Dynafit PDG, A Good Boot for the Grand Teton


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 14, 2013      

Steve Dilk

Dynafit PDG

Dynafit PDG alpine touring boot, on the quest.

Alarmingly, the snow was heavy and violent. Walls of white crashed down in front of us like froth of large breaking ocean waves — the type I always turtle under. This was not the weather we expected with June just around the corner.

A large snowstorm had dumped several feet of snow over the Grand Tetons. My partner Doug and I watched an avalanche pour off the cliff and dump into the small couloir we had wanted to descend, canceling our summit plans for several days. After aborting, our respect for the Grand grew. Our plan for a one-day car-to-car ascent gave way to a staged effort with the added delight of winter camping.

Camp

Spring camp on the Grand.

Despite this change of plans, I did not alter my boot choice to get up and down the mountain safely. I trusted my feet in a pair of Dynafit PDG which, along with a free hat, were the perks for putting in hours of unpaid work at Cripple Creek Backcountry, a ski mountaineering store in Carbondale, Colorado. These boots are everything I want in a ski-mountaineering boot: they are light, durable, comfortable (I have narrow feet), and stiff enough that I feel solid in terrible snow and mountain conditions. In fact, they induced so much confidence, that while ascending the peak, I did not put on crampons. Even during the technical mixed climbing sections of the route my toe placements felt solid.

Climbing in the PDG.

Sure footing is nice in a place like this.

Grand Teton marker

The summmit, 13,775 feet!

The boot has a rocker rubber sole, the full range of motion of my natural ankle, and felt lighter than my mountaineering boots (that stayed in the car throughout our month long trip). Thankfully it was spring and relatively warm. Cold feet had been my main concern about using a boot with an ultra lite liner and a cuff that only partially encases it.

It is a testament to the boot’s “ski ability” that someone like myself, a mediocre skier at best, felt secure during the descent off the mountain. With only two buckles, and weighing nearly nothing, you may think the PDG Dynafit boot is in the ski-mo “Race” category. But my positive experiences with this boot — climbing over technical ground on several mountains, as well as successfully and even sometimes joyfully descending down them, have convinced me that this is terrific all around ski-mountaineering footwear.

I have little doubt that I will return to the Tetons. My feelings about the place echo those of professional climber, skier, and photographer Jimmy Chin when he said, “I always treasure coming back to Grand Teton National Park. I still think it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.”

My journal is full of objectives for the area: climbing the North Face of the Grand, skiing the Apocalypse Couloirs, skiing Teewinot. I am not sure which, if any, I will accomplish, but I do know which ski boots I will be taking for light and fast efforts in this awesome range.

If your local shop doesn’t have a pair, find Dynafit PDG boots here.

(Having grown up in upstate New York, guest blogger Steve Dilk considers the worst conditions in Colorado to be manna from heaven. What he may lack in skill and style, he makes up for in enthusiasm. When not working, skiing or climbing, you’ll find him moonlighting at Cripple Creek Backcountry in Carbondale, CO.)



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Comments

41 Responses to “Dynafit PDG, A Good Boot for the Grand Teton”

  1. Carl November 14th, 2013 9:49 am

    Wish Dynafit would make them in a 30.5! Perhaps with the One/Mercury last width too? Probably too much to ask.

  2. Will November 14th, 2013 10:42 am

    I love the PDG and now use it for all backcountry touring. The skiability is pretty good and you’ll do twice as much of it compared to the big boot crowd slogging up the same hills. And its not just the lightweight aspect. Most of the performance comes from the free ankle and relaxed normal hiking posture you can achieve. Big boots make you lurch with every step and that saps energy.

  3. Tony Bob November 14th, 2013 10:44 am

    Nice write up but I have to disagree heavilly on the durability of the PDG. My own pair lasted a whopping 3 days. Two of those days were at the ski area skinning and riding lifts. The third day was an easy jaunt up and down with nothing technical or too rough. The soles chunked out rapidly leaving whole lugs on the trail and leaving me on my butt frequently. Dynafit responded saying it was excessive wear due to un-intended use. The folks at the shop where I bought them told me “it’s not a hiking boot”.
    Compare this performance with that my old F1’s. They didn’t ski nearly as nice, but they lasted for years of hiking, rock scrambling, and generally rough treatment.
    Dynafit has no infrastructure in place to repair or replace these soles in NA. From my coorespondance with them, they seem to have no inclination to do so either.
    Bottom line, not if, but when the soles die on you, these boots can become a significant hazard in the alpine environment. I strongly recommend NOT purchasing these boots until Dynafit can get both their materials and support network in order.

