Dynafit Gear 2010/2011 — Making it Lighter


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 17, 2010      

If there is any theme to this year’s Dynafit innovations, trimming weight has to be it. Most significantly as far as I’m concerned, the company has gone back to its roots with a couple of new boot models that are touring optimized. I can’t go into detail on those yet due to Dynafit’s PR plans, but suffice it to say I’m planning on getting our whole family into the new shoes just as soon as the full size run is popping out of the molds (next fall).

The new Dynafit race binding will weigh in at almost exactly 117 grams per binding. Innovations include the use of magnesium, heel unit base that only requires three screws, and some top secret stuff as well. This could well make Dynafit the leader in lightweight race bindings.

The new Dynafit race binding will weigh in at almost exactly 117 grams per binding. Innovations include the use of magnesium, heel unit base that only requires three screws, and some top secret stuff as well. This could well make Dynafit the leader in lightweight race bindings.

Where much of this gram counting is coming from is ski mountaineering (rando) racing. What’s happening is that for Dynafit to defend its image and brand, the company needs good race gear that gets used in the hugely popular European races. Hence, last year they came up with a good racing ski and their highly optimized Dy.N.A competition boot.

For this coming year, the comp boot pollinated to the new touring boots mentioned above, and experience with building race skis no doubt informed the construction of their whole ski line (most of which has become quite respected for the blending of weight savings and performance).

Indeed, since the Dynafit brand re-launch in 2006, the company has become a major player in the touring boot and ski market. That on top of owning the touring ski binding market.

In terms of numbers, Dynafit claims they grew an amazing 70% overall during their last sales cycle.

70% sounds crazy for these economic times, but my gut tells me that the company did indeed experience substantial growth. The staff is just too happy and the new gear too cool (and expensive to develop) for me to think otherwise.

As for bindings, it’s time anyone who thinks touring with Dynafits is a fringe sport to get real. Every year these guys sell a binding count in the middle five figures. Every year, thousands and thousands of new Dynafits — on top of the huge backlog of older but still functioning bindings you see backcountry skiers using worldwide.

Thus, since it’s the binding that defines the Dynafit brand, the company has not ignored the plethora of knockoffs that have appeared since (and even before) inventor Fritz Barthel’s patents began expiring a few years ago.

I don’t think anyone can know the exact number of “Dynafit” (AKA “tech”) style binding models you can find now, but it could be dozens, since any competent machinist can make a version in their garage shop and sell them out of the trunk of their car. And some of those alternative bindings are quite nice, with several going mainstream.

Thing is, because the non Dynafit brand tech bindings are usually (or at least ostensibly) built for racing, then makers don’t have to adhere to pesky safety standards and that sort of thing. Hence, the alternate bindings have gotten lighter — way lighter.

Talk about a thorn in your side. Can you imagine being Dynafit and watching all these companies come up with lighter weight bindings than yours?

We’ll, at least for a little while Dynafit may win the weight game. I can speak from personal experience that they’re using every last nuance of space age materials technology and design chutzpah to produce a fully functional ski binding which weighs 117 grams. That is not a typo. The things are real — In fact, I’m sitting a few yards from the shop where the prototyping and design was done, and where the last details are being tweaked for the retail production version.

(There are other bindings on the market that claim weights quite low, but some don’t have side release and others simply make weight claims that are inaccurate.)

Playing around with lighter weight gear is better than doing drugs and costs more. But other than those pluses, how does Dynafit making a 117 gram binding really benefit those of use who will never buy it?

The way it all works is this:

Ski touring gear is heavy. Look at it this way. You go for a mountain run or a hike with minimal gear, and you’ve got maybe what, five pounds of stuff including your shoes? Go ski touring, and even with the latest fully optimized kit you’ll still be lugging at least four times that. You’ll still have fun — and you had fun 40 years ago when the weight burden was double. But admit it, there are times going uphill on skis when the weight pulls back on your groin muscles, or your back hurts, and you’d have more fun with less mass.

Did we think of it first here at WildSnow.com? No matter, now Dynafit has seen the light and is selling titanium binding screws for a whopping savings of  11.7 grams, or the weight of about two nickles in your pocket.

Did we think of it first here at WildSnow.com? No matter, now Dynafit has seen the light and is selling titanium binding screws for a whopping savings of 11.7 grams, or the weight of about two nickles in your pocket.

So, we have a lively race scene going, and Dynafit uses their financial resources to do materials and design development inspired by competition. Eventually some of those things filter down to the regular ski touring products, your gear ends up lighter, and you have more fun.

It’s really no more complicated than that. You can sit around and moan about how stupid it is to spend upwards of $50 for a sack of titanium binding screws. And yes, just that one thing might be ridiculous. Yet a year from now, perhaps all bindings will have ti screws and we’ll be moving on to the next thing, and the combined weight of all our gear continues to drop.

