Dynafit Vulcan Boots – The South America Report


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

In the midst of hectic last-minute packing for South America, a familiarly boot shaped-box quietly showed up on the doorstep. I ripped the package apart like a paper shredder, then stood reverently amid scraps of cardboard, basking in the green glow. Dynafit Vulcans.

The Vulcans, a little worse for the wear, but they've had some fun.

Okay, maybe I’m over-dramatizing a bit. However, you can’t ignore the hype surrounding the new crop of ultra light, ultra stiff boots hitting the shelves this winter. They promise to deliver what many skiers have been wanting for a while: a boot that tours great, and approaches alpine-boot stiffness on the down.

The Vulcan backcountry skiing boot features a lower shell constructed of Grilamid, a stiff, lightweight nylon plastic. The upper is constructed largely of carbon fiber, with the very front featuring some plastic. They have three buckles and a removable stiff ski tongue. Vulcan comes with a non-thermo-moldable liner, so I used an Intuition liner instead. I also added a stretchy “booster” power strap (transferred from my Maestrales), and I tied a piece of webbing onto the ski tongues. It’s important to note that the boots I got were pre-production prototypes. Ostensibly the same as production versions, they can have small differences, especially with construction quality. The production versions will have a slightly stiffer flex, and will include a booster strap and thermo-moldable liners. WildSnow.com (hopefully the PNW office), will be testing the full-on production versions as soon as the snow flies.

Here’s the official WildSnow weights for the boots:
Shell, Tongue, and Liner: 1590 grams
Liner: 308 grams
Tongue: 73 grams

I fit most ski boots well, although of all the AT boot brands, Scarpas work the best for my feet. After the first mold, I took the Vulcans out for a test drive on Mt. Baker. In order to evaluate the fit as much as I could, I did the hour-long approach hike in the boots, and then started up the summer snow towards the top. After a few hours the boots hurt so bad I had to take them off. I’ve never had a boot that was that uncomfortable so I was a bit worried.

Back home, I molded the liners once more. This time with a ton of padding on my toes, as well as around my heel to create a larger heel pocket. After the second mold, and a second test drive, the boots still felt mildly uncomfortable, but seemed within the realm of breaking-in. Subsequently they did mold to my feet. I’m not sure why I had the initial fit problem.

Takeaway: when you get your Vulcans, do a good job with the liner molding process and evaluate any super-tight areas that need extra attention during molding. The fit of a boot, of course, is based on your own unique foot shape. On my feet, the Vulcans had a fairly low-volume toe box, as well as a very narrow heel pocket.

I did my best to destroy the Vulcans in South America. They received 35 days of skiing, involving more than a few rock scrambles and dirt hikes. Chilean bus cargo loaders apparently don’t get the bond between a man and his rancid plastic footwear, and did a fair amount of durability testing as well.

Skiing excellent powder in the entrance to one of the Zebra Chutes, near Refugio Frey, Argentina. By the bottom of the run the snow had turned to glop. It was nice to have stiff boots!

First, and most important, how did the Dynafit Vulcan ski? In a word, solid. I skied them with and without the tongues on South American “snow,” everything from grade A powder to horrible ice-chunk nastiness (honestly the worst stuff I’ve ever skied).

Although I skied a fair amount with the ski tongue removed, I felt the Vulcan skied much better with it installed. For some people, the Vulcan is said to be “too stiff.” Not for me. At 150 lbs, I’m a fairly light guy, which is probably why I’ve been able to make do with softer AT boots. Nonetheless, I’ve always wanted more beef. The Vulcans deliver stiffness in a way that’s beyond most AT boots, but they’re still not up to the level of an alpine race plug boot. Once I even felt the Vulcan collapse when I landed a small drop off balance, putting a lot of force on the front of the boot. My heel jammed hard into the back of the boot but I didn’t get shin-bang, something that could have happened with a softer AT boot. Bottom line? Vulcans ski the best of any AT boot I’ve tried, and better than some alpine boots. Again I’ll say it: they ski the BEST of any backcountry skiing boot I’ve tested.

My standard resort boot is a Full-Tilt with the stiffest tongue (#10). Although not a plug boot, they’re stiff in the forward and back flex patterns. The Vulcans aren’t as stiff as my Full-Tilts and don’t ski quite as well, but they are _really_ close. Vulcans have a fairly progressive flex as well, but again, not quite like an alpine boot. Vulcans’ lateral stiffness is impressive, but that’s to be assumed if you look at how rigid the cuff and lower heel area are, as well as how the whole lower part of the boot, being made of Grilamid, resists sideways rolling/twisting of the boot.

(While tech bindings tend to be stiff against rolling force, they only resist boot twisting at the toe attachment so you end up also depending on the boot to resist twisting, instead of the boot heel being nicely clamped down by a binding heel such as that of a Marker Duke.)

At any rate, it’s not that hard to find a boot that skis well. Just clamp your alpine boots in a frame binding if you want proof. But a boot that both walks and skis well, is the perpetual challenge. In that respect the Vulcans could be called a game changer. They are light and the walk mode is impressive. I felt it was equivalent or better to any boot I’ve been in. I opted to do quite a few dirt hikes with the boots, saving the weight of carrying shoes, and they hiked surprisingly well. On some shorter laps I left the ski tongue in for touring, which cut down on the flexibility quite a bit. With the tongue I’d say they tour similar to many “traditional” AT boots; without the tongue they fly.

With the Vulcan design, Dynafit also makes an effort to decrease transition time. In theory, you only need to flip two buckles per boot, and that simultaneously cinches up your foot and locks down the walk mode. However, on laps where you are adding and removing the ski tongue this doesn’t work quite so well. I found that in order to put the tongue in, I had to completely unlatch both the top two buckles — as well as loosen the bottom buckle. To remove the tongue I had to unlatch the top buckle and loosen the bottom two. Doing the tongue swaps was still pretty quick, but don’t expect rando-race transitions, at least when you’re using the ski tongue. More, this system would be problematic for situations such as arctic ski mountaineering in extreme cold.

