Learn what to look for in a setup that will enable you to explore beyond the piste poles.

Freeriding in reality for many of us is not the cliff hucking, backflipping variety often seen in the movies. Needless to say though, however far outside the piste boundaries you are heading this season it’s always a good idea to kit yourself out appropriately. Yes, Freeride kit is built to be tough, but perhaps more importantly Freeride gear is designed to enable you to have fun wherever you might find yourself on the mountain.

With a little help from our friends over at Snow+Rock we look at what you should be thinking about with your hardware setup to keep those tips up and that grin ear to ear.

Skis

Freeride skis are amongst the longest and widest of all skis, in order to dampen vibrations and provide better stability over rough terrain; so don’t be put off if they feel heavier than what you’re used to. They tend to be directional, with a flat tail, and will likely have a mild camber with at least some rocker in the tip.

2017/2018 Ski Tests

 

One characteristic that any freerider wants in a set of planks is playfulness – and there is one ski that on this year’s ski tests that had playfulness by the bucket-load - the Salomon QST99. Testers particularly liked how easy the ski was to handle in all conditions.

At 99mm underfoot there are certainly wider skis on the market however we found that this ski provided more than enough float in the fluffy stuff. As the ski isn’t the widest it means that the QST99 remains relatively nimble, helped along by the lightened tip and tail. The rocker on the tip provides float in softer conditions and if you do find yourself on the occasional groomer it makes turn initiation a breeze. The QST comes in a variety of waist widths, however this one is our firm favourite.

Check out the Salomon QST99 on the Snow+Rock website or head to your nearest store.

Boots

Freeride friendly ski boots fall into two categories: those designed to be easier to hike in, and those designed purely with ride performance in mind. The former will be lighter and softer, with an enhanced rubber sole to give better grip over icy ground. They may feature a mechanism that allows the cuff to be loosened, making them more comfortable to walk in. The latter will be more rigid and provide greater stability and control.

If you’re not quite sure what you want, visit your local Snow+Rock store and let their expert staff fit you with your perfect boot.

ROSS WOODHALL

The Tecnica Cochise is a freeride boot designed with versatility in mind and it certainly delivers that. You can take this boot anywhere and it will perform. The walk feature on this boot offers up a big enough range of movement for those hikes where the lifts stop (or to the bar). The walk mode isn’t the only touring-esque functionality though, the pin inserts in the toe and heel pieces mean that you can use the same boots whether you are blasting round resort or skinning in the backcountry. The boots suit slightly narrower feet, however the C.A.S. shell is heavily mouldable and more than capable of accommodating wider feet. The variety of flexes available means that the Cochise can suit most advanced skiers, our Ski+board team loved the boot (check out their review and others in the online magazine). Pick a boot like this if you want one boot to do it all.

The Tecnica Cochise is available from Snow+Rock in 85 and 95 flex for women and a 110 and 120 flex for men.

Bindings

As with skis, freeride bindings are wide and rigid for maximum stability and power transfer, while a low standing height provides improved control when riding and makes them easier to walk in. Look for a wide DIN range and always choose drill mounted systems.

Marker have been at or around the top of the binding market for as long as we can remember, and the Griffon is proof of this. The Griffon is one of the best-selling products in the ski industry – and for good reason. This writer has used Griffons for all manners of riding from freeride to freestyle and the Griffon has never let me down.

Recent upgrades to the toe plate allows the Griffon to be used with any boot, even if they have rockered touring soles, so compatability is not an issue. Topping out at 13 the DIN range is more than enough for most skiers however if you are after a little more spring tension check out the Griffons big brother, the Jester.

The Marker Griffon 13 is available with a 90mm,110mm or 120mm brake.

Marker

Poles

Carbon poles are favoured by Freeride skiers for their superior flex and vibration dampening abilities. Choose a longer pole than you would use for alpine or freestyle as this will help you keep your balance in deep, fluffy powder; and go big with the basket for maximum push-off power.  
Our favourite freeride sticks this season are the Leki Carbon D poles. They are perfect for not only freeriding but general piste use too. The carbon construction combined with the shock absorbing grip provide incredible dampening whilst the patented Trigger S grip eliminated the fuss of pole straps. If you are concerned about the skinny baskets, don’t fret there are some chubbier options available from snow and rock here for softer conditions.

View and buy the Leki Carbon D poles and the Snowflake baskets on the Snow+Rock website.