Since Outdoor Retailer, I’ve been able get a couple ski tours in using the much anticipated Hoji-boot, AKA the Dynafit Vulcan, for next season. The Vulcan tours great and skis even better, as the cuff and flex pattern is very stiff. There were some parts of the boot that I didn’t like, mainly the buckles, but I think Dynafit is still fine-tuning them, so we will most likely see improvements in the production version.
Anyway, I figured I’d shoot a few side-by-side photos of the Vulcan and the TLT5′s (both shells are size 27/27.5), since folks are familiar with the TLT5 and can see the similarities and differences between the boots. I’m thinking a boot quiver of Vulcans and TLT5s would be pretty sweet next year, but it will cost you. If you are looking for a quiver of one boot, next year’s Dynafit One boot may be the better blend of lightweight and stiffness…while also saving you a few ounces as well.
Compared to the TLT5, the Vulcan is quite a bit higher in the cuff and larger in overall volume. The Vulcan has three buckles, one at the forefoot, one at the instep and one at the top of the cuff, while the TLT5 has a sort of hybrid forefoot/instep buckle down low and one buckle at the top of the cuff. Both boot’s ski/walk mechanisms work similarly in conjunction with the top buckle. Per boot, the Vulcan comes in at 1590g (3lbs 8oz) and the TLT5 Performance, 1050g (2lbs 5oz).
I found the top buckle on the Vulcan to be a pretty bulky and it didn’t want to sit very flat against the shell when open and in walk-mode, making putting the cuff of my ski pants over it a little difficult. Word is that a spring will be added to production models to help them stay open when unbuckled.
The middle buckle on the Vulcan has a set-it-and-forget-it latch, much like the top buckle. Because of this, I found it a little challenging to insert the tongue into the Vulcan without having to totally open the latch and totally undo the cable, which adds quite a bit of fiddle factor when prepping the boots for the descent. Again, I’ve heard Dynafit is working on tweaking the buckles a little, so hopefully this issue will be addressed. I could be “doing it wrong” as well, but time will tell.
The carbon cuff on the Vulcan is much more substantial than the TLT5 and also protrudes lower and higher in the back of the boot, which makes them ski quite stiff. I’ve heard some talk of the production model being about 20% stiffer in the shell, sole and tongue, than the samples out now. Personally, I like the stiffness as they are now, since increased stiffness probably means increased weight. However, I figure one could always shave a few ounces and ski the Vulcans without the tongue if they seem too stiff. But then again, that person should probably be looking at the One boot instead.
The powerstrap is wider on the Vulcan compared to the TLT5. It also has a feature that allows you to connect it to the tongue of the boot, instead of having it connect to the back of the cuff. This is pretty cool since if you are removing the tongue for the uphills…you really don’t need to use the powerstrap. So why have it on the boot, in the way and adding bulk?
Whether or not it is from the increased volume of the Vulcan’s last, or because of the longer tabs at the toe and heel to allow for the use of step-in AT bindings (like the Duke, Freeride Pro, etc…), the BSL for size 27/27.5 is 304mm. The TLT5s in the same size are 297mm. This means that with some Dynafit bindings (mainly the older Speed Classics…which I personally like) that only have a few millimeters of length adjustment, using both boots in the same ski/binding setup might be problematic. First-world problem…I know.
The widest part of the last in the fore-foot area of the Vulcan is 103mm, compared to 102mm in the TLT5. This will make a lot of people that had trouble fitting in the TLT5 rather happy. This will also allow for the use of thicker liners to keep your feet warm. Even with sizing up and using Intuition liners in my TLT5s, I found my toes still get pretty cold when the temps drop below ~0F. The thin shell of the TLT5 might be the culprit of my cold feet, as well as the openings in the shell as a result of the Acti-Flex area in the toe. I’m thinking the Vulcan will be a warmer boot overall since it doesn’t have the Acti-Flex and uses thicker plastic in its construction.
The removable tongues on the Vulcan are taller, more substantial and quite stiffer compared to the TLT5′s tongue. I think if Dynafit can just dial in the ease-of-insertion with the Vulcan tongue, and remove the need to undo the cable on the middle buckle, it should work great.
The sole of the Vulcan has two nubs/posts/round protrusions in the toe and heel area that work in conjugation with the AFD plates on “rail-type” AT bindings (Duke, Freeride Pro) to allow for a smoother and more consistent release out of the binding. Since the TLT5 doesn’t have big enough welts on the toe and heel to be compatible with these type of bindings, they are not needed.
The Vulcans (MSRP-$999.95/MAP-$849.95) are very nice IMO. Â Â I think they are a great example showing that you don’t need four buckles to make a boot stiff, and any claims by a manufacturer having the lightest/stiffest four buckle boot should be ignored. Â It will be interesting to see if folks will opt to save $160 and choose the non-carbon Mercury version instead, or even go for the lighter, softer and tongue-free One boots.Â Â Regardless, Dynafit is really stepping it up in the AT boot department (again) for 2012/13, so be sure to eyeball these offerings next season.
(On a side note…after about one season of relatively hard use, I’d say my TLT5 Performance boots are on their last leg. I have popped rivets, broken cables and there is quite a bit of slop in the cuff rivet now that its starting to bother me. I’m not sure if the slop has developed as a result of the rivets expanding and coming loose, or if the carbon fiber has worn down due to friction around the rivet. I’m wondering if replacing the cuff rivets will snug things up?)