Saturday, May 13, 2023

Dynafit Ultra 50 Multi Tester Review: 8 Comparisons

Article by Mike Postaski and Jeff Valliere

Dynafit Ultra 50 ($140)


Mike: Dynafit is an Austrian sports equipment brand, betterl known in Europe, and best known for their alpine touring and racing ski gear. They do also have a large collection of mountain and alpine running gear - focused on handling the more technical terrain of the European Alps. 

The Ultra 50 is the first pair of Dynafit shoes that I’ve tried although fellow RTR contributor Jeff recently reviewed the DNA Sky (RTR Review). 

I tested some of their apparel already - the Ultra DNA 2/1 shorts and DNA short sleeve . Both were excellent, top shelf pieces of running apparel. (RTR Review)

So how will the Ultra 50 stack up with Dynafit’s excellent mountain running apparel?


Very protective underfoot - from midfoot through rear Mike P/Jeff V

Forefoot gives a bit more proprioception for feeling out rocky terrain Mike P/Jeff V

Nice flex up front for steep climbing Mike P/Jeff V

Heel stays solidly locked in Mike P/Jeff V

Excellent mountain grip & traction Mike P/Jeff V


Pretty heavy - but designed for very rough, mountain terrain Mike P/Jeff V

Not very smooth or dynamic in faster, runnable terrain Mike P/Jeff V

A bit too supportive underfoot? Feels like a built-in support insole Mike P

Holds a lot of water - Ortholite insoles are a factor Mike P


Official Weight: men's  10.2 oz  / 290 g (US9)     

  Samples: men’s  11.1 oz  / 315 g, 11.7 oz / 332g (US 10)

Stack Height: men’s 30 mm heel / 22 mm forefoot ( 8 mm drop spec) 

$140. Available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Mike P: I had heard that Dynafit shoes typically run a bit small, similarly to other European-based brands. So I went with a US 10 - half size up from my typical true-to-size, and the  fit is just right. 

The toebox is noticeably, actually incredibly pointy. This is usually my biggest issue with trail running shoes , so I was very apprehensive about running in them. Trying them on, the squeeze on the toes is definitely felt. No room to splay, so if you need to wiggle your toes, this won’t be the shoe for you.

Aside from the toebox, the width across the forefoot is surprisingly good. No issue at all, and in fact quite comfortable. I find this design somewhat similar to some Scott shoes that I’ve tested. Somewhat pointy at the very front, but accommodating enough across the forefoot to remain comfortable (if you’re ok with the squeezed toes). Perhaps this is an intentional design to allow more precise foot placement in the more rocky and technical terrain of the Alps.

Underfoot, I notice perhaps the most support of any trail shoe that I’ve run in - from under the arch/midfoot through to the rear. It almost feels as if there’s a built in support insole. I can’t see anyone having over-pronation issues with these. This really deadens the feel under the middle of the foot and the heel, and is very protective in rocky terrain. The Ultra 50 is a bit thinner up front - but I think it’s fine as you need to have some semblance of ground feel in technical terrain. The thick Pomoco outsole does a good enough job providing under-forefoot protection.

Jeff V: I was a bit thrown by the name of the shoe, as being called the Ultra 50. That implies to me a shoe for 50 mile races or runs and  this shoe is definitely not for that.  If I were to name this shoe, I would call it the Moderate Mountain 15, which is not to disparage the shoe in any way, just to adjust expectations.  The Ultra 50 is a bit heavier than I imagined, but feels well constructed and protective and is made of high quality materials.  

The toe bumper is flexible. 

It is sturdy enough for technical running and seamlessly integrates with a 360 degree protective rand. 

 In the middle of the shoe on both the medial and lateral sides are notable sections of reinforced overlay, particularly on the medial side above the arch to really protect when bashing around in talus and rock gardens.  

The tongue is not gusseted, but seems to stay in place well without any fuss.  It is also moderate in thickness, tapering to thin on the upper section and protects the top of my foot well from the laces.  

There is also a lace garage on top of the lower section of the laces, but as with  the Sky DNA (RTR Review), it is difficult to jam the laces in there without an implement, such as a car key or a flat head screwdriver (essential for the Sky DNA, but not necessary here).

The heel counter is rigid and well constructed with a well padded, comfortable heel collar.  Heel fit and stability is excellent, enhanced by the Heel Preloader which wraps over the back of the heel counter.

Fit is true to size, but is very low volume and precise, best suited to technical mountain running. 

