Wildsnow.com Goes Euro — Dynafit Preview Overview of 07/08 Product Line


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Dynafit backcountry skiing.
For your style victims out there, this shows you Dynafit’s color pallet for 06/07. If the boot shade looks a bit out of place to you, I agree. But then, one person I recently spoke with said they liked the boot color… In any case, to expect a European company to offer nothing florescent would be like expecting Prada to offer nothing in black.

I figured I’d better get this all down on paper before the Koolaid wears off, so here is an overview of what Dynafit is doing for us backcountry skiers. Warning, the product line is huge so this might be the longest blog post I’ve ever written. If you get through the whole thing please leave a comment so I know you’re still okay, otherwise we’ll contact you to check your vital signs.

Dynafit’s corporate mission and marketing are quite interesting. They’re promoting themselves as a niche company that’s focused on ski mountaineering. That’s it, period. In terms of clothing, skis, bindings, or backpacks, the company has no interest in designing products for resort skiing, and really has little interest in whether its products “cross over” or not. I find that to be refreshing, if not compelling. While I understand the desirability (if not the necessity) for some companies to design for and market to everything from terrain park skiers to helicopter guides, it’s quite something to see a company toss all but one snowfish out of its barrel. Pure and simple, Dynafit gear is designed for earning your turns — perhaps with some mechanized access in the mix — but muscle power is the mission.

What that mission means is that everything from Dynafit’s skis to their ice axe is minimalist, as lightweight as possible, and designed with fairly experienced users in mind. Examples: you’re not going to find kevlar butt patches on Dynafit pants; you’re not going to find backpacks you can use as spine protection if you fall on your back in a scree field (perhaps so for one-time use…). In other words, this gear expects users who respect it, care for it, and enjoy the return of floating uphill. Downsides to this philosophy: the clothing is more form fitting than is currently stylish in some circles, the backpacks are small and built with thin fabric, the binding is not a resort grabber, and so on. But on the whole, even after taking a Koolaid antidote, I have to say I’m impressed by how true the Dynafit product line is to their mission, and how much it suites the dawn patrol lifestyle.

What’s interesting to me is that with Salewa (Dynafit’s parent company) starting it’s own North American distribution company this year, they’ll be making their whole product line available to outdoor shops in Canada and the States. How much of the gear you’ll actually get to fondle will of course be up to shop buyers, but I suspect you’ll see more of it than in the past — and perhaps some of the bolder retailers will carry most of the line.

With that in mind, below is an overview of what you might see in the flesh.

The complete Dynafit ski line comprises fifteen models divided into three categories. The “Free Touring” group is what probably resonates with most North American ski mountaineers as it’s the wider models that will perform the best in western and mid continental snow. Here at WildSnow.com we’ve skied he FT 10.0 extensively and like it, and we’re also testing the Seven Summits, a ski that’s slightly narrower and softer than the FT 10.0 and appears to be invented for western US powder and crud skiing. The Mustagh Ata is a weight optimized version of the FT 10.0, and is said to not ski quite as well as the regular FT 10.0, while the FT 7.0 is a twin tip that behaved nicely when I skied them for two days in Italy, and the FT 6.0 is a narrow waisted plank that’s for those wanting a more classic mountaineering board that still has some sidecut.

Dynafit backcountry skis
Dynafit “Free Touring” skis, from top: Seven Summits; Mustagh Ata; 10.0; 7.0; 6.0

For the ladies, the FT 10.0 comes in a women’s model. Last year this was the same ski as the regular FT 10.0, only with different graphics. This year’s ski might continue that, though softer pairs may have been picked to receive the graphics. (Here at WildSnow.com I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a women’s ski any more than a men’s specific ski, so I’m not exactly interested in exacerbating my carpel tunnel syndrome by keyboarding what that means in any company’s model line, Dynafit included. Some of you in the female category may differ. If so, comments are enabled.)

The Dynafit “Ski Touring” group of skis has several narrower more traditional skis that save weight and have that nimble feel while climbing that only a skinny ski can give. Of interest in this category is the Gasherbrum, a plank designed especially for skiing steep hard snow such as that found on 8,000 meter peaks — or your local fourteener. Another compelling model is the 1.0, a short little thang offered in only 130 cm, intended for spring skiing. This type of “firn glider” has been available for years, and only gets better as it incorporates more and more modern ski technology. Last time I skied on a shortie like that was years ago, and it wasn’t exactly a great experience, but those were two-x-fours compared to Dynafit’s attempt, so we’ll try to give these a test this spring. They’d sure be easy to carry on a backpack.

