Union Expedition Binding Review

Union Expedition Splitboard Binding

With almost 2 full seasons of testing the Union Expedition Splitboard Binding, I can say without a doubt these are the most responsive snowboard like splitboard binding on the market.  I have so much trust in these bindings that I’ve actually taken a pair catskiing and heliskiing in British Columbia. Enough said?

Union Expedition Review

You may have heard about the pin.  Yep, Union is using a pin for their Expedition Splitboard Bindings. Does the pin work?  Sure does, just like the old pins Spark and Voile used in the past.  Although Karakoram never got into the put the pin in the whole game.

As mentioned above I went cat skiing, and heli-skiing while wearing these bindings underfoot with a pin holding the entire system in place.  Was I hesitant to use this setup for that sort of terrain, 100% so.  However, I knew these bindings worked perfectly splitboarding and I really enjoyed the style of riding on these bindings over my Sparks. I took a gamble and took these to BC it paid off.

Honestly, if Union was making a binding that was failing, we would have heard of it by now.

Valhalla Powdercats in BC

What these bindings do have that you most likely will cringe about is a few degrees of rotational play depending on how well you set up the bindings.  Even when perfect there is a noticeable 1-2 degree of play no matter how many times you try and mount the Expeditions.

Do you surf or skateboard?  If so can you remember a time your feet stayed in one place for the entire day?  It doesn’t happen that way in board sports.  With the small amount of rotational play found on these bindings, you get a more playful ride going downhill just enough to allow your feet to move a little bit.

Does your splitboarding include hanging onto steep icy big mountain lines?  These bindings are not for you. Go with the Spark R&D Surge or Arc bindings instead.

Like to ride powder, surf hit pillows and add freestyle to your backcountry game. You will want to use a pair of Union’s and most likely won’t ever go back to the other major splitboard manufacturers.

Riding

Does your splitboard ride differently from your favorite resort board?  It shouldn’t…

One of the first things you will notice when putting your boot inside the Union Expedition Splitboard Bindings is just how darn comfortable they feel.  This is a snowboard binding that has been adapted to work for splitboarding.  Union is using padding on the base of the binding, just like every other traditional snowboard binding on the market.  I can’t seem to figure out why the other splitboard binding manufacturers are not including padding out of the box?  Union is.

When it comes to the straps these again will remind you of snowboard straps, cushy padded ones that feel great on your foot and more importantly respond with the same quickness you have come to expect from your regular snowboard bindings.

The Forma Ankle Strap and toe strap are made of soft rubber that works in temperatures all the way down to -30F (although I don’t recommend splitboarding or going outside when it’s that cold unless you dig frostbite.

For the rest of the specs on the binding head over to the Union Website.

Union Splitboard Climbing Ladder

As with the previous versions of the binding the climbing ladder is simple to use and the easiest to get up and down of all the other splitboard bindings out there.  One thing I have noticed is the more you use the climbing ladder the more likely your skins are to fail.  More on that to follow in another splitboarding article.  If you can put a skin track in, an efficient one there is really no need to use the risers while touring.  Try it out sometime, of anything it will make you that much stronger.  Sort of like climbing in the baby gear of your mountain bike vs using a tighter gear.  One is easier, one is more efficient…

Transitions

When its time to put the board back together Union made things a little easier with the new Expedition Bindings by using a nonstick material on the footbed as well as highbacks.

Union Splitboard Binding

As you can see, snow still sticks to the bindings however it’s really easy to knock it off by clanking the bindings together.  For the area around the disk, I use my glove to clear snow and even the pin if need be.  One tip is to take the pin and put it through the disk slot before even spinning the binding on.  This will make sure the channel is free of snow.  Take the pin out and then put the binding back on.

In 70+ days of using these bindings I have only had trouble getting the bindings on twice while in deep snow.  The culprit? I put the bindings on backwards.  Which is tough to do as each disk is lined up for the specific binding.  If you run into this problem, make sure your buckles are facing outwards.

Watch the video below to see the first time I transitioned the old Union Expedition Bindings, it’s 1000x quicker now.

What Can Be Improved

When in tour mode the bindings are locked into place via a pin system.  The pin is easy to use as you simply slide the pin into the hole.  The one thing that sucks about this system is the tiny plastic tabs Union uses to lock the pin into place.  I have broken them on all the pairs I tested. Although this sucks and says something about the construction of the binding it doesn’t really seem to effect touring. You can see the broken off tab in the photo below:

Union Expedition Binding Pin Broken

The reason the binding stays in place when touring is your foot actually stands over the pin and the toe strap helps to keep the pin from moving up.  There was one time though where the binding came off in tour mode due to the plastic piece missing. Which sucked, especially considering I was putting a skin track up a face that had a potential of sliding. Next thing I knew my entire binding was off the ski, awkward at best.

Missing Pin

One more thing that has started to happen as of late is the rivets have started to pop out of where the pin goes in.

So there are couple tweaks Union should fix on this binding ASAP.

Overall Impression

If you care more about the experience you have going downhill while splitboarding or while riding your splitboard there is no better binding on the market than the Union Expedition Splitboard Binding.

These bindings will truly change the way you look at snowboarding on your splitboard.  If you’re new to splitboarding try out a pair of the Union’s and you might not ever need to ride anything else.  For the Spark crew, give them a try you make enjoy the ride Union offers on the descent.

The Union Expedition Splitboard Binding is available for $349.95 – Evo.com

 

Union Expedition Splitboard Bindings
4 / 5 RATING      

Waiting for product details ...

About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. When not on a board, Mike worked for Snowboarder and later oversaw TGR's online publication. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief. Mike spends most of his time splitboarding in the winter months and backpacking throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the summer.

