Top 5 Women’s Freeride Bindings for 2017

WORDS: Morgan Tilton
PHOTOS: JP Van Swae

Exposed crowns, pinched couloirs, unfurled whiteouts. In no man’s–or woman’s–land, our setup becomes our lifeline. To determine all-terrain staunchness and comfort, we laid low S-turns, raced steeps to creeks, and dropped pillows in the pines. We rode 13,000-foot peaks in the Colorado backcountry and pointed it down chutes in Wyoming’s Teton Range. The turnout? Five solid bindings to help you navigate high-elevation runs from the top of the tram to the end of the lift line.

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NOW Conda – $280
For the power cat who ticks off every run at the resort, here's your ticket to the soul train. Regardless of the day's choice of terrain, these bindings operated like butter from double black diamonds and leveled groomers to the rugged backcountry. The Conda responded regally through tight tree turns and embraced cliff drops. It cornered well through sprint-level turns and was hearty off jumps. On steeps and at high speeds, the toe cap stayed snug, and the flush fit helped the highback go virtually unnoticed. The baseplate cushion flipped up with ease, which allowed for quick angle adjustments. Likewise, the ankle strap is outfit with a coeur a la crème cushion, which equals support plus comfort from the second you strap in for dawn patrol to the minute you ride to the base for après.

With zero malfunction experienced, it's tempting to call 'em the perfect pair. With certitude, it can be said: This degree of dependability means that there were no run delays or interruptions. Riders could keep lapping the resort on glorious spring days and take all the frothy face shots—blizzard or shine—that they could get.
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RIDE Fame – $270
The Fame took to the snow like a fully rigged SUV complete with luxurious amenities that only come with the dreamiest ride—think Jaguar F-Pace. They dipped steadily into the trees, carved open slopes, and lapped the park—and everything was fluid with these bad babes. Testers dug the stiffer flex—a degree that's ideal for those nine-to-four days with the home crew at the local hill. Combine this with supple ankle straps, toe caps that stuck like PB&J to our boots, and the sturdy wedge-shaped baseplate, and this binding earns an all-mountain badge. It plowed through variable snow conditions and provided secure, smooth turns for an uplifting soul groove. Ride's freestyle entry to this year's test was deemed a beautiful, durably plush ride capable of handling all terrain.
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Salomon Mirage – $240
Better believe it: This unique highback is softer than your dog's favorite Frisbee. The limber ankle strap delivered yoga-master flexibility on the inner edge but reinforced the boot's outer side. Paired with the soft heel cup, it created an ultimate binding for freestyling. Through big carves on corduroy and over crud-topped bumps, the light, close-to-board baseplate and lateral freedom helped riders take a close read of the terrain and respond nimbly. And that soft, maneuverable flex framed the slower days on the slopes in a forgiving manner. Riders enjoyed fluid moves and surfy flows, from laid-back afternoon runs to groovy jib sessions on natural features.
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Union Legacy – $260
Sometimes a lady has no choice but to slice her board across chatter-forsaken slopes. Responsive and solid, the Legacy binding performed the one-two punch on crusty moguls that were well suited for bull riders. From sunup to sundown, it ruled on ice patches and unforgiving hardpack. Then it grooved through 16-inch-deep snorkel runs in steep, off-piste terrain. The women-specific flex also made it a comfy, mellow ride on long, drawn-out cruisers. Crowned with a lightweight baseplate, it didn't just sit through the ride—it became the ride.

The binding-to-ride bond was at an all-time high and offered a down-to-earth feel without eliminating crucial vibration dampening. The toe cap—a web-like wing that's reinforced, soft, and pliable—synched immediately with testers' boots. And the well-cushioned ankle strap offered an all-over cradle—squeeze-free—with an even diffusion of pressure. The result was a minimalist approach, smooth turns, and the punch—a walk-on-clouds feel.
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FLUX GX – $275
Calling the rider who wants a playful, feathery buffer between her boots and board: This one's for you. The GX felt so light on testers' boots that it was a common occurrence to believe that they'd vanished into the snow crystals. To aid the joyride, the forward-lean adjuster's vertical spine splits the highback into an angel-wing shape, which enabled a gold-grade lateral flex. The outcome? A puckish pair that lent itself to big ollies, log jib sessions, and countless spins, making it hard not to see the entire mountain as a playground. The wide honeycomb ankle straps held tight when riders whisked down foot-plus powder laps as well as steep descents blanketed in moguls. Where this binding shined the most was on runs chock-full of all-mountain acrobatic mastery. From boulder-speckled obstacle fields to cliffy glades to wooden rail yards, they hit the pinnacle of flow and fun.
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