Ok thanks. And to clarify SL is stiffer than the Force? Would this be right:
SL (all mountain board): Atlas or Force
Heritage (more freeride/all mountain): Charger, SL or Force
Also, is the Atlas team available anywhere? Thanks!
Yeah, not to jack this thread but you bring up a good question.
There really isn't a scale to Union's bindings the way other companies rate their bindings (from soft to stiff). They've matched different stiffnesses and flexes by combinding different baseplates, high backs and straps that make each binding unique in flex. I'll try to explain it the best I can based on my experience.
: The SL and the Atlas are the same stiffness, as they use the same baseplate. The Force baseplate is a similar stiffness as well. The real difference in flex comes from the highbacks and straps of each binding.
Note: I have the 2012 SL, which uses the carbon injected baseplate that is now the on the Charger, so if you see previous posts on this forum with me talking about the stiffer, more freeride oriented feel of the SL, that is why. The 2013 SL is now the same baseplate as the Atlas.
: The Atlas has a symmetrical/assymetrical highback so it has more torsional flex to the left and the right, a feature I prefer when riding park. It still provides a decent lateral flex (edge to edge). I ride this binding on my park board, but I do take it out on the mountain and it performs well. The Atlas Team uses the symmetrical highback that offers more stiffness and uniform rigidity, so it makes the binding a little more responsive overall and better suited for all mountain than the regular Atlas. I've seen the Atlas team binding at a few shops and online at C3-shop.com
The SL has an assymetrical highback that allows more torsional flex inward and more rigidity outward, while still providing response laterally (edge to edge). I find that this highback design makes the SL most versatile binding in the Union line A few clicks in forward lean makes it really responsive edge to edge, while zero forward lean allows the torsional flex you need to jib. I use this on my jump board, which also doubles as my all mountain deck, and occasionally I'll throw them on my park board.
The Force uses a standard symmetrical high back that is more rigid side to side as well as laterally, it's pretty responsive and can easily handle all types of riding. I've always been a fan of the Force. I rode them exclusively on each of my boards for a few years. It's a solid do everything binding.
: The SL and Atlas use an assymetrical ankle strap that allows a little more flex than the symmetrical Force ankle strap. So the Force strap provides a little better toe edge response being more ridid, but not enough to be an distinct advantage over the other two bindings.
Obviously, your best all mountain/freeride choice is the Charger because of its responsive carbon baseplate and highback. I guess I'd categorize them like this in order of performance.
Charger - Freeride/All-Mountian/Freestyle
Atlas Team - All-mountain/Freestyle/Freeride
SL - All-Mountain/Freestyle/Some Freeride
Force - All-Mountain/Freestyle/Some Freeride
Atlas -Freestyle/Some All-Mountain
This is just my personal opinion. Others may have a different definition of what freeriding and all-mountain is. I'm on the east coast so it's pretty much icy steeps and park riding. Someone who rides powder regularly or low pitched groomers may have a different take on Union. Hope this helps clear up a few things.
Update: I guess the Atlas Team is technically called the SuperPro. I was told it was called the Team binding when I first saw it so it just kind of stuck.