Vulcans come with three buckles. They are the first boots I’ve had in quite a while that I haven’t felt compelled to pull the bottom buckle off. I skied a bit with the lower buckle loosened, to try it out, and I felt a noticeable difference in how tight my foot was.

The Vulcans ski and walk flawlessly. However, the one area I had issues with was durability. Before I go any further, two caveats about the validity of the durability portion of this review: the boots I tested are pre-production prototypes with perhaps less durability and quality than a production boot (the kind you’ll be buying). Also, when I got them they had already been demoed an unknown amount by various people, contributing to the wear and tear.

About two weeks into our trip, we were scrambling through some rocks to access the entrance of our last couloir on a grand day. After the scramble, we clicked into our skis, and I reached down to tighten my boots. With a loud “snap,” the buckle broke off in my hand. I was able to jury rig something with Voile straps, and we skied pow down to the refugio.

The broken magnesium buckle. You can see it broke where it is made thinner to add the "double hinge" functionality.

Voile straps + simple walk mechanism = easy fix. This is the setup I used for over half my South America trip.

The buckle, while similar to the innovative one used in the TLT 5 series, differs slightly. It features a double hinge mechanism that allows it to fold flatter against the boot. This makes the new buckle more complex, and where the hinge is, it’s thinner. The buckle is long, and sticks out fairly far when you are in walk mode (here’s a quick mod to help that). It’s quite possible that I banged it on a rock moments before it broke. Another consequence of the length is that you can get an obscene amount of leverage, far beyond any other boot I’ve seen. While this leverage is great for getting a tight stiff fit, it might make them more prone to breakage.

Silver lining to the cloud is that Dynafit buckles of the sort on the Vulcan cuff are a super light, solid, and simple mechanism. Such simplicity means they are easy to repair. With a more traditional ski/walk mode switch, you’re hosed if it breaks. When the Vulcan broke, I was able to fix it in a few minutes, and it skied just as good as my other boot. I skied with the fix (a Voile strap) for the rest of the trip, and other than a slightly longer transition time, it wasn’t a big deal.

Vulcans also have a thin, low density sole, both to accommodate the Dynafit easy step in fittings and to save weight. By the end of the trip, the sole was showing serious wear, especially in the toe area. The Vulcans feature 4 posts of hard plastic in the sole that don’t wear down as fast, and support the boot in a frame/plate binding.

Sole wear on the Vulcans. The hard plastic posts are visible as the green circles in the sole in the background.

These boots are light, and that has some side effects. For one, the price, around $1000, is steep. Secondly, every light boot rides a fine line on the edge of durability. Although I had a few issues, the durability wasn’t anything surprising. I’m sure a lot of people will be torture testing these boots this winter, and I’ll be interested to see the results. The Vulcans were a perfect boot for ski travel (besides the $1,000 neon green I-am-a-money-source tourist beacon effect). Having a solid boot, one that I can ski like my alpine boots, and walks as well as a hiking boot is incredible. The Vulcan is possibly the one boot quiver.

Find the Dynafit Vulcan or Dynafit Mercury for sale here. (The Mercury is essentially the Vulcan without carbon cuff.)

Click here to read Lee Lau’s excellent review on the Vulcans, including more detailed fit information, and a few different perspectives.

Comments

73 Responses to “Dynafit Vulcan Boots – The South America Report”

  1. Jason October 15th, 2012 11:04 am

    I’d like to try a pair of these on, but I don’t think I will spend $1k on ski boots. Just can’t do that.

  2. Brent October 15th, 2012 12:08 pm

    Nice fix! Also nice to hear your comment about these boots having a progressive flex, at least, as compared to most AT boots. There are several other reviews out there stating that the flex is very regressive… starting out like a wall and then getting softer as you push into them. I hope I agree with your take on it, because in all other respects these boots have everything I want. How do you think the flex quality compares to the TLT5s other than obviously being more stiff? More or less progressive? Personally I found the TLTs to have weird regressive flex pattern. Thanks for the review.

  3. omr October 15th, 2012 12:14 pm

    My complaint with Dynafit boots is their coupling of the top buckle with the ski/tour mode mechanism. I have big calves and I often customize that top buckle to avoid a painful pinch. Customization is tough on Dynafits. Great boots otherwise. Any thoughts?

  4. Mike Marolt October 15th, 2012 12:14 pm

    What do guys do with the Dynafit system when they are using neoprene overboots? Can you jam them through the neo, or do you have to cut holes? Anyone have experience with this?

  5. Lee Lau October 15th, 2012 12:33 pm

    Mike, I had to cut up the overboots to get them to fit. Just small holes but still had to cut

  6. Louie Dawson October 15th, 2012 12:40 pm

    Brent, I thought the flex was really nice, not quite as nice as my alpine boots, but still great. I am fairly light, and like I mentioned in the review, I did feel the boot “collapse” once. I suppose that could be the boot having a somewhat regresive flex, and I just wasn’t heavy enough to feel it. That’s all conjecture, though. Lee Lau’s review includes some input from Toby, a bigger skier, and he didn’t have any complaints about the flex.

    Yeah, changing the buckle location would take some pretty heavy duty modding. Perhaps you could use the original buckle solely for the walk mode, and rivet on another buckle for tightening?

    Mike, you mean the toe and heel fittings, right? The only time I’ve used overboots was on our Denali trip. For that we got some Forty Below overboots specifically made for ski boots (basically means they have a thinner sole, to fit in bindings). I cut some small holes in them for the Dynafit fittings. A bit of snow would work in there on long days, but they still sealed in the heat fairly well.

