Binding Review: 09-10 Union Force SL

17 Nov, 2009

Location: Loveland & Copper, Colorado

Snow Conditions: Mixture of Conditions.

Setup: I rode the Union Forces (size M/L) with the Capita Ultrafear FK and my Bonfire Geo Boots

Time to set up the binding: Average

Fit: My Bonfire Geo’s fit snugly into the heelcup and conform fine to the highback.  I have a small bit of extra width between the bindings but it’s only with my Bonfire Geo boots (Vans boots fit fine in them).

First Impression: I liked these bindings last year so when it came time to pick this years bindings, I upgraded from the Forces to the Force SL’s and no regrets on my decision.  I got a lighter, stiffer, more responsive binding but I didn’t lose the amazing feeling of the Forces with the upgrade.

Appearance: They are the white/red Force SL’s which someone told me reminded them of baseball and I like them, simple design and colors.

Comfort: The Force SL’s continue with the padding that the regular Forces offer, padding on the highback and baseplate to absorb rougher terrain when you hit it and a sturdy padded ankle strap that doesn’t give me any pressure points when strapped in.

Functionality: The Force SL this year got an upgraded baseplate, new ratchets and straps.  The forward lean is easy to adjust, the ankle strap is tool-less to adjust and the toe strap needs a screwdriver to adjust.

Flex: The highback is asymmetrical/symmetrical which I’m loving, both bindings might look the same but how they flex is different.  I have more flex towards the nose and tail of the binding and a stiffer flex of the highback towards the center of the board.  So I don’t need to rotate my highbacks (which I don’t do anyway) but it gives me a good amount of strength and flexibility where I need it, which is down the mountain.  The highback is hard to describe but easy to see when you can hand flex the highback, towards the tip and tail a lot softer, toward the center of the board, a lot stiffer flex.  Overall the binding is on the stiffer side, supposed to be the stiffest binding in Unions line now and while it does have a good amount of stiffness to it, I wouldn’t ride it if it was overly stiff and aggressive for me.  There’s a good amount of give to the binding.

Response: The Force binding allowed the rider to really control the response you wanted and the Force SL takes it into the riders hands but also pushes you to take more response from riding.  I’ve actually gotten a kick out of the Force SL response and how you can just lay it over and it gives you what you want.

Toe Strap: The Union toe straps you definitely need to adjust to your boot when you get them or they can slip when riding.  I’ve adjusted mine and I don’t encounter any slippage but if I change boots I need to readjust before I ride or I would.  Also make sure the toe strap is centered and the material in front covers your boot, the larger material molds to your boot when you crank it down.  I rock my toe strap convertible and have no problem with it staying in place when riding.

Overall Impression: I’ve gotten 10 days in on the Force SL from freeriding to park to just playing with butters on the mountain.  Even with as stiff and responsive as these bindings are, there’s enough play that it’s fun to take them into the park and when I leave the park, I have no problem getting quick response out of them for holding carves.  The lightweight factor just adds as a perk to the binding but I haven’t noticed any loss of stability from it.

Shay’s Honesty Box: I have no regrets on upgrading from last years Forces to this years Force SL’s, lighter and more responsive which favors me as a freerider but I can also play in the park with them.  I did ride the Forces after riding the Force SL’s and quite frankly I enjoy both bindings.  I’m already in 10 days on the mountain with them and planning to get a full 100 day look at them at the end of the season.  They were given as a gift and I’m never returning them.

Ready to buy? Head over to evo for the 2011 version of the Union Force SL or shop their full line of Union snowboard bindings

On-Snow Photos
Union Force SL Description

Review Disclosure: This product was given to me from C3.

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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  1. Fes
    November 17, 2009

    Looking at a pair of Union Forces this year because Union/C-3 does market it as a binding to the 100 days a year rider. In that case it should last me 3 years. 😛

    p.s. Hi Shay. 😀

  2. November 17, 2009

    Hey Shay,

    I have an old pair of Burton Freestyles from 97 or so. I’m thinking I need new bindings and these sound nice. I’ve only ridden the freestyles though so I have no idea how much changing the bindings will change the board experience. Any suggestions as to why I should upgrade, what I can expect?


  3. Brek Leines
    November 17, 2009

    My dad has these, there super sweet and I love that you can rotate the highback on all their bindings except the mc’s

  4. SDF
    November 17, 2009

    Will be Union SL-R be a better match for my Libtech Trice C2 157cm compared to my 07 Burton P1 Wingtip? I have an opportunity to sell the Wingtips to my friend but I’m not sure if it’s worth it to change the bindings to the SL-R


  5. Brek Leines
    November 17, 2009

    Unions on the trice will be sick. My friend is riding a trice from last season so btx with just forces on it and loves it and my dad is riding his last years gnu riders choice (very similar to the trice) with sl’s and his new dk c2 has just forces on it. Unions are great all around bindings. comfy but still really responsive!

    get em

  6. November 17, 2009

    Fes, I’m happy with the Forces, mine took some beating but just cosmetic wear and tear by the end. I’ll be riding the Force SL’s all season and making them the next 100 day input.

    Girl gets board, Definitely time for new bindings and they’ll be a huge improvement. They’ll be lighter and a lot more comfortable than your 97 freestyles. I remember my bindings back then and just a good amount of technology since then that it’s worth upgrading. What size boots are you rocking?

    Brek, sick your dad has them! Love that you guys are a snowboard family!

    SDF, I haven’t rode the 07 Burton P1 Wingtip so I can’t compare them to give you a better idea. The only way to know is demo them or buy them and see which one you like better, sell the one you don’t or keep two pairs of bindings.

  7. November 18, 2009

    Thanks for the tips Shay.

    I just got the 09 Burton Emeralds size 8.

    Its been hard to convince myself to spring for new ones since to me it seems like they are working, but I think if I were to ride new bindings I would def. notice a difference.

  8. Johnny
    January 05, 2010

    Shay, great review thanks. looking at the Force Sls to replace my Missions as I want a much more responsive freeride binding and not sure about the Burton options. Have a 163 Supermodel and Burton Sl-10s…what do you think?

  9. Phil
    February 25, 2010

    Hey Shay with the Union Force SL you can swap the toe straps and flip them over (padding at bottom) and they work much better as convertible toe caps. Better than my Burton CO2 toe cap:) and better than the way Union designed them to be used, the way their toe cap is it should have a forward and rear lateral position like the Burton CO2s to fit more boots.