Testers applauded the arrival of the all-new 2019 Fischer Ranger Free 130, calling it the Fischer boot range's pièce de résistance and the best boot to come out of the Fischer factory in years! The Ranger Free 130 executes on all the elements that must combine to make a great On-Off Area (AKA Freeride) 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!
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 look, smooth finish and featherweight feel in hand (1540 grams) set it apart from others in the hike mode 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. When veteran testers prepare to test an on-off area 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.
While we tested On-Off Area category boots with alpine soles, the Ranger Free 130 comes with GripWalk soles installed, which only adds to its easy walking game. Tech compatible with Dynafit tech fittings, this sidecountry/Freeride boot might easily compete with true Backcountry boots—which we tested out by entering it in our Backcountry category test as well. 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.
“Wow! Grabs my heel and ankle like a python! The fit is super precise yet with no pressure points. Awesome blend of skills--intuitive and powerful yet crazy light--skied great in the pow. Perfect edging and quickness--so light, so effortless. The hike mode latch is so neatly integrated I couldn't find it! Did not see this one coming!” -- Jackson Hogen
“Good feel--a quality off-the-shelf fit. I secured buckles to mid tension and had a very secure, yet uniform fit. Great stance position for balanced and strong skiing with power and finesse to the ski. Mercurial snap to the edge—it's at the top end for liveliness. This boot is executed very well--the surprise boot of the test! ” -- Bob Gleason
“Last feels straight though the slim looking shell is wider than it appears—looks and feels like a lightweight racing plug shell in weird kinda way. Felt nicely linked to the cuff with good sensitivity though my feet and the bottom of the boots. Killer rebound and re-centering capability! Skis much like a lightweight race boot. Good range of movements--easy to blend steering and edging moves. Tailor-made feel. Easy, simple buckles with great styling and an ingenious hike mode switch.” -- Marc Stewart
“Had a slight twitchiness, but not difficult in any way.” -- Bob Gleason