As Mike notes, the toe box is narrow and tapered, which does not coincide with longer distances, as there is absolutely no room for splay or a swelling foot.


Mike P: Stack is listed at 30/22mm for an 8mm drop. I find the 8mm drop to be unobtrusive with not much of a “tilted forward” feel - which is good for me. As I mentioned above about the supportive underfoot feel - in terms of the drop it feels more like the arch and heel are elevated together, with the ball of the foot being lower. This is very similar in feel to Scott’s Supertrac which also has a 8mm drop. I like this setup as my ankle feels more level and in a neutral position, as opposed to the entire foot being angled forward.

The midsole foam seems to be a dense EVA type, with no responsiveness or bounce to speak of. It’s dense enough to be protective, and with the nice toe flex, it handles technical terrain well. But it can feel a bit harsh underfoot on flatter, more runnable terrain. A quite thick Ortholite insole is used to dampen the harshness underfoot a bit. 

I found that the shoe did hold a lot of water after a few soaking stream crossings. The Ortholite insole soaks up the water and the very protective bumpers around the lower edge of the upper seem to hold it in. There are no drainage ports that I could find anywhere on the upper.

Jeff V:  Mike sums up the midsole very well.  I too find the midsole to be a bit firm and not suited to longer distances, nor is it particularly lively or responsive.  That said, the midsole is stable and predictable, better suited for rocky, technical terrain and slower paced adventure runs where precision and accuracy trump speed and response.  Protection underfoot overall is good, with a nice compromise between protection and ground feel.  I do find the forefoot to occasionally feel a bit thin when landing hard on pointed rocks, but is only slightly noticeable and not enough of an issue to cause discomfort or dancing.


Mike P: The outsole features pretty solid-sized, and well spaced 4mm lugs. Lug shape is designed to provide all around mountain traction, and the spacing allows them to shed mud more easily. The spaced out lugs also work well to dig a bit into loose, rocky stuff.I found the Pomoca rubber to grip really well in dry as well as wet terrain. I tested some steeper declines on dry rock and they gripped very well, no sense of slippage. Coming out of some water crossings I also didn’t notice any slipping.

The rubber is full coverage underfoot - typical and necessary for an alpine-oriented trail/mountain shoe. It feels quite thick and burly, and certainly serves a double purpose of adding a bit of extra protection underfoot. Again, like I mentioned before, the midfoot/rear of the shoe is a bit stiffer, but the flex at the forefoot allows the outsole to flex well and the rubber to do its job of grabbing the ground. In technical terrain, you definitely want to be agile - up on your forefoot to maximize stability and traction.

Jeff V:  Mike sums up the outsole very well and I agree that traction is good on most surfaces, wet or dry.  I did find that the lower, more broad lugs struggle a bit on steep, loose terrain, mud and snow, but just slightly so and when pushing hard, so I find the outsole to be a fair compromise given the overall versatility and so far, good durability.


Mike P: The ride will vary depending on the terrain. On flatter, firmer, runnable terrain, the Ultra 50 can feel a bit flat and also a bit harsh underfoot. No way you’d want to take them 50 “Miles” or “Km” even if the shoe  name suggests. The midfoot/rear feels blocky and the forefoot feels a bit thin. The dense foam and overall weight of the shoe does no favors when trying to pick up the pace in fast terrain.

In more technical and extended alpine-style terrain is where you can tell that’s what the shoe is designed for. The blocky midfoot/rear offers good protection and also a narrow platform underfoot, better suited for dancing around in the rough stuff. The thin feeling forefoot now gives good ground feel and offsets the more protective rear of the shoe. 

One feature I did notice and like was what Dynafit calls the “Heel Preloader”. It looks like a rubberized strap that extends from the midfoot and wraps around the heel. My heel felt solidly locked in throughout my testing in uneven and rocky terrain. I liked the feel of it and also felt that it subtly pulled my foot forward and enhanced connection to the forefoot. 

Jeff V:  I find the ride to be a bit harsh, especially on hard surfaces, when running fast and during extended downhills.  Response, bounce and liveliness is lacking, nor is there enough cushion (or should I say soft cushion) to even tempt me to run long distances in this shoe (even if the upper were roomy enough for long distances).  The weight here is also a factor, making the shoe feel a bit sluggish.  That said, the Ultra 50 can hold its own on more technical terrain, where the firm midsole becomes an asset, providing stability, predictability and protection, but again, is not fast.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Mike P: The Dynafit 50 is clearly and obviously designed for the most challenging rocky/alpine terrain. They protect the foot well, and give just enough feel up front to enable you to be agile in those environments. But anything less than that level of technicality - as we both found, they do feel harsh. They’re surely a specialized tool, and not an every days or easier terrain option for most runners.

