With the arrival of the TLT5 in 2010, Dynafit officially entered the lightweight backcountry touring boot market and established their now-famous line of TLT ('tour lite tech') backcountry touring boots in the US. Unofficially, the concept of a truly walkable, light, and skiable boot has been in development ever since Fritz Barthel decided his alpine gear was too heavy to carry any farther up the side of the Matterhorn in 1983. Modern converts to the 'light is right' gospel will be able to empathize with Mr. Barthel’s conclusion, and today, the TLT lineup has taken its place at the top of the backcountry food chain. These boots are considered by many to be the Gold Standard in their category, and with the release of the latest edition to the line, the TLT8, Dynafit has extended that sterling TLT legacy even farther. Whether you’re an experienced skimo racer or are totally new to the backcountry world, these Goldilocks boots (“juuuust right!”) are a great place to start when shopping for new boots. They have just about everything a backcountry skier could want and fit a range of foot shapes rather nicely (which our boot fitters certainly appreciate). We’ve received a flood of questions from our customers concerning the TLT8, and these questions have run the gamut from fit continuity between past and current TLT’s to the updated closure system on the new boots. Well, you know we can't resist a chance to nerd out, so we got our scales and measuring tapes out and got to work. Read on for a short history of the TLT line and to find out what the new TLT8 is all about!!
The TLT5 changed the game.
The TLT boots from Dynafit have set the standard for what a lean backcountry touring boot ought to be able to do. The TLT5 was the first widely available boot to meet the trifecta of boot requirements (low weight, wide range of motion, and the subjective quality known as ‘skiability’), and this combination allowed recreational skiers to access distant soft snow and mountaineering objectives under their own power. With the following TLT’s (6, 7, and 8), Dynafit has continued to experiment with different materials and technologies (e.g. Ultra Lock, Speed Nose, Pomoca Soles, etc.) in their quest to make the perfect ‘do everything’ backcountry boot.
From the beginning, these boots have been chock full of unique designs that signaled a leap forward for the world of lightweight backcountry touring boots. Today, most of the popular race-plus and light touring boots take some inspiration from the TLT5. With its 60° range of motion and easy to use Ultra Lock ski/walk mechanism, the boot tied the lightweight construction and walkability of a skimo race boot to the skiability of much beefier boots for the first time. Prior to its arrival, no boot existed that would allow a skier to compete on the skimo racecourse in the morning and to steer 115mm powder skis in the afternoon. Set firmly between two wildly different forms of skiing, the TLT5 signaled a true paradigm shift for the skiing world.
Need to Retire Your TLT6’s?
Fans of the TLT6 have something to celebrate this holiday season, and we aren't talking about the ISMF decision to allow jetpacks for the 2020/21 season (fuel canisters must be UIAA 106 and EN 1077 certified). We're talking about the new boots from Dynafit, the Speedfit Pro. Dynafit has used several different molds throughout the TLT line (the TLT6 and TLT7 were both wider than their predecessors), but these changes haven't always been well received. Many skiers love the fit and functionality of the narrower TLT6, and they felt somewhat betrayed when Dynafit switched to a wider last for the TLT7. Fortunately for those folks, the Italian designers chose to use the old TLT6 molds while designing the Speedfit Pro. This new boot has flown somewhat under the radar due to the giant shadow cast by the release of the TLT8, and is a fantastic option for skiers not quite ready to give up their ole' reliable TLT6's.
Sitting somewhere between the original Speedfit and the new TLT8 Carbonio, the Speedfit Pro is a cousin to the TLT line and will appeal to many of the same skiers. With a Grilamid lower and Titanex fiberglass cuff, this boot uses the simple Ultra Lock 2.0 ski/walk closure system and feels almost as stiff as the TLT8. This boot has an appealing spec sheet to match its appealing price and is an identical lower shell fit to the TLT6. If you fit well into the TLT6 but are keen to get your hands on some new boots, the Speedfit Pro is likely to be just the boot for you.
Too many flavors of TLT to pick.
Historically, TLT boots have been available in three versions: the Performance (which is equivalent to today’s Carbonio) the Mountain (equivalent to today’s Expedition), and a women’s specific boot. The Carbonio/Performance boots typically feature a carbon cuff and a thinner CL (Custom Light) liner, while the Expedition/Mountain boots have shipped with a thicker liner (in the US) and a Grilamid/Pebax cuff. The women's specific TLT’s have evolved right alongside the rest of the line, and will typically feature a CR liner with calf cutouts and a non-carbon cuff that looks awfully similar to the Expedition/Mountain boots.
