Union Atlas 2014 - 2012 Review by The Good Ride
The Union Atlas took over for the Union SL this year and this is fine because the Atlas and SL were pretty close. The Atlas hasn’t changed much over the last 3 years and remains pretty much the same binding from 2012-2014.
A quick Look at the 2014 Union Atlas
Riders:Most of us
Flex: Like with some Union bindings the flex doesn’t match the response. It’s got a medium torsional flex but when you pull straight back there is no give what so ever. It’s more medium/stiff over all. It allows a good torsional flex for a little tweakability but really is stiff when it’s time to transition from edge to edge.
Adjustability: Like all union bindings the adjustability is not there if you compare them to a binding like Burton but you can make some tweaks that will adjust it to your liking. You can rotate your high back a little bit but you can’t adjust the angle of the ankle strap like you can with other bindings. Instead the heel loop is there to adjust to the exact size of the boot. Some might like that and some might prefer 3 sizes instead of 2 and more adjustability for the high back and ankle strap. Also most of the binding requires a tool where many these days don’t.
Comfort: We were pretty amped on the larger ankle strap when it first came out but now we feel they are about mid level in terms of size, support and comfort. The ankle straps hold well without pressure points if you have good boots and the toe straps have minimal contact and good support as well.
Heel to Toe Response: The Union Atlas along with most Union bindings offer rather sharp responsive turn initiation that seems to be more than you would think after playing around with them in the shop. They make the board feel more responsive edge to edge. It’s not the most responsive in Unions line but it does a lot better than you would think. It’s not as responsive as the Factory, Charger and MC but it’s got a quick snap edge to edge. The bottom line is the Atlas has a ride that can make boards turn easier and seem more responsive than they are.
Tip to Tail Response- The ankle strap gives you enough leverage for buttering and such and combined with the reduced dead spot under foot you get a pretty good flex from tip to tail. It’s right there with the mid level Burton Re:Flex tech.
Boot Support- The larger asymmetrical ankle strap was a huge improvement over the older ankle strap but now that it’s been around for a few years their are larger ankle straps that provide more support. This is still a good balance of freedom and support and in 2014 it’s kind of medium sized now.
Ratchet System: The Union Atlas ankle ratchet is fine but the toe strap can be sticky trying to undo it. They keep making minor tweaks but we’d like to see a better toe strap.
Approximate Weight: We didn’t put these on a scale but they felt on the light side of middle.
Shock absorption- The footbed is very damp and provides great sock absorption. It’s got a hollow heel and offers a continuous foot bed with EVA foam across the top. It does a great job and it’s fine for a bad landing.
Unions Toe straps can be a bit sticky. For some this is a big problem and for others it’s not that big of a deal. Until Union addresses this issue here are some pointers on how to make the toe strap less sticky so you can enjoy the bindings better qualities.
2013 Union Atlas
2012 Union Atlas Review (same as 2013)
The Union Atlas is new for 2012 and quickly became one of our favorite bindings. The Union Atlas uses all of Union’s new tech and solves many issues the old tech has. It’s hard to characterize this binding, but it seems to be a smoother more comfortable version of the Union Force and is one of the best bindings we found in the low $200 price range. It’s right there with the Burton Cartel when it comes to a good do anything binding for a wide variety of boards and it’s one of our favorites.
The Union Atlas arrived on the scene in 2012 and offered a ride with a little more higher end tech than the Union Force. There is a new base plate, new ankle strap, new high back and new toe strap. The only old tech on the binding is the heel loop. The 2013 and 2014 Union Atlas is almost exactly the same.
One of our biggest complaints was the old ankle straps from 2011 and below; they are just too narrow and didn’t provide the support that many other ankle straps out there have. The Ankle strap of old used to give you this insecure feeling in chop or at higher speeds because it was so thin and small. These new larger asymmetrical ankle straps really make this ride a lot more comfortable and give much more support than the older ankle straps. It really changes the ride.
We feel the Union Atlas is a great all mountain do anything type of binding that we feel will do a great job with a wide variety of snowboards and riders. It’s a binding with some quirks but over all it’s a really fun ride and we will be using to test many boards this year.
Semi-Challenging - Easy Turning
Intermediate - Expert
Reduced Dead Spot
Burton Channel Compatible
User Reviews of the Union Atlas
good but have problems
binding is great overall. it feels like feather and gives great response in almost any condition for edge to edge turns. although my board is (capita BSOD) is a bit on the stiffer side, I tried them in park and I was able to use its max flex with these bindings which gives a great versatility for these bindings. Landings were quite soft and you feel really comfortable even when you ride at higher speeds.