For those of you who want nothing on their feet, the three Dynafit “Ski Running” models compromise performance for weight. These skis are said to downhill quite well considering how narrow and light they are, but don’t expect miracles in performance. The top of the race line is the SR 11.0, which only comes in 160 cm and weighs 850 grams per ski. Like they say at Dynafit, “speed up.”

Dynafit backcountry skiing backpacks.
The smaller Dynafit backpacks, from upper left clockwise: FT 18, Race, FT28 W, FT 28 (pairs on left are different color combos of the same models). These sacks are form fitting and designed to carry weight a bit lower than a normal backpack.

Dynafit’s backpacks are design intensive works that offer an impressive compromise between weight and beef. I like the FT 18 model best, as it’s got lash straps on the outside I can use to carry clothing that won’t cram into the sack’s 18 liter volume. The FT 28 looks interesting as well, with 28 liter volume yet a feather weight of 930 grams (which hovers at the magic two pound limit for the maximum we feel lightweight daypack should weigh).

But if you do need a bit more volume, Dynafit offers lightweight packs in 32 liter models as well. All packs come with a nicely designed ski carrying system that allows you to sling your skis without removing the pack. Such systems can be built on any backpack, but it’s nice to have something factory integrated.

I’ve already covered the Dynafit boot line in a previous blog post, but it bears repeating that this year brings almost all new Dynafit boots, including several models that may combine the ultimate in weight vs performance for a Dynafit compatible shoe. Also, don’t forget that the venerable TLT 4 model is also still available, offering the ultimate in climbing and walking performance in a boot you can still ski in.

Dynafit logo
Dynafit Zzero2 boot is their lightest weight boot that’s still designed as a full-on ski touring boot. It includes carbon fiber reinforcement on tongue and lower rear of cuff. The boot is also sold without that carbon fiber as model Zxzero3. I’ve not skied in these boots, but they looked good and might make an excellent lightweight touring shoe. Catalog claims weight as 1395 g for size 27.5. Note the speed holes in the upper part of the tongue. Speed holes are important if you want to speed up. Besides the speed holes, what’s nearly miraculous (seriously) about the new Dynafit boots is that the shell tounge is actually high enough to prevent the power strap from slipping up and off the tongue. What a concept!

The hardest thing for me to get a grip on in the Dynafit catalog is the clothing. It’s incredible stuff — what’s hard is there is just so much of it, with so many technical details. Oh well, I guess that’s why there are incredibly knowledgeable people sitting by your favorite online store’s customer service phone just living to help you. But, just in case that’s NOT the case, here is a rundown. First, know that this clothing is designed for ski touring, with no compromise. If an item needs to be form fitting, it is. If an item isn’t warm enough to sit on a chairlift for a half hour in December, it’s not, because this isn’t clothing for sitting on chairlifts.

The Dynafit clothing line is divided into layering categories. Baselayer comprises a number of nice looking pieces built without seams in critical areas and with the usual super wicking fabrics you see in any top of the line sports under garments. Some of the items have Gore Windstopper in critical areas — a nice feature for high level athletes but probably overkill for those of us who take the slow-but-steady approach to harvesting vertical. But, if you do qualify (under 30 and with less than 12 % body fat), the Avalanche racing suit is the ultimate form fitting one-piece. It would work equally well for competition, or a top-layer for speed ascents.

Dynafit backcountry skiing jacket.
Dynafit Four Elements jacket is so technical it might need a user’s manual.

In the ubiquitous soft shell category, Dynafit has a truly interesting jacket they call the Four Elements. This item hybridizes by adding a layer of Primaloft over your front abdominal area, with a vent system under the arms that works like the series of gill openings on a fish. I have to admit this is probably the most technical item of clothing I’ve ever seen. Even if it works half as well as claimed it’s gotta be good, and certainly worth a test here at WildSnow. In soft shell pants, my son is interested in the Pamir model, which has an innovative “waist gaiter” that allows them to be worn low with a belt, while still covering that oft exposed and weather beaten upper area of your rear end.


Some of the Dynafit clothing line, click to enlarge

Some of the Dynafit clothing line, click to enlarge.

