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The Welcome Footwear Guide – The HUF Dylan

(Featured: Welcome Skate Store blog, ‘The Welcome Footwear Guide’, 30th January 2015.)

At Welcome, we want to do more than give you our opinion on the products we carry. Specific models from certain companies tend to be the ‘go to’ for many skateboarders and simultaneously a mass following of a select few of these shoe designs has kept certain brands at the top of game. Though there’s nothing wrong with the classics, be it original or modern, we are at a time in skateboarding where trends of the past are coming around along with newer technologies, functions and looks coming into play. In short, a lot of shoes are being slept on in favour of playing it safe. Whatever reason it might be that skateboarders don’t want to take the risk, we hope that the concise product reviews we want to bring you, might be that final little push towards embracing some of the interesting footwear available right now.

Your friendly local skateboard store presents – The Welcome Footwear Guide.

Shoes and box.

In classic fashion with everything Dylan Rieder has done during the last few years of his professional skateboarding career, his debut model for HUF Footwear has been highly debated.

‘I’d maybe wear them to work…’

‘That price is too high for any skate shoe.’

‘Who’s he think he is, James fucking Dean?’

Hate it or embrace it; Dylan’s fashionable ways will be remembered. A larger debate and complained about issue in the current state skateboarding of footwear is frequently the battle between fashion and function. Personally, I consider that less is more and with his previous model from gravis this statement couldn’t have been more true. Continuing were he left off with gravis, Dylan’s HUF pro model is his second gravis shoe that never saw release due to the skate team being called quits. While the ‘fashion vs function’ argument rages, an easy mistake would be to assume that Dylan’s HUF shoe lies with the former. This isn’t the case at all. Dylan’s shoe combines a high end look with excellent cushioning, durability and boardfeel for both a stylish and truly unique shoe. Though it’s demeanour is incredibly misleading and many of its functions aren’t apparent until you’ve experienced skating it, I hope the following helps change a few minds…

Then...Dylan HUF Black

Then & Now

I need to make clear that the opinions and experiences of skating in the HUF Dylan are based around a suede model of the shoe. To find out how their leather counterparts skate, check with the good folks at Ripped Laces.

It might seem strange making this so explicitly clear but I own two pairs of this shoe, both from the first Fall ’14 drop. The Burnished Black Dylan’s utilise a high quality, soft yet durable leather. Therefore the leather upper breaks in surprisingly quickly and are very comfortable. However, preferring to skate suede models over leather, the Oxblood colourway in this review are made from pig suede. While also very durable, it is far less flexible than the leather that the Burnished Black Dylan’s are made from. Due to this, I very much advise attempting to wear this shoe in a bit before you skate it.

Walk around the house, blast them with a hair dryer, flex them around in your hands. For me, putting them in the microwave for a minute did the trick but take the insole out or they will melt – I found this out the hard way… Though, if you do find yourself swapping them out for any other reason, appropriately, Gravis insoles work incredibly well…

HUF Dylan OxbloodHUF Dylan Oblood Sole

Out the box.

Sizing

Whether intentional or not, the HUF Dylan fits so tight at first that those looking for a slip on successor to his Gravis model will be pleased that you can wear them without laces, though I laced mine up to skate in.

While a very tight fit, going with your normal shoe size is important. At first skating the Dylan may be uncomfortable, even for myself, that always favours a slim and narrow shoe it seemed a bit much. But breaking in roughly after half an hour of skating in them and they’ll become very comfortable. Thankfully, it’s integrity does not suffer as the shoe wears in weeks later. The outer stays as if brand new while the padded inner area of the toe and side panels shapes to your foot. The tongue centring straps, something I always prefer in skate shoes is actually the main reason the shoe fits so tight initially. But once they begin to wear in, it becomes apparent its use is for more than preventing the tongue annoyingly shifting around.

Dylan tongue detail Dylan heel detail   Dylan heel detail 2

Nice bit of HUF and Dylan signature detailing on the tongue and heel.

Comfort & Support

Many aspects of the Dylan, that aren’t at first apparent, are for support and comfort. I’ll start with the heel, usually my main problem when breaking in a pair of shoes is the heel and I certainly felt this here. Though originally and very briefly painful, once worn in the heel padding sets back slightly and cushions your Achilles. Slightly raised, the tip of the heel doesn’t dig in either but wearing in this area causes some heel rubbing which subsides after a couple of hours at most. The heel inner heel area is also suede which allowing it to cradle your heel for support.

To elaborate, the straps keeping the tongue in place are the main reason the shoe fits so slim. When I first unboxed them, I assumed they would stretch to allow for easy access when putting on/taking the shoe off. After my first session, I realised the reason rather than having generic elastic straps that provide no benefit other that keeping the tongue still, these straps are made of a gauze like material. Coupled with a thin layer of foam lining inside the side panel adds for amazing and support and comfort. Especially in the area where the shoe would be at its least supportive; due to the sidewalls of the sole drawing in to allow flexibility.

This foamy material continues, slightly thicker, all the way around the shoe’s toe box. Though probably a millimetre thick at best, it lining helps provide comfort and protection without sacrificing any board feel on the side of your foot whatsoever. But, drop your board on your toes and you’ll certainly feel it…

Boardfeel & Grip

As skateboarding has seen the re-emergence of several 90s trends over the past couple of years, the cup sole has undoubtedly been the most common with footwear. With the majority of any shoe companies lines having been predominantly vulcanised models for a good time now, the cupsole is making its way back. The vulcanised model’s domination over the skateboard footwear market has in turn shaped the way that the cupsole is now being utilised by footwear companies. Almost every shoe company now has at least one model taking on the ‘cupsole that feels like a vulc’ stance.

