Review of Dynafit touring setup: Manaslu skis, TLT 5 Performance boots, TLT Radical ST bindings, Speed Skins

This is a review of my current touring setup.

I skied the gear described below from December last year until June 2012, and I will be skiing it this season too. Also, I used the Performance boots with other skis on some really hard-pack and corn snow.

When I chose this setup I was looking to balance couple of things. But mainly, the need was to find something that gets me from December to July and is reasonably light. Color didn’t really matter. ;)

I didn’t want very wide touring skis, as is now common, because I ski in different conditions, at different places, and at very different times of the year. Also, I somehow still think that a narrower ski edges easier than 105mm+ boards, and that anything under that can be still fun in deep powder. I was right and wrong, sort of.

Here are my impressions. All from backcountry skiing.

Dynafit Manaslu skis + Speed skins

I picked these in 187cm since I am 6′ 2″, and I was trying to buy float with length versus width. Their side-cut came at 124-95-109 and weight at under 1600g per ski.
Dynafit Manaslu skis and skins.

Skins

What I really like about Dynafit’s ski-skin combo is the complete package. The skins fit exactly as they should and it’s very easy to rip them off without taking your skis off, and not from the back but from the front, like when rando racing.

Plus I have never had such a fast pair of skins out of the box, no matter what width! Usually, skins need to wear out a bit before they start gliding well. These grip uphill nicely too.

Skis

To be honest, these were my first skis over 90mm. Little late to the game…

I believe I chose the width, length and weight well for my needs. I am totally satisfied how they perform in all conditions and over various terrain.

Yes, there were some days when I thought: “Could use something wider right now”. However, those were “too deep to ski” days at couple of the best powder places in North America. Manaslu’s rockered tip definitely helps with the float.

On spring/summer snow or in chopped powder they were good, no complaints.

On hard-pack I can’t really say yet because I am still not used to forcing such a wide ski on its edge. And I can’t compare it to anything wider since I haven’t tried on a such surface.

Bottom line: Not impressive in anything specific but versatility, great all-around skis. Looking forward to take them to more places.

Manaslu skis online at:

Dynafit TLT 5 Performance boots (vs TLT 5 Mountain)

Simply, these are some damn good touring boots.

Up

Ease of walking is very comparable to any skimo racing boots. The no-resistance big cuff rotation plays the biggest role here, and the light weight helps as well – 1050g at size 27,5!

I tried walking them with the removable tongue in. It’s still good compared to other touring boots but definitely walk them with the tongue in your pack – it’s super easy to take out or to slide back in once on the top.

Down

Again, I tried skiing the TLT5s with and without the tongue. There is a definite difference – always put the tongues in. But even when I forgot them in the car they skied powder no problem, on hard-pack felt little soft.

Their stiffness comes not only from the tongue but actually from the carbon cuff, so let’s talk about that.

Dynafit TLT 5 Performance and TLT 5 Mountain boots

Dynafit TLT 5 Performance ski boots with carbon cuff, and the Mountain version with the bigger liner.

TLT 5 Performance vs TLT 5 Mountain

I was fortunate to try the TLT 5 Mountain few times before I got the Performance. The Performance version is quite stiffer thanks to its carbon cuff but the Mountain version skis well too, just feels softer under pressure.

I found both boots to walk exactly the same.

One warning, the beefier liner that came with the Mountain TLT5s was much more comfortable, and I don’t have a wide or big volume foot. For this year, I am sacrificing some grams – I am buying the bigger liner and sliding it into the Performance boots. Happy feet make powder deep J

Bottom line: Just to repeat – these are some damn good touring boots.

TLT5 Performance boots online at:

TLT5 Mountain boots online at:

Dynafit TLT Radical ST bindings

Dynafit TLT Radical bindingI’ve been using Dynafit style bindings for about 15 years now and I chose the Radical because I wanted to try a binding where I don’t have to bend down to twist the heel.

Stepping into these with the TLT5s could be done with closed eyes – it’s super easy thanks to a new Dynafit patent. Everything else works great as well, breaks too.

One thing that might happen sooner or later though might be that the heel lifter will snap. It’s not going to under normal use but from time-to-time when I need to stomp on the heel really hard (to set a steeper track in powder or kick off some snow) I wonder.

Crampons attach and work great too.

With Radicals, I like the fact that this binding is still lighter (at 531g), with all the ease-of-use perks, than its overbuilt competitors.

Bottom line: Great binding for anyone seeking more comfort and that is not overly rough with their gear (applies only to the heel lifter).

