2018-2019 Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour
Stated Flex: 120
Available Sizes: 25-30.5
Stated Last (size 26.5): 103 mm
Stated Range of Motion: 55°
Stated Forward Lean: 11°
Size Tested: 26.5
Boot Sole Length: 291 mm
Blister’s Measured Weight:
- Shells, no Liners: 1156 & 1158 g
- Liners, no footbeds: 224 & 223 g
- Total Weight per Boot: 1380 & 1381 g
- 1 traditional upper buckle
- 1 ratchet-style ankle buckle
- 1 reversed toe buckle
- Cuff: Grilamid
- Shoe / Clog: Grilamid
Soles: Fixed rockered Pomoca rubber
Binding Compatibility: Pin-style “tech” bindings with a pin heel
Tech Fittings: Dynafit-certified Masterstep Inserts
Skis / Bindings Used:
- DPS Wailer A112, 184 cm / G3 Ion 12
- DPS Cassiar A95, 178cm / Dynafit Speed Radical
Test Locations: NW Montana backcountry
Reviewer: 5’8”, 195 lbs
Days Tested: 4
The new era of touring boots seems to be focused on two things: simplified design, and strong downhill skiing performance. Removable tongues are mostly a thing of the past, and slick ski / walk modes are all the rage. And as their contribution to this category, Dynafit is releasing a new “Hoji” line of boots.
We talked pretty extensively with Eric Hjorleifson himself about the new boots on our GEAR:30 podcast, and that conversation is definitely worth a listen for more info on the origin of the project and the whole Hoji boot line.
Dynafit, in their initial release, put out two big statements about the Hoji boots. First, they state, “A ski touring boot geared more for the climb or for the descent? As of Winter 2018-19, this basic ski touring question will finally be a thing of the past because the Hoji touring boot has turned the question of ‘either-or’ into simply ‘and.’” So during my testing of the Hoji Pro Tour (the stiffest and lightest boot in the Hoji line), I’ve paid particular attention to the balance of the boot — is it more of an uphill-oriented boot, a burlier downhill boot, or truly both as Dynafit claims?
Dynafit also says that with the “patented Hoji-Lock System, you get a direct connection between upper and shell — the flex between the two elements now is a thing of the past. The result is downhill performance just like you get with an alpine ski boot.” More interesting claims there, and in particular, the part about “downhill performance like you get with an alpine ski boot.”
So does the Hoji Pro Tour deliver on Dynafit’s claims? I currently have four days of touring in the boot (we didn’t receive the Hoji Pro Tour till the very end of the ski season), and I certainly have some initial impressions. I’ll be posting an update to this review early next season once I’ve had more time in the boot.
Note: Pre-Production vs. Production Hoji Pro Tour
The Hoji Pro Tour I’ve been testing is slightly different than the production version that will be on the shelves this coming fall. We expect the on-snow differences between the boot we tested and the production boot to be minimal, and we’ll be reporting back once we’ve skied the production version. But in short, the production version’s liner is said to have a bit more padding over the ankle and will have a slightly thicker tongue. The production shell is supposed to have slightly more room over the ankle.
The Hoji Pro Tour is very light, especially for a boot that’s supposed to ski like an alpine boot. The pre-production Hoji Pro Tour I tested is significantly lighter than the Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120, and also lighter than several of the 130-flex touring boots out there. With the new, slightly beefier liner, we do expect the production version of the Hoji Pro Tour to fall slightly closer to Dynafit’s stated weight of 1450 grams for a 27.5, and we’ll post an update once we have the production boot in hand.
