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Union Atlas 2019 - 2012 Review by The Good Ride
The Union Atlas is one of the most recommendable bindings we have ridden because it works with such a wide variety of boards, boots and continues to evolve bit by bit every year. It’s middle-ground for buttering but it’s very damp and responsive, even with a more mellow high back. This is why I own 4 pairs.
The 2019 Union Atlas Updated its ankle strap this year and it’s a nice improvement over the 2018 strap. For me, it’s almost a tossup between the old strap (now the team strap) and this but I think with a little time I will prefer the 2019 model. It’s just got more support and doesn’t seem to have pressure points. Hopefully, the production model will have a little more pre-curve and then it will be a great addition to the Union Atlas. Another welcome addition is the new washer around the ankle strap screws that keeps the screw from coming loose like it used to.
Days: 5 on the 2019 and many more to come. 80+ on the older models.
Riders: James, and Grant
Boots: Adidas Tactical ADV, Burton SLX
Insoles: Sandsole Custom Insoles, Footprint Insole Technology Gamechangers
Boards: OZ Custom Woody, Jones Ultra Mountain Twin, Capita Mercury, Capita Black Snowboard of Death, Rome Powder Division 157
Highback Flex: The Union Atlas Highback is soft at the top and it’s great for people like me who hate calf bite. What’s great about the Atlas is it’s still a very responsive binding.
Boot Adjustability: I’m riding mediums with 2018 Adidas Tactical ADV’s size 8.5’s that have a very reduced footprint. I could slide the heel cup in most of the way and make the size medium’s fit perfect. Conversely, Grant, With a size 11 reduced footprint SLX that’s about the same as a size 10 on the outside can fit the medium if he slides the heel cup all the way out. It’s one of the best bindings out there when it comes to dialing out the binding to fit your boot perfectly. The only minor issue I have is with the high back rotation because when rotated, it can poke at your boots and cause wear. I can rotate the high back with the heel cup. It’s not as good but it’s pretty close and it doesn’t bite into your boots. Even better is every Union binding get’s a new washer that makes the screws around the ankle strap hold super well when in the past, they would come loose. The only thing keeping from being perfect here is you can’t adjust the angle of the ankle strap without changing your position of the boot in the footbed and therefore make it un-centered. That being said, I can do without the ankle strap angle adjustability if I have a centered boot and good straps.
Stance Width Adjustability: The discs on the Union Atlas are great from heel to toe but really great from tip to tail and you can pretty much get any kind of stance width. You can put the screws close together like a Mini-Disc for a little more flex underfoot (still not as good as mini-disc though) or go with the normal set up. It can fit an extra pair of set back inserts too like boards that have a 5×2 insert pack per binding but then an extra 1×2 1.5″ inches back instead of the normal .75″. They fit Burton Channel and any board out there.
Comfort: The new ankle strap had minimal issues for my comfort. The only thing I’d like to see is the strap soften up, which I think it will. It’s really all about the ankle strap with Union as the toe strap doesn’t really hit any parts that can cause foot pressure on your feet. The heel cup and base plate seem to understand that many boot manufacturers come in many different widths, footprints, and shapes and the Union Atlas seems to accommodate more boot brands than most.
Boot Support: When it comes to boot support, the toe strap really locks your heel into the heel cup and holds down the front part of your boot. The ankle strap didn’t seem to have the pre-curve that the other straps in the line did and even though it’s much bigger than any other Atlas strap I tried, it doesn’t feel like it has a really supportive wrap. That’s good for those that like a little freedom of movement to tweak it out but for those that want more support and response might be a little disappointed. This is a demo strap and we might see changes in the production model. I’ll let you know when I get mine. Regardless, the 2019 Union Atlas Strap is much better than the 2018 and I’d say it’s pretty close to being a tossup between the 2019 and the team strap (2017 Atlas Strap). If you don’t like the new strap or want to change out an older model you can always order a Team Strap from the C3 shop and it’s softer/more comfortable than it used to be when it was the 2016-2017 Atlas ankle strap. If you want more support and let’s say you are a size medium like me, you can order the size large and they will work too.
Turn Initiation: The Atlas has a powerful base plate that compensates well for the somewhat softer high back. It’s got a somewhat sharp transition that can power most boards but not be so sharp that it overpowers the board. It can work with a wide variety of boards and it’s a good choice for all but the super easy turners.
