WildSnow Reader’s Rides — Davenport Does Dynafit

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Chris Davenport Backcountry Skiing

You've seen the 'Dav' in countless photos and vid segments, but how does he handle a screw driver? Just fine. I'm a witness. The other day we gave a pair of his Kastle FX84s the Dynafit FT12 treatment. Dav is now a Dynafitter (but don't freak TGR boys, he's still got plenty of Dukes mounted on his arsenal of Kastle guns.) Oh, yep, those are, gasp, Garmont Radium AT boots! But...but, aren't they too soft you say, voice quivering with fear and angst? Apparently not, though they are stuffed with some aftermarket liners.

Backcountry Skiing

First step, pull those Dukes and send 'em back to the lead mine. Per my usual Dynafit mounting process, we've got the FT 12 heels disassembled, and we've also enlarged the screw holes in the toe unit so they don't double thread and get held up off the ski while we're spinning the screws.

Backcountry Skiing

In another central component of the WildSnow Dynafit curriculum, Chris got trained on how NOT to strip the rear spring barrel just in case he needs to remove it for some reason. Dynafiddly details for sure, but essential care with a pricey and highly engineered piece of equipment such as FT 12.

Backcountry Skiing

Mass quantities of epoxy were consumed by all. Something told me this was important. I was amazed at how good this mount turned out -- way better than average in terms of alignment. Have to admit I was feeling a bit of self imposed pressure to get it right the first time. I mean, who wants to drill the wrong holes in a pair of skis that MSRP for over $1,000, while the ski celeb looks on? That would be like polishing Obama's limo and discovering your buffer had a pebble embedded in it.

Backcountry Skiing

Obligatory poser shot from WildSnow HQ workshop and snowmobile barn. I try to keep the place vacuumed, but I'm always getting interrupted by vagabonds beating on the doors wanting their Dynafits mounted. After they find out we serve a choice of Tecate or soup, they seem to always choose the Tecate. Now I've got the homeless shelter down the street all mad at me.

Backcountry Skiing

Kastle FX84 now comes in black so it'll get lots of ice on it and give you a good workout on the uphill. Chris said they still crank on the down despite the color. That I do not doubt. Nice and light, perfect platform for Dynafit, perfect because for us it is all about the down -- and the up. Fun morning with the man, and I now feel sorry for Dav's touring partners still on Dukes because he will make them hurt.

Comments

40 Responses to “WildSnow Reader’s Rides — Davenport Does Dynafit”

  1. elcap23 March 10th, 2009 9:12 am

    Thanks for the post Lou. I am looking at picking up some Radiums to go with my Comforts and G3 Reverends.

    Does anyone have any opinions as to the performance of the Radiums, ie. touring vs. downhill performance?

    I am 6’5 195 pounds and ski mostly on Shasta and the Sierras.

    Thanks again.

  2. Pierce March 10th, 2009 10:10 am

    I’ve been skiing the Radiums almost exclusively this season and have about 40-50 days on them so far. I’m about 6′ and 200lbs, for reference. I LOVE them, in short. I also have a pair of garmont endorphins, and because I have pulled apart the cuff rivet on one of them about every other time I ski, they have been on the shelf most of the season.

    First, touring. The walk mode is the best I’ve ever had in an AT boot and easily among the best on the market today. Superb. They feel quite a bit lighter than my endorphins and there is no comparison in walk mode. The trick upper buckle latches are nice for keeping everything in place while touring, although they have frozen up a little on pow days, solved with a whack from a pole handle.

    Downhill. These are not the stiffest boots on the market and are not marketed as such. They are considerably stiffer than a Denali TT, and slightly less stiff than my endorphins, but with a smoother flex. The Endorphins are my choice for hardpack days at the resorts. However, the Radiums have been more than adequate on all BC snow and soft snow/pow double-black resort runs. They have a nice progressive forward flex, and are quite stiff laterally. Cranking down on the power strap and upper buckles make them ski even stiffer, which I have not found to be the case with my other tongue boots.

    I have used them with both fritschi’s, dynafits, and salomon resort binders with no issues. They actually fit the resort binding better than any other AT boots I’ve used. They only have one forward lean setting which has you standing a little straighter than all resort boots and a lot of AT boots. I think it’s perfect, but have been told it’s pretty easy to adjust.

