Friday, January 15, 2016

Yep, snowshoeing in my PDGs, about as shameful as it gets!
I have been thinking about my boots a lot. First, the top buckle has been getting progressively looser due to the occasional knock against something. Second, I have been inspired by a number of things Ive read over the years on the web about using skimo gear for a somewhat all purpose/multi purpose mountain boot (like this from Cold Thistle and this from Andy Sherpa to link a few of the inspiring things Ive read).

Boot maintenance

 So, first, the less exciting stuff. Boot maintenance is a necessary chore if you want to get the most out of these expensive suckers. Some boots seem to require less than others so this is a post specific to some long therm wear and tear issues Ive experienced with Dynafit PDGs. However, there may be some nuggets in it for owers of other boots and I will point out some differences in Scarpa Alien maintenance from my recent acquisition of a pair for my son which will be the topic of a future and hopefully quite interesting post!

First, while not an issue this year, I used a fair amount of shoe goo on my liners last year to reinforce wear points. That was covered in a previous post. The shoe goo has been holding up extremely well. So have the boot soles. Thank goodness!

This year I have noticed that my top buckle is increasingly loose. This is really just a result of its design. The fact that the buckle is on the side of the boot and sticks out so much means you occasionally hit it on something. Those hits start to loosen the two rivets that fasten the buckle to the cuff. This has resulted in one buckle being problematic to lock, sometimes not aligning with the hole in the back of the boot cuff. It finally got loose enough that I decided action was necessary.

GENTLY tapping the rivets on the cuff buckle

Doing the same to the hinge rivet
This is a little unfair because, like Jeff Spicoli, my dad has the "ultimate set of tools"!!!!!

Don't have access to an anvil? Don't panic. While an anvil is helpful, a length of metal rod or a block of metal or one of any number of other things including a sledge hammer or pick could be used as the"anvil" and any hammer with a smooth striking surface and a little weight works just fine.

The key here is TAP GENTLY! You cant really break anything by going gentle and if you tap hard you could split rivets, over tighten etc which all leads to breakage. Put the part of the rivet that is hollow and kind of "rolls" out and over on a solid metal surface and gently tap the rivet head, the rounded "mushroom" part with your hammer.

I was amazed at how much snugger and responsive my buckles were after tightening all the rivets. There are three to tighten, the two holding the buckle to the cuff and the hinge rivet. This last is not as important IMHO but I noticed a difference by snugging it up.

Next, I took a metal file to the locking hole or whatever it is called on the back of the cuff to remove burs. I used a small mill file similar to what you may have on a leatherman. I just went around the hole giving a few swipes at a 45 degree angle. It seems like the locking part of the buckle creates burs around the hole by the natural closing process which rarely ever lines up perfectly. Over time, the inaccurate strikes create burs which cause the buckle locking component to stick.
The locking hole which apparently should be debured from time to time

Once I had made these adjustments my buckles locked and unlocked a lot smoother than they had been doing making me wonder why I had waited so long to do this!

I should note that on our newly acquired Aliens the throw/buckle that locks in the boot is attached with a small bolt and nylon locking nut. This would make it very easy to adjust with simple tools. The ankle pivot is a user adjustable nut unlike the PDG rivet. This throw is also so much more ergonomical than the PDG that I love it. The Boa of course has no rivets and wont come undone postholing in crust like PDGs (although it seems to losen over a day of use according to reviews Ive read). Add to that the sealed boot front and I think I see green boots on my own feet when my PDGs wear out!

Skimo boot as multi purpose boot?

The other bit of boot stuff that has been on my mind is the range of uses to which a skimo boot could be put. I mentioned a few things that have got me thinking about it over the last few years earlier in this post. There is also the release of the Arc Teryx Procline which intentionally tries to combine skiing and climbing into one boot as TGR and Wildsnow have detailed.
An intriguing boot - the Arc Teryx Procline
Im thinking this is a trend that will continue to grow. It just makes sense. Until then though, Ive got my PDG boots and am going to squeeze everything I can out of them for as long as I can! Last year I took them out ice climbing for the first time. I ended up not actually doing any real climbing as the ice was pretty bad. In fact last ice season in my neck of the woods was almost nonexistant. Thank you global warming. So, this year I got to take them out and actually climb ice! This involved some snow shoeing which I never thought Id use them for. I have also been able to use them more with snow crampons doing some spring skiing at the end of last year as well as shovel snow, plow snow, chain up my father's tractor tires when my truck was no longer able to push back the banks and a number of other inglorious winter tasks.
PDG as snowshoe boot.
Here is what Ive discovered which, truth be told, is probably just me verbalizing what many of you either already know from experience or just intuitively grasp. First, the PDG is a heck of a snowshoe boot. Ok, I just had to throw that in there! But seriously, it does just about anything really well except for lots of gravel walking with that thin rubber sole- I just dont see that as a good idea.

The PDG boot fits both my Cassin snow crampons and my Charlet M10s really well. No issues with the bails releasing which I have heard about from others. I think thinner bar stock on the toe bail is the key with such a narrow boot.
Super nice crampon fit with my M10s
I think that climbing steep ice (WI4+ to WI5) is great due to their low profile. I climb with the cuff unlatched and get the same flexibility as I get with my normal ice boots- Scarpa Freneys. You want the fore foot buckle to be pretty snug as that one adjustment point keeps your toes from smashing the front of the boot though.

The two down sides of this boot remain that that pesky side mounted cuff buckle gets snagged on stuff while wallowing around at the top of ice flows and of course the open front of the boot gets snow in it. I suppose I should just climb in my race suit to deal with the later- that would be a sight!

I now have some Aliens in the house and after looking at the toe and heel welts I am positive they would mount up crampons just as well as the PDGs. In fact, many of the SLC skimo folks ice climbing / skimo forays seem to be done in Aliens so 'nuff said. I should point out AGAIN that the closed front on the newer Aliens and the rear mounted cuff buckle/throw might make a lot more sense in a skimo boot that will be used for climbing. These same features are apparent on the Arc Teryx Procline and might well be the way most future skimo boots turn out. It just seems to make more sense.


Skimo boots seem to have features that make them well suited to multi sport alpine endeavors. More folks seem to be doing this. If you have, share your experiences! If you have not, get out there and give it a shot. You will be surprised at how functional these boots are, even on snowshoes!


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