ISPO 2017 — Dynafit Takes

Post by blogger | February 9, 2017      

Dynafit is doing the morph dance, that’s for sure. We began our coverage of the 2017-2018 some time ago, but ISPO is always a good bet for seeing the overall Dynafit product thrust. Their full-size booth reflects their corporate focus, while meeting with principles in the business such as product line managers and CEO Benedikt Bohm gives me the inside line.

Speedfit line colors are nice, and this display caught my attention.

Speedfit line colors are nice, and this display caught my attention. But why did it catch my attention? I kept thinking those red rods hanging the clothing were ski race gates skewering the happy resort uphillers, alluding to the ever present extreme dangers of resort ski touring.

A principle of business is of course “grow or die.” A few years ago, Dynafit was looking for a numbers bump by introducing new products for freeride touring. I’m not sure that really worked. The timing was off. Too many other companies were introducing beef boots and then freeride pin bindings around the same time. More, it appears what freeriders really want is footwear that’s pretty much an alpine boot, and bindings that hedge much more in the alpine direction as well. Beast binding, now discontinued, probably tried too hard to remain a “Dynafit” touring binding, for example.

Whatever the case, while the (somewhat imaginary?) “freeride touring” segment had attention, something real was happening. Using light touring gear for climbing up and skiing down resort pistes underwent a surprising growth spurt.

Industry people are throwing around numbers such as “30% of people with ski touring setups, in Europe, rarely use their gear for the backcountry, instead they are piste touring.” From what I’ve seen in the U.S. I’m certain we’re right up there with the percentages as well. That’s amazing. No one saw it coming to that extent. Sure, we’ve been doing it ourselves for more than 30 years, but it was just a fringe sport, right?

So, look down your nose at these blasphemous individuals who claim to be “ski touring” resort slopes. But watch the ski industry respond.

More, just as ski mountaineering racing has stimulated the development of amazingly lightweight performance ski gear, look for piste touring to have its own form of influence. For example, resort uphillers are said to be very price conscious, and they like skis that perform on hardpack. Translation for backcountry skiers: more springtime touring skis that don’t cost a fortune.

Dynafit continues to push their trail running clothing.

Dynafit continues to push their trail running clothing. This gear emphasizes running during the fall shoulder season, before skiing really begins but after temperatures drop and snowfall muds up the trail.

Dynafit’s 2017-2018 product categories are as follows (in my preferred order):
Race, Free, Speed, Tour. What is more, they’re pushing a new clothing category oriented to shoulder season trail running, not covered in this blog post but interesting nonetheless.

Race, for full skimo racing. Free for freeride touring using beef boots. Speed, for individuals who enjoy fast, lightweight touring with emphasis on efficiency. Tour, a bit heavier and more “conventional” boots For example the TLT 6 and 7 boots belong in the “Speed” groupo. Tour is a bit more traditional, mixing up and downhill, boot would be the Radical.

In my opinion the point of these categories, really, is to help shoppers make decisions about gear. Ostensibly the retailer quizzes you on what category you’re in, then starts recommending gear. Or you do your own ski touring psychoanalysis using the Dynafit diagnostic manual. Does this really help?

On the whole, the category system is probably moderately successful, but independent thinkers are clearly going to ignore what they’d call “stupid” categories and match their boots, bindings, and skis to their often unique skiing environment. Best example, in the powder lands of the American west, you constantly see riders with big fat skis sporting uber-light bindings driven by “Speed” boots such as TLT6.

I’m not convinced the “Tour” and “Speed” categories are different enough to be anything more than a marketing construct, as a well fitted TLT6 is still a tongue boot, as is a Dynafit Radical boot. On the other hand, getting back to piste “touring,” a subcategory of the Dynafit Speed category is “Speedfit.” That’s the stuff they’re pushing to the 30% who primarily ski up and down resorts. It makes sense to me.

My take on the Speedfit category products:

Speedfit 84 men’s and women’s skis are said to be designed with resort slopes in mind — “enjoyment” being the operative word. For example, The men’s 176 cm version is dimensioned at 116-85-104 with 21.5 meter radius, 1,350 grams. That indeed sounds like a fun ski, though slightly heavy for an uphill oriented ski in 85 mm waist width.

