Written by: Dynafit athlete Eric Carter
Test Locations – BC’s South Coast, Canadian Rockies, Roger’s Pass, Chamonix.
- Dynafit PDG2.0 = 1654g
- Scarpa Alien RS = 1840g
- Fischer Travers = 2096g
- Dynafit TLT8 = 2204g
- Dynafit TLT6 = 2494g
- Arc’teryx Procline AR = 2602g
The fit of the TLT series of boots has varied with every iteration. I’ve used a 28.5 in the TLT5, a 29.0 in the TLT6, and a 28.0 in the TLT8. I’ve found the lower shell to be a good balance between the narrow TLT5 and the wider TLT6. I’m blessed with fairly normal shaped feet so shell width doesn’t usually affect me too much. That being said, my 28.0 PDG2.0 required extensive punching around the big toe and 5th metatarsal while my TLT8 is so far unmodified.
Liner – With any liner, the thinner it is, the lighter it is, but also the more difficult to fit. The Performance Liner that comes with the Carbonio edition is definitely lighter weight than any of its competitors aside from the Travers. I found them immediately uncomfortable with a handful of pressure points and pretty quickly opted to replace it with an Intuition Pro Tour. Despite the fact that the Intuition is a bit thicker than the Dynafit liner, I didn’t have any issues with fit once it was moulded. I think I will revisit the Performance Liner come spring time when the Intuition will be overly warm though it may require a bit more tweaking to fit perfectly.
Boots in this weight class are designed to be paired with a lighter ski mountaineering ski. We’re talking in the <95 underfoot range. I’ve been using the TLT8 with my Dynafit PDG (65mm), BlacklightPro (80mm), and Carbonio (89mm). While it’s tempting to go bigger underfoot with a light boot, ski quality is often compromised.
Interestingly, the Alien RS was a bit of an outlier here. It was sufficiently stiff to drive a fat ski. Unfortunately though, its durability wasn’t up to its ski quality and skiers driving the boot harder than intended led to breakage and a revamp of the boot for 2021. Anyway, back to the TLT8 – I found it to ski on par with the TLT6, the Procline, and the Travers, while having somewhat less of a progressive flex than the Alien RS. This was after removing the optional power strap which could be left on for additional stiffness. The TLT8 is significantly stiffer than the PDG2.0, likely due to a reinforced lower.
I’ve found the boot to ski similarly as I would expect for something in that weight. The TLT8 excels on steep terrain in chalky snow. Between the weight and the carbon cuff, snappy jump turns in tight chutes are easy to initiate and follow through. I spent two days of lift riding at Kicking Horse before leaving for Chamonix and didn’t miss my fat skis or big boots at all while checking out the steep lines at the resort.
The TLT8 has the same great range of motion that comes with its predecessors and competitors, making it a really excellent skinning boot. Even with the added, much beefier, Intuition liner, ROM remains well above that needed to comfortably skin on a race binding that doesn’t have a heel riser. The instep strap provides sufficient security so I get no heel lift – this translates to no blisters for me. While the Speed Nose is touted to increase skinning efficiency, I can’t say there’s a noticeable difference there between the TLT8 and boots with a toe welt. Overall, the strength of the TLT8 is it’s comfort skinning. I’ve been choosing the TLT8 over my PDG2.0 as it skis better with minimal compromise in weight/skinning ability.
This is probably the centre of controversy over the current crop of Dynafit boots, TLT8 included. The Speed Nose prevents the use of a traditional clip-on crampon which means you have two options: 1) use the Dynafit invented “Cramp-in” system or 2) use a crampon that has a flexible toe bail like the Petzl FIL FLEX.
Option 1 is admittedly a non-starter for me. The Cramp-in system is a cool idea but not one that’s strictly necessary. I’d be a bit concerned about ice buildup in the boot sole slot but the fact that the crampon doesn’t work with my non-dynafit summer boots is is the show-stopper for me.
