Binding Review: 11-12 Union Atlas

13 Feb, 2011


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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.

Ready to buy? Head over to evo for the Union Atlas or shop their full line of Union Bindings now.

On Snow Photos

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Union Atlas Description

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Review Disclosure: I rode this binding at the SIA on-snow.  Please be aware bindings may change, this review was done in February 2011.

About the author

Shay

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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14 Comments

  1. keither
    February 14, 2011

    Not sure if I like the new toe strap. I’ll have to try it tho.
    I like the original toe straps like they had in like 06-07. The ones that had no material cut out of the middle. Sure, the material wore away at the end of the toe, but they always gave me the best fit. Those puppies mold around the boot. I have some straps from my old forces and I rock those things on every binding I have.

  2. keither
    February 14, 2011

    That ankle strap is a whole other story though, it’s got more cushion than Jessica Simpson. I like it.

  3. airbornealibi31
    February 17, 2011

    Howdy! I agree with keither, I’m not too fond of the toe straps either, I prefer the look of the old ones, but anywhoo. I’m starting to plan a new set up for next year and have just decided on getting the 2012 NS Proto CT for the upcoming season. Now I’m debating on bindings. I know I want Union bindings but not sure which ones. I was pretty set on Forces before setting eye on this review and the other one with all the bindings for the 2012 season. Now I pretty much torn between the Atlas and the Forces. Color scheme wise, the Forces win, since the new Forces does not have new technology from the 10-10 season I have a lot of options for loud colors. What I was wondering was, does the newer technology of the Atlas trump the older technology of the Forces (stage 3 vs stage 2). I know there might not be a big difference at all but I was just wondering which you would prefer, Atlas or Forces. The new glow on the Atlas are pretty pimp, but will nightboarding be dark enough for them to even glow? Keystone is pretty well lit. But it would work in Utah night ski.

    Also, from the looks of it, the only difference from the 11-12 Forces and the 10-11 Forces is the toe strap right?

    Thanks a ton!

  4. March 01, 2011

    Keither, definitely try it. I was fine with the older toe straps but definitely will try out the newer ones next year more often.

    airborne, same way with you. It’ll be interesting to see which ones I go with personally because I do enjoy the forces but the atlas were a good notch above. I’ll have to check on forces changes for you.

  5. Ian
    April 01, 2011

    Shay,
    How would you rank these compared to the Rome 390?

  6. Ven
    September 27, 2011

    after reading a lot of complains of toe straps (new ones, and older ones) I found this video from Union, that explain how to correctly setup all the Union bindings (and of course, the toe straps!)

    (I do not really understand why this video is not available directly from Union site… strange policy…)

    enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bvY8nRcg9c

  7. Mike
    October 23, 2011

    Hey Shay,

    Thanks for the review! I am debating between these and the Union SL to put on my Never Summer Heritage. Did you ride the new SL bindings and if so how do they compare/which do you think is a better fit for my board? Thanks

  8. October 23, 2011

    Ven, Thanks for the Union link!

    Mike, I’ve ridden the SL’s previous years. In the past they were lighter and more responsive so it’ll be interesting to see the comparison to the Atlas. I’ll see about trying them out for demo this winter.

  9. Markus
    November 16, 2011

    Nice review. But I have a question. I want to buy a new binding this season and i’m not sure which one is better. The Flux RK30 or the Union Atlas. I’m a rider, who rides everything from park to pow and i’m not sure if the flux is too soft for me. Can you give me a tip for that? (i ride the bataleon evil twin 1011)

  10. November 16, 2011

    Markus, You might find the Flux too soft, the Atlas is a bit stiffer than the RK30′s. But both bindings are solid.

  11. Tycho
    December 26, 2011

    Mike, did you end up putting Atlas’s or SL’s on your Heritage? This is the exact setup I am contemplating. How do you like the board?!?

  12. Jay
    January 23, 2012

    How would these match with a jib rocker like the K2 WWW?

  13. December 27, 2012

    Hi Shay,
    Just got my NS PROTO… and For freeride/frestyle – kickers
    In your opinion, which binding would be best?
    Atlas
    Force
    Cartel

    Thanks