Tennis Warehouse

KSwiss Defier DS Women's Tennis Shoe Review

Video Review

When a shoe carries the name Defier, it has some, um, big shoes to fill. Looking back, the Defier has always been a top performer. The Defier RS was a Tennis Magazine Editor's Choice winner and has a big fan base for its comfort, stability and durability.

The new Defier DS has many of the same features as the Defier RS: Shock Spring cushioning, TPU stability units and a full herringbone tread pattern. There have been some updates as well. The Defier DS has additional Superfoam cushioning in the midsole and a beefed up TPU shank and heel wrap.

We sent our playtesters out for a month of playing on the hard courts to see how this new Defier DS performed.

Comfort - Score: 3.9

The soft synthetic leather uppers combined with the Superfoam and Shock Spring cushioning in the midsole of the Defier DS to cradle the feet of our playtesters. Kana said, "Right out of the box the shoe felt a little constricting because of how much cushioning there was. It was much more comfortable after the cushioning began to mold to my feet. It reminded me of the supple feel of the Fila Alfa IIs. There wasn't any pinching or rubbing."

Myrna also found impressive comfort, saying, "These shoes provided a great deal of cushioning, especially in the arch area. Perhaps because my foot is a bit wide, I found them to be a bit tight in the toebox. When I took the shoes off post-match my feet were not sore and they did not ache. This is a testament to the comfort of these shoes."

After a break-in period, the shoes were a good fit for Rachael. She said, "I found the shoes to be reasonably comfortable. However, during the six-hour break-in period I found the soles of my feet were a little sore while the midsole molded to fit my foot shape. Overall, though, I did not experience much discomfort while breaking in the shoes. I was happy to find there was no rubbing around my ankles. I didn't experience any blisters after the break-in period, even after wearing the shoes for more than 8 hours straight."

Tiffani found that her feet settled into the shoes. "The cushioning was immediately noticeable when I slipped on the shoes," said Tiffani. "It has that pillow like sensation. I did find that I needed to walk around in the shoes for about a day to break in the heel-to-toe flex. Initially, I was slipping and sliding within the shoes, especially my heels, causing some discomfort. After a couple of outings the cushioning molded more to my feet and offered better comfort during play. The width ended up being good for my wide forefoot, though too open in the heel area."

With narrow feet, DeeDee struggled with fit. She said, "The K-Swiss Defier DS rubbed my ankles. They came up too high, making them very uncomfortable to wear, even with socks above my ankles. The shoe was wide in the forefoot, narrow at the lacing area, and wide again at the heel, causing them to feel very unbalanced on my narrow feet."

Ventilation - Score: 3.3

Our playtesters were split on the ventilation of the Defier DS. Myrna felt the shoe offered good breathability, saying, "The Defier DS provides excellent ventilation. It seems to wick the moisture away from one's socks, keeping the foot somewhat dry."

Agreeing, Rachael said, "The ventilation in the Defier DS was good. I did not experience my feet heating up while playing tennis, and I felt that they were very breathable.

DeeDee and the others, though, felt the shoe ran hot. DeeDee said, "I didn't care for the material. There was not enough ventilation, and the shoe felt hot."

Tiffani said, "This shoe is well cushioned, but I think the drawback is the heat factor. My feet cooked as play went on, and I would immediately change my shoes and socks after I was done playing."

"I wish there was a little more breathability to this shoe," said Kana. "My feet would get a little toasty on the heavy tennis days, especially if the skies were sunny."

Arch Support - Score: 4.5

The medium arch support fit most of our testers, but DeeDee felt she needed more for her high arches. She said, "The arch support was not comparable to the KSwiss shoes I have worn in the past. The shoe was also too wide to fit my narrow feet."

Also with high arches, Myrna thought the support was excellent, saying, "Because I have a high arch, and thus a poor weight-bearing foot, I usually must use an orthotic, but due to the firm and high arch support in this shoe, I did not need to use my orthotic."

With their low arches, Tiffani and Kana played without pain. Tiffani said, "The support was fine for my low arches. I never really noticed it in any way, which is a good sign for me."

"The outer part of my feet hurt when the arch support is too low, and when it's too high the arch hurts," said Kana. "This was at the right height, where I could feel extremely low to the ground without any pain."

The Defier DS was a good fit for Rachael as well. She said, "I felt the arch support on this K-Swiss model was very good. There was no straining on my arch throughout the duration of the testing period, and I didn't have any problems making quick movements."

Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.9

The TPU Active Cradle wraps around the heel and extends down the lateral side of the shoe to provide players with stability. Rachael was confident in her on-court movement. She said, "Ankle support has always been very important to me, and I felt very secure in these K-Swiss tennis shoes. Lateral movement came easily because I was confident that my shoes would give me the support I needed. Also, the traction was great and helped me remain in control while on the court."

