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Union Atlas 2020-2021 Snowboard Bindings Review

  • Price: £270 / $330
  • Sizes: S, M, L
  • Flex: 8/10
  • Entry System: Classic

Why we chose the Union Atlas Snowboard Bindings: In Greek mythology, Atlas was a titan condemned to hold up the celestial heavens for eternity, in snowboarding the Atlas holds the rest of the industry to a new standard.

Union’s buzzword has always been ‘stronger’, but this season the Atlas is on a whole other level. This is the Atlas you know and love, but it’s come back from summer break with a serious steroid addiction and new Herculean physique. The binder of choice for both Arthur Longo and Kazu Kokubo, the Atlas’ are your big mountain ballbusters.

As the old adage goes, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, but perpetual evolution is an intrinsic human trait, and Union embody this more than any brand we’ve seen. They’ve pushed binding innovation further than just about anyone over the last 16 years, like hungry sharks they’re constantly moving forward. Perpetually experimenting, designing and rigorously testing their wares.

“This is the Atlas you know and love, but it’s come back from summer break with a serious steroid addiction and new Herculean physique”

The Atlas has a whole bunch of upgrades for 2020/21, but possibly the biggest talking point is the new Stage 7 Baseplate. A whopping 270j of energy is purportedly needed to shatter it. For reference, that’s roughly the same amount of energy it would take to raise a 1lb weight 200 feet in the air. When they say bombproof, they mean it. As such, Union put their money where their mouth is and offer a lifetime warranty on the baseplate and heelcup.

Everything about the Atlas is raw, unadulterated power. The rigid highback and baseplate leverage loads of power as you’re going edge to edge, working in conjunction with the new Vaporlite High-Density Bushings to dampen the ride and soak up some of that slap and chatter as you’re hooning it over mottled terrain.

Both the ankle and toe strap have also been updated to match up with the stiffer flex of the Atlas. The toe strap features a new wider design, with a thermoplastic anti-slip material to grip round the front of your boot. With the new ExoFrame 3.0 ankle strap cutting weight but upping the support and response.

“You can dial in the perfect fit, eliminating dead zones in the footpad”

Adjustability is on point with the Union Atlas, the heelcup can slide into three different positions depending on the length of your boot. You can dial in the perfect fit, eliminating dead zones in the footpad which either cause loss of response, or force you to crank your straps down super tight, cutting off blood to the foot.

There’s a super user friendly FLAD on the updated Duraflex CB highback to ramp up the forward lean if that floats your boat. The highback can also rotate to your preference, when its aligned with the edge of your board, you get increased power through your heelside turns, and your boots get a wider range of motion on the lateral and medial sides.

This is the new normal. The Union Atlas’ are the large hadron collider of the snowboard industry, for riders who prioritise power, immediate response, and meticulous engineering, the Atlas is where it’s at.

Tester’s Verdict 2019/20

Rob McCreathWhitelines

“Being the binding of choice for two of my favourite riders – Kazu Kokubo and Arthur Longo – I had mixed feelings about strapping into the Union Atlas. I’d hoped these would be the missing link in my riding and help me channel those boy’s hard-charging backcountry style. In reality, it was a bit like being handed Jimi Hendrix’s guitar only to bust out a very ropey rendition of Kumbaya.

That was to be expected I suppose. What did happen though, was that I immediately felt myself attacking the mountain with far more aggression and accuracy than I had earlier in the day.

The Atlas bindings have had a bit of an upgrade for this season, which is really apparent when you’re riding them. The redesigned asymmetric highbacks work in perfect unison with the canted footbeds. Being a taller rider, I often find that flat footbeds and straight highbacks offer me limited connectivity, but the Atlas bindings had the feeling of being locked in and super responsive. That flex is definitely on the stiffer side, so not the best for lazy riding – you’ve got to step up to the plate and ride with a bit of panache to get them working.

“The Atlas bindings have had a bit of an upgrade for this season, which is really apparent when you’re riding them”

The all-new heel strap is great. There’s no stitching to come loose or material to pad out, yet it still delivers full 3D comfort and instant response. Apparently the materials in the toe strap have been upgraded to stays soft and supple right down to the coldest sub zeros, too.

The Atlas bindings are another quality addition to Union’s already stacked range. They have something to cater to every rider out there. If you’re going more down the freestyle route, maybe consider something like the Strata. If you’re on more of a budget then the Force bindings will suffice. If you’re wanting aggression, response, and comfort in equal measure then the Atlas is your best bet.”

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