Guest Blog at — Setting Up a Dynafit Fitness Rig

Post by blogger | March 26, 2008      

By Scott Nelson

Having stumbled across a couple of years ago, I got hooked on Lou’s daily dose of information and stories. Having never been a backcountry skier and totally unfamiliar with AT/rando gear, it would seem that I didn’t fit in.

But what kept bringing me back was his talk of super lightweight backcountry skiing gear such as we cover here at WildSnow. I’ve really become addicted to the fitness side of the randonnee style. I love going up. But for the last several years I’ve done it on tele gear which has been restrictive, heavy, and inefficient.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
My new rig. It works.

Even with the newer tele tour pivots ( I use the BD 01), it still seemed like something was missing. After surviving the 24 hours of Sunlight this year ( I did it on two different tele setups: BD 01 and some old G3 Targas with NO tour pivot, which was miserable to say the least) I decided that enough was enough and I needed something different, something much more efficient, something that made me look forward to going up for another lap.

After looking through some links here on, I decided to put my tele pride aside and lighten the load with some new Dynafit Vertical ST’s, Scarpa F1’s and K2 Sahales.

Now, I’ve been a dedicated telemarker for about the last ten years. I love it. And always will, but after about 30 seconds on the new rando gear, I’m sold. It was like the light came on, and a voice in my head screamed, “Why did you wait so long?!”

The Dynafits are everything everyone said they were. Super light, super efficient, super comfortable, super easy to use. There is no comparison between the way the Dynafits climb versus how a touring tele binding climbs ( at least my tele bindings). I feel like I’m walking, not pushing my skis uphill. That translates into more energy and less fatigue for me, which is a good thing. Heck, you can even sort of run in these things if you want to. I’ts more like a classic cross country skiing motion. Super efficient.

(To anyone who wonders: I picked the ST instead of the slightly lighter TLT because it’s more versatile and could be moved to a more backcountry oriented setup in the future. Not that the TLT doesn’t work, but the ST is just a more state-of-art Dynafit.)

Mounting Dynafits on my new planks was pretty easy as well. I just followed Lou’s article (see menu above) about how to mount the Dynafits, and all went well. At first it seemed like I was reading a tome or something, but he’s got it dialed and all that sometimes tedious information is necessary to cover various things about the mounting process. Thanks Lou !

I debated back and forth about boots, and decided that I wanted the lightest boot I could get, and it seemed that the F1’s were really popular with uphillers and rando racers.

My primary focus right now is on pure fitness uphilling, lap after lap. I love climbing and I wasn’t as worried about the downhill as much, so the Scarpa F1 seemed like the perfect choice. I was lucky in that the F1 fit me fit really well ( I have medium high arches, and the F1 seems to have an arch built into its shell, which works really well for me). So, they’re very comfortable. I followed WildSnow advice on fitting the thermoliners, and it worked out great. A little snug, but they’ll pack out soon enough.

The F1’s are super comfortable and very lightweight. Great combo. I’ve never been so comfortable climbing up. And coming down, the F1’s were plenty stiff for me I’m about 160 lbs and I ski fairly aggressively) on the packed powder I was on. So two thumbs up for the F1, at least for my purposes.

It is definitely a little stressful buying skis over the internet without having demoed them first. I didn’t want to shell out the dough for the Ski Trabs that many people seem to use. So I tried to find a value priced ski that would seem to work well for my purposes. k2’s Sahale seemed to be just what I was looking for. It’s fairly narrow, about 70mm at the waist, and pretty lightweight at around 1100g per ski. Being 160 lbs. I was a little worried about skiing on a 160cm ski, but they are great !

Skiing some late afternoon spring softpack on moderate steeps (around 30 -35 degrees), with some patches of icy hardpack thrown in, the Sahales were as good as expected to be. I had no problems making short or long radius arcing turns. They have good edgehold and they’re pretty stable -l at least to a point. Straightlining at speed is not their forte, but I could crank along within reason.