As far as scoring, I’m not typically running in the types of terrain that the Ultra 50 is designed for. Your personal “scoring” may skew higher if you do typically run in alpine environments. 

Mike P’s Score:  7.85 / 10

Ride: 7 - Good in technical terrain , harsh & non-dynamic otherwise

Fit: 8 - Very good and secure, with a very pointy toebox but fine across the forefoot.

Value: 6 - Value would be higher if you spend more time in very technical terrain

Style: 9 - I think they look sleek and pair well with bright socks!

Traction: 9 - Excellent for most mountain conditions

Rock Protection: 9.5 - Excellent, slight thinness under forefoot, but you get a bit of ground feel

Smiles 😊😊😊

Jeff V:  I find that I am having trouble classifying the Ultra 50 or pinpointing how I will fit them into my rotation going forward.  I appreciate the precision fit, protective upper, security, stability, premium build, high quality materials and protection underfoot for shorter to medium distance runs on technical mountain terrain.  Yet  for such terrain, I would love to have a more aggressive outsole that sticks a bit better in loose terrain, snow and mud.  They are also a bit heavy and not responsive enough to be a go fast shoe, nor is the cushioning plush enough, or the fit forgiving enough to be a distance shoe (despite being called the Ultra 50). 

Jeff V’s Score:  8.3 / 10

Ride: 7 - Stable for technical terrain, but harsh for faster running, downhills , hard surfaces

Fit: 9 - Precision fit and secure, but those who want roomy and forgiving fit should look elsewhere

Value: 8 - Quality is excellent, rugged and durable for rough terrain, but not particularly versatile.

Style: 8 - Styling is good, very Euro

Traction: 9 - Overall very good and versatile

Rock Protection: 9 - Very good overall, a good blend of protection and ground feel, though can feel a touch thin for long stretches of rocky terrain.

Smiles 😊😊😊

8 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Hoka Mafate Speed 4 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The Hoka is a great fitting shoe, but less locked down but more comfortable than the Dynafit. Truly designed for much longer distances, the MS4 is way, way softer underfoot, and contours over and around most terrain underfoot. You just have to be careful though as the softness can make it a bit unstable. The Dynafit has a more protective upper, firmer ride, and would inspire more confidence running fast in very technical terrain.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Mike on all points.  I find the MS4 to be a bit unstable in tech terrain, mostly when trying to go fast, as the soft foam, high stack and narrow-ish platform throw me off a bit, whereas the Ultra 50 is much more planted, secure and stable.

Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The SP4 is a shoe I didn’t get along with. A quite narrow shoe - I found that even though it has a more standard toebox up front, the forefoot was narrow and tensioning the quicklace squeezed my foot too much. The Dynafit is pointy up front, yet the forefoot is wide enough, so it works better for me. Many runners swear by the SP4 though, so the fit is runner specific. The SP4 is much lighter, and has a far more dynamic ride than the Dynafit. You perhaps lose a bit of protection (not too much), but it’s overall a much better shoe for similar terrain. It’s also more versatile in less technical stuff too.

Jeff V:  The SP4 is one of my all time favorites.  I find them to be one of the all time most well balanced shoes for going fast up and down a mountain, with a remarkable blend of light weight, responsive, supreme fit, nimble, agile, stable, protective for the weight and with pretty good traction.  I have set some of my very best times in the SP4 on my local trails.  I think the only advantage the Ultra 50 has over the SP4 is protection, both the upper and underfoot, so it could be better for longer, slower outings in more rough terrain.

Saucony Peregrine ST (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): Full coverage, thick rubber outsole with deep lugs are the hallmark of the Peregrine ST. I found it performed very well in technical terrain, as the thick rubber was very protective and the lugs very grippy. The lugs are a bit narrower in design than the Dynafit’s, so they will be best for soft trails and looser stuff, while the Ultra 50 gives more versatile mountain traction. The Saucony upper was very good, but a bit less secure than the Dynafit. I also found the ST upper to be less breathable.

Jeff V:  Agreed with Mike on all points.

