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Dynafit TLT7 Performance Review

The TLT 7 is the result of decades of refinement and the performance shows; the proven attributes are welcome, and the innovative refinements work well enough.
Dynafit TLT7 Performance
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $900 List | $336.50 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, excellent freedom of motion, easy to use, skis downhill as well as any average touring boot
Cons:  Limited crampon compatibility, not as warm as the warmest boots available
Manufacturer:   Dynafit
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 18, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Uphill Performance - 20% 9
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Downhill performance - 30% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Warmth - 10% 4
  • Ease of Use - 5% 7

Our Verdict

We scoured the market, and then skied hundreds of days for this review. We did all this with a team that has decades of experience in the backcountry. For this discerning team, optimizing both uphill and downhill is paramount. We are good skiers, who like to go high and wild in our backcountry pursuits. For those pursuits, we are particular about our gear. Of the boots on the market now, the TLT 7 Performance from Dynafit is the best boot for the adventures we prefer, and the technique we have. Some boots ski better, but they don't tour as well as the TLT 7 Performance. There are a few boots that are lighter and tour better, but they suffer in other ways. In this middle-ground, compromised "sweet spot", the TLT 7 shares space with just a few products. Notably, sitting here in the middle with the TLT 7 Performance is the Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro. This Tecnica strikes a similarly nuanced and optimized balance of performance attributes but tilts just a little toward the downhill performance end of things. If you are apprehensive about the uphill performance of your equipment, choose the TLT 7. If you are apprehensive about downhill performance, choose the Tecnica Zero G.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $336.50 at Backcountry
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$899.95 at Backcountry
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$700 List$639.96 at Backcountry
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$559.93 at REI
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Pros Light, excellent freedom of motion, easy to use, skis downhill as well as any average touring bootExcellent downhill performance, light weight, proven styleGreat downhill performance, progressive forward flex, reliable buckles and ski/walk modeExcellent downhill performance, lightweight, innovativeExcellent skiing, serviceable touring performance
Cons Limited crampon compatibility, not as warm as the warmest boots availableModerate insulation, hard to get in and out ofHigh friction in range of motion, smooth soleClaimed easy transitions leave you in a tour mode that is significantly compromised., binding and crampon compatibility limited.Narrow fit requires work for most feet
Bottom Line The TLT 7 is the result of decades of refinement and the performance shows; the proven attributes are welcome, and the innovative refinements work well enough.Whether a newcomer adjusting from the resort or a seasoned expert looking for work-horse shoes for 100+ backcountry days a season, the Tour Pro is a top of the line contender.This is a ski touring boot that skis downhill almost as well as a resort boot.Unique, innovative boots that really push the envelope way ahead in terms of downhill performance (at this weight point) but have some design and branding inconsistencies for actual backcountry and uphill use.An excellent, modern AT ski boot for the masses.
Rating Categories Dynafit TLT7 Performance Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour Salomon S/Lab MTN
Rating Categories Dynafit TLT7 Performance Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour Salomon S/Lab MTN
Uphill Performance (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
5
Weight (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
Downhill Performance (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Warmth (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
3
10
0
8
Specs Dynafit TLT7... Tecnica Zero G... Atomic Hawx Ultra... Dynafit Hoji Pro... Salomon S/Lab MTN
Weight size 26.5, pair 4 lbs 8 oz 6 lbs 0 oz 7 lbs 5 oz 6 lbs 2 oz 6 lbs 14 oz
Range of Motion; degrees 55 55 36 55 41
Binding Compatibility? Tech only, or Tech and DIN AT standard, or Tech, DIN AT and DIN Alpine/WTR Tech only WTR, Tech, and DIN AT WTR, Tech, and DIN AT Tech only Tech and DIN AT
Stated Flex Index Not reported 130 120 Not reported 120
Stated Last width 102mm 99mm 98mm 103.5mm 98mm
Alpine wrap or Tongue Tongue Alpine Wrap Alpine Wrap Tongue Tongue
Shell material Grilamid lower shell, Titantex Fiber cuff Grilamid Grilamid Grilamid Pebax shell, Grilamid spine

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Dynafit TLT ("Tour Lite Tech") boot line, as evidenced by the "seven" qualifier, has been through more iterations than other boot companies have ever produced models of AT boots. In short, Dynafit leads the charge with innovation in backcountry ski touring boots. With the TLT 7 they build on what has worked well for them while trying some rather innovative new attributes. We found the familiar attributes to be beneficial, and receive the experimental upgrades with mixed opinions.