    I think the liners are fine but not my favorite. My scarpa liners are better. They pack out a decent amount, so buy them snug. The overall fit and finish of the boot is excellent and all components seem to be of high quality. I haven’t had any problems with them like I have with my endorphins (replaced cuff rivets 6 times, and all buckle return springs were shot within 3mos of purchase).

    In summary, I will probably never ski my endorphins backcountry again. There’s no comparison there. These would not be my choice for a one-rig set-up used a lot at resorts unless you have excellcent form and don’t mind working a little harder. This is an excellent four buckle boot and what I believe to be one of the best combinations of stiff flex and tourability in any AT to boot to date.

  3. Scott March 10th, 2009 10:11 am

    That’s a nice setup! I’ve heard good things about both the F12 and the Radium (minus a little bit of minor filing to make the buckles work).

    I recently sold my Endorphins + Free Rides + Atomic Kongurs in an effort to move to a much lighter setup. I’m 160lbs + 25lb pack. I have some Karhu 10th Mountain skis (waxless backcountry skis, 99/68/84, about 1200 grams per ski). I recently picked up some F12′s. Might I be crazy to put my F12′s on the 10th Mountain skis? I know, Din 12 is overkill, but they’re still only 500 grams and I got a good deal on them. I’m a ski mountaineer, so I value the uphill alot, although I’m all for good turns on the way down. FWIW, the Mega Lites and Mega Rides are the lightweight boots that fit my feet, so I’ll probably end up with one of these.

  4. Andrew_L March 10th, 2009 10:28 am

    It wasn’t exactly Obama’s limo, but the last time I hand-washed my car, I used a sponge that had a cinder hidden in it. Didn’t realize it until I did the rinse. ACK!

    Thanks for a good Tue morning laugh, Lou! :) :)

  5. justin March 10th, 2009 11:57 am

    Oh man Andrew, that’s the worst, I was washing my new to me black car this weekend for the first time to get the Tahoe grime off of it and kept worrying that I was going to be leaving massive circles all over it.

    Lou, are the FT 12′s easier to get a properly aligned mount with given they have that bar between the heel/toe?

  6. Sky March 10th, 2009 2:01 pm

    With nothing but love from a freaky west-coaster, it’s good to see a high-profile leader of the hot and heavy Colorado crowd lighten his load and come out of the closet.

    ;)

  7. Sky March 10th, 2009 2:03 pm

    ^^^ “hot and heavy *SM* CO crowd”

  8. Magnus March 10th, 2009 2:44 pm

    Hi Lou,
    the local dynafit dealer told me they could make a standard ST into a FT12 by replacing some of the mechanics in the heelpiece. I would be tempted cause you basically get a FT12 for a much lower price. I just thought I’d check in here and get some expert advice first. Would this procedure actually create the same strength release mechanism?

  9. Tom Gos March 10th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Hey Lou, just curious, what sort of after market liner is Dav using, and does he believe it makes the boot more stiff? Inquiring minds want to know, thanks.

  10. Man March 10th, 2009 3:22 pm

    Hello,

    >what sort of after market liner is Dav using

    +1 !

    Thx,

    Man,

  11. Lou March 10th, 2009 4:02 pm

    I just called the man to double check. Intuition Power Wrap.

  12. Lou March 10th, 2009 4:13 pm

    Magnus, if the “local dealer” has access to copious spare parts and no concern about warranty nor their status as a dealer, they could probably do that if they knew what they were doing and had a release calibration checker to verify that you’ve actually created a binding that will dial up to DIN 12. It would at least require replacing the vertical release springs, and possibly the lateral springs as well. Seems a bit crazy to me, sort of a desperate move with an iffy outcome. Pray tell, are you having problems with pre-release with the ST set to DIN 10?

  13. Chucklehead March 10th, 2009 8:49 pm

    Those skis appear to follow the Lou credo of short and manueverable What length is he skiing and do these fill the “hairball descent” slot in the quiver?

  14. ryan March 10th, 2009 9:10 pm

    Please for the love of God can we stop this guy from making us all look bad.

