Backcountry Skiing Q and A — Lou Landers Returns

Post by blogger | September 25, 2008      

Lou and cyberspace,
I just bought my first used Dynafit setup and I want to re-locate only the heel piece to fit my boots. I don’t have the “red shim” mentioned in your Dynafit mounting instructions. Any suggestions on finding a “red shim” or a substitute?

Thanks, Evan

Colorado backcountry skiing.
Dynafit 6 mm spacer/shim in the red flavor, as a key fob.

Ah, the infamous red shim. Sort of like Red Square, or perhaps the Red Scare, or Red Bull? Object in question is simply a piece of plastic used to check the space between boot heel and binding. The famous shims have come in different colors over the years, black, red, silver, yellow and probably more. Dimension for Comfort/Vertical models is 6 mm, for TLT/ Speed/Race is 4 mm. Make one out of anything. Setting this dimension is critical if you want your Dynafit binding DIN numbers to be accurate while adjusting release tension, and if too far off spec you can have problems with unexpected binding release. More here.

Tip: To avoid loss, Dynafit shim/spacers make nice key fobs. Just drill a hole and stick it on your key ring. I sent my son off to college with one like that. Nothing like being totally prepared for higher education.

Hi Lou,
Is it time for me to trade in my modified Scarpa Lasers for something “better?” I’d like better fit, downhill performance, etc. same as every skier, so if I find a deal on some Megarides is that a good investment? I spend the vast majority of my time in the backcountry, but use an alpine setup for the hill and really enjoy the performance boost — it would be swell to enjoy that in the off-piste days too! Thanks for any advice you can give me. You do an outstanding job of your site, the skiing community is richer for it!

C. in Chilliwack, BC

C., I don’t think you’re going to get any more backcountry skiing performance out of a Megaride over a modified Laser. If fit is an issue, then I’d pick one or the other shoe based on how the shell last fits your foot. Scarpa has a more boxy toe and higher arch, factors which are feather bed comfy for some feet but less than ideal for others. Megaride has a lower volume toe and lower arch. All that said, if you want more performance in the BC, then consider any of the beefier boots such as Spirit 4, Axon, ZZero and of course all the overlap boots.

Hi Lou,
Where could i get that “paperwork” that comes with Dynafits? I don’t not have mine from years and years ago, oh, i guess i will just pop in our outdoor store and ask?? They might shake their heads…
Anyway, I’m am eying Dynafit 7 Summit skis, so I did my homework but can’t find store that would be selling them here on the west coast. Any suggestions where to get Dynafit skis? When I searched Dynafit web and their dealer locater, it does spit our stores in Vancouver, Edmonton etc. but when I emailed them they said they are only selling bindings.

Thank you Lou, appreciate it as always, L.

L., Main thing is to contact Salewa NA customer service. Seven Summits is a good ski that I like, but wider planks can be more desirable if you’re in unconsolidated snow. My primary quiver these days consists of Dynafit Manaslu, 7 Summits, and K2 Baker SL. The Baker’s are my go-to ski when I’m not sure what conditions I’ll encounter, such as during a spring ski descent. And I like the Bakers when my skis will be on the backpack much as they’re shorter than my Dynafit Manaslus, which are my choice for most of the winter in Colorado, and for mid-winter European ski touring. I like the 7 Summits best when I know the snow will be mostly consolidated. Not that they don’t work for pow or crud, it’s just that I’m spoiled by skis wider at the waist, but the “Sevens” are the lightest of the lot so they’re a joy on the up.

Hi Lou,
It was suggested to me that I contact you regarding the suitability regarding AT gear for a teenager.
What do you think of Scarpa Lasers for a very large (6’3″, #270 pound teenager?) I found some in 31.5 mondo that would fit his enormous feet and at a very good price. The reservations I have mostly revolve around the durability of the bindings. Would Dynafits hold up? How about some of the others? He is very aggressive. However, these would be a backcountry set up so perhaps they wouldn’t get pounded as hard as a resort set up would. My only other alternative are Dukes or Alpine Trekkers. I’d appreciate any input you may be able to provide to the AT ignorant telemark skier.

Thank You, G.

G., I’d say Lasers would be fine if the young man is not an aggressive skier, otherwise his weight and height could overpower that boot. As for the Dynafit binding, durability isn’t an issue any more than most other AT bindings, but Dynafits take some getting used to because they’re tricky to put you foot in, usually must be exited to change from downhill ski to tour mode, require locking during touring, and more.

If the teenager is nimble, patient, and has some backcountry experience you could try Dynafits, otherwise a more basic step-in step-out such as Fritschi would be something to consider.

