Dynafit Feline SL - Women's Review
Cons: Narrow fit, runs small, rigid construction takes time to break-in
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Dynafit Feline SL - Women's
|Price||$129.95 at Amazon||Check Price at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Light, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stable||Lightweight and streamlined, durable elements, very sensitive, precise fit, protective upper, stable on technical terrain, fun color options||Lots of cushioning underfoot, zero drop design, wide and spacious toe box||Protective, comfortable, wider toe box, excellent beefy traction for soft surfaces, huge value||Sticky traction, protective, rainbow design is fun, great value, all surface capabilities|
|Cons||Narrow fit, runs small, rigid construction takes time to break-in||Expensive, no extra room in the toe box, tongue requires readjustment, zero drop design is best for only some||Cushioning packs out, poor reputation for durability, zero drop takes training, no arch support||Not ideal for roads, huge sizing||Less stable than most, harder midsole is less comfortable, narrower fit|
|Bottom Line||Stable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alike||Our favorite for its low profile and zero-drop design that feels like an extension of the body, ready to tackle technical terrain||If you seek a wide toe box with lots of underfoot cushioning that can go the distance, look no further||A great all-around trail shoe with high value that's superb traction on soft surfaces||This rainbow contender has the ability to tackle all kinds of trail with excellent protection and sticky traction|
|Rating Categories||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Inov-8 Terraultra G270||Altra Lone Peak 5 -...||Supercross Blast||Merrell Antora 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Comfort And Fit (15%)|
|Specs||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Inov-8 Terraultra G270||Altra Lone Peak 5 -...||Supercross Blast||Merrell Antora 2|
|Measured Weight (per shoe, size 9)||9.8 oz||8.3 oz||9.7 oz||10.5 oz||9.6 oz|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||8 mm||0 mm||0 mm||10 mm||8.5 mm|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||Not disclosed||12 mm, 12 mm||25 mm, 25 mm||29.3 mm, 19.3 mm||28.5 mm, 20 mm|
|Upper||Mesh, continuous nylon||Mesh and TPU||Quick-Dry AirMesh||Continuous ripstop nylon||Mesh and TPU|
|Midsole||Feline SL midsole||Powerflow Max||Altra Ego||EVA Foam||EVA|
|Outsole||Sticky Pomoco Outer||Graphene Grip||MaxTrac/TrailClaw||Contragrip TD||Vibram TC5+ rubber sole|
|Rock Plate?||Not disclosed||Not disclosed||Yes||N/A||Yes|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Sizes Available||5 - 11||5.5 - 11||5.5 - 12||5 - 12||5 - 11|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dynafit Feline SL is an excellent contender that does great work on all trails, including those that are technical and slippery. It's comfortable for long-ish distances with sensitivity and protection built into its construction. The fit is narrow with smaller sizing than most other trail shoe brands on the market. It does require sizing up a half-size for improved comfort.
The Feline SL has a whole slew of protective features that kept our feet happy while tackling mile after mile. It earns top marks in this category for its protective upper, hard toe cap, and plentiful cushioning in the heel. It sports an 8mm heel-to-toe drop meaning that heel strikers and midfoot strikers will be equally happy wearing it. The underfoot cushioning level isn't disclosed but feels lower than some of the most protective shoes on the market.
The outsole is made from a heavy rubber composite and a rigid sole, that doesn't allow you to feel any protruding rock or root. The reinforced rubber bumpers around the toe cap mean accidental stubs don't hurt as much. While the forefoot has less padding than the heel, it's also protective while ensuring some level of sensitivity. It does lack a rock plate, which would be a welcome addition as the forefoot stacks little cushioning.
We wore this shoe while tackling after-work runs on the Perimeter trail in Ouray, Colorado. We also wore it while hiking up mountains and exploring desert trails in Moab. Through it all, we felt the shoe did well for protection. Our only caveat is the mesh that harbors the pull tab for the lacing system does catch sand. While it won't come in contact with your foot, we found ourselves taking this shoe off to empty it out every now and then. It doesn't have a long Achilles tab or a long tongue, so some particulates also got into the shoe that way. However, the continuous upper is great at protecting from everything else.
In our water tests, where we submerged our foot and ran through a stream, we learned the upper does a good job keeping moisture from entering the shoe. However, once submerged, the shoe will get wet. Thankfully, it dries quickly, especially in warm weather. The continuous upper is also good for colder weather and will do good work with a solid pair of running socks to keep your feet relatively warm when the temperatures drop. Overall, this is a protective trail runner that loses a couple of points for its lower stack height and lack of a rock plate.
We can't help but gush about the absolutely amazing traction. Built with Dynafit's POMOCA rubber, it is sticky, doing well on most surfaces. It has a huge number of large chevron-shaped lugs, 5mm in depth, that are spaced appropriately for optimal mud shed and traction on any type of surface. If you're planning on scrambling on technical ridges or running over muddy terrain, this is your girl.