Using a flexible toe bail crampon (Option 2) allows you to use almost any brand of crampon (most make a swappable toe bail) and therefore select the crampon that suits your purpose (all aluminum for pure ski touring, steel for ski alpinism, etc…). My crampon of choice for the majority of my skiing is the Petzl Irvis Hybrid which has an aluminum heel and steel front points. It’s ultralight but still capable of climbing difficult terrain and equally useful paired with my Scarpa Ribelle boot in the shoulder season (which also requires a flex toe).
While I agree with the critique that the lack of a full toe welt and compatibility with a metal toe bail does make a crampon feel less secure in very difficult terrain, I’ve found that anything I’d be climbing in my ski boots, I’m perfectly capable of climbing with the Flex toe bail equipped Irvis Hybrid. If the climbing is hard enough that I need to switch to a mono-point crampon with a metal toe bail, I’d be switching to my climbing boots anyway. Essentially, I find the crampon compatibility to be perfectly in line with what I’m capable of climbing in a ski boot. If you make sure the fit is tight, it’s fine. Easy mixed climbing, alpine ice, steep firm snow are all fine with the Irvis Hybrid. Think something like the ice step on the North Ridge of Mt. Baker – totally reasonable.
The only major negative that I’ve noticed with the Speed Nose in relation to climbing is while boot packing on firm terrain without crampons. I’ve noticed this in winter on my Hoji boots and in spring with the TLT8 and PDG2.0. By not having a toe welt, the surface area of the toe is much greater and the boot doesn’t bite in as much when kicking into firm snow. The obvious solution is to put on crampons but sometimes, when it’s a short stretch, it’s tempting to leave them off. The key here is to be sure to put on crampons if you’re above any exposure. It’s always smart to put crampons on *before* you actually need them so you’re not trying to do it in a place where you’re teetering precariously rather than that comfortable ledge a few meters below.
Binding compatibility is fairly simple and limited to full pin bindings. The TLT8 uses Dynafits custom toe fittings that make stepping in a bit easier. They’re best paired with a race-type binding to take advantage of weight savings but will work fine with your ubiquitous Dynafit Radical, G3 Ion, etc… They don’t work with any of the free ride bindings (Kingpin, etc…) but those aren’t really the type you’d want to use with this boot anyway.
I haven’t put a full season in on them yet but still have been fairly abusive compared to most. They’ve seen quite a bit of vertical ascent and descent along with a considerable amount of scrambling on rock with and without crampons. The Pomoca sole has held up well with no major signs of wear. My major areas of concerns are the cuff pivots in the carbon upper. Being non-user serviceable is a bit of a negative to me but so far I haven’t seen any play. The rachet straps are plastic and don’t seem particularly robust but have also showed no signs of wear despite cranking them pretty hard. Luckily the rachets do seem serviceable if they start to wear out. Finally, the Ultra-Lock mechanism that you flip in and out of ski mode has always been a minor issue. On the TLT5/6, it stuck out pretty far to the side of the boot when in walk mode. While booting, there was a risk of punching through and snapping off the lock mechanism on a rock. The TLT8 has been upgraded to a much sleeker lock mechanism that is much closer to the boot cuff and much less likely to snap off. In the event it did break, the TLT ultra-lock would be easy to repair with a ski strap unlike those with back lever mechanism.
The TLT8 is an excellent compromise between light weight and ski ability. It’s not the boot for shredding the resort or massive pow skis but it’s definitely what you want for big traverses (the Spearhead boot), volcano skiing, steep descents, and the occasional citizen skimo race. Pair the TLT8 with anything from a 65mm underfoot race ski to a 95mm ultralight touring ski and you’ll be psyched! The Speed Nose is a minor nuisance when booting without crampons but doesn’t impact climbing performance once you’ve got them on.
- Wider fit than TLT5/6/PDG2
- Simple and effective instep strap and ultra-lock 4.0 is solid.
- Drives a ski 65mm-90mm really well
- Light enough to be used for training/long mountain adventures/citizen racing
- Burly enough to use for steep skiing/ski mountaineering
- Speed nose is minor annoyance for booting without crampons. Doesn’t compromise climbing ability with FLEX FIL crampons. Pairs really well with Irvis Hybrid.