Dynafit TLT5-P Boots Pass 150,000 Road Test

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

I haven’t skied for a few weeks, I’ll scratch the itch by writing about my ski boots. Lightweight, expensive and incredibly easy touring TLT5 is revolutionary not in any significant one area, but rather in that it integrates all those factors into a super functional package. This boot has been well received by myself and others, with good reason.

My TLTs after some use.

My TLTs after some use (with Intuition Pro Tour liner). Other than testing a few times, I never used the add-on tongues. I'm still thinking I'd like to have more forward support but really don't like fiddling with those. I might cut out the faux tongue and rivet in the stiffer one. Click to enlarge

Perhaps the most important technical aspect of TLT5 is that is uses a stiffer and thinner plastic for the lower “shoe.” This “Grilamid” has been available for 30 years, but is more difficult to work with than the usual Pebax or PU so it never become popular in the ski boot industry. That’s changing, as saving weight is more important than ever, and Dynafit has proved that with astute engineering a boot can indeed be made with Grilamid. Other significant features of the TLT5 are an integrated lean-lock and upper buckle that makes transitions super speedy, and touring cuff articulation that equals or surpasses anything else in the industry. But all that is known, and has been chatted, blogged, facebooked and spewed till TLT5 verbiage could pave a road to the moon. Main thing now, how do these shoes hold up?

I spoke with prolific randonnee speedster Brian Edmiston the other day (top 10 in Aspen Power of 4 skimo race), who’s put a zillion meters on his TLT5s. Brian related that while his buckle rivets have loosened (these are known as a weak point, but easy to repair), his boots are still going strong after a huge amount of days. That got me thinking, how are mine doing after at least 50 days and 150,000 vertical feet or so? Yeah, that’s not huge compared to what Brian or others put their boots through, but it is enough use to see how they wear. Check ‘em out.

Dynafit TLT5 backcountry skiing boots.

I did a fair amount of dirt walking and snowmobiling (snowmo running boards eat boot soles) in my TLT5s, and even some rock scrambling. In comparison to other boots, the soles held up fine with this small amount of wear. Nonetheless, I'd still like to see slightly harder rubber in this area, and a few millimeters thicker if it was somehow possible. To be fair, the rubber Dynafit does use on their soles has very good traction, which is somewhat of a tradeoff with durability. In this photo, also note how well the steel tech fittings held up, a sign they were made correctly. Some off-brand fittings show significant chipping and other wear after relatively small amounts of use.

TLT5P ski mountaineering boots, cuff pivot.

Noticeable wear in my cuff pivots is what concerns me the most. You want a boot like this to feel 'tight' when you ski. Once the cuff starts shifting up and down due to pivot wear, performance is compromised. In my view, in a boot this expensive the pivot should have a bushing system that's more wear resistant and perhaps even user serviceable. What appears to happen is that the carbon cuff is quite hard compared to the Grilamid shoe. You get some grit in there and it basically becomes a grinding machine.

Ski mountaineering boot power strap.

Not a deal breaker and easy to repair, but one of my power straps pulled off its screw rivet. It's blasphemy, but I still wonder how necessary power straps are and if they couldn't be engineered out of the boot performance equation. They're sure fiddly.

Dynafit backcountry skiing boots.

One concern with thinner, low volume boot shells is how they'll hold up to damage from ski edges. Chopping is obvious on mine, but the shell is still holding up fine. I've been making an effort to keep my feet slightly farther apart when I ski, that probably helps.

Backcountry skiing boots, tongue.

Some folks have reported their attached tongue breaking off at the living hinge. I never had a problem with this. As shown in this photo, no cracking or any evidence of an issue.

Ski boot water resistance.

While splashing though puddles and skiing slush, my feet got wetter in my TLT5s than they have in other ski boots. Easy to evaluate. I gradually submerged the boot toe and felt inside for leaks. While the metatarsal bend is somewhat watertight due to a flexible plastic-fabric barrier, it leaks at the rivets. Since this bend is minimal and more a psychological crutch than physical necessity, best solution for this would be to build TLT5 without a bend. It would be lighter and less expensive to build, but word from Dynafit is they'll continue making TLT5 with the bend, while the Evo race boot will not have the bend. I suspect that in a few years you won't see any AT boots with metatarsal bend. It's been proven over and over again to be unnecessary, adds weight and cost.

