Welcome to the first review of 2021! I’ve been riding in these for about five months, giving me a good amount of time to get to know these irons. FreeJump stirrups have been the top choice for some of the best riders around the world for years, and I’ve been dying to try them. FreeJump is known for its safety stirrups, and I believe they were one of the first technical stirrups with a quick-release option for adults. Let’s start with the retail description of the Soft’Up Classic’s features:
- Single branch stirrup which combines Performance, Comfort & Safety
- Its patented flexible outer branch made of Elastollan® helps to free the foot in case of a fall
- The Spring steel single branch is three times more cushioning than a traditional stirrup
- Equipped with a wide carbon tread
- Tilted studs offer a supporting surface that is 12% bigger alleviates the pressure points on the arch of the foot
- Offset centre of gravity encourages the rider to keep their heels down
- Single branch technology reduces the strain on each stirrup by two-thirds and relieves pressure on the rider’s joints and the horse’s back
Disclaimer: I received these stirrups from FreeJump for free for the purpose of this review. Being gifted products allows me to try a wider variety of items to put to the test and review for you. Receiving an item for free does not influence my opinions, which are always 100% truthful and my own.
This review is based on six points that I find are key for stirrup irons: performance, safety, quality, durability, aesthetics, and value.
Performance – 10/10
- I always wondered why so many top riders love these, and now I know. They perform beautifully.
- Very comfortable to ride in, provides just enough cushion thanks to the single branch design without feeling unstable. I have bad knees and ankles and am rarely ever in pain after riding in these.
- The footbed is super grippy and the perfect size for me – wider than a traditional, but not so wide that you feel like you’re on a platform (how I feel riding in Jin stirrups and MDC).
- I was blessed with a naturally deep heel that I’m thankful for, but it can cause muscle strain sometimes. That has completely gone away since riding in these stirrups and I think that’s due to the combination of the 3° incline, the grip, and the offset center of gravity thing – it just lets my leg be in a natural and correct position. Before, I felt like I was always trying to find a comfortable place for my foot in the stirrup. These instantly felt like home.
- I find these to be the perfect weight, which makes them really easy to retrieve. I’ve actually never lost a stirrup riding in my FreeJumps, but they’ve proven to be easy to pick up after doing no stirrup work.
- I give these a 10/10 for performance as they give me everything I want in a stirrup. The best tack is the kind that never takes your mind off your ride and allows you to focus solely on the task at hand; supportive, yet unobtrusive.
Safety – 8.5/10
- The FreeJump Soft’Up Classics feature a patented flexible Elastollan outer branch that helps to free the foot in case of a fall. I have not tested how well this works and I hope to never need to, but it seems to be a great design.
- I’m giving these an 8.5/10 rating for safety due to the fact that reins that are too long can get caught in the opening. That being said, it’s my opinion you shouldn’t have reins that long no matter what as they can still get caught on your foot.
Quality – 10/10
- Seem to be really well made, with high-quality materials and durable construction. The material doesn’t scratch easily, they’re easy to clean, and feel like they will hold up for years and years to come.
- Made in France
Durability – 10/10
- After 5 months of consistent use, they still look like new. I haven’t had any issues with them whatsoever. My trainer bought a used pair, and hers look just as good too and get a lot more use than mine do!
*I’ll note that there have been incidents in the past of their older model, the Soft’Up Pro, breaking while on course. The stirrups in question were from their first run of product and were 5 years deep in use with a Grand Prix rider. I haven’t heard of anyone having issues with the Soft’Up Classic version since their launch a few years ago and personally am not worried about them breaking. As with all tack, I check them regularly for signs of wear just in case.
Aesthetics – 10/10
- These get a 10/10 for aesthetics because they are a gorgeous pair of irons and totally my style. The design is super sleek and depending on the color can look classic and low-key or playful. I really really realllly wanted the pink & grey ones, but they were out of stock.
Fun fact: The FreeJump Soft’Up Classic’s beautiful design comes from a collaboration between the Italian automotive design house Pininfarina (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari) and French Olympian Penelope Leprevost.
Value – 8.5/10
- Let’s be real – these stirrups are expensive at $370, and that’s why I’m giving them an 8.5 for value. That being said, they are in the same price range as other technical stirrups, a lot of which do not have a quick-release component or shock absorption. The ones that do often look bulky or busy. A couple of options that have shock absorption, quick-release, and a low profile are the new ‘Vector Balance’ from LeMieux ($269.95) and the ‘Venice Light Plus’ from Tech Stirrups at a whopping $549.95. I think the FreeJumps are worth the cost though as you will likely have them until you decide to try another pair and their resale value has always been really good.
- These ride very similarly to my previous favorite irons, but better and with added safety. I absolutely love my FreeJumps and can honestly say that if I wasn’t lucky enough to be sent a pair for free, I would buy them in a heartbeat.
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Free Jump Soft'Up Classic Stirrup Irons$370
- Super comfortable and grippy
- Quick-release safety with no moving parts
- Well-made and durable
- Sleek, low-profile design
- Perfect "in between" amount of cushion and tread width
- Possibility of reins that are too long getting caught in the side opening