Skiing in the backcountry is amazing, but it requires a lot of preparation. You need gear that both holds up to the elements and helps you along on your journey. And bindings are an essential part of reaching that goal.
I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life and have tried virtually every style of the sport. I’ve been on many backcountry adventures over the years, and I know how to pick quality equipment that meets the needs of this style of skiing.
The G3 Ion 10 is the best backcountry ski binding of the year. This is a super lightweight model that still delivers plenty of outstanding downhill performance. If you want to venture deep into the wilderness on skis, these bindings will help you along the way.
There are a handful of other high-quality options out there, and I’ll show you all the best backcountry models in this post. You need to be prepared, but you also need equipment that will deliver far away from the resort. Everything here will do that in more.
Let’s gear up and get out there.
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 and the strength and reliability to handle unpredictable environments.
If you like to crash through deep powder or trek up snowy inclines, these options are for you.
All of the bindings here 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, they are not the best options for beginners or people just starting on their backcountry journey.
What are backcountry bindings?
Backcountry bindings are pretty much the same thing as alpine touring bindings. They are lighter than regular alpine ski bindings and also allow you to release the heel to use the bindings to trek uphill.
Do you need special bindings for backcountry skiing?
If you want to use your skis going uphill, you need to get special backcountry bindings to allow for this to happen. You can use regular bindings if you’re going to hike rather than skin uphill.
How do you use backcountry bindings?
Backcountry bindings are used similarly to regular alpine bindings in that you step into them to secure your boots. The difference is that the heel is freed up, and the toe is locked into place when the bindings are set to touring or hike mode.
Best Backcountry Ski Bindings: Top Picks
Here are my top picks for the best backcountry ski bindings of the year.
1. G3 Ion 10
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Excellent construction, lightweight, snow clearing channel design, easy release adjustment
- Weight: 579 grams
- DIN Settings: 4-10
- Cost: $$$
The G3 Ion 10 is my top pick when it comes to backcountry ski bindings. These will give you excellent uphill performance thanks to a lightweight design while still delivering power and response on the way back down.
They have a very strong and durable construction that you can rely on for long trips deep into the wilderness and will perform each and every time.
A wide toe jaw and innovative tech pin position give you excellent shock absorption while also increasing performance by upping power transfer when you go downhill.
The snow clearing channel design is another nice touch that keeps the bindings free from gumming up in heavy snow.
There isn’t much of a downside with this model, and I recommend it to any backcountry skier.
2. Dynafit ST Rotation 14
- Best for: Powder
- Key features: Good energy transfer, ST Rotation toe piece, ice breaker pins, bayonet lock
- Weight: 605
- DIN Settings: 7-14
- Cost: $$$$
If you want to take advantage of all the deep powder you find in the backcountry, check out the Dynafit ST Rotation 14.
This is another excellent backcountry ski binding that has an extremely sturdy and reliable construction that will give you the ability to carve and turn easily in deep snow.
An ST Rotation toe piece gives you good power transfer and response, which turns in reliable response that is much needed in steep and deep conditions.
The ST Rotation 14 is a very solid backcountry binding, but it is extremely expensive.
3. Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13
- Best for: All-Mountain
- Key features: Versatile performance, strong and durable construction, 2-year warranty
- Weight: 885 grams
- DIN Settings: 6-13
- Cost: $$$
This model comes with a solid and durable construction that you can harness to your advantage in variable conditions and terrain. That comes in helpful deep in the backcountry or when you want to hike to an untouched line.
A dual-mode toe piece allows you to quickly switch from touring to downhill mode, which is another feature that highlights the versatility of the S/Lab Shift MNC 13.
The tradeoff of this is that these are a bit heavier than the average backcountry binding.
4. Atomic Backland Tour
- Best for: Beginners
- Key features: Extremely lightweight, easy to use, adjustable release settings, locking toe lever, three climbing levels
- Weight: 398 grams
- DIN Settings: Custom
- Cost: $$$
The Atomic Backland Tour is a good binding option to consider if you are just learning how to backcountry ski.
These have a unique design that gives you three different release options rather than a traditional DIN setting. This makes them suitable for beginners and easy to adjust.
They also have three climbing level settings that you can switch to match the angle of the slope you are ascending.
They aren’t the most durable option, but most beginners won’t notice that.
5. Marker Kingpin 10
- Best for: The Money
- Key features: Affordable, good value, solid performance uphill and down, 3-year warranty, compatible with all tech boots
- Weight: 758 grams
- DIN Settings: 5-10
- Cost: $$$
The Marker Kingpin 10 is a great binding for the money. These aren’t an extremely budget option but still represent a solid value.
They have excellent construction and a reliable design backed by one of the most respected brands in the world of bindings.
A Kingpin climbing aid will help you adjust to slope angles and makes it easier to get uphill efficiently.
These are a little bulky, but the tradeoff in weight isn’t extremely noticeable.
How to Choose Ski Bindings for the Backcountry
Be sure to keep the following considerations in mind when choosing the best ski bindings for the backcountry.
A binding is only 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. 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.
Though many high-end models utilize premium construction, backcountry designs made for advanced skiers tend to need stronger materials to accommodate the extra force required to power through rugged terrain.
Useful Tips & Resources
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 vital 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.
The G3 Ion 10 gets my vote for the best backcountry ski bindings of the year. This model gives backcountry skiers everything they want and need in quality uphill abilities and exceptional downhill performance.
Every option you see here will work wonders in the backcountry. If you want to reach far-off lines deep in the wilderness, you need good equipment, and all of these bindings will help you with your adventures.