"Gram Counter." "Race Weenie." "Hey, wait for me!" "Beefcake. BEEFCAKE!!!" These are all common phrases heard by those of the AT set who still use boots with a tongue design.
Despite this year’s excitement about overlap construction ski boots, the standard in AT boots is still a tongue-construction design. From ultra-light race rigs to super-stiff boots rivaling any other shoe, this boot design yields the largest, most diverse selection to choose from. More, they tend to be light, and if you actually use your boots for core backcountry events such as sleeping in a tent, you can get a tongue boot on in the morning without giving your partner a hematoma from your wild kicks.
In this WildSnow Gear Guide, we focus on the beefier end of the tongue boot spectrum to give comparison to our previous Overlap Boot Guide. We also focus on Dynafit-compatible boots, as they provide the greatest spectrum of setup options. Thermoformable liners are so vastly superior, where possible we used that as criteria as well. As I’ve stated before, the biggest factor in what to buy (overlap or tongue construction) comes down to the individual buyer’s preference. There is no "right" answer.
That being said, lets take a peak at this years offerings.
|Weight (pair)*||Best In-Class||Price||Previous Review|
|Zzero 4 C-TF||7 lb 0 oz||$749.95||Read|
|Zzero 4 PX-TF||7 lb 0 oz||$649.95|
|Zzero 4 U-TF||7 lb 8 oz||$569.95|
|Zzero 4 U-TF Womens||6 lb 14 oz||$569.95||Read|
|Axon||9 lb 2 oz||$699.95||Read|
|Mega Ride||7 lb 6 oz||$639.95||Read|
|Mega Star Womens||6 lb 4 oz||$669.95|
|Skookum||8 lb 4 oz||$768.95||Read|
|Spirit 4||7 lb 14 oz||$678.95||Read|
|Diva Womens||7 lb 0 oz||$678.95||Read|
*All weights provided by the manufacturer for a size 27.5 (Mens). Where possible real-world weights are available from WildSnow.com, but not all are verified.
Zzero 4 C-TF
Dynafit’s top offering in strength-to-weigh ratio. A stiff carbon frame for downhill performance and 3.5 lbs. per foot. Two forward lean settings, Pebax shell, and a shade of green that never looks slow! And of course this boot has Lou’s seal of approval as his go-to footwear for all manner of adventures.
Zzero 4 PX-TF
This non-carbon version of C-TF has a slightly more forgiving ride and weighs in a hair lighter (5 grams) than its big brother. The PX-TF is the Carbondale to the C-TF’s Aspen – not as glitzy, more affordable, and still pretty dang good.
Zzero 4 U-TF
The ZZero 4U is the polyurethane model in Dynafit’s 4-buckle lineup. The most "downhill-oriented tongue boot in the collection thanks to the PU reactivity (they become stiffer when cold)." A great option if you are looking for a bit more stiffness, don’t mind extra heft, and are considering moving to Down Valley just to afford new boots. A Zzero 4 U-MF is also available without a thermoformable liner.
Zzero 4 U-TF Womens
For the girls that rock big skis too, Dynafit offers their woman’s beef boot. With a fem-specific liner and new cuff spoiler that is lower and wider to better fit a lady’s calf muscles. Is it just me, or is this by far the sexiest boot in the line up?
Garmonts stiffest backcountry Freeride tongue boot with Dynafit compatibilty. Axon strives to be climb-worthy while providing an compromise-free decent – providing the same downhill performance as the Endorphin. The heaviest boot in the lineup, but worth every pound coming down.
Like a 100 lb. 3rd grader, the Mega Ride has the beef to beat up whatever the playground throws it’s way, but is still a small fry compared to the big kids. A friendlier boot for long tours, but still able to handle a big ski. The standard for years among many a posse.
Mega Star – Womens
Garmonts newest women’s-specific, light-weight 4-buckle boot. More than just a smaller Mega Ride, this boot is substantially lighter than its brother. Almost worth shaving my legs and wearing a wig again…did I say "again"?
"Alpine touring meets King Kong" claims the Scarpa website about the Skookum. You pay a weight penalty for those extra bananas, but ripping downhill like a 50 ft. gorilla will not disappoint you.
Don’t quite ski like the 50 ft. beast above, but still need to drive a bigger stick? Swap out the regular tongue for the included, super stiff ski tongue. Out-climb your beefcake buddies and hang during the descent.
Diva – Womens
The woman’s version of the Spirit 4. Same 4-buckle closure, Intuition thermo liner and comes with the swapable, super stiff ski tongue. Ski like the boys do, only do it with style.
(Guest blogger profile: Dave Downing and his wife Jessica live in Montana, where Dave is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab. Dave’s ski career began due to a lack of quality skiing video games for NES.)