Union Contact 2018 - 2010 Review by The Good Ride
The 2018 Union Contact has a lot of good things going for it and only a few things that could put the average rider off. I personally like a more supportive strap but many will like the range of movement you get for riding this in the park. If you want more support you could always get the team strap from Union.
Ethics Statement: We don’t get paid by the manufacturer to write these reviews. No one is perfect and we do make money from the “Where To Buy” links below, but this is our best attempt at an honest and objective review from an average riders’ perspective.
Union Contact Past Reviews
The 2017 Union Contact changed up a lot of things for 2017.
2016 Union Contact Review
The Union Contact is a great entry level or low cost all mountain binding. Year in year out it’s been a go-to binding for those looking to save some cash and those who are just getting started but are also serious about snowboarding.
2015 Union Contact Review
So the 2015 Union Contact has a few changes over the previous models. Here’s what is different.
1. It’s got a new team high back that is a little more responsive and in our opinion a little bit better than the previous year.
2. New ankle strap that is a little bigger, thinner and offers a little more support than previous years. The ankle strap connector is a little shorter and some have had issues fitting the ankle strap around the boot perfectly. If you have this issue just contact Union and they will send you the longer 2014 ankle strap connector which will fix the problem.
3. Toolless toe strap this year too.
Flex: Nice middle ground to bordering on med/stiff flex but it feels softer than the team-high back. Maybe it’s because of the asymmetrical tech or maybe it’s just softer.
Adjustability: Love the heel loop adjustability that all Union bindings have but the toe strap has required a tool up till this year. So this is a good improvement and it makes it much easier to adjust on the fly when on the mountain.
Comfort: Very comfortable. The new ankle strap or high back doesn’t change up the comfort.
Turn Initiation: Nice smooth easy turn initiation and I agree with Union when they say it’s good for easier turning rocker boards. Anything more than my Jones Mountain Twin when it comes to turning, it might be a little slow.
Buttering: Very easy to butter but not super easy like the Contact Pro with its minidisc.
Boot Support: The new ankle strap has more surface area on the sides and seems a little longer than last years straps. It looks like a similar strap to the MC Metafuse used before it was discontinued. It’s a nice balance between support and freedom of movement.
Ratchet System: Easy on and off.
Shock Absorption: Same outstanding shock absorption in the heel that the previous year had. It’s a little shade behind the Contact Pro but it’s still very very good.
So overall the 2015 upgrades are a nice improvement over 2014 and just like always it’s still a very recommendable binding.
The 2014 Union Contact is pretty close to 2013 except for one change to the toe ratchet. It now has the same easy release ratchet as the ankle. This makes 2014 the call over 2013.
For years now, the Union Contact has been a good entry level or freestyle binding for riders of almost any level. Union does a good job at any price point and we only have a few minor complaints about the binding.
Flex: The Union Contact, like all Union bindings, has a pretty interesting flex. It’s pretty rigid when pulling back and medium to medium soft when twisting it. So it’s got some room for freedom of movement but at the same time is really responsive when leaning back to turn. So overall it’s more on the medium side flex wise.
Adjustability: Some of our riders really crank their straps down to the point of pain and they seem to have issues with all Union Bindings they try. The straps seem to get stuck if you do. If you don’t crank down your bindings then don’t worry about this. Another issue with the Union Contact bindings is they can adjust for your size shoe very well but you can’t adjust the position of the ankle strap very well. The reason is the heel loop adjustment piece also holds the ankle strap. Most have three holes for multiple ankle strap positions but this only has one unless you want to reposition your foot on the binding. It also has one screw to hold the heel loop in place instead of two with the Force lines. The removable toe ramp is different from the Force bindings as well. It provides the same effect but isn’t anywhere as easy as the Force’s to remove and adjust. Another difference is the toe straps have 2 positions where the Force only have one position.
Comfort: These bindings are pretty comfortable and other than some complaints about the older ankle strap there are no issues with pressure points. The new 2013 ankle strap is great and just like the Ankle straps on the Atlas, Charger, and Force. It’s a much better fit and provides much better support than the older models. 2014 has the same strap.
Heel to Toe Response: We like the base plates responsive nature and the stiffer high backs. The Contact’s base plate is lower to the board and a more mellow than the base plates on the Atlas, Force and other higher end bindings. The high back is also softer than all the Force High Backs. The older models were ideal for reverse camber boards and soft park boards that tend to turn a little easier. We were surprised to see that these can handle a mid flexing hybrid camber board without any issues as well. The 2013 and 2014 models have a little more response due to the newer better high back as well as the better ankle strap. It’s just easier edge to edge. These bindings ride incredibly well and have a similar but slightly less ability as the Atlas to bend the board torsionally and make it incredibly easy to turn. It’s pretty easy to flex a board and make it butter or press well too. It turns a four-hole board just like a Burton EST binding on a Burton Board. We were really impressed with how it turned camber to even continuous rocker boards. These bindings make turning easier and therefore make it easier to accomplish more in the park or mountain.
