“They make you feel much fitter than you are” | Dynafit Ultra DNAs, tested and reviewed

Top alpine adventure brand Dynafit have created an ultra-running shoe in collaboration with Hannes Namberger - but can it stand up to sloppy Scottish trails as well as the UTMB?

from Dynafit
RRP  £185.00
Dynafit ultras main product image

by Lottie Spillet |
Updated on

The Dynafit Ultra DNA is designed for runners who complete faster, longer races across mountainous terrain. True to the brand’s for-athletes-by-athletes values, it has created its latest offering in collaboration with elite runner Hannes Namberger, in time for the prestigious 2024 UTMB in Chamonix. This is a proper long-distance running shoe, which is reflected in the design, feel and yes - the £185 price tag.

Although we’re not exactly professional athletes here at LFTO, we do enjoy longer runs from time to time, so were excited to see how this race-day shoe performed over longer (20km+) distances. Safe to say, Dynafit have really outdone themselves when it comes to comfort and performance in the Ultra DNA, so let’s get into some details.

Pros

  • Great uphill performance
  • Great energy return
  • Grippy on all terrain

Cons

  • Pricey
  • 35mm stack height won't suit everyone

Upper

Dynafit Ultra DNA lace system
©LFTO

The lightweight upper of the shoe is relatively minimal, with only the essential padding across the heel and tongue, which keeps it lightweight but comfortable. The upper padding is sock-like in the way it wraps around the foot, which reduces the amount of dirt and rocks which can get in: we found this feature to be vital to long-term running comfort whilst out and about on dirt tracks.

Dynafit Ultra DNA sock gaiter
©LFTO

The addition of a ripstop fabric across the toes and front of the shoe contributes to a design which feels robust and durable, which certainly would stand up to the challenges which an ultra mountain race would pose - we noticed very little in the way of wear and tear after a month of continuous testing.

Dynafit Ultra DNA toebox
©LFTO

Although not possessing any specific waterproofing standards, the material on the upper does an effective job of keeping water out to ensure comfort across long periods of wear in less than ideal conditions. In all, it did a good job of keeping feet dry in Scottish springtime. Each of these features make for a comfortable running experience, despite the cheesy slogan on the insoles of no pain (left) and no gain (right).

Midsole

Dynafit Ultra DNA midsole
©LFTO

The dynafit “speed+” midsole provides a responsive feel with superb energy conservation. Although deemed “speed” oriented, we found that these shoes controlled our pace more so than other shoes, illustrating their main suitability in ultrarunning events.

Where the midsole excels the most is in uphill performance: as casual runners who often struggle to run up hills, we found ourselves able to plod up steadily with much greater ease than usual. The midsole is also relatively light in comparison to other shoes, which further aids its long distance performance potential.

Dynafit Ultra DNA midsole 02
©LFTO

Overall, the composition of the midsole provided a flowy and fun running experience which made us feel far fitter than we actually are. A stellar feature of any running shoe!

Outsole

Dynafit Ultra DNA outsole
©LFTO

Although on first impression the lugs on the outsole seemed smaller than many other trail shoes, the Dynafit Ultra DNAs gripped incredibly well even on sloppy muddy terrain. The grip especially excelled on rocky and more technical ground, although the thicker soles overall made them feel slightly imprecise on very technical scrambles.

Dynafit Ultra DNA lugs
©LFTO

The outsole is constructed from a Vibram Litebase megagrip sole, which is well renowned in the running industry, and provides the level of performance and durability you would expect from this shoe - whilst keeping everything as lightweight as possible.

Features

Dynafit Ultra DNA upper
©LFTO

The shoes use a unique double speed lacing system, which aims to reduce pressure points and provide a more secure fit. Testing this shoe with incredibly blister prone feet was a risk - but luckily we never suffered from anything more than the mild acknowledgement of a few existing pressure points over the 20km mark. In addition, the speed lock system allows for quick and easy alterations to the fit, without having to tug at each different part of the lace; great for fast adjustments when switching from uphill to down.

Dynafit Ultra DNA heel reinforcer
©LFTO

The shoes do have a loop at the back, but we found it to be too small for a climbing carabiner, or indeed, our fingers. A nice added feature is the inclusion of additional volume reducing insoles, which allow you to adapt the volume of the shoes to create a more optimal fit should your foot depth be shallower than average.

Sustainability

Dynafit Ultra DNA no pain no gain
©LFTO

Dynafit is a bluesign partner, showing their commitment to reducing environmental impact. This refers to not using hazardous chemicals throughout their supply chain. Dynaft additionally aims to produce and source as many of their materials and manufacturing in Europe to reduce the environmental impact of global supply chains.

The shoes also are made of 25% recycled materials, a step towards helping the planet but of course, we’d always like to see more effort made on the recycled materials front. In comparison to other brands, Dynafit does well on sustainability, and the built-in durability for longer distances in the Ultra DNAs also reassures us that this is a good purchase in terms of product longevity.

How we tested

Lottie Spillet Author photo
©LFTO

Edinburgh native Lottie Spillet was the tester for the Dynafit Ultra DNAs. Lottie is a former cross-country-kid-turned-climber-and-long-distance-runner, who aims for chilled running experiences in the UK’s best mountain scenery.

Lottie Runs in the dynafit ultras
©LFTO

Lottie tested these shoes over long distances across the wide and varied terrains of the Peak District and Lancashire moorlands, plus she put them through their paces on the mighty trails of Edinburgh’s own mountain range of Arthur’s Seat and the Holyrood crags.

Verdict

Dynafit Ultra DNA verdict image
©LFTO

Overall, this is an ideal show for tackling longer distances over rugged terrain, especially those with large elevation gain. Although marketed as an elite ultra-running shoe, it provides an enjoyable running experience across shorter distances and terrains, making more casual runners feel fantastically fit and fast.

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