The two brands of boots that fit me best are Dynafit and Garmont. No mystery, as the two companies are somewhat cross-pollinated in terms of the Italian boot experts that design the things. As I’m still a big fan of how the Dynafit ZZero CF combines performance with lack of weight, I thought it would be fun to use a pair of the “Green Machines” for our Denali trip.
Thing is, my present size 27.5 (sole length 306 millimeters) ZZeros are performance fit by downsizing the shell for ankle snugness, then blowing out the toe so I still have room for my little piggys. That won’t do for Denali; simply not enough volume in the toes for me (in terms of staying warm, my feet are average to cold). So as I posted about a while ago, I upsized one shell to a 28 (sole length 316 mm). I then blew out the toe of the 28 about 4 millimeters more, then molded a size 29 liner with my neoprene vapor barrier liners and wool socks. Follow along.
Interestingly, I also tried the next shell size up from the 28. The toe area fit great, but the ankle and midfoot area were huge. Thus, I think my compromise of using the 28 for a decent ankle fit but blowing out the toe a bit is a good blend. I used the 29 liner because when checking the 28, I noticed there was some extra volume available, and I was pretty sure from past experience that stretching out the 28 liner in the toe area would thin out the liner foam and make the boots colder.
Regarding the liners, while they seem to work I’m not stuck on the Dynafit/Palau. I’ve got some of the new Intuition Pro Tour liners as well, and we’ll be sticking those in shortly and filing a report. Busy busy!
I’m in the process of testing the fit, and while my custom ZZeros seem quite warm I can already tell I might need another punching sesh for more volume over my toes and a bit more width at the ball of the foot. And yes Virginia, I did temporarily remove the magic buckle.
As for the other team members, they’re mostly in Scarpa. Louie got an upsized pair of Spirit 3, Jordan is in some Skookums, and so forth. Most models of Scarpas have a slightly bigger toe box than is common in other brands, so they tend to be warmer out-of-the-box. We’ll file some fitting info about the Scarpas as well, once we get going on that.
And yes, some of you have mentioned that you’ve used regular fitted AT boots for Denali trips. For someone who’s feet tend to stay warm and who’s using a boot that’s not performance fit, that’s perhaps workable. But in the case of our trip, with only myself and Caleb having Denali experience, we’re erring on the conservative side and making sure everyone’s ski boots are safe at 30 below zero. The general idea is to upsize one shell size and use use a thermo liner, warm footbed, vapor barrier socks, and wool socks.
If you need help with boot fitting in the Aspen area, you can contact Mark Rolfes through his website, fitboots.com.
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.