Buttering: It’s not the best buttering binding and if you want that you can go with a mini-disc or other technologies but if you want a binding to dampen up the board between the feet and turn really well then the Union Atlas is a great choice.
Ratchet System: Super smooth and easy.
Shock Absorption: The Union Atlas is not only pretty damp but also shock absorbent. It does a very good job at keeping the bad stuff happening between the snow and board from coming up into your joints. Every year I get older I appreciate bindings like this more and more.
So the best way to sum up this binding is to say I own 4 pairs and I use these more than any other binding in my quiver. I can get any binding I want and these are my choices. Yeah, they aren’t perfect but as my father always says, you love your friends despite their faults, and what few faults the Union Atlas’ have, I can easily live with. Also, Union is the kind of friend that listens to other friends and keeps improving their shit.
Union Atlas Past Reviews
The 2018 Union Atlas kept the same body but upgraded the straps. The biggest change is the ankle strap as it’s a little longer and a little more supportive.
Days: More than I can count……I own 4 pairs and use these more than almost any other binding when it comes to testing/comparing boards and boots.
Riders: James, Jimbo, Peter, Matt,
Boots: Burton Almighty, Adidas Tactical ADV, Burton SLX, Burton Rover
Boards: OZ Custom Woody, Korua Puzzle, Salomon Assasin, Rome Agent Rocker, Yes Optimistic, Yes Greats, Yes Pick Your Line, Jones Mountain Twin, Jones Ultra Mountain Twin, Jones Flagship, Jones Hovercraft, Loaded Algernon, Rossignol One Magtek, Rossignol XV, Lib Tech TRS, Lib Tech Hot Knife, Burton Flight Attendant, Burton Skeleton Key, Gnu Mulair, Capita Mercury, Capita Outerspace Living, Capita Spring Break Powder, Gentemstick Stingray, Never Summer Proto Type Two, Never Summer Chairman, Never Summer West, Never Summer Ripsaw and a lot more.
The 2017 Union Atlas is pretty much the same binding as the 2016 Atlas and still a binding that we love to use because it blends well with a wide variety of boards.
2016-2017 Union Atlas Review
Riders: James, Peter, Jimbo, Stephen
Boots: Burton SLX, Burton AMB, Burton Imperial Salomon F3.0, Burton Fiend LTD, Burton Ambush, Nike Lunarendore
Boards: Yes Optimistic, Yes Greats, Yes Pick Your Line, Yes Jackpot, Jones Mountain Twin, Jones Ultra Mountain Twin, Jones Flagship, Jones Hovercraft, Loaded Algernon, Rossignol One Magtek, Rossignol XV, Lib Tech TRS, Lib Tech Hot Knife, Burton Flight Attendant, Burton Barracuda, Capita Mercury, Capita Spring Break, Gentemstick Stingray, Never Summer West, Rome Agent Rocker, Never Summer Ripsaw,
Flex: Nice Mid flexing high back but the response is more than you would think by just flexing the high back.
Adjustability: You know it’s not perfect but I really like the adjustable heel loop to dial out the binding to your boot’s size. The only real issue is the ankle strap angles are fixed but you can rotate your high back as well as do everything else you might want. It just takes longer to dial out than some bindings.
Comfort: Super comfortable and I love how the binding fit’s around our boots.
Turn Initiation: Sharper turn initiation than you would think for it’s flex. The base plate is pretty responsive and it’s just a little shy of being rated fast when it comes to edge to edge transitioning. For example when I had Cartels on my Jones Ultra Mountain Twin and then switched to Union Atlas there was a noticeable improvement in turning response. Even when paired with boards that are easier to turn it doesn’t overpower the board and make it twitchy. So the best way to describe it is sharp but not overpowering or twitchy. What I mean by twitchy is some bindings can be too responsive so they make the board turn so quickly that it makes the slightest lean respond way too fast and it turns the board too much. AKA it makes you look like you have a tick when you ride.
Buttering: Pretty good flex under foot and it doesn’t hinder the boards natural ability to flex. It’s a little less than some bindings like the Contact Pro with it’s mini disc or Burton’s re:flex but it’s still pretty easy to butter with.