For reference, here are our measured weights for some other notable touring boots (keep in mind the size differences). Our measured weights show the mondo size of the boot, then the weight of each shell. Then the weight of each liner. Then the total weight for shells + liners, listed in grams:
Scarpa Alien RS (28.0): 779 & 781 + 209 & 210 = 988 & 991 g
Fischer Travers Carbon (27.5): 890 & 896 + 174 & 174 = 1064 & 1070 g
Dynafit TLT7 Performance (28.5): 910 & 914 + 155 & 155 = 1065 & 1069 g
Atomic Backland Carbon (27.5): 907 & 915 + 260 & 255 = 1167 & 1170 g
Salomon S/Lab X-Alp (27.5): 977 & 980 + 213 & 214 = 1190 & 1194 g
Scarpa Maestrale RS (24.5 / 25.0): 1053 & 1057 + 244 & 245 = 1297 & 1302 g
Tecnica Zero G Tour Pro (26.5): 1099 & 1100 + 210 & 211 = 1309 & 1311 g
Dynafit Hoji Pro Tour (26.5): 1156 & 1158 + 224 & 223 (pre-production liner) = 1380 & 1381 g
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 130 (26.5): 1124 & 1128 + 271 & 276 (lighter pre-production liner) = 1395 & 1404 g
Salomon MTN Explore (26.5): 1126 & 1135 + 281 & 281 = 1407 & 1416 g
Head Kore 1 (26.5): 1132 & 1136 + 392 & 393 = 1524 & 1527 g
Salomon S/Lab MTN (26.5): 1257 & 1246 + 288 & 303 = 1545 & 1549 g
Fischer Ranger Free 130 (26.5): 1204 & 1204 + 348 & 351 = 1552 & 1555 g
Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD 120 (26.5): 1157 & 1161 + 419 & 417 = 1576 & 1578 g
As we always note in boot reviews, we believe that going to a good bootfitter is perhaps the best thing you can do to make skiing fun and comfortable. Because if your feet don’t fit well in the Hoji — or any other ski boot — no nifty new tech is going to make up for a poor-fitting, painful boot.
As for me, I have wider, higher-volume feet, a high arch, and a high instep. And my feet work pretty well with the Hoji Pro Tour. Which is to say that it’s time for the wide-footed ski tourers of the world to rejoice — the stated interior last width of the Hoji Pro Tour is a remarkably roomy 103 mm, and it feels like it.
I stuffed some higher-volume Superfeet Red insoles into my pair of the Hoji Pro Tour and was very happy right off the bat with overall volume around my toes (where I had room to wiggle them), as well as the room over my instep. To complement this, the Hoji Pro Tour has what feels like a medium-width heel pocket that fit snug on my larger feet.
For comparison, I didn’t punch or heat mold the Atomic Backland Carbon (stated last width 98 mm), and they unsurprisingly did not feel as roomy as the Hoji. The lower shells of the Dynafit TLT Speedfit and TLT6 (black and orange version) are also noticeably lower-volume than the Hoji. If you like narrower boots like the TLT5, early TLT6, or Salomon S/Lab X-Alp, you’ll probably find the Hoji Pro Tour to be much too roomy in the lower shell.
While the lower shell of the Hoji is quite voluminous, the ankle and cuff are not. With my larger legs and calves, I found the calf area of the Hoji Pro Tour to feel more snug than most of the other touring boots I’ve used (e.g., Salomon MTN Explore, Salomon S/Lab X-Alp, Atomic Backland Carbon, Dynafit TLT6, and Dynafit Speedfit). And I noticed this when the Hoji Pro Tour was both buckled and unbuckled.
I haven’t yet molded the Hoji Pro Tour’s liner, so I’m curious to see whether I could get a bit more room in the calf after molding. I’ll also be playing around with the upper buckle layout to see if I could get some more room that way. I’ll update this review after I’ve experimented more with the liner and buckles.
“Hoji-Lock” Mechanism & Buckle Layout
Easily the coolest feature with the Hoji line of boots is the “Hoji-Lock” ski / walk mechanism. Flip the lever on the back of the cuff from walk to ski mode, and four things happen:
- A cable tightens the adjustable powerstrap.
- A cable tightens the upper cuff buckle.
- An internal sleeve in the cuff slides down and plugs the gap between lower shell and upper cuff, which determines the forward flex of the boot.
- A bar in the back of the upper cuff slides down, preventing the cuff from moving backward.
Check out this video for a visual demonstration of how the Hoji-Lock system works:
All this means that, if you keep all your buckles at the same tightness on the up and down, then the only thing you need do to switch from going up to skiing down is flip the switch on the back of the boot. It’s that easy.
Even if you do fiddle with the lower buckles during transitions, they’re excellent. A ratcheting strap secures my heel into the pocket without crushing the navicular area (this design is similar to what Scarpa has done on the Maestrale and Spirit4 before it, and is one we very much like).
A simple buckle over the forefoot tightens up the toe box, and it’s reversed to decrease the likelihood of it getting knocked open while scrambling. I’m a huge fan of both the ankle strap and lower buckle, and feel like this is a perfect setup for a touring boot.