Conclusion: As one of the most expensive and high performance ski mountaineering boots on the market, one expects at least a modicum of durability from the TLT5 models. Though mine have a few minor glitches, they compare favorably to any other quality AT boot. Thus, grade A.

(Some of you will probably wonder how my Pro Tour liners are holding up. They’ve packed out quite a bit and one of the lace anchors wore through, but are still functional. I’ll probably swap for a new pair to start next season.)

Other TLT5 posts.

Comments

38 Responses to “Dynafit TLT5-P Boots Pass 150,000 Road Test”

  1. Gregg Cronn July 20th, 2011 10:05 am

    Thanks for the update Lou. Definitely drooling over a pair of these. Maybe when the kid is out of college in 8 years. Until then, hard to rationalize the price.

    I did pick up a pair of F1′s on ebay for super cheap and used them on a 24+ hour day here in the Cascades. I found them to ski just as well as my old TLT’s with stringers (not saying much I suppose). If you stayed balanced over the ski they worked pretty well. But they were super comfortable for long sections of flat skinning and walking out four miles of snow free trail. Plus they keep my older feet warmer with the flex.

    It would be interesting to hear more about how flex in AT boots is going away. Warmer, more comfortable walking. Would there not still be a market?

  2. Mark W July 20th, 2011 11:47 am

    Glad you ironed out some of my questions regarding TLT5 durability. I doubt no longer. Guess my friend who had some problems was simply just torturing the boots as training for Denali (which he successfully skied recently.)

  3. Jim S July 20th, 2011 1:16 pm

    Great blog Lou. Given the great spring and summer skiing this year, how about a post on how to get rid of boot stink?

  4. neonorchid July 20th, 2011 2:01 pm

    … “Trader Joes” (or other), 100% pure Tea Tree Oil, somewhat costly but worth a shot.

  5. Erik July 20th, 2011 2:16 pm

    I had success waterproofing the rivets with a fat glob of seam seal smeared onto the rivets on the inside of the boot. It’s lasted for about 20,000 feet so far without any tearaway that I can feel. That said, they still leak relatively low on the boot because of the overlap being fairly loose at the ankle bone.

  6. Nick July 20th, 2011 2:51 pm

    Great post – I have actually tried to not read anything about this (least I will start the slippy road of self-justification to purchasing a pair), but had to check this out.

    Now back to my regular mantra: I do not need new boots, I do not need new boots, I do not need new boots…..

  7. Robert Tangen July 20th, 2011 2:56 pm

    1. Can the TLTs be re-soled?
    2. I know that you are a Dynafit guy all the way, but Scarpa has 3 levels of its F1 boot, including a $1600.00 carbon version. How do they compare to the TLTs?
    3. The following might seem totally unrelated, except that I’ve heard that many Euro skiers are using TLTs as climbing boots. Imagine carbon-fiber cuffs with buckles, cuffs that you can attach to and detach from a pair of Baruntse mountaineering boots by La Sportiva. After climbing a 1,000 meter frozen waterfall (this is a daydream), you remove your crampons and attach the cuffs. The side-to-side flexibility that was so useful while climbing the frozen waterfall is gone, replaced with the extreme rigidity of carbon fiber. The cuffs give your Baruntses the forward lean and control of a top-of-the-line Salomon downhill ski boot.
    Cuffs are not new. There are still some old graybeard skiers alive on this planet (my beard is gray, but only because of premature graying), that claim that in pre-history, ski boots used to be short and wimpy, like climbing boots. Some of those ancient relics threw together booster ski cuffs, and some may have been made by commercial manufacturers.
    Your Baruntses have Dynafit / tech ski fittings, either retro-fitted, or installed at the factory by La Sportiva. You clip into your light skis and make jump turns down a 50 degree section of hard snow. When the slope eases to 40 degrees, you segue into long, arcing Giant Slalom turns, trying to make the exact moves of Lindsey Vonn whom you picture skiing in front of you, then you take a header because your mind drifted but you reach ABC before your climbing partners have even begun their return. So sue me for dreaming.

