Babolat SFX Women's Shoe Review
- Good for wide feet
- Slightly heavy feeling
- Too wide for narrow feet
All our playtesters were excited to try the new Babolat SFX shoe, and it did not disappoint. The heavily cushioned SFX complements its speedy and low-profile big sister, the Propulse Lady 3. All our playtesters agreed that these were some of the most comfortable shoes around, right out of the box. As soon as they put them on they noticed the great cushioning all the way around the shoe, from the roomy and well-padded toe box to the unique multi-layered insole. The five-layered insole really molds to the foot and gives a great form-fitted feel. In addition to the cushioning, the shoe provided impressive stability. Excellent support around the heel and a wide toe box provided a solid base for changing direction on the court. In addition to the excellent cushioning and stability, Babolat's unique Michelin Performance outsole made the SFX very durable. Babolat even offers a six-month durability guarantee in case you're a non-believer. To conclude, our playtesters agreed that the Babolat SFX is all about comfort!
Comfort - Score: 4.6
All of our playtesters loved the cushioned feel of the Babolat SFX. Karly said, "The Babolat SFX shoes are some of the most comfortable shoes out there! If I didn't know any better, I would've thought they were slippers. The cushioning was tremendous throughout the entire shoe. I didn't experience any pinching or poking, and with the combination of excellent padding, soft insole and nonexistent break-in period, it made me wish all shoes were as comfy as these."
Brittany loved the comfortable fit, too. She said, "This shoe is very comfortable. It is one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever tried on. I think the standout feature for me was the insole. The insole was very cushioned and quite plush feeling. I thought there was the right amount of cushioning in the insole without going overboard. I had out of the box comfort and did not have to break-in the shoes at all."
Siobhan agreed with the other playtesters. She said, "This shoe is very comfortable. The cushioning was my favorite part of the shoe. It was really soft inside the shoe, and I felt that it didn't lose its performance shoe qualities even with this cushioning. There was no break-in period, and I really like how the tongue was attached to the shoe with elastic -- it made it fit around my foot really well. The shoe is supposed to be roomier in the forefoot for increased comfort, but I just found it to be a bit of a hindrance. I went down a half-size because of the roominess, but if I got another pair, I would stay true to size. I would rather put up with a wider forefoot and have my foot slip around a bit than a shoe being too short (and hitting my toes into the end). So a little lose-lose, but like I said, the cushioning was a dream."
It was love at first fitting for Tiffani. She said, "I once described these shoes as cradling my feet with love, and I stand by that description. The SFX shoes are so comfortable and required no break-in for me. With my wide feet I often find shoes too narrow, but that was not an issue with the SFX. The shoes molded to my feet almost immediately, and the cushioning held up throughout the playtest. I simply haven't played in shoes so roomy and seemingly made for my feet in quite some time."
Ventilation - Score: 3.2
Our playtest team found the ventilation of the SFX to be pretty standard. Siobhan said, "I didn't notice it. My feet weren't cool coming out of a practice, but I played in some pretty sweaty conditions and didn't notice any excessive overheating or discomfort."
Brittany agreed. She said, "I found the ventilation in the shoe to be right around average. The shoe didn't keep my foot exceptionally cool, but now we're playing in summer months where the weather is a little warmer. There were several perforations on the top and sides of the shoe that helped, but my feet came out feeling slightly warm after a long hit."
Tiffani didn't have an issue with the ventilation. She said, "This wasn't the most breathable shoe, but with so much cushioning I wasn't expecting it to be. On warmer days I noticed the heat build-up a little bit during play, but it wasn't a huge distraction. However, after playing I really didn't like to wear these for very long."
Of everyone who tried it, Karly was the only one that seemed to have an issue. She said, "The ventilation felt below average for me. While playing in them my feet felt a little overheated, but not enough to bother me or make me want to take the shoes off. It wasn't until I was done hitting that I thought the shoe had poor ventilation. The shoes and the socks were always damp after playing in them. The excellent padding throughout seemed to absorb all the sweat and it took the shoe a while to dry out."
Arch Support - Score: 3.9
Everyone seemed to find the medium arch support of the SFX to be a non-issue. Brittany enjoyed the arch support. She said, "I found the arch support to be a healthy medium in this shoe. Even though I have a medium arch, I definitely felt the arch support. While the arch was prominent for me, I didnÕt find it to be uncomfortable or painful. I probably would have liked the arch slightly lower, but I was able to get use to it during the playtest."