TLT Radical bindings online at:

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Comments

  1. Regarding the difference in stiffness between the TLT5 P vs Mtn, would you feel that for recreational SkiMo racing and spring tours the Mountain boot would be sufficient for a 7Summit or other ski with a waist sub-90mm?

    Thanks!

  2. Eric, definitely the Mountain version is stiff enough.
    The Mountain with the tongue in is a very solid boot. Someone that rides 4 buckles whole life would perhaps disagree but for any non-cliff-jumping skier I don’t see why you need a stiffer boot on a powder day.

    Racing with TLT5s:
    Get some practice skiing them without tongues since you might not want to loose some seconds in transitions. Once you get in 2-3 sessions without them you will be fine.
    From my experience, once the tongues are out both boots get softer leaning forward about the same. I mostly feel the carbon cuff benefit side-ways.

    And I have two friends that ski the Mountain on different skis and are very happy.

  3. Eric:

    The Mtn is pretty sweet as an all around boot. I use it for everything (ditched my old garmont 4 buckle boots) from skimo racing – its light enough – to long tours, spearhead, neve, etc… – to resort skiing. They work great on all three pairs of skis I have: Dynafit race skis, BD Drift powder skis, and G3 Barons with frame bindings. They are even pretty reasonable to climb in. My only complaint is the lower buckle pops open easily when boot packing but that is an issue with the Mtn and performance.

    I chose the Mtn for the price. If you have the extra $ then go with the performance and get a tiny bit lighter and stiffer but if you are on a budget, the mountain is the way to go.

    -Eric C

  4. Do you think the TLT5 performance would work well for rando racing or would I always be wanting to upgrade to the new Dy.N.A. PDG boot that is coming out this year and will be more or less similar (100g heavier) than the Dy.N.A. EVO?

    I have access to the TLT5 Performance for about $150 less than the PDG boot will retail for and am waffling on the decision.

    I wonder about the slightly additional weight of the TLT5 Performance since I’ll be spending so much money any way, which boot may last me longer in general (durability) and speed of transitions during a race.

  5. james Minifie says:

    I thought I would chime in on the durability of the Manaslus. I’ve been skiing mine for 3 seasons now. I tend to be hard on skis and didn’t expect these to last very much longer than one season. I completely agree with Stano, these don’t do anything great but I tend to go back to them time and time again because of their versatility, great skins system, and lightness.
    I work on these skies, recreate on these skis, and generally put them through hell. I’m 6 feet, 185lbs so not the smallest guy out there either and these have held up to 3 seasons of bashing. Already have a handful of days on them this season. Originally mounted them with Vert ST bindings and haven’t had an issue of note. Stan is right about the skins too, really fast right out of the box and last surprisingly long for pure mohair. The other thing I like about the skins is that after they get a few miles on them they become super supple and easy to handle in the field. If you’re worried about durability, try not to. Mine have been through the ringer, beaten, bashed, and are just a little bruised.

  6. Jeremy, thanks for commenting. Here are my answers to your questions:

    If you want to buy a racing only boot then buy the PDG, if money wise it’s not too much more for you. The weight saving is significant.
    If you want to ski such a boot also with bigger skis than buy the Performance version, will be stiffer for sure.

    In regards to transitions speed:
    I believe both boots would perform the same as design-wise they seem 95% same, and you would be touching only the same buckles.
    If you buy Performance then race it without the tongue to save weight and have a longer stride.

    How much they will last:
    Design-wise the two boots look almost identical.
    Materials should be exactly the same for the bottom part, the sole however looks to be more minimalistic on the PDG. For the cuff, I have no idea about the Fiberglas/Grilamid combo on PDG but I would imagine it would last pretty well.
    Overall, it’s a close call. If you won’t do lots of rock climbing in those boots than thinner PDG one won’t be an issue at all.

  7. James, thanks for chiming in, always appreciated ;)

    And yes you had more seasons on them than me, so it’s good to know they will last.

    Also, I met couple of guides on Manaslus at various times last year, they said “great versatile work tool”. So I guess that makes me a guide now ;)

  8. David Dornian says:

    Bought a pair of the TLT 5 Performance boots last Monday. I believe they were the last pair of size 30 for sale in North America. We’ll see how they go…

  9. Thanks for the comments and replies. I was able to find a good used pare of the TLT5Ps and there’s no going back to a bigger boot now. Have ‘raced’ in them without the tongues a couple times in the Wasatch citizen series and they’re great. The boots can drive my Sportiva Hi5′s with or without the tongue as well.

  10. james Minifie – what size did you go with?

  11. Jim, let me notify James to answer this.

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