  15. Magnus March 11th, 2009 1:57 am

    Lou, The dealer is part of the “Official Dynafit” something and he said they use a part kit from Dynafit to do this procedure. As I understood it they had been recommended by Dynafit selling the ST as an FT12 if they ran out of stock on the FT12. That is if people really need the 12 DIN of course. Have you heard about this procedure and would you trust it?

    I haven’t got a Dynafit set up yet, it’s on next years budget. I’m pretty heavy and I believe I rip so therefore I need the 12 DIN :)

  16. andyw March 11th, 2009 4:16 am

    I got a pair of the radiums, more inbounds/ day trecks at the moment but want to get a pair of super light tourers skis in the future when money and backcountry skill increase. So I have enjoyed skiing them in waist deep powder and on boilerplate ice, you take what you get round my way.
    Only trouble was a tight initial fitting has left my big toe black and blue and about to fall off, remoulding has appeared to sort that out though. If you remove the liner and feel under the big toe/ little toe areas theres 2 plastic plugs protruding into boot. Anyone else noticed this?

    Right just away to take a nosey at those liners …..

  17. Michael Silitch March 11th, 2009 6:35 am

    Hi Lou,

    I have a question about balance point vs. boot center. I have about 10 pairs of skis mounted with dynafit (between my wife and I) and the balance points are all over the place. Most are mounted with the boot at boot center (I think that is the terminology) but even on my skis with the same boot at boot center, many of the skis feel like there is not enough tip and too much tail, which doesnt feel so good skiing powder, crud, crust and chunks that I am often skiing in the Alps backcountry. They also make it difficult to snap my heel to bring the ski around shile skinning. My Dynastar 8000′s feel perfect for skiing with enough tip and they are easy to make a kick turn while touring.

    On some of my skis like my Voelkls , I feel my Dynafit bindings are mounted too far forward. This makes skiing bad snow harder and also is not my preference for touring. I prefer NOT to have the tip pivot up quickly by itself when I lift the ski to do a kick turn. I prefer to lift the ski and be able to snap it against my heel to bring it around.

    The Boot center mark on my Dynastar 8000′s put the binding where I like it, so I can snap the ski around while skinning and so I have more tip and less tail while skiing the crud and powder.

    My Ski Trab race skis, that dont have a boot center mark were mounted like my Dynastars, easy to snap around while skinning and a better feeling in heavy snow. However, Pierre Gignoux mounted Nina’s race skis much more forward like my Voelkls. She doesnt mind it, but I sure do.

    So my questions is, how much do I have to respect the boot center mark of the ski? Can I mount the toe pivot on the balance point of the ski? If I do, what I am I losing in terms of ski performace, etc?

    Thanks.

  18. Mike March 11th, 2009 7:15 am

    I thought Dav was a Salomon guy?

  19. Brooks March 11th, 2009 7:20 am

    Lou-

    Similar question to M.S. I just picked up a pair of VERY lightly used Trab Freerando’s (2005) with some Dynafit Comforts on them. Previous owner was a 287mm sole length, I have 318mm Scarpa F1′s. First question: the Freerando’s don’t have a boot center line. I am assuming with a 31mm sole length change I will need to remount the toe piece as well (move forward) but I can’t find a reference line for them. Any suggestions? Is there a toe center mark under the toe piece? Was trying to avoid removing the toe piece unless necessary. With this much of a length change, would the ski even ski reasonable only moving the heel piece? When I put the boot toe in, the ski seems to “tip up” rather quickly which makes me think the binding is mounted pretty far forward anyway.
    2nd question, when I put the toe of my boot in, the comfort toe is pretty much impossible to pull up into the ratchets in the lever. It will go one click to the beginning of the ratchets, but that is all. As far as I can tell, the toe pins are not hitting the plastic around the dynafit inserts. Comments?

    Thanks!

  20. Jonathan Shefftz March 11th, 2009 8:06 am

    For any ski, the exercise I go through is:
    - check out where the suggested mounting point puts my foot;
    - check out where the Ball-of-Foot (BOF) method puts my foot; then,
    - if they differ just a little bit, go w/ BOF, if they differ dramatically, go with a compromise.