The Hoji Pro Tour’s 11° forward lean is relatively upright — more so than the Maestrale line of boots from Scarpa (both the new and old versions), the Dynafit TLT6 and TLT7. The forward lean of the Hoji Pro Tour feels similar to the Salomon S/Lab X-Alp and Atomic Backland Carbon.
Up front, the Hoji Pro Tour features Dynafit’s “Speed Nose” design and their Masterstep fittings. The Speed Nose lacks any sort of toe welt, which means that the pivot point of the tech pins is closer to the foot, allowing for a more natural stride. But as I’ll get into later, the Speed Nose causes some noteworthy disadvantages when it comes to compatibility with bindings and crampons.
In the back, the Hoji is equipped with a bolt-through Dynafit Masterstep tech fitting, meaning that it should theoretically be more durable than the heel tech fittings on most other boots that come simply screwed into the plastic of the shell’s heel.
The Hoji Pro Tour’s upper powerstrap features the Dynafit cam lock, which I believe should be standard on every boot given how well it holds and releases compared to traditional velcro straps. The lower-end Hoji PX and Hoji PX W features traditional velcro powerstraps.
The Hoji Pro Tour’s entire tongue cover pivots forward, which makes getting into and out of the boot very easy, even when the boot is cold. This system is very reminiscent of the old Scarpa Maestrale. However, because the plastic tongue and liner tongue all need to be aligned with the edges of the liner, it can be a bit tricky to get all the different parts lined up correctly. I could see snow getting in there if the alignment was poor, though since I’ve been skiing the Hoji Pro Tour in spring snow, I haven’t yet had any issues with this.
So, does the Hoji Pro Tour walk well?
The Hoji Pro Tour’s 55° of stated range of motion (ROM) delivers a smooth, dextrous ride that’s very close to friction-free. Those used to lighter, more uphill-oriented touring boots (e.g., Atomic Backland Carbon or Salomon S-Lab X-Alp) will find that the Hoji Pro Tour has noticeably less rearward ROM. But for a boot of this weight (and that skis this well — see below), the Hoji Pro Tour walks exceptionally well, and I was able to get over my toes easily while skinning when I wanted to.
I personally haven’t been able to get the Hoji Lock system to function as intended while while skinning on long uphills. Dynafit makes quite a big deal about touring in the boot with the upper buckle and powerstrap set to downhill tension, then simply flipping the walk lever in the back, which then extends the cables attached to both the upper buckle and powerstrap to achieve the looseness you want for going uphill. They are understandably excited about this because, in theory, it makes transitions quicker and far less finicky.
But this hasn’t quite worked for me — the cables actuated by the lever simply didn’t open the upper cuff wide enough to keep my (fairly large) legs and calves comfortable and cramp-free while touring.
My local ski area (after it closes for the season) requires 2000 ft of sustained uphill travel to access the backside and (usually) better snow. For a long, sustained skintrack like this, I set the Hoji-Lock lever in walk mode, and then left the upper strap as loose as possible and didn’t buckle the upper cuff at all. These settings left my upper leg free to move, and didn’t lead to cramping.
I suspect that folks who have lower legs and calves that are less large than mine will not have this issue. My lower legs and calves are pretty beefy, and it’s possible that either fiddling with the buckles or heat molding the liner will reduce or resolve this issue. And since I’ve never been able to tour with the upper cuff even close to cinched on any boot I’ve used, I’d say my legs are probably extra-sensitive to this. Dynafit also notes that the buckle placement can be adjusted, so I’ll update this review after I play around with that.
Downhill Performance / Flex Rating
Remember when Dynafit said that the Hoji delivers “downhill performance like you get with an alpine ski boot”? Well based on my initial time in the boot, I think that statement is pretty accurate. But there are a few caveats.
All of my days in the Hoji Pro Tour featured strange, gooey, and crusty late-spring conditions, where the snow surface was unconsolidated, refreezing, or punchy. It wasn’t easy skiing, and would have been tricky in a lighter touring boot, especially one with a soft flex.
When locked into ski mode, the Hoji is not what I would call a “soft” flex, but it’s also not as stiff as some of the numerous more downhill-oriented touring boots on the market.
