The 2016-2017 Union Force changed up the straps. The more I’ve ridden these bindings though the more I realized yes the straps aren’t as wide but they seem to be a little longer so it kind of evens out. So bottom line is the 2016 Union Force is just as good as the older models if not better. If you can swing it the Union Atlas is a binding we prefer a little better but if you don’t need the canted foot bed and Asymmetrical High Back then this could work.
2016-2017 Union Force Review
2015 and 2014 Union Force Snowboard Binding Review
The Union Force 2014 and 2015 model has had some big but long overdue changes that make this a better binding than before. The only real difference between the 2014 and 2015 Force is the 2015 has a tool free toe strap which is great. Also the 2015 ankle strap connector is a little shorter than the 2014 so if the fit is a little off just contact Union and and they will get you the longer 2014 ankle strap connector which will fix the issue.
2014 and 2015 Union Force Review
Riders: James, Peter and Jimbo
Boots: Burton Ion, Burton SLX, Nike Kaiju
Boards: Jones Mountain Twin,Rossignol One Magtek, Never Summer Cobra, Lib Tech TRS XC2 BTX, Rome Agent Rocker, Never Summer Proto and many more.
Weight: Size M/L 4.0lbs with discs and screws
So the Union Force has been the same for a long time but this year it finally got the long overdue overhaul it deserved. The old force wasn’t bad it’s just that the other technology in Unions line surpassed it a few years ago when Union upgraded many of their bindings. It wasn’t as recommendable as the other bindings but now it most certainly is. So here are the changes to the 2014 Force over the 2013.
New High Back– Same kind of look as the old but the top is no longer rounded and it looks more like the SL, Atlas and even the Contact.
New Base Plate– I would of thought that the Force would of taken on the base plate that the Atlas, SL and MC but they kept the general design that all the older models had. On first look you would think it’s the same base plate but they re-did the heel to provide a shit ton of padding. It seems that the toe has more padding as well and it’s now going to have shock absorption that is almost as good as the Contact Pro and Factory which is the leader of the Union line in this aspect. Nice upgrade!
New Toe Ratchet– So I can’t tell you how many times I encountered people complaining about the sticky toe straps. I’ve never heard a complaint about the ankle strap but just the toe strap. I was really surprised that Union let this complaint fall on deaf ears for so many years. I just thought it wouldn’t ever be addressed but I received another surprise this year because the toe ratchet is a lot easier to release then previous models. They reduced the pressure from 10 lbs to 7 lbs and it’s a lot easier to get on and off. So far this year I haven’t had one issue getting it off.
Flex: Despite the new design the flex feels very much the same and it offers a similar but better feel than the older model. It’s about medium to almost med/stiff when twist it and pretty stiff when you pull back.
Adjustability: The heel loop can be adjusted to fit your boot size which is good but the way it’s set up makes it more difficult to rotate your high back. Because of this you also can’t adjust the ankle of your ankle strap like you can with many bindings. The 2015 added something long overdue which is a tool free toe strap and a better tool free ankle strap which makes it much better to adjust on the hill. So with Union bindings it’s a give and take. You get rather unique custom fitting to your boot size at the sacrifice of ankle strap and high back adjustability. The rest is on par with most other bindings.
Comfort: The ankle strap system is about the same as before but the toe strap is pretty different. It’s smaller and conforms better to most boots. The softer foot bed adds a little comfort as well.
Turn Initiation: Same great response that is greater than you would think for the way the binding looks and flexes. It’s very sharp and responsive edge to edge. It’s great for a board that requires a little more work edge to edge.
Buttering: Pretty close but a little behind some of the other bindings in the Union line like the Factory and pretty far behind the Union Contact Pro when it comes to flex underfoot. In one day I put the Force, Union Contact Pro, Burton Cartel and Burton Genesis on the Lib Tech TRS. There was a lot of screwing going on but not the good kind. Anyway it was interesting how different bindings changed the TRS. The easiest bindings to butter with are the Union Contact Pro and Burton Genesis. Then the Burton Cartel was about the same and then the Force was a little behind them. It was interesting though that the TRS became a little more damp with the Force, the Contact Pro along with the Genesis the least damp and the Cartel was in the middle.The Force borders between good and great for response and it’s kind of a tossup of which rating to give it.
Boot Support: Not much has changed here in terms of support. Its the same binding that allows a good amount of freedom on the inside and a little more support on the outside. It’s pretty tweakable. The wider high back is a nice upgrade too making it allow you to get more support/response.
Ratchet System: The demo models we looked at and tried had the toe strap similar to the ankle strap but the production models I’ve seen in the shops and the one I have doesn’t have this. It’s a little sticky but better than past years models. I’d like to see Union change their toe strap so it’s a little easier.
Shock Absorption: Very nice upgrade when it comes to shock absorption. There is a lot more EVA foam in the heel so it offers an easier ride on your feet, knees and hips. It’s much better than the metal top with a little foam sticking out in previous models.