Proof of life: yesterday, a casual ski tour in the Alps. We climbed 4,000 vertical feet in about 2 hours, without struggle. Just a nice cardio pace that squeezed out enough endorphins to make the summit feel special. Then some skiing. Nothing earth shattering. Just simple athletic fun enhanced by not having a load of gear dragging you down. The lighter the better, I say.



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Comments

27 Responses to “Dynafit Gear 2010/2011 — Making it Lighter”

  1. harpo January 17th, 2010 10:51 am

    Lou,

    I will be interested to see how the new race tech effects Dyna touring tech.

    Also, can you do a count down to when you will publish info on the new Dyna boots like you did with the BD Efficient series?

    Have fun in Europe.

  2. Lou January 17th, 2010 11:03 am

    I’m supposed to blog about the new boots on the 18th, so probably my next post. I’ll talk about the skis soon after, but I don’t see the skis being as big a deal as the boots.

  3. gillesleskieur January 17th, 2010 11:49 am

    Lou, you’ve got me very excited about your Dynafit skis review anyway… matter of taste I guess…

  4. AJ January 17th, 2010 12:26 pm

    You mean the TLT 5 boots? :biggrin:

  5. Anne January 17th, 2010 12:31 pm

    Lou,

    I’d like to share some photos of skiing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Do you have a photo gallery or area where your readers can check out photos from ski areas around the world?

    Thanks!
    Anne :cheerful:

  6. Christian January 17th, 2010 12:48 pm

    Light is important, but I was actually hoping for an even more freeride oriented binding — one aimed at the +100mm waist skis — a binding for the Pontoons and Megawatts. It seems the backcountry surge now is driven by the fact that rocker and wide skis make off piste accessible to the masses… Here in Norway everybody seems to go wide.

    The TLT5 looks promising. Wonder what it will be like compared to the Tlt 4. It looks more ski oriented (higher) but maybe not so good for walking?

  7. Jonathan Shefftz January 17th, 2010 2:18 pm

    So here I was writing up my review of the DyNA, and I was about to start going off on how amazing well the boot skis, and how if it was just a wee bit taller, along with a velcro strap and tongue, I wouldn’t even think about bothering to use my much beloved Zzero4 in the backcountry. Maybe even offer an econo version w/o the cf.
    Some googling reveals that Dynafit has come up with exactly that for next year…

  8. ScottP January 17th, 2010 2:41 pm

    What about pressure from the other side? What about more “user friendly” competitors like the G3 Onyx that aren’t as concerned with weight? It seems that Dynafit’s fighting a war on two fronts these days. It’ll be interesting to see if they end up making any changes in response to the Onyx as well.

  9. Tuck January 17th, 2010 4:20 pm

    Ti screws! Lou’s dream come true! Congratulations.

  10. Mike January 17th, 2010 8:00 pm

    Just had my first day on the Manaslus (new boots as well) so things certainly felt different compared to my old Dynafit FR 10’s. Anyway when I put the skis beside each other I noticed how much further back the bindings are on the Manaslus — a full two inches. Both skis are 187’s. What gives? Maybe Randonee can chime in as I believe you own both?

  11. Jonathan Shefftz January 17th, 2010 8:14 pm

    I’ve had the FT 10, the Manaslu, and the Mustagh Ata Superlight (basically just a lighter version of the FT 10 and FR 10, and with inserts). All 169cm, with 26.5 boots whose BSL that went from 301mm (Matrix) to 296mm (Zzero4) to 287mm (DyNA).
    For the FT 10, I mounted using the ball of foot method — I can’t remember how that came out compared to the suggested mounting point.
    For the Manaslu and MA SL, the sticker suggested using the aft set of toe holes, but instead I used the fore. They feel just right that way.

  12. cgd January 17th, 2010 10:30 pm

    The Onyx will be a distant memory in a few years, the user friendly PR angle is overblown and contrived, nice try G3.

  13. Lou January 18th, 2010 12:41 am

    Tuck,yeah, you heard the idea here first, quite some years ago.

    I actually tried to find some titanium screws that would work for binding screws but never had any success. As far as I know, the Dynafit ones had to be made specifically so they match regular screws. Getting them made is really not all that expensive if the quantity is high enough.

  14. Lou January 18th, 2010 12:43 am

    Anne,
    If you’d like to do a guest blog please contact us using the contact link in the menu above. We don’t have a user photo gallery, we leave that sort of thing up to Facebook.

    Lou

  15. Lou January 18th, 2010 12:50 am

    Christian,
    Without changing the “tech” boot/binding interface, most “freeride” binding changes are cosmetic. I suppose they could beef up some of the Dynafit binding parts, but frankly, I don’t know of the binding breaking very often even when used with big skis. In fact, as far as I know it doesn’t break any more often than an alpine binding, and like an alpine binding, such breakage is usually caused by impact, not by normal use….

    So, the FT12 is the Dynafit freeride binding. Yeah, it doesn’t look bulky like a Duke, but that’s the point. It’s supposed to be light, with less mass. Otherwise, just use a Duke or Baron.

