Take two. Huh, you ask? Well, I just lost draft one of this thing due to Satan having written the code for WordPress…so there you have it.
The point? The long story short? Dynafit’s TLT 6, the updated version of the TLT 5, and their new ski weapon, the Cho Oyu, are both fantastic.
Here’s why: The TLT 6 builds upon the superlight, crazy efficient, skis-like-a-mofo TLT 5 by improving some hardware, making the fit more accessible to more people, upgrading the liner, and maintaining its downhill mojo. Hot damn. As for the Cho Oyu, it’s a glimpse at the new wave of boards from Dynafit–carbon infused, ricockulously light (under 1100g per ski), and surprisingly solid on the down. Start saving your pennies, people, because you’re going to love this stuff.
I’ve raved about the TLT 5 for a couple seasons now, lauding the unbelievably light weight (2 lb. 1 oz./938g per boot, without liner), skiing performance (mine are the carbon-cuffed “Performance” model), and efficient touring (60 degrees range of motion). The 6 is a few grams (15) heavier than the 5, but keeps all of the above, while addressing some of the more common complaints users had with its predecessor.
First off, the fit offers three more millimeters in the instep/arch of the foot, improving circulation for some and getting those with slightly meatier feet in there. I have low-volume, high-arch feet and found the TLT last absolutely perfect, but many others just couldn’t tolerate the dainty fit. The 6 gives a bit more over the foot, so if you were close with the 5, you might just slip right in to this new version.
Outside of those millimeters, the lower is the same in terms of layout–my Mondo 27.5 will still have a 297mm sole length. The rockered, short sole is a full centimeter shorter than many competing boots and if you’re climbing in them…you’ll never go back. They walk and climb better than the (relatively few) plastic double-boots I’ve worn and for bootpacking/frontpointing couloirs, you won’t believe how maneuverable and comfortable they are. Paired with C.A.M.P.’s Race 290 crampons, it’s an unfair advantage. Awesome.
Gone is the “Actiflex” 5mm “play” or flex in the front of the lower boot. Most folks I talked to didn’t care for it and a good number of them riveted the boot shell to prevent the movement/sliding.
Buckles (all magnesium) get an upgrade, drawing on the improved, two-section upper-buckle design of the One/Mercury/Vulcan boots. My biggest complaint with the 5 was how far the upper buckle stood out from the shell when in tour mode. It was just asking to get sheared off, which I did near Mammoth two seasons ago. It’s a minor pain to overcome in the field, but don’t count on finding buckles everywhere–I didn’t and my Eastside binge whimpered to a halt. Lesson learned. The 6 buckle pivots a bit, keeping it a tad closer to the shell–still vulnerable, but a bit less so. Lower buckles micro-adjust by twisting the cable in the housing/connection and are a little more customizable (though less adjustable on the fly) than the previous iteration.
Dyna tried to upgrade the liner and they did to some degree, though it’s still a far cry from an Intuition. SCARPA still seems to have a lock on OEM Intuitions, so many (me included) choose to ditch the Dyna liner (9.55 oz./273g) for the Intuition Alpine (6.9 oz./196g). The newer Dynafit liner is thermomoldable, has a reflecto/aluminum layer in the bottom, and should offer much more warmth over the 5’s. That said, the Intuition is lighter, higher-quality foam and is probably a way better rig all-around…but there’s another couple hundred outta pocket.
I skied the 6 a couple days this spring, in heavy, wet snow atop suncrusts, on everything from don’t-fall couloirs to bumped-out “backcountry” runs. The 6 skis every bit as well as the 5, seems to tour just as well, and will probably be warmer for most people. It will come with two removable tongues (as opposed to one for the 5), offering a softer and stiffer flex. I didn’t use either, as I don’t use the tongue with my 5s (I’m 165 lbs. and don’t generally need it, unless on really firm snow) and wanted to compare them as fairly as possible.
Just based upon my foot shape, the 5 actually fits me a bit better–but keep in mind I ran my Intuition liners in the 6s, and these were poached out of my beloved 5s. I’m sure a good bootfitter could get me just as happy in a 6. I had great control, weightless/efficient touring, all the goodness I’ve grown addicted to in the 5. Awesome boot.
Skis are a-changing at Dynafit, with an updated Manaslu in the pipeline and two worthy models to replace the Mustagh Ata and Broad Peak–the Nanga Parbat (80 underfoot, published weight of 1000g) and the Cho Oyu. I skied the 174cm version (also 182 and 191m available this fall), which has 88mm underfoot (125 and 111mm shovel and tail), weighs (published, not verified) 1080g, and claims a triple-turn-radius of 16/12/15m (not sure how to really verify this, other than to say it turns…indeed, this thing turns!).
The Cho has a funky shovel profile, with carbon lay-up showing through the topsheet. The unique tip has to do with the shovel rocker (41cm of it)–the shovel’s widest where the rocker’s just turning upwards, giving it more float, they say. Paulownia in the core, Dynafit (Pomoca) Speedskin attachments tip and tail.
I got the ski the Cho a few days (one on-piste at a demo, and two backcountry in variable spring conditions) and the Nanga Parbat (just one run at the demo). I was blown away at the performance-weight ratio. Both skis had super edge-hold (firm conditions on piste that day, with a bit of new on top), surprising given the weights are nearly race-ski worthy. Dynafit uses a “micro-sidewall” underfoot, perhaps improving the torsional rigidity? Whatever the voodoo, these are tenacious skis if you stay balanced and neutral on them.
On the Cho I got to ski a very, very steep shot near Stoneman Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, with a sun crust underneath a few inches of heavy, consolidated spring snow. Grabby at the entrance (I’m not gonna blather about how steep it was, other than to say I was extremely careful the first 200 feet of the couloir!), the Cho Oyus had virtually no swing weight, so jump turns were relaxed. This particular set was mounted with the “rental” ST Radical binding, which has brakes and an adjustment plate under the heel, making them relatively heavy for Dynafits. (3588g for both skis and bindings; subtract about 240g if paired with the Speed Radical to get them down to approximately 3340g/7.3 lbs.! My Black Diamond Aspects, for comparison, are 3620g in a 176cm, at 90mm underfoot.) As the slope eased and I could breathe again, I opened them up a bit and crossing some avy chunder and carving turns, they were responsive and pretty stable–as long as I stayed centered on the ski.
All in all, an impressive couple rides on these things. They are definitely a spring/skimo board, but one that I would recommend for anybody who’s light and willing to ski them with a bit of a speed limit and some finesse.