How Tight Should Snowboard Bindings Be? (Essential Tips)

by Fraser

If you’re reading this, you’re probably experiencing either loose snowboard bindings or crushing foot pain!

We’ve all been there.

Snowboard binding tightness can really make or break your snowboarding experience. So, how tight should snowboard bindings be?

Snowboard bindings should be tight enough to fit snugly, without causing pain or compromising circulation. Simply tighten your straps until they start to feel uncomfortable, and then loosen them off slightly. Overly tight bindings reduce circulation to the feet, causing cold toes and pain. Loose bindings reduce response and cause accidents.

Keep reading for a few more pointers on getting the perfect fit…

Should Your Snowboarding Bindings Hurt?


I’m asked this question all the time, which goes to show how many people are affected by overly tight bindings. Your bindings need to be tight enough to optimize response and performance, but not so tight that they’re causing pain. 

The most commonly affected area is the top of your foot (under the ankle strap). This isn’t necessarily from cinching your straps to the max. Even slightly over-tightened or poorly fitting bindings can cut off the the blood flow, leading to pain and numbness. 

Let’s go over some helpful tips to follow if you’re still experiencing pain. 

How To Tighten Your Snowboard Bindings.

As I mentioned earlier, your bindings shouldn’t be too tight or too loose. It’s therefore crucial to understand how to tighten the bindings properly.

Firstly, tightening snowboard bindings depends on the type of binding you use. The most common types of binding are listed below.


1. Traditional Strap Bindings

Strap bindings are the most common. Luckily, tightening them is easy. All you need to do is place your foot inside and tighten the straps. Whilst these are easy to tighten, they’re equally easy to over-tighten! 

  • To properly tighten strap-in bindings, put your front foot into the binding – but not before knocking out as much excess snow and ice as possible! 
  • Now tighten the ankle strap as firmly as you can without it becoming uncomfortable – your heel should be firmly held within the binding.
  • Next, tighten up the toe-strap. This will either be above the toes or right over the end of the toes (check which your strap is designed for).
  • Wiggle your toes and feet! You should be able to wiggle comfortably, but not lift out of the binding. Pain, numbness or pins and needles are not okay.!


2. Rear Entry Bindings

These bindings come with one or two pre-tightened straps and a high back. For a single strap, the strap portion is located near the toe or ankle. Hence, you must open the high back first and slide in your boot. Then, you’ll put the high back in place and fasten the straps. To tighten them, do so with the screws/adjusters before sliding your foot in. 


3. Step On Bindings

These are the easiest bindings to deal with due to their simplistic design. They are lightweight, fast, and have no straps! Simply align your boots with the tabs, push down and snap your feet into place. There’s nothing to tighten on these bad boys!

Note: Remember that the bindings should be tight to hold your foot in place securely. However, if you experience pain, tingling, or numbness in your ankles, toes, and feet, this could mean you have gone too far! Relax them a bit. You can always tighten them through the day if needed. 

If you’ve followed the above steps and still feel that your bindings are too loose or too tight, it might be a compatibility issue. You may also need to adjust the strap lengths. Read on below!

Checking Your Binding Sizes:

Getting the correct snowboard binding sizes is crucial. If you’re having to over-tighten your bindings just to achieve adequate response, it might be that your bindings are simply the wrong size. 

When choosing your bindings, there are a few points to be aware of…

1. Sizing Your Bindings With Your Boots:

This is the number one mistake people make when sizing their bindings!

Bindings come in various sizes, including small, medium, large and extra-large. Unfortunately, the corresponding boot size for each binding is not standardised across the industry. Whilst the binding charts below can be useful, it’s worth noting that the manufacturers don’t have the specific binding sizes for specific boot sizes.

Therefore, you must test your boot in your binding before buying them.

Snowboard boots vary in footprint depending on brand. For example a size 9 Burton boot might be much less bulky than a size 9 Salomon boot. The best way to determine the correct size is by fitting them in person. If you’re unable to try them in store, use binding charts to work out which one to order.  If you’re in the middle of the range, you should be good to go anyway. 


Male US Binding Sizes.

These charts give you an idea of the approximately sizing for different binding brands. As you can see, there’s a lot of difference between brands! Head here for the full list of binding size charts

Arbor 7-9 9-11 11-13
Bent Metal 5-8 8-11 11-14
Burton 6-8 8-11 10+
Fix 6-8.5 8-10.5 10-13
Flow 5.5-8 8.5-10.5 11-14
Flux 4.5-7.5 7-9.5 9+
Flux (Transfer Base) 5-7.5 7-9.5 9+
GNU Freedom & Psych 6-9 9-11 12-14
GNU Cheeter 4-7 7-10 10-12

Female US Binding Size Chart.