Performance Comparison


This is our top scoring product. Balanced performance gets it ahead of the pack.

Whether skiing low angle powder on moderate sized skis  or skiing the steep and gnarly with narrower skis  the TLT 7 has all the control you'll need. Higher speeds  tougher snow conditions  and bigger skis may overwhelm the Dynafit.
Whether skiing low angle powder on moderate sized skis, or skiing the steep and gnarly with narrower skis, the TLT 7 has all the control you'll need. Higher speeds, tougher snow conditions, and bigger skis may overwhelm the Dynafit.

Uphill Performance


Uphill performance is a function of boot cuff range, and resistance and friction within that range. In both ways, the TLT 7 is with the best players in the business. With a measured 55 degrees of cuff articulation, some people's ankles won't even bend as much as these boots allow. Only the Top Pick Scarpa Alien RS exceed this metric, and not by much. Interesting, in terms of uphill performance, is Dynafit's choice to employ their low-profile "speed nose". Discerning skinners will notice a very slight improvement in skinning ergonomics with the more rearward pivot. However, there are ease of use limitations we note below.


These other boots, with simpler construction and thinner liners, have less friction within that range of motion and therefore score better in uphill performance than the TLT 7. The next closest competitor is the Best Buy La Sportiva Spectre 2.0, with 51 degrees of motion, but much greater friction within that range. None of the other boots we tested were close. Notably, another Top Pick winner, the Lange XT FreeTour 130 has less than 20 degrees of action- basically 1/3 of what the TLT 7 sports.

The compound master buckle tightens the lower shell  tightens the upper shell  and locks the cuff to the lower boot.
The compound master buckle tightens the lower shell, tightens the upper shell, and locks the cuff to the lower boot.

Weight


The only lighter boots (the Scarpa Alien RS) in our test received a Top Pick award for their weight and touring performance. At a confirmed 4 lbs 8 oz for the pair, the TLT 7 Performance is just more than half the weight of our heaviest boot. When we list the tested boots from lightest to heaviest, we have to go past the middle mark of the list to find a boot that skis downhill better than the TLT 7.


When you multiply our scores for weight by our scores for downhill performance (or our scores for uphill performance by our scores for downhill performance, for that matter), nothing ranks better than the TLT 7. Other boots ski better, but are heavier, like the Top Pick Lange XT FreeTour 130, while others are lighter, but ski worse, like the Atomic Backland and Scarpa Alien RS. In optimizing for both downhill skiing and for weight and touring efficiency, regardless of the other attributes, the TLT 7 jumps ahead of the pack.

Downhill Performance


As mentioned already, the TLT 7 skis downhill better than its weight and touring ability would suggest. It certainly doesn't ski as well as some beefier boots, but for most ski tourers, in most terrain and conditions, it hits the sweet spot. The stiffness, when locked into ski mode, is impressive. The forward flex, as we've come to expect from lightweight, "tongue constructed" boots, is stiff and fairly non-progressive. If you have a modern, centered ski stance, letting the skis do the hard work of turning, this attribute is forgivable.


If you have a more traditional, forward flexing technique, the TLT 7 might require some adaptation. For those skiers looking for the ultimate downhill machine, we recommend our other Editors' Choice pick, the Tecnica Zero G or the Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour. These definitely ski better than the TLT 7, at a reasonable weight penalty and serviceable touring range of motion. Skiing even better is the Top Pick Lange XT FreeTour 130 or the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120.

Comfort and Fit


Each of the recent iterations of the Dynafit TLT line has gotten wider in fit than the previous. The TLT 5 fit only the lowest volume feet, the TLT 6 was more moderate in fit, and the TLT 7 now is on the wide side of average. For touring comfort and warmth, this is a good thing.


For those with high volume feet, this is a good thing. For those with narrow feet, looking for a performance fit, buyer beware. Those with narrower feet, looking to fully optimize ski and tour ability will do well with the Salomon S/Lab MTN.

