Dynafit Feline SL - Women's Review
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Dynafit Feline SL - Women's
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|Pros||Light, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stable||Well-cushioned midsole, excellent traction, good stability, excellent at everything including long distances, high value||Great traction, streamlined profile, encourages speed||Ultra-comfortable, lightweight, stable, protective, plenty of toebox space||Affordable, comfortable, good crossover shoe, great for beginning trail runners|
|Cons||Narrow fit, runs small, rigid construction, takes time to break-in||Stack height takes some getting used to, less customizable lacebed||Less protective, runs narrow||Packs out more quickly than others, zero-drop isn't for everyone, less arch support||Not rugged enough for technical trails, less sensitive|
|Bottom Line||Stable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alike||With a comfortable and responsive midsole and enough room in the forefoot for toe wiggle, you'll be happy running mile after mile||When you are looking to ratchet up the speed on technical trails, this is the lightweight and snug-fitting shoe you'll reach for||While not necessarily built for speed, you'll get a plush ride with all of the space your toes need to spread on long-distance days||If you are looking for an affordable shoe to run light trails and fire roads, look no further because this is the perfect shoe for you|
|Rating Categories||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo...||Saucony Peregrine 12||Altra Lone Peak 6 -...||Brooks Divide 2 - W...|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Comfort and Fit (15%)|
|Specs||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo...||Saucony Peregrine 12||Altra Lone Peak 6 -...||Brooks Divide 2 - W...|
|Measured Weight (per shoe)||9.45 oz (size 7)
9.8 oz (size 9)
|7.41 oz (size 7)
8.6 oz (size 9)
|7.76 oz (size 7)||7.62 oz(size 7)||8.0 oz (size 7)|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||8 mm||5 mm||4 mm||0 mm||8 mm|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||Not disclosed||31 mm||26.5 mm, 22.5 mm||25 mm, 25 mm||20 mm, 12 mm|
|Upper||Mesh, continuous nylon||Engineered mesh||Recycled polyester Air-mesh||Quick-Dry Air Mesh||Synthetic mesh|
|Midsole||Feline SL midsole||EVA||PWRRUN||Altra EGO||EVA|
|Outsole||Sticky Pomoco Outer||Rubber||PWRTRAC rubber||MaxTrac rubber||Rubber|
|Rock Plate?||Not disclosed||None||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Sizes Available||5 - 11||6 - 11||5 - 12||5.5 - 12||5 - 12|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dynafit Feline SL is built like a nimble and lightweight tank, offering superior protection on technical and slippery trails. It's comfortable for long-ish distances with a sensitive midfoot and streamlined fit, ideal for super technical running. You'll want to size up a half-size if you like a little extra wiggle room in the toebox, as the narrower fit and rugged toe bumper cut down on real estate.
The Feline SL has a whole slew of protective features that kept our feet happy while tackling mile after mile amid rocky terrain. 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 slightly 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. In fact, kicking rocks in the Feline doesn't feel like much of anything because of how burly this bumper is. While the forefoot has less padding than the heel, it's also protective while ensuring some level of sensitivity. It lacks a rock plate, which would be a welcome addition as the forefoot stacks little cushioning. With this in mind, we don't always reach for these shoes for ultramarathon distances when a plush ride tends to reign supreme.
We wore this shoe while tackling after-work runs on the Perimeter trail in Ouray, Colorado, and while exploring desert trails in Moab. We ran the bluffs and hills in coastal California and splashed through streams in Big Sur. Through it all, we felt the shoe did exceptionally well for protection. Our only caveat is the mesh that harbors the pull tab for the lacing system catches a lot of sand. While it won't come in contact with your foot, we found ourselves taking off our shoes to empty them out 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 feet and ran through a stream, we learned the upper does a good job keeping moisture from entering the shoe. However, it is not waterproof, and once submerged, the shoe and your sock beneath it 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. Because of its protective qualities, the Feline became our go-to pick for spring trail running on chilly mornings. Overall, this is a protective trail runner that loses a couple of points for its lack of a rock plate.
We can't help but gush about the absolutely amazing traction of this shoe. Built with Dynafit's POMOCA rubber, it is sticky enough to perform well on most surfaces and offers an absolutely unparalleled stick factor. It has many large 5mm chevron-shaped lugs, all spaced appropriately for optimal mud shed and traction on any surface. If you're planning on scrambling on technical ridges, running over muddy terrain, or tackling a combination of both, this is your girl.