  8. byates1 July 20th, 2011 3:11 pm

    got 100 days on mine, i am hard on stuff, my cuff rivets are loose, and the scuffing due to ski edges are worse than that, but like you said, basically fine. the closure on the lower buckle bent early in the season, but held, despite popping open all the time. stock liners are fine as well. i think i will break something more decidedly this season, prob have to get a back up pair. got 28 megarides and f1′s for sale now, don’t ski big skis anymore either, that is how worth it the boot is for me. 174 coomback is my big ski for me, i don’t ski with the tongue. i am definetly a better downhill skier because of it all. over/out..

  9. roger July 20th, 2011 7:08 pm

    jonathan forgot to mention wanting to carry a gram scale in his pack for spring tours when his tlt’s fill with water:)

    hey jonathan?

    roger

  10. Ian July 20th, 2011 7:21 pm

    I live in NZ and my season is only just starting. I’ve recently bought these boots and was worried about the cuff pivot wear so I put some teflon lube in. Do you think it’ll help or attract more grit?
    Also the fit’s a bit tight and I’m a bit worried about blowing it out by the toe flex area. Any problems there?

  11. Zoom July 20th, 2011 10:55 pm

    I have skied these boots since last November and I love them. However the carbon cuff pivots are worn out and really sloppy. Definately a bummer for the edge to edge performance…Definately not acceptable for the $$ spent. Never had this happen on a boot before! MEC is going to warranty mine, they sent me a shipping label today.

    Dynafit is going to have to fix this problem or the are going to warranty a lot of boots. Mine are trash now and they are not a year old. I am also having a problem switching from ski to walk…The lock pin on the upper buckle jams so hard on my left boot that I have to pry it open with my whippet. Something is worn and jamming and it is getting worse by the week…Minor but a pain in the ass. Other than that I have bent all the buckles and poped a few rivets but all the buckles still work. Great boots if they fix the cuff pivot problem, otherwise they are disposable..

  12. Lou July 21st, 2011 7:22 am

    Ian, some lube might make a difference, if it doesn’t just attract dirt, so you’ll have to experiment and report back. I didn’t blow mine out, but have heard of other folks who have and if done with care had no problem. The toe flex area is nothing that complex, just two layers of plastic instead of one…

    The cuff pivot just needs some kind of user serviceable bushing system, and that would solve the wear problem.

    What’s ironic about the cuff pivot wear is that it is most certainly exacerbated by the additional vertical folks are able to do with this boot. Ergo, each step you make is one cycle of cuff articulation, wearing on the pivot. With TLT5, you do more distance, more vertical, more steps. Thus, more cuff pivot wear. Thus, any manufacturer who makes a lighter more efficient boot better plan for it being used!

  13. jim knight July 21st, 2011 8:33 am

    Great post Lou. re: cuff wear – I lubed them with lithium grease and it worked ok but did attract dirt so I switched to teflon spray. No dirt. Zardoz works too.
    I popped a power strap too, but added fender washers and now I can yank away.

  14. AndyC July 21st, 2011 9:03 am

    Lou, in retrospect, how is your home-machined cuff lock working out; an update and critique would be nice; I definitely want to modify mine before the fall season.

    And, it just goes to show you how differently people react to their boots. I find the removable tongue, along with the flex zones in the boot and the large cuff rotation, to be the biggest advantage of the boot, as I don’t like the rigidity of my TLT5 Mountain vs. the progressive flex of my Zzero4 PUs.

    I talked with our local pro shop about my TF-X liners being packed to the point of causing metatarsal inflammation and their boot fitter suggested I buy the TLT5 TF liner this fall; I know you like your Intuition so I might try that in my Zzero3s or 4s.

