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 Post subject: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:58 am 
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Location: Durango, CO
So I just got my hands on the Phantom’s, and wanted to give some first impressions. I have not had these on the snow yet, but my first impression of these is that the workmanship is amazing from John. :bow: I’m very excited to try this out. Overall, it took me about 15-20 minutes to set the system up on my board.

Throughout the year, I wanted to give a full review of the system. Let's be clear, right now, this is not that review. This is my first impressions of the system. I have been on soft boots my whole life. I have never been on hard boots on a snowboard. I've skied maybe 5 times ever. I'm a little nervous of the transition, but it was a leap of faith.

Let me start off by saying that I have never had issues with my Sparks. I like them and they have been super reliable, and I would recommend them to everyone who splitboards, they are amazing. I just wanted to try out hardbooting, because softboots aren’t that efficient for touring. Let’s not turn this into a hard / soft boot debate, just wanted to try and share facts.

The first thing I wanted to do was compare overall weight of the system to my previous system. I had not seen this yet. Because weights of puck’s etc are not generally known, and screws etc, I did it myself. I guess buying hardboots instantly makes you a weight weeny. :scratch:

The system I was comparing to is the Spark Blaze from 2011 season. I am running a 2009 Burton Driver X. The setup has probably 130-150 days roughly on them, so they are a little abused, but still should be about the same weight. The system is stock.

The system I have now is the Phantom Alpha “Phos”, which mean "Light". Boots I am running are the 2013 Dynafit TLT5 Mountain. I also have the split / solid pucks to run on a DIY and Solid board. The idea being I can get more vertical riding to hone in the system. The Phos are slightly different than the production model in that there is a little more material removed under the toe and heel side of the binding. You can see that here. I’m not sure the weight difference to the production run. This means it will be a little softer, but since I'm a smaller guy, John thought it would be cool to test out removing a bit more material. But know if you got the production run, yours are slightly different.
Image

Here are some weights. Note that I weighed 1 of each par and multiplied by 2 for overall weight.

Boots:
Dynafit TLT5 27.0 (2013) – 1240g (edited from saying 29.0 prior) *Powerstrap removed is the only current modification
Image

Burton Driver X 9.5 (2009) – 1184g
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Bindings
Phantom Alpha Pho – 392g
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Spark Blaze (with Pin) – 772g
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Pucks
Phantom dual (split and solid) – 148g. This is probably slightly heavier than the split only (few grams?). Note this is 1 puck, so double weight for one.
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Voile Pucks – 128g
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Toe Piece
Dynafit Speed Superlight with Adapter – 115g
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Spark LT Bracket – 30g
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Heel Risers
Dual Heel Riser with adaptor -91g
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Single Small Riser (voile) – 36g
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Overall, the system’s weights compare as follows:
Phantom / TLT5 - 3972g = 8.76lbs
Spark / Driver X – 4300g = 9.48lbs

So overall, that is 328 g less for the Phantom system, or 0.72lbs.

One thing to think about is this. When touring, the weight of Phantom’s will be less on the foot as well, by keeping the binding plates in the pack. That’s 784g (1.73lbs) of weight off your feet on your pack. If I prefer pack weight vs foot weight, I don’t know yet, but good to know. So when touring, there is 3188g (7.03lbs) on your feet, plus skins.

I'm pretty happy with the weight comparison. I actually thought at first it would be a little heavier, but turns out it isn't.

Here’s some other pictures of the setup. Initial impressions are pretty good.

Mounted on the board. I matched my stance width and angles previously. This is 22.5" and 25deg -12deg. Notice one pin is up and one is down, showing how it locks into place.
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This screw is what determines the amount of play locking into place. Very simple to get right. I have the standard cant which John stated is 2.5 degrees. I'm going to add in a bit more due to my short legs and wide stance.
Image

Plate mounted. Notice there is a small amount of lift, which is normal to allow for flex.
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With boot attached. Changed the bail back 1 setting to make tighter, as I was getting a little play.
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Dynafits and riser setup.
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Boot attached, very very solid, as expected (most of the reason to have this)
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Low Riser
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High Riser
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One thing I wanted to do was see how fast the changeover is. My first impression is it is very intuitive, and easy to setup. One of the things I hate with the voile pucks is how long you fiddle with it, not here. I found a changeover and back (without skins) was under 2 minutes. I haven't timed the other system (I probably won't either), but it seems fast. Now, with ice buildup, etc, we'll see how it goes.



It is certainly pretty slick system, and looking forward to putting it through the paces this year to see how it performs. One thing I am wondering is the ride performance. That is one of the top concerns I had going into this, so we'll just have to see. I haven't done much boot modding, but I will this week. I hope to have the system out out next weekend. :drool:


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:50 pm 
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Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Very nicely done!!


