First look: Dynafit Radical FT 2.0
Maximum Release Value: 12
Available Brake Widths (mm): 90, 105, 120, & 135
Toe Stand Height: 16 mm
Stated Weight: 630 grams
Mounted On: 2016 ON3P Billygoat
- Scarpa Maestrale RS
- Dynafit TLT6
Test Locations: Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana; Hakuba backcountry, Japan
Days Tested: 25
Many people who want to ski in the backcountry find themselves somewhere between the two categories of (a) full inbounds gear and (b) ultralight AT gear: What is too heavy? What is too flimsy? What setup best combines the benefits of alpine control with the low weight and uphill ability emphasized by skimo influences?
My latest attempt to answer these questions came in the form of the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0.
And so far, the Radical FT 2.0 has brought together the characteristics of inbounds control and backcountry efficiency better than anything else I’ve used, and why you aren’t going to find me in a frame-style touring binding.
A Little History: Notes on the Dynafit Radical Family
This season marks my fourth on tech bindings, and so far, all of them have been members of the Dynafit Radical family: the original Radical FT, the Speed Radical, and the Radical FT 2.0. I’ve used these bindings for all types of skiing, ranging from powder touring, to dropping cliffs, to skiing ice and suncups high in the mountains. Throughout this time I’ve looked for the sweet spot in application for each of the bindings in my quiver.
• Dynafit Radical FT
Back in 2012, I purchased the original Radical FT hoping to gain better touring performance than my Marker Dukes without sacrificing that part of my skiing that involved dropping cliffs and flipping. Initially, I found that they were up to the job—I had no issues for the first year or so of use. After a winter of powder touring and cat ski guiding, I took the brakes off (against manufacturer recommendation) and used them for a summit and ski descent of Denali.
In the long run, however, the lack of a spring in the heel adjustment proved to be less than desirable. (It’s worth noting that Dynafit was thinking the same thing, and current versions of the Radical FT do have this spring.)
Unlike downhill bindings with a forward pressure adjustment, older pin bindings require a precise setting of the distance or gap between the heel piece and the back of the boot. This gap allows for the shortening of the distance between toe and heel that occurs when the ski flexes underneath, and between, the binding toe and heal.
However, once this gap has been eaten up by a particularly nasty flex of the ski, the heel piece contacts the back of the boot, and if there is no relief in the form of a forward pressure spring, the impact can place destructive force into the heel’s upper working components and the tower that it spins on. My second season on Radical FT’s, I managed to crack one of the heel posts with a botched, flat landing off a larger cliff.
• Dynafit Speed Radical
So I picked up Speed Radicals as a replacement, thinking that they were basically the same as the FT’s — minus the brakes. But I found instead that the lack of a brake offered less support and energy transfer, and put even more force into the heels when the ski was flexed.
Two warrantied Speed Radical heels later, I’ve learned my lesson: don’t expect lightweight tech bindings to hold up to the abuse of repeated, large backflips. Occasional airs are fine, but they weren’t designed for (and don’t tolerate) consistent sending.
My Speed Radicals have since been repurposed on skis meant only for ski mountaineering, and I’m much more confident with them in that role.
But this trial and error brought me back to square one, and going into this season, I wanted to add a more powder / freeride-style tech option to my touring quiver.
The touring performance of my previous Radicals remained important, especially the flat walk mode (something the Dyanfit Beast series lacks), yet I also wanted increased durability and retention.
Since I’d been locking out my toes to ski with both the Speed Radical and Radical FTs, I wanted to revisit the question of whether a bigger skier like myself (~190 lbs.) could ski a Dynafit in the recommended way, with toes unlocked…
• Dynafit Radical FT 2.0
The new Radical FT 2.0 seemed like a good candidate: the added turntable under the toe offered better hopes of a consistent rotational release, and the heel piece was bulked up. So I dove in, mounted them up, took one spin up the local hill to make sure my mount was good, and headed off on December 15th, 2015, for five weeks in the Japanese Alps.
It proved to be a good season to test touring gear in Hakuba. El Niño pushed in warmer weather than the area usually sees, and for the first two weeks I was there, we couldn’t ski to the base of the five ski areas in the valley due to the lack of snow.
Instead, we rode gondolas and lifts to tour into the alpine, where it had continued to snow. This set the tone for the whole trip. Over 75% of our ski days played out above the lifts, and for all of those days, I used my Radical 2.0’s.
In addition to my touring days on the Radicals, a buddy’s brother managed to forget his ski boots for his visit, so I loaned him my inbounds options and skied two days exclusively in the resort on the Radicals.
NEXT: Downhill Performance, Touring, Etc.