What does all this mean? It’s still the same responsive binding with a reduced dead spot underfoot at a good price. What makes this great now is it’s got excellent shock absorption, better high back and modern feel to it. It’s the kind of binding that is now going to be very recommendable and a nice step up.
2014 Binding Comparison
The Union Force 2013 to 2010 Review
We were hoping the 2013 Union Force would have a new high back and base plate but it’s the same as 2012. These have been great bindings for many years but now we feel that the Atlas is a better do anything binding than the force.
Riders: Too many to count
Boards: To many to list
At first glance the union binding line has a very traditional look compared to allot of other bindings out there and the Union Force is no exception. After your first day on them you look at them again and they will look more modern than any binding out there. This binding is made for someone who knows what they want, doesn’t like to fiddle around, set it up once and never think about it again. You cant get too tweaky with these like you can with Burton and flux.
This review hasn’t changed much over the last few years because this binding hasn’t. The only changes for 2013 and 2013 are the Ankle and Toe Strap. Before 2013 and 2013 this was one of our top all mountain recommendations but the last 2 years it’s rarely or ever recommended mainly because Union came out with the Atlas. In our opinion the Atlas does a far better job compared to the Force for all mountain riding.
Stiffness– They feel medium soft torsion-ally but when you pull straight back they are very stiff. The high backs are right up there with Burton’s team high back in length and very close to being some of the most responsive high backs out there.
Comfort: Union understands what it is like to ride every day. If set up properly you can almost completely avoid any pressure points. The toe and ankle straps come in at the right angle. The base plate has a cap that covers the plates which helps the sole of your boot line up exactly the way it should. The one complaint for comfort with the ankle straps could have more of a taper in the center. That way their would be less pressure on the forward lean. If you don’t crank down the straps real tight this won’t be an issue but just our 2 cents. Another issue is the toe strap buckle. It is a little more difficult to get it off that most toe straps. We’d like to see something similar to the ankle strap or a little more of an extension over it to make them work.
Response– Despite the Union Force’s semi flexy nature these bindings respond jack rabbit gigolo fast. Its fast like Mike Tyson before he started biting ears. But seriously we haven’t felt a response like this from any other binding out on the market that has the general flex. If you come from an old pair of Burton’s the quick response might almost be too much for you. These are great all mountain bindings. There is allot less binding/board contact so it helps you get a little more out of your turns and tricks. The toe response is probably the best in the industry. We are not sure if it is the design of their gas pedal or the minimal contact that the binding has with the board but something is exceptional about turning with these. This is a bit of a bold statement but some of the riders felt that these were slightly better than the burton C60’s. The high backs are about the same height as the cartel team high back. Surprisingly enough they are almost the same width as well. It has alot of lateral flexibility but if you were to pull this straight back to the heel edge you will be surprised at how stiff this feels. The toe response seemed to match perfectly with the heel response where most bindings are laking a little on the toe side.
Adjustability: A lot of companies have nearly tooless adjustment these days (check out Flux) so its a little disappointing to see that you need a screw driver for almost every adjustment except part of the ankle strap and high back. Despite that fact you can still tweak these bindings out to fit your weird feet/riding style. The heel and toe can slide out/in where most companies have only the toe. The drawback with the heel adjustability is that angle of the ankle strap will lower. Most other bindings have 2 to 3 positions for the ankle strap angle where this only has one. The high back has 3 holes so you can adjust the high back to line up with the rail of your board where Burton has a channel so you can really dial it out. If they could change these issues we mentioned then their is no excuse to buy the cartel’s over this binding. All and all the adjustability is pretty good.
Dampening- There isn’t much you can’t do with these bindings. These are designed to be good every where so if speed is your only thing then there are better bindings out there. However they do perform as good or better than most in their category.
Shock Absorption– Not bad but could use some work here. Instead of using padding across the entire heel there is some sort of metal over the padding. We’d like to see the same set up as theUnion Atlas, Union Force SL or Union Force MC where it’s all dense padding on the back heel.
The 2011 Union Force and Below Issue
After many days on the hill we found one issue with the Union Force and Force SL aroud the Ankle. The small strap does not give you that feeling you are locked in and supported like many larger ankle straps do. When riding stiffer boards through chopped up mogul powder runs to get back to the chair your ankle feels very exposed and there is a lot more stress. On groomed runs or in most situations in the park you don’t notice this. If the Ankle strap had more volume on the side we think this might eliminate this feeling in less than ideal situations and create more stiffness. It’s not something that will be a problem for everyone but some will not like this at all. Because the turn initiation is exceptional it makes the ankle problem worth putting up with but we’d love to see an investment in a better ankle strap and more adjustability around the ankle.
Unions Toe straps can be a bit sticky and especially so for those that like to crank em down tight. 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.
The 2012 Union Force changed the toe strap. It better fit’s over the toe which we like but we would of liked it better if they added the new asymmetrical ankle strap that the Atlas , Force SL , Contact Pro, Asadachi and Force MC have.
A Quick look at the 2012 Union Force
The 2011 Union Force are almost exactly the same bindings as the 2010 Union Force except for a very slight change in the ankle strap. It has some air bubles in it but that is about it.