Guest Review – Dynafit Speedskins, Seven Summits, Harscheisen

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By Rob Mullins

Dynafit Speed skins complete my rig, and they are probably the best skin that I have ever used. (My Dynafit kit includes Seven Summits 178cm ski, TLT Speed binding, Zzero3C TF boot, harscheisen, and now the Speed skins.)

Backcountry Skiing

Rob's Dynafit rig, with a bit of BD thrown in for good measure.

The Speed skin is shaped to fit the Dynafit ski model, a very convenient feature; fit is perfect. They’re thin and very light, 25% lighter according to the Dynafit catalog. (I did not weigh them.)

The glue works fine so far — we shall see. I have not yet made it through a season on a European skin before replacing the glue with Ascension Gold Label glue.

The Speed skin attachment system is excellent. The front fix has a rubber cord with a molded ball that hooks in special Dynafit ski tip slot. The rear attachment is a metal hook that fits another corresponding slot. The Speed skin front rubber attachment is easy to use with gloves both on and off, and is also a snap to remove while the ski remains attached to your boot. Not that I am a rando racer or fast, but especially in deep snow I just find it more efficient to remove skins without removing the ski.

In the words of the World Champion from the PDG video, “boot, binding, skin.” I find this order to be useful and efficient — change the boot to downhill adjustment, rotate the heel, pull the skin, step the boot heel into the binding. In my case, because I’m large I leave the front binding lever locked to ski downhill. (As a matter of fact, I’m large enough to have a fond memory from the Cabane Bertol near Arolla on our Haute Route – some High School local girls looked in wonder at me and my two buddies, all over 200 lbs each, and said with their cute-to-me accent, “did you walk here?”)

The Speed climbing skin is 100% mohair. Published studies that I found online state that mohair is superior in seasonal snow and nylon is superior in wet or corn snow. I agree with that and I’ll eventually test by comparing to Speed skins to my nylon Coll Tex skins in spring and summer. For now, the Speed skins on my Seven Summits feel very slick.

I’ve always enjoyed mohair skins, I have some in the garage that I acquired in the 1970s and then obtained other sets, progressively wider, over the ensuing decades. Mohair is said to wear more readily. Perhaps, but even though my older mohair skins have a few small bare spots they continue to work well. I do have nylon skins for spring, and it does seem that my 1998 Ascension nylon skins have the best all around traction of all of my skins.

This is my second season on the Seven Summits ski. Last year I used it only beginning in March since before that we had quite a lot of good powder skiing that called for wider skis. This season in Washington has had few deep snow days and a lot of in-between weirdness. For these reasons, I have skied most days this season on my Seven Summits — they work well for snow conditions that this year seem to change from slope to slope and sometimes hour to hour.

I’ve found the front skin slot on the Seven Summits to be useful for more than anchoring skins. The tip of my ski pole fits against that framing trim when I want to push down the ski tip while ascending in order to facilitate a sidestep and that sort of thing.

I am especially fond of the Zzero3C TF boot. I actually prefer it to my Zzero4C TF boot, which I use on my wider skis. Perhaps this preference has to do with the size of my leg, because I find the higher 4 buckle boot to be noticeably less comfortable while walking. When cranked down and skiing the Zzero3C offers great performance.

Hard refrozen snow conditions recently has caused me to pull out my harscheisen. Normally I find such conditions later in the season, but “normally” is a hard to use term to frame the Cascade snowpack. These days it seems no two years are alike, and wide temperature changes may occur with precipitation anytime.

As I write this we have had just a few light snowfalls since the record-setting rain storm of early January. As a result, there is some very hard snow to be found — in fact very hard and clear-looking refrozen and tree-dripped snow. In the trees, the crust would be dangerous right now even if walking in boots without crampons. The open faces where I ski tour frequently have a few inches of new snow drifted in over a crust that still holds and edge. However, getting to and from those slopes involves the heinous snow in the trees.