In the insulation realm, Dynafit offers two high quality down jackets (one minimal and packable, and one a walking sleeping bag for expedition use or as a belay parka.) For synthetic insulation you can pick from a Primaloft jacket and a Powerstretch fleece jacket, both with Dynafit’s trim fit and minimalist design. Also in the insulation category, the company has several “hybrid” layers. We like the hybrid Racing Jacket the best, as it’s a nicely made fleece insulated shell that’s perfect for dry yet cold conditions like we frequently have in Colorado.

Moving along: the Dynafit hardshell garments. These appear designed to work over soft shell by being exceptionally light, though their form fitting cut would have to build on top of other trim layers or you will look like an over stuffed sausage. The Snowdrift jacket is the flagship, made with Gore’s state of art Proshell 3-layer fabric that’s said to be several steps beyond anything in terms of durability and weight savings. Several hardshell pant models round out the line. Mustagh Ata has a non-characteristic looser cut, while the Jetstream is more your basic overpant and has a trimmer profile. Both have full length side zippers — a non negotiable feature for us so we were glad to see it.

What else? I won’t cover bindings here since we do that frequently in regular blog posts. So it’s on to the ski poles and climbing skins. Ah yes, ski poles. They so frequently over promise and under deliver. Fact is, once you get your ski and pack weight down to modern levels, you can start feeling like your poles are some kind of medieval club better suited to knocking a knight off his horse than doing nimble ski turns down a mountain. To that end, Dynafit’s main mission with poles is to make them truly lightweight. The key to that is carbon, of course, but also the use of lightweight grips. I’ve got a pair of their adjustable full carbon poles and they’re easily the lightest weight adjustable poles I’ve ever used. How they’ll stand up to abuse I don’t know, and how reliability of the length adjustment mechanism is another unknown, but these sticks are definitely worth a look. Caveat, perhaps more than any other item in Dynafit’s line, their ski poles represent a no compromise approach to making something efficient and light. That doesn’t mean these poles have unusual durability problems, but they’re definitely not designed for cliff hacking monsters who make pole bending beater falls part of their regular repertoire.

As for climbing skins, all but the Dynafit shortie firn skis come with their proprietary skin attachment system. While Dynafit’s system works fine, I’m coming to really dislike the trend of shaping ski tips and tails for special skin fixes. Problems with this are many. First, you end up with skins that are hard to use on skis without the special cutouts. At WildSnow this is more than an annoyance, as we like to test skis in the backcountry rather than using ski lifts, and every time a ski with a dedicated fix system comes in, we’ve got to take the time and effort to either change a pair of our own skins over to the new ski’s system, or else bother the company to send us skins with the ski. On a more somber note, within a ski touring group skins should be somewhat cross compatible between skis so they can be passed around in an emergency. This is already tough enough due to the variations in modern ski widths and sidecuts, but skis with dedicated fixation systems make it even harder. What’s more, if you do tear or otherwise wreck a skin, if your skis require special skins it can be a heap of trouble getting another pair of special proprietary skins rigged up the evening before a trip.

Dynafit also sells a few hats, gloves and accessories such as shovels, ice ax, etc., but this is as much typing as I can take for one day. In all, any ski mountaineer should be impressed by a company coming out with such an extensive product line for a part of skiing that’s definitely not mainstream. But enough of that, I’m going skiing and testing some planks. And nope, they’re not all Dynafit, so don’t worry, the Koolaid has worn off. That said, those Seven Summits are kinda nice…

Dynafit logo
Oh, one other thing. I’d never really figured out the Dynafit “face” logo ’till my mind was opened with special elixers at the Sulden hut. It’s based on the snow leopard, which (joking aside), is an inspiring animal and makes a spirited logo.

Comments

25 Responses to “Wildsnow.com Goes Euro — Dynafit Preview Overview of 07/08 Product Line”

  1. Derik January 22nd, 2007 11:01 am

    Okay, this blog is of no value without pictures!!! :-)

    Thanks for the write up. Sounds like great stuff.

  2. Derik January 22nd, 2007 11:27 am

    Okay, okay, I see them now. But let’s have more!

  3. Lou January 22nd, 2007 11:55 am

    I’ll get more up this evening, have to get out on the snow and try and keep it real…

  4. Scott Coldiron January 22nd, 2007 12:00 pm

    It’s good to hear that Dynafit is focused on making great gear rather than marketing to the masses.

