TAYLOR: Dynafit comes to the trail running world with a plethora of mountain experience. Much like its European comrades La Sportiva and Salomon, Dynafit is a true mountain specialist who provides quality outdoor recreation gear but was born in skiing.
Their trail running goods are a pretty recent addition. If they follow suit with quality and performance as their ski gear, we’re all in for a treat.
The Ultra 100 is BITR’s first taste of what Dynafit has to offer. It falls into the “max cushion” category and focuses on foot comfort over anything else. This shoe is curated to perform ultra-distance events on trails. Let’s go!
TAYLOR: I want to preface by saying that this shoe had a short break-in period. Most shoes we run in give a pretty good idea of what you are getting into from mile one. The Dynafit Ultra 100 took 15 miles or more to show its true colors — and they are beautiful colors at that. There are positive marks on every aspect of this shoe.
From the first step-in to sliding your way down from a peak, I can tell that comfort (buzz word alert) is very much a priority. Overall, the fit and feel gave me some notes of a few shoes — Salomon Ultra Glide, Salomon Sense Ride, Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2, and hints of the Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra. Anyone familiar with these shoes will know how much of a compliment it is to compare.
A fine, stretchy, durable mesh complete with a sock liner creates a wonderful vessel for your foot to travel in. The forefoot/midfoot mesh has the right kind of flex where it allows forgiveness for the beating yet holds form. The forefoot is a little more voluminous than traditional shoes in true ultra fashion. The mesh certainly plays into this feel as well. Again, comfort is the aim, and comfort is what you get. As miles stack up, the roomier toe box will play its role by letting your feet swell a little more and maintain comfort. Many shoes lose foot security in this case, but more volume does not hurt the Ultra 100’s technical prowess by any means.
Extra specs like the Invisible Lacing System and stout toe bumper give the Ultra 100 more trail cred. A single layer of mesh runs over the top of the traditional lacing system. It works wonders at protecting your foot from the tiny invaders that are bound to irritate the long run.
The other main comfort factor is loads of underfoot protection. Many shoes at a similar stack (32-26mm/6mm drop) height will swing toward the uber-soft cushion. Dynafit went with a more medium/soft density and added a 4mm Ortholite footbed. The combo gives a comfortably cushioned underfoot feel and adds more protection and moderate stability (similar to the Brooks Cascadia 16). A broader base ensures there’s no need to add any rock guard or insert extra stability tech. It’s simple, giving a more natural running sensation for a high-stack shoe.
Padding and overlays take over the back half of the shoe. Of course, the padding around the heel collar and tongue will add comfort. I am also pleased with how the fit becomes very dialed because of the above-average amounts of padding. It feels like a protective cockpit. Heel-Preloader Technology, a robust external heel stirrup, wraps around the back of the heel and anchors on both sides near the midfoot. This allows for a much more secure fit around the heel and keeps your foot in that “cockpit” even when the terrain gets dicey.
I took this shoe on a variety of terrain. Because of the fit and foot security, this is easily one of the more technically proficient high-stack trail shoes to date. I felt confident running pretty quickly down some mountainous terrain! The shoe has minimal movement, much like the Salomon Ultra Glide. I’d dare to say that, because of the midsole density, the Ultra 100 could comfortably take on much more technical terrain than the Ultra Glide too.
I am excited to say that there is yet another solid outsole compound available. Pamoca, who I have been very familiar with in the ski industry, has its proprietary outsole rubber. It is a “gummy” feeling rubber that sticks to nearly any surface. The outsole shape is similar to what you would find from a HOKA shoe. It’s broad and has a lot of ground contact. Pamoca’s outsole, in conjunction with its multi-shaped and multidirectional lugs, is a secure combo.Shop Dynafit Ultra 100 – Men Shop Dynafit Ultra 100 – Women
TAYLOR: Sizing needs to be changed up here. It’s as simple as that. I was recommended to go a full size up from my US size 10.5 to an 11.5. That is the basic rule for Dynafit shoes. It fits wonderfully, but not everyone interested in this shoe will come across an honest review like this to get that necessary information. Not many people will mess around with trying size after size for a pair of new shoes, either. It’s simply frustrating for consumers.
Beyond that, there aren’t a whole lot of outstanding negatives of the Dynafit Ultra 100.
I mean, 11.3 ounces for this size is meh, very average, maybe even on the heavier side. Many ultra-distance shoes seem to focus so heavily on the comfort measures that they forget that runners will need to carry this around with them for 50 or 100 miles! Again, the Ultra 100 is average for a trail shoe. Even though it holds a lot of other protective and comfort measures, it’s bound to get heavy.
Dynafit boasts a little about the rockered geometry of this shoe’s midsole/outsole. It’s not something that I feel through each stride. Sure, the toe is tapered marginally, but it does not feel like it has any transitional benefit from a rocker. In most trail scenarios, the Ultra 100 runs smoothly and is nimble; however, flat and non-technical running (i.e., gravel paths, pavement, etc.) felt a little clunky. This is in part due to the lack of a true rocker. It is also partly because the Heel Preloader System intersects with the midsole and outsole. There is a noticeable short catch when transitioning from midfoot to the forefoot. Again, this is mainly felt on non-technical terrain. This catch was not apparent in most singletrack and trail situations where there is even the slightest bit of technicality.
Lastly, as good as the grip was with the Pamoca outsole, the “gummy” consistency has a downfall of durability. Even after 25 miles in the shoes, the lugs towards the toe are very worn. So, I expect the shoe’s integrity to far outlast the outsole.Shop Dynafit Ultra 100 – Men Shop Dynafit Ultra 100 – Women
TAYLOR: Impressed. It’s one of the only words that come to mind with the Dynafit Ultra 100. I knew I hoped for the best out of the shoe, but, honestly, I prepared for the worst.
This Ultra 100 recipe is a dang good one. There’s no doubt in my mind that this can go as long or as short as you want it to. It is simply a comfortable and capable trail shoe. It feels most at home where the terrain has more variation. It wants to run long on moderately rugged terrain. I’d recommend this to anyone who lives and runs in regions that are not strangers to hills, rocks, roots, etc. After all, Dynafit curates its equipment for the mountains. The Ultra 100’s are no exception.
As I think back over 2021’s shoe offerings, I wish we would have run in this one sooner. The Dynafit Ultra 100 probably would have been my runner-up in the max cushion trail running Best in Gear Awards.
As good as it is, beware of sizing!. SIZE UP ONE WHOLE SIZE before making any purchase. You can find these on Dynafit’s site for $139.95. It looks like they are running short of sizes currently. Be sure to check back in early in 2022.Shop Dynafit Ultra 100 – Men Shop Dynafit Ultra 100 – Women
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