For 11 years now Seattle-based Union Binding Company has been making snowboard bindings. And pretty good ones at that. Though they've flown under the radar, as far as the general public goes. It's always been a bit of a Cool Kid brand—though not fully, just enough to actually make it cool and not annoying. Design and strength have and continues to be Union's points of differentiation. Aaron Draplin of DDC has been involved in the branding and packaging design for a decade or so—which is really really rad—and the physical product often uses metal where others rely on plastic. As it's been seven or eight years since we rode a pair, Union graciously hooked us up with a set of Force bindings on a recent trip back to the Pacific Northwest. As the binding that started it all for the brand—and one favored by their pro team—we figured it to be the best bet for testing.

Some impressive snowfall at Mt. Hood Meadows created a wide range of testing conditions, from the very definition of a "powder day" to a groomed packed powder that is absolutely ideal park riding. We also tested the Force bindings on both an all-mountain machine, the Lib Tech Wittlake FM, and a proper twin freestyle snowboard, the Nitro T1. On both the bindings performed their job perfectly—that is to say our feet stayed attached to the board. Aside from that, we felt little else. Now let us emphasis this is a very very good thing, to not feel the bindings. Much like boots, bindigs are a workhorse of a product that is at its best when not noticed. If you're aware of your bindings, because they're too tight or too stiff or not stable enough, then you're going to have a bad day. And we had no bad days. We encountered zero issues with our pair. The metal heel cup was rigid enough to really yank out some quick carves, and the thick, padded ankle strap held us firmly in place without biting.

When all is said and done, we'd be surprised if you could find a more sturdy, reliable pair of bindings that handles this well on most all terrain for the price.