Boot Support: So these ankle straps are pretty good. I love the width and the only thing I wouldn’t mind is a longer ankle strap so it wraps around more. I tried the size L/XL ankle straps on my M/L bindings and kept them on as they are longer, a touch wider and wraps around the boot more. Still with the regular ankle straps it’s a nice balance of support and freedom of movement.
Ratchet System: Much smoother than the older ones and we have no issues with these. Very reliable and I’ve had no issues with sticky or broken ratchets.
Shock Absorption: The EVA foam is pretty stiff but it’s still got a lot of shock absorption. It’s not perfect but we always get a really damp ride.
So all in all these bindings do a great job and work well with a wide variety of boards.
2014 and Below Union Atlas Review
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. There is one change though with the 2014 and that is the toe strap pressure was reduced from 10lbs to 7lbs which makes it easier to un-strap. Also a reader pointed out (I missed it) that there is more padding this year in the heel than previous years making the 2014 a little better than previous models.
Weight: Size M/L 4.0 lbs with discs and screws.
Riders:Most of us
Approx Weight: 3.8lbs
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. The 2014 is easier to un-do and they have made some improvements there. It’s still not the best toe ratchet out there but now it works and works pretty well.
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 use to offer hollow heel but this year it’s got more padding to where it’s pretty much not hollow under your heel any more. Instead it’s got a little more padding from top to bottom making it even better than previous models.
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.
Union Atlas Images
Union Company Information
Union Atlas User Reviews
Mostly good bindings
Decided to upgrade my equipment since it's been quite a while. Bought a YES Optimistic 157, Burton Imperial boots, and Union Atlas bindings. All based on reviews from this site!
My previous bindings were Burton Customs circa 2003. They are great bindings and aside from a replaced strap that cracked, have held up well. I figured I'd try something new given how old my Customs are and went with the Union Atlas. So far I like them and they give me a lot of support and responsiveness, but I have to echo other people's comments on hardware loosening. I've had the bolts on both baseplates loosen on me after 3 days riding and also have to re-tighten my ankle strap bolt every time I ride. Still glad I bought them but I never had these types of issues with my Customs.
Good bindings, but just don't forget to check them.
Comfy bindings that need to be checked
My friend and I both have these bindings. They are good bindings and all around response is great for all mountain riding. The issue I have with the attachment for the heel strap to the chassis, and the infinite base plate.
1) the heel strap attachment to the chassis specifically where the bulky attachment mechanism attaches to the chassis. I have to tighten this pos every time I ride and my bindings have less than 40 days on them. I have lost two screws during hikes in the sidecountry, actually putting me at risk. Really scary, like really bad, like really REALLY BAD.
2)the infinite baseplate does not stay tight. Again, another piece of equipment I have to tighten before every time I ride. I have tried lock tite, going to my local shop and trying different screws, and everything in from under to over tightening these things. It may be because I am a bigger rider, but I can not get these things to stay tight or in place. Both front and rear bindings loosen. I have had this issue with every binding I have ever owned, but it seems to especially worse with the infinite base plate because lack of support at attachment point. Ok biding, wouldn’t buy again recommend.
Great response, but bring spare parts!
My buddies and are had some freaky mind-melding going on and all three bought this same style binding. They are extremely comfortable under foot, but still have decent responsiveness. I prefer a stiffer high-back, so I liked the feeling this binding offered there. The "gas pedal" design to the front and back of the footbed made carving a joy--especially on the toe side.
I would be remiss in my review, however, if I didn't tell you about the serious problems not one, but all three of us had with the hardware. I have lost two screws mid-mountain and a third at the top of a black diamond (thank god it was a groomer). Both of my other buddies have lost the hand screw on the side of the heel strap and one of them lost the high back adjustment screw.
If you go with this binding, my suggestion to you is to double check all your screws before each ride and double check the hand screw on the ankle strap multiple times a day. I'll confess, we ride relatively hard and are throwing a lot of torque into our bindings, but if you're riding the same way, I might consider something else.
2014 Changes not listed
For 2014, they also changed the heelcup making it taper down providing less ding on the lower back part from previous years. Also, the heel part of the footbed is now filled in with foam providing a solid stable contact with the board where as prior it was floating.
Response: Thanks for pointing that out!
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...