    BOF method:
    1. Find center of the running length, as follows.
    a. Hold skis very firmly base-to-base (i.e., so that camber is flattened out), mark where the tips diverge from each and where the tails diverge from each other, then mark the midpoint.
    b. Or press the ski flat against a hard smooth level floor and mark where the tips and tails curve up from the floor.
    2. Find ball of foot, as follows.
    a. Unbuckle the boot, locate BoF depression in footbed, then try to mark the outside of the shell that corresponds with the point you’ve located inside the boot.
    b. Or, remove liner, place footbed in boot (by itself), now place your foot inside the shell, resting on the footbed, and attempt to do the same.
    c. Place foot in completely assembled boot and buckle as usual, then take a hammer and light tap the side of the boot until you’re hitting the spot that seems to correspond with your BoF.

  21. Kirk March 11th, 2009 9:06 am

    Lou,

    While touring the other day on my TLT Verticals, the plastic heel shelf (the lowest level, for flats) snapped off from the main heel piece. Any advice about what I should do? The bindings are less than one year old. It looks like the entire heel piece will need to be replaced. I hope it’s under warranty.

    Thanks for your help and your great blog!

    Kirk

  22. akmtnrider March 11th, 2009 9:20 am

    The post that the FT12′s heel is mounted on is a larger diameter than the vertical, and the heel housing itself is way beefier. I assume this is what allows it to take the higher loads of the 12 scale DIN. Both these would need to be replaced to modify a Vertical. The word I got from Dynafit was this was not possible/not recommended.

  23. Ron March 11th, 2009 9:33 am

    I replaced the stock liner in my Radiums with the Power Wraps to solve a fit issue and immediately noticed a significant increase in stiffness/performance.
    The Intuitions continue to impress me.

  24. Lou March 11th, 2009 5:02 pm

    akmtnrider, while I’m not impressed with and do not recommend the idea of making an FT 12 out of an ST by swapping parts, I also don’t want false information on this website so I’ve got to correct you. I just took my calipers to an FT 12 and an ST, and the heel spindle center posts are identical in size, and the heel housings appear to be identical as well though the FT 12 could very well be stronger plastic.

  25. Lou March 11th, 2009 5:17 pm

    Hi Michael, first, I actually would never mount a ski with any thought to balance point, I only mount them where I think they’ll ski downhill best. I always start with the manufacturer’s recommended spot, then I sometimes move forward or back a centimeter or two depending on how they feel while skiing.

    I understand the desire to get the ski balancing for better kick turns, but I just have no big need of that myself.

    As for how much going off the recommended spot would influence ski performance, you probably wouldn’t notice a centimeter back but might notice a centimeter forward, more than that and most good skiers would notice if they could compare run-to-run.

    As for balance point, once the ski has snow or ice on it, who knows where it ends up anyway?

    As for where to mount Trabs, best to contact Trab about that. Seems like that’s what I always end up doing, as the way their skis are marked is indeed confusing.

    Brooks, as for the ratchet, it just has different notches to accommodate manufacturing differences. Wherever it ends up is fine.

  26. Tyler March 11th, 2009 6:25 pm

    Michael/Brooks/Lou:

    I have some experience with Trabs. I had the ~2005 FreeRando. These skis are marked with toe mount point. In this case, the bigger your boot, the further back you go. I skied these skis with Scarpa F1s and never like how the pairing skied. I always felt as though I was in the back seat. It was either the boots or more likely the mount position.

    To investigate, I emailed Trab (IT) and they provided a bit of explanation. Their touring oriented skis have toe mount points marked (at least back then). According to Trab, they prefer this position for skinning as it optimizes the balance point for kick turns. On their more freeride oriented skis, they have boot center marked (again, at least back then).

    I never did move the mount position forward (I sold them), but I would bet that they would have skied better. I do agree that the mount position does make a difference for skinning kick turns, but Lou makes a very good point about snow and ice build up disrupting the balance. Another plug for producing light colored, high albedo, top sheets.

    A thought: A more centered mount point might make the downhill easier with “flimsy” race boots? I’d love to hear the results of such experimentation.

