After 4 months of testing the new Union Expedition Splitboard Binding, I’m happy to announce it’s the best splitboard binding on the market when it comes to going downhill. Find out what I liked, loved and hated about these bindings in my review below
Union Expedition Review
When the crew at Union announced they were going to be making bindings everyone, myself included got really excited about this news, and for a couple reasons. First and foremost more brands in the splitboard space = a healthy industry that can and will see more innovations in the years to follow. Secondly, it’s a Union Binding, enough said.
Now for the rumor mill peanut gallery, most likely the reason you’re reading this review:
Do the Union Expedition Splitboard Bindings Spin?
Yep, and you won’t notice it one bit on the way down, or up for that matter. When I first mounted these bindings (without using the plastic reference mask that Union includes in the setup directions) there was noticeable rotation when the binding was mounted to the board. In fact, it was almost 1-2 degrees of play. I thought WTF is this?
You can see me setting up the bindings for the first time in the video below.
So needless to say I was skeptical about actually taking these bindings out on snow, especially in the backcountry for that matter. What would happen if your foot spun off the board while riding, that would suck and most likely be no bueno on the knees.
After I made the video above, Riley over at Union sent an email suggesting to use the reference mask to re-mount the bindings. So I did and it cleaned up some of the play. The keyword here is some. Again I found myself wondering if I wanted to go snowboard on a pair of bindings that was spinning.
Some of the reviews you see online for these bindings (most likely all of them) come from people that never even bothered to try this binding on snow, that’s their loss.
If you’ve been splitboarding for a while you will understand how easy the pin system to use is on the way up. There’s really no fuss.
Union set out to make the ‘best ride feel possible’ with the Expeditions, which is ironic as these feel amazing wrapped around your feet on the way up too. Thanks to Union’s use of Nylon Duraflex base plates, this is the sort of binding you can easily have underfoot for hours and hours on end. Toss in EVA 3.0 Bushings and you have a splitboard binding that tours comfortably on the way up while cutting down on a ton of chatter while skiing out on the flats.
One slick feature of this binding is how Union was able to integrate the climbing wire into the Expedition without the need to mount a locking mechanism to your board. Whats even better is the thick rubber climbing wire is super easy to flip up and down by using either end of your ski pole. This binding differs from some of the others on the market in the fact that there is only one height setting for the climbing wire. Even in deep, wet snow, the rubber stays nicely in place.
Nothing on the market currently can compare to how this binding performs on the way down, not even some of the more popular solid bindings out there. It’s a Union and as mentioned above these guys were more focused on the down than up.
So do the bindings spin when strapped in? Yep, and you won’t be able to notice it when you start going downhill. As strange as that sounds, it’s truly the case. I have had some of the best surfy, pow sessions of the year ripping around on these bindings. It’s literally impossible for the bindings to rotate underfoot while riding. Most likely you will see people ordering a second set of disks, and mounting these to their resort boards, I sure plan to.
Step #1 Put the Binding over the disk
Step #2 Spin the Binding into place
Step #3 Insert the pin
Step #4 Lock the pin in place
Still reading? You’re wondering about the pin again, aren’t you? First of all these bindings are sort of like the “Fisher Price” model, there ain’t much to break, and snow doesn’t like to stick to plastic the way it does to metal. When it comes to transitioning, the bindings easily shed snow and have yet to ice up, which is another plus.
Watch the video below to see the first time I transitioned the bindings on snow, it’s 1000x quicker now.
When it comes to transition times, the Expedition Bindings will become one of the fastest splitboard bindings out there, with a little practice just like everything else.
What can be Improved?
Currently, the Expedition Binding can only be mounted in 6-degree increments to negative or positive 24 degrees. It would be nice to see finer tuning down to 3 degrees in the future. Edit: Actually after talking to Union “The Expedition can be mounted in 3-degree increments. When looking at the disc, each notch is equal to 6* and each tooth is equal to 3*. So you are already able to adjust by 3* increments. “
Also, there’s a pin with this binding, but you already know that. What would be great is a way to make sure the pin never left the binding. They actually send an extra pin with the bindings when you buy a new pair which makes you think, what if you lost a pin the backcountry?
Added: One more thing that can really make a difference with these bindings is to make sure that you really lock down the screws that connect the pucks to the board. There are 2 screws that connect each puck to the board, along with 2 additional screws that hold the puck together. If any of these screws come to lose it becomes hard to put the pin in-between the pucks. So make sure to tighten those screws down from day #1.
Otherwise, for a first-year binding, the Expedition is solid right out of the box.
If you’re wanting the best feeling while riding downhill the Union Expedition Splitboard Binding needs to be in your quiver. If you’re someone that spends long days in the mountains, perhaps consider instead going with Spark R&D’s, especially when it comes to touring uphill.
The Expedition baseplate is rated 7/10 and the highbacks 6/10 on the stiffness scale, so this is not the stiffest binding on the market. There are other stiffer “mountaineer” style bindings that are better suited for touring in exposed terrain. However, nothing will feel as forgiving as these bindings do after a long day in the mountains, say goodbye to any sort of foot pain when you’re rocking the Expedition Bindings.
At the end of the day, Union nailed it for their first entry into the splitboard world, keyword here first. And rumor has it they’ve already started working on an upgraded binding as I type this. With Union and Capita now in the splitboard game, it’s safe to say that C3 is here for the long haul.
The Union Expedition Splitboard Binding is available for $349.95 – REI