Silvretta FR800/Pure Freeride First Look

Last weekend we took a pair of Silvretta Freeride 800 skis for a test drive. These skis were equipped with a pair of Pure Freeride bindings. The FR800 is the top of Silvretta’s 2007/8 line-up. It is a mid-fat freerando ski built using a wood core and honeycomb construction. The graphics are very pleasant, a pair of burgundy stripes with a translucent top sheet. The FR800 has identical dimensions to the Atomic Sweet Daddy, 118-80-106mm. This gives plenty of float underfoot for powder. The ski remains light - in 175cm a pair weighs around 2800 grammes, 200 grammes less than the equivalent Sweet Daddy but the FR800 gains 3cm in length.

Okay this is not light but size does matter. We climbed about 3000 meters over 2 days (with a bad cold) and didn’t find the weight of the FR800/Freeride combination to be a handicap. The ski is not overly shaped, just enough to make turns easier but still stiff and straight enough to provide grip on icy slopes both when climbing and descending. The ski requires a 90mm ski crampon.

The first day was a tour to the Selle du Puy Gris in the Maurienne valley. It had snowed the day before but slopes had already settled under the warm spring skies. This gave us the chance to try the FR800 on firn snow and heavy powder. The ski preferred medium radius turns and gave the feeling of stability at speed, possibly due to its anti-vibration inserts and carbon fibre reinforcements. It also floated well on the melted glop we encountered at the end of our tour.

The weather changed overnight. Strong winds and around 10cm of fresh snow. The fresh powder would give us some different conditions for our test although the avalanches going off around us were somewhat disconcerting. The wind had worked the snow giving it a slabby texture. Not the champagne powder of ski movies. It was important to be well balanced on the FR800 fore and aft and not ski too far back when the wide tails would tend to snag on the hard base below the shallow coating of fresh snow. As with the day before the skis preferred to be given their head and not forced into tight “randonnee” turns. The real surprise was down in the forest where they proved very agile in the brushwood slalom.

The skis were equipped with the Silvretta Pure Freeride ski touring binding. This is a strengthened version of the original Pure binding. Now it should be noted that the first version of the Pure had a number of problems with the toe piece. On the 2007/8 Pure Freeride (and on the other models) this part has been redesigned. The sliding plate that help boot release is gone, replaced by a slippery piece of solid plastic, the “soap bar”. The pivot has been modified and the toe casting strengthened. The toe piece is a solid unit so it is hard to see why it should have failed in the original model. Silvretta’s French spokesman told us it was a quality control issue. The redesign complies with new DIN requirements for 2008/9 and can be used with both touring and alpine ski boots.

silvretta pure freeride

The bindings go up to DIN 12 release. Useful if you are touring with a heavy pack. Release is vertical at the heel and horizontal at the toe. This is achieved by having the heel unit slide back and forth on the link rails. It is a pretty neat piece of design that works. The only thing that was slightly disconcerting was the boot moving backwards slightly when climbing a steep slope; still we had only set the horizontal release to 6.

The Pure Freeride weighs around 1850 grammes for the pair including ski brakes. The step-in and out convenience was great. Due to the poor snow year in the Alps we had to remove skis to cross streams and bare ground and gained time on our Dynafit equipped colleagues. The ski brakes worked fine although we wonder if they would stop a ski on an icy 40 degree slope. Probably not but they wouldn’t drag you under in an avalanche. The heel unit has a riser that offers three climbing positions for steeper slopes. We found the binding to be solid and very easy to use. It would probably be good for a mixed resort/touring setup. Climbing was aided by the pivot point being set 30mm back from the toe, this particularly helped conversion turns on steep ground.

The FR800 will retail at 400 euros with the Pure Freeride costing 359 euros although many stores will offer the combo as a package at a discount. Of course the FR800 would work with any binding and would be quite light with Dynafit TLT Speeds. Specially shaped skins are available to fit.

Posted by davidof on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 at 09:11 PM

Q. what would you say if one of these bindings or one on a par with it broke first time out not on the mountain but at your local snowdome and not even having skied on them- just put them into walking position and then lock down- Id say that was a pretty major problem ! I am am not an expert but I think it might justify a serious look at the injection moulding process and a full investigation into the possibilities of this happening again !-and a full explanation to the individual who could have had a serious accident because of the fault- i am waiting for this report off the swiss manudfacturer if i don,t get it I will send you some photos that you may be very interested in.-

p.s. where are yu based ? are thereany jobs going ?

p.p.s. piste hors is the best off piste website in the world -I think perhaps !

Posted by shamus on  Monday, 26 March, 2007  at 07:47 PM

Hi Shamus,

Yes it is very worrying and has been a problem for all manufacturers of ski touring gear. So much so that people sometimes wait at least a season before investing in gear.

While recognizing that all gear breaks the consequences of a problem far from civilization and possibly in a dangerous position are all the more serious. Of course we rely to some extent on feedback from our readers about problems.

With the Pure the toepiece has been a major headache. We are told they either break early in the lifecycle or not at all. The famous “bathtub” curve of failures. It is down to a casting problem. As you can see in this photo the 2007/8 toepiece has been redesigned somewhat and uses a thicker casting. This has added about 35 grammes to the overall weight of the binding.


Please feel free to send any further information about the problem you encountered which sounds like it is with one of the plastic pieces.

edit: 2 April 2007

Just to clarify things it seems like you are talking about the Diamir Explore right? This is of course a completely different binding, and manufacturer, from the Silvretta Pure which we were reviewing.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 27 March, 2007  at 08:16 PM

ps We are based down in the Chartreuse mountains between Grenoble and Chambery. When we are big enough to hire people I will drop you a line wink.gif

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 27 March, 2007  at 08:18 PM

i,m gonna send you some very interesting photos- I am waiting for an explanation from fritschi-through the retailer the retailer who sold me the Diamar explores bindings is beyond reproach he upgraded the binding to a free ride he is cool-however the british importer well I do have serious concerns over their attitude which will hopefully be resolved when I get a full response and explanation of the fault- which is Iam sorry to say is the worst I’ve ever expierenced as a mountaineer-

p.s. will send photos through via info@pisthors -will definately work with you on this one!

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 28 March, 2007  at 12:47 PM

would the manufacturers give me a technical spec on the forces touring bindings can stand up to!

Posted by shamus on  Saturday, 31 March, 2007  at 08:19 PM
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