Speedfit boot appears to be quite nice, as well as unique in the Dynafit lineup (not just a colored clone of another model. In detail, it’s a TLT6-Mountain lower shoe and cuff, only with a fixed tongue rather than the faux tongue and swap-in tongue system of the TLT6. Buckles, lean lock and power strap are basically a TLT6. This is said to be a 1,200 gram boot in size 27.5, which sound on-target for the piste touring market.

Speedfit binding convinces me in the sense that it’s a “price point” product that’s about 25 grams heavier than its clone (the new TLT Speed binding) but more affordable. More in my previous Dynafit post from OR show.

Where I’m not convinced is why both these bindings would not have available spring swaps to change their vertical release, which is of a fixed value:

– TLT Speed, lateral release is adjustable 6-12, vertical release is fixed at 8.
– TLT Speedfit, lateral release adjustable 5-10, vertical release is fixed at 6.

When so many other bindings are available that either have full lateral and vertical release adjustments, or else available swap springs, this seems like a hard sell for a ski shop. As in “oh, you usually ski your bindings at 7 for vertical release? Well, you have to ski the Speedfit at 6, or the Speed at 8. Take your pick!”

Conclusions: I continue to admire Dynafit for their efforts in figuring out the ski touring market. They experiment with categories, and put their money where their mouths are by retailing products specific to those categories. Some of it appears forced, but the Speedfit category is a good one.

Bonus thoughts:

I helicoptered over the binding table, guided by binding product manager Michael Zimmermann. With something like 16 different binding models (depending on how you count), it’s not exactly easy to sort this all out in your mind. Helps to just forget about the Race category?

Carbonio version of the Superlite 2 confuses the binding table, but perhaps it works for retailers.

Carbonio version of the Superlite 2 confuses the binding table, but perhaps it works for retailers. Carbon parts such as the touring lock lever save 4 or 5 grams.

But wait, I thought one of the most interesting things on the table was the improved DNA (Pierre Gignoux) binding. It has a new hole pattern for the toe, matching the 4-hole “Radical” Dynafit binding pattern. Lighter by 62 grams, with adjustable toe pin tension so you can tune entry and exit. Fixed release values, let’s just call them “high.”

DNA Gignoux binding toe now uses standard 4-hole screw pattern.

DNA Gignoux binding toe now uses standard 4-hole screw pattern. Swap some to your favorite boards!

DNA binding has adjustable toe pin tension.

DNA binding has adjustable toe pin tension.

Someone asked about the Carbonio Dynafit product category. Despite the name, in my view this stuff is more about it being an attractive black color scheme that attempts to differentiate on looks, and being sold only in “limited edition for special dealers.” Nonetheless the Carbonio ski goes wider to an 89 waisted plank at catalog weight of 1200 grams for the 174 cm length, and the boot goes to a version of the new TLT7 that a few grams lighter to easily fall into the “1 kilo” category. The ski could be quite interesting. Image below is from the 2017-2018 catalog.

Carbonio ski and more for 2017-2018.

Carbonio ski and more for 2017-2018. Click to enlarge.

And…. someone asked what brands use the Dynafit certified tech fittings as of now. Here you go:



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31 Responses to “ISPO 2017 — Dynafit Takes”

  1. Paddy February 9th, 2017 10:00 am

    That DNA toe is super cool. I also think it’s a bit crazy that they don’t offer different U-springs for the Speed’s and Superlite’s. Doesn’t seem that hard, and is probably cutting into their sales.
    Did you ascertain if this year’s Carbonio 88 is any different than last years (other than the graphics)?

  2. Tom February 9th, 2017 10:53 am

    Lou, are they continuing to produce the Vulcan? Or has that being replaced by the Khion? Cheers, Tom.

  3. Nick February 9th, 2017 12:23 pm

    Tom, they will have he Vulcan for the next two seasons, then they will be introducing something new.

  4. Michael February 9th, 2017 1:06 pm

    Hmmm I know it’s a long shot but anyone know if the new Speedfit boot has the same BSL as the TLT6?

