Shootout at the White Corral — Fritschi, Dynafit, Silvretta Pure

Post by blogger | June 8, 2007      

Independence Pass in Colorado got a nice coating of white over the past few days. I’ve been meaning to do a final evaluation of the 07/08 Silvretta Pure Freeride binding, what better way than a trip up to Indy and a bit of powder skiing with Louie and Jason, who are still high from recently experiencing their last day of school for the year. Nice to be around some contagious enthusiasm, being the jaded, yawn, backcountry skier that I am (smile). We all use the same size boots, so during the uphill we swapped between Silvretta, Fritschi and Dynafit bindings. Interesting!

Backcountry skiing binding review comparo.
After the climb, a reward was had (Louie skiing in photo above) as we roped some snow dawgies in the White Corall. We didn’t trade bindings on the descent, no need, as I’ve done plenty of downhill comparison skiing on Pures and their characteristics are well known — mainly a high stack height and more flex (when boot cuff is forced left and right) than most other AT bindings. While you do notice a change in stiffness between Pure Freeride and a Dynafit or Fritschi when comparing side-by-side, the difference is probably not a big factor for most people. Demo if in doubt.

(Note that this years lighter model Pure, the “Performance,” has been upgraded with solid carbon rails and thus is similar in stiffness to the Freeride — early “Performance” models had hollow rails and resultant flex that some skiers have found to be disconcerting, myself included. I did my flex test on both new and last year’s Pure Freeride, with the bindings side-by-side on the bench. This year’s model is virtually the same flex as last year’s — no surprise there as the construction is nearly the same.)

Backcountry skiing binding review comparo.
One of the famed (and sometimes feared) test crew climbing with the Pures. The important thing we tested is the rearward location of the Pure pivot point, which is said to make the binding more efficient. They did feel good in a stride, though the stack height is a bit disconcerting at first. The question of the day: Do they feel any better than a Dynafit? Read on.

Backcountry skiing binding review comparo.
The fun and enlightening thing about our day was swapping bindings and skis with each other, as well as having different bindings on each foot. In this shot I’m touring with a Pure on one foot and Dynafit on the other, Scarpa Matrix boots. I noticed an almost imperceptible difference, as the Dynafit pivot, while a few millimeters ahead of the Pure, is still adequate. Louie has Spirit 3 boots that have the Dynafit pivot located farther back (“touring optimized”) than other boots, and he noticed no difference in stride. (Our skis were all similar in length and weight, so nothing funny going on with that.)

Backcountry skiing binding review comparo.
The big, but expected difference was with the Fritschi (comparo shown above), which compared to both Pure and Dynafit definitely had a less efficient stride. No big news there, as the Fritschi “FrankenStride” is a well known phenomenon. Nonetheless, having a Fritschi on one foot and Pure on the other brought the point home in a powerful, or rather, uncomfortable way — the difference was amazing!

Backcountry skiing binding review comparo.
More of the reward. Jason skiing. On his Fritschis.

Conclusions: The 07/08 Pure Freeride is a welcome improvement to the Pure line. Its ergonomic stride, field maintainable pivot and slightly lighter weight than a Fritschi all combine in a package we can easily recommend for less aggressive skiers of average weight, especially those who don’t want the fiddle factor of a Dynafit. More, this latest model should be considered by any backcountry skier looking for a combination of step-in convenience and efficient touring. Bear in mind this is not a durability review or comparison — we’ll let consumer testing take care of that, and will report sometime early next winter. Thus, everyone who takes the plunge as an early adopter of the 07/08 Pure line, please send feedback once you’ve been on them for a while.

(Someone is going to ask where Naxo fits into all this. I did a similar comparo a while back, between Naxo and Dynafit. In my opinion Naxo has the best stride on the flats and low angle terrain of any binding, but once on the steeps the Naxo advantage becomes little to none. And check out the excellent guest camparo that Scott Newman did between Naxo and Fritschi.)


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13 Responses to “Shootout at the White Corral — Fritschi, Dynafit, Silvretta Pure”

  1. Mark June 8th, 2007 6:08 pm

    Might be the hottest and most humid day here so far, but it’s good to see some still carving the white. Great comparison article.

