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NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:25 am
by Johnny
What is the difference between the two? Which one is better, the Rottefella Freeride or the 22 Designs Outlaw? That's what everybody wants to know. One semi-new telemark norm, two different bindings to choose from... (A lot more than two actually, but let's focus on the two best ones... Or let's say the two most popular ones...)

Rottefella introduced NTN, the New Telemark Norm in 2007 with the first green version of what would become the Freeride binding. Not unlike Microsoft, Rottefella pretty much set the telemark standard around the world with NTN. But in the last 5 years, other manufacturers started experimenting with NTN toe cups too. The NTN binding will be 10 years old this season, and Rotte already released 7 different versions of their NTN binding. So why bother skiing something else?
Rottefella Freeride versus 22Designs Outlaw.jpg
Well, first of all, no binding is perfect. Whether it's NTN, NN or NNN, if there was one perfect binding, it would be the only one on the market. The freeride binding is far from being perfect, they still break very easily, they don't really release etc... But other NTN bindings, such as the Outlaw, the Meidjo, the TTS, the Moonlight and the Spike NT all had their share of problems too.

Let's start with the first difference between the 10 year-old Freeride and last year's Outlaw. While the Freeride is advertised as a releasable binding, the Outlaw is described like this: "The Outlaw can release laterally, although it's not guaranteed." It seems to me like a much more honest approach. Well, the Outlaw does have a catastrophic release system too, but unlike Rottefella, they don't claim to have "The security of an alpine binding". The main idea here is that while the Outlaw can release laterally, maybe 22 Designs skiers do not care much about releasability since they are good skiers and never crash? 8-)
22 Designs Outlaw NTN Binding.jpg
Next, the Outlaw is a true step-in binding. Just place your boot on the binding, push down and click, you're locked and ready to go. On the Freeride, you still had to bend down and manually lock the front lever. But to get out of the Outlaw, you have to use your pole. Hey, as I said, nothing is perfect...!

Stiffness or 'activeness' of the Freeride can be adjusted by switching different 'powertubes'. They used to come in a variety of flavors, white, green, blue, red and black. And each of them had their own adjustment from 1 to 5. You had to consult their colorful and very scientific chart and match the tubes according to your weight and boot size. On the Outlaw, you only need two options: regular springs or stiffy springs, on which the preload is adjustable too.

The Freeride is 1850g while the Outlaw is 1680g. And while they both have a touring mode, I never toured with them. To me they are way too heavy for long or even short tours, but I understand that not everybody is comfortable with pins and NNN for really light touring. The Freeride offers a 30°free-pivot angle while the Outlaw goes up to 50°. (Rottefella's Freedom binding goes up to 60°...)
22 Designs Outlaw NTN Binding - Rear.jpg
Now on snow... While they both attach to the boot the same way, the binding design is a bit different. The pivot point placement and the way it moves is not exactly the same. Plus, the moving plate on the Outlaw is about half the length of the Freeride. For about the same settings, the Outlaw seems to be more 'active'. The resistance seems to be kicking in earlier on the Outlaw, while the progression seems much smoother at the same time. I cannot say that one is better than the other, it's a matter of taste. Two different mechanisms doing the same thing, but somehow don't feel exactly the same.

After 7-8 years on the Freeride, and after breaking 10+ pairs, I'm very excited about the Outlaw. I only have a few days on snow with them, but from what I see and feel so far, they seem more heavy-duty and pretty much unbreakable. Hey, don't forget the Outlaws come from the folks that brought us the Hammerhead, the Vice and the Axl... There was a few reports of people breaking plates on the Outlaw, but according to 22 Designs, it's less than 0.1% of the bindings that are problematic. (Remember when the Freerides came out, the rate was around 10-15%...)

And oh, one very, very nice bonus: The toe cup is quite different from the Freeride too. Which means, the wear on the boots is not at the same place... Which means that if you, like me, have very worn boots due to many years on the Freeride, your boots will now feel like brand new boots again and will fit very tightly into the Outlaws...! How cool is that? 8-)

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:05 pm
by MikeK
I have no idea what any of this means, but it's a good write up.

So which one is better? Original Coke, or New Coke?

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:42 pm
by ckreedy
I understand that the 22 Outlaw does not make a guarantee to release and the Rottefella Freedom binding does claim to release. In reality is this because 22 does not want to have to stand behind a release guarantee but the binding does in fact release in a severe fall? In your opinion, do they both release equally in the real world? I am leaning towards getting the 22 Outlaw bindings but I am really concerned about ski release and want to understand if one binding truly performs better than another in this area. Would really appreciate everyone's advice.

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:33 am
by Johnny
They both release equally... But honestly, it's really catastrophic release only. I remember doing several release tests with the Freeride in the beginning, and with the amount of force required to release the binding, my legs would have broke long before... The important thing to remember here is releasability is proportional to the binding's stiffness settings... The more you like your binding stiff, the less likely it will release...

Even though they both are sold as releasable, and release is physically possible, I consider them non-releasable, especially if you like them very active...

If safety and releasability is your #1 concern, go for 7TM or CRB... The thing is, by having such a powerful binding like this, you will have much more control over your skis... Which means you are less likely to fall...

Original Coke or New Coke? Doesn't matter much to me, they both contain lots of sugar...! 8-)

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 1:07 pm
by djhutch
I have always been a huge 22Designs fanboy and couldn't justify leaving my Axls for the non-progressive feel of the Freerides, even though NTN has much better torsional control - I just felt Axls skied much better. After 5 days on the Outlaws last year, I had many, many duckbills up for sale. The Outlaws have all the power of Freerides with a sweet progressive flex and a better tour mode (not to mention the best heel riser of any AT or tele binding). The step-in is easier than an alpine binding (after you get the hang of it). Paired with TX-Comps, this is the downhill/resort setup that I have always wanted.

There were a few minor part breakages last season (season 1) which 22D has now upgraded. If you want an improved downhill experience over the Freerides or Freedoms, or are contemplating replacing your 15 year old EnerGs; buy the Outlaws and some NTN boots, give it 5 days, and you will be more stoked than ever that you tele.

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:09 am
by teleclub
LJ, can you describe or post a photo of the bale-wear you're getting in the NTN boot toe?


Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:56 pm
by Johnny
Typical wear from Freerides:

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:49 pm
by Nick BC
That's interesting the damage from the Freerides. I have three years on a pair of TX Pros skied in Freedoms and the toes are still mint. Possibly another strike against the Freerides, in addition to their appalling lack of range in touring mode :)

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 10:26 am
by Johnny
Any metal-on-plastic mechanism will eventually wear...

And keep in mind my TX Pros have almost 10 years of abuse on the Ice Coast groomers... 8-)

Re: NTN: Rottefella Freeride versus 22 Designs Outlaw Review

Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:03 am
by stormpeakco
Nice review....before NTN I thoroughly enjoyed my active Hammerheads and Axls (save for the recurring slack with the heel-cable piece). Outlaws seem like something fun to try during demo days.
At ~9.5 stone, (over 4 seasons, over 200 partial days) I haven't broken any Rotefella plastic plates and can't say enough being about to rotate a single, spendy, binding set-up (heel piece-mounting plate on @) amongst three pairs of tele skis.
IF $ wasn't in the calculations, having a set of Outlaws on THE favorite pair of tele skis (say on a pair DPS tour 106s)....