Dynafit Titan–Long Term Assessment

By:  Sam
September 20, 2010 10:10 pm | Category: Gear Review

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We’re launching a Gear Review section, and to kick it off, I’ve reviewed my Dynafit Titans. Let us know what you think of the review in the comments section.

I bought my Dynafit Titans last November in preparation for my trip to India. I needed a boot that could replace my Dalbello Krypton Pro’s for the resort and my Scarpa Spirit 3’s in the backcountry. By buying a two in one boot, I hoped that I’d get the versatility I had previously needed two boots for, out of one. I seriously considered Black Diamond Factors and Garmont Raidums, but settled on the Titans because of their blend of stiffness, swappable soles, cuff mobility, and weight. While many long-term questions remained in my mind about the Titans, they were getting great early reviews and didn’t already have a reputation for poor durability like the Factors. Though I thought the Raidiums would be great boots, their lack of a swapable sole was a deal breaker for me. It’s worth noting that Black Diamond’s reputation for poor durability came from the first generation of BD boots, and that in all likelihood they’re working to address it now.

In the last year I’ve put something close to 100 days on my Titans and have developed some pretty strong opinions about the boots. In this review I hope to share some of the experiences and thoughts I’ve developed regarding these boots. Please keep in mind that these experiences are, for the most part, anecdotal and not necessarily representative of all Titans.  So, without further adeu:

The Good:

The Liner –  In my experience, the TFX (whatever that stands for) liner has been amazingly durable and comfortable and has yet to pack out (though I did fit these boots tight).  The rubberized soles on the liner are super durable, and I found the laces extremely helpful for keeping the liner snug while the boot was unbuckled during skinning. It’s worth noting that I never got any blisters from these liners. The only possible drawback over a foam “wrap” liner, as I see it, is weight. Interestingly, in doing some reading for this review, I’ve found several accounts of the liner packing out rapidly or otherwise falling apart early, however this was certainly not the case for me and I think many of these issues could have been a case of improper shell fit. My own boots were hideously uncomfortable until I molded the liner, had the other reviewers sized the boot for pre-mold comfort, I think that they could have been setting themselves up for problems.

Dynafit brand inserts – Inspecting the toe pin inserts on the boots after a year of use yields no visible evidence of changes or damage. These inserts are clearly heavily built (lots of metal) and are seated deep within the plastic toe block.  Allen’s Scarpa Skookums and Spirit 3’s on the other hand apear to have a rather light construction and both had to be replaced after the toe inserts warped and started causing pre-releases. Though Allens boot problems have been frustrating, they thankfully haven’t proven dangerous like the problems with the Salomon Quest boot. If the problems at Salomon have taught us anything,it’s that it’s important to be very wary of the construction of your tech inserts, and I can confidently say that these Dynafit ones haven’t caused me a moment of worry.

Huge cuff mobility– Dynafit claims 30 degrees and I believe them. Unlike  boots from other manufacturers, there is almost no resistance from the cuff when you move it back and forth. On a boot this stiff and powerful, any advantages in the skinning department are very welcome.

Din-soles and AT-soles ship standard (cough, cough BD Factor, Saolmon Quest) – Unlike Salomon and Black Diamond, Dynafit ships their top of the line touring boot with both tech-insert equipped AT soles and DIN compatible alpine soles.

Durable Rubber on the AT sole – I’ve been genuinely surprised how at well these have held up. They’re the best soles I’ve owned since my old pair of bulletproof of Denali XT’s which featured thick Vibram.

Lightweight – Light is a relative term, these are pretty heavy as compared to other AT boots, but when compared to the Factor, or alpine boots of comparable stiffness, they are indeed light (2000 g).

Very stiff in cold weather – Seriously, like borderline hard to get into (that’s a good thing).

Customer ServiceSalewa (the North America distributor for Dynafit), has been very helpful and responsive to issues I’ve had. This shouldn’t be read as “better customer service than….”; almost all outdoor manufacturers have great warranties and great customer service departments, but I point out Dynafits because I have had good experiences with them.

and most importantly, How They Ski – I don’t have the race background that Ben or Greg have, so I can’t compare these boots to an infinity flex Worldcup race boot on an icy downhill course. I can however say that they are hands down the best-skiing boot I’ve ever owned. They’re very responsive and, especially in Dynafit bindings, unbelievably precise. Considering my original AT setup (Freerides, Denali XT’s, and Pocket Rockets), the Titan, TLT comfort, and Wailer 105 setup I’m on now is incomparably better and a big part of that is the boot. To be totally explicit: these boots ski and tour amazingly well, and they’ve been great at driving big skis, like my Lotus 138’s.

