At first glance Rottefella’s Freedom binding pretty much rocks. It shares the heritage of NTN’s trademark superb control, both in forward resistance and edge hold, although in the case of the Freedom, less is more ‐ meaning a notch less tele-resistänçe gives a wider sweet spot – mo’ betta’ in deep snow.
Depending on the rest of your priorities, it pretty much rocks there as well. Though it isn’t DIN or TUV certified, it does offer a safety release that appears to work pretty well and which might, incidentally save your butt in the backcountry someday but I’ll save the details on that for later. What is bound to be most appealing though is how doggone easy it is to get in and out of.
In tour mode it holds it’s own, and again, it is genetically descended from the Freeride so it isn’t a huge stretch of understanding to recognize it has a bit of resistance in the stride, but you won’t notice much unless you’re out for a big day or the snow is soft and you’re breaking trail. It is far better than a cable (doh!), even than a simple 3-pin, but not frictionless like an O1 or Dynafit. Thankfully, the touring range of motion is now a respectable 50° (add 10° for marketing ).
The climbing posts are easy to engage too. Lightly spring loaded, two heights of climbing bar lift easy with the lip of a ski pole handle, or push back down.
There are a lot of significant differences between Freedom and Freeride, but the core design of latching to your boot with hooks on a spring loaded plate remains, as does the mode switch, only it works easier than the Freeride does. Rather than moving a block in front of the toe to prevent rotation as the Cobra Free and Freeride do, a block of plastic slides under the toe to prevent it rotating. Clever, and much cleaner.
That’s a lot of good news for telemark skiers. If you’re learning to tele and beginning to venture out-of-bounds this is a great binding. For those who want a great skiing binding with a fast, smooth turn engagement, that tours better than 3-pins, Freedom will be your new tool for planting furrows on yonder slopes. If you’re serious about touring efficiency though, the tour mode would be a handicap in a rando race.
When you dig down deeper, nearly all the gotcha’s in Freedom’s performance are in the touring department and some would argue whether such shortcomings are important. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be an authentic Dostinator review if there wasn’t something to complain about.