The uphill is were my K2s really made me smile. Skinning up fairly steep stuff (again around 30-35 degrees) or skinning the flats they were great, even did well on some off camber stuff. I’m really happy with the Sahale. But apparently, K2 stopped making them. Yet you can still find a few in some of the more obscure corners of the internet. For doing laps, they’re almost ideal for me.

So that’s my newbie perspective. I have no regrets about the Dynafits and the Scarpa F1, nor the K2 Sahales. Everything is perfect for my needs, and has made life way easier when climbing up, transitioning and then coming back down. I look forward to another lap, and another, and another.

Dynafits rule for this genre — a truly great design. Simple, efficient and ultralight. Just what I was looking for. And I must say that I owe a lot of appreciation to Lou for all the information, how-tos and enthusiasm he shares about his passion for backcountry skiing. Thanks Lou!

Shop for lightweight Dynafit, Scarpa, K2 AT gear here.


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30 Responses to “Guest Blog at — Setting Up a Dynafit Fitness Rig”

  1. Dongshow March 26th, 2008 1:30 pm

    Loved the blog Scott. I agree fully on your comment about buying skis online. I bought a pair of Atomic Thugs that way earlier this ear and was super nervous, half expecting to spend the season on my 190 atomic powder pluses. but it all worked out. Although I use Fritschis, not dynafits i’ve been heavily considering getting a setup. I’m also actually switching to AT boots today. So yea, couldn’t agree more with the general sentiment of this blog. Thanks!

    PS any suggestions for AT boots for someone with extremely wide feet?

  2. Bill Bollinger March 26th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Nice blog Scott, but you have to keep quiet about this.
    I do not want my friends to know why I can keep up with them
    in the skin track.

  3. Scott Nelson March 26th, 2008 4:54 pm

    Thanks guys. Dongshow, I too have fairly wide feet (and a narrow heel), a D to EE, not extremely wide, but the Scarpa F1’s fit me really well, I could have used a more substantial toe cap when I was thermo-molding the liners to get some more room, and maybe sized up a half-size in the boot, if that makes a difference. At any rate, the set up blows my other gear out of the water on the uphills, even though I have to settle for locked heels on the way down, which isn’t so bad, it saves energy anyways.
    Bill, I go by people so fast now, that they don’t even have the chance to see what gear I’m using anyhow. Just kidding. Just glad for Lou’s and everyone’s input on this site, it really helped me make a great decision. So thanks you guys!

  4. Fernando March 26th, 2008 8:54 pm

    @Dongshow: my feet are wide at the front, pretty narrow around the heel. Boot fit has been a problem for me. Most recently, I have been on Garmont Adrenalins, which needed some hard foam glued to the liner around the heel to reduce volume there to work well. I wanted to switch to a Dynafit setup, and Mike at the Backcountry in Truckee suggested Dynafits Zzero 4, which according to him have the biggest internal volume. After forming the liners with my custom footbeds and reforming a day later with additional padding to remove pressure on a couple of hot spots, I have a very good fit. The Zzero 4 Carbon are expensive, but worth it: very stiff laterally, light, with an even forward flex. With Vertical ST bindings, the connection between foot and ski is extremely solid and natural, and as others said, the uphill motion is incredibly smooth.

  5. Andrew F. McLean March 27th, 2008 9:20 am

    Hi Scott,

    I have the exact same set-up (down to the Rally’s, which are really Sahales) and share your enthusiasm for it. It flys uphill and works well on the descents.

  6. Terry E March 27th, 2008 2:17 pm

    Nice writeup Scott! I started AT skiing just this season after being on teles for a number of years. Got the Dynafit ZZero 4 carbons as they were the only boots wide enough to comfortably accomodate my wide feet. I think if you’d been on free pivot telebindings you wouldn’t notice a huge difference in climbing on Dynafits. I have G3 Ascents, which are awesome. What I mostly notice on AT is the huge increase in stability vs. being on tele. Its almost too easy in comparison, now that my heels lock down. Much safer for no fall zone skiing!

