Long-term Union Flight, ST and Force snowboard binding review
Over the last couple of years I’ve been testing three different bindings across the range from Union Binding Co over all terrain and conditions. I found I can achieve almost identical results in whatever bindings, but I could tailor my choices towards the type of riding at the time.
All these bindings were tested on various custom DOUK snowboards. The boards were all camber, 153 twin tips, with sintered 7700 bases.
Union Force — Tough, reliable piste and park charger
These are the workhorse of the Union range. These just keep going and going. I still have these bindings as a backup pair.
After ragging them over a season in Mayrhofen I kept them for my European Boardercross races and my final instructor exam. Although you can do anything in them, I certainly feel they are more suited to fast, more aggressive riding when you want to handle a stiff board or you want to be able to really tweak the torsional flexibility of a softer more freestyle orientated board. They’re not super light compared to the Flights but that also means they’re built to take a beating. A lot of seasonnaires use these bindings. It reduces the stress if you know you’ll be riding most days and do not want down days with bits falling off or breaking.
I had to replace an adjustable screw on the toe strap that broke off. I got a replacement from a local ski store. A bit of superglue on the base of the footbed as the foam near the toes lifted slightly. There is a little metal branding tag on the base plate that fell off after a serious amount of riding. It was not worth replacing. On the newer models thats now held on with a screw.
For guys who want a solid mid-level aggressive binding that can take a beating and keep delivering for eternity whatever the terrain.
Union Flights — Light, flexible freestyle & mellow piste at a great price
I moved from the Forces to these and it was a big step change. The highbacks and the base plate did not give me anywhere near the same response as the Forces, but what they did was suit my riding at the time. I’d finished my last technical riding instructor exam so I wanted a mellow freestyle binding that could take a beating. It did not take me long to adjust to the different level of flex and these ended up doing the whole summer season in Les Deux Alpes with no major problems.
I needed to superglue a piece of highback foam down as it started to detach after a few weeks. Nothing serious, more cosmetic and probably due to a lot of hiking and unstrapping to ride the park t-bars.
Great for beginner to intermediate UK or European based riders looking for a solid and comfortable easy going freestyle and piste binding.
Union ST — All mountain freestyle and solid piste dependability
This is my current binding of choice. I checked in with the Union rep Rich after last summer and mentioned that I wanted something a little bit stiffer than the Flights as I wanted to get more aggressive with my riding again, but still maintain a playful freestyle vibe. He suggested the ST’s as they fill in the gap between the Flights and the Forces. They have not let me down. I’ve ended up having two pairs. One for the winter and one for the summer.
No parts broke and each pair did at least 8 weeks worth of riding as well as weekly trips to the dome. They’re solid and a little different in the styling from the normal Lamborghini wheel (Flight & Contact Pro) design so you can be a little more individual. I thought the acid green for the summer setup would be too much, but they pop out real well on my DOUK snowboard. I’ll be going with these again for 2017.
A slight bit of superglueing of the footboot foam cover near the big toe area (approx 2cm width) after 8 weeks of summer riding. Carving a lot through course slushy snow over the summer most likely resulted in this area getting a beating.
Keep an eye on the screws for the heel straps. They do have a tendency to loosen after a 3–4 days of riding. Plumbers tape can be a great solution to this.
The Acid green colour gets slowly bleached by the sun after around 5–6 weeks on snow. You only really notice it on the lower portion of the high back which is hidden by the heel cup during normal riding. If you don’t change bindings often this may be an issue.
For riders who want an awesome mid-level stylish do anything binding that will not hold you back on progressing to the next level.
This is just a review of three different bindings and there are tons to choose from. The key when buying and new pair is think about the type of riding you want to be doing and your riding goals.
One way to start thinking about a choice would be:
- Softer bindings for dome, slow piste carving, slow piste, freestyle and easy power terrain. Less responsiveness from the bindings.
- Stiffer bindings for fast carving, aggressive freestyle and more technical off-piste terrain. More responsiveness from the bindings.
Once you can pin down your aims you’ll be on your way to having more fun and progressing a lot quicker.