The latest model Fritschi backcountry skiing bindings greeted me on the doorstep today. Interesting weights now that we could get them on our digital scale. Turns out the Freeride has lost a smidge of weight over the older model, but the amount is so small it could have just been the type of screws I weighed it with. BUT, what I found interesting is that the Explore/Express weighs out at nearly the same weight as the Freeride (if used with brakes)! see FAQ for weights
I have to admit this drove me crazy for a while, I just couldn’t believe the bindings would be so close in weight and thought my scale was messing up or something.
So I weighed each binding several times and continued getting the same results. One factor in this cosmic convergence is that the Freeride does NOT have return spring, while the Explore/Express does (a pair of return springs weighs .6 ounces). I updated the Fritschi FAQ for you ounce watchers out there. So why use the Explore/Express? I guess price and color, and to save an ounce or two. Why use the Freeride? It’s said that the stronger DIN 12 spring might behave differently as to elasticity, and perhaps the binding is built with better plastic or something like that…or perhaps having the word “Freeride” on your gear is self actualizing…or perhaps you need DIN 12…
Remember that I weighed the Explore/Express and Freeride with no brakes. Weights you’ll find elsewhere are confusing for comparison because the Freeride is sold with brakes, while the Explore/Express is sold without.
As an experiment I also weighed the Freeride without the shim and bumper that goes under the toe (many people eliminate this stuff so the toe is lower, for better ramp angle). The stripped Freeride weighed virtually the same as the Explore/Express. In other words, don’t buy the Explore/Express to save weight.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.