Hello and welcome to my Union Ultra FC review.
In this review I will take a look at the Ultra FCs as freeride snowboard bindings.
As per tradition here at SnowboardingProfiles.com I will give the Ultra FCs a score out of 100 (based on several factors) and see how it compares with other All-Mountain Freeride bindings.
NOTE: The 2019 model was the last model of the Ultra FC, so this review will no longer be updated. The new Union Forged Force takes it’s place and has some similarities, but quite a few differences too – e.g. no mini-disc (has Union’s universal disc instead) and has an aluminium heel cup, where it was carbon on the Ultra FC, plus a few other things. The Forged Force is a little bit cheaper too.
Bindings: Union Ultra FC (Forged Carbon)
Price: $549 (USD recommended retail)
Other Uses: All-Mountain
Flex: Stiff (8/10)
Rating Score: 87.6/100
Compared to other Men’s Freeride Bindings
Out of the 11 men’s freeride bindings that I rated:
- The average score was 84.9/100
- The highest score was 91.9/100
- The lowest score was 76.3/100
- The average price was $382
- The Ultra FCs ranked 4th out of 11
Check out the table below for the available sizes for the Ultra FCs.
|Size||Fits Men’s US Boot Sizes||Euro Boot Sizes||UK Boot Sizes|
|Medium||8.0-11.0||40.5 – 44.0||7.0 – 10.0|
|Large||10.0 & up||43.0 & up||9.0 & up|
Who are the Ultra FCs Most Suited to?
These bindings are best for anyone who demands a lot of performance and aren’t shy about paying the price for it.
Yes, they are very expensive, so if you’re budget isn’t that big, they might be out of your price range. But if money is no object and you just want super responsive, high performing, light bindings, then the Ultra FCs are them.
Also, they are super tough – they’re made from forged carbon and that makes them probably the toughest and lightest bindings out there. So, although they are pricey, they will also last forever so they’ll be the only bindings you ever need most likely.
They are for anyone who likes to charge the mountain and want their bindings to be super responsive but at the same time really comfortable.
They’re not for beginners though. They’re too stiff for beginners – they’re for more advanced riders that want to get the most out of their board.
The Ultra FCs in More Detail
O.k. let’s take a more detailed look at what the Ultra FCs are capable of.
Bindings: Union Ultra FC 2017, Size M
Date: March 25th & March 30th
Conditions: 1st day – Groomed with some fresh on top in the morning and more slushy later on. 2nd day – similar but a little harder earlier on.
Bindings angles: +18/-6 & +18/-6
Flex & Responsiveness
Union rates them a 9/10 for flex. Whilst they are certainly on the stiffer side, I’d say they’re more an 8/10. But they respond like they’re a 10/10 flex.
They felt really smooth – and edge-to-edge transition was really improved compared to the same boards with different bindings.
Despite their stiffness these bindings provide some awesome board feel. They really flex with the board well so you don’t get any dead spot feeling underfoot.
I’d say this is largely due to the mini disc that’s used for these bindings and maybe partly the lightness. The same that’s used in the Ultra (non FC) and the Contact Pros.
These are some of the rare bindings that manage to have awesome board feel and response at the same time, without sacrificing one or the other of those things.
They had all the adjustability that you can expect from modern bindings and all the adjustments were easy to make and most can be done tool-less so you can make adjustments on the fly.
I had to adjust the ankle strap after I was out on the mountain and it was super easy to do.
Union have managed to create bindings that are not only super-responsive but also have some reasonable shock absorption.
The ratchets are super-smooth and nice and fast and easy to tighten up and to undo.
Let’s Break up this text with a Video
These bindings really are immaculately comfortable. I felt like I really noticed the lightness of these bindings somehow. That, combined with the really plush and light ankle straps, made it feel like there was nothing on my feet at all.
No issues with pressure points in the slightest – I had to look down and make sure it was still attached to my foot on the lift!
The plush foot bed, as mentioned above under shock absorption, also helps these bindings to feel really comfortable. They achieve all of this without sacrificing any response whatsoever.
If you like a super supportive feeling around your ankle, then this is perhaps the one area that’s not quite to your taste.
But if you prefer or are ok with medium level of ankle support from your bindings, then these are just right.
They are the second most expensive bindings I’ve come across. But you do get what you pay for in terms of both comfort and performance and in terms of strength and durability. If you want one pair of bindings to last you a long time – like if you ride a lot during the season, for example – then that price is going to even out over time.
Changes from the 2018 Model
There have been a few upgrades for the 2019 model.
Most notably, the 2019 model got another new ankles strap. And it has a new toe strap. In addition:
- New non-stick syntethetic EVA coating (keeps ice from building up on the bindings)
- Magnesium 3.0 Ratchets (replacing the 2.0 Ratchets on the 2018 model)
Changes from the 2017 Model
The main difference between the 2018 and 2017 model, is that the 2018 model has a new ankle strap. Otherwise the two models are quite similar.
Changes from the 2016 Model
The 2017 model has more ankle support than previous models. To me they are now that perfect balance of support and freedom of movement. Some prefer more support some prefer more movement. For me they’re just right where they are now.
Quick note: Not to be confused with the Union Ultra. Though they are similar bindings the Ultras are softer flexing. Still high quality but a different binding.
Score Breakdown and Final Verdict
Check out the breakdown of the score in the table below.
|FACTOR||RATING (OUT OF 5)||CONTRIBUTION TO FINAL SCORE|
|TOTAL after normalizing||87.6/100|
My first though for these bindings after my first run with them? – “Wow!”