The Bad:

In my mind there are no deal breaker problems with the Titan, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Most of the issues I have with the boot are fit-and-finish type problems that could be easily remedied by Dynafit to take this boot from a B+ to an A+. As it is, I recommend this boot with reservations, but if these changes could be implemented, I don’t think I’d need a new boot for a very long time. My frustration over these little issues is mainly due to the fact that this boot is so close to perfect, that its sad to see it fall just short.

Non Field-Replaceable Buckles – Almost all manufacturers do this, and I can’t figure out why. This is a backcountry ski boot: things will break and need to be replaced in the field. Yet on the Titan, none of the buckles can be swapped out, WHY?! If anyone from Dynafit, or any other AT boot manufacturer would like to shed some light on why this is common practice, I’d love to publish your thoughts here. I’m more than willing to concede that there might be some solid reasoning behind this, but I don’t know what it is.

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  1. Comet Jo
    wrote on September 21st, 2010 at 8:05 am  

    What’s the fit like? I ask because I’ve read both that its wide and that its very narrow. Hoping for the former, which seems to be tough to find in an AT boot.

    • Sam
      wrote on September 21st, 2010 at 12:38 pm  

      Dynafit has a pretty narrow last, I’ll have to look it up specifically, but off the top of my head I seem to remember reading 102mm at a 27. I have a wider foot myself, so to tweak the fit I did a number of things.

      First I got custom cork footbeds, they’re pricy, but for someone with very flexible feet (my arches collapse a lot and my toes spread when weighted) they do a lot to control foot motion in the boot and help force into the ski rather than into my collapsing arch. You’ll want some type of footbed regardless of your foot type though. Next, I molded the liners wearing a very thick toe cap, and with a pad taped to my pinky to create more toe room. Finally, after skiing the boots and determining where the pressure points were, I had shells punched out. The polyurethane shells are pretty thick and can offer a good boot fitter enough material to work with.

      So in short they’re narrow, but as long as your foot isn’t super wide they can be made to work. I don’t know where you’re located, but I’d find the best boot-fitter within 100 miles and have them measure your foot and then talk strategy with them. If you’re on the EC and want the best around, I’d seriously recommend race-stock sports in Waterbury VT.

  2. Beef Wellington III
    wrote on September 21st, 2010 at 6:41 pm  

    Thanks for the excellent write up!

  3. Comet Jo
    wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 7:37 am  

    Sam, thanks for the detailed discussion of fit–it’s especially useful since it sounds like we have similarly shaped feet. Race-Stock sports eh? I was actually planning to go to Alpine Options, just down the road from them in Warren. I spent a bunch of time with them last winter trying to get a pair of Spirit 4s to work, and while we didn’t succeed, they certainly seemed like they knew what they’re doing (they are even listed on the bootfitter.com guide). When I last talked to them the owner said I should try the new Salomon Quests, which he’d seen at a trade show, but it looks like that’s not happening (see here)

    • Sam
      wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 12:53 pm  

      Jo, I’m glad you didn’t end up with the Quests. As for Alpine Options, I have no personal experience with them, so I can’t speak to their service. Regarding race stock though, I think the shop is pretty widely regarded as one of the best in the country, people literally fly in to get their race boots fit there. It’s not a touring shop (at least that’s not the focus), but if you’re in need of some boot magic, I think it’s the best option in the NE.

    • Beef Wellington III
      wrote on September 25th, 2010 at 6:56 pm  

      Wow, those Solomon boots look like a bad bet, Comet Jo. Thanks for enlightening us!

  4. Comet Jo
    wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 7:38 am  

    Not sure how it happened that way, but if you click on the closing parenthesis above, you get the link to the thread on the failure of the Salomon quests that I tried to link to…

    • Greg
      wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 8:23 am  

      hey Comet Jo

      something got screwed up in the html syntax on our end. just fixed it. thanks for contributing to the discussion!

  5. Comet Jo
    wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 7:43 am  

    oh, and that’s the bootfitters dot com site, with an “s”

  6. mortimer
    wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 12:43 pm  

    I’m interested to hear how the titans ski compared to your krypton pros, both in and out of bounds.

