Last year’s splash with the introduction the Zzero ski touring boot range (amongst other goodies) would be a hard act to follow so Dynafit has opted for broadening and deepening its line-up by moving into Freeride territory with the Zzeus boot and Mansulu skis.
Now Dynafit likes to think of itself as a serious ski touring company with a focus on feather weight gear. At 320 grammes the Low Tech Race is the lightest production ski binding in the known universe. So why the move into the lardy world of slackcountry skiing? The popularity of the Marker Duke, Garmont Axon and Scarpa Hurricane and the forthcoming Chinese made Black Diamond “Dynafit compatible” boot range have created a whole new segment that was once somewhat poorly served by the lowly Alpine Trekker adapter.
First off there is a single change in the binding line-up. The excellent TLT Vertical which we reviewed in the Autumn gets stronger springs upping the DIN rating to 12 - that’s… like, erm, two more than 10. Seriously we’re not too sure hardcore freeriders are ready for the skeletal Dyna bindings, despite their excellent characteristics in the steeps but the extra DIN will also be useful for skiers with heavy packs on multi-day tours. We wondered about the impressive metallic plate that links toe to heel. It is designed to appeal to the freeride segment but is largely cosmetic although it is lighter than the standard plastic plates. It maybe points the way to future developments.
In Greek mythology Zeus is the God of thunder and lightening surveying the world from Mount Olympus. The Dynafit Zzeus is a no compromise freeride boot with alpine roots but will it turn you into a ski god?
The Zzeus dispenses with the traditional touring tongue for an overlapping last (AO - alpine overlap) similar to alpine ski boots. This gives better control and power transmission to the ski. The four magnesium buckles are beefier and located in an “inside-outside” configuration over the forefoot. This has the practical advantage of positioning the buckles for better boot retention without risking the lower buckle becoming unclipped during skiing or walking. The two cuff buckles can be opened wide for easy climbing although the AO tongue offers slightly less movement. The PowerStringer of the Zzero range gives way to a Rislan heel reinforcement (Heel Booster) which offers better lateral support.
Zzero and Zzeus
The new TF-X inner boot is a thermo-formable heat moldable liner that doesn’t need baking first. Inner boots are another hard working item and the new TF inners are constructed for a long life. Dynafit also offer the MF standard boot. These are a revolution, weighing almost the same as the TF inners. We like the MF boots and wondered how well they’d been selling. Robert from Dynafit France said that before the Zzero range their market had been 80% thermo and 20% traditional boots but was more like 50:50 today. Quite a change.
We got sole
Like other manufacturers Dynafit have opted for an interchangeable sole - the TBS (triple binding sole). Triple binding because the Skywalk rubber sole version can be used in Dynafit and standard touring bindings and the plastic sole in ISO compatible alpine bindings. The sole has a different tread pattern compared to the Zzero range which is adapted to freeride use - climbing on snow rather than long approach marches. A big issue for PisteHors.com readers has been durability. The sole has been one area where manufacturers have been able to save weight. Dynafit told us they have taken on board our concerns and will be looking to employ harder rubber compounds in the future.
The soles can be changed using a cross-point screwdriver - realistically an operation for the comfort of a chalet fireside rather than on the snow. The sole actually slots securely into position, you could probably ski without actually doing up the screws (don’t try this though). The boot feels very solid, it weighs in at 3900 grammes per pair (27.5), a full 700 grammes more than the Zzero 4. It is manufactured from PU (Polyurethane) which has the useful characteristic of getting stiffer as it gets colder.... unlike the average freerider.
The black/gold colour scheme is pleasing and the boots have the Dynafit Quick-Step-In binding lugs. These make Dynafit’s TLT bindings easier to use than traditional touring bindings, because of the gap between the sole and binding you don’t have to worry as much about small amounts of ice build-up. Finally one thing we didn’t realise with the Zzero/Zzeus range is that the forward lean is user programmable. Using the rear lever you can dial in 15 degrees or a more aggressive 21 degrees of forward lean depending on your riding style. It takes a little bit of getting used to but works well.
Zzero women’s and men’s boots
Women have not been forgotten. Dynafit have extended the fitting lengths of much of the Zzero range down to ISO 22.5. They’ve also introduced two women only boots, the Zzero4 and Zzero3 Women (ladies version of the Zzero4 U and Zzero PX). So what is the difference? First of all both boots are available 22.5 to 27.5 fittings with half sizes. The translucent olive actually looks okay although is a bit reminiscent of 1970s bathroom suites. The shells are a redesign for female foot and leg anatomy. A lower and wider spoiler is integrated into the rear of the boot. The four clip ZZero4 Women is offered in both MF (standard multiform) and TF (thermoform) liners. The shorter three clip Zzero3 Women in MF only.
The Dynafit Manaslu ski follows the trend to fatter skis with stable 95mm underfoot, a 122 mm shovel and a 108 mm heel. Those dimensions put it up against the Black Diamond Kilowatt. The big difference is the weight. While the Kilowatt weighs 3500 grammes a pair (175cm) the Manaslu tips the scales at 2900 grammes with an extra 3cm of length. That’s extremely light for such a big ski and must make it a class leader. It is even lighter than the Dynafit Mustagh Ata.
Predrilled for Dynafit bindings, what else?
The Manaslu has a slightly different construction compared to the other skis in the Dynafit freetouring range. The Paulownia wood core (a hardwood as light as balsa) is supplemented by glass fiber stringers for rigidity. A carbon fibre / fiber glass mesh is added to the mix. Dynafit have been at the forefront of high altitude skiing with ascents of the Seven Summits and Himalayan 8000s. The Manaslu is designed for high mountain skiing in the often varied conditions found at altitude, ice, crud, strastrugi, crust and powder. Actually that sounds much like European skiing. It has an extended 23 cm shovel, straight sidewalls and a long turn radius. Elisabeth was very keen to discuss the technical merits of these skis, such as the very high quality steel edges, and show off the superb graphics (see photo above). The skis are pre-drilled with a reinforced mounting plate for the Vertical 12 (and Comfort) binding and all sizes of boots. The skis use Dynafit’s Speed Skin system. For wide shovel shovel skis these custom fixings for the skins are the only good solution as top loops tend to get unhooked at the most inconvenient moments. The Speed Skin system can be fitted to skins other than the Dynafit range so there is no vendor lock-in.