  15. Jonathan Shefftz July 21st, 2011 9:03 am

    “jonathan forgot to mention wanting to carry a gram scale in his pack for spring tours when his tlt’s fill with water:)”
    More like a pound scale! But leakage (and/or snow coming in the wide-open cuff) was a significant problem only on one tour . . . which took nearly 12 hours . . . and whose grand finale was preceded by a [far too] long downhike that alternated between fighting our way through dense vegetation and postholing deep into small rotten snowfields. (I was pouring out water in the parking lot!)
    That day lapping Airplane my liners definitely got heavily soaked, but that might have just been sweat – I remember that day as really warm and humid, and my shirt was pretty soaked too. (Great skiing though!)
    So my DyNA boots have ~305k vert and my TLT5 have ~209k vert. The rubber on the latter is holding up fine given all the off-snow scrambling it’s seen, although the former is wearing down more quickly than other boots (which understandable since as a race boot it was never intended for that). The DyNA cuff hinge has definitely loosened up. (Can this be warranteed?) The TLT5 is still okay.
    One of the TLT5 upper cuff buckles is slightly tweaked so that closure entails an additional half second or so.
    That’s pretty much it aside from little scratches, etc.

  16. Lou July 21st, 2011 9:51 am

    Andy, my homebrew cuff lock worked fine. Difficult to make. Word is they’ll be supplying something next season that’ll allow some adjustment in cuff lean.

    What’s annoying (and was expected) is I’m finding a very obvious difference in forward position between TLT and ST/FT bindings, due to ramp angle. The way I tuned the boots works perfect for ST/FT, but I’d probably be happier with factory cuff lean when using TLT. The stiffer the cuff, the more you notice this sort of thing because it’s harder to adjust your position by just flexing the bit more or less one way or the other.

  17. Andy July 21st, 2011 10:26 am

    I deeply love mine, though couldn’t agree more on getting rid of the flex at the forefoot. I’ve definitely been in situations walking/climbing/skinning when I felt it and it seemed mildly nice, but mostly it was useless. AND, on the down, there were times where it made the boot feel mushy, especially on harder snow.

  18. Dane July 21st, 2011 11:35 pm

    Good feed back Lou, thanks.

    For the few that have skied a lot in both the Performance version and the Mtn version it would be interesting ot hear that comparison. I’ve been using both and surprizingly, really have come to appreciate the Mtn TF. I think it marginally walks better than the Perfromance. While giving away little skiing with the Pebax cuff. and nothing on weight. Never used the tongue in the P and now don’t on the the Mtn. Just no need. Mtn is getting hugely undersond imo. For a “climbing” boot, that skins, walks and climbs I think the minor bit of flex the TLT 5 offers does make a difference. For a race boot or as a high performance ski boot, not so much.

    Ask your local Podiatrist what a lot of walking in a rigid soled shoe does for your feet?

    We are asking our boots to do a lot. Dynafit has come up with a pretty good answer in the TLTs. May be not the most durable boot in the world but they will get better I suspect over time as American skiers generally value ski performance higher than hiking/climbing performance. For example it is not as durable as a BD Prime ($569) which is a good boot. But I think the TLT in any version ski better, fit better and are a full pound lighter per foot ( $750 Mtn.) in a 29.

    That is $100 per foot more at retail. If it is worth it to you.

    Couple of guys around SLC and th e Tetons with a gazzilion vert on their DyNA and Ps.in crampons and on skis. They look pretty bad cosmetically but have yet to miss a beat last I heard.

    I’m a more interested in the TLT as a climbing boot that will ski but have skiied some amazing terrain (for me) in both the Mtn and the P on ski up to 105 under foot.

    The TLT doesn’t climb like a Baruntse or Spantik for that matter but they do climb good enough. And skiing? Well they ski really nice :) And they seem pleanty warm for anything I want to do in them with the Palau liner.

    More for those interested in the TLT as a climbing boot and the durability there on the coldthistle blog.

