Expert Review: Union Explorer Split Snowboard Bindings · 2022

This review is my honest opinion of the splitboard bindings, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.

A woman splitboarding on a snowy day. She is walking uphill and smiling at the camera.

All photos courtesy of Tyese Messerman

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the splitboard bindings, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.

My take

The Union Explorer Split Snowboard Bindings are geared toward a splitboarder who has a more freestyle-based riding style than freeride and is focused on the way down more than the way up. They have a fantastic feel that is similar to regular resort bindings and provide great comfort for all-day excursions.

A woman splitboarding in the snow. She has a backpack on and is smiling.

About the gear

  • Model: Union Explorer Splitboard Bindings 2022
  • Size: M
  • Burton channel compatible: No
  • Mini disc: Yes

About me

  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 130 lbs
  • Experience: 23+ years of snowboarding

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: December 2021
  • Days tested: 25+ days
  • Board: Pallas Epiphany Splitboard
  • Boot: Ride Sage & Salomon Ivy
  • Where I’ve used it: Oregon, Utah, Washington, California
  • Terrain: All terrain! Powder, Chop, Icy conditions, Spring days, etc.

How it performs

Boot Adjustability
4/5
Buttering
4/5
Comfort
5/5
Durability
5/5
Lightweight
4/5
Responsiveness
5/5
Shock Absorption
5/5
Stance Adjustability
5/5

What I was looking for

I was on the hunt for splitboard bindings for my new splitboard, and I was hoping to find bindings that felt similar to what I was used to on my regular snowboard. I wanted bindings that could handle a little bit of freestyle flair on the way down and weren’t so stiff like some, I was looking for simplicity of use, and I didn’t want to break the bank.

Why I chose this gear

I chose these because they look and feel like a traditional snowboard binding, but are made for splitboards! They are the first splitboard bindings to actually have padding underfoot and the straps work the same as other Union bindings which I already loved.

To be honest, after finding these bindings I did not really consider any other bindings. For long days touring many people go for Spark bindings or Karakoram, but I was much more interested in the board feel on the way down instead of saving a few grams of weight, so Union won by a landslide for me.

A woman splitboarding on a snowy day.

What I love about it

  • Binding adjustability in boots: The Explorers have all of the same adjustable features as their traditional bindings minus the ability to rotate the highbacks. They have a plastic piece on the back to adjust the forward lean of the highbacks as well, for touring mode vs. riding down.
  • Stance adjustability: The mounting pucks that screw into the board are able to be turned and rotated to accommodate many different stances and stance widths.
  • Comfort: These are the first ever splitboard bindings that have a padded footbed. They are very comfortable, similar to a traditional binding. The straps are a hard rubber material that stretches nicely over the boot for great support and comfort.
  • Shock absorption: Compared to other splitboard bindings that have just thin metal underfoot, these bindings are great for absorbing shock. There is not a lot of chatter underfoot like other bindings.
  • Responsiveness: Compared to most splitboard bindings, they are more responsive than average since they ride more like a traditional binding. While they are not as responsive as a lot of solid bindings, I find that they still ride more like a regular setup than a splitboard setup.
  • Carving: It is more noticeable on groomers that these are not as good as solid bindings for carving, but generally being off-piste and in the backcountry, I have not had any issues carving and turning with these bindings.
  • Ease of turn initiation: I’ve had no issues turning. 75% of the backcountry I do is through trees and making quick turns and these bindings have held up wonderfully.
  • Straps: The straps are durable and comfortable. They are a hard plastic that easily stretches over the boot to provide great support without causing any pressure points. The toe strap feels very secure as well.
  • Buckles: Union’s buckles are top of the line, and these are no exception. I have had no issues with them being difficult to undo or getting stuck, and they are very smooth even after many uses.
  • Durability: I’ve used these bindings a lot and for long days, and I haven’t had issues with their durability. They still function properly and they are barely even chipped at all. The string that holds the pin on did fall off, but that is an easy fix.
  • Other: Overall these bindings are very simple to transition from touring mode to downhill. The pin system is very quick to take apart and put back together. I’d like to note that it’s really important to make sure that once the pin is in place, the plastic piece is actually locked into the plastic housing. Sometimes snow can get into that housing and it is difficult to get it locked in. If it doesn’t click in, the pin will most likely fall out as you are riding down.
  • Other: One more thing to note is that these bindings only have one riser setting for going uphill compared to many that have two, which could be a con for some. However, these bindings have a plastic riser with a bit of padding that sits directly onto the board on the way up, compared to having a wire that needs a riser pad screwed onto the splitboard. This means fewer screws and less hardware than most other splitboard bindings which I love.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Buttering: These are definitely not park bindings, the flex is softer than most splitboard bindings, but still a solid medium so they are not the best for buttering.
  • Weight: These bindings feel fairly lightweight, very similar to Union’s traditional bindings but with the pucks added it does at a little more weight. These are not as lightweight as many other splitboard bindings, however, so for someone doing long days where touring is the priority over snowboarding down, there may be better options.
Close up of the Union Explorer Splitboard Bindings.

Favorite moment with this gear

I had many great moments with these bindings, but when I took my splitboard up Mt. Shasta and Mt. Scott back to back, these bindings really shined. I didn’t get much foot fatigue from them, they were reliable and sturdy for the huge descents down, and they worked great on the way up. Union makes crampon attachments that are easy to install as well, which was really helpful on the steeper sections of the mountains. They just screw into the bottom of the binding and only take about 15 seconds to put on.

Value for the money vs. other options

I think these bindings are fantastic for their price point. As I mentioned they have a lot of pros to them, since they have such a solid underfoot feel, are very comfortable, and ride like a traditional binding. These are around $399 MSRP, while most splitboard bindings are much more expensive than these. The most comparable binding at this price point would be the Spark R&D Arc, but I personally like the Explorer’s better!

Final verdict

Overall, I think these bindings are a fantastic choice for anyone looking to go into the backcountry and still have the comfort and support they would have at the resort. These bindings cater to someone with a more playful freestyle vibe, as they have a medium flex compared to many splitboard bindings that are very stiff to accommodate hard boots. These bindings are very easy to use and install, and are a great choice for anyone who is more focused on the way down. For long touring days for those focused on weight, there could be better options out there.

Selling Union on Curated.com
Union Explorer Split Snowboard Bindings · 2022
$259.99
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From Whistler, BC to Rainier Basecamp, and from Niseko, Japan to Mt. Bachelor, Oregon, I simply can't get enough of the snow and the mountains! Growing up on the East Coast I learned to ski at age 5 and started snowboarding around age 12, and roamed the hills from Quebec, Vermont, NY, PA, WV and eve...

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