Testers lauded the arrival of the all-new 2019 Fischer Ranger Free 130 twice over, calling it Fischer's pièce de résistance in both the On-Off Area category and also here with the BC boots! The Ranger Free 130 executes on all the elements that make a great Backcountry boot: it's gotta fit well, it's gotta ski great, it's gotta be lightweight, it's gotta have an easy hike mode switch and superior touring range of motion and it's gotta be tech compatible. Check da boxes six times, again!
It fits the way you'd expect a 99 mm last should—snug side of the medium group. This is a close-to-anatomy shell design with a thin, fully moldable liner for some minimally cushioned separation between foot and shell, leg and cuff. Testers say it fits with an anatomically contoured python-like grip, especially though the lower leg shaft and into the heel and ankle pockets where the fit tension was fairly aggressive. Testers who had the liner molded found the fit relaxed there, but this is no wide side of medium last bucket—it's more like a Recaro bucket seat for the feet.
Where to start? When you first pick up the boot you realize it's out of the ordinary. The sleek alpine shape, clean looking buckles and smooth finish set it apart from others in the Backcountry category. The first buckle-up provides a performance fit feel, and then the search for the hike mode switch leads to the discovery of the stealthiest touring flip switch on the market. Barely the size of a beetle wing, a smooth flip of the lever engages a thin interior cable which releases the cuff (will it stand the test of time, a few tester wondered). And then the easy stroll to the skis begins, with long and unhindered strides enabled by friction-free and wide-ranging cuff rotation, both rearward and forward in equal measure. At only 1540 grams it's light enough to compete weight wise with other BC descenders. When veteran testers prepare to on-snow test a boot that weighs so little and walks so well, we naturally ready ourselves for a worthless downhill experience. So, imagine our collective surprise when we find that the Ranger Free 130 absolutely rips! Stable through high speed crud laps, sensitive in untracked pow, commanding to the edge when arcing trenches on piste. Testers couldn't find its performance Achilles heel—though it maintained one hell of a grip on theirs.
The Ranger Free 130 comes with GripWalk soles installed, which is where it differs from the other boots we tested in the Backcountry group which have lugged, rockered outsoles and no option to swap soles. However, it's tech compatible with Dynafit fittings and we think tours as well as dedicated BC boots, so we're confident it can bridge both the On-Off Area and Backcountry categories (again, we tested it in both categories this year). Two liner pull loops and a simple Velcro power strap are the extent of the features menu, and we are a little disappointed that there isn't a lateral cuff adjustment, but often those are sacrificed in the name of better cuff rotation in hike mode.
“Feels good, makes me happy--let's go rip! In lateral moves, side-to-side edging power is on fire. This boot is light, fast, sexy and fun—it's one you can ski inbounds all day in a variety of snow or tour till you summit then drop. Great walk mode range of motion--nice walk mode lever and easy to use. It's a ski boot for all day players of every terrain.” -- Adam Tutskey
“Good anatomical fit right out of the box--best of the Backcountry group. Stance angles are dialed here--no issues, go skiing. Solid as can be for its weight--laterally holds its own and it's super quick. Best in class for agile, accurate skiing movements. Best combo of fit and performance for both up and down.” -- Mark Elling
“It's a little grippy in the lower leg--overly tight there for a medium. Liner molding helped but the slender legged will be better off.” -- Mark Elling