26 December, 2009

Dynafit Dy.N.A Review

There are a lot of great race boots out there, all with their own features, quirks, and advantages/disadvantages.  Dynafit released the Dy.N.A World Cup Boot with the goal of eliminating any disadvantages and building a boot that caters to exactly what the ski mountaineering racer is really after, and to meet the demands of speed traverses, even steep skiing.  I had previously wrote an article on its features, those alone convincing me that this was an awesome boot.  But skiing is believing, here's all the other info you've been looking for.

The Fit
The Dy.N.A's sleek, anatomically correct fit, is not like the rest of the Dynafit line although some similarities can be noticed.  The heel pocket is snug, not too tight, but enough to grip the heel without pinching and/or creating blisters.  The mid foot, begins to widen from the heel, remaining snug with some room for the foots bones to move while walking.  The forefoot is nice and wide.  It is at its widest at the 1st and 5th metatarsals, which makes feels fantastic when walking, and allows the foot to move naturally inside the boot without being restricted.  The toe box, is widened to the inside, allowing the big toe to sit naturally and does not squeeze it it with the other toes.  The upper cuff is narrow, and hugs the athletic calf really well, where as other race boots may feel more loose.  
How It Walks

One word will describe the way the Dy.N.A walks, unbelievable!  There is absolutely no restrictions on your foot.  No walk mode limit, no instep top out on the top of the boot, and barely any weight on your feet.  The stiff sole is great   Breaking trail was much easier, as the boot was smaller in girth overall, so your foot cuts through the snow making life way easier in the deep.  In the track, they make maintaining a fast cadence easy, and are entertaining to pay attention to how light and efficient they are.  I loved the way they felt on the flats, regardless of other arguments of a stiffer sole, and was powerful on the steep up track.  

Each stride you take with these boots has a powerful kick.  The 5mm flex of the forefoot of the boot gives the boot a "pop" when your skinning, which I have never felt on any other boot on the market.  

How It Skis
If you've been after a really light boot, but have not found anything stiff enough, look no farther.  I having some incredible conditions to test it in, I decided to really test it out, taking it out in backcountry knee deep bottomless powder, wind-packed sastrugi, in-bounds chopped up crud and moguls, and icy groomers.  

Having skied other race boots on the market, the F1, some different Dynafit predecessors, but none could hold a candle to these.  You can drive these boots just like any other touring boot.  They are stiff laterally, but the real treat is that you can drive your knee forward, and ski these hard.  Bottom line they charge.  A massive advantage in racing, you will be well ahead of the pack when skiing through variable snow conditions, and not have to worry about holding back at all.  Coming from an alpine racing background using the stiffest boots and skis, it was revelation to ski this boot with such monstrous energy transfer, a big change of pace compared to the other Rando race boots on the market.  I know it may be hard to believe that such a light boot skis so well, but this is something you will have to experience to believe.

Fitting The Boot
Fitting the boot was just as easy as any other boot.  Just toss it on a stack heater, I wouldn't recommend using a convection oven as it may overheat the thin race liner too quickly, and wait 12 minutes at 114 degree Fahrenheit. Make sure you have a toe cap on with a stocking, not a sock, as they do pack out well, but also to make sure you aren't swimming in it.  I just walked around with it on, as it is a race boot for walking, rather than standing in one spot with my toes elevated (footbed out).  After it cooled down, I popped the footbed back in, and voila!  Perfect.  
This being said, fitting the DyNA can be more work than other boots.  Mine did work out easily, but I have spent awhile on other peoples boots making sure the little quirks fit, and concentrating on micro adjustments.  You can fit this boot in three different ways to customize the volume.  Boot shim in, Footbed in, or nothing at all; the choice is yours, and do what feels best, or combine two if necessary.

One thing to note, is that this boot has a significantly taller cuff than the F1, which may require some extra fitting for some people with larger calves.  This is also a big advantage.  A taller cuff means extra support, and if you are thrown into the back seat, you will have a much better chance of recovering.

Overall Impression
Before heading out to test the boot, I dealt with a person who believed he was too good a skier to even be in a Dynafit Titan.  Nothing was stiff enough to hold his ego in, as he tore into how poorly designed touring boots are, and how nobody who really knew how to ski could use them.  Laughing to myself knowing the secret to skiing more, faster, longer, steeper, harder, was using lightweight gear that still packed a punch.  The secret is out of the bag, and maybe we can hope that not every skier realizes it, and leave the great vastness to those who chose to accept it and move fast.  For those who do, the Dynafit Dy.N.A World Cup Race boot is the key to unlocking vast distances and massive elevation gains and loss, with no compromises.  

I could of easily just wrote this review in two words, "no brainer," but it would not explain and outline the reasons behind it.  Race gear is the future of ski mountaineering gear, and is the answer to accomplishing more in the backcountry.  The Dy.N.A World Cup boot is the big stepping stone that bridges the gap between light but flimsy boots, and really heavy but stiff boots, combined into an extremely light and beautifully stiff boot.  Not only will I be skiing this boot for training and racing, but for everyday skiing, steep skiing, and guiding.  So stoked to ski these everyday!


  1. Good stuff Alex, thanks for sharing the experience with the boot.

    I was impressed with the boot too even by holding it a couple of times, however, I don't believe Dynafits intention was to make a rando race boot. And if it was then they missed the market (or train) as it is heavier compared to other race specific boots. Because of that I believe that very few Euros, if any, will race the boot at the Worlds or any major race this season.