  7. Scott Nelson March 27th, 2008 4:34 pm

    I thought I read somewhere that the Sahale/Rally was designed by Andrew. Once I saw that, I figured it’d be a safe choice 🙂

    I thought about the G3 Ascents. I use the BD 01’s now, and some G3 Targas without the pivot. They’re different from each other but I like them both for skiing. But for uphilling (doing laps) I like the Dynafits a lot more. Just more fluid, natural, lighter, and comfortable (and the F1 definetly helps with that too) in my opinion. I agree that it is nice to click the heel in for a change. Though its comical how many times that I’ve tried to lift my heel when going into a turn. Glad no one was around for those moments.

  8. Andy Moore March 27th, 2008 9:56 pm

    I have both the O1s and the G3 Ascents (as well as Dynafits ;-), and the Ascents have their pivot point a bit farther back than the O1, lending the Ascents a nicer, more natural stride, a la the Dynafit.

  9. sherryb March 30th, 2008 2:57 pm

    OK, I’ve been a tele-er for 4 years now but I decided an AT setup might come in handy for certain secret missions. I skied a Fritschi setup in area 2 days last week and then took a Dynafit setup on the Commando Run yesterday. I agree that it was more stable in the tight trees on spring ice and for variable snow. That was a long time to be in a foreign pair of boots the first time!

    I found all the fiddling with levers and twisting heel pieces and boot buckle changes to be tedious and time consuming and after several hours I really started to miss my freedom on those little places where it’s flat for short distances or ever so slightly uphill for a few steps. Not long after that I started really, really was missing the range of motion I have in my stance on the teles. Tall turns, low turns, mix it up = reduction in leg fatigue for me. I guess it’s just what you get used to. THEN there was the skating on Mill Creek Road out of Mushroom Bowl. Much easier on teles. I guess I could see the benefit for my secret missions but for a rolling tour I’ll stick with free heels. I think some of you are probably familiar with the Commando so you have some basis for comments.

    The one mistake I made was trying the Scarpa TX NTN boots for this purpose. They feel good going downhill (me being used to softer or only mid-stiff boots) but they were way too tall and with too much dedicated forward lean to be efficient or comfortable. Well, so much for trying to go a tele/AT boot all in one! I haven’t given up on the idea on an AT setup, I just need to get the right touring boot. Forget the tele crossover, I’ll stay with duckbills. Who tours with an AT Scarpa that they really like?

    By the way, my rig was the new Dynafit FT 10.0 with TLTs and those cool dedicated Dynafit skins that fit into the tip notch. Great grip, super convenient and very light and packable in my jacket! I know I can go lighter if I want to spend the money but this rig matched my lightest tele touring setup at exactly 10 lbs.

  10. James Foulks March 30th, 2008 4:27 pm

    In answer to who tours with an AT Scarpa…that would be me. Granted, the fit a Scarpa provides is not for everyone…but can’t we say that for every other boot out there? I’ve been riding Scarpa’s for the first time this year and have 21 days on them so far. I’ve been on the Spirit 4’s with the black toungue and loving every minute of them…both up and down. It goes without saying…to love a Scarpa AT, you gots to have high arches and appreciate a lot of toe room. If your feet fit this format (like mine), you are in hog heaven. I gotta say, this is the first time I’ve ever felt comforatble in a boot inside of 7 days skiing in them. I could go on and on….but bottom line: for the first time this season, I tried on every brand in every size range for me. This was extremely trying given I had to do this mail-order and put the credit card/refund/postal rate tolerance threshold to the test. However, the work paid off and I finally figured out my feet. Given that I have been skiing for the past 15 years, i could shoot myself in the feet for not doing this sooner….a few seasons ago, this would have felt better than the fit my boot selection that season had provided me.

  11. Lou March 31st, 2008 10:34 am

    James, that’s what it takes, good on you for going the distance and really figuring out what boot works. Shell fit can sometimes be compensated for with fitting and liner molding, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to start with the best shell for your feet.

