When the UPS guy hands you a randonnee boot box, you expect to heft some weight. Today he handed me a box containing a pair of Dynafit Zzero backcountry skiing boots, and the thing felt like it was filled with goose down. The numbers prove it. Our weight comparo chart tells the big story, but know that in the Zzero C4 we have a 4 buckle stiffy that weighs in at 57.9 ounces (1644 gr). While not the feather weight of something like a Scarpa F1, that’s at least 4 ounces lighter PER BOOT than most other randonnee shoes in the Zzero’s class (in our size, 28).
|Just how stiff laterally are these puppies? I couldn’t find any nearby snow to ski them today, but the highly engineered monkey wrench test tells a story of amazing rigidity. It’s like these boots knocked back a half dozen of the little blue pills, resulting in a virtual priapism of stability.|
|Quite the boot.|
This is real carbon fiber used in these boots, not the fake look-alike you see sometimes in the sporting goods industry. The stuff is amazingly rigid, perhaps so much so that building a whole ski boot out of it involves a difficult design challenge in getting enough give and flex to make it feel “right.” Thus the idea with this boot. Its got a fairly light and flexy Pbax shell, with carbon reinforcement in two places: Sides of cuff and tongue. It could possibly have too easy a forward flex for some radical skier’s take, but in terms of lateral stiffness and a tongue that can handle buckle pressure, those parameters are covered — in spades.
Beyond that, Zzero warms my heart as one of the more customizable boots I’ve seen. The low arch lends itself to custom foot beds. A removable spoiler could easily be tweaked by a boot fitter. The lean lock is easily removable for mods such as making it have only one position rather than the stock two. Strangely, the Zzero lacks a cant rivet. That is a mysterious omission as such are just as easy to include as a regular rivet. This is a disappointment for our team here at WildSnow HQ, as we all need to align our boot cuff before our boots feel “normal.” It’s not like I haven’t installed a cant rivet before, but hey, I want to ski these things not stand there in the workshop hacking on them. As compensation for not having a cant rivet, the Zzero cuff does have quite a bit of built-in angle (top biased to outside), which combined with a well tuned footbed will probably work for most people. As for any mods we’re forced to to — oh well, everything has a price.
|The low arch of this boot is a welcome change from ski boots that feel like you’re standing on the end of a baseball bat.|
|As most of this boot is made from thinner and fairly flexy plastic, it does have a somewhat relaxed for/aft flex. To compensate for that, the Dynafit designers included flex limiters in the cuff (as well as a rigid lean lock similar to that of other randonnee boot brands). The simple plastic stops shown in the photo above impact the lower boot cuff in forward flex and give you some forward support in extreme flexion. The efficacy of this is debatable as the feel is different than that of a a totally progressive flex, but the stops can easily be skived away if they feel too abrubt.|
|Front Dynafit sockets include the lead-in notch that only Dynafit boots have. These do help with getting the binding toe closed properly, but are not essential. Funny thing, the two dots on the shell indicating the socket position are probably more important — and appreciated.|
|Detail of rear spoiler. Grind out the rivets and it comes off for mods. Nice touch.|
|“Power Stringer” on the sides of the cuff and rear lower shell is the real deal — not cosmetic, though it does look sort of cool.|
|The other carbon fiber application is on top of the tongue. This results in strong shell above your instep. Buckle down tight and you get much less distortion than with many other boots.|
In all, the Zzero is an exciting iteration of the classic overlap cuff 4-buckle ski boot. Is it light as a feather but skis like the bomb? I got to check these out in Europe last winter, and the production model looks even better than the samples I worked with back then. Yep, we suspect the “Green Machines” will do quite well — but we need to get out and ski these things and report back. Might do that soon as we’ve now had three snowstorms in Colorado, so some of the higher altitude permanent snowfields are probably ready for early season turns. Meanwhile, they look good, eh?
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.