Mostly, if you’re a telemarker you probably enjoy a binding that you basically don’t come out of during a fall, and rarely pre-release from, if ever. If you go out skiing with the tyro, he may get frustrated when he’s learning his Dynafits while seeing you never have any problems. Frankly, I’ve always advised Dynafit first-timers to go out with other Dynafit users, rather than have tele skiers looking on with smug expressions and mumbling told-you-sos while the Dyna-newbie does the “Dyna-fiddle.” Keep that in mind. And don’t forget to make the kid a Dynafit spacer key fob (see above.)

Hi Lou,
I bought some Fritschi Free Rides (last year) and felt like I was living in the backseat. Researching this phenomenon online I was happily redirected to the friendly confines of Wild Snow. A couple of years back you had some entries related to this topic.

My question is regarding ramp adjustment. Do you suggest that I remove the red plastic part that attaches directly to the ski? Also, your suggestion was to make ramp angles similar in all one’s set-ups. Is there a simple way to accomplish this?

Thanks so much for your time and the site.

Warm regards, Andrew

Hi Andrew, yeah, first step is to remove the front shim and see how it goes. Watch out for screw length if you do this, you may need to use shorter screws. As for getting ramp angles similar to each other, it’s a combination of factors. For gross adjustments placing a shim under the binding heel can add lots of ramp. For fine tuning you can take a bit of sole rubber off the AT boot where it contacts the AFD, I’ve found this to be very effective as a small amount of drop here is very noticeable. Another method is a small amount of lift under the heel of the foot inside the boot, usually combined with a bit of shim behind the calf. This can be done under the liner, or under the orthotic in the liner. One way or the other may be more comfortable, but either way may require re-molding the liners.

All, don’t let Lou Landers do all the work. Comments?



10 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing Q and A — Lou Landers Returns”

  1. NIckites September 25th, 2008 11:53 am

    As far as shops selling dynafit on the west coast, Shasta Base Camp has an online shopping site and seven summits on sale. Supposedly they are the competancy center for Dynafit in California. Please don’t roast me for spamming, this is an honest answer to finding Dynafit stuff on the west coast.

  2. ScottN September 25th, 2008 12:02 pm

    To the telemarker looking at AT: I started AT last year, and have been telemarking for about 10 years now. I can attest to the ease,durability and comfort of the Dynafits ( I use the Dynafit Vertical ST’s). I think Dynafit makes a little beefier version, the Vertical FT. Maybe better for a bigger guy, not sure. Lou? Also, like Lou said, they take a little getting used to, so be patient and practice and you’ll have it wired in no time.

    On another note, has anyone been up to Montezuma Basin lately for a little skiing?

  3. Lou September 25th, 2008 12:47 pm

    We think the Vertical FT 12 might have some added beef, but the production version of that is only recently available and we’ve not had a chance to evaluate it and it has not been on the market long enough for any consumer consensus. Thus, I can’t yet be recommending it though I’d like to. We hope to evaluate it soon.

  4. alyn September 25th, 2008 10:34 pm

    Hey, L If you are up in Canada, Venture Gear is a new Dynafit dealer in Kelowna and I talked the guys into bringing in the 7summits as well as many other skis, bindings and other gear.
    Ever since Lou posted those first pictures of the Mansalu, I’v been waiting to get out on them. The first storm can’t come soon enough…
    And thanks again Lou for such a great site!

  5. chris trollan September 26th, 2008 12:43 am

    Why doesn’t Dynafit offer the new FT12 directly to the customer? Many companies do. They could sell more bindings for more profit to Dynafit, sell more units, AND save us money. The middle man on the web offers me NO SERVICE. Just jacks it up to an insane price. Why not match the other binding manufacturers prices? TGR web site had a BIG group buy, many pairs sold to the avid. Could stop that by offering a decent price. Pains me not to be on the best stuff, but I will stay with my Fritchis and Dalbello Superrides for another year.

  6. Jonathan Shefftz September 26th, 2008 9:02 am

    “but Dynafits take some getting used to because they’re tricky to put you foot in, generally must be exited to change modes”

    you need to edit this to read:
    “generally must be exited to change from ski mode to touring mode (although changing from touring mode to ski mode requires only rotating the heel piece and stepping down)”

  7. Lou September 26th, 2008 9:35 am

    Johanthan, you are of course correct and thanks for pointing out my sloppy prose. I’ll change.

  8. Terry September 26th, 2008 11:02 am

    L, if you are looking for some Dynafit 7 Summits and can’t find them locally buy via the internet. You might need to search for “Se7en Summit”. There are a bunch available for $377 right now. My nephew lives in BC and got a pair online last spring for a considerable savings, even after $50 shipping. Supporting local shops is great but they rarely stock what I need, especially when it comes to AT gear.

  9. Chris September 26th, 2008 8:28 pm

    Hey Lou,

    Have you ever heard if dynafit will make a ski crampon that’s wide enough to fit my 102mm Coombas? My local shop mentioned that it would be new this season, but i haven’t seen it on retailer’s websites.

  10. Lou September 27th, 2008 7:14 am

    Chris, last winter they told me they were working on it. Meanwhile, check out

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