    Here’s a link to the Forty Below ski overboots:

    http://www.40below.com/products_detail.php?ProductID=12

    And our review, which shows the holes cut:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/3743/ski-boot-overboots/

    Planning some more high altitude ski trips?

  7. john nobil October 15th, 2012 1:42 pm

    finally the big review we’ve all been waiting for! this is like mulling over the expert magazine op’s of the new porsche 911 turbo, but you actually have some reasonable hope of buying at the end of the day! Now what was the 0-60 on that boot, Louie?
    now if you absolutely had to have extreme alpine bomber skiablity, how about testing an intuition powerwrap installed in the vulcan? i’ve found the powerwrap installed in my tlt5 performance to greatly improve all aspects of ski response, especially when hitting the outer limits of the boots performance envelope (including tough side hilling, landing in the back seat, charging forward into the tongues at high speed) with a smooth, progressive stiffness beyond my titan ultralights, all while still retaining the far superior tlt5 climbability. weight penalty is minimal: only 60g/boot compared to the flimsy stock liners. and the comfort is without question night and day better.
    as for the heel lock issue, you mentioned the advantages of a traditional binding for transmitting lateral forces. but no one in my circle of weight obsessed rippers is going to tolerate a 5lb binding. so we have “innovated” a small heel support add-on (aluminum bar just the right thickness) that simply allows the bottom of the boot to transmit lateral forces directly into the ski. this results in instant lateral response. the “shim” is bolted to the ski & fits under the boot with a tiny amount of space left to prevent pre-loading the binding and hindering release. tests of the static binding release at the resort shop seem to bear this out, but of course we all understood from the start that release values may be increased in the field. so far a very worthy tradeoff, seems quite simple, even obvious. but this is a tricky subject. can’t seem to find a similar post in site regarding the heel lock issue.

  8. ty October 15th, 2012 2:16 pm

    unable to buckle the top buckle while trying intuition power wraps with my mercuries. you could get away with it if you have slender legs, etc, but it will be close?…i assume the vulcans will be similar?

  9. Lee Lau October 15th, 2012 2:32 pm

    ty – you can get different thicknesses of Alpine powerwrap.

    If this was a one boot do-it-all you can get a powerwrap liner for alpine days and stick with the luxury or some other liner (or the stock dynafit liner which seemed pretty good – but I only had 5 days -less than Louie).

    Can’t help re the heel lock John

    Louie – were you on production or pre-production

  10. matt October 15th, 2012 3:47 pm

    Nice right up. The sole looked hammered, I am assuming for 1k,they have to be replaceable right? If not that boot looks like it is toast.
    Looking to pick up a pair of these in a 285, but need to get them on my feet.
    What were the areas of your feet that hurt? Did it feel like bone on plastic or was it a liner issue.
    Thanks

  11. Mike October 15th, 2012 3:55 pm

    Hey Louie, could you tell us what size Scarpa you wear and what size the Vulcan you used was. I fit very comfortably in a Scarpa mastrale RS 28.5, and comfortably in a 29 black diamond quadrant. I’m wondering if I should get a 28.5 or 29 Vulcan.
    Thanks

  12. Lee Lau October 15th, 2012 4:07 pm

    matt the soles aren’t replaceable

    Mike – I’m size 27 Maestrale Maestrale RS Skookum Mobe, Spirit 4, I’m size 27 Vulcan, ZZeus, Titan, Titan UL and sz 27 Factor

    Louie will add more datapoints

  13. John VanBuren October 15th, 2012 4:16 pm

    There has been a lot of discussion regards how stiff the Vulcans are. Any news on how stiff the Mercury’s are? I ski G3 Infidels with Radical Ft’s and Quadrants.The G3′s are great on hard snow, powder not so much. I am looking at 185 JJ’s or 178 S7′s with Radical Ft’s , would the Mercury’s be a good choice or should I just go with the Vulcans. I ski Doberman 130 WC boots at the resort.5’7″ – 144lbs. Unhappy with fit on Quadrants and would like something stiffer. Eastern ADK slides with BC trips thrown in.
    Thanks for any comments.

  14. Lee Lau October 15th, 2012 4:23 pm

    John – not many people have Mercuries. Lots of boot comparison chat on the other review fwiw

  15. Chris Cawley October 15th, 2012 5:55 pm

    Any idea when size 29 will be available in the USA?

  16. rangerjake October 15th, 2012 7:04 pm

    I think the Mercuries will be stiff enough for the vast majority of skiers out their looking for a BC boot. I skied the Vulcans for 25 days, between resorts, mountaineering, powder, and more. I found the Vulcans to have a regressive flex, except when the tongue inserts were removed and with a stiffer liner (Intuition-not powerwrap). I am 5’9 165 and ski pretty aggressively. The flex on the Titan is way better in the forward flex/progression realm, while the lateral stiffness of the Vulcan is far and away more responsive.

    I agree that the Vulcan is about as high performance (stiffness to weight ratio) and with the most range of motion of any AT boot out. It is really impressive in that regard. But I don’t think it is perfect. And I really don’t think that it will be the holy grail that so many are searching for. Great progress, but we are not home yet.

    John Van Buren-

    Is your problem with the Quadrants with the stock liner? In what aspect. The new liners from BD are better, but most folks I know who don’t like the fit switch to Intuition in that boot and the fit changes drastically. Otherwise I think the Vulcan is kind of similar. Maybe a bit lower volume. But generally, narrower lower volume heel with a bit of a wider forefoot. Def. a lower volume calf in the Vulcan. Good luck out there!

  17. Charlie October 15th, 2012 8:14 pm

    How many miles do you think you got out of the boots on dirt/scrambling?

