8/24/2022 Testing Dynafit Running Gear
This season, as Dynafit continues to infiltrate the North American trail running season, they offered to send gear to three Dynafit running newcomers for testing. The only requirement was that the reviews were honest. No fluff, no lies - just good ol’ feedback. Which, you know, as a retailer puts us in a funny spot if the reviews aren’t outstanding because we sell the gear. But hey, rules are rules. Let’s get to it.
James: SkyRun marketing and content manager
I’ll admit something. My fat feet and I have always been envious of every customer and coworker who just adores the Dynafit Ultra 100 and its exclusive narrow fit. They go on and on about how special the midsole cushion is and how it’s great for all sorts of trails. So you can imagine my anticipation when we got word that the all-new Ultra 50 would feature many of the lovable aspects of the Ultra 100 but with a more accommodating toe box. Despite production delays, the eagle has landed and my flippers have found their way into a pair of Dynafit shoes.
I’m feeling fast already.
You can go read all the specs of the shoe on its product page so I won’t go into detail over every little aspect of the shoe, I’ll just point out the noteworthy parts I found unique or worth mentioning.
Fit and Sizing
To be clear, the toe box is wide, but it ain’t no Altra or Topo Athletic. The toe box is wide at the widest part but quickly tapers in towards the front. Needless to say, my toes were not splaying with each step, but they also didn’t cramp up or feel uncomfortable. Call it a performance fit.
The heel pocket, in my opinion, isn’t especially noteworthy which is fine by me. It’s not a vice grip on my heel like, say, the La Sportiva Mutants, but it’s definitely sloppy. With properly tied laces, I had no problem keeping my foot in the shoe. Though, I will complain that there are only single lace eyelets at the ankle so no heel lock lacing!
However, like all other Dynafit running shoes, the sizing is WAY off in US sizing. Go up at least a half size from your normal shoe but most customers end up a full size up. I run in 11.5 in most shoes but 12.5 in the Ultra 50.
This shoe is protective! Whether it’s a pro or a con is up to you. A burly toe cap and TPU on the side of the uppers make this shoe ready for all sorts of rowdy trails and off trail, for that matter. But on the other hand, the more protection there is, the less breathable mesh there is. Also noteworthy is that there are not any drain holes in the uppers for releasing water after creek crossings. On my test runs, I didn’t notice my feet overheating but it wasn’t especially warm out. For really hot days, these would not be my first choice.
As for the midsole, I didn’t find it to be particularly exciting. Which, again, is totally a personal preference. It is noticeably less squishy and springy than the Ultra 100 but with that comes more precision and ground feel. It is not even remotely similar to a Hoka level of cushion. Nor is it lacking like in race or minimalist shoes. Ultimately, the midsole is forgettable in the best way possible - you don’t notice it when running which means it might just be a perfect balance between technical performance and enough cushion to not feel every little rock on the trail.
I think Dynafit did a great job with the Ultra 50 and I’m sure many others will agree with me. In fact, I’d say that the Ultra 50 was designed to please most runners. The fit is accommodating without losing the need-for-speed performance typically associated with Dynafit. Similarly, the cushion is a versatile balance that’s great for speed runs and even long endurance outings. And at a respectable price point, it’s hard to imagine this shoe offending anyone. Lastly, there are a few colorways to choose from so if you don't feel like the typical in-your-face Euro stylings, you can opt for a black and white version.
Dynafit sent over two matching pairs of their Vert Shirt and Shorts to be tested by local runners. Up to the task were Jimmy Picard, owner of Redefine PT, and Jane Maus, an accomplished ultra runner. As you'll soon discover, opinions diverged quickly but that's the beauty of gear reviews, ammiright?
What was your impression (or lack thereof) of Dynafit running apparel before trying their apparel? After some time in them, what do you think now?
