designed to flex more with the board and some make use of mini disks so that direct contact with the snowboard is a minimum – again this allows the board to flex more naturally.
All mountain bindings need to be able to do a bit of everything – they need to be able to ride at least decently riding freestyle and decently for freeriding.
To be able to ride well enough for everything the flex needs to be a compromise between super stiff and super responsive and flexible.
This where a medium flex (5/10 to 6/10) is most often the best bet.
If you are a more aggressive all mountain rider then a 7/10 or 8/10 should also be considered if you are looking for more response.
It’s maybe not as important as it is for freestyle bindings but you are still going to want some decent shock absorption in there.
Freeride bindings need to be able to handle speed, tricky terrain and some serious force being applied to them – so they need to be strong and responsive.
Freeride bindings are the domain of stiff and responsive. A medium stiff (7/10 or 8/10) or stiff flexing (9/10 or 10/10) binding is the best bet to give you the most response. Response isn’t entirely down to flex but it is a major factor.
You want your bindings to be as adjustable as possible so that you can make sure that they conform to your boots perfectly. If they aren’t fitting properly then you’ll lose response.
This is important for any type of binding but especially so for freeride bindings.
Shock absorption, comfort and easy entry/exit are also important for freeride bindings but come second to response and fit.
Freeride bindings tend to be the most expensive as there is more tech going into them.
Thanks for reading
I hope this post has taught you something about the different snowboard binding types.
If you have any questions or if you agree or disagree with anything in this post, or if there is something important that I’ve missed, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.
If you now know the type of binding that you want to go with you can check out my top 5 lists for the different types at the link below.