So The Union Factory is like a more aggressive and beefy Union Force. It’s got the higher end/lighter base plate that the Atlas had but it’s got a lot more padding and a cant. The 2014 and 2015 Union Factory are very similar except the 2015 added a tooless adjuster for the toe strap making it much easier to adjust on the mountain.
Riders: James, Peter, Jimbo, Ginger and a few others
Boots: Burton Imperial, Burton Hail, Burton Ion, Burton SLX, Nike Lunarendor, Nike Kaiju, Salomon Synapse,
Boards: Slash ATV, Capita BSOD and Jones Mtn, Rossignol One Magtek, Never Summer Cobra, Lib Tech TRS, Burton Barracuda,
On the Factory there is a base plate similar to the higher end Union bindings but it’s got a lot more padding and It’s also canted. The high back that looks kind of like the Contact but it’s much more responsive and stronger. The plastic and fiberglass combo seems to make much more sense than the Chargers Carbon Fiber high back. It seems like it can stand up to abuse more while still maintaining a good amount of response.
So when we got on the binding the first thing we noticed was we felt like Elvis in the late 60’s on platform shoes minus the excessive weight, caped suit and flatulence. It took a few runs to get use to but after about 1/2 day you forget about it. I think the extra elevation might make for a little better leverage and response as well as provide more cushioning. The Factory can provide response enough for almost any stiff freeride board but it can also work very well with medium flexing all mountain boards. It can cruise equally well as it bombs. This could work for the rider who likes to cushion bones that had hard living as well as provide a great ride for those that like to bomb the shit out of the mountain or park.
Weight: Size M/L- 4.0lbs with discs and screws
Flex: The high back is aggressive but still flexible. What do I mean by that? It’s pretty medium to medium soft when you twist it but when you pull straight back there is little to no give. I own the Factory and the Force and the Force feels like the force might be a little bit more stiff than the factory even though it’s high back is cored out.
Adjustability: We really like that you can customize the heel loop length to your boot size. If you want to rotate your high back it takes a lot of work compared to other bindings as the screws go through more than just the high back making it a pretty difficult process compared to other bindings. The 2014 toe strap requires a tool and we’d like to see it be tooless like the ankle strap. Many other bindings allow you to adjust the angle of your ankle strap too and this doesn’t give you any options as well. The 2015 toe strap screw is much better because it doesn’t require a screw driver which almost makes it worth while to get the 2015. You could probably buy the part from C3 though if you want to upgrade your 2014.
Comfort: Despite its lack of adjustability it’s pretty comfortable. Its ankle straps aren’t too cush but they don’t provide pain either. They fit well around the ankle. The foot bed is pretty cush and feels nice underfoot. The canted foot bed is a bonus too because most bindings in the Flux line don’t have a cant and it seems to be better for the body.
Turn Initiation: This is very responsive edge to edge and is a solid choice for those that want to bend their board edge to edge. It doesn’t feel as sharp edge to edge as the MC or Charger. The response is probably the same but somehow it feels smoother. Maybe it’s because of all that EVA foam padding on the foot bed.
Buttering: So the reduced dead spot tech underfoot in the bindings makes this binding butter and press a board better than it should for such an aggressive design. All Union Bindings do a pretty good job here getting a little more natural feel underfoot.
Boot Support: The support is about middle ground here. So the ankle straps are of the new breed and a nice improvement over the old thin ankle straps but they still allow you some freedom of movement. It gives you a little bit of both. If you aren’t into the Locked in or firm hold you mainly get with Burton or Flux bindings you might like the extra freedom that Union provides if you want to tweak out a grab on occasion.
Ratchet System: The Ratchet system is great around the ankle but the toe strap in the past has caused issues with some riders. The toe ratchet on the Factory is better than the older toe ratchets. It only takes 7 lbs of pressure to release where the older toe ratchets took 10 lbs. Even Peter who often complained of a sticky toe strap any time he rode Union bindings had no problems.
Shock Absorption: Excellent here as well. This super padding gives the board under foot an extra shield from uneven terrain that almost everyone has to encounter. It’s also one of the top choices for a binding that I’d like to make an awkward or flat landing on. This binding allows you to ride longer and reduces fatigue that comes from on the mountain and in the back country.
So all in all this is a good binding for those that want more padding but don’t want to sacrifice much or any response. This will be fun for the aggressive all mountain freestyle to powder/freeride rider.
2014 Binding Comparison
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.