From mountains to pubs to bedrooms, currently, no other question dominates the skimo racing boots debate more than “How does DyNA Evo compare to Scarpa Alien carbon one-O?”
The big problem with answering it is that very few people actually used both boots, used them extensively, are not sponsored by either company, and have a detective-like obsession for gear testing.
The comparison follows our standard review format but otherwise it’s all Jonathan Shefftz evaluating his long term experience with these boots!
Note: Do not compare cuff heights, other dimensions, forward-lean or angles based on the above images. As two separate photos they might not be the same scale and were likely taken from slightly different angles.
Dynafit DyNA Evo and Scarpa Alien 1.0 quick overview:
- Usual full price: $1700 and $1800 USD (respectively)
- Weight: With some liner variations, both models are almost exactly three pounds for size 26 – 1360g per pair (680g/boot).
- Cost per gram: $1.25/g and $1.32/g respectively for size 26.
- Pros, both: Stunning range of resistance-free motion while skinning, transforming into equally stunning rearward support and lateral control when skinning.
- Pros, Alien 1.0 only: Astoundingly stiff in forward flex.
- Cons, both: Shells do not seal up the liners against the elements, and limited potential for fit modifications.
- Cons, Alien 1.0 only: Can such a light boot really be too … stiff?
- Cons, Evo only: Sole lugs shear off after only a few hours of off-snow travel.
- Suitability: Rando racing but also just general ski touring if you can tolerate some of the inconveniences.
- How we got it: One boot was bought from a European etailer and another via pro-form, but they came out almost exactly the same. (disclosure notices)
Even if you are coming from a prior generation race boot like the Dynafit DyNA or Scarpa F1, or the race-derived Dynafit TLT5, you will still be amazed at both the uphill and downhill capabilities of these boots.
Despite the similar bottom lines, their names accurately highlight the differences.
The Evo is an exquisitely slimmed-down rendition of the original DyNA boot (which is very similar to the Dynafit TLT5/6 design). To quote Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Dynafit has perfectly stripped out every possible bit of superfluous weight while still preserving an amazing amount of skiing performance.
By contrast, the Alien 1.0 really does live up to Scarpa’s alien technology marketing theme, with an impressively crafted design incorporating many innovative parts and exotic materials. Plus if you like the feeling of getting your money’s worth in terms of carbon fiber, then this is definitely your choice.
The two boots do deviate from each other in two areas:
The Evo sole is simply incapable of sustained off-snow travel, as merely a few cumulative hours of off-snow travel will shear off or significantly damage most of the lugs; and, the Alien 1.0 might feel overly stiff in forward flex for very lightweight skiers without significantly loosening up the cord.
How we tested them:
I bought the Dynafit DyNA Evo toward the beginning of the 2013 season and loved it so much that I have used it for over 247,000’ vertical, so almost half my earned vertical for the 2013 season. But toward the end of the season I bought the Scarpa Alien 1.0 for any tours with off-snow travel, so only a relatively modest 77,600′ vertical thus far.
Evo ski/binding setups have been a mix of Movement Fish-X + Plum 165, Hagan X-Race + Dynafit Low Tech Race, Hagan X-Ultra + La Sportiva RT, and Hagan Cirrus + Plum 165. I did not try any wider setups only because I did not have enough binding length adjustability for any of them last season.
Alien 1.0 setups have been mainly the Hagan Cirrus on spring and summer snow, except for one surprise late-season “winter” powder outing on the Movement Logic-X (remounted with the greater adjustability of the Plum Guide so as to try the Alien 1.0 in powder), plus a couple times on the Fish-X.
I haven’t used either boot for extended periods in extremely cold temperatures, plus I always keep moving anyways and find all thermo liners to be warm, so I can’t comment on their insulating properties.
First impressions – out of the box:
Actual weight for both boots is very close but not quite at spec, since my size 26 is pretty much spot-on for the 27 spec. Both boots have Dynafit’s “Quick-Step-in” toe inserts. Scarpa includes a fairly substantive user manual with actual useful information (e.g., the BOA adjustment can be disassembled for cleaning).
The fit is accurate on both boots for the interior length of my size 26, as I can just barely accommodate (sort of) the toes of my 26.5cm foot, which is therefore only slightly shorter than the 279 mm exterior BSL (base sole length). Note that the Evo’s 279 is about 1.5 mm longer than the Alien’s 279 for binding fit, although about 1.5 mm shorter for crampon fit.
For the Alien, the BSL changes in 8 and 9 mm increments, so the interior length’s relationship to stated mondo size might become skewed a bit the further away you go from my size 26. For the Evo, if you are coming from a TLT5/6, note the different shell break: my 25.5/26.0 Evo feels a bit shorter than my 26.0/26.5 TLT5, but not the full 5 mm as would be implied by the stated sizing difference.
