Dynafit ONE PX – Your First Look at Next Year’s Gotta-Have Ski Boot

It must be a curse of sorts, the implacably fevered mind of a Dynafit product designer. They absolutely knock it out of the park with the TLT boot, but rather than pull on a pair and go touring for a year or two, they immediately get back into the lab and start tinkering…and the ONE PX is born.

The ONE has a few siblings, the Vulcan (1590 grams, published weight; a much stiffer version with a Pebax lower and carbon upper cuff, reminiscent of the carbon Green Machine, briefly reviewed HERE), the Mercury (1600 grams, published weight; a “fiberglass-reinforced cuff” with Pebax lower), a women’s ONE PX (1300 grams), and a PU version weighing 1650 grams (published weight). The Dyna catalog calls the ONE PX a 1490 gram boot (with liner) and I weighed just the shell (27.5 Mondo) at home to compare with my TLT Carbon–the ONE tipped in at 1166 grams versus 943 grams. Respectable, for sure.

All the boots in the family build on the TLT chassis, employing the awesome/staggeringly good/fantastic/once-you-ski-it-you’ll-never-go-back tour/walk mode. The ONE family does NOT use the 5mm “Acti-Flex” pivot in the forefoot of the scafo–something the world seemed split on: some people hated it (and many riveted the lower to prevent the 5mm play), while some (like me) appreciated it when climbing, walking, etc. My hunch is the 5mm will go away in the TLT series eventually, but make note the ONE boots have a rigid scafo, and no play.

The walk mode in the ONE is simply unparalleled in a charger touring boot. Nobody else has matched Dynafit’s game. Who knows how much more efficient it is, but after you’ve toured in it, it’s tough to go back to a more restrictive boot. SCARPA’s Alien boots are getting there, but I’ve yet to tour in one and I’ve not seen anybody in the backcountry with a set.

The ONE PX also incorporates the “Ultra-Lock” top buckle, which puts the boot directly into ski when you buckle it. The Dyna-kooks didn’t just slap a TLT buckle on there, either. In my opinion the single greatest weakness of the TLT boot is how the top buckle protrudes when in touring mode–I’ve already sheared one off and it’s constantly on my mind when scrambling/climbing/postholing.

By installing another pivot, the buckle now lies much closer to the boot shell, making it a tad more protected from tree limbs, rocks, and other potentially damaging objects. Good fix, ladies and gents.

What else? The ONE PX incorporates a thin layer of insulation along the inside of the boot sole, boosting warmth. I only rode the ONEs in Colorado’s dismal, hot, spring snowpack, so I can’t say much about its effectiveness, but it should help. Some TLT devotees have suffered with cold feet, but I sized mine up one Mondo size and use an Intuition liner–so far, so good. The ONE probably won’t need this fix for most people.

The last, too, is roomier in the forefoot than the TLTs. Some skiers couldn’t get a comfortable fit in the TLTs and others took to modifying the shell to give a little more room in the toe box. I LOVE the TLT last, but I get that some ham-footed people want the TLT performance and the ONE family should provide that. My Mondo 27.5 ONEs felt far roomier than my TLTs, so much so I wish I’d gotten a 26.5 for my testing…but, beggars cannot be choosers, as the good book says. Or somebody says…whoever that is.

Anyway. Warmer, roomier last, same tour function, and…an extra buckle. The “Central Buckle System” places a magnesium (like the rest of the ONE hardware) directly from the shell pivot points over the instep of the foot–much like the fantastic SCARPA buckle configuration on the Maestrale and Spirit boots. I always loved that buckle because it so securely locks the foot back into the heel cup of the liner/shell. Dynafit’s take on that is a nice touch on the ONE–despite my shell size being a little loungy for me, my foot didn’t swim and I didn’t feel out of touch with the ski, or like I couldn’t drive it.

The power strap on the ONE steps it up a notch over the TLT as well, offering a wider, stronger tightening system.

Like a jackass I forgot to write down the sole length on the ONE, but if memory serves it’s a 304mm versus 297mm for the TLT. This I noticed quite a bit when climbing, short roping, and cramponing. I’ve gotten so used to the sensitive, dextrous TLT shape, that I felt like I had more of a platform in the ONE. The sole is also less rockered, giving it more of a traditional ski boot feel. Now, most people will probably prefer this–it certainly did offer more power transfer when skiing. I’m doing my best imitation of a mountain guide these days, though, and I preferred the more nimble TLT feel. It’s a trade-off, but I bet most folks will prefer the ONE.

And how does it ski?! Yes, all this blabbering about technical details just distract us from the down. It’s noticeably stiffer in forward flex, though not nearly as stout as the Titan…and I’m told the Vulcan will be crazy stiff, so let’s call the ONE the younger bro of the family. I skied the older Dynafit Manaslu (94mm underfoot and SOFT in the shovel) and a BD Drift (100mm underfoot, a bit stiffer in the shovel and way more ski), a couple times each. The ONE felt like more boot than I needed on the Manaslu and a worthy partner with the Drift. For people skiing 110mm skis, the ONE will drive ’em just fine…and I bet the Vulcan will ski just about anything you can strap to your feet.

The longer, less-rockered sole stood out, especially on the Drift. The ONE PX will also step into alpine or frame-style AT bindings, which the TLTs do not (though I’ve heard of people pulling it off).

All told, I expect most people will find a happy and safe home in the ONE. The Vulcan, if it’s anything like the Titan (or bigger, freeride AT boots like a SCARPA Mobe, etc.), seems powered up to very good skiers, heavy skiers, or anybody driving 130mm-underfoot boards. I don’t own skis that big, I weigh 165 lbs., and I actually prefer a softer, more progressive flex in my boots. And I’ve blabbed about the shorter sole…so while I love my TLTs and won’t be changing any time soon, I see the ONE PX as the perfect bridge between huge, heavy charger boots, and lighter rando-race inspired shoes like my beloved TLTs.

Translation: I think the ONE PX is a bullseye for most of the AT market. It drives bigger skis, but offers the touring superiority of a racing boot. It delivers supremely efficient touring prowess, without the potential compromises of a lighter boot. Time will tell, but I’m betting this thing kicks mucho culo winter 2012-13.

Now, if the snow gods will only cooperate next season and send some of that Euro snow our way…we’ll get to play.

Big thanks to Matt and the Dynafit gang, and Eric Henderson in particular for getting me in the ONEs, which are in short supply at present. And stay tuned–Dynafit will be distributing Pomoca skins next winter, too. I’ve managed to beg a set of the Climb Pro Glides out of them and I’ll be taking them to Alaska next week. Watch for a quick review, with a much more in-depth discussion next fall. Pomoca is a legendary brand, used extensively on the race scene…and they already manufacture the Dynafit Speedskins (which I love; reviewed HERE), but the Pomoca line will offer an all-nylon, an all-mohair, and two blended versions, in addition to endless tip/tail configurations. First glance looks promising…check back.

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