  18. Lou Dawson October 15th, 2012 8:23 pm

    Regarding the ever-present problem of tech fitting equipped boots wearing too fast at the toe, the only solution I can see is that sole material in that area needs to be user replaceable. Anything else just won’t work. Make the material harder, and it’s too slippery. Thicker, no room for fittings to be in correct location. Of course Tech 2.0 will allow for thicker sole material (grin). Lou

  19. Robin October 15th, 2012 8:56 pm

    Nice review. Saw a skier weight in there; did I miss the boot weight? Thx.

  20. Louie Dawson October 15th, 2012 9:25 pm

    I ski a 27 in my Scarpa Maestrales (fairly snug performance fit). The size feels very similar to the 27 Vulcan on my feet, although the details of the fit is much different. In the past I have owned 28 Scarpas (a shell size up), for a warmer, more comfortable boot. My Garmont Radiums are a 28.

    I probably did about 50 miles of trail hiking down there. I also did quite a lot of scrambling (given the low snow year). There was also a lot of sharp, volcanic rock. However, I did feel like the soles wore down quite quickly. I’m fairly certain the soles are the same that are on the TLT 5, which are light. Unfortunately replaceable soles add a lot of weight and cost. Perhaps getting boots resoled will become a more popular option?

    I’m interested as well to see what the Mercuries will be like. I can envision them becoming quite popular, given their lower cost.

    Thanks for reminding me, I added the weight.

  21. d October 16th, 2012 3:05 am

    50 miles is a lot of snowless trail hiking in 35 days of use, so that sole wear can perhaps be be excused to some degree. Because on it’s own… those soles look terrible, as in $1000 boot deal-breaker bad.

  22. Gari October 16th, 2012 3:45 am

    Nice Review.
    Bad soles, history repeats, the same problem as in the Titan UltraLight, ZZeus,.. inadmissible in 1000$ boots.

    Regards

  23. rangerjake October 16th, 2012 5:57 am

    At least in the Titan UL, Zzeus, etc you can replace the sole. No brainer.

    An excuse about too much cost for replaceable soles (that ends up saving the consumer money in the long ruh) is weak in a $1000 boot with a full carbon cuff. This is not an economy boot.

    They got to keep the public wanting so someone will buy Vulcan II.

  24. gillesleskieur October 16th, 2012 8:28 am

    gr8 boot, I dont know anyone swaping soles anyway, save us some weight!

  25. RDE October 16th, 2012 9:25 am

    Fact of the matter is that human powered skiing is just too damn expensive compared to resort skiing!

    High end setup:
    Dynafit Vulcan Boots: $1,000
    DPS Wailer Skis: $1,249
    Tech bindings: $ 750
    ———
    $3,099

    Even the low end for a single ski quiver and tech binding/boot setup will push over $2,000. And try to find any real discount on pricing? Good luck. There really is no chance that prices will go down unless AT becomes so popular that it benefits from the economies of scale like resort or race gear.

    Compare that $2-3000 price tag to my actual resort hard snow set-up that is equally state of the art:
    Lange plug race boots new from Ebay. $189
    Head World Cup GS race room skis: racer price. $399
    Tyrolia din 18 race bindings from Line 7 sports. $179
    Season pass at Targhee. 165 days skiing. $349
    ——–
    $1116

    Of course this is not an apples to apples comparison. I’m not quantifying quality of experience, pleasure, esthetics, or environmental correctness—- just equipment and lift cost. And I do have a powder ski setup that gets as much use as the GS quiver. In a single season of lift skiing I’ll log as much vertical as a human powered skier will in a lifetime, so any way you cut it human power is way more expensive!

  26. Lee Lau October 16th, 2012 9:50 am

    gilles – sled-decks are going to destroy these soles

    RDE – someone’s going to point out that you don’t need the latest greatest high-end zoot to get out touring. Your prices are bling bling haute couture unobtainium on touring. A few wildsnow articles by Lou already on more dollar reasonable setups so I won’t belabour the point

  27. Louie Dawson October 16th, 2012 9:54 am

    But it’s so much more fun! :)

    All the AT gear in your comparo is full price, while all the alpine gear is heavily discounted. For many people it’s just the opposite.

    Around here, a adult season pass at Baker is $715, while Whistler is 1,795. Pricey!

    That being said, yeah, Vulcans are expensive.

    I didn’t think the sole wear was super unusual, definitely on the quicker side though. It’s similar to many other lighter boots. Rubber soles are a huge portion of a boots weight, and making a thinner, lower density one can save a ton of weight. I bet that there is just as much as weight saving from the light sole as there is from the carbon cuff.

    Yep, there was a lot of dirt hiking down there! Plus, walking on year-old lava flows is like walking on razor blades.

  28. Verbier61 October 16th, 2012 10:01 am

    In the final production the posts on the vulcan and mercury soles will likely NOT be in hard plastic, otherwise I am afraid dynafit will be at risk to infringe dalbello/plake patent (about the hard posts in the dalbello virus).
    The rubber sole can be successfully replaced … if 1) a replacement sole is provided by dynafit and 2) the bootfitter is skilled enough.
    I personally know very few bootfitters in the alps who can successfully replace AT boot soles.
    BTW, the new dalbello sherpa have black soles designed to be much more durable than previous green/orange and replaceable rubber toe and heels

  29. Joe October 16th, 2012 10:07 am

    I totally agree with the sentiment that its expensive, if you use web buys to price it out.

    Ski swaps, gear stores, and a guy named Craig is really your buddy here.

    I have bought, searched, and sold more stuff on the last site then I can imagine. Plus if your not near an area with many AT skiers http://www.searchtempest.com is your next ally. It allows database searching across the Craigslist, eBay, etc. platforms.

