Dynafit has several new 09/10 boots. My favorite of the lot is their new race shoe, the Dy.N.A. (Which we’ll tend to keyboard as “DNA” to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome). The other super interesting boot they’re touting is the Titan, a freeride PU touring boot that’s even stiffer than the ZZeus but is said to tour with good cuff articulation and very little weight. First, DNA, which I got my hands on and photographed while at the Dynafit FAM in Garmisch a few days ago.
DNA has a ton of truly innovative features, my favorite being the one buckle walk/tour mode that might be an easier one-step process than that of the Scarpa F1. This works similar to a common AT boot configuration, in that you buckle the boot then drive your leg forward to click into downhill mode. Only in this case, buckling the boot activates the mode latch so you can simply buckle and go. The reason why I like this is that it’s possibly applicable to regular ski touring, and appears to be more easy and positive than using the F1 system (though field use will have to bear that out.)
Weight of DNA: super light, 920 grams for size 27.5 (that’s at least 500 grams lighter than anything but specialized carbon race boots available in Europe). The boot is claimed to have the shortest lower shell on the market, this provides efficiency while in the binding as well as while use for walking or climbing. Much of the weight reduction comes from a very nicely molded carbon-fiber upper cuff. This ultra-stiff cuff combined with a fairly high pivot location provides a super rigid alpine mode. During my recent visit to a World Cup race, I was made aware that many races are won or lost on the downhill, so how a race boot skis is critical and cuff stiffness is a big part of that.
Perhaps the most interesting innovation in the DNA is how Dynafit produced their forefoot articulation. Using a bellows such as that of Scarpa F1 is problematic. Such can be comfortable and yield a good stride. But they tend to bend too much in many situations, thus requiring a shim on the ski under the ball of your foot, as well as draining quite a bit of energy in flexing. Yet due to much low angled skin climbing, ski mountaineering racers do need articulation. The question is, how much?
Dynafit’s answer is less articulation. They provide what they call “5 millimeters.” I’m not sure how they measure this, but it’s not much and the flex is stiff. In fact, the amount of forefoot bend is so small you don’t even need a shim under the ball of your foot for proper performance in Dynafit compatible bindings. Instead of using a bellows, articulation in the DNA is produced by simply cutting away a section of the lower shell then covering with a carbon piece/cover (easily seen in photos above). The carbon cover has a system that allows it to slide in a limited fashion as the boot flexes, thus providing an exact measure of movement. Entry of water and snow is prevented by a layer of flexible material over the cutaway.
What else? Dynafit’s “Quick Step-in” toe inserts are of course provided. These do help with binding entry, and might be very nice for racing as they’ll eliminate some of the dyna-fiddle that eats up time. Liner is said to be the lightest thermo on the market (150 grams), and it is breathable! Boot designer Federico says the plastic used in the boot is a special super-strong formulation that allows significant weight reduction by using less material. Sole is minimalist, I could see having a bit more rubber for day-to-day ski touring rather than racing. Interestingly, Federico also mentioned that certain parts of the boot are ready for race mods. We’ll see what evolves in that area, as boot modification is nothing less than a tradition in the race crowd.
We feel the Dy.N.A. will not only be a great racing boot, but see no reason why it couldn’t be an excellent ski touring shoe. Radical innovations and liberal use of carbon jack the price up to 1,000 euros so retail in the states will be stratospheric. But then, importing a Ferrari is expensive as well — but worth it if that’s what you prefer.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.