  12. sherryb March 31st, 2008 3:55 pm

    Thanks for the input on your Spirit 4’s, James. I have just finished perusing the line of AT boots from Scarpa. I do have a “Scarpa” foot. I currently tele in-area in T1s. Does anyone out there tour in the F1 or F3? I like that feature of being able to undo the ski mode lever and the cuff comes loose. That would take care of some of the fiddling that I find annoying. Maybe one of the issues for those really light AT boots is … how much ski can it push? Probably anything that one would consider using for fast and light touring for turns? Yes?

  13. Lou March 31st, 2008 11:25 pm

    Sherry, the light AT boots will indeed work fine with any ski one would pick for fast and light touring. Beyond gear, what seems to work best with such boots is a less aggressive downhill skiing style. That doesn’t mean you can’t ski fast or steep with them, just that you do it differently.

  14. sherryb April 1st, 2008 11:28 pm

    Thanks, Lou, for taking the time for that reply on your trip. I think I would like to try that really light stuff but I have to find a way to demo it first. No one in my area demos F1s or F2s but maybe I can do it off the net from or something. Great!

  15. Lou April 1st, 2008 11:44 pm

    Sherry, yes, demo is the way to go. If the shops can’t help you with that, than it’s one more nail in their coffin and another reason to just bypass them and go mail order for hard goods while they convert to being clothing outlets.

    As for the Dynafiddle factor, it indeed exists and you have to figure out if the trade off is worth it. Using an AT binding of any sort for a tour with a lot of flat sections can be tedious (as is a monster tele setup as well). As for the rotation of the Dynafit heel unit and locking/unlocking the tour latch on the toe, once you practice that stuff it goes quite smooth. Key to have someone show you how it’s done.

    Beyond all that, systems such as Dynafit are very sophisticated and require focus and athletic ability to use. They’re not for everyone, but if you take the time to get it wired the benefits are enormous.

  16. Scott Nelson April 2nd, 2008 9:43 am

    Having put in some mileage in the last few weeks in the F1 (flat to real low angle touring to steep skinning in powder and groomed) the boot has worked great. Granted, it fits me really well (wide forefoot, med high arches and narrow heel) which is crucial, and I found that it fits pretty true to size. I wear a 9 US, or a 27 Mondo. I’ve skiied it down in hardpack/ softpack groomers, spring slush and about a foot of pow yesterday, again low angle to fairly steep. My AT setup (see above) is a little weird for me in the powder and choppy conditions, but I think that’s more due to the ski and probably just me getting used to having my heels locked down again, and maybe due to the F1 not having more forward lean (which I think you can adjust a little),so I feel like I’m standing a bit more upright. But the F1’s seem plenty stiff for my tastes (and again I bought them primarily for uphill/downhill laps, like spending most of a day doing that sort of thing).
    As far as the Dynafit bindings, yeah there’s definetly a bit of a learning curve, but I couldn’t imagine using anything else for what I do. Its worth the effort to figure them out, which really doesn’t take long at all. And I’ve pushed them fairly hard to see how they do on the way down, and they’re fine. As many others on this blog would probably attest to who ski them harder than me.
    I debated for a long time to even get AT gear, particularly, which boot to get. Once I decided what I wanted them for, it was an easy decision. I’m glad I did a little research and asked others, like Lou, what they thought. But its just like anything else, there’s just not one setup for all conditions. Yet what I have now seems to works in most.

  17. sherryb April 5th, 2008 11:16 am

    Thanks for all the binding/boot input! I do indeed think it’s worth the time to figure out the “Dynafiddle” factor. (I like that, Lou. I got a good laugh out of that.) I think one more way to get past the AT fiddle is to get a ski with a waxless, patterned base like the Karhu Guide, which I have for a fast tele-tour rig. However, I would like a slightly fatter ski for my intended AT missions. Those slippery flat and slightly uphill sections would disappear; no skins required. Are you getting the feeling I don’t like to skin on long, flat approaches? Too slow. With Karhu and Fischer setting the trends on waxless bases maybe a big ski will come out next season along those lines. Karhu, are you listening? I have the time to wait.