  2. Frank June 10th, 2007 8:50 am

    Lou, since you’re always up on the dynafit thing, here’s some questions:

    Would a dynafit binding be able to handle a bigger boot, i.e. a tornado or endorphin (if they were dynafit compatible)?

    Could Dynafit make a “freeride” binding that could accept a bigger boot, maybe by making the pins a little longer or something?

    I’m only asking because while I like some things about the Dynafit binding, there is nothing that I like about dynafit compatible boots. I have a hard enough time skiing in my Adrenalins, I’m hoping that I will like Tornados or Endorphins better next year. I just have too much of a racing and big-mtn freeskiing background to have fun in a boot that doesn’t deliver performance on the way DOWN.

    I know you want to see lighter stuff on your end of things, but I don’t think that the pendulum has finished swinging towards the more aggressive skiing side of things yet. In the meantime, I’ll keep skiing in my tecnicas and fritchis anytime I want some downhill performance.

  3. Mark June 10th, 2007 4:12 pm

    Garmont is producing a boot that is so much like a true World Cup race boot that it will outperform any other AT boot completely (on the downhill of course). I’ve held it in my hands, and I can attest to the fact that this boot is equal parts art and science–art like an Aston Martin sports car in a James Bond film. It will likely be very expensive and available only in limited numbers. Dynafit compatible? Unlikely.

  4. kd June 10th, 2007 4:38 pm

    I’d rather be skiing right now.

  5. Frank June 10th, 2007 4:52 pm


    Was this boot at the OR show? (didn’t go to SIA) I saw Garmont’s alpine boot (I think it’s just a dobermann), but I didn’t see anything else. I wouldn’t expect it to be Dynafit compatible, although I remain curious if Dynafit now or as a theoretical freeride version would ever be able to handle a big boot. Thoughts, Lou?

  6. Mark June 10th, 2007 6:38 pm

    You may have seen the same boot, but I don’t know if it was at OR.

  7. Lou June 11th, 2007 4:57 am

    The Garmont boot was indeed at OR, and of course the omnipresent minions documented it right here in this blog. It’s called the Shamen and is the last word in stiff randonee boots, though it might be pushing the definition of such. See the blog post here:

  8. Lou June 11th, 2007 5:19 am

    Frank, with an average sized person I’m certain the Dynafit can handle a stiffer boot in terms of binding durability, and stiffer Dynafit compatible boots keep popping up here and there. Though all the stiffer Dynafit compatible boots to this date have not been quite as stiff as, for example, and Adrenaline. What I’d be more concerned about with using Dynafit with super stiff boot and aggressive skiing is the quirks of the binding, such as the slightly limited vertical elasticity in the heel.

    That said, I think you’re limiting your horizons. A skier as good as you should be able to thoroughly enjoy a boot such as Scarpa Spirit 4 combined with Dynafit, provided you give your neuromuscular system time to adjust to new timing and slightly different ergonomics. Thousands of great skiers all over the world use such systems and are very happy with them.

    Sure, if you’re landing 40 foot cliff hucks at 60 mph you’ll want something different, but how often are you doing that during your ski mountaineering trips?

    In my opinion, the only big downside to Dynafit for extreme skiing is the difficulty of getting in to the binding in awkward places. That is a real problem for some people, but the only way to find out if it’s a problem for your style of skiing would be to try them out.

    Another thing, Dynafit has their Green Machine boot (Zzero in Dynafit lingo) coming out this fall, which is quite stiff, though jury is out on just how stiff for/aft compared to Adrenaline type boot.

    And lastly, it’s a secret advantage that Dynafit fans are loath to share, but the Dynafit binding introduces an element of stiffness into the system that compensates for boot flex, especially lateral flex — the kind of flex produced by forces moving your boot cuff from side to side. If that’s the kind of stiffness and response you’re looking for, you might be surprised how precise and quick a Dynafit binding feels even with a relatively soft boot. There, the secret is out.

    Everyone, will Frank be Dynatized? Stay tuned.