Cam-lock "power straps" are superior to velcro versions. If you even use this strap on the TLT 7  you'll find it easy to operate.
Cam-lock "power straps" are superior to velcro versions. If you even use this strap on the TLT 7, you'll find it easy to operate.

Warmth


Warmth in boots comes from their fit, which will vary from one person to another, and from the thickness of their materials. The shell and liner of the TLT 7 are relatively thin. Compared to most of the boots we tested, the TLT 7 is not super warm. Compared to the other relatively lightweight boots, however, it is warmer.


It is warmer than the Atomic Backland Carbon and the La Sportiva Spectre 2.0. It's similar in insulation to the Salomon S/Lab MTN but not as warm as the Tecnica Editors Choice, the Scarpa Maestrale RS, or the Lange XT FreeTour 130.

Ease of Use


The construction and design, as it pertains to ease of use, of the TLT 7 Performance is different than any other boot on the market. First, and most visibly obvious, is the lack of a "toe ledge" on the TLT 7. To shave weight and shorten the sole for walking and scrambling, Dynafit eliminated any sort of ledge or incut on the toe of the boot. The result is a strangely smooth toe section with just the steel "tech fittings" interrupting the rounded shape.


This precludes the use of automatic crampons (a disadvantage) while making it better for skinning and walking. Non-automatic crampons will work on the TLT 7, but this type of spike is less secure than the automatic kind. One of our testers that would otherwise consider the TLT 7 boots great for ski mountaineering and expeditions is leery of the crampon compatibility and will likely steer clear. The Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour features this same "speed nose" toe profile. Generally, we find it to be an overall disadvantage.

The truly unique "speed toe" of the TLT 7. This its most obvious feature  that has its pros and cons. Overall  our test team feels this is a disadvantage.
The truly unique "speed toe" of the TLT 7. This its most obvious feature, that has its pros and cons. Overall, our test team feels this is a disadvantage.

Next, in terms of usability, the TLT 7 has basically one buckle. The buckle is sort of "compound" with an inner latch that tightens the lower shell by way of a cable system and an outer latch that secures the cuff circumferentially and locks the cuff to the lower shell. It seems complicated, on paper and in your first look, but the result is a slick, easy system that allows for almost the fastest transitions in our entire review. Even if you use the optional cam-locked "power strap", only two boot have fewer steps to go from uphill to downhill mode. No matter how you configure it, the Scarpa Alien RS takes just one step to go from up to down modes. The Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour is also theoretically configured to switch modes with one move, like the Alien and better than the TLT 7. However, in use, the one-move transition configuration results in uphill touring performance that is severely limited. Basically, all tourers on all but the shortest of uphill legs will lift their pant legs and undo the cuff buckle and power strap, just like on "normal boots".

Best Applications


We highly recommend the TLT 7 for most ski touring users. If your usage patterns are, or will be, largely human-powered backcountry skiing, with only occasional crampon use, there are few reservations we have. There are boots that ski better, there are boots that are warmer, and there are boots that are similar in weight. In striking delicate balances of performance, uphill and down, the TLT 7 nails the sweet spot, with an emphasis on the uphill. For a similarly well-balanced product that leans a little more toward the downhill side of things, we awarded a second Editors' Choice award to the Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro. If the TLT 7 skis like a normal touring boot, but tours like a randonee race boot, the Zero G skis like an alpine boot but tours like a normal touring boot.

With the "speed toe" and the solo buckle  the TLT 7 is remarkably smooth looking. It is similarly smooth in performance.
With the "speed toe" and the solo buckle, the TLT 7 is remarkably smooth looking. It is similarly smooth in performance.

Value


For what you get, in terms of materials, design, and function, the price of the TLT 7 is reasonable. Certainly, there are less expensive products, but the additional performance is well worth the additional cost.

Conclusion


We had no trouble granting our Editors' Choice award to the TLT 7 Performance boot.

Other Versions and Accessories


Dynafit makes many different versions of the TLT 7. Notably, there are men's and women's versions, a warmer "expedition" version (still with the "speed toe", requiring non-automatic crampons), and a stiffer, more expensive, all black "Carbonio" version.


Jediah Porter