2014-2015 Dynafit Vulcan
Size Tested: 27.5 / 304mm Boot Sole Length
MSRP: ~$999 USD
Bindings Used: Dynafit Beast 14, Dynafit Radical FT 12, Dynafit Radical ST 10, Dynafit Speed Radical, Dynafit Vertical FT 12, Dynafit Vertical ST 10
Skis Used: DPS Lotus 138, DPS Lotus 120 & 120 Spoon, DPS Spoon, Praxis Protest 196cm, Praxis Backcountry, Black Diamond Carbon Convert, Whitedot Carbon Redeemer
Test Locations: Alaska Backcountry (Tordrillos, Chugach, Kenai, Talkeetnas, Kodiak); Jackson Hole / Teton Pass, WY; Wasatch Range, UT; Japan Backcountry
Days Tested: ~120
Reviewer’s Feet: medium volume with high instep
The Dynafit Vulcan has developed a reputation for being the Go-To for skiers who want a high-performance touring boot. But there is a competition brewing, specifically with the Salomon MTN Lab, that two of us continue to test down in New Zealand. We’re going to be weighing in on the MTN Lab soon, but first, here is our review of the boot that has set the standard, the Dynafit Vulcan.
Dynafit says about this boot: “The Vulcan offers unrivaled performance on the descent, and the capability to control modern freeride skis at any speed.”
For most skiers the Dynafit Vulcan doesn’t need an introduction. It came onto the market as the boot that Eric Hjorleifson designed. This, and the fanfare associated with his film segment shot while using Dynafit bindings, caught the attention of many skiers who had previously believed that it was impossible to “charge” on tech bindings and touring boots.
Over the past few years the perception of the capability of tech bindings has changed significantly, and part of that is due to the Vulcan and a few other boots that claim to offer similar capabilities.
I’ve been a devotee of tech bindings and touring boots most of the last decade, and spent a fair amount of time tweaking and modifying boots to try to get something that fit and skied a little better than what was available. After a very favorable experience with the Dynafit TLT5 Performance (with some modifications), I was optimistic about the Vulcan.
Note: When the Vulcan came out, Dynafit also introduced the Mercury, which is very similar to the Vulcan except that it costs about $200 less and features a fiberglass reinforced cuff instead of the carbon fiber cuff of the Vulcan. The weight is essentially the same, but the carbon cuff gives the Vulcan a stiffer flex.
Vulcan: Construction & Changes for 15 / 16
All of my time in the Vulcan is with the pair that I got in the winter of 12/13. To my knowledge, the shell of the boot has remained relatively unchanged through the last three seasons.
Like most of the best touring boots currently on the market, the lower shell of the Vulcan is made of Grilamid. It is a light, stiff plastic that can be molded into lightweight high performance boots. (It can also be heated and punched easily, though the plastic becomes very malleable at relatively low temps so it should be done by someone with experience working with Grilamid.)
The upper cuff of the Vulcan is constructed of carbon fiber. Unlike the original Dynafit TLT5, the cuff pivot points are built with bushings that decrease some of the wear on the carbon cuff. The cuff is locked using the Dynafit Ultralock 2.0 system, which essentially secures the top buckle and locks the cuff into ski mode with one motion.
Like the TLT 5 and 6, the Vulcan features a removable tongue that is typically removed for traveling uphill and inserted for added fore/aft stiffness on the descent.
I’ll discuss these individual features below, but want to clarify on the construction and materials because Dynafit does does have some changes in store for the 15/16 Vulcan. Notably, the lower shell will be Pebax, and the upper shell will be “double ply fiberglass.”
We have discussed this with Dynafit, and they assure us that the flex of the 15/16 Vulcan will be essentially the same as the previous edition.
The new boot will also come with a “Hoji-inspired powerstrap.” I will be getting time in the new Vulcans this fall, but based on what we know of the 15/16 boot, I suspect that most (if not all) of what I’m writing about the Vulcan here will still apply.
The “Quick Step In” tech fittings that are featured on Dynafit brand boots and select boots from other manufacturers really do work. The little bumps on the sides of the fittings make getting into tech bindings significantly more intuitive.
The Ultralock System is a unique solution to buckling touring boots. Essentially, the top buckle tightens the upper shell and then locks the upper cuff into position in one motion. If the upper buckle is open, the boot is in walk mode. If it’s closed, the boot is in ski mode.
This is elegant and undoubtedly saves weight. It is also very secure in ski mode. After owning three pairs of boots with this system (TLT5 Performance, Vulcan, TLT6 Performance), I have never noticed any play in the system.
The only downside is that it’s not possible to have the cuff buckled and be in walk mode, or to be in ski mode with the cuff unbuckled. This is rarely an issue for me, although occasionally it’s nice to have these options when touring out of an area with a lot of rolling terrain (where you have to skin / ski downhill), or if I want to loosen my boots on a rare day of riding lifts with my touring gear.
The other disadvantage is that there is little ability to make fine adjustments on the cuff tightening. You have to choose which groove in the cuff to pass the cable without any ability to fine tune—unlike the middle and lower buckles, that (like most alpine boots) are more fine tunable via screwing the buckles in or out.
The placement of the instep buckle is perfect for me, and works well to pull my heel into the boot with crushing my instep. The lower buckle is positioned on top of the lower portion of the tongue, where it is much less likely to be pried open when bootpacking or postholing.
The powerstrap on my 12/13 Vulcans is not very powerful. It is a simple velcro strap that lacked enough width or length to provide any additional support. I initially replaced it with a Booster strap, then later changed it to one of Scarpa’s elasticized velcro straps (the stretchy ones that were on the original Maestrale and Mobe). The Scarpa strap added a noticeable amount of stiffness and elasticity. My hope is that the new “Hoji inspired” strap functions similarly.
NEXT: Tongue Stiffness, Fit, Etc.