27 Comments on "Union Expedition Binding Review"

  1. Andres Crosetto | September 4, 2019 at 2:42 PM | Reply

    Got a pin question,

    Will the Spark touring bracket marry up to the Unions? Is the pin more or less the same gauge and how about the spacing?

  2. I bought these bindings after seeing them heavily discounted at REI online, and subsequently reading your review. I rode them all season in Japan, and they were fantastic.

    I totally agree that they aren’t great for sidehilling on icy summits (but that could also be a function of my flexy soft boots), but where I was really, very, pleasantly surprised is that I get ZERO rotational play in my bindings, and I have only mounted them once! They are 100% solid.

    I wonder what’s different about mine than the dozens of reviews across the internet that found a few degs of play?

    • Mike Hardaker | March 29, 2019 at 9:33 AM | Reply

      Tim,

      Stoked you got on the Unions, and the REI deals late season are pretty darn solid. Most likely the peanut gallery that is talking about these bindings online never actually went past mounting them in a shop or at home. Everyone that has actually gone downhill on these bindings is a huge fan. The up is a little wanky, but for shredding down the Unions are simply put, fun to ride.

      What board did you have them on?

      • Coda Splitboard. Was looking at that vs the Jones Mountain Explorer (or whatever the name is for the entry-level jones board, I can’t remember), and your review pushed me over to the Coda. And I’m super psyched about it. That board is amazing in pow, and I predominantly ride in Japan, so… no brainer. So thanks for those reviews!

  3. Thanks for a bomb review after sending it out in the field. Just ordered a pair to throw on my jones explorer for some sierra pursuits. Yeeewww

  4. joe
    i just cut an old palmer in half.
    will the Expiditions mount directly into the base plate screws?

    so i wont need to drill more holes through the board?

  5. Fantastic Review. I bought the 2018 Expeditions and was really excited to try them out and was a bit concerned about the slight spin, but your feedback makes me feel much more at ease. I got these cause I love Unions and knew that they would feel amazing on the ride down, so I’m also stoked to see your feedback on the ride feel. I put them on an Arbour Abicus, and I’m stoked to get on the snow and try these out!

    • Thanks, Joe I appreciate the feedback. The Unions with the Abacus are going to offer a fun, very familiar style of shreding. That’s a great combo/. What have you been using in the past for splitboard or splitboard bindings?

      • I’ve rented/borrowed Arcs over the last few years on a Salomon Herren and they just felt too clunky and stiff – but after I saw the announcement of the Union Splits, I knew I had to try them. Are you still using the same Unions for this season as well?

        • Hey Joe,

          Good to know on the Arcs with the Salomon, do you know which board in particular it was? I am now using this seasons union, the White-colored ones. And will be trying the FC bindings soon. The Union Splitboard bindings are really fun to ride.

          • It was the Salomon Herren Split from 2017. Cool to hear that your using the Unions again, as you’ve reviewed lots of different bindings. Is the Union your go to? P.s. curious to know if you notice any major changes in the new 2019 expeditions, so far it seems they’ve only changed the high back and upper strap

          • Joe,

            I have yet to post up the new Union review, binding seems like the first edition but with upgraded parts. As for ride quality very similar. Herren = Mens in German? I can’t find a “Salomon Herren Split” for the life of me online 🙂

          • Yes it’s just the men’s split haha – I googled it and I thought that was the name of the board, it was a rental from Revelstoke. Looking forward to the updated review!

            p.s. I’ll be doing a 3 night backcountry trip and was curious to know if you think these bindings will hold up well for that long of a trip? The first day will be a 12 hour tour into a hut haha

  6. Phillip Carlson | January 14, 2018 at 5:14 PM | Reply

    First thorough review I’ve seen on these. Thanks for taking the time to actually use them a bit before spraying more garbage on the internet.

    Phil

  7. Eric Hoskinson | January 2, 2018 at 2:49 PM | Reply

    Great review. I’ve been touring on these since last season and love em. I also have a set of Spark Tesla that I enjoy as well. However when it comes to “snowboarding” the union expedition crush it. I find it funny all the haters on a Pin System. It doesn’t take any longer to transition with a Pin IMHO. Just a another way to connect a binding to a board. Keep up the reviews. If your ever in the PNW give a holler.

    • Eric,

      Thanks for your feedback, most likely people bitching about the pin were around when we used to cut our snowboards in half, we’ve come a long way since then. This is a snowboard binding that works for splitboarding. Not the other way around.

  8. Oh awesomeness! I love my Union bindings for my resort board. My only gripe with Spark R&D is the components (straps, backs) are kind of cheap (breaks). I wonder how these will hold up. Anyhow thanks for sharing Mike, now I just need $375 (and some snow). See you in D-town!

    • Denver for sure, and how about a road trip out this way for a little Montane product testing, I got some binders you will dig.

      • Ha I wish! Jackson is holding a 54 inch base! Plus you’re about to get the hammer dropped this week. Nearly zero snow here in the Southern San Juans, I haven’t even got the snowboard box out of the shed. If snow doesn’t come soon I’m just going to start road cycling in spandex like the rest of the geezers.

        why are you at work? Go shred that pow for the rest of us. go Go GO!

  9. Nick Highland-Brown | December 20, 2017 at 11:34 AM | Reply

    I’ve got these on my Coda and I’m super stoked to try them, just need some snow…

    • Nick, that sounds like a freaking awesome setup!!!! 2 of my favorites for sure. Where about’s are you doing most of your riding?

      • Nick Highland-Brown | December 20, 2017 at 11:43 AM | Reply

        I’m in SLC, so I’ll be in Wasangeles for most of it. Got a trip booked to Chile for this summer though, and I’m definitely going to take advantage of being able to use these bindings on my entire quiver for that.

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