Hardboot Splitboard — Follow-up Review — Dynafit TLT6


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 19, 2016      
Into a classic San Juan couloir in Dynafit TLT6’s

Into a classic San Juan couloir with Dynafit TLT6’s.

It’s been almost a full ski season of testing my “hardboot” system for splitboarding, and I’ve been asked countless times, “Well, how does it ride?”

My hardboot rig: Phantom splitboard binding and Dynafit TLT6 Mountain ski boots with Custom Ready (CR) liner.

I put the system through the wringer: everything from resort laps, big ski mountaineering lines, wiggling hippy powder turns, and long up-and-over tours. There are still a couple of months of spring skiing ahead, and I’ll continue testing. Overall, the use of Dynafit TLT6 boots for splitboarding has numerous pros and a few potential drawbacks for both touring and the downhill.

For clarification, this review focuses on the boots for splitboard touring and riding.

What I’ve been testing: Dyanfit TLT6 Mountain boot with a modification to the ski mode plate (check out a previous post here). The boot has a BSL of 297mm (size 27.5), with a stock liner. I have not used the removable tongues for riding.

Dynafit TLT6 with CR liner

Dynafit TLT6 with CR liner.

The removable tongue, which skiers typically use to stiffen the boot for the descent is an easy component to get rid of in order to enhance the snowboard feel.

The removable tongue, which skiers typically use to stiffen the boot for the descent is an easy component to eliminate in order to enhance the snowboard feel.

The boots and the fit:

Transitioning to ski boots from a soft, cushy, overly comfortable snowboard boot (as I hear so often about why people snowboard), was actually easier than I anticipated.

There are countless AT boot options out there, so why the TLT6? Well, the TLT6 is a somewhat soft ski boot with phenomenal touring capabilities. Sounds like a terrific boot for modifying to the single plank descent.

For better or for worse, Dynafit boots are notorious for their fit. They either fit or they are atrociously tight and uncomfortable. So in terms of choosing the right AT boot, start with fit and remember that some discomfort can be eliminated with boot fitting.

Fortunately, Dynafit boots fit my feet pretty well, as my foot is on the narrower side of the spectrum. I did have to punch out one of the toe boxes to relieve the squeezing pressure between my big and little toe. It didn’t take much, and has almost completely resolved any discomfort. Boot fitters can do amazing things, and AT ski boot shells and liners are highly adjustable compared to softboots. Note I did use the Dynafit CR liner, which is much less heat moldable than their CL liner, but seems to be denser.

The low profile nature of the TLT6 is a huge positive in terms of agility. The boot I have is the perfect size for moderate temperatures. I am using the Custom Ready liner and I have no extra room, which is good for fit and comfort, but bad for situations where the temps drop.

One of the first things I noticed about ski boots is how cold they are. We haven’t had a particularly cold winter in the Colorado San Juans, so I’ve been able to avoid any major problems, but I definitely had a few days where I was caught off guard by cold feet — a problem I didn’t encounter often with my softboots. When I head to northern latitudes for any extended expeditions, I’ll absolutely want to up the shell size to accommodate a thicker, warmer liner along with a bit more toe room for circulation. A potential issue with a bigger shell is the introduction of toe drag while descending.

Low profile fit -- here the right boot has the ski mode buckle engaged.

Low profile fit — here the right boot has the ski mode buckle engaged.

Modifications:

There are a number of obvious modifications that people do to these boots to improve riding performance, and a few more obscure ones that I’ve seen as well. My philosophy was to modify one part at a time and see how the performance changed and decide if I needed to do additional mods. There are a number of articles and posts written about AT boot modifications for splitboarding, and I’ll shed light on my experience thus far and the pros/cons of what I’ve done. A lot of this comes down to personal preference, and how far you want to take it.

A benefit of the TLT6 is the relative simplicity of modifying the ski mode lock mechanism (one of the most common and necessary mods to an AT boot if converting to snowboard). I’ve heard of people who don’t mod the ski lock mode and just leave the boot unbuckled and loose, but in my opinion this doesn’t work well because the locked out flex keeps the ankle from rotating aft, and acting like a highback on a softboot binding.

The aluminum plate in the inner cuff that engages the ski mode here has been filed larger.

The aluminum plate in the inner cuff that engages the ski mode here has been filed larger.

Close-up view. The plate is easily removed with a star-bit key, and easily replaced if you screw up or choose to return the boots to factory performance (why would you do that?)

Close-up view. The plate is easily removed with a star-bit key, and easily replaced if you screw up or choose to return the boots to factory performance (why would you do that?).

