It’s amazing how little changed alpine ski boots are since Bob Lange invented the injection molded plastic ski boot in the mid 1950s. The same goes for randonnee boots. Dig out your old plastic touring boots from the 1970s and chances are they’ll have an overlap cuff, ratchet buckles, a walk/ski touring lock — and of course weigh a ton. At least today’s boots weigh less. And they’re usually more comfortable. But overall, every year it seems like most AT boots prove that old adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Thankfully (as in THANK GOD), sometimes a company tries to rise above the fray by revamping most of their line. One outfit doing that this year is Dynafit. For the coming 2007/2008 sales season, Dynafit has invested an immense amount of money and time into creating a boot selection that’s almost entirely new (along with revamping their entire product line, but more on that later). The boot selection comprises nine models that vary from the classic but improved TLT 4 lightweight, all the way up to an entirely new “freeride” boot they call the Zzero C-MF. At the European sales meeting I played around with a sample pair of Zzero, and Fritz Barthel skied them (I tried them on, but the sample size was too small for me to ski). The line is beautifully designed and well engineered, and Fritz was impressed by how well the Zzero skied. Read on.
|Zzero above. Yep, this is your basic overlap cuff & tongue boot with a touring latch. Difference is weight vs skiablility. The black exoskeleton on the side is a “Powerstringer” made with true carbon fiber. The tongue also has carbon fiber reinforcement on top. Mechanically attaching super lightweight but stiff carbon fiber to the boot allows use of a thinner and lighter shell. Result, a claimed weight of 1595 grams (27.5 shell) for a boot that may ski as well as any other Dynafit compatible performance boot available. For comparison I weighed other boots we have here at WildSnow.com and take my word for it, 1595 grams is quite light for a performance 4 buckle. Will the final production version be as light? The samples did weigh as stated above (there was a scale at the event), and they appeared to be a real production version rather than a mockup, so my guess is this boot will be a true winner in the weight category.
While making boots lighter for equal performance is exciting, if they hurt your feet who really cares if they save a few sausage slices in weight. To that end, the reinforcement on top of the tongue is the new Dynafit boot’s most interesting feature. The idea is to keep the tongue thin enough to walk well and save weight, while allowing you to slam the buckles tight without deforming the tongue down on top of your foot and producing torture worthy of any medieval dungeon. The idea seemed to work when I tried the boots on, and I’m optimistic things will be similar in real-world use.
Also regarding the reinforced tongue, some boot users I know and respect insist on having the instep buckle located more at the break of the ankle (as with Scarpa) than that of the new Dynafits. I’ve preferred this as well, at least I did prior to Dynafit’s new tongue design. Judging from the way the Dynafit boots felt when I tried them on, at least with this type of tongue design the instep buckle location is now something we won’t have to worry about. However, for the final opinion on that I’ll defer to Bob P. after he gets to try these, hopefully later this winter.
There are only three things about the Zzero I’d change — and they’re not deal breakers. The walk/ski mode selector (lean lock) has two positions, the boot lacks a cant rivet and the bright green color seems out of character for today’s sartorial preferences. At WildSnow.com we’ve always disliked having two lean positions to pick from, as it’s difficult to select the correct one when you’re in extreme conditions, and skiing with forward lean you’re not used to can be strenuous and lead to unexpected falls. But the Dynafit boot designers insist this is something consumers want (I guess we’re non conformists). To compensate for non-adjustable cant the boots have quite a bit of built-in positive cuff cant. That might be good for most of the skiing population, but what if you need neutral or negative canting? In that case, you’ll have to harass a boot fitter to modify the boot. As for the color, hey, Italiano, what more can I say?
While I don’t have space or time to detail all nine Dynafit models, here is a summary: Zzero is also sold in a less expensive model without the carbon fiber (stiff plastic is used for the reinforcements), and in a polyurethane model that’s the stiffest and most aggressive of all the Dynafit 4 buckle models. Beyond that, a couple of three buckle boots are included in the line as well as three models of the TLT lightweights. All the boots look worthy.
