Expert Review: Dynafit TLT Speed RadicalPublished on 09/14/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the ski bindings, which I bought with my own money in January 2020.
Photo by Virginia G.
About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the ski bindings, which I bought with my own money in January 2020.
The Dynafit TLT Speed Radical Binding is a great choice for intermediate-to-advanced ski tourers who are looking to put together the lightest touring setup possible. It is secure and substantial enough for the downhill but should primarily be used for those longer uphill adventures off the resort.
About the gear
- Model: 2018 Dynafit TLT Speed Radical Binding (the 2021 model is called the Speed Radical)
- Height: 5’ 4”
- Weight: 130 lbs
- Preferred DIN range: 7 to 9
- Experience: 25 years
- When I bought these: January 2020
- Days tested: 10+
- Boots: 2018 Tecnica Zero G Guide 110
- Boot Size: 25.5
- Skis: Black Crows Navis Freebird
- Where I’ve used it: Crystal Mountain, Washington; Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, Washington
- Terrain: Deep powder (two feet and up), spring slush, ice, heavy snow, wet and sticky snow
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for the lightest possible touring bindings that prioritize uphill performance over downhill performance. I had only previously used frame bindings for touring, like the Marker F series. Though they are cost-efficient and versatile (I can pair them with regular alpine boots), they feel awkward and cumbersome. Each time I lifted my heel, I was taking some plastic with me and I wanted to eliminate the sensation of that added weight in my new bindings.
Why I chose this gear
Dynafit is a touring-specific brand, and the Speed Radical is its lightest model, constructed with minimal material at the least possible weight. This binding doesn’t even come with brakes, which saves a few extra grams. I knew that these bindings would make for a supremely uphill setup when paired with lightweight skis.
What I love about it
- Release Reliability: I’ve actually been lucky enough never to find myself in a situation where I’ve needed these bindings to release, but I would like to think they would be reliable! I also have never had them pre-release, which is awesome. Given that they are the opposite of burly, I would have expected this to happen once or twice, but no such bad luck — they have always held strong and secure!
- Downhill Performance: Since I’ve never had issues with pre-release, I have to give these bindings kudos for downhill performance. I will say that I don’t feel as confident on them as I do on an alpine binding, but I actually think that is more in my head than a reflection of the binding’s performance. Knowing there is minimal material beneath me, I don’t feel as secure and end up skiing a bit more conservatively.
- Uphill Performance: These bindings are made for the uphill and it shows. They provide huge weight savings compared to other touring bindings and are just as durable. The climbing bar on the heel unit can be adjusted with a ski pole to two different heights, essentially allowing for three heel levels (flat, medium, and high). The only issue I have had on the uphill is when I find myself on steep, uneven terrain — if too much uneven pressure is applied to the toe piece (if I’m climbing or turning at a funny angle), the toe piece can release, which is less-than-ideal when I am already resting on a steep slope. Ice and snow also tend to collect under the toe piece, which can exacerbate this issue and is often actually the cause of it. If I click into the toe pins at the start of my climb but there is debris in the toe piece, the spring doesn’t fully engage and I end up not completely “locked in,” risking pre-release on the uphill. To avoid this issue, I make sure the binding is clear of snow and ice and check that the toe lever is in the locked position (which is very easy to forget!).
- Durability: These bindings seem incredibly durable, as they are predominantly made of aluminum and stainless steel. They look and feel sturdy, with plastic used only in the less important places like the toe-piece lever. I have never experienced the binding being compromised or in need of repair.
- Weight: This is one of the lightest touring bindings available, if not THE lightest. This is partly due to them not having brakes (though they can be purchased separately and attached). Unfortunately, the lack of brakes is also a con. Too many times, I’ve noticed my ski sliding away from me during a transition period and even careening down a slope with nothing to stop its fall. The leash it comes with attaches the toe piece to my boot, but the connector loop is easily lost and I’ll be disconnected from the leash in any case when taking off skins and transitioning to the downhill. I have to be extra conscious of where my skis are at all times – I never appreciated brakes until I didn’t have them!
Issues I’ve encountered
- Power Transfer: Being a tech pin binding, the Dynafit TLT Speed Radical lacks the elastic travel of an alpine binding and makes for a very rigid connection between skier and ski. I don’t feel “one” with the ski and believe power transfer is definitely compromised… overall, it’s just a stiffer ride than I’d prefer.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with these bindings was the very first time I put them on the skin track and realized touring doesn’t have to be a grueling slog. Prior to trying the Speed Radical bindings, I had only experienced clobbered-together backcountry setups with frame bindings… climbing uphill in these was heaven!!
Value for the money vs. other options
The Speed Radicals seem priced exactly right at $400. They are one of the cheapest touring bindings on the market (the only less-expensive ones are frame bindings), which makes sense — what buyers gain in savings, they lose in performance, tech, and material. The Marker Kingpin, Salomon Shift, and Fristchi series, for example, all run between $500 and 700 but also provide more optimal downhill and uphill performance.
If weight savings is your priority for a backcountry setup, then these are the bindings for you! I really can’t get much lighter than these and it doesn’t hurt that they’re both budget-friendly and highly durable. Just don’t expect them to feel like alpine bindings on the downhill. Appreciate them for what they do best, and save them for those long climbs on sunshiny days!