Hello and welcome to my Union Ultra bindings review.
In this review, I will take a look at the Ultra’s as all-mountain-freeride snowboard bindings.
As per tradition here at SnowboardingProfiles.com I will give the Ultra’s a score out of 100 (based on several factors) and see how they compare with other all-mountain-freeride bindings.
Bindings: Union Ultra 2019
Price: $449 (USD recommended retail)
Other Uses: All-Mountain, Freeride
Flex Rating: Baseplate = 5/10, Highback = 8/10
Flex Feel: Medium-Stiff (7/10)
Rating Score: 88.3/100
Compared to other All-Mtn-Freeride Bindings
Out of the 13 men’s all-mountain-freeride bindings that I rated:
Overview of the Ultra’s Specs
Check out the tables for the Ultra’s specs and available sizes.
2 x 4 | Channel
US Boot Size Range
Euro Boot Size Range
UK Boot Size Range
5.0 - 8.0
37.0 - 41.0
4.0 - 7.0
7.0 - 10.0
40.0 - 43.0
6.0 - 9.0
Who are the Ultra Most Suited To?
The Ultra are perfect for anyone looking for a responsive binding with a stiff highback, but at the same time with great board feel, a binding that's responsive where you want it to be, but something that can also butter and has a bit of forgiveness in the feel.
Anyone who wants all that, plus the lightest possible bindings, and otherwise quality materials and a high level of comfort and don't mind paying for it, will enjoy this binding.
Certainly not for beginners or even low level intermediate riders. For high-end intermediate riders, looking for more response and wanting to lighten up their setup, and of course advanced and expert riders, the Ultra are worth looking at, if you have the budget.
The Ultra in More Detail
O.k. let’s take a more detailed look at what the Ultra’s are capable of.
Bindings: Union Ultra 2019, Medium
Date: March 21, 2018
Conditions: High cloud but still good vis. Wind was light but cold. Snowed for like 20 minutes, but very light snow. Was a bit bumpy and lumpy on groomers and quite crunchy off groomer.
This was my initial conditions, I have since bought these bindings, and have ridden them in various conditions.
There were a couple of harder spots but mostly pretty soft/medium all round.
Bindings angles: +15/-15
Stance Width: 555m (21.85”)
Board demoed with: Rossignol One LF, 2018
Baseplate Length: 24.8cm (9.8″)
Highback Height: 21.0cm (8.3″)
Weight: 780 grams (lbs, oz)*
*a.k.a. super-light! This is per binding and includes disc and screws. For perspective, the average weight of a small sample size of 10 bindings I took was 864 grams. And 5 of those were Union bindings, which are all really light. Take out the Union’s from that equation and the average was 940g. Without disc and screws I weighed the Ultras at just 700g. I could even feel the weight of the board and bindings combined felt noticeably lighter to carry.
The Ultras have the biggest rating difference between highback and baseplate of all Union bindings. They rate the highback at 8/10 and the baseplate at 5/10. The highback does feel very stiff and there’s little twist in it when trying to twist it. But the feel on snow is more forgiving than that. There’s a more forgiving feel that borders on 6.5, but overall I think it’s closer to a 7/10. That softer baseplate does give it a more surfy feel than you would expect after feeling the highback.
These bindings give a good amount of response. I wouldn’t say the most responsive that I’ve ridden but pretty darn close.
Given the stiffness of the highback, and the overall response, these bindings have a great board feel. That comes down to a few things I would say. Firstly, the mini-disc that they use reduces deadspot on the board. That’s likely a big part of it. But the softer base plate and the fact that these bindings are so light, likely also contributes to how good the board feel is with the Ultras.
The Ultras have all the adjustability you would expect with Union, including:
- Heel cup adjustment – great for easy centering of boot
- Stance width adjustments – the mini disc allows for micro-adjustments when using it horizontally. And with that heel cup adjustment you can pretty much always use it horizontally, because you can use that for boot centering instead of running the disc vertically.
- Ankle strap length adjustments, which of course every binding has, but they are tool-less, which most have these days, but still good to have
- Toe strap length adjustments, tool-less
- Tool-less highback lean
- Two toe strap positions
What it’s missing in terms of adjustability:
- No gas pedal (aka toe ramp) extension
- Can’t rotate highbacks (well you kind of can but not independently of the heel cup adjustment, and it feels kind of weird when you try to do it and not sure if it’s good for the bindings or not)
- Only one position for the ankle strap
Let’s Break up this text with a Video
This video is for the 2018 model but most is still relevant. The main changes for the 2019 model are outlined below.
The Ultras provide really good shock absorption. And the “Vaporlite” cushioning they use is nice and light, so it doesn’t add weight to the binding. And perhaps even more importantly it’s designed to remain cushy (technical term, I promise :-)) even when it gets really cold. I can’t attest to that as I only rode them in one set of conditions, but this is good to know, if you tend to ride in really cold conditions.
As is typical with Union bindings the Ratchet system is nice and smooth, which makes for a nice smooth entry/exit.
The new ankle strap is a step up from the old one, adding even more comfort. That plus the all that cushioning and did I mention how light these things are! Even with the same board and boots that I ride all the time, when not demoing and which I keep consistent for binding demos, it was actually noticeable how much lighter they felt on the lift.
The only thing that I would prefer to have for comfort that they don’t have is a canted footbed, but otherwise very comfortable bindings that conformed to my boots well, without any pressure points.
The new ankle strap has lead to increased ankle support for the Ultras. This was one thing about the older model that some people complained about, so it’s good to see an improvement there.
Changes from the 2018 Model
The 2019 model has a couple of new things compared to the 2018 model, namely:
- A new “Forma Elite” ankle strap (also featured on the Falcor)
- New ankle strap – but a more subtle change compared to the ankle strap
- Non-stick coating applied to the footbed and highback to keep ice from building up
Score Breakdown and Final Verdict
Check out the breakdown of the score in the table below.
rating (OUT OF 5)
contribution to final score
TOTAL after normalizing
Let's face it, these binding are pricey, there's no getting around that. But if budget, isn't an issue and you're looking for something that provides both great response and great board feel - and want them to be as light as possible, and still have good shock absorption and comfort, then they might be worth the investment for you.
More Info, Current Prices and Where to Buy Online
If you want to learn more about the Ultra’s, are ready to buy or want to research current prices and availability, check out the links below.
If you want to see how the Ultras compare to other all-mountain-freeride bindings or want to check out other options, check out the next link.