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Nov 24 2014

Review: Dynafit TLT 6 AT boot

 

Dynafit TLT 6 CL

Dynafit TLT 6 CL

When you’re ready to go long, whether that means deeper into the backcountry, or higher, or simply maximizing vertical even if it’s just line of sight from the trailhead, you know that weight matters and downhill performance will be compromised. Whether that compromise is too much depends in large part on how well you can compensate, and the conditions at hand.

Dynafit’s TLT6 is the follow up boot to the ground breaking TLT5 with it’s UltraLock system that lets you switch from turn to tour mode by loosening or locking the single cuff buckle. Though it is no longer a new idea, the system is still impressive for its dual purpose functionality and simplicity.

The TLT 6 fixes what ailed the TLT 5, eliminating the flexible toe and expanding the toe box for more comfort. It remains a minimalist boot that, for its size and weight packs a serious punch, but there remain limits to how much power you can coax out of such a small package.

Downhill Chops

For those who want this level of mode switching convenience and touring freedom of movement but demand a high level of downhill performance, stop right here and check out the Mercury or Vulcan. However, if you recognize that long tours require a compromise somewhere and you’re game to make up the difference in downhill power with a bit of driver skill and technique, read on.

Despite that warning, Dynafit’s TLT 6 does an impressive job of delivering an adequate level of downhill performance in spite of its lack of weight. It achieves this by simply adding stiffness to the lower shell by building it with Grilamid®, a stiffer, lighter, polyamide plastic. This adds extra strength to the lateral stiffness, the main reason the TLT 6 is able to deliver control without excess mass.

Like other boots in the TLT boot line, stiffness also derives from a carbon reinforced cuff, and a choice of two tongues removeable tongues; the black tongue is the stiffer of the two. For more stiffness, pick the TLT 6 Progressive which has a full carbon cuff. If money is tight, the TLT 6 Mountain model has a carbon reinforced pebax cuff. However, unlike the Mercury or Vulcan the TLT 6 feels relatively soft by comparison, yielding an unusually progressive flex for a touring boot, although this smooth flex ends up feeling downright insufficient when skiing through heavy snow or crud with the softer tongue, and barely enough with the stiffer black one.

The standard forward lean of the boot is 18 degrees which can be increased to 20 by rotating the insert the cuff buckle latches into on the back of the spine.

UltraLock Limits

Cuff ROM is an impressive 18° with the tongue, more without.

Cuff ROM is an impressive 18° with the tongue, more without.

Although the UltraLock buckle is ingenious, in actual use I find it requires a bit of extra fidgeting to switch modes because you still need to reset the power strap. However this is a minor inconvenience compared to how methodical and careful you need to be to open the boot up to get your foot in it. To make up for the lack of mass the cuff is extra stiff, as is the tongue. But to get in you need to open up the cuff and it never fails to hold it’s grip on the tongue, which, if you push it out of the way often falls out, requiring extra time to reset it while holding the cuff open. If your first impression is this seems annoying, just wait ’til you’ve done it for the 100th time and it still annoys you. ;)

Although this system offers unparalleled ROM for touring, the full range of motion is not available unless you remove the tongue. Notice that the ROM shown in the photo indicates only 18° rearward. While this is significantly larger than most AT boots on the market, it is a full ten degrees less than the ROM measured with the Mercury. The difference is the presence or absence of the tongue in tour mode. This photo includes the tongue, and thus limits the full ROM possible with the UltraLock System. If you want even more ROM, remove the tongue.

Fit

Compared to the TLT5 the TLT6 has more room in the toebox, something your toes will appreciate with the right size shell. The overall boot sole length is typically a full centimeter shorter than equivalently sized boots from other manufacturers. F’rinstance, a mondo 27.5 TLT 6 shell has a BSL of 297, which is more indicative of a 26.5, or with some manufacturers, even a 25.5 shell. This is due to a shorter toe, which also means this boot is compatible with tech bindings only. That difference in boot sole length also means internally the shell is smaller as well, so be aware you may find you need to size up to fit the TLT 6.

The CR, custom ready, liner comes with Ultralon foam.

The CR, custom ready, liner comes with Ultralon foam.

The instep buckle of beefier boots in the TLT line is absent with the TLT 6, saving a few grams. In downhill mode it makes little difference since the fit around the ankle remains as snug as its predecesor, the TLT 5. However, in tour mode the huge cuff ROM means those with a low volume foot will probably notice heel movement up and down.

One last note on fit. While the overall last of the TLT 6 is a moderate 99mm wide, it still favors a lower volume foot. Even though the lower shell is built of stiffer Grilamid®, the material responds well to being heated and punched to accommodate bunions or sixth toe conditions. In general it is too thin for grinding, but unlike Pebax®, Grilamid® tends to hold a punch and not relax back to its original position.

Two liners are available, CL or CR as indicated by the boot model name. The CR is a fully thermomoldable liner using an Ultralon foam. The CL a custom light liner that, though lighter, is not fully thermomoldable. More than likely your local shop is carrying the CR version

Conclusion

In shopping for this boot, be aware of the subtleties of Dynafit’s nomenclature. Performance means the lighter, stiffer full carbon cuff, Mountain uses a carbon reinforced Pebax cuff. CR is for a Custom Ready thermomoldable liner, CL is Custom Light, lighter, but less moldable.

As indicated above, with an extra dose of skill, or maybe conservative caution when conditions call for it the overall balance of touring freedom with power of the TLT6 is great if your goals are for bigger days, not heavier conditions. As further indication that touring over turning is where to expect superior performance, Dynafit’s website clearly indicates the TLT 6 is appropriate for skimo races.

Dynafit

Yes, there's a ladies version too.

Yes, there’s a ladies version too.

TLT Performance CR 6
MSRP: $1000
Weight/boot (mondo 27.5): 1050 g
Sizes available: 22.5 – 30.5

TLT Mountain CR 6
MSRP: $750
Weight/boot (mondo 275): 1225 g
Sizes available: 22.5 – 30.5

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