Scarpa recently unveiled their new Freedom Series of freeride boots which will be available this fall. The boots were developed in collaboration with big mountain skier Chris Davenport, who got on board with Scarpa after the initial launch of the project. After speaking with members of Scarpa at the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah, Chris put some ideas together and flew over to meet the Parisotto family (who started Scarpa) to share his thoughts on what the ideal freeride boot would consist of. Following a short discussion amongst themselves, the Parisottos decided to show Chris what they’d been working on. As it turns out, their vision of the ideal freeride boot was right in line with Chris’ – a boot that glides up and rips down.
Men’s (left) and women’s (right) Freedom SL
After a number of prototypes, the series now consists of four boots: a men’s and women’s PU (polyurethane) model called the “Freedom” and a men’s and women’s Pebax model called the “Freedom SL.” For those of you not familiar with Pebax Rnew, it’s a lightweight plastic that is a little more environmentally friendly than others, with rigidity properties that stay fairly consistent throughout temperature change. The Pebax boot weighs in at 3lbs, 15oz and the PU model at about 4lbs, 7oz.
The Freedom SL has a 101mm last and a 120 flex rating, though the Italians who designed the boot dislike using these measurements. As most of us know, flex ratings are somewhat arbitrary between different manufactures and the last only measures the forefoot. Despite this, they are useful as guides when browsing boots. One tester noted that coming from Lange RX 130s, the 120 flex rating seemed right on point. The Freedom model is rated at a 110 and was noticeably softer while being skied in the spring-like conditions of Mineral Basin that afternoon.
There are a few notable design features that set this boot apart from others. First off is the ski/hike mechanism–there’s no friction when the boot is set into hike mode as the only contact points are at the ankle rivets. The cuff has a 27-degree range of motion and the shell comes with a 14-degree forward lean, which can be adjusted between 10 and 18 degrees. When the shell is set to ski-mode, the metal-to-metal connection locks tightly into place to keep the integrity of the shell intact.
Ski mode (L and C) and walk mode (R)
The Freedom SL will come standard with tech-compatible Vibram soles and a heat-moldable Intuition liner, while the Freedom will include Vibram DIN soles and an “Instant Fit” liner. Both soles will be available for individual purchase and include metal plates in them, as does the base of the shell that they screw into. The well-designed integration of the sole and shell ensures efficient energy transmission. Other features include a 2-degree lateral last angle (your foot is slightly slanted inward, though you won’t notice it) to get you onto the inside edge of the ski quicker.
We haven’t toured in the boots yet, but after a full day of alpine skiing we were very pleased with their performance. We’ll continue to test them in a variety of conditions but as of right now it appears that Scarpa has stepped up it’s game in the hard-charging, freeride category. The Freedom SL, with its flashy paint job, will have an MSRP of $769 and the Freedom, with a toned down look, will have an MSRP of $599.