The fit modification potential is limited for both boots. For the Evo, my favorite boot guy was able to remove of bit of excess foam (relatively speaking) from the top of the liner toe box, thereby providing my big toes with a few critical extra mm. He successfully heat molded the liner, although given its thin profile, I didn’t notice any differences after molding. The Grilamid nylon lower shell has a good record for punching/stretching in the TLT5/6 boots.
The current Evo liner is essentially a more minimal version of the already minimal TLT5 Performance TF liner (now continuing on as the European-only “CL” Custom Light, as opposed to North America’s only option of the “CR” Custom Ready).
For the Alien, the stiff foam bootboard is easily removed, and by playing with the heel height I was able to alleviate some pinching/banging of the lateral side of the back of my heel. The current liner is neither overlap nor tongued, and instead is essentially a pull-on sock with (minimal) padding in key areas.
I have not yet tried to heat the liner, and given its thin profile, its moldability is probably modest at best. And after my modest usage so far, my boot guy thought I had already essentially molded them through use. He is also fairly confident in his ability to stretch the problem area in the back of my heel.
The Evo’s partial-carbon upper cuff is shared with the TLT5/6 Performance, with the same swap-able plate for adjusting the forward lean. (Evo and TLT5 boots before the 2013 season lacked the swap-able plate, yet can be easily retrofitted with the new part.) But no optional outer tongue, no plastic fixed inner tongue, and no power strap.
The cuff provides complete coverage in back, yet leaves a large gap in front. The lower shell has a fabric cover, but if you tighten up the lower buckle, the fabric tends to sag open a bit, acting as a scoop. Plan either on wearing a race suit with an integrated gaiter, buying the Dynafit Racing Soft Shell Pant (or its Movement pant predecessor), or bringing some of the snowpack along with you.
The Alien’s forward lean is adjustable by changing a bolt position. The cuff height matches the Dynafit TLT5/6. In front, the cuff is taller than the TLT5/6 shell, but lower than the TLT5/6 optional external tongue. (The cuff of my 26 boot is shared with the 25; I don’t know if the size 27/28 cuff is even taller.)
The cuff leaves a large gap in the back between the lower shell, and a cavernous opening in the front. (The lower shell is sealed up better, although the thick fabric tongue unfortunately overlaps inside the lower shell, i.e., the reverse of the ideal overlap arrangement for sealing out water and snow.) Plan either on using the very nicely designed (and nearly weightless, yet unfortunately not costless) Alien lycra gaiter, wearing a race suit with an integrated gaiter, or bringing even more of the snowpack along with you than with the EVO.
Second impressions – in use:
For both boots, in walk/tour mode, you’re in for a shock, as the upper cuff pretty much just disappears. Flip down the Alien lever (which instantly self-aligns) or throw the Evo side lever (which sometimes requires a second of fiddling to engage), and you’re in for another shock: rearward and lateral support are both outstanding, identical to the TLT5/6 Performance.
Evo’s forward stiffness is fine for narrow skis on consolidated snow. I haven’t skied the Evo on bigger skis in unconsolidated snow, but only because I wasn’t able to adjust any of my bigger setups for the shorter BSL. Obviously this isn’t the boot for high-speed lift-served skiing on cut-up chowder, but I’m thinking it should be sufficient for use this season with a new setup somewhere in the high 80s waist width.
Alien 1.0 forward stiffness is … maybe too stiff, if that is possible for a three-pound/pair boot? Unlike Dynafit’s carbon boots, the carbon on the Alien 1.0 upper cuff wraps all the way around, while the inside of the lower shell also wraps your foot in carbon from the cuff rivets out to the heel and forefoot. And the mode switch vertical-throw lever has less than a millimeter of slop. (By contrast, Dynafit has about half a centimeter with its lateral-throw buckle.) That kind of rigidity is outstanding for lateral and rearward support, but is it too much for forward flex? I know one racer who admits to keeping the cord a bit loose to allow a little more give before the cuff locks up on him.
In the field, the Evo provided cord has a sheath that can be a bit slippery, so I advise setting up the cord first with a double fishermen. Although the lower shell buckle has only two micro positions on the lever and two macro positions on the medial side, after I had the length dialed in just right, I found the adjustability to be sufficient even with those limited options.
The fit seems a bit more generous than the notoriously slim TLT5, although hard for me to tell for sure, since I had to go from a very thin sock to an essentially negligibly thin sock to buy a bit more room for my toes. The cord on the upper cuff is attached to a very long velcro strap with a consequently wide range of adjustability.
In the field, the Alien’s BOA system quickly tightens up the lower shell in increments as small or large as you want. However, when I’ve overcompensated for my low-height foot (although my C-width matches up well with the shell), the placement of the BOA on the tongue (as opposed to off on the side like on my mountain bike shoes) can create pressure. Backing off the tension inevitably entails overshooting and having to dial it back it in – but still very quick, and also very easy even with numb fingers.