    Have some race type bindings mounted for my TLT6. Would be nice to not have to remount if the BSL were the same.

  5. Terry February 9th, 2017 3:35 pm

    Lou, am amazed to read there are “resort uphillers”! Do you know if many European resorts allow this?

    At the resorts I ski at in California, “uphill travel” is clearly against the rules

  6. JCoates February 9th, 2017 6:28 pm

    I don’t know of any resorts in Europe that DIN’t allow touring on the piste. It’s a different attitude over there. They don’t pull your pass if you duck a rope either. In fact, they’ll sell you a schnapps before you go basejump off the top lift station if your inclined to.

  7. See February 9th, 2017 7:59 pm

    I don’t know what it’s like in Europe, but I don’t think the difference is just a matter of attitude. In my opinion, the “piste” is at or above capacity just with people going downhill in many California resorts.

  8. See February 9th, 2017 8:06 pm

    And after dealing with traffic on the way to the mountain sometimes, I can be pretty sick of it.

  9. See February 9th, 2017 8:49 pm

    Maybe there’s an opening for backcountry resorts.

  10. Mikegbne February 9th, 2017 9:49 pm

    Hey Lou!
    I’m curious too about the carbonio line. Didn’t see any pictures or mention of the skis. Also dynafit seems to put out at least one new innovation in clothing each year (last year meteorite jacket). Any news on next years clothing line?

  11. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2017 12:16 am

    This whole “resort touring” thing will vary greatly by region and specific resort. In Europe, there are indeed a few resorts where they have banned uphilling, at least temporarily. And some of the resorts are indeed simply too crowded for uphilling to be appropriate during operating hours, though the night uphilling is also incredibly popular. I’ve written many times that the resorts who embrace uphilling are simply doing what any service business should do, which is identify a need of the public and fulfill it, and monetize it in some way. Here in Europe they monetize via the on-hill restaurants that most of the uphillers frequent in droves. I participated yesterday, in Kelchsau, Austria, I uphilled and stopped in for lunch, got a tasty weissbier and wurstel for about $10 total. It wasn’t ski mountaineering or backcountry touring, but it was fun. The place was very uncrowded. Lou

  12. Lou Dawson 2 February 10th, 2017 1:11 am

    Hi Mike, sure, they had some Carbonio stuff at the shows, some of it is more carbon in the name than in the product, but the Carbonio TLT7 is a little lighter (by about 20 grams) and the ski is still there only wider than the previous Carbonio 74, now, 174 cm, 124-89-110, claimed at 1,200 grams, compared to Dynafit’s closest equivalent other ski, which is probably the Speed 90, with 176 cm massing at 1280 grams.

    I added a Carbonio catalog page to the end of the blog post above.

    The big news at Dynafit is most certainly Speedfit. It’s new, and as I alluded to, valid. Whether resort uphillers will respond with their wallets is another story, to be told next winter.


  13. atfred February 10th, 2017 6:29 am

    Hey See, ever been on top of Berthoud Pass (Colo) on a Sunday? You would think the ski area had reopened!

  14. See February 10th, 2017 8:31 am

    I’ve never been to Berthoud Pass, but I find my tolerance for crowds is pretty low these days. Guess I’m getting old and cranky. I probably shouldn’t be so critical of uphilling at ski resorts, considering I’ve never tried it. I admit, I’m having a hard time imagining how it works— people skiing down tend to follow the fall line, more or less, but a “properly” set skin track (according to those wiser than myself) climbs at a steady, moderate angle across the fall line. When I try and visualize this at the resorts I’m familiar with on a busy day, it’s not a pretty picture.

  15. VT skier February 10th, 2017 11:26 am

    Terry, and others,
    Here in Vermont, at Jay Peak they allow resort “uphillers” any time, except on closed runs. They ask that skiers, fill out a one time release form, and then give you a reflective armband to wear. No charge for this sign-up. I see many ski-mo types on light rando gear, climbing up during lift operations. So this is a great perk, living here.

