TGR tested: Dynafit TLTX mountaineering ski boot

Dynafit’s new TLT X is a light and fast solution to the answer “what should I put on my feet in ski mountaineering?

During the last years, I learned a few lessons about the “light is right” mantra when it comes to ski gear. The main thing is that it is certainly not always true. In general, ultralight ski gear is pretty bad for skiing, but the lightweight trade-off is often worth it if carving high-speed turns and shredding your face isn’t the goal du jour. When I first put on the new Dynafit TLT X ski mountaineering boot, I already knew what I was getting into. It doesn’t promise any “race-boot” like feel or stability to tackle the biggest, baddest airs. It’s an ultralight shoe meant for walking (or better yet, running) through the mountains to access steep, technical skiing.

I confess that I am not really a skimo athlete. The closest I’ve ever come to skimo racing is signing up for the Grand Traverse only to bail out a few weeks ago when my partner and I decided we just didn’t think it would be fun enough to justify our time. However, moving through the mountains in a light and fast way has always fascinated me – and I appreciate a day that really puts the “alpinism” into ski mountaineering. Dynafit, of course, has always been about this life, and the TLT X is the latest iteration in a long line of ski touring boots designed for big days. This time it has been reduced to 1030 grams of the absolute essentials.

Like previous versions, the TLT X features the Ultra Lock 5.0 system which combines the upper cuff buckle and walk mode lever into one mechanism. This means that it only takes one movement to change the start mode. The boot has no tongue and the forefoot closure system relies on a soft gaiter and BOA dial system. Inside, Dynafit provides a thin yet comfortable customizable Ultralon liner. The walk mode is amazing, with a nearly frictionless 60 degree range of motion, plus options for a 15 or 18 degree forward lean. I’m glad to see that Dynafit has gone back to using real toes for cleat attachment, so this boot should work with most automatic cleats. I tested it with the Petzl Leopard and the Black Diamond Cyborg and the fit was secure. Finally, the boots come with a removable ultra-light Velcro power strap that could be replaced with a Booster strap to stiffen them up a bit.

The single motion walk mode lever and the BOA system make this a very simple and effective boot. | Picture Dyna fit.

The boot fits me very comfortably out of the box. In alpine boots I typically ride a 27.5, but I’ve tended to carve up to 28.5 in hiking boots. I was glad I did this for the TLT X, as it seems a bit small, and downsizing isn’t going to increase the extra performance like it might in the boot plug. BOA-style tightening hugs your foot and pulls it into the heel pocket. Up front there is plenty of room laterally and vertically in the toe box, and with a 101mm last it should fit most feet without mods. The lack of a tongue also gives plenty of room on the instep, but the BOA does a good job of keeping your heels locked in.

In the mountains, I took advantage of the long-lasting spring snowpack here in the Tetons to take the TLT X out on a few adventures. Almost every day I wore them I walked a lot with skis on my back. This is where the boot’s performance really stood out. They’re stupidly comfortable to walk on – so much so that I found myself jogging for fun, much to the dismay of my partners. I can’t say I’ve done this before. One-motion change is something I hadn’t thought much of until I used it. Now I wish all my ski boots had something like this, messing with three or four buckles just to switch modes is just boring. Plus, the sleek forefoot and backhand make them much less likely to get stuck on rocks or ice when progressing through technical terrain.

The first time I wore these skis, I was very skeptical about their ability to do a lot of downhill; I was actually slightly nervous. Like many of us, I’m used to skiing in stiff boots and riding big skis aggressively. I can’t say the TLT X has the ability to do that very well. However, I will say that when paired with an ultralight ski mountaineering ski, they are more than capable of ripping through turns. Although not very stiff, Grilamid shells have an incredible amount of bounce and “bounce” which allows for quick turns and a surprisingly stable ski feel, especially in soft spring snow.

Ultimately, the TLT X is not a ski boot for everyone. It is a tool for precise work, technical skiing in the big mountains which requires a lot of walking. It does this job very well, with no extra frills (or weight) to complicate things. I’m excited to start planning more goals for next year and to explore the mountains deeper than ever before.

Get the Dynafit TLT X here – $800

Column: Tested by TGR