Gear Review: Scarpa Freedom SL Boot Review
Weight: 3 lbs, 13 oz per boot / 1978 grams (size 28)
Summary: The Scarpa Freedom SL is an award winning, lightweight, reliable, alpine touring boot that tours well on the uphill and skis like an alpine boot on the downhill.
When a boot is designed with input from respected ski mountaineer and big mountain skier Chris Davenport, you know it’s going to be a sweet boot. The Freedom SL bridges the gap between freeride and alpine touring like no other boot on the market. Scarpa claims it is the best freeride boot on the market, I’d have to agree.
As Scarpa’s beefiest freeride boot, the Freedom SL has won wards from Backcountry, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, and Backpacker. That alone speaks high honors of this ski touring boot. It seems like Scarpa went all in on the Freedom SL and the result is one awesome boot that combines excellent range of motion, four buckle stability, and undeniable ski performance. It’s a trustworthy skiing companion.
Featuring an Intuition liner, a four buckle design, a 120 flex, and 27° range of motion, the ink blue and lime Scarpa Freedom SL is an excellent boot touring in the skin track, charging big mountain lines, or skiing lift accessed backcountry. If you’re looking for a boot that skis like an alpine boot, is lightweight and stiff, and will tour well the Scarpa Freedom SL is an excellent choice.
Let’s take a closer look at the Scarpa Freedom SL Alpine Touring Boot:
Construction – The Freedom SL utilizes a carbon fiber Carbon Core Technology with Pebax Renew on the shell, cuff, and tongue. This stiff combination results in a 120 flex – a stiff boot for an aggressive skier. The cuff is higher than on the Maestrale RS. I find the boot moderately stiff and have heard it compares in stiffness to the Dynafit Vulcan. Although I occasionally hear complaints that the boot is not stiff enough. As we all know, boot stiffness is a personal choice.
The Freedom SL also features an overlap shell design making for improved ski performance. This matched with the accompanying Intuition FR Speed Liner, provides the Freedom SL with a progressive flex that allows you to drive any size ski. Everything is better with heat moldable Intuition liners. I find that the Freedom SL can ski anything at anytime, but the boot only performs as well as you do.
The boot’s shell is stiff, but it still opens up wide when cold. This allows easy access for your foot in a cold tent on an alpine start or when you leave your boots in the back of the truck. Once they’re on, the roomy toe box and Intuition keep your feet nice and warm.
Other construction features worth noting are a ridged groove of teeth that hold the power strap in place, a loop in the power strap to really crank it down, micro adjusts on all four buckles, and an adjustable spoiler.
Forward Lean – It is factory set at 14°, but can be adjusted 4° in either direction. The range is 10° to 18°.
Buckles – The Freedom SL features ergonomically friendly buckles with micro adjust that are riveted to the shell. This makes it easy to fine tune the boot to your foot. With the 101 mm last, this boot has a medium fit, so you may want to cinch down the instep buckle if necessary. The buckles also feature a lime green touring hook at the end to keep the buckles in line while touring. Many AT boots have this feature, but I still like it. Walk Mode – Scarpa has a well designed, external walk mode. They call it the Ride Power Block. I like it way more than the walk mode on my old Maestrale RS. It’s easy to see when the boot is in walk and when it’s in ski – all you have to do is look. Plus, it’s reliable. It’s easy to flip the switch from one mode to the other – even with gloves on. Once in ski mode, you can relax knowing your boot is secure and is going to ski like an alpine boot.
When in walk mode, the Freedom SL has a friction-free range of motion of 27°, with 18° back. Impressive for an overlap boot. If you’re going to spend most of your time walking uphill, there are better boot options though. Compare this range of motion with 37° in Maestrale RS, 60° in TLT6 or Radical boots, 40° in BD Quadrant.
The Freedom SL offers decent ROM without unbuckling or unstrapping, but walk mode improves when you loosen the buckles and oversized power strap. The boot may not be choice for a multi-day traverse or an epic day, but it’s more than sufficient for lift accessed backcountry laps, sub-5000 foot days, cat skiing, or apres skiing. Boot Soles – Scarpa Freedom SL come with a rockered, rubberized, lugged, Dynafit compatible sole. You can purchase additional DIN compatible interchangeable boot soles or additional pairs of lugged soles – a great feature if you’re going to walk on lots of volcanic dagger rock or your ski quiver includes alpine bindings. It’s easy to switch between an alpine DIN compatible sole (Mountain Piste) and a Dynafit compatible sole (Mountain Plus) in case your soles wear out or you want to be safe in an alpine binding.
Remove the 8 T-Nut screws that bolt the sole to the boot through the carbon fiber frame using an alan wrench. Don’t forget to remove the one screw in the tech heel. It takes about 10 minutes. It’s easy to swap soles occasionally, but I wouldn’t do it regularly. Scarpa provides a single tool to make all adjustments on the boots.
The lugged, rubber sole, called the Mountain Plus, is compatible with most AT bindings. It also features the Dynafit QuickStep toe inserts. This gives me peace of mind when I click into my Dynafit bindings as I know the tech fittings are aligned properly.
Weight – The Scarpa Freedom skis like an alpine boot, but in a much lighter package. Weighing in at 3 lbs, 13 oz per boot / 1978 grams for a size 28, it is much lighter than any comparable boot on the market. This would be my go to boot if heading south for the summer to ski resorts and backcountry in Chile or hitting up the club fields in New Zealand.
Sizing – I wear a 28 in the Maestrale RS, Dynafit Titan, and other boots. I wear a 27.5 in the Scarpa Freedom SL. It feels a bit roomier. Here is Scarpa’s official sizing chart. Find the sole length of Scarpa boots here. I believe that Scarpa breaks their boots on the half size. This means that a 27.5 and 28 have the same shell size and sole length.
When you purchase a pair of Freedom SL boots, all you have to do is add a footbed, heat mold the Intuitions, and go skiing. The Scarpa Freedom SL is the perfect quiver of fun, er.. one. It skis like an alpine boot on the downhill and makes the uphill easy (but not the easiest). For me this versatile, multipurpose boot is ideal for occasional tours, ski resort skiing, cat and heli skiing, lift accessed backcountry, or sub 4000 foot days. If going light and fast is the goal, I’ll opt for different footwear.
I upgraded my Dynafit Titan boots to the Scarpa Freedom SL. After a season of skiing, I’m happy with the change. Both were four buckle boots with interchangeable soles with a freeride focus. The ROM, comfort, and ski performance on the Freedom SL is superior in my opinion.
The Scarpa Freedom SL is not my dedicated touring boot. I use it primarily to ski in bounds, access easy backcountry lines, and guide. It handles pretty much any snow condition well. Plus, it’s strong enough to drive any ski. I give this boot two thumbs up. This review is my opinion. Try a pair of Scarpa Freedom SL boots on and go skiing. You’ll like them too. Let me know what you think in the comments below. __________________________________ Scarpa Freedom SL Official Specs
- 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
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