In Greek mythology Zeus is king of the gods; the boss of sky and thunder. His image is commonly depicted brandishing a lightning bolt.
Zeus is also known for his escapades with the ladies. To that extent, Dynafit missed out on a good marketing ploy. But this boot sells itself so they probably didn’t need to promote it as a male enhancement product, though it does do the job, at least in terms of skiing.
I paid homage to the Greek monarch by using the Dynafit burly overlap ZZeus boot for several months last winter. The idea was to try making a boot do it all — everything from a work shoe for my snowcat guiding job, to a ski mountaineering boot used during big tours in our nearby Elk Mountains.
Overall impression: With the ZZeus and other overlap AT boot offerings the dream of the alpine/AT/tech compatible one boot quiver is for real. Finally! Or as my 70 yr. old long time cat skiing buddy(1950′s US national slalom champ with 13 million+ vertical heli skiing) put it after buying a pair, “so why do I have these other boots?” Why indeed.
My first impressions of the ZZeus came from two extensive sessions at the local mountain shop trying on all of the latest backcountry skiing boots. I intended to verify what I wanted to believe, that the Garmont Radium (a fine boot) was the one for me. Instead I discovered that the lower volume ZZeus fit my narrow heel and ankle better while still leaving room in the toebox. Better fit out of the box is always a big factor in final choice.
The liner “blower” molding process was new to me as I have been oven baking various Intuition liners since their inception. At first I was skeptical that the blower style heater (lower heat, less time) could heat the liner adequately to take a mold around my foot versus the convection oven used with Intuition liners. In fact the Dynafit liner molds just fine as per their instructions.
The ZZeus liner is much heavier duty than I have had in many years and comes close to approximating an alpine ski boot liner. The outer material is both durable and lends structure to the liner. The inner material appears to be wool or something similar and is warm and comfortable. Only downside is this much beef and warmth comes at the cost of a heavier liner, but it certainly adds to the performance of the boot.
First day on the slopes with my new ZZeus was a bit of a shock. Initially I felt like I was standing on the outside edges of my skis with the cuff cant adjusted as it came out of the box. I changed the adjustment to the outside as much as possible and subsequently felt like I was standing on a flat ski in a neutral position. I mention this only because I have never felt that far off from a neutral stance with any boot out of the box.
ZZeus are noticeably stiffer every which way than my trusty Garmont Axon. The increased lateral stiffness is very responsive and feels rock solid. So much so that at first it felt like it was all or nothing with the ski on edge. Since then I have developed the subtlety to moderate the edge to slide, skid and smear the turn as desired for the terrain and snow conditions at hand. More to the point, the increased support of the stiffer boot allows one to use less energy and let the boot do more of the work.
Initially I also felt like I was in the back seat and couldn’t get over the tips of my skis. This was in part due to not being used to a stiffer boot. It also was due to the fact that it is very difficult to get the upper cuff of the ZZeus into the more forward of the two lean positions. After a couple of days of struggling I inserted a heel lift to accomplish the same goal from a different approach. It made a very noticeable difference for the better. As Lou and other reviewers have noted, a big improvement for this boot would be making the forward cuff lean easier to modify.
While all of this stiffness and overlap design makes for a high performance and very responsive boot I was curious to see how it would tour. I was very relieved to find out that the Zzeus has a surprising amount of range of motion in the tour mode for such a stiff upper cuff. I found this to be the case both for skinning or booting up. It would be nice if the tour/walk lever was a little longer as it is difficult to operate with a gloved hand.
I never switched from the lugged soles to the alpine soles because I always ski in the lugged sole regardless of the type of binding. I would have been inclined to try the alpine sole but for the fact that it does not have any rubber to aid with traction for booting as well in my case, constantly walking on snowcat tracks (which can be slippery and dangerous). One last minor point is the lack of a removable boot board to aid in the fitting process.
The ZZeus is a true departure from Dynafit’s emphasis on super-lightweight gear and represents a real foray into the alpine crossover category. They have made a bold statement in both performance and quality with the ZZeus. Dynafit is now a force to be reckoned with not just for androids in sausage skin race suits, but with guys (and girls) on burly skis in baggy pants dropping big lines and charging hard. Male enhancement, indeed.