Dynafit Pantera Review

A review of the Dynafit Pantera trail running shoe.

By on April 17, 2014 | Comments

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Dynafit Pantera Review

Dynafit may not be a common name to runners, but it will be for those familiar with other mountain sports like skiing. The company has taken on trail running in their latest expansion of the brand and decided to skip the ‘me-too’ effort of building another highly cushioned or minimally designed shoe. They went right for what they describe at ‘the other 80%.’ The Dynafit Pantera $140 is an old-school take on classics like the Vasque Blur or the original Montrail Hardrock. In other words, a classically designed, highly durable, plenty-of-underfoot-protection pair of kicks that are meant to last at the sacrifice of a little extra heft.

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Dynafit Pantera Review Transcript

Hey, and welcome to Trail Trials, the video review section of iRunFar.com. My name is Travis Liles and in this video we’re going to take a look at the Dynafit Pantera.

It wasn’t that long ago that a 12-ounce trail running shoe was fairly normal. It wasn’t until recent years that we started getting away from that—getting lower drops, more minimal shoes, and really having more open-mesh-type patterns and those sorts of things that made shoes lighter weight. There’s still a huge market out there though that likes a durable shoe, that likes a shoe that can take miles upon miles of abuse, that’s heavy duty, that’s got heavy toe bumpers, has a lot of underfoot protection, a lot of cushioning, and can really stand up to the rigors of some serious abuse. So Dynafit decided to go out and make a shoe that fit in that more traditional type of mold of that old-school trail running shoe. So what we have in front of us is the Dynafit Pantera. This is a new model for them, a new running shoe in general for Dynafit, and this weighs in at 12 ounces. It also has a less traditional 8mm drop. So while we are a little more heavy weight, we are slightly lower on that drop than that 10 to 12mm drop that we probably saw a few years back being the norm. What we’re going to do is really get up close and personal—look at the shoe, look at the tread, look at the midsole, look at this beefed up upper—and see what this is all about.

Let’s start off by taking a look at the outsole. One of the first things you might notice is the yellow dot here. This is Vibram. The outsole that Dynafit decided to use was rubber compounds from Vibram. They actually call out three separate types of compounds on the bottom of the shoe, what they call their mapping compounds. Based off of different activities or different areas of wear, they’ve used different densities or different types of rubber to accommodate that. Maybe more dense rubber here in the back; stickier rubber here with the black part because you’re going to want traction because you’re on rocks or whatever it might be; and maybe more of a standard compound that’s going to take some wear here in the middle.

From a lug standpoint, up front we have directional lugs, and you can see those sort of pointing towards the back helping us, of course, going uphill. Not a real aggressive or cleat-y type outsole, but they definitely have a couple millimeters of clearance here, so they do grip well—that along with some of these deep channels that exist throughout the entire outsole. As we move our way to the back, we can see the direction of those lugs changing to more of the rear-facing types of lugs like you see here in the blue along with some channels for braking so when you’re heading downhill and descending, you can get some nice grip there in the back. Overall, I feel this is probably a moderate, in terms of aggressiveness, outsole. So even though looking at it flat it doesn’t seem to have a lot of stuff going on, when you really take that side view, you can see just how deep this stuff is. On the other side of that, because it is a more uniform type of look, when it’s sitting flat, I found that to transition pretty well to the road or some of the more hard-packed things that I ran on. So it wasn’t something where I really noticed that I had lugs on the bottom of my shoe. Definitely it’s an all-purpose type of outsole here probably leaning more towards more aggressive than less aggressive (something like a road shoe or maybe a racing-type flat).

Next up, we’ll move our way towards the midsole. In the midsole, it has a couple things going for it. One is that it uses what they’re calling Duo-motion. Up front, we have this grey foam that runs the full length of the shoe. Then we use this green foam here underneath, and of course that runs the length of the shoe. So it’s slightly different in terms of how much density we have here. The grey foam seems to be a little bit softer. So, of course, your foot sitting on top of that maybe a softer foam to stand on top of. Then closer to contact with the ground, we have a bit more durability there. I’m a slight pronator and I felt these shoes did just fine. You don’t really see a post or anything in there like some of the more maybe traditional types of road shoes or heavy duty trail shoes. I felt like there was enough support under foot just based on the geometry of the shoe, the way it sits, that I didn’t feel like I was ever wanting in terms of some more stability and things like that under foot. Well cushioned. Felt good. Really dispersed the rocks and the impact underneath my foot. I tried everything—running on logs, sharp rocks, you name it, trying to really get a feel for what this was going to be like. The combination of rock plate and thick rubber used on the bottom and the varying types of midsoles—definitely not a shoe where you’re going to get a lot of ground feel out of.

