Alpine touring is an unmatched style of skiing. You can access terrain that other skiers only dream of and get unlimited fresh tracks in deep powder along the way. But to enjoy this experience, you need to get the right gear, and bindings are an essential part of that.
I’m Christine, the founder of TheSkiGirl.com, and I’ve been skiing for decades. I’ve been on many ski touring adventures over the years, and I know what to look for in quality equipment built for the backcountry.
The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 is my pick for the best alpine touring bindings of the year. These are built to give you excellent downhill performance while having a lightweight and flexible construction that caters to the backcountry.
I’ll show you all of my top picks for AT bindings in this post. The popularity of this skiing style has really increased over the years, and there are some excellent bindings to take advantage of.
Let’s get rolling.
Who Should Get This
If you want to venture into the backcountry without the assistance of a snowmobile, snowcat, or helicopter, you’re going to need to get an alpine touring ski setup. This includes boots, skis, and bindings that are built to handle this style of skiing.
A few of the options on this list also give you hybrid performance – meaning you can use them at the resort and in the backcountry. These bindings can work well if you want the flexibility to adapt to your conditions or just need a lightweight option.
Can you downhill ski with touring bindings?
Yes, you can. If you are only skiing within the resort boundaries, you don’t need to use touring bindings. But if you want hybrid performance or don’t have your full alpine setup, you can easily downhill ski with AT bindings.
Do you need brakes on touring bindings?
I highly recommend that you use ski brakes on any type of binding, alpine touring styles included. While some hardcore touring skiers get rid of brakes to save weight, this can mean a lost ski if you eject out of the bindings in the backcountry.
How do touring bindings release?
Touring bindings release similarly to downhill bindings, which is decided by the DIN setting and how much force is put into the binding. The difference is they have a tour mode that locks the toe in place with that setting engaged.
How do you use touring bindings?
Touring bindings work by allowing you to switch between touring and downhill modes. When going uphill, the heel will be free, so you can use skins to ascend. The bindings then lock in the heel for downhill performance.
Can you ski park with touring bindings?
No, you should never really ski in the park with touring bindings. There’s no reason to do this, and touring bindings are not built to withstand the high impacts that can occur in the park.
Best Alpine Touring Bindings: Top Picks
Here are my picks for the best alpine touring bindings of the year. Every option below has a lightweight but strong design that is built for the backcountry.
1. Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Lightweight, excellent performance uphill and down, solid construction, 2-year warranty
- Weight: 885 grams
- DIN range: 6-13
- Cost: $$$
The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 (review) is the best overall alpine touring binding of the year. These provide the best of both worlds in terms of uphill and downhill performance.
They have a lightweight of 885 grams for each binding to help you shed as much as possible to get uphill faster. An easy step-in feature makes getting into and out of them a breeze.
A dual-mode toe piece makes it easy to switch from touring to downhill mode, and you’ll get exceptional performance from each. Automatic wing adjustments adapt to many different types of boots without any special tweaks.
These aren’t the lightest option out there, but they are the best all-around.
2. Dynafit Radical
- Best for: Ultralight Option
- Key features: Very lightweight, strong construction, 2-year warranty, speed step climbing aid
- Weight: 520 grams
- DIN range: 4-10
- Cost: $$$
If you are looking for one of the most lightweight options around, check out the Dynafit Radical. These weigh in at only 520 grams, making them the lightest option on the list.
They are built using high-quality materials that retain their strength and durability without adding weight. It’s the best of both worlds.
A speed step climbing aid lets you adjust to the incline of the slope you are heading up, which is a great feature for serious tours.
These don’t have a high DIN setting, so they aren’t the best for downhill performance in very technical terrain.
3. Marker Duke PT 16
- Best for: Beginners
- Key features: Versatile, effective all-around, 3-year warranty, auto quad lock tech, magnesium construction
- Weight: 1350
- DIN range: 6-16
- Cost: $$$$
Anyone new to alpine touring can take advantage of everything the Marker Duke PT 16 has to offer.
These bindings will give you versatile performance, allowing you to effectively get uphill while still providing a lot of downhill support.
The auto quad lock technology instantly secures your toe when in touring mode, so you don’t have to think about the technical side of things and can focus on the task at hand.
The downside is that this model is pretty heavy and is the bulkiest option on the list.
4. Dynafit ST Rotation 14
- Best for: Versatility
- Key features: Very versatile, ST rotation toe piece, ice breaker pins, bayonet lock
- Weight: 605 grams
- DIN range: 7-14
- Cost: $$$$
The Dynafit ST Rotation 14 offers excellent versatility to give you the ability to use these at the resort if you want or need to.
They are still built to handle the backcountry but provide enough downhill performance to use for an alpine setup if you’re in a pinch.
The ST Rotation toe piece is extremely strong and durable to hold everything in place, and stainless steel ice breaker pins let you clear your boots for easy entry.
Even though they are versatile, these will only work with tech boots and not standard alpine options.
5. G3 Ion 10
- Best for: Budget Option
- Key features: Affordable, excellent construction, snow clearing channel design, easy release adjustment
- Weight: 579 grams
- DIN range: 4-10
- Cost: $$$
Budget is a relative term in the world of alpine touring equipment, but the G3 Ion 10 is one of the most affordable options for bindings.
These have a lightweight and strong construction that will hold up well under regular use and also feature a snow clearing channel design that helps when you’re in deep powder.
It also features a Quick Flick 3-position heel lift that is easy to adjust only using your poles, which is nice to have to adapt to changing conditions and terrains.
Even though this is the cheapest option on the list, it still costs more than the average alpine binding.
Alpine Touring Bindings: What to Consider
Here are a few important things to keep in mind when looking for the best alpine touring bindings to help you explore the backcountry.
High-quality construction is absolutely essential when you are out in the backcountry. There won’t be any help out in the wilderness if things break, so you need to get bindings built to handle the extreme demands of this skiing style.
Look for strong metals and other materials that can take a beating without fail. Every binding recommended here is built with that in mind, but know that construction is critical if you continue to shop around.
Weight is another significant consideration in every piece of backcountry gear you choose to use. Alpine touring bindings are built to be lightweight to help you get up the mountain easier and with less effort.
While it might not seem like much, even minor changes in the weight of your gear can start to add up during a long uphill ascent. Look for bindings under 1000 grams for a touring option and around 600 grams for an ultralight option.
Even though a lightweight construction can help you get uphill more efficiently, that doesn’t always translate into good downhill performance. What good is reaching an untouched bowl of deep powder if you can’t take full advantage of it?
You need your touring bindings to offer high levels of both uphill and downhill performance. Good response and power transfer to your skis are essential, so make sure you get a high-quality model like the ones mentioned here.
Useful Tips & Resources
Alpine touring is one of the most amazing ways to enjoy your time in the snow, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. Backcountry safety needs to be kept in mind at all times, so study up on these tips to avoid danger and enjoy your experience.
It is vital for everyone venturing in the backcountry to understand how avalanches occur and the conditions that make them more common. Check out the video below for more information on that.
The Salomon S/Lab Shift MNC 13 is my pick for the best alpine touring bindings of the year. These are a lightweight but strong option that will give you excellent performance in the backcountry.
If you want to alpine tour, you need to get the proper equipment. The bindings in this post are the best options currently available, and all of them are highly recommended.