(Editor’s note: Accomplished Aspen area skier Jesse Durrance filed this report with WildSnow HQ just a few days ago. As we regularly get folks (usually of the female persuasion) asking how small feet can find Dynafit compatible AT boots, we published ASAP both as a how-to but also perhaps a wake up for the industry to say “smaller feet need beef too.” Jesse’s boot buildup is an informative and amusing guest blog, but one burning question is left unanswered: If you’re the kind of guy who spends 25 hours building a pair of ski boots for your honey, what is life like at dinner time — and do you do the dishes after?)
Guest blog by Jesse Durrance
My girlfriend Pilar has a size 4/5 foot, and after much searching and asking around about Dynafit compatible AT boots that small, I realized that the best option was to build a pair of boots myself. Pilar is is 5’2” and weighs all of 100 lbs.
Here is what I used and the steps it took to get to the finished product, perhaps somewhere someday someone will make a boot like this that’s ready for use out of the factory. For now:
1. Find a shell that works- Pilar wanted a Dynafit setup, so using a non-tech boot was out of the question. More, my first attempt at modifying a Tecnica jr. race boot failed in several ways (that is when I decided to stop asking for help and do it myself — if you want something done right, do it yourself, right? 🙂
– The shell that worked was a Dynafit women’s randonnee race boot (TLT 4) we found at a local store, shell size 22.
– This boot had a very simple ski/walk mechanism, meaning I didn’t have to install one!
– It also has Dynafit components and a rubber sole — key for walking on rocks and hard snow.
2. Strip the tongue and buckles off the TLT 4.
3. Take a Garmont tongue clip off an pair of old Endorphins and rivet it to the front of the TLT.
4. Use a Dalbello tongue from their stiff women’s boot (the equivalent to the Krypton) that was built for a size 24 boot. The extra size was key having a long enough foot part of the tongue to push her back into the heel pocket of the boot effectively. Additionally, the added height and width of the tongue on the lower leg adds a lot in leverage in downhill mode.
5. Grind Dalbello tongue to fit the Garmont tongue clip.
6. Grind the tongue down along the middle (at the ankle bend) in order to have it fit more cleanly into the ankle of the shell.
7. Grind the tongue down along the ridges above the toes so that the plastic sits more flatly above the front of the foot and gives a more complete closure when buckled down for skiing.
***Now it is time to start playing with buckles and the fit.
8. We used an Intuition liner from a Dalbello womens boot, size 22. There was still a lot of volume for Pilar’s feet in the Dynafit shell, so using a thick and heat moldable liner helped to fill some of this space.
9. Use custom footbed that is a bit thicker and a foot board below the footbed to raise her into a smaller part of the boot — worked perfectly.
10. One buckle across the toe — this was taken from a Scarpa and basically follows that model in placement.
11. And this was the tough one…. I took the ankle cable and buckle off a Scarpa Laser and installed it onto her boot. This is the smallest ankle cable I could find to work. Raichle cables were too long and snowboard cables were not flexible enough to bend. This works super well and keeps her in the heel pocket beautifully!
12. Now the next step was to undo the damage done in the dismantling of the old boot. I first installed a rubber covering over the toes to keep snow out of those areas. I then sealed the rest of the holes with silicone.
13. Pilar wanted a bit more forward lean in the ski mode, so we T-nutted a spoiler onto her old spoiler.
14. To create the high part of lower leg stability, I then used a booster strap that basically acts as a 4th buckle.
While this is not necessarily the easiest solution, Pilar’s built TLT4s now ski as well as her Tecnica comp boots, and they’re Dynafit compatible.
All told, the boot probably took me about 25 hours of work to complete. Worth it? Without question, as I absolutely love skiing with Pilar and she is enjoying things so much more with her new setup.
P.S. I have been changing my Endorphins and now Axons to ski much better with the use of Dalbello tongues from the Krypton Boot. It is an easy fix and the difference in ski performance is remarkable.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.