A week ago, I took my first ever uncontrolled slide on a 30+ degree slope after losing my edges while ascending. I fell so fast it was like falling off of a roof, and thankfully I wrapped trees within 15 feet, stunned but unharmed. My harscheisen were in my pack (doh!) when I fell, and I had left my Whippet self-arrest poles at home. Let that be a lesson to me!

With this rig, I am completely Dynafitted — with no complaints. All around, my Seven Summits skis, Zzero3C boot, Speed binding, harscheisen, and Speedskin has maximum versatility and incredible performance.

Find Dynafit skins, boots, ski and bindings here.

(Guest blogger Rob Mullins lives in the Washington Cascades with his wife and daughter.)

Comments

25 Responses to “Guest Review – Dynafit Speedskins, Seven Summits, Harscheisen”

  1. Mark February 17th, 2009 2:55 pm

    Rob, the boot, binding, skin procedure works great with brakeless dynafits. What about with brakes? I’d like to remove the skins with out removing the skis but with brakes, I haven’t figured it out.

  2. Lou February 17th, 2009 3:24 pm

    Mark, you should be able to just rotate the heel unit and let the brakes snap down, then step heel down in before or after removing skins. You probably didn’t think it through, try it.

  3. Mark February 17th, 2009 4:04 pm

    Thanks Lou. I’ll give it a shot. My concern is with the skins hanging up on the brakes during removal. Also reaching the ski tip if I step down before removing the skins. I’ll have to try it to really see how it goes.

  4. Alan Angelopulos February 17th, 2009 4:17 pm

    Mark, I click into my heel pieces before I take my skins off and haven’t had the problem of my skins hanging up on the brakes. The only problem I have from time to time is not getting the whole skin off in one swipe. I have found that you can remedy this by moving your foot backwards as you are ripping your skin towards the tip.
    Hope this helps

  5. Randonnee February 17th, 2009 6:15 pm

    Mark,

    I have not used brakes in powder for a long time. I cannot remember if I have stripped skins while using brakes. Starting tomorrow I will begin using my new Manaslu and FT12 with brakes. I will let you know how it goes.

    Be sure that no one is behind when you strip skins. Last Friday on our pre-Valentine tour my wife was behind and when I stripped the skin it slapped her cheek…oops. No injury, she was in a sweet mood so all was ok. She even agreed to ski tour tomorrow.

    Best, Rob

  6. Ira February 17th, 2009 9:53 pm

    Lou,
    I just picked up a pair of frreerides (not the plus) and was planning on mounting them without the front plate to achieve a greater ramp angle. However the shop I had originally planned to have them mounted at (i’m doing it myself now) said that having the binding pull out is a lot more likely without the front plate and that Black Diamond had said the same thing. Any truth to this?

  7. Lou February 18th, 2009 6:39 am

    Ira, that sounds like a bit of BS but not totally, as what happens is without the front plate, if you take a “knee fall” while touring the binding toe unit hits the ski slightly sooner which in turn puts quite a bit of force on everything. Tons of people ski without the front plate, for what it’s worth. In any case, all screws should be inserted with epoxy and checked for length before installation (and shortened if necessary). FYI, I just helped a guy re-mount his bindings that a shop had done without epoxy. After a number of days use, whatever glue they’d used to seal the holes was gone and the screws were loose and rusted. As always, take anything a shop says with a grain of salt, and watch what they do like a hawk. Many shops are good, but poor work from shops continues to plague our sport. Just because they have a workbench and sell skis doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

  8. Carver February 18th, 2009 10:23 am

    Hi Lou,

    I’m not so impressed with the Dynafit brakes. On my wide (92 mm) skis, they often fail to deploy. Well, not so often now that I’ve given up falling:) So I bought some coiled leashes from our friends at B&D. Haven’t installed them yet so I’d appeciate any comments on how they work with the Dynafit binding.