Jimmy: I first found Dynafit gear when I started skimo racing a few years ago. I loved the look and race fit of the ski pants and jackets and bought a couple of outfits. My friends joked that I looked like I was sponsored by Dynafit because it was all I wore. Until this year, I didn't know Dynafit made running apparel and was excited to give them a try.
Overall, I am pleased with the running shorts and top. The fit of the shorts needs some attention, at least for my body. The waist is stiff and doesn't sit snug on my waistline. I love the top. It is comfortable and I could wear it all day!
Jane: Before trying out Dynafit running apparel, I was not really aware of the brand. I had heard the name dropped a few times, but it was always referring to ski gear. In the past couple of months, I have seen more from them and have seen more people wearing their shoes and clothes. However, because I have always seen them as a ski brand, I assumed their running apparel would not be the best or as quality as other well-known running brands. After trying out some of the gear, I am pleasantly surprised with the running apparel, but it does not stack up to the other running brands I run in.
How do the materials feel and perform on a run?
Jimmy: The body of the short is feather light and feels great on my skin. As mentioned above the waistband is my only concern. It's stiff and still like a piece of wrinkly bacon. I worry that it will cause chaffing on longer runs.
The top is awesome. The material is breathable even on very hot SLC days. The length is a little on the long side which I like. It allows me to wear a waist belt and not have to worry about the shirt riding up.
Jane: The shorts feel great. The material is very breathable and light. The allowed me to move my legs freely and the light material kept my legs cool. The waist band on the shorts was a bit stiff, which was not very comfortable when running but I eventually got used to it. My favorite feature of the shorts is the actual short material. It is light, moveable, and breathable and overall, very comfortable to run and lounge in. I also like the mesh pockets on the side of the shorts. They hold keys and gels nicely.
For me, the shirt felt hot and heavy. It was not very breathable, and I got hotter than normal just a couple miles into my run. My arms also felt a bit restricted while running from the tight short sleeves.
What shirt/short do you normally run in? How does this compare?
Jimmy: My go-to short is the Patagonia Strider Pro. This Dynafit material is much softer and has a lighter, racer feel to it. My go-to top is a Hoka shirt. The Vert shirt is very similar but a little more rigid, less stretchy.
Jane: I usually run in a North Face or Rabbit tank top and Salomon or Nike running spandex. As far as the shirt goes, the material of the Vert shirt is much heavier than what I am used to and thicker as well. It was not as comfortable or breathable as what I am used to.
For the shorts, they were very comfortable, and even though I usually wear spandex, I wear running shorts a good amount of the time. These did feel a bit heavier, mainly from the waistband, but overall, they compared nicely to what I am used to. I would add these shorts to my regular running apparel.
During your testing, when/where did you test the apparel? What were the conditions?
Jimmy: I took these out on a combo of super techy, vert-filled days training for Speedgoat. I also took them out on road runs around the house. It's been super hot and dry.
Jane: I first tested the shirt on a 12-mile trail run up Millcreek canyon with around 3,000 feet vert. It was a relatively cool morning. I also tested this shirt on a few really hot 6-7mile road runs just around my neighborhood. The shirt excels on very easy recovery runs where the effort is low.
I tested the shorts on a 7-mile trail run up Millcreek canyon with 800 feet vert. It was a little warm but not too hot. I also tested them on several road runs around my neighborhood and a few easy 7–8-mile trail runs on the Bonneville shoreline trail. These runs were all in the morning, so it was around 75-80 degrees. The shorts excel on long trail days, but also on easy recovery days. They might fall short on hard workouts, but I think they would excel in most fair-weather conditions.
Would you recommend Dynafit running apparel to anyone? If so, to who and why?
Jimmy: Dynafit makes a great short/shirt combo for those runners looking to add some style. The shorts are practical, offering lots of pockets to stash gels, keys, and phones.
Jane: I would recommend the shorts to trail runners. They are very comfortable, and they look fast too! I would also recommend the shorts to any active person, as they are great for other daily activities besides running as well! I would recommend this top to beginner trail runners as well but would probably recommend other shirts before this one.