  16. Lou January 18th, 2010 12:58 am

    In terms of what will filter down from race gear to regular gear, the answer is just about everything…

    Boot designs, materials such as magnesium and carbon fiber. More, the _attitude_ of racing, that of being light on your feet and fluid in your movements instead of slogging around, is a good influence that leads to more enjoyment of the sport for average folks.

    I should add that we can most certainly enjoy our sport with the gear as is, and indeed, much of how one enjoys a sport is based on mental attitude, not equipment. But the gear does play a role in the enjoyment level.

  17. gringo January 18th, 2010 10:56 am

    mag is light alright…but the tendance towards quick oxidation (porosities and weakening) would keep the material out of any of my bindings….

  18. Lou January 18th, 2010 11:13 am

    I guess how you coat it is the key.

  19. Joey January 18th, 2010 12:43 pm

    Lou –

    I know many of your readers dismiss the limitation of Dynafit’s transition from ski back to tour, but both the Onyx and the binding coming out from Ski Trab in 2010/2011 both go for pole activated switching from ski back to tour. I’d be curious what the Dynafit folks say. Where I ski there are frequently rolling approaches to great big vertical runs so I constantly hear folks talking about wanting Dynafit lightness with a simpler switch from ski to tour.

    If you’re stopping by the trab factory, it be good to hear how their binder is coming along.

    Joey

  20. RHSman January 18th, 2010 3:17 pm

    Manaslu’s have a bigger tip which starts rising earlier (newer technology( so in fact they might be 183’s but they are actually shorter effective edge but more float and poke!!

  21. ffelix January 18th, 2010 6:27 pm

    @Joey: switch from ski to tour mode on your right ski without stepping out like this:

    1. Lock the toe,
    2. Stick the handle of your ski pole between your boot & the binding riser from your right side,
    3. Rotate the ski pole backward quickly.

    The heel will release & the binding will rotate around to tour mode if you do it right. For the left ski, do the same thing, but you have to reach across from the inside rather than starting on the outside.

    Clear as mud?

    Doesn’t work if you have Comfort brakes.

  22. Wes Morrison January 18th, 2010 11:39 pm

    Lou-

    I just got a pair of Vertical ST, and am trying to find out the best way to lift the toe and decrease the ramp angle. I use the Marker Duke/Jester binding on all of my alpine skis, and have been using the Freeride Plus for AT. I am thinking about making a plastic shim out of cutting board material. Do I need to make a wedge shaped shim that runs the whole length of the binding, or will a toe lift alone work. I think I need about + 6-8mm more toe height.

    Any advice is appreciated.

  23. Jonathan Shefftz January 19th, 2010 2:30 am

    I’ve experimented w/ that. Get some LDPE sheets from Small Parts dot com to make some toe shims. The harder part is getting longer screws. But I might have a set of shims + screws I could sell for a small price.

  24. Christian January 19th, 2010 7:46 am

    What I was thinking of regarding a more freeride oriented binding was:
    – wider screwholes for even more stability
    – adjustment to the front binding to withstand twisting motions (not horizontal/vertical) (this is not relevant on other bindings)…with that in place I see no reason to lock the toe. (Even the dynafit ads show riders with locked toes – shouldn’t be needed). On wide skis twisting is a much bigger concern.
    – wider stoppers
    (The dynafit importer in Norway only recommends dynafit up to 110mm width)

    The dynafit binding is indeed very robust as it is – more so than duke.

  25. Lou January 19th, 2010 11:21 am

    Christian, much of the limiting factor with Dynafits is the boot/binding interface. What they’ll need to do someday is go to generation two, and do things like making the heel fitting wider and the toe fittings somewhat different. Wider screw pattern makes little to no difference. Put skis on bench and flex boots in binding, you’ll see no movement in the screws. It might look better, however (grin).

    Wider brakes, yes.

  26. Michael Silitch January 23rd, 2010 9:30 am

    Hi Lou,

    How are you?

    Wow, 117 g. When will it be out? That is even lighter than the Merrelli bindings that a team mate has. And it will be rock solid, Dynafit and a releasable toe? I think the Haereo binding has a two position toe, but haven’t confirmed it. good job to see them step it up on the binding they invented. Happy New Year.

  27. Randonnee January 23rd, 2010 10:33 am

    Mike, to answer-

    It looks like the binding on my 178 Manaslu is about one inch behind the binding of my 178 FR10. It makes sense to me given the design of the Manaslu. It was necessary to learn to stay even more neutral in stance eg not back at all on the Manaslu. I have skied also my FR10 for an early season rock ski this season and was impressed at how well I liked it- but it is skied differently. Now I am finding that although the Manaslu is so very easy turning and flexible for me, it does carry speed well. Conversly, the FR10 seems only to like speed and more energetic turns. FR10 seems unforgiving to poor or weak input, while the Manaslu responds well to any range of input- from meek to strong. Skiing the Manaslu with my Zzero3 feels like a good match, while the stiffer FR10 needs my Zzero4 and seems to like a lot of velocity on the downhill.

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