  5. Bryan Wickenhauser January 22nd, 2007 1:20 pm

    Lou -I guess I’m coming at this from a newbie rando racer but I’d love to see further thoughts from Dynafit on their heel pieces, when compared to what the 3rd parties in Europe are doing….and since I don’t do a ton of ski testing, but do have a quiver, I don’t have a problem with any of the various tip applications (I tend to come up with homemade versions for each pair). The biggest effort is having to buy a new set of $KINS for each different length/girth ski I own. With any kind of bailing wire in your b/c kit I’ve been able get out of most any b/c tip application trouble ….whew!….now that was lengthy!

  6. George Laquian January 22nd, 2007 1:41 pm

    Great- now I have to make do with my old Scarpa Denali’s for another season , even though they’re on their last legs becaause I don’t want to waste my hard earned cash on the Spirit 3′s until I can get a chance to try the new Dynafit boot line.

  7. Lenka K. January 22nd, 2007 3:01 pm

    Hi Lou,

    I totally agree with you on the superfluousness of brand-specific skin attachment systems — it’s just an attempt to make you buy the company’s proprietary skins rather than using a generic, “portable” model that will last several pairs of skis (especially if you have both a “winter” mohair pair and a “spring” nylon pair).

    I also don’t like the fact that most skin manufacturers now prefer to have a system that attaches at both ends instead of developing quality glue and saving weight and reducing drag by using only a tip wire (BD is an exception to this as far as the quality of their glue goes, although their thick tip wires were a disaster — I think they improved on this, though).

    Thanks for the dedicated reporting on the lightweight gear front and glad you enjoyed your visit to the Old Continent, even though we didn’t have that much snow to offer — in return you had the privilege of being virtually alone in Alpbach – in “normal” winters you’ll have at least 60 people doing every tour in the area, every day of the week! :)

    Let it snow!

    Lenka K.

  8. Dan Lowell January 22nd, 2007 3:45 pm

    Lou,

    Thanks for taking so much time to review the new Dynafit line. Here in western WA., many of us spend much of our ski time in the trees or in near whiteouts, etc. Bright colors are favored (at least by the older, more conservative crowd). So, I love the shiny green boots. Great visibilty for your partners when your are upside down in a treewell. But that jacket? Gray? A great color if one is trying to sneak up on the party ahead of you. Does Dynafit have a bright red or orange one? Does it glow in the dark?

    Regarding the new Dynafit boot line: when can we expect to see them appear at our local retailer?

    Dynafit Binding Gee Whiz Info: I have been having a problem this season getting the toes to lock into the binding. This has not been a problem in the past. Upon inspection one recent evening (certainly, it must be an equipment problem and not me), I realized that the soles in the toe area of my Megarides were worn to almost nothing (hiking and step-kicking in ice crust may not have been what the boys at Garmont were thinking about when they designed the MR sole). The minor change in “thickness” at the toe seemed to affect the way the pins lined up with the receptacles on the boot toe when stepping into the toe. I made a desperate attempt to use this problem to justify new boots (to the spousette, who thinks the idea of walking uphill to get a few runs is absurd). It didn’t work, so I played around with the boot and binding a bit and discovered that all I needed to do was just relax the pressure on the toe a little as soon as the binding spring begins to close. Bingo, those little pointy things just pop right in! Of course, that was on my garage floor. I tried the new approach this past weekend in the field (both days) and it worked just fine.

  9. Lou January 22nd, 2007 4:24 pm

    Dan, I have no idea when you’ll see the actual boots. That’ll depend on retailer orders and shipping schedule. But the idea is they’ll be in the shops next fall. Wearing the toe trigger rubber off the boot is common, if your method of getting in quits working, just build up a tiny pad of duct tape on the binding trigger point, or some Shoegoo on the boot.

    Bryan, the super lightweight race heel unit I blogged about a few weeks ago will be on the market, and easily matches the quality and innovation of the aftermarket units, as well as rotating so it conforms to rando race rules. Agree about the bailing wire. Works for Jeeps too, and snowmobiles (grin).

  10. justin January 22nd, 2007 5:23 pm

    For a gear junky like myself, its like a form of torture to see all the new toys online but not be able to get them (or at least check them out in person) until next fall. Do you think the lime green Zzeros will clash with my urine yellow Bro Models that should be here any day? Any more pics of the boots? I would love to replace my Megarides with something just as light and stiffer.

  11. Lou January 22nd, 2007 6:45 pm

    Derik, you happy now (grin)?

