Swap from tight, ‘ski mode’ to articulating ‘stroll mode,’ strap on some crampons, and ship the icefall. We examined Dynafit’s TLT Speedfit ski touring boot to see the way it performs on ice climbs.
Whereas it could sound absurd, approaching backcountry ice climbs in touring skis is each environment friendly and pleasant (more often than not). And half the enjoyable is the puzzle — how one can discover a strategy to each ski and climb in a single boot.
Sometimes, these searching for frozen goals have to decide on between two opposing options: 1) Discover a pair of Silvretta 404 or 500 bindings, now lengthy out of manufacturing, to make use of with climbing boots or 2) make do with ski touring boots that settle for crampons.
The primary resolution places snowboarding efficiency within the again seat in favor of climbing, particularly on downhills. And the latter emphasizes snowboarding, doubtlessly hampering climbing proficiency. Positive, it’s technically attainable to ski in with a full touring set whereas carrying climbing boots, however that may be cumbersome. So I needed the very best of each worlds on a multipitch mountain climbing journey to Valdez, Alaska, this previous February.
I selected the Dynafit TLT Speedfit boot, valuing its low weight, comparatively small profile in comparison with different fashions, and compatibility with Petzl crampons. The TLT Speedfit is actually the TLT7 with a nostril that accepts crampons. As a result of the snowboarding was strictly restricted to approaching backcountry multipitch routes and was principally flat, downhill efficiency wasn’t a precedence. Thus, this easy, compact boot was advantageous for climbing.
Word: Based on Dynafit’s website, though REI classifies the boots as “males’s,” the Dynafit TLT Speedfit is unisex.
Dynafit TLT Speedfit Ski Touring Boot Setup
Valdez in winter can current extraordinarily harsh situations, so I elected to suit the TLT Speedfit boots with hotter Instinct Professional Tour liners. This improve added a little bit of mass, however the added heat proved nicely price the additional heft. I selected K2 Wayback 88 skis and Marker Kingpin 10 bindings (required Marker Kingpin TLT Heel Adapters). Each proved wonderful for approaches, and lots of sections would’ve been practically inconceivable with out skis.
Try the related specs for the boot setup I used for this journey.
Dynafit TLT Speedfit Boots
Supplies: Grilamid with Pebax tongue
Boot sole: Method Pomoca Climb
Binding system: Dynafit Fast-Step-In (adapters required for Marker Kingpin 10 bindings)
Liner: Customized gentle, upgraded to Instinct Professional Tour for this journey
Ahead lean: 15-18 levels, launch for strolling mode
Cuff rotation: 60 levels
Closure system: Extremely Lock System 2.zero
Weight (Mondopoint dimension 28): 2 lbs. eight.9 oz. per boot (inventory liners and Marker Kingpin 10 TLT heel adapter)
With Instinct Professional Tour liners: 2 lbs.12.three oz. per boot
MSRP: $600 per pair
Dynafit TLT Speedfit Boots Assessment: On Ice
In comparison with the unisex La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX boots I often use for ice climbs in locations like Valdez, the Dynafit TLT Speedfit Boots are longer, taller, and bulkier across the ankles. Each the Petzl Lynx and Dart crampons match securely and with minimal fuss.
The primary distinction I seen between the 2 was the marginally elevated distance between the tip of the entrance factors and the ft on the TLT Speedfits. Then in use, the texture upon impacting ice was additionally totally different. In comparison with climbing boots, the TLT Speedfit boots relay a extra dampened, deadened sensation. This requires changes for brittle and fragile ice.
The Speedfit’s elevated bulk additionally demanded extra cautious placement when sticking the foot into chandeliered ice or round and into corners.
Nonetheless, all these compensations turned automated after a number of rope lengths and required no additional thought. I started to really feel better leverage positioned on my calf muscle tissues, so I focused on dropping my heels the place attainable. Not as soon as throughout routes that have been tons of of ft lengthy did I take into account this an enormous difficulty. However I did really feel an obstacle within the additional four.1-ounce-per-boot bulk the TLT Speedfit held over the Nepal EVO GTX in my leg swing. Once more although, I adjusted rapidly and with the extra weight got here additional heat due to the Instinct liners.
Lastly, I seen that the general lower in my ankles’ vary of movement left me with some awkward belay stances. So I ended up utilizing chopped stances greater than I might with climbing boots.
TLT Speedfit vs. Climbing Boots
General, probably the most influential attribute of the TLT Speedfit that differed from my climbing boot was within the relationship between ankle assist and ankle vary of movement. Climbing boots with laces permit finely adjustable pressure above and beneath the ankle joint.
When utilizing a system like this, I put comparatively excessive pressure on the laces that cowl the foot, skip the eyelets immediately over the ankle joint, and end with excessive lace pressure above the ankle joint. This methodology delivers my most well-liked mixture of forefoot sensitivity, ankle mobility, and ankle assist.
The TLT Speedfit in the meantime, has simply two buckles — on the forefoot and higher cuff above the ankle. There’s additionally an Extremely Lock strap close to the highest of the tongue that toggles between a inflexible ski mode for descents and an articulating stroll mode. For climbs, I had blended outcomes. The forefoot buckle was easy to regulate and offered ample safety and sensitivity. Nevertheless it took a number of trial-and-error periods to regulate the higher cuff buckle and Extremely Lock strap to get the specified feeling across the ankle joint.
General, I might characterize the match and mobility across the ankle joint as acceptable and practical, however not practically as finely tuned as a climbing boot with laces. The vary of movement in regards to the ankle hinge mechanism in strolling mode was sufficient, nevertheless it lacked the omnidirectional actions accommodated by leather-based climbing boots.
This journey produced ascents of multipitch routes starting from 300 to 800 ft, with rankings of WI4 and WI5. After three full pitches, I felt assured climbing multipitch routes within the Dynafit TLT Speedfit with issue rankings as much as WI4, a quantity grade beneath my restrict.
For me, the compromises this boot makes in sensitivity, ankle mobility, placement, and total really feel whereas climbing are price it if the method snowboarding — significantly downhill — is in any respect difficult. But when the method snowboarding is comparatively quick, flat, and on well-established tracks, I would like the difficulty of discovering Silvretta bindings and hacking the method in climbing boots. I discover the lacing and foot really feel on climbs is simpler and extra comfy with climbing boots.
Whereas the TLT Speedfits had well-defined strengths and weaknesses, for such “ski alpinism” boots is rising. Arc’teryx has its Procline Carbon Help Boot, and Salomon gives the S/Lab X-Alp Ski Touring Boot, each designed to bridge the hole between ski touring boots and climbing boots. For individuals who require the assist and snowboarding efficiency of true ski touring boots for difficult terrain, climbing in ski touring boots just like the unisex Dynafit TLT Speedfit could also be price a attempt.
By Seiji Ishii
Seiji Ishii is an journey journalist that blurs the traces between work and play, writing about his climbing, two-wheeled and on-foot adventures, and the gear concerned. He’s additionally an AMGA Licensed Single Pitch Teacher and an ACSM licensed private coach, specializing in climbers and motocross/supercross athletes. He lives within the woods along with his spouse, daughter, and a small herd of pets in Wimberley, Texas.