    We also figured out some recent deals here
    http://www.wildsnow.com/7862/budget-backcountry-ski-gear/

  30. adam October 16th, 2012 2:02 pm

    I don’t understand the obsession with very stiff AT boots I mean are folks going GS racing in the backcountry? I live in Utah and go backcountry skiing to ski the greatest snow on earth. If I want to ski on ice I’ll go to the resort.

    Personally I think it’s the marketing bs but to each is their own. A lot of folks want a boot, ski, and binding that is a master of all things and while perhaps technology is getting us closer to that. I have dedicated setups for the resort, resort powder days, and the backcountry and learn to accept the limitations of each setup.

    @RDE I got the equipment below all new on sale last season it’s a very light setup and great preformance too for a total of $1,300. Check it out I’m very happy with everything so far.
    Volie chargers ski $600
    Dyanfit TLT5 Moutains boots $450
    Dyanfit TLT ST Bindings $250

    I agree with you backcountry skiing is more expensive but it’s because of the additional safety equipment and snow safety classes.

  31. RDE October 16th, 2012 2:32 pm

    Hi Louie,
    Of course I was setting up a straw man argument! But here in the Tetons I rarely see AT gear that you would want that isn’t totally trashed or antique for sale at an affordable price. My race GS quiver is every bit the technical equivalent of the high end $3,000 AT setup I referenced, and everything was purchased new. The best GS ski in the world by far, arguably the best boot if you ignore the nice robin’s egg color (LOL), and a $400 set of bindings sold through a wholesaler for $179 because the manufacturer changed color to color coordinate with their marketing.

    If I could buy a new AT ski/tech binding/boot setup, even one devoid of unobtanium and weight levitation magic for $760 I’d do it in a minute! Meanwhile I’ll just have to hump a couple of extra pounds and use my powder boards with MFD plates.

    ps. When it comes to skiing, I take it where I find it–its all good. 60 mph SG turns down Raven at Whistler are every bit as fun as a powder run down Glory on Teton Pass. Horses for courses—.

    ps. Its always better to be lucky than smart! Looks like your Chilean summer hit all the right spots at the right time. Congratulations, and a nice job of writing about it and making all us homeboys jealous!

  32. Lou Dawson October 16th, 2012 3:10 pm

    Adam, thanks for sharing your excellent shopping success! Lou

  33. rangerjake October 16th, 2012 4:07 pm

    I wouldn’t consider the prices on the gear Adam got as anything but the exact opposite end of the ridiculous spectrum compared to the $800 tech bindings and DPS platinum/carbon skis with diamond edges.

    That being said their are infinite numbers of ways to get a great setup that can handle not demanding resort skiing and good BC skiing for easily around $1000-$1200. Tech bindings are the most expensive part. Don’t spend very much on skis. They get trashed anyway.

    Savvy shopping wins the day.

  34. adam October 16th, 2012 4:38 pm

    check out some gear swaps RDE a ton of great deals can be had… craigslist, ebay and google shopping for new gear are great tools to find great deals… I just searched dynafit bindings in google shopping and see some online shops already have them on sale! I agree with rangerjak a ski will get trashed I almost bought a 1000 ski but I’m glad i didn’t. If i could do again i might have tried to find a slighly used ski with some blemmishs for half the cost of new… plenty of those skis around after last season

  35. Fede October 17th, 2012 10:11 am

    Ciao!!,

    one small thing ( i don’t work at Dynafit anymore but I still love and know a lot about ski boots… so I might still give interesting info ) … those boots tested by Louie and Lee Lau are out of the first samples production run… nearly everythign has been changed into production boots!!!
    - Shell thickness
    - Cuff tichnkess
    - Locking parts, addition of steel plate in the carbon hole to improve precision and durability
    - Re-designed and improved top cuff buckle with added springs to keep it open
    - Totally re-designed liner
    - New outsole with hard rubber pads on not plastic to improve grip and durability.
    Said that a review on a final ski boot might had VERY different result. In skiability about 20% more performance and rigidity, durability etc as well… So when Luie said the Vulca he tested is very close to his full tilt expect the final prouduction to be more rigid and progressive!

    As regards the signs of wear… an info.
    stiff + light plastic = Nylon based materials
    Nylon = Scratching easier than PU or Pebax
    So … more an ahestetic compromise to reach that level of performance to take… but again it’s more ahestetic than functional. if you don’t look the boot will last same as a PU one…

    About the comment on the sole durabiltiy there are no more durable soles in the market on any touring boots with the Dynafit quick-step inserts!. The interaxes and thickness from the insert center and the bottom of the sole must be respected to make the binding works and that reduces the possible thickness and therefore durability of the rubber.
    Moreover the durability of a rubber sole on a Plastic shell boot CAN’T be compared with a normal trekking/mountaineering boot! Once the sole is glued to a stiff plastic shell and not on a softer pu or eva midsole the rubber, doesn’t matter from which brand it is, it tear and not abrade… that what makes it less durable. Valid for all rubber soled ski boots in the market!.

    Bye

    Fede

  36. Dan October 17th, 2012 10:35 am

    Fede, thanks for the timely and concise information.

  37. Mike October 17th, 2012 11:26 am

    Can anyone shed some light as to when these boots will be available to buy. I see them online a lot but none are in stock, even bent gate and mountain gear keep changing their shipping dates.

  38. Joe October 17th, 2012 11:42 am

    Thanks for the clarification Fede always value your insight with the dynafit brand.

  39. Lee Lau October 17th, 2012 11:48 am

    Mike- shipping to stores in late November

  40. Joe October 17th, 2012 12:42 pm

    Confirmed from a higher source:

    “Vulcan sizes 25 to 28.5. Expect them to be available to ship between 10/22 and 10/26.

    Mercury is in now and ready to ship….”