  19. Harpo August 3rd, 2011 3:05 pm

    Not much to add. I warrantied a pair of the Velcro straps from dyna USA when I ripped out the washer/rivet from one and also a spare pair of the upper buckles in case I need to replace one. I have heard of a few people trashing those buckles, and tried to fix one guy’s boot with the rivets Jonathan sent me, but the buckle was to far gone for that to work. I think the spares cost me $20.

    I will have to go look at my cuff pivots.

  20. Bob September 18th, 2011 1:38 pm

    Lou
    What are your thoughts on Dynafits new Carbon Zzero Green Machine? After your review and those of others on the TLT5 Performance, the loosening of the cuff hinge as well as the unnecessary toe flex has me thinking of a different boot. Where is the loosening occurring? Is the carbon cuff hinge hole getting larger or is it the plastic lower shell cuff hole? It looks like the new carbon Zzero has the same cuff hinge as the original except that they have added a carbon back. However, if the upper cuff attaches to the lower shell through carbon exclusively rather than through the carbon side stringers AND the Pebax plastic cuff it seems like this new boot will develop the same problem as the TLT5 Performance. I do like the additional cuff articulation of the new Zzero. Any thoughts or comments?

  21. Lou September 18th, 2011 3:03 pm

    Hi Bob, the small amount of loosening in my TLT5P has occurred by a slight wallowing out of the carbon cuff where the pivot rivet passes through. It moves a light 1/16 inch. One side has more movement than the other. Not a problem for me, yet, but I wouldn’t want more movement so by the end of this coming season I’ll be looking to swap out.

    All boots I’ve ever had wore out in this area when used much, Pebax or carbon. Why I brought this up in particular to this boot is that, at the price, in my opinion they could have put a user serviceable bushing system in the TLT5, especially in view of the fact that the expensive carbon cuff is where the wear seems to mostly be. That pivot/rivet is pretty archaic…

    As for the new ZZero carbon model, man, those things look SWEET.

    Lou

  22. Bob September 28th, 2011 8:36 am

    Regarding the wear or “wallowing out of the carbon cuff where the pivot rivet passes through” the carbon cuff, does it make sense and do you think it would help if this pivot rivet was sprayed with silicone every so often to keep it lubricated and help prevent the “wallowing”?

  23. Lou September 28th, 2011 9:31 am

    Bob, I doubt it. As mentioned above, normally I’d just consider this normal wear on a boot, but as boots become this expensive I’m feeling like they should indeed have a better bushing system. Building that would be revolutionary, as I’ve not seen one alpine or AT boot in 40 years that had anything better than a basic rivet or screw rivet as the cuff pivots. In the old days, when we did less vertical and boot cuffs generally didn’t move as well, this kind of wear was slower to occur. With lighter gear and mobile boot cuffs, those pivot points are really getting a workout!

  24. Chris November 14th, 2011 4:00 pm

    Anyone know what the story is with TLT5s on Fritschis? some dealers here (in Europe) say that this is a no no, and that TLT5s ONLY work with tech bindings. Anyone have any experience with this? should I keep my Skookums for my Fritschi mounted skis? or can I use TLT5s only on Dynafit mounted skis?

  25. Lou November 14th, 2011 4:02 pm

    Due to the flex in the metatarsal as well as the shape of the toe area, I wouldn’t recommend them in a frame binding. Tech only.

  26. Chris November 14th, 2011 4:11 pm

    Thanks for the super quick response! do you mean they will flex enough in a frame biding to pop out without the binding releasing? does that mean they would pop out of the heel pins of a tech binding more frequently than a boot with no metatarsal flex?

    What about din plates on the soles? do TLT5s even have any? or could sole lugs simply block a normal release in a frame binding? many thanks for the great site, and sorry for the pestering questions.

  27. Jonathan Shefftz November 14th, 2011 4:45 pm

    I’ve used mine a couple times in Diamirs. Seemed just like using any other AT boots in Diamirs, as the flex is very slight. But very short outings, so hardly a definitive conclusion. I recall Federico writing about how they were compatible, but the sole flex did change the effective RV (although I can remember how much and in which direction).