  9. Frank June 11th, 2007 8:20 pm

    I guess i did see the shaman, but the lack of a walk mode must have convinced me that it wasn’t even trying to be an AT boot. I believe that I am correct in it being just a Nordica dobermann with a vibram sole, BTW.

    “advantage that Dynafit fans are loath to share”– I don’t know if that exists- fans of Apple products don’t have a thing on fans of Dynafit when it comes to trying to prove their beloved product line is better 😉

    “That said, I think you’re limiting your horizons. A skier as good as you should be able to thoroughly enjoy a boot such as Scarpa Spirit 4 combined with Dynafit, provided you give your neuromuscular system time to adjust to new timing and slightly different ergonomics.”– I am already doing that with my Adrenalins (not to mention too skinny, too light, BD Verdict skis), and i don’t like it one bit. I could adjust my skiing for some circa 1940 leather boots, too, but I don’t have any desire to do that either. I am not a large man by any means, but I blow right through the flex of an adrenaline, and then the boot blows up around the ankle and the boot gets sloppy and then the skiing gets sloppy. I don’t like to turn, I like to go fast, and I like to get air. You are right when you say that I’m not always dropping 40′ and going 60, but I want to be. If Dynafit bindings can truly accept bigger boots, then it’s time to make those boots dynafit compatible and see what happens.

    Before the Adrenalin, there were no boots that came close to offering anything in terms of downhill performance, and I (and 95% of the people I ski with) toughed it out with alpine boots and Fritchis/Trekkers. What boot will I be in next year- not sure, but it will be much stiffer than the Adrenalin, for sure. Will I be “dynatized”? Odds are better that I will win the lottery, unless a Dynafit-compatible boot comes out that is much much stiffer than anything currently offered for dynafit comes out, and I can then try the dynafit binding and see if I like it.

    Geez, it must be summer, I totally stirred the pot on purpose 😉

  10. Lou June 12th, 2007 8:14 am

    Hi Frank, looks like you’re not even close to being Dynatized (grin).

    Apologies in advance for stating the obvious and things you probably know, but it all bears repeating. If you like to go fast and turn as little as possible, you are NOT a candidate for most AT gear out there. First, I’d forget about AT skis and just mount a good pair of alpine skis that you like for that style of skiing. Second, the Freeride Plus seems to work for your style, so I’d stick with it. Marker Duke is also an option. Third, the technology exists to mount vibram on alpine boots. If I wanted a rig for the kind of aggressive skiing you describe, I’d do that immediately and forget trying to mess around with AT boots.

    No whining about the weight of this stuff. At your age and with the amount of days you get in, you’re plenty strong to carry all that.

    And in a few years, as the fires of youth fade, perhaps Dynatization is still possible (grin).

    Indeed, just leave the Dynafit stuff for guys like me so we can keep up with the young turks. Works great for that.

  11. Lee June 12th, 2007 1:49 pm

    The Dynafit boot I reviewed was incredibly stiff. A step up from even a Mega Ride modified with a Scarpa Tornado tongue and booster straps. In the Couloirmag forum thread where I posted my review someone else who had experience with Adrenalines said it was stiffer. I know it sounds crazy but that Dynafit boot was laterally comparably stiff to an alpine boot

    The Spirit 4 is not as stiff as the Dynafit ZZero CF but still very stiff.

    Thanks for the article Lou. Interesting stuff.

  12. Lee June 12th, 2007 1:51 pm

    Here’s the thread where the review was posted fyi – hope this isn’t considered spamming

  13. Randonnee January 27th, 2008 6:46 pm

    Lou, I have a Silvretta Pure related question. I am tempted to order the Silvretta Pure Kidz randonnee binding for my soon to be 9 year-old daughter. My thoughts include safety concerns, in that will the Pure release safely enough for my little blonde girl? Logically, I think yes it would, but does anyone out there have an opinion?

    The other small issue is finding the narrow ski brake. Thus far I have found the 80 mm Pure ski stopper only at at about 70 Euros including shipping to my home. The 90 mm stopper is what I have found in the US thus far for about $40. I suppose the 90 mm would work on her 70 mm waist ski, but the 80mm would be better.


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