  41. Gari October 18th, 2012 1:58 am

    My Titan UL, 30 days of use, one seasson

    https://picasaweb.google.com/101491970155734592421/DynafitTitanUltralightSolesAndMore#

    Scarpa has some boots with Vibram sole and quick step in
    Dalvello sherpa too and compatible with dynafit bindings (no quick step in)
    and more brands…

  42. dmr October 18th, 2012 2:16 am

    Thanks for the great review, Louie.

    A question for you or anyone who has also skied the TLT5 (mountain or performance), how does it compare in stiffness / downhill performance?

    My alpine (resort) ski boots have been race/plug boots for the last 20 years (I ski a Head Raptor 130 currently) and in spite of all the hype, I’m still left unsatisfied with the supposed stiffness of the “freeride” AT boots (with a Dynafit TLT speed binding). I’m 5’3″, 140lbs (male), and easily overpower the current boot I ski (Skookum) when I so desire.

    Since I do a lot of ski-mountaineering (especially in the spring) my thought is to stop seeking what I’ll never find, and go light. I have friends who used to race at a high level that now swear by the TLT5 for all but the iciest, most sastrugi-ish conditions, so I was thinking of going down the TLT5 road, but a Vulcan might be a good compromise if the TLT5 really is too soft. The thought of moving from 1800g per boot to <1200g per boot is quite appealing.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

  43. Matt Funk October 18th, 2012 2:59 pm

    Hey Lou — may sound a bit off topic with a request for an older boot comparison, but, for those making a purchase decision through the traditional retail channels, this could be relevant: From most accounts, this sounds like a great boot — but is it twice as nice as the Skookum? I ask because Scarpa is currently selling this model for half as much as the Vulcan. From what I’m able to discern from reviews, they it appears they may be comparable downhill, but the Vulcan may trump uphill (though the Skookum is lighter) — but of course I’d like your opinion as you’ve skied both. Thanks!

  44. Louie October 18th, 2012 3:17 pm

    Unfortunately I haven’t skied the TLT 5 enough to really compare it to the Vulcans. From my limited the experience with the TLT 5 the Vulcans definitely ski better, how much I can’t really say. Lee has skied both.

    I think the Vulcan is lighter than the Skookum? I’d say it definitely walks better, and probably skis better as well. Although I haven’t skied the Skookum either.

  45. Louie October 18th, 2012 4:36 pm

    Fede, Thanks for the info. Very interesting!

  46. Lee Lau October 18th, 2012 7:22 pm

    Matt. I skied those boots you mentioned. You’ve given me no information about yourself or where or how you ski so I offer no comment in the absence of meaningful context

    dmr I skied the TLT5P and not the TLT5M so I couldn’t guess. I’m frankly astounded that a 140lb person could overpower Skookum so my input would probably be worthless since I found Skookum to be heck of a stiff boot.

  47. dmr October 19th, 2012 1:48 am

    Hi Louie and Lee,

    Thanks for your replies.

    Lee,

    Your input is not worthless! My intention wasn’t to be arrogant, (my apologies if you too it that way), just wanted to relay how I ski a given boot. Given that I ski stiff race boots when at the resort, I still have yet to find an AT boot that compares to the stiffness of my race boots.

    Thus my leaning towards ditching the heavy “not stiff enough for me” boots for something much lighter considering that I do a lot of ski mountaineering. I do, however, want to avoid getting a wet noodle.

    I know plenty of people who “dealt with” the F1 for years on the descent since it was so light on the ascent.

    Did you find the TLT5p to ski adequately, or does it perform just plain poorly on the descent when compared to the Vulcan/Maestrale/Cosmos/etc.

    Thanks!

  48. Lee Lau October 19th, 2012 10:35 am

    dmr – hazard of the keyboard – i wasn’t offended. What i mean is that you are probably an outlier being a 140lb guy who can overwhelm the Skookum. For me the Skookum was so stiff I had to ski with the touring tongue otherwise i lost all feel. That’s what I meant by my input being “worthless” ie my experiences are going to be very very different than your experiences. That’s important because my opinion is inherently subjective. It’s a worthwhile opinion in that I (and Lou and Louie have had significant time in many boots but that’s really about it)

    After getting all that out of the way I’ve got no experience with the Cosmos.

    I do a lot of ski mountaineeing too in the sense that i climb a lot of stuff on skis or boots and ski down. It’s a tough question since all of them have pluses and minuses

    Maestrale is least expensive but it’s the softest. Softer than Skookum with stiff tongue. Earlier versions had hardware falling out issues. That seems to be fixed in later production runs. Fix with lots of loctite; maybe even epoxy

    TLT5 is fragile and frankly I didnt like the way it skied (no feel) but many will disagree with me on that so my opinion might be controversial

    Vulcan is a pretty amazing accomplishment but like I said in my review started getting into the too much boot for me category – which leads me to think it might be the boot for you. Jury is out on durability. I’ve seen the way Louie bootpacks and skis; he pushes gear super hard so I can see how a boot would be worn after he punishes it.

    You didn’t mention Maestrale RS and it surprises me its so under the radar. The Wildsnow review I wrote has half the views/visits of the Vulcan yet IMO the Maestrale RS is probably say 90% as stiff as the Vulcan pre-production (don’t know how it stacks up to Vulcan production yet) but in a totally different ballpark. If I were you and wanted stiff yet light I’d go looking at Vulcan, Maestrale RS and possibly Mercury; which I haven’t skied yet but will check out.

    Sorry – i seem to have written a novel there but Internet boot selection isn’t easy

  49. dmr October 20th, 2012 2:13 am

    Hi Lee,

    Thanks for the detailed reply! Good food for thought.

    By ski mountaineering, I meant outings with crampons and an ice axe, scaling glacial faces – sometimes more of an ice route up one side of the mountain to ski down another side – scrambling on rock or mixed terrain, etc. I had Scarpa Denali’s for years before I switched to Skookums and in the rock scrambling category I thought both perform well (especially for such bulky boots).

    Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, thanks again for the feedback.

    Cheers.

  50. jim October 20th, 2012 10:45 am

    Are you out of your Vulcan mind!

  51. Ach wie gut November 12th, 2012 12:20 pm

    Gari, thanks for those photos. I have the red Titan TF-X and after 2 seasons my soles looked very similar. I thought it just had to do with me and ponied up some money for replacement soles, but I guess the culprit is the boot.

  52. Mike November 16th, 2012 8:01 pm

    Hey guys, I just got a Vulcan 28.5. After reading countless reviews I’ve decided to get a n intuition liner for my vulcans. Which liner do you think would be best? I was looking at the Pro Tour, I don’t want anything too stiff and I like the idea of being able to change the tongue as needed. Is that a recommended choice or should I go with a different model? By the way, is there a difference in the Scarpa models of liners or are they the same as the intuition models but with different names?
    Thanks

  53. Lee Lau November 17th, 2012 1:55 pm

    Mike

    I used a Luxury liner in my Vulcans. I’d imagine a Pro Tour would work fine too. The Scarpa liners usually have a few tweaks in foam thicknesses from the Intuitions but are otherwise functionally the same

  54. rangerjake November 17th, 2012 7:50 pm

    As well I used Intuitions when in the Vulcans I had last season. I started with Pro Tours, but found that there was just a little too much space in the toebox for my foot (mind you I was also in the sample 27 size,and should be a 26). So I added in the Power Tongue liner, with it’s thicker foam. Although I enjoyed the added stiffness from the “power” tongue and being able to ski a smooth, more progressive forward flex without the plastic insert tongues, the lack of flex points in the liner took away from the great touring ROM of the Vulcan. So my compromise was to take the stiff “power” tongue and use it with the pro tour.

    Worked fairly well. Would have been great with the proper 26 boot size.

    So Pro tours golden if you will be only skiing down with plastic tongues in. If you are without tongues, a stiff tongue/booster strap addition will yield a pretty damn versatile boot, imho.

  55. Matt December 2nd, 2012 9:14 pm

    Broke my Mercury’s on my very first run much the same way. Didn’t break the buckle right off but one of the arms snapped. Pretty sure I didn’t bang it on anything as the snow was nothing but soft. Rigged it up with a voile strap the same way and a zap strap on the buckle itself. They skied great though.

    But what now? Already shipped my Cosmos back for safety reasons and now I’ve broken my Mercury’s. Time for Scarpa Maestrale?
    How is Dynafit going to fix this?
    Seems like they have over engineered an issue that didn’t need fixing.

  56. Geir Berg December 5th, 2012 3:28 am

    Hi guys, I’m about to purchase the Vulcan boot. But I’m in between sizes. No shops in my area fysically have the Vulcans, so I have to order over the internet. My longest foot is 265 mm, which is mondo size 26,5. I have tried the One Px shoe in size 27, I guess the Vulcans fit/size would be similar. They felt very comfortable, but I’ve heard that you should trust your mondo size and the liners will adapt.

    Any opinions? Should I go for the 26,5, my mondo size?

    Thanks

  57. Lou Dawson December 5th, 2012 7:09 am

    Geir, usually you’d try the mondo size first, with good boot fitting techniques. Anyone mail ordering boots should be willing to cross-ship a few times to get it right. Or better, just order both sizes and return the ones that don’t fit. With something this expensive and critical to your skiing experience, a bit of fiddling with shipping and credit card returns is reasonable.

  58. Lou Dawson December 5th, 2012 7:12 am

    Geir, usually you’d try the mondo size first, with good boot fitting techniques. But at the same time you want to evaluate the shell size breaks. If both your size choices fall in the same shell size, depending on our foot volume and type of use you might pick the longer or shorter liner. For example, if you get cold feet you’d use the longest liner that fits in the shell so your toes would have more room. Along with that, anyone mail ordering boots should be willing to cross-ship a few times to get it right. Or better, just order both sizes and return the ones that don’t fit. With something this expensive and critical to your skiing experience, a bit of fiddling with shipping and credit card returns is reasonable.

    On the other hand, are you sure you can’t just work with a shop and pay a tiny bit more money, but get their boot fitting services and so forth?

  59. Geir Berg December 5th, 2012 12:02 pm

    Thanks Lou.
    I just had another try, and I’m not sure about the Vulcans. Size 26,5 felt a bit small, could only get one finger behind the heel with my foot in the shell. I’ve been skiing telemark for several years and loved my Scarpa T1s. Tried the new T1 today at the shop and size 26,5 felt just spot on. So assuming that the Scarpa randonee boots has a similar fit I’ll go for the Maestrale RS.

  60. Matt January 11th, 2013 7:15 am

    Guys,
    Just picked up a 285 vulcan and took it up the milk. Walk mode is great, flex is stiff but unnatural, just locked out, not progressive like a true overlap.
    Anyway, i need to punch for 6th room.
    Anything i should be conserned about? Hot water vs heat gun? Should i grind it first?
    And you know anyone who carries intuitions in the valley to try on?
    Thanks

  61. Denis January 31st, 2013 6:59 pm

    I recently picked up a pair of the Vulcans- I weigh 145lbs and wouldn’t classify myself as aggressive but I’m reasonably capable. I might have chosen the Mercury but couldn’t get them in time for a trip. The boots are billed as very stiff- maybe too stiff- but I found them to be very nice and I liked them a lot. They feel quick and precise edge to edge – especially in chopped conditions and are quite comfortable- especially compared to my previous ill fit Radiums. I wear a 10.5-11.0 street and the 28s fit well.