As we move our way up, we’ll talk about a little bit about the heel cup here. Notice kind of across the shoe, there’s lots of places where there’s material dual or even triple layered onto the shoe where they want to add more durability or they want to add more strength. The heel cup is another example of that. You kind of have this exoskeleton here on the back. You can see some other types of rubber underneath that. Then of course you have a hard heel cup underneath. While it’s not completely hard, it definitely takes some effort to collapse that down. Because of that, you have a good solid feel back there that really locks things into place.

As we move around, you can see this kind of splash guard or mud guard that exists along the bottom of the shoe. Once you step in a puddle or snow or whatever gets beyond the outsole, you have another layer of protection above that. You can see double stitching exists there. Obviously again it’s adding to that strength that they’re going for. It runs itself all the way around the shoe almost to the back, but at this point your heel cup is actually in here. So even though that doesn’t go all the way to the back, there’s still plenty of protection and meat back there.

When we look at the laces, we have kind of this cage-type view that we see a lot on trail running shoes, trying to keep that foot locked in. So from the laces, reinforcements again at the laces, and then underneath that the cage going down to the midsole really giving a nice wrap through this. You can see that extends all the way back. So these types of pulls really give a nice cinch in this heel area, in the midfoot area. And lace options going back, you’ve got that extra lace (hole) if you need to go back farther. The eyelets on these are metal. So again, this shoe is about getting it done and being solid. You can just see that just looking at the materials on here that there are double and triple stitched things; there are reinforced areas throughout the entire thing. It just exists on the laces by being metal, from extra material being sewn on there throughout the shoe in general. We have a padded tongue. We have a half-gusseted tongue beyond that. It starts just above these eyelets here—these little black eyelets—that are sewn in. Then of course, there is your standard removable insole that can be popped out if you need it to.

Then the last thing I’ll call out is the toe bumper and really the whole toe area. So the toe bumper, again, if you look at it, you have three layers of protection. You have the material here, this rubberized material. In front of that you have rubber that extends out hopefully taking care of all of your toes. Then at the very apex of the shoe, they’ve wrapped the outsole all the way around. It really has some serious toe protection on this. If you’re somebody that stubs your toes, this might be a nice answer for you. Overall, in the toe box in general, it’s a wide fit. I describe my foot as being shaped like a piece of pizza—so narrow at one side and widening out to the other. This shoe fit my foot really well. So if you have that type of foot with more of a wide midfoot and wide foot, this gives you plenty of room to let those toes wiggle around. If you do bump them, you sure have a lot of protection up front.

So in closing, with the Dynafit Pantera, you really get a rugged shoe. Of course, I haven’t had enough time to really drive it through hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles, but just looking at the materials compared to other shoes, you can just see that they’re on there. You’ve got overlays with overlays on top of them, dual stitching. You’ve got a Vibram outsole. You’ve got a lot of good, sturdy foam underfoot. This model has a really tough toe bumper and heel cup. It’s just a stable rock solid feeling shoe.

If you have any questions or comments, leave those below the video. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.

 Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you run in the Dynafit Pantera? If so, what are your thoughts?
  •  On the concept of ‘the other 80%’ shoe, do you feel like there’s a time and place for a bulletproof shoe like this in your running life? A very long run? The last 20 miles of a 100 miler? On a recovery day after a really hard/long day the day prior?
Travis Liles

Travis Liles is a gear reviewer at iRunFar. He’s been reviewing trail running and ultrarunning gear (and occasionally penning an article) for over 15 years. He is married to his Junior High sweetheart, has two amazing daughters, and works as a solution architect for a large software company. Originally from the Midwest but now based in Portland, Oregon, Travis is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner. Over the past 18 years, he has competed in many ultra-distance races and has completed 15 100-mile races, including Ozark Trail, Leadville, Big Horn, and HURT 100. He is a recovering RD and enjoys pacing friends, trail work, and volunteering at local events.