Binding Review: 11-12 Union Atlas
13 Feb, 2011
Location: Winter Park, CO
Snow Conditions: Hardpacked to softpacked to icy groomers.
Setup: I rode the Union Atlas on the Capita Totally Fk’n Awesome with my Vans Veil Boots size 8.
Time to set up the binding: The atlas were the first binding of the day and had some adjustment to the heelcup to fit my women’s boots but normal time mounting them.
Fit: I’m used to the fit of Union bindings to my Vans boots so I know the M/L will fit the width of my boots fine but the heelcup needs to come in to be better fitted. Adjusted that and the straps, the binding fit was good for my women’s size 8′s.
First Impression: All-mountain but with more padding and response
Appearance: The highback gets your attention with the sleek design and it continues as you look over the baseplate to the straps. I rode the atlas in the black which is a pretty plain color but the design of the atlas doesn’t come across as plain. It would have been fun to ride in the glow in the dark bindings and hide out in the bathroom to test them (next time).
Comfort: Definitely more noticeable padding in the baseplate compared to the Forces, it made for a very smooth ride down the mountain and absorbed any rough terrain. Overall padding and support in the baseplate to the ankle straps to the highback made the atlas a comfortable binding from stepping into them. The ankle strap definitely had a lot of padding that was a noticeable difference.
Functionality: The atlas basically take the components of the forces and makes them better. It’s lighter and more cushioning. Easy adjust on the ankle strap and you need a tool on the toe strap. Easy to adjust the bindings overall like the heelcup that I need pulled in for my smaller boot size. Buckles were dialed and no problem getting in and out of the bindings easy and fast.
Flex: When I first got on the atlas I thought they were softer than the forces and definitely deceiving in how they rode at first. They were softer flex from the side to side so a lot more give, but stiffer and responsive from the top to bottom. It meant a binding similar to the Forces but with more response and a lighter overall feel to them. Ankle strap was definitely stiffer but still comfortable with the padding, you noticed the binding really supported you and had more response to it.
Response: Offering up a bit more response, the atlas give you the binding that can handle the mountain but also give you a bit more aggressive ride. They aren’t overly responsive but just the right amount of response that you want when it comes to turning and tweaking.
Toe Strap: The Atlas feature the new union toe strap and when I tried them, I rode them with a couple options to figure out what worked best on my boot. I ended up rocking them over the top versus convertible which was fine but definitely going to take more time to adjust to my boot next time. They worked either over the cap of the boot or over the top of the boot. Both were fine, I ended up spending more time with them over the boot.
Overall Impression: The atlas were a step up for me from the forces but also a binding that I felt comfortable on from the beginning. Responsive and comfortable without overpowering the rider, they matched the force but made it better in areas.
Shay’s Honesty Box: I would have kept riding them all day and figured out the toe strap for my boot but I wanted to give other bindings a chance. Definitely a binding I would have rode for days because like the forces, they can handle it all and don’t let you down.
On Snow Photos
Union Atlas Description
Review Disclosure: I rode this binding at the SIA on-snow. Please be aware bindings may change, this review was done in February 2011.