Arbor 5-7 7-9
Burton 4-6 6-8 8+
Fix 6-10
Flow 4-6.5 7-9.5 10-12
Flux 4-6.5 5.5-8.5 8-10.5
GNU  4-7 6-9
K2 (Hue & Meridian) 6-10

2. Sizing Your Bindings With Your Board:

The board is also essential in determining the binding’s size. Ensure the board is neither too narrow nor too broad for the binding you have selected. If the board is too narrow, the bindings will overhang the edges, meaning you’ll dig into the snow whilst turning. 

If the board is too wide, it’s difficult to exert the required pressure, making the board hard to turn. This might be why you feel the need to tighten your binding straps down so tight!

Hint: Your chosen snowboard will have a suggested boot/binding size in the product spec – check their website!

How To Know If Your Boots Fit Your Binding.

If you followed the tips above but are still unsure whether your boot fits your binding, listen up.

  • Your boot should comfortably slide into your binding. If you’re having to squeeze your boot into the binding then the bindings are too small and your straps may be too tight. If your boot has lots of space between the boot and the binding, then the binding is too big. This will force you to tighten your straps to the limit – and even then they might be too loose!
  • Your binding straps should not be on the last hole! Your ankle and toe straps should sit in the middle of your foot. To achieve this you may need to move the straps in or out using the adjustment screws. If you are on the first or last holes, then the chances are your bindings are too small or too big for your boots.

Checking Your Binding Flex.

If you’re tightening your bindings to the max and they’re still feeling unresponsive, you might need to review your flex rating. But what is snowboard binding flex?

Snowboard binding flex describes the stiffness of the bindings. The flex is usually allocated on a scale from one to ten (softest to stiffest). Flex can also be described as either soft, medium, stiff, or very stiff. Whilst stiffer bindings are more responsive, they are also less forgiving. This should be avoided for beginners or freestyle riders.

It’s important to note that flex ratings are not standardised between brands. What’s stiff in one brand may be relatively soft in another. Nonetheless, here is the most common representation of binding flex ratings:

Soft Medium Stiff Very stiff
1-2 3-5 6-8 9-10


The flex rating you choose depends on several factors, including your riding style, ability level, and the boot-board match:

1. Binding Flex According to Your Ability Level.

Beginners require a softer binding to avoid getting into trouble. If you are a newbie, stick to a medium flex (3-5). This allows you to make mistakes without significant consequences (falling!). 

Intermediate snowboarders can also use this flex but might enjoy the 6-7 stiffness slightly more. This range offers more responsiveness, enabling faster turns and harder carves.

Experienced snowboarders might consider a very stiff flex (8-10), but even then this is only usually necessary for snowboard racing or hardcore freeride. 


2. Binding Flex According To Riding Style.

Your riding style will also determine your ideal snowboard binding flex. Some styles might require more stiffness than others. So, let’s take a deeper look at some:

i) Freestylers Need a Soft Flex!

Go for a soft flex if you’re a freestyle snowboarder. This gives you time to make mistakes and allows you to really tweak out those grabs. Softer bindings can also enhance buttering and jib tricks. If you’re also dabbling in the L-XL jump lines, you may need to err more towards a medium flex. This increases responsiveness and gives a little more support for those heavier landings. 

ii) All-Mountain Riders Need a Stiffer Binding!

If you’re an all-mountaineer, you’ll require a perfect match for your boots, board, and bindings. It’s best to have the right flexibility for different settings such as the park, trail, and backcountry.

Thus, depending on your riding ability and preferences, you’ll likely need to go on the stiffer side and settle for a 5-8 rating. This is because whulst you may dabble in the park, you don’t want to hit a gnarly freeride incline in the afternoon with unsupportive bindings. 

Of course, an alternative is to have different bindings for different days. But this is obviously expensive and marks the start of a serious gear-hoarding habit (guilty!). 

iii) Aggressive Riders Require a Stiffer Binding.

If you charge hard at all times, you need a supportive and responsive binding. By the time you reach this ability level, you’ll already know your exact binding preference!

"I've Done Everything And My Straps Still Hurt!"

If you find that you’re still needing to constantly tighten your binding straps, despite following the above, I have a simple solution. But your wallet isn’t going to like it…

Buy step on bindings. 

It’s literally impossible to have issues with binding tightness with these. It’s also likely that these will become the bindings of the future. Worth a try?

Final Thoughts

Hopefully that explains how tight your snowboarding bindings should be. 

One area I haven’t touched on is that sometimes over-tightening your bindings is somewhat psychological. I certainly add a couple of ratchets before hitting a particularly gnarly jump or cliff drop!

As long as you don’t ride with them this tight all day, it’s not usually a problem. But experiment by loosening them off a little – you might find that you get just as much response and they’re a whole lot more comfortable. 

Remember, if you’re needing to overtighten, it might a sizing issue. Read back through the above notes and check your gear. 

Hope that helped!

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