We tested the Feline SL while hiking and running in the San Juan mountains — a place known for its steep trails, scrambly mountain ridges, and high summits. Commonly we encounter loose, dry trails with muddy sections and trail-less tundra on super long days. Through it all, we felt confident in this shoe, almost as though we had Velcro on our feet.
When we hit a mountain ridge that required a little class 3 or 4 scrambling, this shoe did an impeccable job at edging and holding tough to all surfaces. We found ourselves getting up dry slabs without a problem. What's more is when we hit the warm county trails at the end of the day, the clay mud shed easily from the outsole, a feat no other trail shoe has accomplished as well. Surely with this amazing performance, this shoe is bound to become a quick favorite when it comes to traction over sloppy, rocky, and technical terrain.
Like most high-performing contenders, the Feline strikes an excellent balance between protection and sensitivity. As a forefoot striker, you'll feel most things on the trail. You'll feel uneven surfaces and undulations, but you'll never feel the poke or pain of it. As a heel striker, you'll probably feel a little bit less. As a result of this performance, this is a shoe we'd recommend for longer distances. It's not one we would choose for ultra distances though, as the underfoot cushioning isn't ample enough. If you do use them for this, be sure to train and get your feet ready.
While running in the mountains and desert trails of the Southwest, we could feel the surface of the trail easily underfoot. When running across a tundra environment, where no trails were really present, we felt confident with every step as we could easily feel the ground underneath us. This helped to improve balance and thus running performance, in our experiences.
With such a narrow profile, we are surprised at the level of excellent stability this shoe has to offer. Your foot feels like it sits close to the ground, even though it has an 8mm drop. The forefoot isn't super wide but is well balanced, with a great, specific fit that prevents the foot from moving in the shoe. Rigid in nature, it doesn't roll easily and has excellent stability elements from the forefoot to the heel.
We initially felt a little worried when we took the shoe out for its maiden voyage on a 6 mile run with over 3000 feet of vertical gain on trail-less tundra. However, as soon as we exited the parking lot (which we felt pretty stable climbing up), we were surprised to see how well our weight was distributed from toe to heel. Surprising holes that'd normally have us rolling an ankle didn't pose any major problems, neither did water eroded soils. When heading back on the downhill where rocks and roots abounded, we found ourselves easily tiptoeing around these hazards. With the occasional heel strike, the integrated rocker had us lifting off with ease, without forcing us either way laterally. Sidestepping was a cinch with the specific fit, keeping our ankles supported and upright.
Overall, the excellent design of this more rigid shoe offers superb stability. For features, it has a "heel preloader" which seems to wrap the heel up for a more precise fit that leads to better overall stability. For both forefoot and heel strikers, this is an excellent shoe for technical and uneven terrain.
Comfort and Fit
While we love this shoe for its overall performance features, it scores fewer points in this metric for a good reason. The Feline SL has a light to medium level of cushioning, which makes it a great choice for 20-ish miles (in our opinion) but will take some serious getting used to for longer escapades. While we like the overall idea of the shoe, it lacks comfort features and the fit is pretty specific to a certain taste. It's not a fit for everybody.
Our first caveat in this arena is its rigidity. After just a 6 mile run (the shoe's first real trail run), we had inherited a blister from the super-rigid collar, right around the Achilles. As professional trail running shoe testers, blisters are typically hard to achieve. We found ourselves a little unsure about wearing this shoe until the blister healed.
The fit is also quite small with a narrow forefoot. Our recommendation is to size up at least a half size to have a better running experience, or if you prefer a little extra room. If you run in thicker socks, we'd recommend even a full size up.
The break-in period also takes some time. It took us about 30 miles before we felt like this shoe was a little more flexible and had molded to our foot. Unlike many trail runners currently on the market that can easily be taken right out of the box and onto the trails for a long jaunt, it's best to allot time to break these in. Aside from that, we appreciate its overall comfort. The pull-lacing system is neat, and we like the mesh on the top of the shoe that hides it while running. It stays in place as well, which is a nice change from most one-pull lacing systems that we've experienced.
For the level of protective elements and underfoot cushion, we're surprised at the lower weight (9.8 oz) for a size 9 shoe.
The lightweight nature makes the Feline an excellent choice for any race. Given its superb traction and lightweight style, it's not only great for trails but also a wonderful option for Spartan races or multisport days.
This shoe has a mid-range price with excellent performance. While the price might be high for some, for those seeking an excellent option for soft or technical scenarios, this trail treader is totally worth it. The burly construction still seems to hold up, even after 300+ miles of use. After this period of time, we see some scuffs, but the responsive midsole is still going strong, and the lugs are still long. We think it's a good value if you're seeking a trail shoe that excels in technical terrain, with a narrow and streamlined profile.
The Dynafit Feline SL absolutely crushes it when it comes to stability and traction over technical surfaces. Be sure you're okay with a narrow fit before buying it though. The value is high if you encounter soft or sticky terrain on your runs regularly. It sheds mud well and will stick to slabs and rocky terrain. It's one of the more aggressive shoes on the market to bite down on the trail.
— Amber King