They were light and just made my board snappier and sharper and noticeably more responsive. These things rate a 9/10 (though I’d say 8/10) so I wasn’t at all surprised about the response. But I was surprised about the comfort and the ease in which you could ride them.
They didn’t feel overly stiff in terms of having to really work them hard and they provide great board feel (something often lacking in stiffer bindings) – but they gave the response of a super stiff binding.
They are very pricey – but they were also very awesome.
The straps are amazing, the comfort is great, they have awesome response and they absorb shock really well. I’ve heard others say they feel like there’s not enough boot support but they felt fine to me. They’re not super supportive of your ankles but I’d say mid support. The ankle support on the 2019 model has improved from previous models.
Basically no complaints about these bindings – except for one thing. They are priced to be more expensive than most can afford – but if you’ve got the cash to splash, you definitely get awesome, durable bindings.
More Info, Current Prices and Where to Buy Online
If you want to learn more about the Ultra FCs or want to research current prices and availability, check out the links below.
If you want to check out other all mountain freeride bindings or want to compare the Ultra FCs to others, check out the link below.
>>My Top 5 All Mountain Freeride Bindings
Local Board Shop was showing these to me. I have Ride Capos and find them good but want a more responsive and supportive ankle strap. Toe edge feels like it needs more support by the strap. Though I do like the front to back freedom it provides.
As awesome as these FC’s look on paper would I find the ankle strap to be the same as the Ride Capo’s? Maybe better with a Genesis X? Board shop seemed to think the Genesis X wouldn’t be responsive enough…
Thanks for your message.
I would say that the Ultra FCs are maybe slightly more ankle supportive than the Capos – but I wouldn’t say by much. The Genesis X are more ankle supportive and noticeably so than both – not a a completely locked-down feeling like some bindings but a bit firmer – if I was to give a score out of 5 with 1 being the loosest and 5 being the most locked-down – then I would say that the Capo is probably a 3/5, the FC a 3/5 and the Genesis 4/5.
But most supportive doesn’t mean most responsive though – I would say, out of 5, that the Capo is 5/5, the Ultra Fc is 5/5 and the Genesis X is 4/5. So I think they are still quite responsive bindings but you wouldn’t get quite as much response as the Capos or Ultra FCs.
If you wanted to keep that responsiveness but add some more ankle support then something like the Salomon Quantum (5/5 responsiveness, 4/5 boot support, 8/10 flex), The Flux XF (5/5 responsiveness, 5/5 boot support, 8/10 flex), Flux XV (5/5 responsiveness, 5/5 boot support, 10/10 flex – so a bit stiffer than Capo/Ultra FC/Genesis X).
I really loved the Ultra FC but I don’t mind a bit of a looser ankle support. I think you wouldn’t find these much more supportive than the Capos if at all. The Genesis X would be a good step up in supportiveness but a slight drop in responsiveness (IMO). The Salomon Quantum and Flux XF (or XV if you wanted to go even stiffer) could be good alternatives.
Hope this helps
Guess another option is the Ride el Hefe…though I’m not convinced the ankle strap is any more secure than the Capo. Wsa thinking that the Genesis X while being a little less responsive would allow me to hold the edge better, longer being more locked in?
Thanks for the in depth reply…you have given me some great options to consider. I’ll take your list to the shop and take a look.
You’re very welcome.
Yeah El Hefe is another option but I think you’ll have the same kind of support as you do with the Capo. You might find you can hold the edge better/for longer, I’m not sure though – maybe if your ankle is better supported, there will be less effort required to hold on the edge for longer. I haven’t noticed it but that might be the case.
what do you think about the new HEX ankle strap from the 2019 model. Looks like it is slightly bigger and has more support than the 2018 version.
At the moment I am looking for a new binding for my Kessler Cross board – the decision would be Burton x-Base or Union FC depending witch one fits better to my k2 thraxis boot.
I didn’t test the 2019 Ultra FC, but from everything I have heard the new ankle strap is more supportive and certainly looks it. This is something that Union have been working on for these bindings, and I think the strap made a big difference. The price of those bindings makes them tough to get on every year (my rep doesn’t necessarily get them every year) unfortunately. But yeah, I think it’s made an improvement what I hear. I adjusted the score to 3.5/5 for ankles support (which was 3/5 for the 2018 model) based on that. But potentially it could be a little better than that too. But I didn’t want to overstate it, having not experienced it myself. Hoping to get on the 2020 model, if I can.
Hope this helps with your decision
thank you for your response.
In the meantime I was able to test the Union FC with the new ankle strap and it has a super support. I was glade to test them side by side with the current Burton x-base and the Union FC with the new strap is much more supportive than the x-base (from my point of view).
Thanks for the update. And good to know. I’m hoping to get on the 2020 model if I can get my hands on it, which I’m assuming will have the same ankle strap, based on what people (including yourself) have been saying about it.
Sean M says
Do you think if I rigged up some Burton Genesis X hammock ankle straps on these the ankle support would improve a bit? Thanks.
I like how you’re thinking here. Honestly, I don’t know how much difference that would make – but in theory it could work. Not something that I’ve ever thought of doing. But, IMO, the Genesis X does have better ankle support. It just depends if that extra ankle support is all done to the strap or if there’s something else going on in there.
The other thing is, and for all I know this might be easy, but I’m not sure how compatible the Genesis X strap would be with the Union FC – or how difficult it would be to rig something up to make it fit.
It’s up to you if you want to give it a go – but I couldn’t honestly say how well it would work.