We tested the Feline SL while hiking and running in the San Juan mountains and in Montaña de Oro State Park. The former place is known for its steep trails, scrambly mountain ridges, and high summits, while the latter is known for sweeping vistas and technical scree. Commonly we encounter loose, dry trails with muddy sections and trail-less tundra on super long days. We felt confident in this shoe through it all, almost as though we had Velcro on our feet.
When we hit a mountain ridge that required a little class 3 or 4 scramblings, this shoe did an impeccable job at edging and holding tough to all surfaces. In some ways, the Feline fits like a climbing shoe built for running. Its slender profile and epic traction inspired extra confidence in our own rock-scrambling abilities. We found ourselves getting up dry slabs without a problem. What's more, when we hit the warm county trails at the end of the day, the clay mud shed quickly from the outsole, a feat no other trail shoe has accomplished quite as well. Surely with this fantastic performance, this shoe is bound to become a quick favorite for traction over sloppy, rocky, and technical terrain.
Like most high-performing contenders, the Feline strikes a great 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 long distances, though not one we would choose for ultra distances, as the underfoot cushioning isn't ample enough. If you 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 path easily underfoot. When running across a tundra environment, where no clear trails were present, we felt confident with every step as we could easily feel the ground underneath us. It helped to improve balance and thus running performance in our experience. We felt like we could pivot on a dime without sacrificing speed, an accomplishment that other shoes failed to live up to.
With such a narrow profile, we are surprised at the level of excellent stability this shoe offers. 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. It is rigid and doesn't roll easily, and has excellent stability elements from the forefoot to the heel.
We initially felt a little worried when taking the Feline 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 would typically have us rolling an ankle didn't pose any significant problems, and neither did water-eroded soils. We found ourselves easily tiptoeing around these hazards when heading back on the downhill where rocks and roots abounded. 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.
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. There's also a decreased susceptibility to hot spots from the collar if the collar fits like a glove, which is dependent upon your anatomy. Overall, this is an excellent shoe for both forefoot and heel strikers on 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 an excellent choice for 20-ish miles (in our opinion) or lower, but it 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 particular taste. It's a slam-dunk fit for us, but it won't be for everybody.
Our first caveat in this arena is its rigidity. After just a 6-mile run (the shoe's first real trail run), one of our testers 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.
However, one of our other testers slipped into these shoes as if they were made for her narrow-to-average-width feet. For her, the scant plushness of the heel collar wasn't an issue because of how perfectly it encased her heel. As is the case with most shoes, and most certainly shoes you plan to run double-digit mileage in, trying before you buy is paramount to ensuring a proper fit.
The fit is relatively small, with a narrow forefoot due to the protective features. 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. We'd recommend a full size up if you run in thicker socks. The break-in period also takes some time, even if these shoes feel comfortable immediately. 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 be taken right out of the box and onto the trails for a long jaunt, it's best to allow time to break these in. Aside from that, we appreciate the overall comfort and streamlined nimble fit. 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, which is a nice change from most one-pull lacing systems that we've experienced.
We're surprised at the lower weight (9.45 ounces for a size 7 US shoe) for the level of protective elements and underfoot cushion. The lightweight and speed-promoting nature make the Feline an excellent choice for any race. Given its superb traction and lightweight style, it's great for trails and a wonderful option for Spartan races or multisport days.
Should You Buy the Dynafit Feline SL?
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, but if the fit works for you, the value is high for those who encounter soft or sticky terrain on their runs regularly. It sheds mud well and will stick to slabs and rocky terrain. It's one of the more aggressive and cleat-like trail shoes on the market.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
Relative to other shoes, this style has a mid-range price with excellent performance. The burly construction has held up, even after 300+ miles of use. After this period, we see some scuffs, but the responsive midsole is still going strong. The lugs are still long despite the abuse they have endured. The Dynafit Feline a good value if you're seeking a trail shoe that excels in technical terrain with a narrow and streamlined profile. If you typically run on smoother trails or plan to cover longer distances, this may not be the shoe for you due to its lack of cushion and burly features. The HOKA Torrent 2 is a good alternative with enough cushy foam to keep ultra-distance runners happy while still scoring super high in the traction metric. If rugged traction is what you're after, check out the Salomon Speedcross 6, which offers nearly unparalleled grip. The La Sportiva Bushido II is another shoe with a slim countenance that offers great traction. The Bushido offers a bit more sensitivity, so if that is what you're into, the Bushido might be a good pick to have on your radar.
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