Dynafit Beast – Review of Production Version Touring Binding
The Dynafit Beast is a 16 release value tech binding designed to combine the touring efficiency of a tech system with sturdiness and elasticity. As exhaustingly previewed in a past article, its claims were viewed with some skepticism by Internet keyboard warriors but met with fanfare when pre-production versions began to hit North America. Reviews of the pre-production versions were broken up into two parts – Parts 1 and Parts 2)
Only 2500 units of the Beast are to be produced world-wide. Specialty shops located close to backcountry terrain meccas with largish population bases might get a few sets of bindings. Here are some impressions after getting some 40 days on these bindings over the past season. I had them in chest deep blower in Rogers Pass, frozen mank in Whistler and inbounds chatter
Product testing is so hard
Changes from pre-production to production Dynafit Beast binding.
To summarize Dynafit didn’t change a lot from the pre-production to production Dynafit Beast. The main changes were to manufacture with tighter binding tolerances (should help with durability), to design in some features that improve field ease of use and to increase spring strength in the rear heel units.
The main changes I found important from a functional perspective are summarized in this article.
1. Toe lever locks
The Pre-production Beasts’ walk mode lever could be accidentally knocked up and dis-engaged by snow/ice when in tour mode. This would allow the toepiece to swivel and possibly, allow the boot to come out of the binding in tour mode. The remedy was to include a spring mechanism in the production Beast toepiece so that the toepiece would be held down on the skis topsheet while engaged. This function worked but then, I didn’t find the lack of a toe lever lock to be an issue with the pre-production binding. I’d still like to see more of a lip on the toe lever so its easier to hook it with your pole to flip it up. Anything to save energy when touring.
One downside of the redesign of the toe is that its now not possible to easily hit the toe piece and exit if in walk mode. The big grey piece in the pre-production toe you can hit to release the toe is now gone. You either have to hit a small metal bar in the new production toe or flip the toe lever from tour to walk then exit. Either options are pains-in-the-arse compared to the older options.
On balance I’d have to say that the walk mode lever/toepiece changes are a step backwards rather than an improvement
Pre-production toepiece left. Production toepiece right. Both with walk mode levers engaged
24cms new snow – Dynafit Beasts, Dynafit Vulcans and K2 Backup skis
2. Platform in toepiece to support the boot in the toepiece
An annoying feature of the pre-production Beast toepiece was that the toepiece pincers floated in space so that you had to hover your boot in space and press down on a piece to engage the toepiece. It was possible to push your boot down beyong the toepiece pincers. With the addition of two metal platforms on the toepiece getting the boot into the Beast toepiece is now essentially the same mechanism of entry as with other Dynafit bindings.
This improvement make this binding way easier to deal with in deep powder snow and also when the ski isn’t on a perfectly flat surface.
It was possible to dive your boot below the toepincers in the pre-production toepieces
Platforms in the production Beast toepieces take care of this problem …
The Beast toe platforms provide a support platform for the boot
Oh must I ski this run? Rogers Pass treed shot
3. Lower force required to engage the toepiece.
I found that the pre-production Beast toepiece required some degree of force to open. The production Beast has a a plastic plate between the metal parts of the toepiece plates to reduce friction and lower the force required to open the binding. The opening button has been moved rearwards to get better leverage. Spring rate in the toepiece has also been increased to make the binding close better which also has the effect of decreasing opening force.
Taken as a whole the production bindings doesn’t seem to require much less effort to open, so I’m not sure that this improvement made much difference. The main things you have to worry about is when toepiece parts are filled with snow and ice; which severely retards ease of engaging the toepiece. Note that the changes are internal so cannot be seen without taking apart the toepiece (not recommended). On balance I can’t say whether this is an improvement as to me, there is no discernable difference.
Toepiece holds you in fine on chest deep pow
4. Beast heelpiece – various improvements
I found that, when in tour mode, the production Beast heelpiece was hard to disengage. Ideally I would have liked to be been able to use my poles to lever the heel riders open so that I could have gone from tour mode to ski mode without taking off my skis (makes for quicker transitions – especially in deep snow). According to Dynafit, the heel raiser holding down the brake will get a ledge for deactivating walk mode with the ski pole. However I didn’t see a difference between the heel risers of the production and pre-production Beasts. Field testing shows that the production heel risers are much harder to open than pre-production. I still had to take my ski off and use marked force to pry the heel risers open. So quick transitions seem to not be in the cards when using production Beasts. Accordingly I would have to record this not as an improvement but as a step backwards.
Other changes are internal and relate to the retention performance of the Beast. The forward release and vertical release springs get some changes. The former is stronger to increase forward pressure. .The latter gets increased preload so that it’s better able to absorb energy.
As suspected, the production Beast heelpiece is prone to getting caked with ice; the same as with the pre-productions. Simply bash it free with your pole
Bottom Line Performance
With the production Beast, Dynafit seems to be paying attention to its market. If you are a heavy and/or aggressive skier that charges hard inbounds, does a few laps and then heads out to the backcountry then the Beast is a binding that you’ll find interesting. If you’re a skier who wants to travel with one set of gear then this is something also worth considering. The Beast/Vulcan combo was perfect if I wanted to milk a powder day and then escape the crowds later in the morning. The bindings felt exactly like skiing my trad alpine setup. Moreover when I made mistakes the Beasts released as expected and held me in when wanted
Touring on this binding felt a good deal better than on any framed binding (I’ve used Markers and Fritschis). You’ll still get the free feeling of not having a bunch of weight on your feet and the kick/glide characteristic of tech bindings. How you feel about touring on these bindings depends on your frame of reference. If you’re coming from traditional tech systems then you’ll find nits to pick. As I said, the production Dynafit Beast is not for quick transitions. Indeed various improvements seem to have made quick transitions harder. If you’re coming from frame bindings then you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.
In conclusion, the Dynafit Beast is a specialized tool. One that seems to have piqued a lot of interest and tapped into demand. Dynafit will no doubt sell every binding they produce.