Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dynafit Evo boot review

Well, here they are--Dynafit Evo boots. If you're living and racing in Europe, they're old news...if you're living in North America, you probably haven't seen 'em yet.

I first saw a pair at last year's world championships in Italy. Javier, a Dynafit sponsored skier from Spain, had the only pair. He graciously offered to let me give them a try, but being a 1/2 size small and immediately after he'd raced on them I declined. Not that I have anything against Spanish sweat, it's just that I'm not into sharing footwear.

What I noticed about Javier's boots was the incredible lightness. Mine weigh in around 680g. Lighter than my xc skate boots! Apparently Dynafit mapped out the boots in square cm's and adjusted the plastic (grilamid) for each segment in order to minimize the weight and put it where needed. Last year I skied on the Dyna's (980g)and I thought those were light. Evo has definately raised the bar in lightness. This is why I really wanted to get these as now they're in the lightness category of an all Carbon boot  (racers never like to give any advantage to the competition!).

As for stiffness, there's nothing lacking. They got those sq cm's dialed in and with the carbon upper cuff, the boot is as stiff as it needs to be. I haven't skied the Gignoux al carbon boot or LaSportiva, so I'm not sure how the stiffness would compare, but with the Evo it's certainly adequate.

One heads up, the wheelbase is about 9mm shorter than the D.y.n.a.'s. An advantage for the boots in skiing feel and lightness, but if you're planning on using your older model race boots for training and saving the Evo's for racing it can be a problem with our race bindings. When I remounted my Trab WC race skis I laid down a layer of carbon fibre to strengthen the ski with the additional binding holes (I remember seeing my team mate Ian Gale break his WC's in the last race of the season due to the multiple holes in his skis). For my training Trabs I've installed "quiver killer binding inserts". Another option would be to mount with an adjustable plate (ATK or Plum make these).

So how do the Evo's ski? My first impression as I strided uphill was how much quicker I could move my feet due to the lightness. The stiffness made it feel very efficient (I've also used Scarpa F1 race, with the bellowed sole). But overall I felt like I could fly effortlessly. On the descent I'm still evaluating. I've only taken them down one somewhat gnarly downhill. What I did notice was that with the lightness, any thicker windblown and cruddy powder tended to "kick" them around a bit. But after all, with a ski-boot-binding combo this light, what can you expect? My skis and bindings together weigh only 850g and with only 680g on your feet there's not much there to push back in tougher snow conditions. I kinda feel like good skiers learn how to ski on anything. Maybe that's why when N. Americans show up in Europe with our big mountain fattties, the Euro's kinda sneer and look down their noses.

Dynafit has a unique race tour/alpine closure system. For the most part it works seamlessly. When I upgraded to Dynafit over the Scarpa F1 race boots I immediately felt like I was getting a stiffer, more efficient alpine mode. The Evo essentially employs the same system as last year's D.y.n.a. boot.

In tour mode the flexibility is quite amazing. I don't think a running shoe would give you more unencumbered mobility. The feel is truly amazing. Evo liners are 20g lighter than last year's Dyna but they retained the neoprene flex zone at the achilleas. Again, I haven't skied on the PG's or LaS....but I couldn't imagine these being as flexible as the Evo's.

I finally get to race on these babies this weekend in Whitefish MT, then next week head to CO for the N. American championships. ' Can't wait to see how they help my performance.

A special thanks to Chris Clausen at Dynafit for letting this Canuck have the only pair up here in the Great White North!


Blog deadbeat that I am...it’s been awhile-sorry. Yesterday’s hi temp hit a not so balmy -27C (-15F). Tough to get motivated to train in that. But I had a change of mind that made getting out exciting. I decided to make a challenge out of the weather. "Could I bring all my cold weather outdoor training experience together to master even this unbelievable chill and have a comfortable, safe experience?" Old man winter threw down the gauntlet, now it was up to me to see if I was up to the task.

I have been having a hard time getting out for my long skis and couldn’t neglect yet another one, so a minimum 3 hour ski was the plan. I decided to go up Healy creek as the parking would be Sunshine DH area and in case I couldn’t restart my car I wouldn’t be stranded in K country without cell service.

Venturing out into the backcountry totally alone in those temps you don’t want to make any mistakes. I decided to go around the backside to Sunshine ski area, a trip I’d once gotten counfused in a white out and had to turn back arriving 4 hours late in total darkness (returning to an extremely panicked wife). This time as I hit the cliff band...the only avi hazard in the tour, I made the choice to turn back as the conditions seemed a bit "slabby". With a partner it wouldn’t have been any big deal, but alone I needed to be ultra safe.

So, how did I do in the cold? Primo!! I was totally comfortable and safe the entire time. Here’s some of my tricks:

-recently I purchased foot insole heater packs. You know, those chemical things that give off heat. These new models look just like an insole you’d put into a shoe. My feet were totally toasty

-I put 2 heat packs in my pockets in case my hands needed them later, which they did. The heater packs take ab out ½ hour to really get going, so if you only break them out when you’re cold they don’t help you for quite awhile. I got ‘em going on the drive over.

-polar fleece 200. I made myself a jacket of this stuff a couple years ago. It’s wonderful in cold -20C and below. I only wear one thin base layer underneath. The 200 has an incredible wicking ability. You finish your workout and the outside is coated in sweat frost, but inside you’re dry. The only drawback is it’s really permeable to wind. So when I was in the woods, no problem, but when I hit the alpine I put my new RAB team jacket on over the pf200. Our Canadian team jacket is super duper light, but I only needed it to stop windflow in.

-no skin can be exposed in these temps, so I typically wear my favourite mask...a cotton ski mask with a mouth hole. Breathing the cold air isn’t that big of a deal as air warms up tremendously fast and before it hits your lungs it’s at a safe temp. having the breathing hole helps to keep all that breath condensation from totally icing up your mask.

-over my mask I wore my fur bomber hat. With a warm head your body stays warmer longer.

-ski goggles. Though I didn’t use them too much on this trip, they can be really important. I’ve seen a couple of my friends frostbite their eyes during xc races. It’s not a pretty site. You basically go blind for a bit and for a week or two have "dog vision" only seeing in black & white. Crazy...isn’t it? Not something to mess around with.

One of the keys to comfort is temp regulation. If you dress too warmly, then overheating sweat becomes an issue. If you slow down and are totally wet, you’re in for a big problem. Hitting the right layers and skiing at the right exertion level are really important. Later in my ski, as I slowed down a bit and the terrain was more downhill, my hands and feet started getting cold. Popping my heat buzzing heater packs into the hands totally did the trick and for my feet I loosened up my boots for better circulation and consciously worked my legs a bit more to generate heat and get the blood moving.

Well there you have it...a couple of my tricks for staying warm and comfy in real cold. I guess you could just cancel your workout and stay on the couch, but it’s more fun to see if you’re up for the challenge!