    • Sam
      wrote on September 22nd, 2010 at 1:06 pm  

      So to start with, and in all fairness to Dalbello, this won’t be an apples to apples comparison, so please keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that through some fault of my own, I ended up in a pair of kryptons that was at least a size too big. They fit well at first, but ended up packing out quickly, leading to lots of slop, which greatly colored my opinion of how they skied and partially led to me just cannibalizing the tongues from them for use on spirit 3’s.

      So, In bounds – The krypton’s were noticeably taller and heavier than the titans. The height was nice, I felt that it might have given me a little more control, but the weight was unbearable. I tour a lot, and the kryptons pretty much ended up just sitting on a shelf for the last two years collecting dust because they were too heavy and awkward to use. In bounds they were ok, but the weight was still awkward. I’m not a huge guy, so i’ve found that the lighter the setup, the better I seem to do. I ended up just pulling the stiff tongue off the Kryptons and using them on my spirit 3’s for 90% of my skiing (including in bounds) until I bought the titans. The Kryptons only saw use when I was on big heavy skis mounted with alpine bindings. Once I got the Titans, the Kryptons never saw another day of use.

      OB- No contest, In every way the titan is a far better boot, but as I said earlier, this isn’t apples to apples. Dalbello wasn’t designing a touring boot when they created the Krypton, so I can’t really fault it’s lack of tour-ability.

      I hope that answered some of your questions, let me know if I missed something.

  7. Scotty
    wrote on February 21st, 2011 at 10:53 pm  

    Hey Sam,

    Thanks for the write up! Just took my new titans out for the first time this weekend and busted the walk lever. Landed kinda backseat after about a ten foot drop and the cuff rotated all the way back even to the point of the bottom black plastic bulging out from underneath the ankle buckles. Now it wont lock at all which makes any real skiing rather impossible. How easy were they to get fixed/replaced? You mentioned that yours have failed you twice now, is there anything you have found to help this problem?

    Thanks again!

    • Sam
      wrote on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:25 pm  

      I would contact dynafit customer service through their website and email pictures of your problem if possible.

  8. simoncbs
    wrote on October 30th, 2011 at 2:39 pm  

    As I understand it (though I may be wrong), the difference in flex you describe between cold and warm weather is due to the boots being made from PU – soft when warm and stiff when cold and also more likely to crack, as you also experienced. I was disappointed when I first read that these boots were made from PU, as the best boots seem to always be made from Pebax, which is far more consistent in temperature variations, and both stronger and lighter.
    Maybe compromising on materials was the only way to competitively price such an awesome bundle of features.
    But despite this, they are truly great boots – they fit my narrow feet perfectly.
    Cheers, Simon

  9. rangerjake
    wrote on October 31st, 2011 at 10:48 pm  

    I am on my third pair of Titans in 3 years (one sold, one warrantied) and I am in much agreement with the review. The boots ski fantastic and offer what I find to be the best of many worlds in regard to cuff movement, weight/stiffness, customer service, and versatility.

    As for my critiques, I don’t like the liner very much. It is really heavy, and for a moldable liner it gets 1-2 molds before losing rebound.

    I also have busted the walk mode. Dynafit sent me the instructions to fix it, and the instructions involved an awkward manipulation of the lower shell spoiler which in turn cracked (like in your photo). At that point I was just about en route to Colorado for a month, so I stopped and Boulder and traded in for new boots.

    I am in total agreement about the screws into plastic, and I stopped swapping soles as well.

    But their customer service is second to none, and I am hard on lots of gear and have to warranty something seemingly every year, so I would not say the product is poor quality. Just that I am a gear thrashing mongrel with more grit than technique.

    It is interesting to read a few of the above posts yearning for a little carbon here, and some pebax there. Enter the Titan UL (ultralight). Have done some in shop wearing of the boots and I just am not too impressed. Carbon is minimal, and the pebax does not hold that alpine overlap very well. The boot has a greater propensity to “oil can” with a bit of a stiffer upper than lower shell. I do look forward to some demoing of the Titan UL to see how my initial skepticism lines up with performance. But when one loves the Titans like I do, why switch?

  10. Morgan
    wrote on December 11th, 2011 at 12:58 pm  

    thanks for the review.

    what is your normal street shoe size, and can you say what size you wear in the BD Factors or other boots just for comparison?

    Trying to gauge where these fit in, I wear a snug 27.5 in Factor 130s and Garmont boots, with a street shoe size 10


  11. Alan
    wrote on December 25th, 2011 at 6:46 pm  

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the write up!
    I’m getting some booster straps for the first time. Do you suggest putting the strap btwn the liner and shell like the manufacture suggests? Or do you put it on the out sided of the shell?

    Thanks man!

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