    They are light and easy to walk/hike up in – Im not a huge fan of the top buckle walk mode lever – seems like a lot of leverage each time I open and close it- – hopefully mine wont break. The only other downside is the price- but I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

  62. Lee Lau January 31st, 2013 7:01 pm

    Denis,

    The top buckle should be easy to close – UNLESS – you’re a gorilla and trying to jam it closed even when the black portion of the cuff where the buckle is seated are jamming on each other. You wouldn;t do that would you? Just a headsup

  63. Vincent March 9th, 2013 12:46 pm

    If I can get the Vulcan and Mercury for virtually the same price, could there be a reason to still go with the Mercury? I was very happy with my Titan ULs, but they got lost…

  64. Lou Dawson March 9th, 2013 1:43 pm

    Vincent, myself, I’d get the Merc because the Vulcan is too stiff for me. But that’s just me and that’s my only feedback on your dilemma.

  65. Boll March 10th, 2013 4:46 am

    Vinent – From my POV (220lbs) and liking, a boot can’t be too stiff laterally. And if you want a soft super progressive forward flex – ski the vulcans without the tongue. Then you have a boot that IMO flexes a ton smoother (not the folding as the case is, for me, with the mercs) and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of ‘assembling’ the damn things on top – and you save some weight.
    And I truly like to be able to have a stiff nice boot with tongues on shorter tours – and a lighter smoother boot without additional tongues on longer trips.
    But, as mentioned.. I’m quite heavy.

  66. Lou Dawson March 10th, 2013 8:25 am

    Boll, you bring up an excellent point. All this yammering about how “stiff” boots are is much predicated on the weight and aggression (and type of use) of the user. For me, being a mellow skier who is skinny and light and only 5′ 10″ tall, a boot can feel too stiff. But I have total understanding that same boot can feel too soft for someone else. Another lesson I’ve learned is that my super minimalist boots (TLT5-P without tongue) can be fun for almost all the tours I choose, but sometimes they have their limit and I’ve embarrassed myself when getting out with other skiers on beefier gear on harsher terrain. The new Dynafit “Six Shooter” TKT6 will be a much better boot than the 5, as it’ll automatically have more beef due to elimination of the metatarsal flex. But it’ll still be minimalist. Vulcan is amazing in terms of how it combines beef with a flexy walk mode and lack of weight. Just amazing. I get accused of “Dynafit bias” by industry folks when I say stuff like this, but they know in their hearts I’m only looking at reality (grin). Lou

  67. Vincent March 10th, 2013 11:50 am

    Thanks. As I’m around 175lbs I guess I’ll be fine with both. I was happy with the beefiness of the titan UL for a touring boot, so if both ski at least as well and will walk a lot better I’ll be happy. But let’s hope the airline will find my boots back this week…
    Actually, yesterday I was on a pair of Garmont Radium rentals. I was ok with the skiing, but the ROM for walking was very limited compared to Titans and the Dynafit inserts work like a charm when getting into the bindings. I never noticed this up untill now, but the combination of the radical binding with Dynafit inserts really makes one consider if one wants other inserts as the Dynafit ones. Does Scarpa use the Dynafit inserts?

  68. Old fat shredder November 4th, 2013 3:27 am

    Resseurecting an old thread here . . . So who’s been skiing these without the toe buckle or power strap? The toe buckle seems almost pointless in my carpet testing and the cuff seems plenty stiff without the powerstrap and i really dont like fiddling with them. Also has anyone trimmed the removable tongue down a bit to soften things up a bit, maybe make the flex a bit more progressive as well as save weight, or maybe drill some holes on the tongue? Gain a bit of ROM while touring with the tongues in? I love the walk mode on these boots, but would rather not fiddle with tongues while touring. Just make the decision to tour with them all day or leave them at home if im doing mellow stuff.
    Cheers!

  69. Lou Dawson November 4th, 2013 6:34 am

    Shredder, what I’d suggest is totally detune, and ski at least 10 days in that configuration. Remove power straps, lower buckle, and ski without the add-on tongue. See what you think and report back. That’s how I run my TLT6 and TLT5 (without tongue and without strap), though I’m thinking of using power straps again, as they are such a good solution to problems I have with liner fit on my skinny lower legs. I do hate the hassle of the power straps, however. Always tangling up, with the velcro sticking to stuff. I’ve always wondered how it would work to just have another buckle instead of the power strap. I mean, what’s the big deal with velcro? Who said it’s a law that we have to use power straps instead of a buckle?

  70. O. F. Shredder November 4th, 2013 2:14 pm

    Thank you sir. . .
    Beta testing commencing. Im actually pretty much ok with the ROM while touring as well as stiffness for down but want to dial it up a bit is all plus reduce fiddle factor. What about running the power strap on the inside of boot pr even attaching it directly to rhe liner to snug the upper portion of liner up but keeping it from impinging the shell while touring?

  71. Andrew January 8th, 2014 1:42 pm

    Interesting to see your cuff buckle broke. After 100 days of use, I experienced the same problem. Dynafit Warranty returned my enquiry stating they have an “inventory issue with the part” – seems I’m not the only one with 1 yr old Vulcans experiencing broken cuff buckles. I like your fix – I duct taped the buckle into place (was resort skiing, so transition to walk wasn’t an issue)

  72. Boll January 8th, 2014 2:11 pm

    Andrew – Same thing happened to me. And luckily I had these pics in mind and used a strap to keep the things together like pictured above.
    Since then I’ve never travelled without one spare for each boot (which i acquired in Sweden last winter). But…. Since that day I became aware of how important it is to “loosen” the wire in the buckle so the buckle can “click” into its touring position. And I haven’t had to use my spares.

    So I’m curious… Did your buckle break in walk or ski mode?

  73. Andrew January 8th, 2014 7:09 pm

    Broke the same way as Lou, while leveraging the buckle to lock into ski.

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