    But like you, with no real desire (so far) to spend tons of money for Gignoux boots, I would be happy to race them, even though their price is quite high too.

    And like you, I believe their biggest advantage would be on fast traverses, where you need a light but very reliable boot (which still should be tested over longer time with these).

    Regardless, this boot seems like a big step forward towards lighter every day rando boots.

  2. As for speed traverses go, I am so excited to try this boot out. On the McBride traverse, I got really bad blisters under my big toe, as the belows of my F1 were constantly flexing, and over time creating this problem. These boots are going to be unbelievably good on this years speed traverse.

    As for racing. I do think this is a great rando race boot. Boots like Pierre Gignoux, yes are lighter, but are still primarily the same thing. The advantage that I think people may see in this boot is its ability to ski so well. With that skiing down, you are less likely to wreck, can ski faster, and it more control. Skiing down with a pair of F1's with no tongue just sucks.

  3. According to people, Gignoux boots ski quite well ;)

    Alex, I agree it is a good rando race boot, but for lower tier racing, not world cup level, that's all. So for us it's perfectly suitable.

  4. One thing about the 'wide toe box". I am one of those people with wide feet (EE). I have tried many Dynafit models (Titan, Zzero, DyNA) and none did the trick. And the thing with the DyNA (like the Carbon F1 because of the bellow) is that you can't punch the toe because of the "flexion cut-out" and Carbon cap over top of it. With the Scarpa F1 Carbon there is much more room in the toe-box like many other Scarpa models. Just wanted to give a heads up on this as there may be tonnes of room in the DyNA toe for you Alex but I don't think it is generally a wide toebox by design. So people with wide feet like me should not assume this will be suited to them.
    Also, I tend to agree with Stano with the race/weigth thing. I just don't think this is a World Class race boot and I also don't think that that's what Dynafit had in mind. They have a bunch of athletes over there skiing off 8000m peaks in crazy fast times and I think that's what this boot was designed around not racing per se.

  5. Good comments guys! I do agree with you James, I am so pumped for speed traverses and speed ascents with these. I think this just needs a full carbon lower as well for these to be World Cup suitable. Carbon is just such a sexy thing!

    Just as James said, you CANNOT punch these at the cut-out point, as many people have asked be about that. Dynafit is a narrower last, the anatomically correct fit just makes it feel wider.

  6. Alex,

    Thank you for this in depth review of the new Dynafit boot. Your comments about how well the DyNA skis are intriguing. In your estimation, would these boots be a good match for the Manaslu ski (which I saw that you also reviewed) as part of an every day touring set up? Do you have any sense of how the DyNA would ski compared to the Zzero 4 carbon? It sounds like they would be an immense improvement when touring. Thanks.

  7. Interesting to read all the comments about these doesn't seem to be targeted a single-purpose race-only boot, since that just makes me far more interested in it.
    How does the sizing compare to the Zzero4C-TF?
    More specifically, if the interior length of the Zzero4 in a 26.0/26.5 is just barely big enough for the length of my big toes, will I fit in a 26.5 DyNA?

  8. kkashkooli,
    I found this boot was amazing in its stiffness. It should work with a Manaslu, I know Melanie Bernier (a member of the Canadian Skimo Team) is skiing these as her regular everyday boot with a G3 Zenoxide which is considerably stiffer than the Manaslu. Compared to the Zzero4 boot, they are laterally as stiff, but do not have a tongue in them, where the Zzero4 does, giving it a stiffer forward flex. Most people who have bought them here on the Coast are not racers, they are ski mountaineers looking to ski steep, or just go fast in the mountains.

    I'm sure the Zzero4 sizing is relatively close, I will have a chance to check tomorrow, and post it up here. That being said, if your in a 26.5 order a 26.5. You can also punch the toe as you are well away from the flex cut out. Just be very careful as these are Pebax plastic, adding to that they are thinner than most touring boots, proceed with caution! The liners have more give than I thought they would, and you can always take the footbeds out of them to give you some extra wiggle room.

  9. Its great to see so many people excited about this boot. And it is exciting, a little expensive for the average skier but worth the cost with all the improvements. I have skied these boot a few times and agree with Alex's comments. pretty amazing.

    Dynafit has more in the works in terms of light and powerful. Some very exciting stuff that should be public knowledge after OR.

  10. To answer Jonathan's question with the Zzero4 boot vs the Dy.N.A internal sole length. The Zzero4 (26.0) is approx 273mm where the Dy.N.A is approx 277mm. You should be okay in the Dy.N.A 26, as the liner is a few millimeters thinner than the Zzero4.

  11. Where have people on the Coast been getting these boots? How much do they cost, give or take?

  12. JBest,

    Coast range people have been buying them from the Escape Route @ www.escaperoute.ca as well as Telemark Pyrnees. They are $1600.00 CAD.

  13. Thanks Alex. Great blog by the way.

  14. definitely spendy but they will go well with your carbon fiber implants alex.

  15. This could help me in skiing during winter and very comfortable to watch this. As there are many skiing reviews which we need to be followed.

  16. Lee,

    Hopefully the price for Carbon Fiber boots comes down in the next few years, as many companies are moving to this material, and the demand should begin to rise more driving the prices down. My plan for a carbon fiber skeleton may not be so cheap.