    Tony

  4. LC November 14th, 2013 11:11 am

    Tony, I have PDGs that I’ve used extensively for the last couple years with no issues and I’ve done a fair amount of walking/scrambling in them. Maybe your sole is just a bad batch of rubber?

    Also, I’ve had really good luck with local cobblers resoling other boots/shoes with vibram rubber.

  5. Burnsie November 14th, 2013 11:49 am

    OK, since this is fresh, involves boots, and since the Scarpa F1 was mentioned in comments…I want to add a sidebar: I notice on the Scarpa website that the “military” version of the F3, the Defender, has appeared for a price cheaper then dirt – and in a Canada Jay grey color, very subtle. Anyone have any experience with this wee beastie? I am wondering about hike-ability and durability of this sub 6-1/2lb/pair boot, also its flex/stiffness. Looks like it sports a traditional, non-Intuition liner (though the Technologies tab on the Scarpa site sports the Intuition logo). Mark Lengal has this boot up on the TelemarkTechSystem website, so I presume it is TTS compatable (though looks to not be NTN compatible viz a viz sole design). Some comments on the web “suggest” that this may be a blister generator of a boot, though none of the commentators had actually skied/hiked with it. Any takers?

  6. Bill B November 14th, 2013 12:55 pm

    I had the same issue with sole rubber on some Evos.
    3 hrs of hiking
    Dynafit’s response was shocking.
    Fortunately the retailer hounded Dynafit for some replacement
    rubber and got some,Had them resoled.
    The rubber was labeled ” skywalk”
    I now have me dream boot.
    I do not know if it was a bad batch of rubber or a run
    of racing rubber meant for top rando racing athletes.
    The new rubber is good.
    I did find it binding on my toe frame and ground it down.
    It would actually cause the toe to open when not locked and the heel drop to the ski.
    Might be something to check to avoid unintentional release.
    Pieces of plastic under the lower buckle cords have also helped
    limit indenting the liner.

  7. jerimy November 14th, 2013 1:32 pm

    The EVO/PDG sole looks exactly the same as the TLT5 sole except for the aforementioned “Skywalk” label. I thought they would perform exactly the same. However, it is a different rubber and depending on what version (EVO Race or EVO Race 2) of the rubber is on your boot you will likely have durability issues with the older rubber. I’m not sure if they switched rubber at the same time they went to the full sole to meet ISMF boot regs? That could be a clue as to what version of the rubber you have.

  8. Bill B November 14th, 2013 5:55 pm

    To be clear
    The replacement rubber was “skywalk”, not the original rubber that went bad.

  9. andrew November 14th, 2013 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the write-up. seems like a sweet boot at a reasonable price (compared to most other ski-mo/race boots)

    For those interested, here is some more info on the lack of durability with some of the soles:
    http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/267374-Dynafit-DY-N-A-PDG-Boots

  10. wyomingowen November 14th, 2013 9:16 pm

    Solid write up…don’t believe Dynafit just because it’s on a ski graphic….the Tetons are a block fault and while growing alll the time are still listed at 13,770 by the NPS (when they’re open)

  11. Zara November 15th, 2013 7:47 am

    Far too much Colorado pollution in the Tetons these days, incredible amounts of hot air, Liberal whining, and trash camped all over the place. Don’t you Denverites have some mountains of your own?

  12. TimZ November 15th, 2013 8:21 am

    We haven’t taken the new PDG boot hiking yet, but the rubber and the toe is definitely too thick for the speed radical toe. I’ll have to grind it down a little for a more free walk mode. If the sole wears out quickly you can bet we’ll be contacting warranty!

  13. Stephen Dilk November 15th, 2013 9:01 pm

    @ Zara. The concept of ownership of mountains is foreign to me. I am sorry the passage of other folks in a range that apparently means a lot to you has soured your impression of “Denverites”.

  14. Stephen Dilk November 15th, 2013 9:08 pm

    Hey Tony,
    I am sorry about your experiences with the lack of a durable sole on the boot. I used mine in a variety of not-boot-friendly- environments for about 20 days in a row and they are still in great shape. I concur with the suggestions of other readers, it seems you got a bad batch of rubber. I too have battled with warranty departments so I feel your pain on that front. I wish you Godspeed in your endeavor to find a suitable conclusion to the replacement issue.