  18. Lou April 5th, 2008 6:41 pm

    Sherry, for the long flats just get some 100% mohair skins, straight not cut to shape of ski, apply skin wax and you’ll be amazed at the glide. They’re light, so they can be carried in addition to the beefy nylon skins. I even have some mohairs I cut to about 2 inches wide. They’re a bit tricky but the slide very nicely on the flats.

  19. wick April 6th, 2008 9:24 am

    Lou – While you were out in Austria, you may have missed the gear choice of the top three mens team in the Elk Mtn. Grand Traverse (a relatively flat 40 mi+ race/tour from CB to Aspen for those not aware…). They all had (finally!) Dynafits and Scarpa F1’s with relatively short 160-165cm skis. (The last 10 editions have been won on Nordic racing gear even though there is substantial BC terrain) Most of the low angle uphills we use the 2″ wide skins you described, and tend to not lock our heels down for the low angle DH’s thus making transitions quick for the next uphill. You can also kick wax and/or “skate ski” this set up quite well for a race as such. I think we’ll see more and more of these set ups at next year’s race. This race is so much more enjoyable with it, as the Euros have known for some time already.

  20. Lou April 6th, 2008 9:43 am

    Hi Wick, I’ve always wondered if that kind of gear would work. Don’t you get dropped by the skaters during the first part of the race? Or can you skate that setup good enough to keep up?

  21. wick April 6th, 2008 10:25 am

    Lou, at the 9 hour pace (for the top teams) “skate skiing” in this gear is not a problem. The equipment allows for plenty of ankle articulation (heel locked and F1 boot locked) with a slightly looser top buckle (no velcro strap) position. Keep in mind we don’t use the stock tongue for these races. Once the full carbon boot versions the European cobblers are making already get over here, the gear will finally be lighter than comperable Nordork gear for this race. Even as is, it’s finally the way to go!

  22. Lou April 6th, 2008 11:52 am

    Wow Wick, that’s really quite the development in my opinion.

  23. wick April 6th, 2008 2:36 pm

    I guess the big message is, if it can win this mostly low angle slog of a race, why would anyone buy NNN BC or SNS BC gear to do low angle valley tours? (OK maybe its a little more $$ but way more versitle). It can obviously do justice in the BC or fitness training on the ski area hike as well. I know of a lot of folks in the CB area are trading in their old gear for this stuff.

  24. Derik April 7th, 2008 7:50 am


    Way to go on the Traverse. I saw your finishing spot and figured you guys were on F1s, but the other teams as well? Sweet.

    Any chance you could provide a race report? Also, anyone race the JHole rando race willing to write up a report with results?
    I am needing to read some coverage. Its been a tough year with a little rando racer coming any minute and having a job where I’ve worked most weekends lately. Not much competition for me. Maybe next year will be better.


  25. Lou April 7th, 2008 8:54 am

    Wick, my thoughts exactly. Only downside of using the F1/Dynafit system is it requires more skill to use the binding, and that’s an issue with some folks. But they can use NNN BC if they want…

    I heard a rumor that another company might be coming out with an F1 type rando race boot. That’ll sweeten things up even more!

  26. Derik April 7th, 2008 9:03 am

    Never mine on the report Wick. I found it. Good show!

  27. wick April 7th, 2008 9:40 am

    If anyone wants to see how the battle went down at this years Elk Mountain Grand Traverse….here is how I saw it unfold for the men’s teams….UGH!

    Ski Fast

  28. Scott Nelson April 7th, 2008 6:08 pm

    Wick – Thanks for the write up on the EMGT. Someday I’d like to try to survive that. Just curious, what skis did you use?

  29. wick April 8th, 2008 8:56 am

    Scott – I used Atomic – Tour Race’s 160cm, 820 gr. per ski with Dynafit Low Techs.

  30. Scott Nelson April 8th, 2008 6:27 pm

    Sheez… that’s light ! Can you get those in the U.S. ?

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