Siobhan also really enjoyed the arch support. She said, "I think the elastic that held the tongue in place really helped the shoe feel like it had good support. In line with the comfort, the support and comfort came hand in hand here. Through the arch I felt supported, despite it being medium to low support."
Tiffani felt well supported by the shoe the whole time. She said, "I didn't notice the arch support causing any issues, and my feet always felt supported. I really enjoyed the feel from the insole, and I think it was the memory foam layer that really helped the shoe contour to my foot."
Karly had a little different opinion about the arch but still had no problems with it. She explained, "The arches were lower than average and didn't offer much support, but it didn't cause any problems for me. I didn't experience any pain so I didn't mind the lower arch support."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 4.0
Our team was comfortable with the foot support and stability of the SFX, though there were a few issues. Tiffani had to adjust to the extra cushioning, but felt confident in the stability. She said, "This shoe is super soft feeling and sometimes I felt like it maybe was a little too soft for my liking when making sharp lateral moves. The SFX was plenty stable for all my footwork, but because it was so soft I felt like it took me a little bit longer to transfer my weight and move the other direction. It's not really a knock against its support and stability, I'm just used to less cushioning in my shoes."
Karly thought, "The shoe offered decent stability. They held my foot well and I never felt like I was going to roll an ankle in them. Lack of support and instability was never an issue for me with the SFX."
Siobhan felt the support and stability when she put the shoes to the test. She said, "Despite it being super cushioned, which usually takes away from the performance aspects, I found the performance to be good and I liked how it felt to move in these shoes. I did slip a couple times (which I blame a little on the court I was on and a little on the traction), and this did scare me a little in regards to an ankle roll. That said, when I did slip I found that the shoe supported me and kept me pretty stable. I felt comfortable but safe in these shoes. I had quick footwork in these, and I liked my ability to get around the court fast without feeling weighed down."
The width of the shoe was a bit of an issue for Brittany, but she still felt the support was excellent. She said, "I would have given the SFX a higher score if I didnÕt have narrow feet. The support around my ankle and midfoot was exceptional. I had complete confidence that I wasnÕt going to roll my ankle in the shoe. However, the toe box was too wide for my narrow feet and I found my foot slipping around in the front of the shoe. I also went down a half-size to try to decrease the width. This helped a lot, but caused the shoe to be a little short in length."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.7
Babolat's exclusive Michelin Performance outsole seemed up to the challenge of our playtesters. Brittany said, "The shoe had solid outsole durability. I thought it held up very well against all my aggressive movements on the court. I saw a little smoothing in the usual areas but nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I think it was a little better than average, and it comes with a six-month durability guarantee."
Siobhan was also happy with the sole durability. She said, "The sole started wearing out a little along the medial forefoot. I have no complaints, though, because the wear wasn't anything I would call excessive."
Durability was not a problem for Tiffani, either. She said, "There is a durability guarantee, so that's a definite plus. Even though it's the same outsole material that's on the Propulse Lady 3, I feel like I'm working through the rubber faster on the SFX. I don't think durability is going to be a problem, though, as I just saw some smoothing of the tread show up around 10 hours."
The amount of wear was pretty standard for Karly. She said, "I didn't think they were the most durable shoes, but they lasted longer than I was expecting. Generally lighter, more comfortable shoes lack durability, but I thought the sole durability was average. I experienced the most wear at the midfoot, which I thought was unusual because I normally wear my shoes out toward the toe."
Toe Durability - Score: 3.9
Our toe-dragging playtesters had no issues with the SFX's toe durability. Karly said, "I tend to be a little bit of a toe dragger, but I didn't have any concerns with the toe durability of the SFX. I thought the sole had better durability toward the toe, and the shoe had plenty of coverage up onto the upper part of the shoe to keep it well protected."
Tiffani liked the toe durability as well. She said, "The top of the shoe looks like it's going to last pretty well. It's the tip of the toe where the outsole wraps up that is wearing the quickest. The little decorative dimple area smoothed flat in five hours, and that's where I think I'll put a hole first."
Brittany said, "There was a thick toe bumper that came up to the top of the shoe. Apart from a little bit of smoothing, there was no damage to that area. With the thick toe bumper and the rubber material on the top of the shoe that meets the toe bumper, I felt well protected against toe dragging damage."
