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Union Strata 2019 Review by The Good Ride
The Union Strata has almost the response of the Union Atlas but adds the better ability of the Contact pro while having a 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.
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 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 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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