Dynafit has assigned the Hoji Pro Tour a flex rating of 120, and that seems a bit generous given that the Hoji Pro Tour feels just a little stiffer than the Salomon MTN Explore, which has a stated flex of 100 (though we at Blister think that it feels closer to a 110). The Hoji Pro Tour is far, far softer than the Scarpa Freedom RS (which has a stated flex of 130, and is one of the stiffest A/T boots we’ve ever reviewed). And finally, the Hoji Pro Tour is slightly softer than the new Scarpa Maestrale RS (stated flex of 125).
But where the Hoji Pro Tour stands apart — especially for a touring boot — is in the progressive nature of its flex pattern. It’s a buttery smooth ramp up — the fairly soft initial flex just gets firmer the more you push into the front of the boot. This makes for a lively, energetic boot that inspired confidence while going fast, jumping off knolls, and skiing hard in challenging conditions.
Unlike many touring boots, the Hoji Pro Tour’s flex pattern doesn’t have that (awful) feeling of “hitting a wall,” then blowing through the flex. So I think it’s fair to say that the downhill power and the progressive nature of the Hoji Pro Tour’s flex is similar to inbounds boots. But in terms of overall stiffness, I think the Hoji Pro Tour is a bit soft for a “120-flex” boot.
Binding Compatibility / Hoji Pro Tour as a “50/50” Boot?
Given that it tours well and skis well, there is certainly some potential for using the Hoji Pro Tour as a crossover boot for skiing both the resort and the backcountry. However, the Hoji Pro Tour is only compatible with tech bindings that have traditional pin-style heels, so the Hoji Pro Tour’s back heel welt isn’t designed to be big enough to accomodate a Marker Kingpin, Fritschi Tecton, or Salomon / Atomic Shift. And its Speed Nose also makes it incompatible with the Fritschi Vipec EVO. I think that it’s unfortunate that Dynafit has pigeon-holed the Hoji Pro Tour in this regard, especially given that other similar boots (e.g., Scarpa Maestrale RS, Salomon S/Lab MTN, and Atomic Hawx Ultra XTD) are all fully compatible with a wider range of more downhill-oriented bindings. So we shall see, but I think that this boot is going to attract a far smaller set of the skiing population because of these compatibility limitations.
The other issue with the Hoji Pro Tour comes with crampon compatibility. I opted to leave the Hoji Pro Tour behind on a five-day ski traverse on the Wapta Icefield because none of the three pairs of crampons I own (the automatic Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro and the semi-automatic Camp Stalker and Petzl Irvis Hybrid) seemed to fit well on the Speed Nose due to its width and lack of a toe welt. Dynafit does say the Hoji Pro Tour is compatible with most semi-automatic crampons, so there may be options that do work better. But I haven’t been able to get a very secure fit with the crampons mentioned above.
The Hoji Pro Tour is compatible with the Salewa Cramp-In system that will be debuting for the 18/19 season. The Cramp-In crampon is definitely interesting and comes in at a ridiculously light stated weight of 260 grams per pair. The Cramp-In system utilizes a front connection that must be installed directly into the sole of the boot. I’m personally skeptical of any design where a crampon can potentially come loose, but we’re hoping to review the Cramp-In system next season, and will report back on how it performs. But the main point here is that the Hoji Pro Tour is not as compatible with as many crampons compared to boots with traditional toe welts.
Four days of use is hardly a drop in the bucket in the life of a boot like the Hoji Pro Tour. So it’s far too early to say much, but I can report that I haven’t had any issues yet. Once I have more days in the boot, I’ll weigh in on the long-term durability.
Who’s It For?
The Hoji Pro Tour walks well, skis well, and has a nice, progressive flex, but it isn’t compatible with more downhill-oriented bindings, so it’s best for skiers who want good uphill and downhill performance but are going to use it only with full tech pin setups. The Hoji Pro Tour is stiff enough and progressive enough to ski pretty hard, but it is certainly not among the stiffest touring boots on the market. The other noteworthy feature is the wide last — folks with big feet will likely find the Hoji Pro Tour very comfortable, but people with narrower feet will probably be swimming in it.
If you’re looking for a wide touring boot that walks well and has a nice, progressive flex, you don’t require maximum stiffness, and you only ski on full pin bindings, then the Hoji Pro Tour could be an excellent option.