Titan is Dynafit’s latest downhill oriented overlap boot (see our preview here on Wildsnow.) Titan is designed to be only slightly heavier then but noticeably stiffer then the ZZeus boot, which I had previously reviewed with a favorable opinion. When Dynafit’s Canadian reps made a pair of Titans available for testing I took the opportunity, managing to get four days of on-snow evaluation in a variety of conditions.
As background, I weigh 160 lbs and ski mainly in the Coast and Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. My skiing is usually in high moisture-content snow. Accordingly, my preference is for bigger skis and relatively stiff boots. I have used a variety of boots including the Garmont Mega Ride, Scarpa Spirit 3 and 4, Scarpa Skookum, Dynafit ZZero4-C and ZZeus. My current boot of choice are modified Garmont Mega Rides (Scarpa Tongue, Intuition Alpine liner and booster strap) and stock Scarpa Spirit 3s.
I weighed Titan on a kitchen scale. A single Titan in size 27.5 weighs in at 2,000g per boot (shells weigh 1600g and the TFX thermomoldable liner is 400g). To compare, my own Garmont Mega Rides weigh 1640g per boot; a stock Dynafit ZZeus boot is 1950g, and a stock Black Diamond Factor boot is 2300g. All these boots are weighed in a size 27 or 27.5.
As a side note, replacing the Dynafit TFX liner with an Intuition Alpine Powerwrap liner (220g) brings the weight of Titan down to 1820g, a considerable weight reduction. However, more later on the excellent TFX liner and why one might hesitate before replacing it.
Construction and fit
The shells of the ZZeus and Titan are essentially the same in terms of molding, though the plastic might be thicker or thinner in certain areas. The Titan liner is also similar to the ZZeus liner and I’ve noted differences below. Accordingly, Lou’s previous comprehensive article about the construction of the Dynafit overlap boots remains definitive. Of note, Titan will ship and be delivered to consumers standard with alpine boot blocks (for use with downhill alpine bindings) and with AT blocks (which have tech fittings and a grippy rubber sole).
Differences between ZZeus and Titan are as follows:
* While both Titan and ZZeus are made of polyurethane (PU) plastic, some of the PU plastic used in Titan is stiffer, namely the overlapping plastic tongue and beefier and stiffer spoiler on the rear of the boot.
* Different stiffnesses of plastic are used on Titan’s shell to tune and optimize the boot for touring performance (e.g. the black plastic around the boot cuff is stiff when buckled but is designed to flex when the boot is loosely buckled in touring mode).
* Titan’s TFX liner is designed to be skied out of the box but is highly receptive to thermomolding (an air-blown cook is recommended). These liners are essentially the same liner as the ZZeus liners except for plastic reinforcements around the heel cuff for added stiffness.
In terms of fit, I have a traditional Asian foot; meaning my forefoot is wider then most and I don’t have any arch to speak of. I had a problem fitting last year’s ZZeus liners as my toes pinched and they only worked for me when they were thermomolded. Even so, I preferred my own Intuition liners and tested the ZZeus accordingly. It turns out that Dynafit shipped last year’s ZZeus liners with factory lasting that caused more then a few consumers trying the boot in-store (without the help of a boot fitter or knowing employee) to think ZZeus’s last was too narrow. Dynafit has responded by factory lasting the Titan TFX liners with more room. Unmolded, the boot felt quite good to my own foot shape. When the TFX liner was molded, Titan fit like a glove (WildSnow continues to recommend that virtually ALL thermo liners be custom molded at some point during or after purchase). My feet felt great and were blister and pain-free even after a 1,800m vertical and 18km long tour up peaks and over glaciers. What is more, the TFX liner looks and feels tough and durable which more then justifies its burly heft.
Titan also ships with a volumizer (a thin shaped material conforming to the bootboard made of hydrophobic fiber). Some consumers have found that the ribbed bootboard inside the boot shell imprints their liners. The fix is to use the volumizer between the bootboard and liner if you have enough space in your shell. The alternative for those with high-volume feet is to use the old duct-tape standby on the ribbed bootboard. While we are on the subject of duct-tape, exposed rivets are also visible on Titan (as they are in many AT boots). Duct tape or some other convenient adhesive material placed over the rivets will help preserve your liners from abrasive wear.
On Snow Performance – Downhill
Titan has two forward lean angles; 15 and 21 degrees (real world angle depends on binding ramp angle, of course, as well as boot fitting tweaks). I set Titan at the 21 degree angle for skiing. Titan’s PU plastic construction should mean that the boot gets stiffer as temperatures drop. Since I was using the boot in mild spring temperatures I did not notice a change in flex. Anecdotal comments from other PU plastic boot users indicates that stiffness increase in cold temperatures is noticeable.
Last year I said “ZZeus felt fantastic skiing”. Thinking about it more, I would refine my comment to say that ZZeus’s stiffness felt like an incremental improvement in skiing control. In contrast Titan made me go “oh wow…”. Inarticulate babbling aside, Titan was an exponential improvement in skiing performance. To put it in relative terms, Titan felt as stiff as my relatively soft alpine downhill boots (detuned older Atomic plug boots). To add to the mix, I also tried out a pair of Black Diamond Factors and found those boots as stiff as Titan. I also tried Titan with an Intuition Alpine Powerwrap (Intuition’s stiffest liner and this combination did not hurt Titan’s skiing prowess. I would rate Titan’s stiffness as comparable to the BD Factor and the Scarpa Skookum and noticeably stiffer then the ZZeus, Scarpa Spirit 4 or 3 or my modified Garmont Mega Rides.