Tip to Tail Response: The base plate only truly touches in a few places so that part of the binding is good for lateral movement. The old ankle strap from 2012 and below doesn’t make the best board to bend your board longitudinally when it comes to butter, etc. It seemed to handicap the bases ability to let the board naturally flex. The 2013 and 2014 ankle strap and high back similar to the Atlas makes for a better butter.
Boot Support: Pretty good support. It allows the ankle a little extra support on the outside while the inside has a little more freedom of movement.
Ratchet System: The 2014 Union Contact really improved the ratchet system. They added the same easy release lever that’s in the ankle ratchet to the toe ratchet as well. This makes the toe ratchet a lot less sticky when undoing it at the end of a run.
Shock Absorption: Like the Atlas Force MC and Force SL, the heel has been milled out to provide a lot of room for EVA foam to give you lots of shock absorption which is far superior to the Force. It also has EVA across the top of the base plate like all Force bindings. This is just as or more shock absorbent as almost any top binding out there in its price range.
Approximate Weight: These didn’t go on a scale but they are pretty light. They seem comparable to the Burton Customs and other bindings in their price range.
A quick Look at the 2014 Union Contact
The 2013 Contact has a nice upgrade that makes this a better binding than the previous models. The ride is still very close to the 2012 and below but the new design adds a little extra in 2 places.
1. The high back is wider at the top and it makes for easier lateral movement as well as slightly better response. It also looks a little better.
2. The Ankle strap is now larger and more asymmetrical. It’s similar to the Union Atlas and makes for a much more supportive ride.
These two changes make the 2013 Union Contact the call over the 2012 and below 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.
In 2011, Union gave the contact a new ankle strap similar to the Union Force but the ride is pretty similar. The difference between the 2011 and 2012 is the toe strap which fits a little better over the toe and is the same on a traditional mount. For 2013, the Union Contact has a new high back and the relatively new larger asymmetrical ankle strap. It makes for a more supportive ride that also has more all mountain response.
Union Contact Images
Union Company Information
Union Contact User Reviews
2017 Union Contact Bindings
Ok, first things first, the screws securing the ankle straps eventually come loose. I think this may be what happened to the previous reviewer.
The problem has happened to several sets of Union bindings in my family (the wife's Milans, the kid's ST and Cadets and my Contacts). It is not happening to my Falcor bindings. I've tried to understand this issue and spoken to loads of people about it. I'm not an engineer but here is my best guess; many Unions use the one screw to secure the ankle strap, heel cup and base plate all together. It saves on hardware and may be lighter but it can be a lot of stress for one screw.
The only reason I can come up with for the Falcors not doing this is they have a laterally stiffer high back and more supportive ankle strap, reducing boot movement and therefore stress on the screws. I can't prove this of course, it's just my theory.
I've accepted this shortcoming and just check the screws at the end of each day. If they are feeling loose, which happens every two to three days, it takes literally 10 seconds to tighten them.
Is this acceptable in a modern binding? Depends on your tolerance level. For me, there are enough good things about these bindings for me to live with it.
My boot size puts me in the crossover between medium and large bindings for a lot of brands and the adjustable heel cup on the Contacts is a big help in getting the correct fit / position.
The base plate is very comfortable and the mini disc allows a lot of nice feel from the board. The high backs have good amounts of torsional flex but just enough lateral stiffness to get some response happening.
As I've progressed with my snowboarding I've needed more security and response for mountain riding and that's why I now have the Falcors. The Contacts were fine for the first few seasons while I was improving though.
The ratchets are great. No issues at all and that also goes for the other Union models my family has. The Contact toe strap is very good, conforms and holds really well. The ankle strap is comfortable and supportive enough, unless I'm going hard on steep or uneven terrain. It's more than enough for the surfy, freestyle type riding these were designed for though.
All in all, I think the Contacts are very good value for money when considered for their intended purpose (and a bit beyond that if you have to push it). Other brands bindings in this price bracket feel cheap to me by comparison. The durability has been good, except for needing to check the screws regularly and so I've deducted a star. Otherwise these are great.
Crappy bindings, stay away
These bindings are mostly made out of garbage. I've had my previous bindings for 10+ seasons with no issues. These bindings only lasted 7 runs before the toe strap fell off. I'm hoping I can return and buy a different brand that is more reliable and uses better materials. These are cheap and flimsy. The ratchet system is not ideal either when it actually stays attached. I would stay away.
the ratchets still are horrible ... they don't stay and are difficult to get off ... for them to say they fixed it they lied!!!