Mar 16, 2016 - 12:00am by Mark Elling
It used to be that the hike, or walk, mode (which is one of the defining features of the All-Mountain Freeride category) pigeon-holed a boot into a less-powerful-skiing sub-class. That isn't the case anymore with the best boots in this large group as current light weight but stiff plastics and solid metal-to-metal cuff connections create serious descenders, and all are tech-compatible. Skiers of all shapes and sizes can now find a boot that will suit their foot width as well as their uphill and downhill performance needs—narrows, mediums and wides in a broad range of stiffnesses are available in this category.
All of the boots in this group offer compatibility with lighter weight "tech" bindings and have options for rockered or GripWalk soles (and most models now come mounted with them in the box), both of which make uphill travel more effective. Liner construction here is lighter weight, typically more highly moldable than All-Mountain category liners and is often articulated for better range of motion when the cuff is released. Some area-based skiers may gravitate toward Freeride category boots simply for their walk mode convenience and lighter weight.