Skating in vulcanised shoes for some time now, I was sceptical over HUF using a cupsole on Dylan’s pro model – especially after enjoying skating his vulcanised, gravis predecessor. I’ve generally brushed off the ‘cupsole with vulc feel’ promotion because I don’t skate stairs. Therefore a vulcanised shoe provides the entire protection, grip and boardfeel I need. After being assured the Dylan feels just like a vulc, I was still sceptical. After buying a pair that I didn’t intend to skate, I was curious. Finally after skating in the shoe, it does indeed feel exactly like a vulcanised sole.

The Dylan’s sole at twenty hours in, showing no signs of wear.

Though quite hard, the sole still allows for the shoe to be flexible which due to its thin nature and where the sole narrows in. This allows the longer fore front of the shoe to flex as needs be, whilst the heel supports. The aforementioned features in the middle area of the Dylan allow it to remain sturdy comfortable. Though the sole is hard, the shoe grips just as well as any vulc shoe I’ve skated, including HUF’s Sutter which is another of my favourite models and the narrow toe box allowed me to feel quite precise with my foot placement.

A benefit that the hard cupsole has over the soft, vulcanised soles I was accustomed to is while gripping just as well, less effort is required to adjust any foot positioning and therefore less abrasion occurred between sole and griptape – which prolongs the lifespan of the shoes tread. Speaking of which, the tread is like the man himself – less is more, and it works. In summary, the sole is an incredibly slim and simple cupsole construction which, while feeling like a vulc, excels in durability and protection without sacrificing grip or board feel.

Durability & Flick

They survived being microwaved at full blast. Fact.

The key selling point for any skate shoe, aside from aesthetics, is durability. If the price matches the durability at first glance, you’re good to go. This has been without a doubt the most debated factor of the Dylan’s pro models. At £95 it’s clear that the shoe is not marketed towards just any skateboarder. Though while its dress shoe appearance will draw in other custom – it’s not right to say it isn’t marketed towards skateboarders at all. If you’ve read until now, you know of all the Dylan’s features in regards to protection and cushioning aren’t apparent at first glance and its the same with durability.

Dylan five hours Dylan 10 hours side

Wear at five and ten hours of skating.

The ‘average skateboarder’ is definitely not spending this much on a shoe that, at a most basic level, is made to be destroyed. However, the other features combined with the Dylan’s durability justifies this price tag.

I’ll start with materials. Every colour way of the Dylan is a premium one, at £95 its fairly apparent. But HUF haven’t just slapped ‘premium’ on the shoe in a marketing attempt to convince skateboarders that ‘premium’ = ‘costly’. This isn’t the case at all; the attention to detail throughout the shoe’s construction is what really sets it on another level. Whether leather or suede, the upper is of high quality and I think it’s distinct which colourways have been made with skating in mind. You may be thinking ‘it’s a skate shoe, I should just be able to skate it’ – liken it to the differences in canvas and suede colourways, just with a higher price tag.

Thanks to the positioning of the side panel, any stitching mostly strays away from griptape and where the toe/side the panels over lap it appears to be glued and then double stitched. The suede of the toe piece also goes far enough under  underneath the middle panel so even if the sidewall’s stitching does blow out, there’s another strong layer of suede between you and your board.

Twenty hours in and still going good.

Twenty hours in and still going good.

Another influence taken from the vulcanised models market share is the one piece toe cap. Which durability is increased by thanks to the long and narrow toe. Meanwhile decorative stitching and air holes reside away from where they may be exposed to griptape.

Even as someone who exclusively skates shoes with a narrow toe, the Dylan’s shape was noticeable. The toe is, without a doubt, the narrowest I’ve ever skated and though I do recommend going true to size with this shoe – those with a wider foot should consider going a size up. You may find yourself repositioning your feet for flip tricks more so than you would whilst adjusting to other shoes. However, you’ll soon realise it’s another area the Dylan excels in. The flick on the Dylan’s is amazing. Chances are you’ll flip your board a bit faster at first, but once I got accustomed to flicking a little slower than usual; a balance of flick and grip allows for fliptricks to be caught at the peak of pop; the board was usually, comfortably under my feet way before I landed. While any wear seemed equally spread between toe bumper and suede upper. Around the ten hour mark, the rubber sole wore in to an extent where I felt little difference between the Dylan and a vulc shoe at all when performing fliptricks.

Final Thoughts

A great feature of the Dylan is its multifunctional nature. Obviously it’s something you can wear to a job interview, formal occasion or whatever else non skateboarding activity you might attend yet still wish to rep a skate brand whilst doing so. If you can afford it and want to take the ‘risk’ with the Dylan – I recommend it as once you’ve skated in them for a few hours you’ll appreciate the unapparent nuances.

Dylan 10 hours sideDylan 20 hours

Five, ten, twenty hours of skateboarding wear and (no) tear…

Simply, the Dylan is a skate shoe like nothing else out there. HUF and Dylan took a risk and the result is fantastic. While not to everyone’s taste, I find it refreshing to see something unique rather than another spin on current hot sellers on skate shop walls. While the price tag is high, it’s justifiable as the attention to detail is nothing short of meticulous. Though most of these features aren’t apparent at first glance, you’ll be amazed at how much technology is utilised in such a simple yet effective manner.

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