All I have done to my TLT6’s is file out the plate that the buckle flips into for ski mode. This modification allows the boot to flex forward in ski mode, but not back, thus giving it a more calculated flex and softer feel. So far this mod has satisfied my needs for the most part. There is enough rotation and flex in the cuff to make the descent feel natural and similar to a softboot for riding.

Other relatively common modifications I have seen are to cut down the upper cuff, and to remove the powerstrap – neither of which I have found necessary at this point.

Other relatively common modifications I have seen are to cut down the upper cuff, and to remove the power strap — neither of which I have found necessary.

Other common modifications have to do with removing the power strap, and trimming the cuff height. I like the power strap, as it feels more secure while in tour mode and helps keep the boot from being too floppy. In terms of the cuff height, I have heard that some people get pressure points in their shins, and cutting down and rounding off the edge can help. Similarly, cutting down the cuff can help with lateral flex that some riders prefer, but I have not had a need for this.

Overall, modifying an expensive pair of AT boots can be intimidating, and my suggestion would be to do the important ones to gain the performance you’re looking for, and approach the more obscure ones as you find the need. The Dynafit TLT6’s appear to be one of the most straightforward AT boots to mod. An additional benefit to the only mod I’ve done, is that if I wanted to restore the boot to it’s original ski performance, I would only have to replace the small aluminum plate in the cuff. Commenters: if you have additional mods, please share them here with your reasoning behind it and how the performance changes.

Performance:

So how does it ride? As I’ve mentioned, I have experienced numerous benefits to a modified AT boot for splitboarding, and a couple of situations where I’ve noticed some drawbacks.

Cuff range in walk-mode.

Cuff range in walk-mode.

The added range drastically increases stride while skinning, especially on flatter terrain. Additionally, the range makes dirt walking and scrambling more agile.

The added range drastically increases stride while skinning, especially on flatter terrain. Additionally, the range makes dirt walking and scrambling more agile.

The uphill is where I experienced the most benefit. The cuff range of the TLT6 in walk-mode is a game changer. My stride while skinning on flat terrain is efficient and enhanced with a walk-mode. The lovely gift of spring touring dirt walking is quite pleasant in this boot, and almost feels like a tennis shoe, and even better than my soft boot (which surprised me).

The low profile of the TLT6 shell is agile and accurate while scrambling on rocky ridges or through 4th class terrain. This is partially attributed to the mountaineering style sole of the boot with a slight rockered shape. The lateral rigidity of the cuff has been beneficial while side hilling in icy and firm conditions. This is a place that current softboots are lacking.

I’ve also found the TLT6 to be durable throughout several tours that involve kicking steps in firm snow and shallow rocky conditions. This type of situation can destroy softboots and does not provide much protection to the foot. A huge positive is the ability to take a fully-automatic crampon, which provides a greater level of security than a strap on or semi-auto ‘pon on a softboot. Our skier friends know, the TLT6 is a good AT boot for the uphill, where we can all relate.

The slightly rockered sole and burly tread give added security in various terrain.

The slightly rockered sole and burly tread give added security in various terrain.

The downhill is the big question mark in terms of performance. There is so much personal preference in this realm that will need to be taken into consideration. Overall, I like them. The modifications provide a calculated flex that is consistent. It is enough flex to make the riding feel secure but still maintain the flow and fluidity that we love and are committed to as snowboarders.

Hardboots make the board much more responsive, which can take some getting used to, and that is why I suggest riding on the resort in them during the transition. Although I have generally positive feelings, the TLT6 is a high performance boot, and at times it is too much boot for the conditions.

For example, in heavy and variable mank conditions with some firm chunder (wow that was a string of buzz words), the boots don’t provide the same level of dampening as a soft boot does. This is good for charging through the mank, but can also cause interesting pressure that can have negative effects. Overall, I have not noticed any significant negative effects of hardboots for the downhill, and I prefer them for the time being.

Boot in ski mode showing the extended forward flex with the modification. As much, if not more than a softboot.

Boot in ski mode showing the extended forward flex with the modification. As much, if not more than a softboot.

Pro’s

  • Lightweight (size 27.5 weighs in at 1234 grams with liner/ 944 grams without liner)
  • Lateral rigidity for sidehilling
  • Cuff range in walk-mode (60°)
  • Removable liner
  • Durability
  • Low profile and agile
  • Fully automatic crampon compatible
  • Security in kicking steps
  • Easily modified depending on preferences
  • Moldable shell
  • Strange looks and constant questioning from fellow splitboarders/skiers
  • Con’s

  • Difficult fit for various foot shapes
  • Custom Ready (CR) liner I got with these boots is minimally heat moldable, other liners available.
  • Less dampening in certain conditions
  • Cold potential
  • Strange looks and constant questioning from fellow splitboarders/skiers
  • Shop for Dynafit ski boots here.