Traction - Score: 3.4
Most of our playtesters found the traction to be a little bit of a problem in the SFX. Siobhan said, "I struggled with this a little bit. Like I mentioned above, I slipped in these a couple of times when I was running for wide balls. Full disclosure: there was a lot of ball fluff on the court and it probably contributed to the problem -- although I've played on these courts in many different shoes and don't usually slip. That aside, I never want to slip in tennis shoes, and I did several times in these."
Brittany had a similar opinion. She said, "The traction is just OK with this shoe. When I was changing directions I experienced some slipping. I didnÕt really find any standout features with traction. I felt I had a hard time stopping and starting at times, and I think the weight of the shoe played a factor in that."
Karly felt the traction change over time. She said, "At first, the shoe's traction was really sticky. The first few times I hit in them they would stick and squeak on the court, almost like a basketball shoe. Then I thought the shoe lost its traction and I became more concerned about slipping than sticking. I wish the traction would've lasted a little longer and wasn't as sticky at the beginning -- somewhere right in the middle would've been ideal."
Tiffani thought the traction was excellent, however. She said, "The SFX outsole had great stick from the get-go. Dare I say almost too good? There were a couple of instances as I was coming to net that I felt my feet get caught up, and I sort of fell into the volley. The shoe also squeaked a lot until I broke it in a little bit, though that's more of a minor annoyance than anything. The shoe always gripped well."
Weight - Score: 3.4
Our team thought the excellent cushioning and support in the SFX added to the weight of the shoe. Karly said, "The weight was just average for me. They didn't feel super heavy and I could move well in them, but they did feel heavier than their actual weight. I think all the padding made them feel a bit clunky and bulky, which added to the weightier feel."
Brittany agreed. She said, "Unfortunately, with the stability and cushioning of the shoe also comes the weight. I found this shoe to be on the heavier side, as I am used to and a fan of lightweight shoes. I definitely was aware of these shoes on my feet when I was moving around on the court, and at times they felt on the clunky side. I didnÕt feel as fast as I normally do on court."
Tiffani concurred. She said, "The shoe is well padded and fits quite wide, so I didn't feel the fastest on the court. I was comfortable for sure, but I definitely wasn't feeling as quick on court as usual."
Agreeing once again was Siobhan, who said, "Weight was average, heading toward the realm of being too heavy. They were definitely a couple of ounces heavier than the normal speed style shoe that I enjoy. I think the amount of cushioning was the tradeoff for the weight."
Overall - Score: 3.7
Brittany - "I liked the comfort and ankle stability."
Siobhan - "I liked how comfortable they were, so cushioned and soft while still being a performance shoe that I felt I could compete in."
Karly - "I liked how well padded and cushioned these shoes were. They were so comfortable, and I loved the extremely soft feel right out of the box."
Tiffani - "These shoes were so comfortable from the first time I put them on. I loved the wide fit and really cushioned feel."
Brittany - "The heavier weight, wide toe box and all white cosmetic were negatives for me."
Siobhan - "The slipping, and how roomy the forefoot was."
Karly - "The ventilation. I was almost tempted to hang these shoes up to dry after every hit because they absorbed so much sweat."
Tiffani - "I felt a little bit slower in them, but honestly, the comfort factor outweighs that issue."
Comparing the SFX to other shoes they've worn, our testers said:
Brittany - "I would compare this shoe to the KSwiss Big Shot. They had many of the same characteristics, including good cushioning and comfort, good stability and a heavier weight."
Siobhan - "I would compare the performance, feel and ability to move around in to the Gel Resolution 4, despite a heavier weight and higher cushioning in the SFX."
Karly - "The excellent cushioning reminded me of the Wilson Tour Ikon shoe, but I thought the SFX's insole made it a more comfortable shoe. You could see and feel the difference in the different layers in the Babolat insole, which added to the superb padding of the shoe."
Tiffani - "This reminds me of the Prince T20 in terms of cushioning. Both have pillow-like cushioning. The T20 was another shoe with a slightly wider fit and loads of comfort. The SFX fits even wider than the T20, and I think the SFX also manages to keep a lower profile to the ground despite all the cushioning. I'm loving this shoe right now."
Playtester Foot Types:
Brittany - Narrow width / Medium arch
Siobhan - Narrow width / High arch
Karly - Medium width / Medium-low arch
Tiffani - Wide width / Low arch
Review date: July 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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