  15. Lou Dawson November 17th, 2013 7:49 am

    This is a good adventure story with a gear focus but it’s not a full-on gear review. I don’t appreciate the discussion devolving to splitting hairs about ski boot weights. I’m editing out the weight stuff and deleting the thread drift comments. Our bad as editors, we should have just stayed away from mentioning gear weights in an article that is not a full-on gear review. We’ll be more careful about this in the future, as the gram counting is getting as cutthroat as commercial fishing — and the sharks appear to circle up on WildSnow.com at the slightest drop of chum.

    Also, I don’t get the cowardly anonymous zinger from “Zara.” But we’ll let that stand just to show the type of negative weirdness we should all be on guard against if we want ski mountaineering to be the positive, fun, joyful activity it should be. Lou

    (Note, I edited the post and this comment a few times as this all gelled in my mind.)

  16. Kerwin November 18th, 2013 4:07 pm

    Anybody know of a shop that will replace soles for pdg/dyna owners? I have a pair of Dyna’s that held up well last year, but have the feeling that another season of use could see the soles being pretty trashed. I have half the mind, to just to it myself.

  17. Drew Tabke November 18th, 2013 8:10 pm

    I skied the Grandes Teton in Keens with your mom. But even I was smart enough to put on the ‘pons.

  18. Dane November 18th, 2013 8:57 pm

    This from Dynafit. Current EVO and PDG have a new rubber that is partially mix of EVO foam and rubber. The idea was to lighten the boots for “best in class” weights. Obviously they went too far IMO. It is much, much softer than the original DyNA soles. Durability off snow or your skis is virtually ZIP. Dynafit at the moment doesn’t have a plan in place to even supply spare rubber for resoles (TLT soles would be just fine) or a warrenty policy to fix them. Wonderful boot in every way but durability. Anyone that has used them much will voice the same complaint. You’ll want to be very careful with steel crampons around these as well. Easy to put a crampon through the shell. As I was told when pushing the issue at Dynafit in Boulder…it is a “ski running boot for laps, not a mtn boot for the Grand”. Caveat Emptor!

    Full and half soles on your boots is no indication of the rubber used.

    Till the sole issue is fixed, the durability KILLS these boots for sort of real mountaineering where you eed to pull off your skis. Not just my opinion but Dynafits’ and most everyone I know who has used the new boots much as well.

  19. Paul November 19th, 2013 5:14 am

    Hello,
    a friend of mine destroyed his PDG’s soles when we climbed west face of Tödi last spring. The boots were brand new before that trip, he had only used them a few days skinning up his local hill. For a boot that is named after a legendary adventure race this is just embarrassing. After that he replaced the original soles with replacement parts for a large La Sportiva mountaineering boot. It took him a full day of work with the grinder to make them fit. The result was very nice though: they lasted for the rest of the season and still look very good. He told me he didn’t notice the extra weight (about 100 gram per boot). Maybe the people of Dynafit forgot that most people can’t afford buying 15 pairs of boots in a single season :-(!

  20. Lou Dawson November 19th, 2013 7:10 am

    Paul and everyone, in my opinion the solution to the issue of sole durability on any AT boot is to find a boot worker who can resole with a real climbing sole, such as a Vibram. The thing is, most skiers simply do no need a heavy sole that’s designed for climbing and hiking durability. So you’re not going to get the ski touring boot industry to make any _major_ changes in terms of what types of soles. Weight is the most important thing to most shoppers who buy these boots and that is not going to change. What is more, due to the required location of the tech fittings, there is very little room for and substantial thickness in sole material at the toe unless that area is carefully sculpted by hand.

    But yes, some of you (and us sometimes) need it. A competent cobbler who works on mountaineering boots should be able to resole an AT boot. It’s done by grinding away the OEM sole material down to where it’s just a thin layer, then using a glue and if necessary a bonding agent to attach the Vibram. The trick is that unless the glue process is done perfectly and with prior experience, it may not work. Most cobblers in the U.S. have little to no experience with this, and most do not have the tooling nor the correct glues. The other necessary trick is that once the thicker sole is attached, you need to sculpt the front area so it’ll still work in your tech binding toe. When googling this, I did find some stuff about folks who had done their own resole jobs on ski boots, but they didn’t report on durability.

    At any rate, my point is if you want a boot such as PDG with a climbing/hiking sole that really holds up to true climbing, that’ll probably be something created in the aftermarket.

