Union Bindings have been around since 2005 and have built a strong reputation for performance, comfort, and quality. Their latest splitboard offering in the Union Charger FC lives up to those standards while making huge leaps in functionality over older pin models.
What’s in the Box
Opening the box welcomes you to some very thoughtful packaging and components. First, the carbon heelcup and highback look awesome and feel very stiff and solid. You also get toolless strap adjustment along with some of the best buckles in the business that are easy to ratchet down or get off quickly.
Next up, you have a black zippered case that includes all of the hardware and mounting devices for both a splitboard and a solid board. Although the initial prices might be a bit higher compared to some other offerings, the fact that you can easily mount this premium binding to your inbounds board is a nice benefit. Lastly, this binding uses Union’s newest Dual Lock System. No more pins to lose or come loose! This is a huge usability upgrade that is very noticeable in the field while transitioning and riding.
The first thing I did was adjust the Union Charger FC Binding to my Burton Tourist test boots. On the heelcup, there are three options for length adjustment. For this large binding, I used the innermost set of holes and my size 11 boot was perfectly centered. The included mounting discs are very easy to setup with the included tool.
There is very little wiggle room in the bolt holes and all of the parts are clearly labeled. In my opinion, this is a big difference from Spark-style pucks that seem to have almost infinite adjustment and can therefore take several tries to get everything properly centered and angled when mounting up for the first time. Finally, the maximum angles are only 24 degrees which might be a slight limitation for some posi posi riders. However, on the test Korua Dart, +24 on the front and +6 on the rear is a great combination for turning fun.
To get the binding into touring mode, you just place it 90 degrees to the board, slide it onto the touring bracket pins, and then snap it down over the small rubber nub on the bracket. Very easy and straightforward with no pin or ramp to lock down. However, you must make sure the binding is at 90 degrees and slides all the way onto the pins. Otherwise, it is possible to twist the pin inside of the touring bracket and you’ll have a stuck binding.
The forward lean adjuster easily swivels up to access touring mode. This is nice because it holds its place even if you shift the highback forward, so you don’t have to remember to put it into tour mode once you swing the highback into the upright position like on older Union models. In your mode, you get great stride length and the positioning of your foot in the binding allows for all the leverage you could ever ask for in a kick turn.
There is only one riser setting and it doesn’t have a nub or anything sticking out to find it. So, it can be a little tricky to find at first, especially on a darker dawn patrol mission. But, only one riser height is all you really need, it’s less to fiddle with, and is easy to slide back into place when you don’t need it anymore. It is also incredibly sturdy and durable which is very reassuring in the backcountry for anyone who has bent a climbing wire on other bindings.
Transitioning for the ride down is very straightforward. First, put the bindings back up at 90 degrees, give them a little love tap and they’ll slide right off the touring bracket pines. Once the board is back together, you lift the Dual Lock lever, place it over the discs, twist it, and push the lever down.
With some practice, the transition time is just about the same as anything else out there. However, the twisting motion and the locking mechanism does require the discs to be fully clear of any snow whereas on a Spark-style puck and baseplate, it feels like you can sometimes cheat a little with your clearing methods.
The first time transitioning in the field, it took several tries to make sure the discs were clear and to line up the binding so the Dual Lock lever would easily snap into place. Now several transitions later, it feels a bit smoother.
The downhill performance is where Union Charger FC Splitboard Bindings really shine. They have the comfort, performance, and responsiveness of any resort-style binding. Other splitboard bindings really tip the scales towards…well, not tipping the scales. The small weight sacrifice for the Charger FC gives you all of the downhill benefits with only minor weight compromises, assuming you like a stiff and responsive binding.
Also, because the baseplate is so strong, it makes the splitboard feel more solid even in hardpack or a resort groomer. It was very easy to get the board on edge and link some bigger carves. Between the footbed and the straps, there was not even a hint of foot pain or numbness; just sublime shredding.
Amazon.com Price: $699.95 (as of 02/22/2024 20:25 MST) Details
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
- Easier to setup than pucks: straightforward and easy angles
- Includes everything needed to run on solid and split boards
- The buckles are great: smooth, easy to get in and out
- Lots of articulation for striding and kick turns
- T25 Torx required on rear strap attachment/heelcup adjustment
- $700 retail is high
- Max angle is +/-24 degrees, maybe not for hardcore posi posi riders
- Neutral but Notable
- Depending on the board and mounting, twisting motion could interfere with touring brackets
- In the shortest back hoop setting, the highback doesn’t fold flat easily. Not a major issue, just kind of awkward and rubs the frame
- Only one riser setting
Who is it for?
This binding is for the hard charger that isn’t setting PRs on the climb or loves a mix of resort riding and side country. If you find your backcountry travel is more biased towards technical ascents or mountaineering, you might be better served with other bindings.
For most riders just having a fun day walking in the woods and want the comfort of a strong binding for the ride down, the Union Charger FC Splitboard Bindings ($699.99) are a perfect match. Although this binding is priced on the more premium end of the spectrum, there is still good value as you get everything included to mount on your splitboard and your resort board. And, due to the binding construction, it will rip on your solid board inside the resort as well.