KSwiss Defier miSOUL Tennis Shoe Review
Some tennis players like to play in heavier shoes with a lot of cushioning to protect their feet. Some players like to play in lighter shoes with a low to the ground feel to increase their speed. Still others like to practice in shoes with more cushioning and play their matches in lighter shoes. For the first time there is a shoe that can satisfy the needs of all these players.
A removable midsole/insole system called miSOUL is what makes the Defier miSOUL Tech shoe so special. Each pair of the Defier miSOUL Tech shoes comes with an ultra-cushioned miSOUL unit for players looking for maximum comfort and court protection, and a lightweight match day miSOUL unit for players looking for a low to the ground feel. For those players who want more cushioning for practice and more speed for matches, changing the miSOUL units is as easy as replacing an insole on a regular tennis shoe.
In addition to the miSOUL technology, the Defier miSOUL Tech shoe features an AOSTA 7.0 rubber outsole and Durawrap XD at the toe. Extensive venting allows excellent breathablity.
Can the Defier miSOUL Tech shoe meet the needs of all players? Can it meet the needs of our playtesters? To find out we put the Defier miSOUL Tech through an extensive playtest lasting several months.
The overall response was good from our testers as they found excellent comfort straight from the box with the Defier miSOUL Tech. Chris liked the comfort from the get go. "I found a comfortable ride from these shoes on the very first wear. The first few times out I tried both miSOULs in each session. The clear favorite for me was the thinner, lighter, match day miSOUL, and I just used that miSOUL for the rest of the test. I really liked how low to the ground I felt in the lighter miSOUL, and there was still ample cushioning for my needs. The thicker unit offered more cushioning, but I didn't like its elevated feel as much. The uppers felt great and the shoes flexed in all the right places. The fit was a little wide for my narrow feet, but with two-pairs of socks the fit was better."
Preferring the cushioned midsoles was Spencer. "I enjoyed the comfort straight from the box. I liked how they fit my feet so I was anxious to get out to the court and hit in them. After trying both insoles, I found I preferred the cushioned ones, as I tend to be a little heavy on my feet and like extra cushioning when I can get it. I also found the laces very interesting. My first thought was that they were defective due to their wave-like profile, but after cinching up the shoes I realized the practicality of the design. They kept the shoes taut on my feet and they stayed that way -- never needing an adjustment."
Enjoying the cushioning and responsive feel was Troy. "The way that this shoe contoured to my foot was pleasant. I found it to match well with my narrow to medium width foot. The way my foot sat in the shoe was great, but the upper material didn't hug my foot as well as I would have liked. This led to some rubbing on my big toe, but I was able to make this shoe fit a bit more snug by doubling up on socks. I enjoyed a good blend of cushioning, with a softer feel in the heel and a more responsive feel in the toe. The result was that it combined to provide good court feedback.
Jason was happy with the fit but hoped for more cushioning. "The upper of the shoe was very comfortable. The shoe flexed in all the right places and there was no pinching. As far as cushioning was concerned, I thought it could've been better. I could barely tell the difference between the cushioned and lightweight midsole. The jarring landings weren't as suppressed as I would've liked."
Listed at a medium height, the arch support on both sets of miSOUL midsoles worked well for our playtesters. The level of arch support increased the comfort of the shoes for Troy. "The arch support was a definite benefit to the overall comfort for me. It was a nice medium to low arch that formed to my foot well. Not once did I have to worry about any arch pain." Chris couldn't ask for more from the arch support. "The arch support was very solid. The shoes felt very stable through the arch area. Playing mostly in the lighter, white colored miSOUL, I found lots of support. I found I could lace these shoes up and go out for a long hit without having to worry about the arch support. I can't ask for more than that."
Jason liked the feel of the lower arches on his feet. "The arch support felt great on my low arched feet. They definitely felt lower than the listed medium." The arch support was right on par with the rest of the good fit of this shoe according to Spencer. "I had no issues with the support of the arch. They hit my feet in the right place, offering enough support to add to an already good fit."
Foot Support / Stability
The miSOUL options played a role in the feelings of support and stability with our testers. Spencer felt the 'tailor-made' fit helped the support and stability when on court. "I really liked the fit, which I felt aided in the support of the shoe. My movement was good and the shoes performed well when changing direction. Good traction helped test the stability, which came through with passing grades. Though they weren't the best I've experienced in the stability category, I would say they were better than average, and I was certainly satisfied. The removable midsoles locked in well, and I didn't have to think twice about them moving within the shoe."
Impressed with the support offered by both miSOUL units was Chris. "The fit of this shoe was a bit too wide for me, but with two pairs of socks things were more secure. The stability was great, and with a more secure fit from two pairs of socks I was moving confidently. The chassis of the shoes seemed well built and there was a good level of resistance to lateral twisting. Both of the miSOUL units have their own shank in them and I was very impressed with the quality of the units and the support they offered. The flex point was also perfect, and I had no issues when playing all out in these shoes."
Finding more confidence in stability with the match-day midsole was Troy. "Initially, I wasn't impressed with how the shoe held my foot in place. I had some movement in the toe box, and I also felt like my foot sat up too high from the ground with the ultra-cushioned midsole. When I tried this shoe with the lightweight match-day midsole, and wore two pairs of socks, I then found confidence in this category. The lightweight insole gave me a lower ride and the doubling of socks helped fill the space inside the toe box. With the fit being more solid, I ended up liking the overall support and stability towards the end of the test."
Jason felt there was room for improvement in this category. "This is the area where I thought this shoe could improve on the most. My ankles didn't feel 100% secure in these shoes. The material around the collar seemed thin and insufficient. There were a few instances when I was cutting laterally and felt the material start to give. Within the shoe, I noticed slipping issues. I was fine when moving laterally, but when moving forwards and backwards I could definitely feel my feet sliding inside the shoes."