    I’ll look into this some more.

    Lou

  21. Paul November 19th, 2013 9:03 am

    Good morning, Lou! I totally agree with you in most of your points. But I still believe that Dynafit should warn the buyers of their ultralight boots about the issue. I own two pairs of TLT 5s and their soles survived a long season of abuse. Compared to the PDG they are bulletproof. And very light boots are not only interesting to competitors at skimo races but also to those who are into winter alpinism. I am sorry not to be able to show pictures of the modification – my friend is travelling at the moment. But he was quite happy with the durability and overall performance of his modification. If Dynafit offered the PDG with a thin Vibram sole I would definitively buy them. But having to resole the boot after a single trip to the mountains might not be what at least some of the buyers expected. So, just be warned!

  22. Lou Dawson November 19th, 2013 9:12 am

    Hi Paul, fair enough. I indeed think the shoppers should be warned about the soles, but am not sure Dynafit has to do it. The web does a pretty good job of getting the word out on stuff like this. On the other hand, they could certainly place some sort of disclaimer on the boot’s hang tag stating it’s not designed for extensive climbing or hiking without skis. j

  23. Dane November 19th, 2013 10:16 am

    Geesus Lou…..that was an amazingly long answer to a rather simple question.

    No one more surprised than me on the lack of durability of the PDG sole. One of your Wildsnow authors, Jonathan Shefftz the first to make a point of it on the net that I know of. Obviously a problem prior. Pleanty of discussion last year here on Wildsnow about the same issue. Easy to ignore if you aren’t interested in that kind of lwt gear. I had seen the abnormal-early wear before but thought it abuse of the boot knowing the owner. Turns out all too common. The original DyNA soles lasts as long as the shells did. Which was a long time..in retrospect.

    The newest EVO/PDG not so much.

    Dynafit simply changed the rubber compound to lower the weight on thoise two boots, Evo and PDG. Racers in Europe haven’t been happy either Same complaint. When a boot sole won’t last as long as the race they are named after…may be they went to far. Ya think?

    It took a direct link to Dynafit in Europe for me to get a straight forward answer as to what had happened with the rubber. Dynafit makes some great stuff and is obviously a HUGE supporter of Wildsnow. They are of me @ CT as well. But I’ll disagree that it is an Internet issue or a skill at resoling issue. Call it like it is…it is a Dynafit issue. .The rest is nonsense.

    I bought the PDG boots, they weren’t given to me. Having the sole durability @ zip was/is annoying. Easy enough to fix…just make the TLT rubber available for resoling and let us play like grown ups. Betetr yet use a more durable rubber o nthe sole and up the weight on the PDG at least. Seems fitting for the target market even in Europe. No clue why anyone would be so stubborn….all around…about such an easy fix for some truly great boots other wise.

  24. Lou Dawson November 19th, 2013 10:26 am

    Sounds good Dane, I hope you get it all worked out as proposed. Lou

  25. Sam S November 19th, 2013 2:57 pm

    I was weighing between the PDG and the Scarpa Alien (non-1.0 version), and it looks like I dodged a bullet by choosing the Alien with its Vibram sole. I don’t think that Dynafit should be able to use “it’s just for racing” as an excuse. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Power of Four race have a section where you have to jog on a paved road? A few years ago, Breckenridge’s Imperial Challenge race also had a section where you had to scramble over dirt and rocks (due to particularly weak snow that year). If you are considering buying a set of PDGs, take another look at the Aliens. I just took them out for their first spin last week and I am extremely happy with them so far. Maybe if Dynafit starts losing enough business to Scarpa they’ll deem it worthwhile to come up with a solution for their customers.

  26. TimZ November 19th, 2013 4:32 pm

    Crested Butte US Nationals rando race has a rock scrambling section as well. The idea that a boot designed for racing(particularly this boot, a more citizen race boot) should be worn out within a few hours of off snow travel is ridiculous. If they don’t provide warranty or at minimum replacement rubber I will see many people choosing other options

  27. JT November 26th, 2013 8:11 am

    I recently bought a pair of PDG’s at BC. They were on sale. Not sure which model year I bought, but I suspect they are not 2012-2013, because instead of Kevlar, there are wired bails on the buckles. However there is full sole and adjustable lean. Anyone know which year/vintage of the PDG/EVO sole is having the premature wear problems? Sounds like the sole has a variable track record, with some years doing better than others. If I have a “problem” sole then I can return these (unused) before the backcountry gets filled in and the race season starts in earnest. Thanks.

