This just came in through the mail slot:
I’m a telemarker looking to put together my first AT setup and was hoping to get your opinion on which Dynafit binding makes the most sense for me. Boots will be Megaride, skis will be my G3 Reverends remounted from tele to Dynafit. I’m 5’8″ and weigh 180 lbs. Like to ski fast but don’t huck my junk much anymore. I’m not too worried about a few ounces as I carry plenty of extra weight around even when naked! I ski in the Tahoe/Mt Rose/ Donner Summit areas and don’t do many really long/epic tours.
1) Do you recommend brakes in the backcountry and will Dynafit brakes work w/ the 93mm waist of my skis? I think the brakes would make getting in and out easier and I might use this rig in resort on powder days but I’d rather use straps than deal w/ brakes if they’re problematic.
2) I’ve pretty much settled on the Comforts but I see there are some new versions (ie. Vertical, ST) but haven’t found much info on these. Are these new versions even available? Any opinion on these ?
Thanks in advance,
Good questions L — if you can figure out the complexities of telemark gear, you shouldn’t have any problem getting set with AT since you’ve got fewer choices in bindings and don’t have to worry about things like active vs passive and such, or right and left. But AT does have its issues (arguably at the same level as tele) and you hit on some of the important ones.
If you’re not doing long slogs but rather climbing for turns, use ski brakes. They’re more convenient and add a modicum of safety. The wider Comfort brake is factory specified to go to 92 mm, and we’ve always been able to slightly bend them to go wider so you shouldn’t have a problem. Vertical ST also goes to 92 (and looks like it’s basically the new and possibly improved Comfort, with a different name), while the Vertical FT has a different style of wide brake that goes to 100 mm.
For your first Dynafit bindings we’d say stay with the Comfort. They’re tried and true, and will work for your fatter planks by using a slightly tweaked 92 mm brake. Comfort had a few durability issues in past iterations, but those have been mostly designed out. Exception is the heel elevator post screws loosening and sometimes breaking (an easy fix and not a trip buster if it happens). We’ve heard rumors that this season’s Comfort will include a beefed one-piece heel elevator like the Vertical or perhaps a redesigned one such as that of the Comfort Rental. If so great, but the heel post issues are not a deal breaker in our opinion, as they’re not common. For example, all three people in our family have given the Comfort heel post hundreds of touring days over the past few years, we’ve only had this problem once — and it could have been prevented if we’d noticed the screws were loose and tightened them.
We think the Dynafit Vertical binding models might be excellent, but consumer testing is still in the infant stage, and here at WildSnow.com we’re loath to recommend anything that has not seen plenty of snowtime on our’s or trusted friends feet. New bindings crop up every year and look great on paper — powder can tell a much different story. We’ll have our own testing of the Verticals done fairly soon, so look for a report and recommendation here within the next eight weeks.
Switching from tele to AT (either part time or perm) brings up issues. I know lots of people who have made the switch and it usually works out well (jokes about sex change operations come to mind, but I won’t go there). Biggest issue is that you’ve now got bindings that release. Hopefully they’ll only release when they should, but that only happens in a perfect world, not necessarily on a perfect powder day. Be aware of this and prevent pre-release by keeping the binding adjusted correctly, both in terms of DIN and the clearance between boot heel and binding. More, be aware that while the Dynafit has good side (lateral) elasticity, it tends to be a bit “snappy” in upward release. In other words, if you’re recovering from a fall, stuff a ski in a hole and lever your full weight forward on your boot cuff, the binding can do little but let go. Hence, my usual warning that Dyanfit bindings are fantastic, but they’re not full-on alpine ski bindings. They are ski mountaineering bindings that make a few compromises for ultra light weight and incredible touring function.
Thanks for your questions, enjoy your Dynafits, and remember the convenient link to Dynafit info in the nav menu at upper left here on WildSnow.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.