  12. Thomas January 22nd, 2007 7:14 pm

    Easy solution to Dynafit skin slot on tip, just thread a piece of 2 or 3 mm cord through the skin( as you would the regular tip loop) and tie a knot in it. It’s worked fine for me for about 300 000 vert so far. You can leave the old loop on there for interchangeability or remove for weight savings.

  13. Lou January 22nd, 2007 8:17 pm

    Pee colored Bro Models? Is that so you don’t notice it when your aim is off? What an excellent feature!

  14. Randonnee January 22nd, 2007 10:27 pm

    Thank you, Lou, for the great information. Keep it up, please!

    Your blog caught my attention in regard to the FR 10 that I purchased last year, and the Aero boot purchased the previous spring.

    Right now I am thinking Seven Summit skis, ZZero 4 buckle boots, and a new Ski Doo for next season!

    Dynafit all the way. What was I thinking back in the 70′s and 80s skiing that other gear and technique? (Answer: I wished that I had light gear that turned more efficiently…got it now!)

  15. Lou January 23rd, 2007 5:48 am

    Basically, who needs ski lifts!?

  16. Chet Roe January 23rd, 2007 8:36 am

    any comment about the sizing of the Dynafit clothing? ie for some of us taller thinner skiers out here?

  17. Lou January 23rd, 2007 10:12 am

    Chet, nothing yet, I’ll be looking at it again at the trade show and will try to remember to write about that in a show post…

  18. Jeff Huber January 23rd, 2007 10:59 am

    Thanks Lou. That’s a great review. I made it all the way thru and then I checked my vitals: my heart was beating a bit faster in anticipation of being able to purchase all this great gear in the US next year!

    Jeff

  19. Mark January 23rd, 2007 5:12 pm

    Wow, that’s a load of gear! Dynafit is going bonkers and it’s a relief. By the way, I like the day-glo green–it’s nearly as bright as my Garmont Megalites.

  20. Derik January 23rd, 2007 8:37 pm

    Thanks Lou. I’m merely a caveman, so I require lots of pictures to understand things.

    As always, thanks for taking the time to pass on your knowledge and experience.

    See you out there.

  21. Cody January 24th, 2007 1:52 pm

    Thanks for covering all that Lou. I was so excited to hear that Dynafit is so comitted to a “non-main-stream” area of skiing. After the mis-hap with dynafits 12 din binding, I was worried about direction of the company. I have been lossing sleep over a good BC pack, and I cant wait to get my hands on a dynafit pack. Please keep us updated on the clothing line, and some more detailed blogs about the dynafit products you have tested would be great. Thanks.

  22. Erik Leithe January 24th, 2007 4:35 pm

    Lou,

    I found it interesting that you heard the FT 10.0 skis are supposed to ski better than the Mustagh Ata’s. I read some nice reviews of last year’s 10.0′s but heard they were adding wood (extra weight) to them and that the Mustagh Ata’s would be lighter and should ski better anyway (from a Dynafit rep.). My Mustagh Ata’s arrived weighing more than advertised (7#4 oz) in the 178 cm ski. Not bad for a big ski but a lot more than previously advertised (mid 6# range).

    The skis have been fantastic, but I have always wondered how the 10.0′s ski. (Perhaps a bit softer flex?) Based on the flex (stiff) and size, the Ata’s should ski all conditions well, which is what I have experienced so far. I think it is a fantastic backcountry quiver ski, but I have often wondered how the 10.0′s ski….

    My two cents,
    Erik

  23. Anthony Rabinowitz January 24th, 2007 9:54 pm

    Dan, regarding the worn soles on your Megarides, Dave Page Cobler in Seattle can resole AT boots. I had a pair of Lasers for a bunch or seasons, and I eventually wore through the rubber and plastic underneath the outer bottom edges of the toe sockets so that the metal was wearing. That went on for a couple of seasons, but the metal on the bottom of the toe sockets was getting thinner and thinner and I though they might fail. I ended up selling the boots cheap to a guy who was going to use them with Fritchis.

    Now I have Dave resole my AT boots whenever I where through the rubber and get into the plastic under the toe sockets. You can get much more life out of them that way.

  24. jon crowley January 26th, 2007 12:46 pm

    lou, do you have the weight and dimensions of the gasherbrum ski?

  25. henrylow January 11th, 2010 5:27 am

    I keep trying to spam this website but you guys keep deleting my spam, why do you do that? Should I take a smart pill or get a real job?

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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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