Scarpa Golden Gate Kima RT (RTR Review)

Mike P (10 1/3): The Kima uses a carbon plate for both propulsion and protection. Similarly designed for technical terrain, it’s similar in weight to the Ultra 50, but feels and runs much faster. The plate can definitely make it feel more tippy though so there’s a difference in feel on technical terrain. The Scarpa also has a pointy toebox up front, but also similarly wide, wider in fact than the Dynafit across the forefoot. We also felt that it ran a bit long, so check sizing carefully. I rated the Kima higher, but I found that I don’t use it that much, and I’d definitely pick the Ultra 50 for a very technical mountain run.

Jeff V:  Mike nails it again.  The Kima for me is a bit of a more lively shoe at the same weight, likely due to the plate, but I find the plate to be a liability in technical terrain, which is where I want to take the Kima, but don’t because of the plate (like Mike, I rarely feel inclined to reach for them).  The Ultra 50 is more forgiving in technical terrain, though traction and protection are not as good as the Scarpa.

Scott Supertrac 3 

Mike P (10): These shoes are very similar in many regards. Both designed for alpine terrain, with a similar elevated and more protected midfoot/rear and lower to the ground forefoot with more ground feel. The Supertrac has narrower lugs which bite a bit better, while the Dynafit’s lugs may give better feel over larger rocks and flat rock surfaces. 

The upper shape is similar, with the Scott not quite as tapered up front, so it is more comfortable for me. Although the Scott is heavier, something about its rocker design makes it feel faster on the run. It does feel slightly taller than the Dynafit too - so maybe not as good for very fast technical running, but much better for longer distances.

Topo MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review)

Mike P (9.5): The MTN Racer 3 is my favorite Topo trail shoe of all time . They really nailed this one (I still need to add to the review). I think it’s one of the best do-it-all trail shoes ever. It feels light and feels great on foot, yet is protective as you can get without any plate. Agree with Jeff on the upper, less secure, but way more comfortable. 

Jeff V:  The Topo is lighter, much better cushioned/softer underfoot and is one of the most comfortable shoes I have owned, both underfoot and in upper fit. It  is much wider in fit  and more forgiving than the Ultra 50, athough foothold in tech terrain is definitely better for the Ultra 50.  The Topo also has superior traction with more aggressive lugs for loose terrain and very sticky Vibram rubber

VJ Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Another absolute all time favorite for me.  Like the Ultra 50, the VJ Ultra 2 has “Ultra” in the name, but neither are built for Ultras as far as I am concerned.  The VJ has comparable precision, secure fit, but beyond that, the VJ excels in all ways.  They are lighter, much more responsive and fast, have better traction, are softer and more forgiving underfoot, yet still maintain control, stability and are adequately protective

Mike P (10.5): Agree with Jeff V all around, but I do think the Dynafit has a bit more secure upper fit.  The Ultra 2 has a pointy toebox, but not as pointy as the Ultra 50s - note the sizing difference though as my VJ’s have all run small. The Dynafit’s materials in general feel a bit more refined to me, but the major weight difference between the shoes is a big factor (1 full ounce, and it’s noticeable).

VJ XTRM 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Yet another fave, but for shorter, more extreme fast runs on very technical terrain favoring loose vs. rocky as the stack is a bit thin, but protection is still good.  The XTRM 2 has the best traction of any shoe I own, particularly for the loose chaff.  The Ultra 50 is a bit more protective.

Mike P (10.5): Love the XTRM 2 - it’s my best pick for very technical rocky, and especially off trail. On my trip to NJ in March, it was my primary shoe for the rocky East Coast trails. The XTRM 2 runs a bit narrow, but the toebox is still fine, so I have no issues at all in fit. 

Although they feel as similarly firm as the Dynafit, I feel more comfortable taking them for longer runs (although not too long). Superior traction and grip is a given with the VJ. The Ultra 50 has a bit more protection under the midfoot/rear, but they feel about the same under the forefoot. VJ’s 4mm drop vs the 8mm of the Dynafit is the difference there. But I prefer the more balanced feel of the 4mm drop.

The Dynafit Ultra 50 is available from Dynafit HERE

Tester Profiles

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

The samples were provided at no charge for review purposes.RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is the POMOCA outsole the same as the outsole developed by tire manufacturer MICHELIN when mountaineering shoe manufacturer SAREWA released trail running shoes a few years ago? I no longer see SAREWA's training running shoes, but they may have distributed products with improved durability to DynaFit instead of SAREWA.