Taking laps on Mammoth's upper mountain, we certainly did not feel like we were skiing on a wimpy alpine touring boot. The Freedom RS 130 is as stiff as any boot in this review.
The Scarpa Freedom RS 130 is a true 130 flex boot, and with its improved, taller cuff height, can power big skis down big lines in all conditions. With a measured weight of 4.5 pounds, it certainly has the heft to hold up to all-mountain abuse. However, they lack some of the dampening ability of a boot solely focused on resort skiing.
So why consider a hybrid boot like the Freedom RS when there are slightly better downhill performers in the same flex category? The benefit of this boot is that it has a useable walk mode, with 25 degrees of cuff rotation, making walking to the lifts, hiking to hidden powder stashes and even clicking into touring bindings an option, with a minimal sacrifice in in-bounds capability.
This is perfect for those ski areas with adjacent out-of-bounds ski terrain like Jackson Hole, WY. The Freedom RS 130 might not have as much of a range of motion as specialty touring boots, but it provides progressive flex and handles heavy use in all types of snow conditions.
We tested the Freedom RS 130 in their intended environment and tackled steep ungroomed faces at speed.
Comfort and Fit
The Freedom RS 130 is a hybrid boot that has one foot in the resort and one foot outside the ski area boundary. It is a medium volume with a reported 101mm last width, and we find this to be spot on. In regards to sizing, Scarpa boots change sizes on the ½ size, meaning that the 27.5 and 28.0 boots are the same size shells with different sized liners.
This is slightly different from true alpine boots, which are not typically offered in half sizes. We felt our 28.0 test boots were true to size and allowed for a bit more toe room than most of the alpine boots tested in a 27.5 size. Even a small amount of extra room is a welcome benefit when walking, boot packing or ski touring. In these modes, with the walk mode engaged, the foot can slide forward more than in ski mode. If your boot is too tight, that could mean slamming your toes repeatedly. So if you're in between sizes, you may want to size up.
The Freedom RS 130 is a comfortable boot, with a quality Intuition Cross Fit Ride RS liner. This liner is beefy, and is comfortable in the foot, but has little padding and feels stiff against the shin. The soft tongue padding on the Atomic Hawx Prime 120 S was much more forgiving. Ski these inbounds from open to close and you will feel it in the morning! The included footbed is minimal, and we quickly replaced it with something a more substantial Superfeet Green Insole. Scarpa includes shims to reduce volume in the boot.
The buckles have an extra setting that allows users a wider range of motion for comfort in the boot pack.
The Freedom RS 130 is loaded with features, making it easy to customize your boot for the way you want to ski. It has two different sole options based on what kind of binding you plan on using. Sold with a tech-compatible Mountain Plus sole, a separate Mountain Piste sole is available to make them compatible with alpine bindings. This boot edges out its closest competitor, the Tecnica Cochise DYN 130 with slightly better features that allow for closed buckles and a looser fit in walk mode.
Four buckles with micro adjustments secure the shell and a heavy-duty Booster strap adds support and stability to the upper cuff. The walk mode is a small compact unit on the back of the heel that is durable and effectively switches between ski and walk modes. Cuff and forward lean adjustments dial in the perfect fit.
The walk mode is unobtrusive, easily engaged and offers a modest 25-degree walk mode.
Our lead tester put in a full season of skiing on the Freedom RS 130 boots, using them as his primary in-bounds boot. Despite the many days of use, the boot is still looking good. It hasn't had any major durability issues. The only wear we've noticed is the normal wear on the soles from walking on sharp rock. We feel that these boots will last many years of normal use.
The Freedom offers average warmth. The Intuition liner is firm and durable, good for touring and hiking, but it does not have the thickness of other alpine boots. That said, it provides enough warmth for relatively cold days on the ski lifts too. Sometimes we had to open up the buckles to get some warm blood back into our feet, though this was only necessary on the coldest of days.
These boots are available with both DIN rated and tech soles. Swapping them out to fit your bindings is good for safety reasons and for longevity.
If you find yourself wanting to walk more comfortably to the ski lift, boot pack to out of the way terrain, or do some minimal ski touring to access side or backcountry ski areas, then the Freedom RS 130 may be a perfect blend of features and performance. Not as light or as comfortable in the skin track as specialty ski touring boots, the Freedom emphasizes delivering solid big mountain performance whether in or out of the resort.
If you need the top-level flex of an alpine ski boot, but want to be able to click into tech bindings like these, then the Freedom RS has you covered.
The Freedom RS 130 ski boots are some of the most expensive we have reviewed. They have stellar features, ski well and are durable, but their counterpart, the Tecnica Cochise 130 DYN is a better value.
The Freedom RS has a useable walk mode to get you to the top of your line whether it is accessed with a ski lift, helicopter or your own two feet. It is one of the burliest alpine touring boots available and finds itself at home on ski descents that require top-level performance. If you find yourself doing a lot of boot packing in or near your ski area, then the walk mode on this boot will help you get to the top faster, ensuring you get first tracks.
The Freedom is also available in a 120 flex version if you don't require the big mountain stiffness that the 130 offers.