    I have skinned up early many times, with (and without) my armband, just after sunrise and have never been hassled, even off the designated up hill route. I wave to the snowmachines going by, whether patrol or trail crews, and they wave back. When it’s dark I wear a headlamp.
    The prize? I get to ski down an untracked powder run, before the lifts have started. Then if the lineups are bad, I look for a friend to go off and tour far from the resort.

  16. wtofd February 10th, 2017 11:46 am

    See, you could be overthinking it. Many resorts ask you to skin the outermost trails. If you stay to the resort boundary line of those trails you will never cross a fall line or trail intersection.
    It’s a great way to grow the sport on public land leased to private entities. The resorts get to manage it and make money, and the people get to be outdoors, exercise and spread the gospel.

  17. Frame February 10th, 2017 2:12 pm

    See, as wtofd mentioned and uphill up the side of the piste, little zigzag, might need your high heel lifters in spots. In Austria, there are lots of small areas, less than 5 lifts, still with a nice restaurant and just near a town, so people can get there for a few hours.

  18. Kyle February 10th, 2017 2:35 pm

    That toe piece looks like the ticket for splitboarders that use a hardboot setup, assuming its strong enough to endure some abuse (:

  19. Wookie1974 February 15th, 2017 2:26 am

    Resort uphilling in Europe is most certainly a thing….but its not without controversy. The Bayrische Zugspitzbahn (Germany’s Highest Mountian) tried to ban it, was sued, and lost. (The Bavarian Constitution specifically mandates free access to the alps, whether public or private land).
    The situation in Tirolia is less open – resorts there DO have the ability to limit access, and some have. Others have not, but have continuing complaints as well as praise.

    In principle – I think the idea is OK – not great – just OK. In practice – I have to say its a nightmare. I ski with the kids most weekends in Hochfügen, Tirolia, and at times, the number of uphillers outnumber downhillers. Most are very considerate and smart, but its a common occurance to have a group of 7 walking up the piste shoulder to shoulder and effectively blocking the entire path. Thankfully, the majority of them do not appear to know how to do a kick-turn, so at least they aren’t traversing. Some of the resorts have responded positively and created uphill paths, some even with snowmaking! Unfortunately – these are just ignored by a subset of the tourers.

    At this point – despite the fact that my primary hobby is touring, I’d support a full-on ban. I’d prefer, however, to see the community self-police in a way similar to how we’ve done with avalanche safety.

  20. Dan February 15th, 2017 6:52 am

    Seeing self-professed tourers support an uphilling ban at resorts is sad.
    What happened with the old common-sense? why would someone going down have more rights than someone going up? why can’t both use common sense and mind their own business? if you go down you are responsible to go around others, no matter what they do. If you go up you are responsible to stay out of the way as much as possible, but downhillers should understand that sometimes you HAVE to traverse the slope.
    An outright ban is silly. People who go uphill will also ski and pay lift tickets, etc. Resort operators should design and enforce rules if they feel it’s needed, but a complete ban is exaggerated.

  21. wtofd February 15th, 2017 7:31 am

    Wookie, you have much more recent experience in the Alps, but I was in Alta Badia over Christmas and I was the only one skinning at the resorts. Everyone (except a lift operator who was disappointed that I wore skins on his lift) was either mildly bemused or outright thrilled to see me. Ski patrol, ski school, drag lift ops, random skiers all flashed huge smiles or waves. Seemed like I was an oddity not the rule. Just a much more developed uphill culture in the Zillertal?

  22. See February 15th, 2017 10:09 am

    I think his blogness pretty well nailed it: “This whole “resort touring” thing will vary greatly by region and specific resort… some of the resorts are indeed simply too crowded for uphilling to be appropriate during operating hours.” In my opinion, resorts have lifts which favors downhill skiing.

  23. Lou Dawson 2 February 15th, 2017 10:26 am

    Just resort uphilled a lunch tour today at Pampiago, Italy due to Dolomite not having much snow for backcountry touring. Wasn’t the best resort uphill route I’ve done but it was ok, with beautiful views and a top notch Italian resturant. Kelchsau, Austria is one of the nicer ones, as are the alternating night routes around Innsbruck that lead you to a beautiful restaurant open under the stars.

  24. Lou Dawson 2 February 15th, 2017 10:30 am

    wtofd, yes, you’re going to find that resort uphilling culture is quite varied all over the world. The places I usually do it are so used to it that it’s just part of the scene. No value judgment on it, nothing unusual about it, the restaurants like the business, etc. And as I mentioned, Dynafit is figuring fully 30% of people buying new touring setups are planning on mostly or totally using their gear at resorts., for uphilling. Lou

  25. benwls February 15th, 2017 11:22 am

    I’ve seen folks resort-touring on snow skates in the Dolomites. Old Fritschis on what looked like 80 cm skis.

  26. Patrick February 16th, 2017 12:55 am

    Hi Lou, I haven’t found yet any information regarding the compatibility of the new Dynafit TLT7 Performance and the Marker KingPin.

    So with that, there seem to be also no serious chance to use a Völkl VTA lite 88 or BMT94 with the new Dynafit Boots?

    Reason for that is obviously the mounting H on the Völkl Ski’s, which only allow weither bindings and the BMT is anyway recommended for the KingPin.

    For the TLT5/TLT6 was a chance to solve that problem with the special din adapter.

    Is there already a working solution or have you already something figured out to make those things work in a way which is acceptable regarding the risk of lack of Binding release?

    I really appreciate your answer and looking forward to that.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 February 16th, 2017 2:41 am

    Hello Patrick, Kingpin is difficult to evaluate without actually placing the boot in the binding. I have not had a chance to do so because of circumstances beyond my control. When I return from Europe to U.S. I may have everything I need to do the test, depending on Dynafit.

    BUT, why not just use the DIN adapter if necessary? That way, probably no question you can use Kingpin:

    Are you working with a ski shop? That might be a better way to find out exactly what binding/ski/boot combination would be perfect, as this does get confusing. For example, I have no problem using any binding with VTA 88, but I do not use big boots nor am I a large fast skier.

  28. Patrick February 17th, 2017 5:16 pm

    The problem is that the TLT 7 got another fixation of the Dynafit insert. On the TLT 5/6 the screw was outside and from the TLT 7 line on screwed inside under the insole. Also the two inserts are different. I’am really cirious what your thoughts are about that when you get the chance to try that after you returned

  29. Lou Dawson 2 February 17th, 2017 10:39 pm

    Oh, so you’re talking about the process of removing the TLT7 rear insert and replacing with the Kingpin adapter. Indeed, the TLT7 rear adapter is through bolted instead of simply being screwed on from the outside. Sure, I’ll check it out once lI have samples (Dynafit had to delay the samples). But I have to ask why this fixation on using all this stuff that involves worries about adapters, bindings widths, etc. There is so much good gear out there, how about picking stuff that’s more compatible?

  30. Daniel February 26th, 2017 11:50 am

    Hi all, maybe not the best thread to ask, but didn’t want to dig much deeper…

    Problem is: I am the happiest user of the Dynafit Zzero line of boots. I have one 4C and two of the late release carbon green machines with almost full carbon cuffs. So these fit me great. But supplies dry out…
    I am having serious trouble finding a replacement. It’s not the fit as such, as my feet are somewhat average 99mms. It’s the rear upper edge of the lower shell biting into my calf/achilles in walk mode when standing straight or walking. 5 minutes in a vulcan give my two days of pressure point. Same in Maestrales, Maestrale RS, zeroG…
    Seems the Zzero Shell has a not too deep heel pocket that very smoothly transfers upwards via a lid that covers the transiton zone. No pressure even when leaning all the way back. others curve so far and sharply towards the achilles that i cannot stand it.
    Do I have weird anatomy? I have skied Zzeros since 2009 and was unaware this could be a problematic area…
    Thanks for your input regarding recent boots, and the issue as such.
    In terms of cuff lean and genral alignment is seem to like Dynafits offerings, so making one of their boots happen would be great.

  31. Lou Dawson 2 February 26th, 2017 3:30 pm

    Hi Daniel, that is not common but seems to me would be an easy fix for a boot fitter. If no joy from that, try some other brands, perhaps Scott Cosmos 2 or now 3, and La Sportiva various offerings. Lou

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