  28. Chris November 14th, 2011 5:09 pm

    thanks guys, amazing feedback.

  29. Lou November 14th, 2011 5:23 pm

    Yeah, that’s my main point. When using TLT5 type boots in Fritschi, who knows what DIN you end up with, and be sure to check how smooth the toe exits during lateral release. Federico is not the last word on Fritschi bindings (grin), he’d have to speak better Swiss to do that.

  30. harpo March 28th, 2012 2:50 pm

    Hi Lou, 2 questions:

    1) You mention there is fix for the cuff pivot rivet slop, but I don’t see the fix described in your blog. Can you tell us how to fix it?

    2) Chris at Dyna USA told me he didn’t think the new foward lean lock mech would not be available as a spare part for next season. Can you confirm this through your sources?

  31. Lou March 28th, 2012 3:22 pm

    Hi Harpo, my sources told me the adjustable lean lock _would_ be available next season. If not, that is a huge bummer. I know at least 3 people that can’t buy any TLT5 boot until they can adjust it to have less cuff lean.

    As for the fix for the worn pivot, I can’t find where I said that, and I know of nothing. The Dynafit boot guy in EU told me they’ll have something in the rivet for next season that slows down the wear. It really wears quite quickly for some people, less for others. Probably depends on how you buckle your boots while uphilling (more or less cuff movement) as well as how much dirt and grit get into the system. In all, the standard ski boot cuff rivet as it is on this year’s model is a third-world solution on a first-world product. It should have some sort of bushing system that makes the whole thing renewable.

  32. Doug December 2nd, 2012 8:14 pm

    I’m really intrigued by these boots for what appears to be their ski mountaineering capability, but I’m a little concerned about the reports of cold feet. Would anyone seriously consider these for larger, colder mountains like Denali – obviously sized up to accommodate VBL, extra socks, etc and likely intuitions and overboots?

  33. Lou Dawson December 3rd, 2012 11:28 am

    Doug, I can fit anything to the point it would be warm enough for Denali. The question is, why? Something like a Maestrale is so much easier to adapt to arctic use as it already has more volume for a given size. Lou

  34. Erik Erikson April 21st, 2013 4:00 am

    Regarding the wear of pivots on the dynafit tlt 5:
    – Has someone long time experience if using silicon spray helps in fact or makes things worse cause of its attracting dirt? – there seem to be different opinions out there.
    – Can the new (better constructed) pivot of the tlt 6 be transferred to the tlt 5?
    – Any experiences how much faster the pivots of the tlt 5 performance (carbon cuff ) do wear out compared to the tlt 5 mountain (pebax cuff)?
    I have to decide between the two boots right now (need a pair this season..)

  35. Mikecease April 21st, 2013 1:54 pm

    Anybody have any mods or good replacements for the lower buckles. Mine are all bent up and won’t stay closed……

  36. stevenjo April 25th, 2013 12:53 pm

    Lou – I’m interested if you’ve heard anything in response to Erik’s question above. I like the fit of the TLT5′s and I’m looking at some closeout deals and wondering if I can do anything preemptively to reduce wear, even add my own bushing if I can open it up and re-rivet….?

    Or just leave as is?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks
    John

  37. Lou Dawson April 25th, 2013 9:11 pm

    Erik, from what I’ve seen the carbon cuff wears noticeably faster. It is not self lubricating like the Pebax.

    Lou

  38. Erik Erikson April 26th, 2013 12:49 am

    Thanks Lou,

    I have allready purchased a tlt 5 performance now, cause I was really impressed by the stiffness of the carbon cuff (it fits my skiing style better than the pebax one)

    In an older thread this Dynafit guy (Federico?) said something like that the carbon version would still be stiffer than the pebax one even if the cuff-rivets loosens a bit, because the cuff itself would stay stiff (carbon) over time, while pebax would get softer – what do you think about that??

    And I am still not sure, wether lubricating the carbon version – pivot would be a good idea or not. (referriing to wear off).. there is no real long time data concerning that, just guessing as far as I see?.

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