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Union Strata 2020 - 2019 Review by The Good Ride
The Union Strata 2020 is the same except it received a new ankle strap. It used to be on the 2019 Union Falcor but now resides on the Strata. This is one of those really well-rounded bindings that work with a wide variety of board types and it’s one we often recommend to our readers.
Ethics Statement: We don’t get paid by the manufacturer to write these reviews. We do make money from the “Where To Buy” links, but this is our best attempt at an honest and objective review from an average riders’ perspective.
How This Review Happened: We borrowed this for an extended demo and then returned it. We borrowed this for a day and then returned it. We had a couple of laps at a frantic manic demo day. We liked it so much we asked to keep it (we only do this with our favorites). After a demo, we liked it so much we bought it. We spent our precious Good Ride dollars to buy this and review it.
Riders: James (Size 9, 5’10” 185-195lbs), Peter (Size 8, 5’11” 185lbs),Grant (Size 11 6’ 160lbs), Zobel (Size 11.5, 6’ 180lbs), Nick (Size 10, 160lbs, 5’8”) Stephen (Size 12.5, 215lbs 6’3”), Jimbo (Size 11, 5’11” 160lbs),
Boots: Adidas Tactical ADV, Burton SLX, Burton Rover, Burton AMB, Burton Almighty, Burton Imperial, Burton Ion, DC Judge, Burton Ambush, Burton Hail, Burton Ruler, Burton Driver X, Adidas Acerra, Vans Implant, Vans Aura, Vans Sequel
Insoles: Sandsole Custom Insoles, Footprint Insole Technology Gamechangers, Footprint Insole Technology Gamechangers Lite, Footprint Insole Technology Gameghangers Low Profile
Boards: Gentemstick Mantaray 156, Korua Pencil, Korua Dart, Korua Otto, Lib Tech Lost Rocket, Yes Optimistic, Rome Powder Division 153, Jones Hovercraft, Jones Flagship, Lib Tech BRD, Burton Flight Attendant, Gnu Mulair, Loaded Algernon, Capita Mercury, Lib Tech Terrain Wrecker, Lib Tech TRS, Capita Outerspace Living, Capita Ultrafear, Never Summer Proto Type Two, Yes Greats, Yes Jackpot, Never Summer Funslinger, Lib Tech Box Knife and many more.
Highback Flex: There is a good twist to this high back that is definitely a step down from the Union Falcor and it also isn’t as tall but still has a pretty stiff flex when you pull it straight back. The washers that have been in the Strata since it was made are much better than previous washers as well and don’t come loose like the older washers did a few years ago.
Binding to Boot Adjustability: So we like that you can rotate the high back and adjust heel loop to center most boots in your binding so you can turn your discs sideways to also get your perfect stance width. We miss the adjustable toe ramp/gas pedal of the Atlas but I could still dial this out to my boot.
Stance Width Adjustability: The Mini-Discs on the Union Strata does a great job at getting the right stance width if the discs are turned sideways so they can slide tip to tail.
Comfort: The new ankle strap makes the Union Strata 2020 just a little bit more comfortable than the 2019 but both are pretty close.
Boot Support: The bigger ankle strap on the Union Strata 2020 also adds to the support and it bumps it up a little bit from last year. It locks in the boot a little more than before and the toe straps, just like last year, really pull the boot into the heel cup.
Turn Initiation: Just a touch quicker thanks to the bigger ankle strap but still a pretty similar response to the 2019.
Buttering: Still just about the same. You had a little more freedom of movement with the smaller ankle straps but it’s still pretty close.
Ratchet System: Same as 2019 and it has a very easy on and off to it. They used to have issues years ago but now are some of the best in the industry.
Shock Absorption: Very damp and pretty shock absorption too. This rubbery material along the bottom really does a good job at absorbing chatter as well as shock from a somewhat off landing.
So all in all the Union Strata is even more of a recommendable binding in 2020 if you like more support around your boot and are looking for a binding that can match up with most boards out there. I personally own three pairs and use these to review other boards and boots. I could choose any binding out there and this is one of them that I chose for that task.
Union Strata Past Reviews
The Union Strata has almost the response of the Union Atlas but adds the better ability of the Contact pro while having dampness of its own. It’s a great addition to the Union line and something that will be great for a wide variety of board personalities and riding types.
One thing to mention with the Union Strata is that the washers that connect to the highback/heel cup/ankle strap screw have changed in 2019 so it keeps the screw from coming loose.
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.
Days: 5 and many more to come.
Boots: Adidas Tactical ADV, Vans Aura
Insoles: Sandsole Custom Insoles, Footprint Insole Technology Gameghangers Low Profile
Boards: OZ Custom Woody, Jones Ultra Mountain Twin, Capita Mercury, Capita Outsiders, Rome Powder Division 157
Highback Flex: It’s pretty medium when you twist it but more med/stiff when you try to bend it back.
Boot Adjustability: So just like the Contact Pro, the Union Strata has an adjustable heel loop that works well to center boot in the binding so you have a symmetrical response edge to edge. The only minor issue is the ankle strap only has one position unless you are willing to uncenter your boot for a higher or lower position but for us, it’s super far from being a deal breaker. Fitting every size boot well for it’s recommended size range is far more important and it’s a great choice for those that are at the higher or lower end of the sizing recommendations.
Stance Width Adjustability: Mini-Discs like this don’t have a big channel but because they work with the inserts right next to each other you can really dial out your stance width if you turn the channels from tip to tail. If you take the time to center your boot on the binding you can turn them tip to tail and still center them on the board.
Comfort: The Union Stratas are pretty comfortable. Most comfort in the binding revolves around the ankle strap. The plastic on the top and bottom can bite a little if you over-crank but you shouldn’t over-crank anyways. I do prefer the Falcor ankle strap better because it’s a little more comfortable to me but it’s still pretty comfortable. If you don’t like the ankle strap it comes with you can order the old Union Atlas ankle strap kit at C3’s site and that’s a very comfortable strap. The rest of the binding doesn’t have any intrusive or uncomfortable parts.
Boot Support: There is much more support than the Contact Pro ankle strap but there is still some freedom of movement so you aren’t super locked in.
Turn Initiation: The Union Strata is a very fast edge to edge for this design. It’s a bump up from the Contact Pro for sure and it’s pretty close response wise compared to the Atlas. In comparing the Atlas to the Strata on the same board with the same boots on the same day it’s very close. The Atlas feels like it’s a more responsive binding in the way it’s built but the Strata seems to make the board softer underfoot so it turns easier. The Strata also has a smoother turn initiation where the Atlas feels a little sharper. The result is that the board turns just about as fast as the Atlas even though it’s not quite as powerful a binding.
Buttering: Very easy to butter with the Strata and I like the feeling underfoot. It’s not any easier than the Contact Pro to flex the board but it feels more springy and dynamic like it’s adding a little pop to the board.
Ratchet System: Very smooth and reliable.
Shock Absorption: The new Fused Vaporlite material is pretty different than the normal EVA foam you normally see in the base plate. It feels a little bit more unfriendly when it comes to slow speed shock absorption but seems like it would protect more the bigger you go. The Union Strata feels like it’s got the dampest material underfoot in the line and it feels like it adds another layer of dampness compared to any other binding in Unions line. There are bindings like the Union Force and Atlas that feel like they stiffen up the board underfoot and that makes those pretty damp too but the Strata feels like it dampens the ride without stiffening up the flex underfoot which is a bonus for most.
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