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:05 am
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Location: Colorado
Nice comparo Jason. For ultimate weight reduction, one can ditch the adapter plates, mount the heel risers with ski screws, and the toe pieces with quiver killers (or ski screws, but quiver killers allow one to own just one set of Dynafit toes for multiple splits), and switch to all titanium hardware for all of the M6 bolts on the Phantoms. This probably saves four more ounces or so.
Note that on the transitions the Phantom system does require a little more ice removal, due to the close tolerances (and resulting awesome ride mode) of the system. Once one is used to this it is not a big deal, just remember to have a Voile scraper or similar in your pocket, and use it every time. Two tips to minimize possible icing: hot wax the inner sidewalk of the board, and use some kind of lubricating spray on the top sheet around the bindings (like silicone), I use a teflon based spray lubricant which works really well (sorry cannot remember the name now).
This is a close tolerance, high tech system, and as such it requires a little more TLC than the Voile pucks, but once one figures out the tweaks, it is usually faster in transition, and offers a much more solid board interface.

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Never Summer Prospector 167X, furberg 173 DIY, Dynafit TLT5/6 Mountain , Phantom Bindings, BD Glidelite Skins
Quiver Killer inserts

http://protectourwinters.org/
http://14ersnowboardproject.homestead.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 12:17 pm
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Location: Wasangeles
Nice write up. Some quick math using science..

If you take 784g off your feet and put it in your pack the gain in efficiency is equivalent to taking 6.4-9.3lbs off your back. (784g*4.7lbs-784g=6.395lbs)

Add the weight reduction of the overall system at 328g and you're looking at an efficiency gain equivalent to 9.79-13.96 lbs being taken off your back as a result of your equipment change. Worth mentioning :)

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Rome WR 165 / Phantom 2.0 / TLT5 / Backcountry Skins / Snowpulse RAS 35


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:02 pm 
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Beautiful work John! loving the Color ways on the anodize. Much respect.


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:40 pm 
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Location: Wasatch
beyond fucking stoked to get mine!

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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:41 am
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Location: Altadena SoCal
provotrout wrote:
Some quick math using science..

While you come to the right conclusion, you're using science incorrectly. The biomechanics of hiking/snowshoeing are fundamentally different from skinning and not mentioned in the Fjaderlatt article. Hikers lift, swing, then plant. Skinners unweight then push forward without lifting the foot. "Swing-weight" calculations are different and only really come into play—as such—at kick turns.
In the larger picture, who cares? Harbooters with Phantoms still have the overall weight savings.


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:17 pm 
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Hans: You are mostly, but not entirely correct. When skinning one lifts the vast majority of the weight of the boot (and binding with soft boot systems) with every step forward of the board, as one lifts the heel off of the board surface. This is where touring with the Dynafit toe has a huge advantage, as there is no binding weight at all being lifted with every step.
Additionally, every kickturn is hugely different with the lighter weight system. At first this does not seem to be much of a factor. But after a few laps on 10-15 kickturn climb it really adds up. You notice the weight differential for sure.

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Never Summer Prospector 167X, furberg 173 DIY, Dynafit TLT5/6 Mountain , Phantom Bindings, BD Glidelite Skins
Quiver Killer inserts

http://protectourwinters.org/
http://14ersnowboardproject.homestead.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:49 am 
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Location: Durango, CO
Interesting thoughts on the foot weight. I certainly think having less on your foot will help, but I don't agree with 5x more energy in that article, because you can slide your foot most times when skinning. If you put in that many switchbacks, you just have an inefficient skin track anyways :). Either way, its going to be hard to actually measure the improvement, so we'll probably just end up arguing about it with no real facts.

In other notes, I modified my boots and tested it out yesterday, and I must say, on carpet, it feels VERY similar to my soft boot setup. I feel much better about my concerns with the riding being different. The only mod I did was the forward lean adjustment. Because of the way the flex of the binding works, I didn't feel I needed to do anything to the cuff yet. I'll try and show any comparisons with movement too from pictures.


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:46 pm 
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nice how's it look review! excited to see how they affect your style and feel compared to soft boots.

I too would choose the phos for the extra flex.

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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:58 pm 
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Good point, it's an important factor. Looking forward to the upcoming review here.

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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:31 am 
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I had two days on these bindings this past weekend. One day riding on resort at Wolf Creek, and one day riding backcountry, around 3,000' of vert in 2 feet of powder.

Overall, after two days, I'm super stoked. Keffler did a great job.

