Skiing out in the backcountry, while fun, requires a lot of preparation. You need gear that both holds up to the elements and helps you along on your journey. That is where the items in this guide shine.
You cannot afford to settle when skiing off-piste. If you plan to head into the great white unknown, the bindings in this guide, all analyzed for durability, ease-of-use, features, and performance, will help you tackle rough terrain. There are many great bindings, but only a few excel where others fail.
- When picking out a ski binding for the backcountry, it is hard to do better than the G3 Ion 10. This is perhaps the easiest-to-use model on the market, making it the perfect choice for skiers who don’t want to spend a lot of time hassling with their bindings. The lightweight construction also makes it a perfect option for those who want to cut extra weight. With a solid toe-piece and built-in bumper, it’s a great choice for deep powder.
- Dynafit is a well-known brand that makes premium products. The ST Rotation 12 fits that mold, providing you excellent results on any backcountry adventure. These bindings are best for skiers who know they’re going to be doing quite a bit of walking on their journey. The rotational toe piece comes with an integrated centering hub that helps stop prereleases on tough downhills and the carbon toe plate generates quite a bit of power.
- The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC is an incredibly versatile binding for skiers who want to shift between walking and downhill. It starts out like similar pin-ready options when trekking up inclines, but easily shifts to a traditional downhill design when in ski mode. It is also well-built, sturdy, and utilizes elastic travel technology. Such features make this a great option for more advanced skiers looking to get a little more from their bindings.
Who Should Get This?
The ski bindings in this guide all have fantastic qualities for backcountry skiers. They have the versatility needed for off-piste excursions, as well as the strength and reliability to handle unpredictable environments. If you like to crash through deep powder or trek up snowy inclines, this guide is for you.
These bindings also tend to be on the more advanced side. Expert skiers who need more performance or extra power will appreciate everything these bindings offer. Though they can be used by intermediate skiers as well, they are not the best options for beginners or people just starting out on their backcountry journey.
Best Backcountry Ski Bindings: What to Consider?
A binding is only truly useful if it can release at the right time. Release settings, commonly referred to as DIN or ASTM, are based on a series of factors like weight, age, and height. When looking at your settings, note that lower numbers need less force to release than higher ones. Intermediate models tend to have a release setting between 3 and 10, while advanced models can go up to 14 or 15. Pick the one that best suits your experience level.
When picking out your bindings pay attention to brake width. Every binding comes with a safety brake that has its own measurements. When purchasing a ski binding, ensure the width is as wide as, or longer than, the ski waist. In addition, be sure to avoid brakes that are 20mm wider than your ski’s waist.
It is always important to pay attention to the construction of your bindings. Though many high-end models utilize premium construction, backcountry designs made for advanced skiers tend to need stronger materials to accommodate the extra force needed to power through tough terrain. Always look for enhanced metal bindings that will hold up run after run. Beyond durability, you should also watch out for stiffness and metal density as well.
Best Backcountry Ski Bindings: Our Picks
1. G3 Ion 10
The G3 Ion 10 is a well-rounded binding made for the backcountry. This sturdy model is lightweight, has a wide design, and is incredibly user-friendly. The toe piece also comes with a unique snow-clearing channel to keep the bindings ice-free on more serious runs. Those features make this the best option for less-aggressive skiers who know they’re going to spend a lot of time crashing through deep powder.
What We Like:
- Lightweight design
- Easy to use
- Tall stand height
- Wider than traditional tech bindings
- Forward pressure heel elasticity
- Great climbing functionality
- Snow-clearing channel in toe piece
What We Don’t Like:
- Not suited for extremely hard-packed snow
- Doesn’t work for aggressive skiers
The Dynafit ST Rotation 12 is a solid ski binding that has enough strength to push through the backcountry. You need power and versatility on off-piste runs, and this model provides both. It comes with a toe plate to give you strength and utilizes 10mm of forward pressure adjustment in the heel so you’re always locked while off the grid.
What We Like:
- Forged aluminum construction
- Carbon reinforcements
- Rotational toe piece with integrated centering hub
- Carbon plate in toe provides power
- Versatile, allows for walking and skiing
- Forward pressure adjustment in heel
What We Don’t Like:
- Can be tricky to use
Skiers looking for versatility will love the Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC. This binding, while a bit heavy for lightweight skiers, offers excellent backcountry performance thanks to the versatile toe piece. That feature enables you to switch the bindings for both uphill and downhill travel, preparing you for any obstacle that might come your way. These also offer great shock absorption on top of a sturdy metal construction.
What We Like:
- Solid shock absorption
- Allows for full heel rotation
- Easy to switch between different modes
- Toe allows for uphill and downhill travel
- Durable carbon-infused construction
- MNC certified
What We Don’t Like:
- Not as durable as similar models
- On the heavy side
Useful Tips and Information
Going off-piste is always an adventure. You never know what you’re going to see, nor do you know what you’ll encounter. Though good bindings help you traverse such terrain, they are not the only equipment you need. This checklist gives you an idea of the different items needed for any successful backcountry trip.
No matter where your journey takes you, it is important to stay safe. Avalanches are always a concern, especially in unfamiliar or powder-heavy regions. Rather than heading into such areas blind, consult the tips in this video to familiarize yourself with foreign terrain.
When picking out a backcountry ski binding, you need something that gives you power on top of the versatility to go both up and downhill. The models analyzed in this guide go that extra mile and keep you ready for anything.
Most high-end ski bindings will give you great feedback and power on groomed runs. The above items are special because they can handle tough off-piste conditions with ease. As such, you’ll have great results regardless of which one you choose.
Do you have favorite bindings for the backcountry? Are there any we didn’t cover? Let us know below!
Joseph Scalise is an avid writer, editor, and snow sports enthusiast who loves to spend his time outdoors. He began his love of writing early on in life and continued to pursue it as he grew older. While his time behind the computer doesn’t get him into the wild unknown as much as he would like, he never misses a chance to head up (or down) a mountain, across a river, or through a lush forest. When he’s not planning new trips, you can always find him typing away on his next project.