Overlap ski boots are reputedly designed to deliver smooth application of power. My alpine boots still hold a slight edge in that regard. On the corn and groomers I skied, both Titan and Factor felt a tad harsh as speed went up and carving pressure increased to the point that I even backed off buckle tightness! It would have been interesting to compare Titans, Factors and my alpine boots on a carving ski to optimize skis to conditions but I didn’t have that opportunity.
I did manage to try Titan on a Movement Logic ski in dust-on-groomers conditions (Movement’s new lightweight touring ski – approximately 7lbs, 88 width, tight turning radius ). In those conditions, Titan overpowered the lightweight Logic ski but skied well when paired with the heavier Movement Goliath Sluffs. On my touring days where I encountered powder Titan was incredible, resulting in a telepathic marriage between what my feet/legs wanted to do and how my skis responded. Having said that I would expect nothing less from a relatively stiff touring boot.
Please bear in mind that height of interior footboard as well as thickness of the liner sole will influence real world cuff height.
On Snow Performance – Bootpacking and touring
I’ve mentioned that I was previously lukewarm on the touring performance of Dynafit’s overlap boots. I now will unashamedly swallow my words and attribute that (mistaken) impression to the psychological barrier of having boots that look like alpine boots, ski like alpine boots yet tour so well. I don’t have a particularly good explanation for why I’ve changed my tune other then perhaps I’ve gotten over my blinkers when looking at overlap – design touring boots. More, as previously mentioned, Titan’s plastic is somewhat tuned for touring and the TFX liner is exceptionally comfortable.
One clue for Titan’s touring performance and comfort may be seen in the picture below depicting a collection of overlap design four-buckle boots. In walk mode the Titan can lean back past upright. The Factor cannot lean back to upright and is restricted in walk mode by its shell. Radium (rear boot) can lean back completely upright. In practical terms, the difference between Titan’s ski mode and walk mode is remarkable. When buckles are loosened (in my opinion, proper methodology for testing touring performance), Titan’s walk mode permits a comfortable relaxed motion with relative ease in cuff movement permitting long skinning strides. Perhaps it is a combination of Titan’s tuned plastic shell and the relatively free-floating cuff that makes for such a positive impression of Titan’s tourability.
Miscellaneous Notes :
* Titan is squeaky. I am told that a bit of lube squirted into pivot points at the cuff solves this.
* The upper forefoot buckle of Titan is not flipped. In my opinion, outside handled buckles are disasters waiting only to be caught on inopportune rocks and thus broken! Having said that, there was no tendency for the buckles to flip open when walking in snow, perhaps due to the buckle’s camming spring tension.
* Titan’s hefty weight was not that apparent on my day-tours. Having said that, it is my experience that extra weight really begins to show its detriment on longer tours or perhaps when one is fatigued at altitude, and I did not have the opportunity to test in those circumstances.
* Some consumers have noted that, in small boot sizes, Dynafit boots have buckle placements that tend to abrade against each other (as mentioned in photo caption above). Dynafit has noted this issue and is said to be addressing it.
For aggressive skiers, Titan may be that holy grail of skiing performance that does not compromise tourability. Those with lightweight physiques such as myself might even be able to use Titan as a dedicated inbounds boot for it is indeed that beefy. Not everyone might appreciate the in-your-face graphics and stark whiteness of these boots – which are easy to get dirty. Titan may also be overkill for light or finesse skiers on light soft skis — so there is still more then enough space in the market for light, soft boots. But for me, paired with Black Diamond Verdicts, Titan was indeed the perfect shoe.
It’s been interesting to watch the stiff AT boot category evolve. Early attempts showed that stiff boots could be designed to ski like bricks and reduce touring to a shuffling exercise. Presently, boots such as Titan show they can make backcountry skiing footwear that does it all. Aiding in this evolution, North American consumers have expanded their perception as to what weight is acceptable for touring boots. Thus, manufacturers now have leeway to design boots that both ski and tour well. In my opinion, Dynafit Titan is, for now, king of this category.
Titan will be shipped in a size range of 25.0 – 30.0 in half sizes. Dynafit will also be shipping the Gaia (woman’s specific – ZZeus) in sizes of 23.0 in 27.0 in a silver color. All Dynafit’s overlap boot offerings will be shipped standard with Alpine blocks and AT blocks. The anticipated MSRP of Titan is USD $759 (C$849).
(Guest blogger Lee Lau is an avid skier and outdoorsman embarking on many adventures with his loving, and sometimes concerned wife, Sharon. He has over fifteen years of experience backcountry skiing and dabbles in mountaineering. In the “off-season” he is occasionally found working in his day job as an intellectual property lawyer when he is not mountain biking. As a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Lee’s playground extends mainly to Western Canada, including South West B.C. and the Selkirks. Lee blogs here.)