    Also, I’m noticing that the clearing slots on the toe pins of my bindings are looking worn. Can the toe pins be replaced?

    BTW We also enjoyed Sunday at Marble. Got a very late start so I just skied between two sets of tracks for a nearly complete untracked run. Thanks for showing the way!

  9. Lou February 18th, 2009 10:33 am

    In my opinion, at this point in the game of making ski brakes (40 years later), ski brakes that don’t deploy reliably should be sent back for warranty replacement.

    That said, NOT using brakes and using leash instead is a nice way to save weight. The B&D leashes are good, but I still prefer my ultra-minimalist system.

    I wouldn’t worry about wear on the binding pins, so long as they work correctly a bit of wear means nothing.

  10. Jeff February 18th, 2009 11:01 am

    Lou,

    Believe it or not, I might have an early lead on the new SL Seven Summit you mentioned a few weeks back ( I live in London, often in Bavaria). However, I have a few typical concerns. I am sure they do the trick on the climbs as the regular SS do. But I am a bit concerned that the lightness will also cause them to be less than stable in variable conditions on descents as I want a ski to be able to handle some fun off-piste as well, not just perfect powder. I am a fairly light 160lbs and will put the Vertical ST on the ski.
    If not the SS, then do you think the Mustagh would be better alternative or not?

    Many thx

  11. Randonnee February 18th, 2009 8:37 pm

    Jeff,

    My take is that it is not the weight of the ski as much as how one weights their feet over the ski. With proper weighting even the lightest ski will not deflect. Other properties such as stiffness and torsional rigidity seem to matter in regard to as deflection. It seems to work that way with me, anyway.

    Best, Rob

  12. Randonnee February 18th, 2009 8:45 pm

    Today I had no problem stripping my Speedskins from the Manaslu, still on my boot, even with the brake deployed. Today was my first day on the Manaslu and FT12. Three runs in 4 inches of new powder snow with Mrs. Randonnee..

    The FT 12 brakes worked flawlessly- no hangup when I released my boot, no added friction when rotating the heel as with the Tri Step and Comfort with brakes.

    Today I actually skied three runs in soft snow on a crust without the toe locked on the FT12 binding, no inadvertent releases. That is the first time that I have skied without locking the Dynafit toe- eg on my other Comfort or Speed bindings. .

    The Manaslu is about the easiest turning ski that I have skied. On my first turn on that ski today I applied the energy that I would to my FR 10 and turned a few feet short right into a tree branch across the face. Easy turns!

    Rob

  13. Randonnee February 18th, 2009 11:16 pm

    A question for Lou-

    My wide Dynafit harscheisen do not fit over the Manaslu. I am surprised, I thought the Dynafit wide was supposed to fit up to 95mm?

    I want to ski a peak tomorrow where I have not broken a trail through the icy forest and would like harscheisen.

  14. Lou February 19th, 2009 12:17 pm

    Rando, that’s interesting… the 2009/2010 catalog I have says the ‘pons will be 82, 92 and 110. Crampons work best when they’re very close to the width of the ski (which prevents the ‘pons from torquing to the side as much… if you can’t get them to work, remember there is always B&D, see banner to left.

  15. Jonathan Shefftz February 19th, 2009 1:56 pm

    “My wide Dynafit harscheisen do not fit over the Manaslu. I am surprised, I thought the Dynafit wide was supposed to fit up to 95mm?”
    – The Dynafit “wide” crampon is officially “92″ but that seems to refer to the outer dimensions.
    – The “92″ crampon just barely fits a 86mm 169cm Dynafit FT 10.0 / M.A.
    – As for whether the “92″ fits the 88mm 178cm Dynafit 10.0/ M.A., you can check out Jeff’s video on youtube (which he posted just to refute me, although I still think it fits).
    – So will the “110″ crampon be released this spring, or not until the fall?