From the original inception of the TLT line, the Carbonio/Performance boots have been stiffer and roomier with their carbon cuff and thinner liner, whereas the Expedition/Mountain boots have been slightly softer flexing and lower volume due to a thicker CR (Custom Ready) liner. Looking back, more advanced skiers have preferred the Carbonio for its stiffer flex and lighter weight, while lighter and less experienced skiers have preferred the Expedition and its more forgiving flex pattern and friendlier price. These differences in stiffness have become less pronounced throughout the years as Dynafit has moved away from their removable tongue design, but the Carbonio version remains laterally stiffer than the Expedition.
Dynafit TLT Weight Chart
A Skimo Co article about TLTs is not complete without a weight chart:
|TLT5 Performance CL||1115g|
|TLT6 Performance CL||1213g|
|TLT7 Carbonio CL||992g|
|TLT8 Carbonio CL||1102g|
Two is better than one.
When comparing the TLT7 and TLT8 side by side, anyone familiar with backcountry touring boots would be hard-pressed to mistake either boot for anything other than a TLT. The Ultra Lock ski/walk closure systems and stride-improving Speed Nose are unique features that no other boot on the market comes close to replicating. While both boots look like a classic TLT boot, the Eight has seen some surefire improvements to its skiability and closure systems that tilt the scales in its favor when compared to the Seven.
The Ultra Lock 3.0 ski/walk closure system employed on the TLT7 tensioned the entire boot using a single internally routed cable. This system simplified the transition process, but it turned out to be problematic for some skiers. This single-buckle system saved significant weight and time in transition, but it created a problem spot on the boot for skiers with low insteps. The routed cable design saved time in transition but didn’t allow for adequate instep pressure, leading some skiers to break the cable while trying to get the boot to feel tight over their instep. The TLT8 remedies this problem by using two ratcheting buckles in place of the routed cable system used on the TLT7. The use of two buckles makes the TLT8 more adjustable (great for folks with lower insteps) and removes a potential weak spot (the routed cable) without losing much of the efficiency of the Ultra Lock 3.0.
Speaking of (not in) tongues.
A big contributor to the success of the TLT line lies in the construction of its tongue. After experimenting with removable tongues of varying stiffness in the early TLT models, Dynafit opted for a permanent tongue for the TLT7 and 8. The permanent tongue is a no-brainer when it comes to ease of use, as it saves time in transition and doesn’t force skiers to choose between “stiff” and “soft” boot mode. The TLT8 uses the same tongue shape as the TLT7, but employs thicker (and stiffer) plastic to construct its tongue. Dynafit also made some changes to the lateral curve of the tongue over the instep, opting for a more angular and flat shape over the top of the foot rather than the even and smoothly rounded tongue found on the TLT7. With this new tongue construction, we noticed less shell deformation and flex than the TLT7 (see photos). This thicker tongue means that the TLT8 is stiffer and more responsive than its predecessor, yet it remains nearly as walkable, which sounds to us like a win-win just about any way you spin it.
Tagged Product: Dynafit Tongues & Spoilers
Cool Carbonio Cuff Conversation.
Last but not least, the TLT8 features a taller cuff, but just how much taller that cuff is depends on the size of your boot. We measured the cuff of a TLT7 Carbonio and a TLT8 Carbonio (both in size 27) and recorded a difference of 2.75cm for the front of the TLT8 cuff, while the backs of both cuffs measured the same. We also measured a TLT8 Carbonio and a TLT7 Performance (both in size 30) and measured a difference of 3.1cm for the back of the TLT8 cuff, with no difference measured for the rear. A taller cuff means that the TLT8 feels more responsive and supportive on the descent, but we also noticed slightly more resistance while skinning. Will skiers notice this slight uptick in resistance while skinning?? Only time will tell, but we predict that as skiers become accustomed to the improved skiing of the TLT8, most (if not all) of this resistance will dissipate from their memories rather quickly.
Nothing left to do but ski 'em, Chuck.
At the end of the day, despite all our measuring and weighing and bending these boots nine ways from Sunday, there's no way to know how they'll perform until you get them out on the snow and see for yourself. So, get out there and make some turns! The way the weather's been trending in the Wasatch, it's looking like winter isn't too far away.
If you have any questions about any of the gear we've talked about, feel free to email email@example.com or give us a call and one of our bubbling staff members will help you find some answers (please, save questions of an existential nature for a priest or deity of your choice). As always, thanks for reading, and happy skiing!!