  27. Jonathan Shefftz March 11th, 2009 8:07 pm

    The toe markings on my Trab Duo Sint Aero and Duo FreeRando setups matched up exactly with the BoF method when I mounted them with ~300mm bsl boots.

  28. Bill Bollinger March 11th, 2009 10:14 pm

    I have some 07/08 trab freerando lights mounted at tip as Trab suggests with a 26.0 Scarpa F1 boot.
    I have never felt so in sync with a ski setup.
    Maybe size of boot, or maybe skiing style that makes the difference.
    But also, the F1 boot to me is all I need. Just a great match.

  29. akmtnrider March 12th, 2009 2:53 am

    Sorry for the misinfo, guess I’ve been breathing a little too much p-tex fumes lately. I thought I compared the two earlier this season when mounting some FT 12′s. Obviously I missed the part-by-part comparison posted earlier.

  30. Brooks March 12th, 2009 6:20 am

    Thanks for all the great info – ended up pulling one toepiece and found the toe mount location, dead on the existing toe mount. Filled old heel holes, remounting heels today. One more question, probably better off in the rando race thread – What are people using for F1/F3 shims (besides the shim which comes with the boots, which I don’t have). I have seen corks split in half (Wick), and was wondering if anyone else had any great ideas. The Scarpa shims seem quite a bit overkill. Comments?

  31. Tyler March 12th, 2009 6:35 am

    I think Chief Chef Mclean once wrote that he uses a plastic/nylon (whatever they are made of) kitchen cutting board.

    I whittled down the provided shim so that it was directly under my boot sole contact points beneath the bellows. Instead of screwing it in I used an epoxy.

    Somewhere on this wikipedia of skiing site I think there is also a discussion of shim shape/size and the shim can be a potential place for snow/ice build up.

  32. Lou March 12th, 2009 6:48 am

    Yep, just get a cutting board and cut disks out with a hole saw. You end up with a nice clean disk with a hole in the middle you can fire a screw through into your ski.

  33. Jonathan Shefftz March 12th, 2009 7:10 am

    For making your own shims, cut them out from LDPE sheets:
    http://tinyurl.com/aut49w

  34. Scruppo March 12th, 2009 3:11 pm

    In the second to last pic, I notice a professional level Park wheel truing stand hanging on the wall. You got a side job you’re not telling us about? (the trapeze looks interesting as well…) ;>)

  35. Lou March 12th, 2009 3:48 pm

    Hey Scruppo, career #485 was as a bicycle mechanic, with a stint of mountain bike racing thrown in for good measure (at which I never did that well.) The pull up bar isn’t getting much of a workout lately (grin). I still do a lot of bicycle hacking, mostly keeping the classic town cruisers rolling, probably need to get a decent road bike here one of these days… you should see the classic first-gen Klein MTB up in the attic.

  36. Scruppo March 12th, 2009 4:12 pm

    Ah – The Klein Attitude with the garish dayglo red white and blue fade paint job I presume. My brother had one. (I used to be a bike mech also).

  37. Bas March 15th, 2009 11:42 pm

    Hey Lou,

    The on thing I have been wondering about the mounting with epoxy: how hard is it to get the screws out if you’d want to… oh, say move the binding to a next ski?

    Grt
    Bas

  38. Lou March 16th, 2009 6:30 am

    Bas, in most cases they back out fairly easily, but it’s often best to lightly heat them first. The hardware store type 1-hour and 5-minute epoxys are all very heat sensitive. I heat the screws by touching them with the tip of a soldering iron for 15 seconds or so. The screws sometimes carry some core material on them when they come out, and need to be cleaned off so the threads cut properly when they’re reused. I clean the screws with a small wire wheel in a hand drill.

  39. Austin March 24th, 2009 3:01 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Thanks for all the great information on your blog. You mention above that you “enlarged the screw holes in the toe unit so they don’t double thread”. Is there any trick to doing this? Can I just set the toe unit over a piece of scrap wood and use a drill and bit to enlarge the hole? I didn’t notice this tip elsewhere in your mounting instructions.

    Thanks!

  40. Lou April 15th, 2009 2:31 pm

    BTW, I got done with all my checking around about the “kit to make an ST into an FT12,” and Dynafit insider sources in Europe tell me no such thing exists.

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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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