Dynafit boots are designed by a group of ex patriots from Garmont who still work in the Montebelluna region of Italy where something like 90% of the world’s ski boots are designed and made. The boot last is similar to Garmont in that it’s lower volume than Scarpa and a bit lower over the instep. More importantly for me (and I believe critical for many skiers), the Dynafit last is very flat under the foot arch, which should make using custom footbeds much easier than doing so with high arched randonnee boot shells such as Scarpa. I met the top Dynafit boot designers and they were sincere upbeat individuals who were passionate about their work. This really is a stunning boot line — an honor to our sport. Sadly, the new Dynafit boots are not up on the Dynafit website, but I’d imagine they will be soon. In the meantime, you’ve got little old WildSnow.com reporting from the source!
|And for all of you who simply want pure downhill ability, this is the Zzero polyurethane model. It’s semi transparent, a nice shade of red, and stiff as all getout. I tried them on and they felt just like a nice pair of alpine boots.|
For all you fanatics who want every drop of into, here is the offical Dynafit press release from December (lightly edited, but still needs a koolaid warning):
Munich, Germany December 2006
Dynafit Zzero Ski Touring Boot Line
For the winter season 2007/2008 Dynafit is launching the lightest ski touring boot in each of its categories with the innovative ZZero. The complete category ski-touring supplier is setting new standards in terms of weight, performance, elegance and fit- from itâ€™s ski touring boot facility in Montebelluna, Italy.
The Dynafit brand places performance first. From a design team focused firmly on athlete feedback- the new ZZero ski mountaineering boot line was born. Years of testing advanced boot design in the worlds toughest proving grounds, the high mountains from the Alps to the Himalaya, has produced a performance driven ski mountaineering boot without rival.
Every detail of the Dynafit ZZero meets the challenges of a ski tour. The ideal thickness of shell has been studied in order to obtain the lightest possible ski touring boot range that is capable of delivering full support and superb downhill performance. Cutting edge material choices from Carbon Fiber to Pebax, is positioned on the boot for real world results.
Revolutionary technology (in select models) provides a full Carbon Fiber Power Stringer for incredible, torsional, downhill support without weight increase. Carbon Fiber is also used in the boot tongue for increased protection of the top of the skiers foot area from the pressure of the two lower buckles.
The Dynafit boot designers have developed the optimum last that matches the anatomy of the foot and created a perfect fit for the most sensitive area of the body.
The new ultra light Dynagrip sole offers maximum performance when it comes to grip and prevention of slipping. Vertical and horizontal grooves increase traction on ice and snow. An ultra light expanded polyurethane layer has been integrated into the mid-sole to reduce weight and increase the insulation thermal effect both from the foot and ground.
The newly developed boot (ZZero) fully complies with the ISO 9532 the compatibility with the standard ski touring binding. The ZZero line offers boot versions of two, three or four ultra light, micro-adjustable, magnesium buckles. The newly patented ski-walk mechanism can be locked in different downhill positions (15Â° and 21Â°) and can be unlocked for walking. The total cuff rotation of 30Â° makes it easier to take longer strides when walking or skinning. All ZZero models feature the new quick-step in Dynafit insert which dramatically increases the ease and quickness of clicking into all Dynafit ski touring bindings.
The Dynafit ZZero is available with TF-Thermoflex or MF-Multiform Liners. The Thermoflex inner boot decreases overall weight while providing improved support and personal custom fit thanks to its thermoform- heat to fit- ability. The new MF inner boot is the lightest and most comfortable traditional liner available and more downhill oriented than the TF Liner. It is highly abrasion resistant and breathable, with advanced materials chosen for the exterior, the padding and on the internal lining.
The new Dynafit ZZero was created in the Headquarters of the Salewa Footwear Division in Montebelluna, Italy, under the supervision of Mario Sartor who has over 35 years experience in making mountaineering, trekking, ski and ski touring boots.