Overall Sole Durability
All our testers noticed wear under the toe and forefoot of the shoes. Though some were happy with the Aosta 7.0's durability, others were left questioning the longevity of this outsole.
Troy noticed some wear but was happy with the durability. "The Aosta 7.0 rubber compound proved once again to hold up strong during the battle of the gritty hard court. As I experienced with the K-Swiss Stabilor SLS, this rubber is constructed to provide maximum durability. The only area where the sole showed a decent amount of wear was towards the toe, which is consistent with all shoes that I play in."
Jason noticed some early wear. "The rubber durability is slightly above average. I don't typically wear down rubber as quickly as most of our other testers, but with this shoe I first noticed some tread loss after only four times on the court. " Feeling this shoe was less durable than some other KSwiss shoes was Chris "We had a fair bit of rain during this test so I didn't put as many hours on them as usual. That being said, my test shoes had worn smooth under the big toe on the right shoe. The outsoles seemed softer and less durable than I found on both the Ascender SLT and the Stabilor SLS."
Spencer felt the wear was a bit premature. "I was a little surprised at the wear toward the inside toe of the soles. I felt it was a bit premature, though not severe. I loved the traction and feel of the outsoles, but felt the durability could present some problems for the daily grinder."
The toe draggers in our group found the DuraWrap XD material on the toe held up well against abrasion. Chris felt the toe guard was quite durable. "The toes of the shoes held up very well for me. I drag my toes a lot and did not see any excessive wear. There were plenty of scuffmarks across the durable toe guard, but it did a great job and there was plenty of material left at the end of the test."
Being an extreme toe dragger, Troy found the toe bumper to be effective for even his play. "The rubber compound matched up with the strongest shoes in the bottom area of my toes. The upper part of my toes was not doing as well in fighting the wrath of my toe dragging. I felt that the DuraWrap XD upper in the toe was effective in abrasion resistance, but at the same time felt like there a pretty thin shield."
Most of our testers agreed that the Aosta 7.0 outsole had a soft, grippy outsole allowing for effective change of direction.
Impressed with the grip on the hard courts was Jason. "This was the highlight of these shoes. I was impressed with the level of traction while playing on the hard courts. Pushing off, stopping, changing direction; all these things were met with above average traction. The herringbone tread pattern certainly seemed to grip the courts well and the flex grooves in the shoe allowed for maximum shoe-to-court contact while pushing off." Spencer agreed. "The Aosta 7 does the job once again. I have yet to be disappointed with the traction on hard courts with KSwiss' Aosta 7 outsole. It holds just right when it comes to changes of direction. I never felt unsure when planting and changing direction."
Feeling excellent traction with a softer outsole and lower ride was Chris. "The traction was very good. I was finding better grip in these shoes compared to both the Ascender SLT and the Stabilor SLS. The outsoles felt softer, and with that added grab I was moving well. I felt confident making aggressive lateral cuts, as well as quick starts and stops. Using the lighter weight miSOUL put me lower to the ground, further adding to the fast and grippy feel of the shoes."
To the contrary, Troy felt the outsole to be firm, causing a lack of tack. "Before I broke this shoe in, this is where I found the most trouble. The Aosta 7.0 outsole is great for durability but doesn't quite get my vote when it comes to traction. The rubber seemed so firm that the shoe wasn't allowing me to have confidence in changes of direction, especially lateral movement. I kind of felt like I was playing tennis on beach sand. As usual, I didn't have much of a problem with traction after the shoes were fully broken-in, but I can say that this shoe didn't grab the court like a shoe I would feel comfortable playing tournaments in."
The Defier miSOUL Tech is a shoe with two weights. The cushioned midsole is almost an ounce heavier than the match-day midsole. With the majority of our crew favoring the lighter miSOUL, we found this to be a lighter feeling shoe.
Liking the balanced weight was Spencer. "It was a well weighted shoe. I felt the balance of weight was good, providing a good feel when on court. I didn't think my movement was hindered at all, even with the heavier, cushioned midsole." Troy was in agreement. "The distribution of weight in this shoe was nice and balanced. It definitely felt lighter on court than the scale would suggest. I think a lot of this had to do with the blend of the lightweight synthetic and mesh upper, as the shoe had a very light and ventilated feel."
Jason enjoyed the lightweight feel while using the match-day midsole. "With my choice of midsole (match day), these shoes felt lightweight and responsive. I didn't feel the weight of the shoe hindered my movement on the court at all. If I couldn't get to a ball it wasn't the shoe's fault." Chris was pleased with the weight of the shoes. "These shoes felt fairly light. If the fit had been a little snugger, I think they would have felt very light. As is, even with two-pairs of socks there was enough room for me to feel some movement inside the shoes and to be more cognizant of the weight, though it really wasn't an issue. Overall, I was pleased with the weight of the shoes."
No matter which Defier miSOUL Tech our testers chose, the universal response was that the comfort of this shoe was very impressive. We found the choice of two different miSOULs to benefit different players for different reasons. While most of our testers preferred the lower to the ground ride of the lightweight unit, having the option of more cushioning when needed was a great addition to this shoe. Like our testers, we expect most will select the miSOUL they prefer and stick with that version rather than switching miSOULS between practice and matches. Tested exclusively on hard courts, our team found the outsoles to be extremely effective, noticing a soft and grippy feel. On the flip side of the excellent traction, most of our squad agreed that the durability of the outsole lacked the longevity of other KSwiss shoes and some of its more durability inspired competitors. All in all, our team was happy with the level of performance from the Defier miSOUL Tech. The main attribute of the shoes, the miSOUL, not only served its purpose, it also impressed us with it's seamless performance.