  16. Lou February 19th, 2009 2:33 pm

    I like my ski crampons to fit tight if possible, if they rub a tiny bit I don’t mind. I also rig them for the least up/down movement, so as long as they fit over the ski then fine. Also, once a ski has been side filed a few times that’ll reduce the width a hair and could make the difference between a crampon rubbing or not.

    As for the Manaslu, no way a 92 mm crampon is going to fit as they’re 95 mm at the waist. I use a B&D crampon for my Manaslus and it works fine.

  17. Randonnee February 19th, 2009 6:28 pm

    Sounds right. It was close enough to ask if there was a Lou Dawson tweak that would make them work : )}. I do not know where I got the idea that the wide harscheisen were 95mm. I had to decide between FR10 (88 waist, 178) with crampons or Manaslu without today. I took the Manaslu, those things are so easy in soft snow, soft flex for my bulk compared to the FR10 but pretty sweet in pow. Instead of traversing the steep icy slope today I went around the windward side of the peak and booted a bit over bare rocks.

    My medium and wide harscheisen work great, medium on my 70, 75, and 80 waist skis, and the wide work fine on the FR10.

  18. Lou February 19th, 2009 7:01 pm

    You can bend alu, but the problem is that it softens it instead of hardening it as it does with steel. I wouldn’t recommend it regarding ski crampons, as they’re already a compromise between weight and strength.

  19. Randonnee February 19th, 2009 7:11 pm

    It was tempting to start tweaking it, since just the edges of the Manaslu were not cleared by my wide Dynafit crampons. But then, I though it would be better to ask Lou before breaking something again… : )} !

    I need to decide if I really want to buy something else to add to my large randonnee gear collection…

    Aside from that the FR10 is probably better on hard snow, and my 80 and 70 waist skis even better. The Manaslu is for sweet pow days. I am grinning about all of the effortless easy quick or big turns on the Manaslu yesterday and today… : )} : )} Talk about ‘easy button!’

  20. Craig Fox October 28th, 2010 9:39 pm

    I just got a pair of Manaslu 178. 95 mm waist. Current Dynafit 92 mm crampons don’t fit (as you also know and state above). What size B&D crampon did you get to fit tight on the Manaslus? The Confort 07 size 95 mm or 102 mm? Obviously I’m hoping the 95 mm will fit but unsure.

    For the record, the Dynafit TLT Vertical FT 12 92 mm brakes fit fine on the Manaslu it’s just the crampons that don’t quite fit.

  21. Craig Fox October 29th, 2010 10:25 am

    To follow up on my own question for the reference of others… I heard back from the guy at B&D about fit and ordered the Comfort 07 95 mm for my Manaslu skis.

  22. Dane May 5th, 2011 8:37 pm

    Hi Lou,
    I am in dire need of a pair of Speed Skins for a 163cm Se7en Summit. They seem a bit hard to find….anyone out there know where i can find a pair in the US? Thanks!

  23. Greg Louie May 5th, 2011 11:01 pm

    @Dane – Why do they have to be in the US?

  24. Peter December 28th, 2013 6:04 am

    Lou and all,
    My new skis with Radical ST bindings have 89 mm waist. I am not sure whether to purchase the blue or the orange Dynafit crampons (http://www.dynafit.com/product/bindings/speed-crampon-78mm?phrase=crampon). The blue crampons have 90 mm inner width whereas the orange ones have 100 mm. Is just a single mm wider than the ski waist enough? I am afraid of torsion on steep icy slopes and that as an effect a crampon pike may catch the top side of the ski.
    -Peter

  25. Lou Dawson December 28th, 2013 6:37 am

    Peter, when the crampons are set up and used correctly the teeth should not rise above the ski topskin, so width is not as much an issue as you’d think. Nonetheless, you don’t want the crampon torqueing all over the place as something will eventually give, so fit the crampon as tight as possible to ski width. Thus, you’d definitely want the 90 mm crampon!

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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