  28. Scott January 4th, 2014 7:07 pm

    Have you skied the TLT6 Performance to compare them to the PDG?

    I just bought a pair of PDGs, and I find them a lot softer than the TLT6 Performance—mostly due to the lower part of the shell flexing outward when loaded.

    Is that to be expected? Is the PDG that much softer than the TLT6 Performance?

  29. Lou Dawson January 5th, 2014 12:34 am

    Scott, I ski TLT 5 and 6 quite a bit and have skied the PDG as well. PDG is not intended as a particularly stiff boot, it is a mix of ski performance, weight savings, and freedom of movement for the uphill. TLT6-P is an entirely different boot with a different purpose. Lou

  30. Dane January 5th, 2014 12:46 am

    No tongue and no power strap and the TLT any version is still more SKI boot (intentionally as Lo sez) than the PDG. PDG is a ski running boot with all that implies. I ski short Nanga and Chos with my PDG. But it is an acquired taste fro those that liek a soft multipurpose boot.

    PDG has a stiff cuff but nothing there to add any supportforward like even a minimal tongue would. That is a good thing for what the boot (race ski and running) was designed for.

  31. Lou Dawson January 5th, 2014 12:59 am

    I’d add that even mentioning PDG and TLT boots in the same sentence is a futile exercise. It’s like trying to compare a banana to a raisin (grin). Lou

  32. Dane January 5th, 2014 1:24 am

    I like that! Ripe banana at that 🙂 But the PDG does ski better than a banana. Just not as good as a TLT6. More liike a TLT5 Mtn sans tongue or power strap. may be not as good. And warm they are not. You’ll wan tto keep moving..quickly hoepfully UPHILL in a PDG to keep warm. FWIW a lot of Euros are comparing the TLT6 P to a Maestrale RS and saying the TLT6P with black tongue skis better than the RS Some Bananas!

    peace-out! skiing early tomorrow!

  33. louis dawson January 5th, 2014 5:37 am

    Tip for use of TLT 6 to prevent frostbite, the aftermarket “Boot Gloves” are proving to be very effective for us, as is punching shell toe area for more room. LOU

  34. louis dawson January 5th, 2014 8:39 am

    Dan, yes, the ones called Boot Glove made with neoprene, they have to be modded with something to hold down the toe, do a site search for them I used them on Denali. The shorter the boot the better they work without the toe area popping up off the boot.

  35. Dan Powers January 5th, 2014 7:36 am

    Lou, any particular brand boot glove you’ve used with TLT’s with success?

  36. Scott Semple January 5th, 2014 11:48 am

    Awesome. Thanks for all the info.

  37. Crazy Horse January 5th, 2014 8:37 pm

    As one who has frostbitten toes several times over the years, I highly recommend the latest version of Hotronic boot heaters. Six hours of comfortable use at 0F today in a boot with well worn liners. The new (white) four battery pack is at least twice as good as the previous version.

  38. brian harder June 29th, 2015 7:40 pm

    I just picked up a pair of the most recent version of the PDG. On my way to checking how much I’d have to move my bindings on my race skis to make the new BSL work, I struggled to get the toes to engage. A quick once over with the calipers and it appears that the sole below the inserts is about 3mm thicker than my Scarpa Aliens. On the bench, my Plum Race 145 would not accommodate the thickness and my Speed Radical toes just barely with some additional resistance with pivoting.

    Anyone have anything to offer here? Grind the sole?

  39. Lou Dawson 2 June 29th, 2015 7:51 pm

    Hi Brian, yeah, you probably need to grind the sole… a bit tricky, go slow, as taking too much off is a disaster. Lou

  40. Eric M February 23rd, 2016 12:26 pm

    Lou (and Bill B)- Any luck identifying a resoler who will replace the sole on these boots? I took mine to the Rubber Room in Bishop, but they weren’t comfortable resoling AT boots, and suggested I look around. If somebody knows of a resoler who will do the job with a durable solution, I’d love to ship mine out.

    -Eric

  41. Bill B February 24th, 2016 2:33 pm

    Hey Eric
    I got mine fixed thru mountain gear.
    They had someone up there resole them and the new
    soles have lasted well.
    I can email you a pic of the sole if you like,
    but I was no able to identify who did the work.
    sales@bndskigear.com

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