Struggling with fit, DeeDee sought more support. "My ankles did roll over, and I almost fell several times running back for a lob," said DeeDee. "My feet are narrow, so my feet felt sloppy in these shoes."

Kana thought the shoes were up to the task, saying, "With so much cushioning it felt like the uppers were too flexible at first. After the shoes molded to my feet a little I felt the Active Cradle worked well with the lacing system, providing enough stability even during rigorous match play."

Tiffani said, "Stability-wise, I found the Defier DS to be excellent. Ankle rolls never crossed my mind. However, I felt the support was not on par with the stability. I have wide feet, and I still felt like I was moving around inside the shoes. The heel was the most difficult area for me to lock in. The situation improved the longer I wore the shoes because I felt my feet sank into the cushioning more, so I was sitting lower inside them. By the end, I didn't worry about sliding within the shoes in the forefoot area, but I just wish there wasn't that break-in period."

"This shoe fit snuggly around my foot," Myrna said. "It was snug around the ankle without being too tight or putting pressure on my Achilles tendon."

Sole Durability - Score: 4.5

The AOSTA 7 outsole comes with a six-month durability guarantee, and our playtesters were all impressed with how the shoe was holding up to use on hard courts. Tiffani said, "There's a durability guarantee, and I don't think I'd be cashing that one in. It was standing up pretty well on the hard courts for me. I play a bit of a grinding game, and I was pleased with how the outsoles were holding up. I was equally pleased with the durability of another KSwiss shoe I've worn, the Stabilor SLS."

DeeDee said, "There were no signs of wear on the ball of my foot, which is where it usually wears out first."

Finding excellent durability, Rachael said it was above average. "The shoe wore out in the toe area first, but this is common for me, seeing as I am a toe dragger. It was quite similar to the Barricade IIs in that the high toe cap helped add some extra protection, allowing the shoes to last longer. I found the sole durability to be above average on this K-Swiss model. The sole as a whole did not wear down much and offered great traction through out the playtest."

"I notice that the left and right shoe had different wear patterns, but overall the wear was normal for me," said Kana. "I didn't see much wear after 20 hours on the court."

Myrna put the shoe through its paces, saying, "The sole is in pretty good shape considering the abuse that I have put it through. First signs of wear are toward the front of the shoe (not the toe), but the shoe appears to be fairly durable."

Toe Durability - Score: 4.5

With DuraWrap around the forefoot and DragGuard under the toe, even our heaviest toe draggers were pleased. Rachael said, "As previously mentioned, I was very happy with the toe protection K-Swiss has to offer. With a high toe guard and cap, the shoe did not start to wear down right away. Even after over 30+ hours of hitting the shoe still has a long life span ahead of it."

Agreeing, Tiffani said, "Again, KSwiss earns top marks from me for the durability of the toe. I scraped the toe, but didn't do much more than make it dirty. It's smoothing out some, but I've got plenty of rubber left to burn through."

Myrna said, "I am a confirmed toe dragger, but I did no damage to the toe of this shoe. The toe area is thick enough to withstand the abuse."

Traction - Score: 4.2

With a traditional herringbone tread pattern, the Defier DS should offer good traction on both clay and hard courts. Tiffani said, "I had occasional slipping issues when I was moving side to side. If I was moving aggressively I would slip when I was picking up to move back in the other direction or trying to make a quick lateral stop. For up and back movements, I didn't have any issues, though."

The shoes required a slight break-in period for Kana, who said, "The traction was pretty average for me. I noticed it was a little slippery at first, but not enough to fuss about."

Myrna wasn't slipping at all. She said, "Great traction! This shoe gripped the court and did not slip or slide when I moved laterally. My shoes will occasionally slip when I pivot on the service line, but these shoes held firm."

Getting to more balls, Rachael was pleased with traction. "The traction of the Defier DS helped when I changed direction quickly, and my foot did not slide around inside," said Rachael. "With this constant stability I was able to move toward balls more quickly, improving the number of drop shots I returned!"

DeeDee felt hampered by fit. She said, "I had so much room in the front and heel part of the shoe that I didn't feel comfortable changing directions. The traction, though, for stopping and starting wasn't a problem. Rather, it was difficult to determine traction because I was moving so much within the shoe when I was moving side to side."

Weight - Score: 4.1

The shoe's 13.2-ounce weight (size 8.5) wasn't much of a problem for the majority of the testers. Kana said, "The weight seemed average compared to other shoes I've tried."