HOWEVER; there are well known problems with Union toe straps and buckles which Union said they made big improvements in 2013. I have New Balance 1971 boots and toe straps comes off almost in every ride and I have to re-attach them every time I get to lift. I have tried many different ways of mounting it, even took it to local shop and it is what it is. as for the buckles; its been said they resolved jamming issue however I have issues 3 times out of 4 and I almost slap it with my hand to open it. I had a long chat with local distributor of Union and they said 2014 models will have no buckle issues so I m hoping to get new buckles for my bindings.
Apart from well known strap and buckle issues, its a great binding. I have to take a star out due to those issues.
ps: I also have Union contact, it doesnt have toe strap issue but buckle remains.
A fantastic binding.
This might be the best binding I have ever tried, I must confess I didn't see what all the fuss was about with Union and thought it was just a bandwagon thing, but now I have tried them I am a big fan.
I waaaaay prefer the way these flex outside the foot as opposed to the burton reflex system which flexes at the disc.
Whilst riding with these I noticed the following improvements -
my board had better edge grip, it was easier to get more pop off jumps and bumps, they were noticably lighter (than my '12 cartel reflex) and overall it just gave me alot more control over my board, made it easier to turn and gave me better dampening.
All this whilst being softer than cartes.
I bet these are the shit in powder!
I would recommend these for all mountain and park but not for a beginner cos they have too much response but as soon as you know what you are doing I think you will like them.
great feeling binding
Boot size 8 (Burton Ion), binding size small. 2013 Atlas.
Got these after reading thegoodride review. Love them. I had some cartels, which were ok but i couldn't quite see why everyone says they're a really great binding. I had size medium in the cartels so it's possible they were a fraction too big for my boot. Anyway, the small Atlas fits my boot really snug and the ride is improved substantially. The toe-strap ratchet thing I've read about is a complete non-issue. You must be a tard if you can't work them. I feel the ratchet to be very secure and they never once slipped on me while riding. This is what you want right? I use the toe strap right over the top of my boot rather than around the front of my toe. I found it locked my boots in place and the toe strap never moved around at all for me. As for riding response, I really like them. I put them on a Jones Mountain Twin and also on a channel system Custom X. Superb on the MT and I actually preferred the Atlas to my cartel est on the channel board! Felt just more solid. I'm a Union fan now and will be looking at some of their other options when the end of season sales come around. The Atlas is great for all mountain cruzing, groomer bombing and a few natural jumps. SOLID!
Best value for money ever!
Pretty much the best value for money bindings, that Union makes and probably in general best out there! Of course it's always about personal preference and some might miss a canted footbed here (coming '13/'14 with the T. Rice "Factory" pro model!), but these are just all around great for the money you pay. I have last year's SL's and can't really notice a big difference stiffness wise. They are a tad heavier than last year's SL's, but this year will be pretty much the same, as there's no more machine coring on the SL's. So safe the extra money! The GoodRide guys are right on: it's crazy how a highback can feel so soft (torsionally!) but be so responsive! I'm an agressive rider and I really don't miss stiffness/support there. From big carves on groomers to big backcountry lines I feel safe in these bindings! Buttering and park works great, too, due to the big ankle strap and torsionally soft high back. They are very well padded and shock absorbant. The ankle strap will be hard to improve - most comfortable they've made so far! Even when you crank them down, you don't really feel pressure points or get this "locked in" feeling, while actually being totally locked in! With some Burton ankle straps (Cartel) I feel a delay when I lay into a frontside carve, while with the Union's my edge is right there, no delay, full control! I'm riding Jones boards (Flagship/Hovercraft) and those binders bend them pretty much effortlessly. Also cool is the rather big/long baseplate. I'm riding the larges with US 10.5 Salomon Malamute boots (no reduced foot print) and the toe ramp / heel cushion gives me plenty of support, where I need it, while with some bindings out there the middle of my heel is almost "in the air" - mostly due to a non adjustable heel cup... (With Burton I need larges and scoot them all the way towards the toe edge to be really centered over the board, while my heel is fairly unsupprted / "in the air"! With no adjustable heelcup, in my opinion manufacturers actually would have to build 4 sizes of bindings to get it all set up properly...).
Well, who hasn't tried Unions yet: they are up there! Give it a go!
Im not a fan of these like I thought I would be. I dont know if its just personal preference/riding style but I dont like the high backs! They have decent fit and finish but the adjustability is not that great. I dont like the footbeds that much either. I prefer FLUX or Burtons over the Atlas line for All Mountain options, but I should give the Contact Pros a shot maybe...