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    Comments

    10 Responses to “Hardboot Splitboard — Follow-up Review — Dynafit TLT6”

    1. XXX_er April 19th, 2016 10:41 am

      With Dynafit one-buckle boots a cheap n easy mod If you want the top of the boot closed but you don’t want that top buckle to lock the cuff & rear pylon together is to tie a piece of 3mm bungy into the end of the top buckle with a small loop and a large Knot

      stretching the loop/knot over the end of the knob will keep it from seating/locking into that plate you filed bigger OR if you don’t need it just let the bungy dangle

    2. Adam April 19th, 2016 2:32 pm

      Creating a more progressive heel-toe flex can do quite a bit to make the TLT6 ride more like a soft boot. It might not be the lightest option, but I really like what a stretchy Booster strap (instead of the normal power strap) does to the downhill feel. I leave my top buckle loose, and tighten mostly with the strap. It provides some nice dampening when you’re on your toe edge.

    3. Kevin S April 20th, 2016 8:05 am

      Be careful Jonathan as you may find yourself two planking before you know it! As I debated switching to more snowboarding way back in the late 80’s, the comfort and performance of my Dachstein AT boots (rear-entry) helped to convince me that skis were indeed the only way and I sold my Burton board shortly thereafter. It happens to the best of us!

    4. Lou Dawson 2 April 20th, 2016 8:24 am

      Here is our method of modding the boot so you can buckle without locking lean.

      https://www.wildsnow.com/6371/dynafit-tlt5-buckle-mod/

      Clean and simple.

    5. Erik Klumpp April 20th, 2016 11:05 am

      Are you sure your boot is a 27.5? That last length is closer to a 25.5. Just wondering and I know all brands are different.

    6. Erik Klumpp April 20th, 2016 11:07 am

      I stand corrected the length of the boots are about twenty mm different from other boots. Sorry about that.

    7. Zachary Winters April 20th, 2016 4:51 pm

      Uh oh Coop, this post (and our conversations) has me leaning more and more towards making the jump. As does the “bomber” Vibram sole that is literally peeling off of my Spark XV boots right now :/

      You mention sizing up the shell for a higher volume liner – how do you think this would be as a primary setup? Because of my poor foot circulation, I’ve done this with my soft boots and Intuitions and haven’t had any temp trouble since.

      Do you think there’d be major drawbacks to using a larger shell/thicker liner year round? Compared to the bulky Spark boot (330mm for 29.5), I doubt toe/heel drag would be worse…

    8. Coop April 20th, 2016 5:22 pm

      Thanks for the comments all!

      Zach, I don’t see any drawbacks to a larger shell size. I have been in the 27.5 with a 297 BSL. And the next size up has a BSL of 303.

      I would look on Dynafits website and see what the BSL sizes are for your foot size and then measure your board width.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

    9. alex April 21st, 2016 5:37 am

      “Strange looks and constant questioning from fellow splitboarders/skiers”
      ahahahah LOL!!!….sooooo true….

      I need to add that after few years with TLT5\6 boot, last season i reached the best setup with Spark DYNO DH bindings+canted pucks from voile. Big kudos to Will and co.

    10. Jason April 21st, 2016 12:00 pm

      For anyone thinking about switching to AT boots for splitting but having a hard time with the Dynafit last check out the Atomic Backlands. The only other ski boot I’ve been able to fit into comfortably was a Black Diamond with a last that would make a bathtub proud. The Backlands were narrow out of the box but with a shell fit they are actually comfortable for me and I’m told by the boot fitter that I’ve been working with that the plastic is really easy to punch after a general shell fit to fix any remaining hot spots. I was able to downsize too! To get anywhere close with a TLT6 I would have ended up in a 29 shell, my actual foot size is 28.5 but with the shell stretch in the Backland I dropped to a 27/27.5 shell. I might actually have to change liners though, the stock liner is floating a bit inside of the shell now.

      The other big advantage of the Backland over any of the Dynafits is the decoupled forward lean lock. I can leave my cuff comfortably snug, the same way I descend and never touch the cuff buckle during the day. The forward lean lock lever looks like it would be easy to mod to reduce the FL resistance while riding but I haven’t felt the need to do that, I haven’t actually modded anything in the boot except for fit.

      I find my feet to be warmer and stay drier if I’m digging pits if I use the removable tongues but if I’m just touring then I leave the tongues at home.





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