Expert Review: Union Atlas Pro Snowboard Bindings · 2023
This review is my honest opinion of the snowboard bindings, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the snowboard bindings, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.
Union’s Atlas Pro is an all-mountain binding that supplies power and performance where riders need it, while still providing a smooth flex for comfort and predictability where they want it. This binding is not just for pros and expert riders. What I’m really impressed with, is how naturally this binding felt in all conditions and on a wide variety of snowboards.
About the gear
- Model: 2023 Union Atlas Pro Snowboard Bindings
- Size: Medium
- Burton channel compatible: Compatible with all channel, 4x4, and 4x2 mounting patterns
- Mini disc: No
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 155lbs
- Experience: 26 years of snowboarding
- When I bought these: January 2022
- Days tested: 40+ days
- Board: CAPiTA Mercury 155, CAPiTA Kazu Pro 154
- Boot: 2022 Burton Ion
- Where I’ve used it: Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming
- Terrain: Park, groomers, powder, banked slalom races, half pipe, slush, steep terrain, and sidecountry
How they perform
What I was looking for
I’m always keeping my eye out for gear that stands out from the rest. When these bindings dropped it was such a breath of fresh air because they captured all of the elements that I couldn’t find in any other binding.
I was looking for a stiff and responsive base tray (carbon-injected) focused on performance, with a nylon highback that wasn’t so stiff that it felt like a ski boot. The really comfortable strap kit, and super smooth action of the magnesium ratchets, is just an added bonus.
Why I chose this gear
It’s one of a kind. Union crushed it with the Atlas Pro and managed to pull together a really beautiful aesthetic. It’s mature and subtle, but the graphic and the Union logo lets all the kids on the hill know that you know what’s up.
I was paying attention to other bindings, but nothing was grabbing my attention. If this binding hadn’t popped onto my radar I would have continued using my Union Atlas FC that I had equipped with an old nylon highback from another pair of bindings.
What I love about them
- Binding adjustability in boots: Everything is tool-free and has locking security measures. Riders won’t have to worry about anything falling off if adjustments are made on the fly in deep snow or really cold conditions.
- Stance adjustability: These will mount anywhere from about a minimum of 17 inches all the way to 23 inches maximum. If these don’t accommodate a rider’s stance, then they might want to rethink how they’re standing on the snowboard.
- Comfort: In a word, “unreal”. This binding is Union’s version of the La-Z-Boy. They really fit easily on every part of the snowboard boot. I never felt any pressure points or had any discomfort from these bindings. These might even have gotten more comfy as the days passed.
- Responsiveness: I got very nice response from these bindings. I would consider these to be on the higher side of a medium-flexing binding. That being said, in my experience the only way to achieve a more responsive ride than the Atlas Pro is to dive into a full-carbon or forged carbon binding to provide immediate and unwavering responsiveness.
- Carving: Even though the highback is made of nylon, its asymmetrical shape and varying stiffness—softer, long nylon from the bottom up to stiffer, short nylon at the top—means that when riding slowly and taking it mellow, these will also be mellow. However, when going full throttle and wanting to charge, these highbacks will go as hard as the rider wants to push them.
- Straps: Don’t be fooled by the plastic Exoframe straps, these are way more comfy than any of the super plush straps seen on some other bindings. These fit the boot seamlessly and should only need maybe one extra click just to be sure.
- Buckles: Union developed a new and improved magnesium ratchet for this binding and it’s incredible. Magnesium has half the weight of aluminum, twice the strength, and holds up much better in the cold.
- Durability: I accidentally ran over these bindings with my van and they were totally fine. The precursor to this model, the Atlas, was the strongest snowboard binding ever produced, but this one is better. The Exoframe straps have no foam to rip or tear, and the integrated forward lean adjuster has no lever that could break. If somehow something breaks, and it’s not because of user carelessness, hit up Union directly and they will ship replacement parts to the consumer, usually the next day and at no cost.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Shock absorption: I wouldn’t call this an “issue”, but I will say that snowboarders prioritizing dampening (shock absorption) should consider another option that has a mini disc and puts dampening to the forefront. One binding that is parallel to the Atlas Pro, and within Union’s collection, would be the Falcor.
- Buttering: Generally speaking, a soft-flexing freestyle binding is going to be the ideal choice for something that is excellent at buttering. In this case the Union Atlas Pro is designed for performance and precision. It’s certainly possible to butter with this binding, however the stiff base tray won’t flex as easily with the board as with a freestyle binding.
- Weight: Snowboarders looking for the lightest binding won’t find it here. These are sturdy, but not heavy, as any weight reduction would compromise the performance of the binding. In my opinion, the weight is satisfactory.
Favorite moment with this gear
I have one moment that stands out above the rest for sure. I was at Bomber Banked Slalom at Mission Ridge, WA and didn’t win, I didn’t even come close. After the race was over, the builders let us all party wave the course, which was incredible. I was standing at the top with Matt Wainhouse, a regional Pro for CAPiTA, Union and Coal, who had the same binders on. He was telling me I did a good job for being so old but I didn’t believe him. We dropped into the party wave on each other’s heels, and something clicked for me. I rode that course so fast I was passing people in front of me.
Afterwards we were in the lot pulling off our soaking wet gear and parked next to us was this dude Derek who won the race. He was talking about how old his bindings were, and how much they suck. It occured to me then that I could do this guy a solid by giving him my Atlas Pros. Why I thought that was a good idea I don’t know, I guess I just was so hyped on them. The moment presented itself and I thought maybe this local shredder would stay on the podium if he had these bindings. He hit me up a couple days later and was hyped on them too—he had the same reaction that I did!
Value for the money vs. other options
For those who can afford a higher-priced binding, this one is worth considering. It would be a worthy investment in a pleasure pursuit that will significantly improve their experience on the hill. A couple other new bindings for ‘23 that are worth checking out are the Ride A-10 and the Cleaver from Rome. Both of these bindings come in at the same price, and even though they are considered “comparable” to the Atlas Pro, they both ride really stiff and miss their mark for me. By committing to a full-carbon make up, they end up feeling too stiff.
The Union Atlas Pro is a premium offering for any snowboarder with aspirations to excel in an all-mountain venue. It is made for riders who want a binding that is high-performance without feeling completely inflexible and restricting. The Atlas Pro is more than just a binding, it’s an engineering masterpiece.