Independence Pass in Colorado got a nice coating of white over the past few days. I’ve been meaning to do a final evaluation of the 07/08 Silvretta Pure Freeride binding, what better way than a trip up to Indy and a bit of powder skiing with Louie and Jason, who are still high from recently experiencing their last day of school for the year. Nice to be around some contagious enthusiasm, being the jaded, yawn, backcountry skier that I am (smile). We all use the same size boots, so during the uphill we swapped between Silvretta, Fritschi and Dynafit bindings. Interesting!
|After the climb, a reward was had (Louie skiing in photo above) as we roped some snow dawgies in the White Corall. We didn’t trade bindings on the descent, no need, as I’ve done plenty of downhill comparison skiing on Pures and their characteristics are well known — mainly a high stack height and more flex (when boot cuff is forced left and right) than most other AT bindings. While you do notice a change in stiffness between Pure Freeride and a Dynafit or Fritschi when comparing side-by-side, the difference is probably not a big factor for most people. Demo if in doubt.
(Note that this years lighter model Pure, the “Performance,” has been upgraded with solid carbon rails and thus is similar in stiffness to the Freeride — early “Performance” models had hollow rails and resultant flex that some skiers have found to be disconcerting, myself included. I did my flex test on both new and last year’s Pure Freeride, with the bindings side-by-side on the bench. This year’s model is virtually the same flex as last year’s — no surprise there as the construction is nearly the same.)
|One of the famed (and sometimes feared) WildSnow.com test crew climbing with the Pures. The important thing we tested is the rearward location of the Pure pivot point, which is said to make the binding more efficient. They did feel good in a stride, though the stack height is a bit disconcerting at first. The question of the day: Do they feel any better than a Dynafit? Read on.|
|The fun and enlightening thing about our day was swapping bindings and skis with each other, as well as having different bindings on each foot. In this shot I’m touring with a Pure on one foot and Dynafit on the other, Scarpa Matrix boots. I noticed an almost imperceptible difference, as the Dynafit pivot, while a few millimeters ahead of the Pure, is still adequate. Louie has Spirit 3 boots that have the Dynafit pivot located farther back (“touring optimized”) than other boots, and he noticed no difference in stride. (Our skis were all similar in length and weight, so nothing funny going on with that.)|
|The big, but expected difference was with the Fritschi (comparo shown above), which compared to both Pure and Dynafit definitely had a less efficient stride. No big news there, as the Fritschi “FrankenStride” is a well known phenomenon. Nonetheless, having a Fritschi on one foot and Pure on the other brought the point home in a powerful, or rather, uncomfortable way — the difference was amazing!|
|More of the reward. Jason skiing. On his Fritschis.|
Conclusions: The 07/08 Pure Freeride is a welcome improvement to the Pure line. Its ergonomic stride, field maintainable pivot and slightly lighter weight than a Fritschi all combine in a package we can easily recommend for less aggressive skiers of average weight, especially those who don’t want the fiddle factor of a Dynafit. More, this latest model should be considered by any backcountry skier looking for a combination of step-in convenience and efficient touring. Bear in mind this is not a durability review or comparison — we’ll let consumer testing take care of that, and will report sometime early next winter. Thus, everyone who takes the plunge as an early adopter of the 07/08 Pure line, please send feedback once you’ve been on them for a while.
(Someone is going to ask where Naxo fits into all this. I did a similar comparo a while back, between Naxo and Dynafit. In my opinion Naxo has the best stride on the flats and low angle terrain of any binding, but once on the steeps the Naxo advantage becomes little to none. And check out the excellent guest camparo that Scott Newman did between Naxo and Fritschi.)