Rachael found it great after she settled into the shoe. She said, "At first, I found the shoe to be slightly heavier than my previous pair, but quickly adapted to it on the court and appreciated the extra stability the shoe gave me in return. However, I did try to run in these shoes and found them to be a little too bulky. This was a decent trade off for me because their performance on the court paid off."

DeeDee said, "It was a very light shoe for playing a couple of matches."

The shoe began to feel heavy for Myrna as the match wore on. She said, "These shoes seemed a bit heavy to me. By the third set, they felt heavier than most other shoes that I have tested. Great shoe if you can win in two sets. If your match goes into a third set, you might want to slip into a lighter shoe."

Tiffani, though, felt the weight to performance ratio was outstanding, saying, "I'm impressed with the weight of the Defier DS. It is a durability-guaranteed shoe with tons of cushioning, and I never had an issue with the weight. Though this didn't offer a glove-like fit, the shoe was not bulky or clunky at all to me on the court."

Overall - Score: 4.0

It seems, at least for the majority of our playtesters, that the hallmark features of the fan favorite Defier RS are still present in the Defier DS. The newer KSwiss shoe impressed with its plush cushioning, stability and outstanding durability. None of our playtesters made a dent in the outsoles. The only drawbacks were that the shoe felt a little hot to some of our team and the shoe is a better fit for those with medium to wide feet. Time will tell if the Defier DS can live up to the RS version, but we found this shoe to be a comfortable and durable option for the frequent competitor.


DeeDee "I did like the shoelaces because they were wavy and stayed tied."

Kana "They fit the shape of my feet extremely well, making it very comfortable. I especially liked the low-to-the-ground feel."

Myrna "These shoes have great cushioning, which is very important to me. I also like the ease with which these shoes cleaned up. I was able to run a wet sponge over them and the grime came off easily."

Rachael "I found the Defier DS to be my favorite out of any KSwiss shoes I have previously worn. The toe durability, along with the stability and traction, would keep me coming back to this shoe. I liked how the shoe showed minimum signs of wearing down while remaining reliable on the court."

Tiffani "The laces are awesome. They don't come untied during play. Durability is excellent as well."


DeeDee "Because the shoe felt so roomy I tried lacing them tighter, but that caused discomfort on top of my feet. The shoe rubbed my ankles, so I couldn't wear them for long."

Kana "There was a little too much cushioning in the toe box and too little ventilation, making the shoes too hot."

Myrna "I disliked the heavy weight of these shoes. They seemed to get heavier and heavier as my matches progressed."

Rachael "The only negative thing I found with this KSwiss model on the court was some discomfort in the sole of my feet during the slight break-in period. Off court I did find them slightly hard to run in, but like I previously mentioned, the great stability on court outweighed this problem."

Tiffani "I don't mind breaking in a shoe that may feel stiff, but I didn't like how I was sliding around in the shoe at first. The problem went away as the shoe molded to my foot, but I would rather never have to deal with it in the first place."

Compared to other shoes or brands

Kana "The fit felt very similar to the Fila Alfa IIs in terms of how soft the inside of the shoe felt and how it molded to my feet. The Defier DS had a little too much cushioning in the toe box for my liking, but had better traction than the Alfa IIs."

DeeDee "I would not recommend this shoe for someone who has a small, narrow foot."

Myrna "This shoe is pretty much the standard issue KSwiss shoe, albeit in a more attractive package than similar KSwiss shoes. This shoe is certainly more durable than New Balance tennis shoes, but seemed heavier than New Balance and Nike."

Rachael "I found the Defier DS to be more durable than other KSwiss models I have worn due to a better toe cap. However, they were not as durable or comfortable as the Barricade IIs. Yet, I did find they offered more ankle support, along with no blisters."

Tiffani "The cushioning system makes me think of the KSwiss Stabilor, Fila Alfa II and the Prince T20 because of the pillow-like feel. The cushioning offered a very soft ride. When it comes to fit, I am reminded of the Wilson Tour Vision."


  • Cushioning
  • Durability
  • Lateral Stability
  • Stay-tied laces
  • Good fit for wider feet


  • Ventilation
  • Too wide for narrow feet
KSwiss Defier DS Scores
Comfort 3.9
Ventilation 3.3
Arch Support 4.5
Foot Suppot/Stability 3.9
Overall Sole Durability 4.5
Toe Durability 4.5
Traction 4.2
Weight 4.1
Overall 4.0

Playtester Foot Types:
DeeDee - Narrow width / High arch
Kana - Medium-wide width / Low arch
Myrna - Wide width / High arch
Rachael - Wide width / Medium arch
Tiffani - Wide width / Low arch

Review date: May 2010. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2010 Tennis Warehouse.