My first impression of the ride was how close the feeling is to regular bindings. Riding overall felt pretty damn close. The first few runs weren't as scary as I thought they were going to be. I felt about 90% capable as my softboot setup. All tweaks for me will be on the boot side, the binding is amazing. I even dropped a 10 foot cliff, no problem. I had no issues with foot release, and the bindings stayed in place. The main difference for ride I found was the flex pattern of the boot. Toe side turns were a little different to flex into than soft boot (more feeling of "all or nothing"), and heel side turns I did start to notice pressure points on the inner shin. After a lot of laps, I did start noticing the ride is a little harsher than softboots. You can feel every bump and turn much more. At that point though, it was probably 3x more vert than I would ever get in the backcountry (probably 15 - 20k of down). And towards the end of the day, there was more bumps, which I will never have in the backcountry anyways, but it is a little harder to ride those on this setup I found.

In the backcountry, they did excellent. Didn't feel 9 pounds lighter per foot on the up :wink: , but the skinning was really good, to be expected. Did a good amount of trailbreaking, and everything worked as expected. Range of motion is excellent on the boots as well. Anyone who says they don't see a need for pivoting cuff needs to try these a day, it's seriously really nice. The arguements around not needing it, sure you don't "need it", but it is super nice and makes it more comfortable and natural motion. Even going up, its just that much smoother to extend up, and was way better than expected. And no hot spots on the up (I originally had the boots heat molded), and the down in 2ft of powder was really good.

Image

For the changeover, I was not any faster than my partner on a softboots. He was still ready before me on both changeovers. But only by a few seconds, which I think is generally normal. But if him being on a setup he knows for 3 years vs mine of day 1 might be a factor, not sure :). I had no issues with iceup, as Barrows stated, just have a scraper and take off around the cleats, and no issues there.

Stoked for thanksgiving weekend with a good snowpack! More to come.


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 Post subject: Re: Phantom Alpha Initial Impressions
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:13 am 
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summersgone wrote:
I had two days on these bindings this past weekend. One day riding on resort at Wolf Creek, and one day riding backcountry, around 3,000' of vert in 2 feet of powder.

Overall, after two days, I'm super stoked. Keffler did a great job.

My first impression of the ride was how close the feeling is to regular bindings. Riding overall felt pretty damn close. The first few runs weren't as scary as I thought they were going to be. I felt about 90% capable as my softboot setup. All tweaks for me will be on the boot side, the binding is amazing. I even dropped a 10 foot cliff, no problem. I had no issues with foot release, and the bindings stayed in place. The main difference for ride I found was the flex pattern of the boot. Toe side turns were a little different to flex into than soft boot (more feeling of "all or nothing"), and heel side turns I did start to notice pressure points on the inner shin. After a lot of laps, I did start noticing the ride is a little harsher than softboots. You can feel every bump and turn much more. At that point though, it was probably 3x more vert than I would ever get in the backcountry (probably 15 - 20k of down). And towards the end of the day, there was more bumps, which I will never have in the backcountry anyways, but it is a little harder to ride those on this setup I found.

In the backcountry, they did excellent. Didn't feel 9 pounds lighter per foot on the up :wink: , but the skinning was really good, to be expected. Did a good amount of trailbreaking, and everything worked as expected. Range of motion is excellent on the boots as well. Anyone who says they don't see a need for pivoting cuff needs to try these a day, it's seriously really nice. The arguements around not needing it, sure you don't "need it", but it is super nice and makes it more comfortable and natural motion. Even going up, its just that much smoother to extend up, and was way better than expected. And no hot spots on the up (I originally had the boots heat molded), and the down in 2ft of powder was really good.

Image

For the changeover, I was not any faster than my partner on a softboots. He was still ready before me on both changeovers. But only by a few seconds, which I think is generally normal. But if him being on a setup he knows for 3 years vs mine of day 1 might be a factor, not sure :). I had no issues with iceup, as Barrows stated, just have a scraper and take off around the cleats, and no issues there.

Stoked for thanksgiving weekend with a good snowpack! More to come.


stoked you are liking your HB baptism! One misconception is that HB's will make you faster. While this might be true is some cases, overall your skinning times/transition times are going to be roughly the same. for me it's more about the comfort and convenience. I can never use a strap binding again. And skinning uphill in soft boots and binders feels so clunky. The freedom and range of motion opens the door for more efficient and fast skinning but fitness is the driving force of that. I still get beat by all of my touring partners of all boot persuasions.

In regards to the rougher ride this is one thing that kind of gets old on hard boots. I think the next step in HB bindings is building in some sort of progressive dampening system. I few thin layers of foam sandwiched somewhere would do the trick, but that just adds height.

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