Scarpa Freedom SL Ski Boot Review
In my ongoing hunt for the ultimate ski boot that skis like a ski boot and tours like a touring boot, I got my feet into a pair of Scarpa’s Freedom SL boots, fresh for this 2014/15 winter. Did I find the one boot that does it all? I wouldn’t go that far, but the short term verdict is this might be the closest I’ve come yet. The Scarpa Freedom SL doesn’t do my dishes for me, and didn’t make me ski better than Chris Davenport, but aside from that it’s got all other bases covered. It’s that boot you want for a place like Whistler Blackcomb. You start every day charging the choppy resort, but by noon you’re off wandering in the not-so-slackcountry.
Why the Scarpa Freedom SL Kicks Ass
- Ski performance – It’s a touring boot that, wait for it, actually feels like an alpine ski boot when it comes to the important stuff… skiing! No it doesn’t perform as well as a custom fit race boot, but hey, I’ve come to accept that no touring boot does, nor will. Nor should it? Do you really want to embark on a multi-day backcountry epic with your race boots on? Didn’t think so. But for a touring-friendly boot, the Freedom SL stands out as solid downhill performer. The flex, fit, feel, and vibe are all more familiar to an alpine skier than say a Dynafit Vulcan or Mercury.
- Weight – Get ready for some cold hard Doglotion science here. Instead of creeping through ski shops with a scale, I’ll keep it simple. At 3600g for the pair, the Freedom SL is way the heck lighter than my alpine boots. A scientific bicep curl test with my Scarpas vs my Langes confirmed this. They’re also lighter than the Tecnica Cochise the last time I owned them. They’re heavier than the 3180g Dynafit Vulcan’s, but I’ll take the extra weight in exchange for the alpine feel of the boot.
- Walk the Walk – The treads on the Vibram soles are well designed and grip onto Blackcomb aka Rockcomb’s alpine rocks with ease. Meanwhile the 27 degree range of motion lets me strut my stuff en route to the ski hill, I mean um, is great for fluid strides while skinning. It’s not as much range of motion as a more dedicated touring boot like the Maestrale or some of the competitors, but it beats a lot of the beefier alpine boots with walk mode, and skis like ’em on the descent.
- Intuition Liner – Who’s gonna complain about boots that come stock with Intuition FR Speed Liners? Not this guy. Sure I got these boots sized for ‘comfort fit’, but it’s pretty nice heading straight into the backcountry with zero boot fitting work so far.
- Carboner – We all get a little excited about the word Carbon. And yep, these boots have it. Admit it, you’re getting a carboner just thinking about it.
- The Name – How can you not feel liberated with a boot named Freedom? If you’re faced with an unexpected backcountry epic, getting abused by mother nature left right and centre, you can always drop to your knees and recite Braveheart’s motivational war chant, climaxing with “they may take our lives, but they can never take our Freedom!”
Why It’s Not Perfect
- Doesn’t Do Everything – Like I said, it didn’t do my dishes or make me ski like Dav. Nor is it quite rad enough on resort for me to ditch my custom fit Langes, but for those of us who don’t have a quiver of ski boots, these just might do the trick.
- Shape/Fit – I’ve got an ultra narrow foot, while Scarpa’s boots are slightly wider than several competitors. If I had some more brains I would have downsized my boots, punched the toes, then crushed every mountain in sight. Instead I went for the comfort fit, which has been great in the short term, but might lead to some loosey-goosey skiing in future.
If your foot is a touch wider than mine, and you want a boot that does almost everything, get your feet into the Scarpa Freedom SL. Strictly going by the numbers, there’s other touring boots that beat it. But would you use stats to choose which girl you date? Didn’t think so. The Freedom SL just feels good, up ‘n down. The kind of boot Braveheart would rip if he ever got a chance to ski.
Specs From Scarpa
- Flex Index: 120
- Range of Motion: 27°
- Inner Boot: FR Speed
- Shell | Cuff | Tongue: Pebax® Renew
- Buckles: 4 + FR Power Strap
- Forward Lean: 10° – 18°
- Sole: Vibram® Mountain Plus
- Weight: 1799g; 3lbs 15oz (1/2 pair size 27)
- Size: 24.5 – 31
- Binding System: AT/TLT; Alpine optional
- Forefoot Last Width: 101mm
- 5’10”, 145 lbs
- Mostly alpine ski background, always trying to find touring boots that don’t feel like touring boots
- Handsome, enjoys long walks on the beach, and hot tub airs on powder days