The upper cuff is all or nothing, so you have to set up your knot length just right by experimenting inside (or in warm weather). With some extra 3 mm accessory cord, you could try setting up a system with multiple knot positions if you really wanted different upper cuff tightness options.
Third impressions – long-term durability:
The Evo rivets/pivots connecting the upper and lower shells prior to the 2013 season notoriously loosened up over time (requiring annual or so repressing). For the 2013 season, Dynafit added a sort of spacer (“gusset”?) to address this issue, with unknown efficacy.
By contrast, the Alien rivets/pivots connecting the upper and lower shells look very industrial.
I finally snapped one of the cords on my original DyNA boots after about 485,000’ vertical. Back-up replacement cord is trivial to carry and retie, plus the warnings signs in retrospect were obvious. The Alien’s lower shell tongue and BOA system are replaceable, as is the standard 3 mm accessory cord for the upper shell.
The Evo lower buckle is fairly low profile, although also all plastic. The upper buckle protrudes significantly when open, which has made for nervous moments when rock scrambling in my original DyNA and TLT5 with the identical buckle – no casualties so far, although for your next mountaineering expedition bring along McMaster replacement parts #s 90596A005, 91785A092, 96659A101 in case the buckle’s attachment rivets are damaged. Even if the upper buckle suffers irreparable damage, ski mode can be improvised by connecting the two cuff parts with a simple screw rivet and tightening up the cuff with a Voile strap.
The BOA placement on the tongue means the lower shell has no buckles on the side to be caught up in boulders, and the mode switch lever in the rear flips up out of harm’s way. But I have read of two failures over time from normal use (as opposed to collisions). This is not very surprising, given the lever’s slender proportions combined with the rigidity of the all-carbon upper cuff, the rigidity of the partial-carbon lower shell, and the very tight tolerances of the connection between the upper and lower. But as long as the horizontal bar of the lower shell is still intact, a couple Voile straps should suffice for a field repair.
My Evo boots have about five cumulative hours of off-snow travel, roughly split between casual grass/dirt/mud hiking versus more demanding rock scrambling. Despite such limited off-snow travel, 11 perimeter lugs have sheared off entirely and 8 are severely compromised, meaning that 2/3 of the lugs are simply gone or about to go. This fails the ISMF gear reg and is obviously unsafe for any off-snow travel other than casual walking/hiking.
Did my particular pair have a bad batch of rubber? Or has the design been changed since my pair? I have read a few internet accounts of 2013 Dynafit PDG boots (with identical lower shells) losing many lugs on a single inaugural hike, which would seem impossible were they not matching up with my cumulative experience. And Dynafit has inspected my boots, concluding that such nearly instant widespread failure of the lugs is simply normal off-snow wear for the Evo and PDG. By contrast, my Alien boots show only appropriately minor wear after the same amount of off-snow travel.
For comparing these two boots to other ones on the market see our Lightest ski mountaineering boots pages.
Dynafit DyNA Evo:
- Weight: 695 g at size 27
- Shell material: Grilamid
- Cuff materials: Carbon, Pebax
- Sole: EVO Race
- Forward lean when locked: 14° and 17°
- Cuff range of motion: 62°
- Sizes: 23,5, 24, 24,5, 25, 25,5, 26, 26,5, 27, 27,5, 28, 28,5, 29 (two sizes per shell, so liner makes the difference)
Scarpa Alien 1.0:
- Weight: 700 g at size 27
- Shell material: Polyamide
- Cuff material: Carbon
- Sole: U.F.O. Scarpa/Vibram
- Forward lean when locked: 9° and 13°
- Cuff range of motion: 58°
- Sizes: 24-30 (whole sizes only)
Quick overview of their “economy” stablemates – PDG and Alien:
Each boot has a more economy-minded version: the Dynafit PDG and the Alien sans numerical appendage. I briefly tried on each of them inside. Both of them lack any carbon fiber, resulting in a bit more weight, a bit more ski mode flex, and a lot less cost.
The PDG is the closest to its more expensive sibling, as the only differences are the substitution of fiber-reinforced plastic for the Evo’s partial-carbon upper cuff (along with a pre-drilled hole for an aftermarket velcro strap) and a slightly beefed-up liner.
By contrast, the all-plastic Alien “0.0” is more of a contrast to the 1.0’s full carbon upper cuff and carbon-reinforced lower shell. The “0.0” liner is a traditional contrast to the 1.0 sock-like liner. The “0.0” upper cuff closure system includes a velcro strap and a buckle that allows adjustment of the tension.
Online stores that carry Dynafit Evo and PDG boots, and Scarpa’s Alien family:
Dynafit DyNA Evo:
Scarpa Alien 1.0: