I recently lost a lot of weight (160 lbs.) and returned a couple of pairs of shoes to REI because they no longer fit my feet (they were way too big). I was looking at getting another pair of Solomon's, but tried the La Sportiva on just because I thought it looked neat. Once I put it on I was hooked! They feel great!!!!
They have great traction, good support, nice snug fit, and they are really comfortable. I'm trying to get into running, but at 250 lbs. it's still a task for me to run any great distance. However, these shoes feel great on my feet when I do get out and jog a bit. I mainly wear them in my Krav Maga class. We do a lot of running, jumping, kicking, and sparing. These shoes really help support my foot during the workouts. They fit snugly, not to be confused with too tight, but form fitting. I require a wide toe box usually, and these shoes fit the bill perfectly.
Since they are European they come in a 13.5 size which fits my big feet just right. I usually have to deal with shoes being a bit too big or a bit too small. But these 13.5's are just right for me.
I am planning on using them to do some light hiking/backpacking this spring and summer. In fact I'm already considering going to buy a second pair just so I don't wear out one pair too quickly.
The only draw back to these shoes is that they aren't water proof in any way. This isn't such a big deal in the spring and summer, but I have a few times where I've been out in the weather and came in with some very wet feet. However I really didn't want Gore Tex shoe for the trail in the summer due to the heat factor so I really see this as a minor inconvenience that was my choice anyway.
I think these are great shoes, and I would very much recommend them to anyone looking for a comfortable shoe to hit the trail in or in need of one for working out. Happy trails.
Great shoe, some room for improvement
This is one of the best trail running shoes that I have used. On flatter trails that designed for running, it is light, rugged, stable, with excellent traction. On more technical terrain it slips occasionally on rock and wet rock when ascending. I would describe it as an over-built running shoe, not a "hiking boot on a diet."
I have worn it to run/speed hike some more rugged terrain and have noticed that two of the green nubs on the soles wore away quickly or become unglued and fell off, which began happening after a one-day run-hike of twelve miles on rocky and muddy trail. This green rubber is very soft and a higlight of the shoe since its orientation and stickiness makes the shoe feel safe on descents. I just wish it was more durable.
This shoe breathes well, but at the cost of not being waterproof; all it takes is a very shallow puddle or muddy patch and the water comes flowing in through the wide mesh.
I have worn it with REI brand synthetic socks and have not gotten any blisters during run/hikes of up to 20 miles, which is a huge plus.
I wish that the lacing extended further towards the toes. Another set of eyelets would be great since the toe-box is slightly on the wider side.
I would love for La Sportiva to develop some easy to use, optional gaiter system for their trail shoes.
These are an exellent first incarnation of this shoe model, with some room for improvement and perhaps a more water-proof or Gore-Tex model offered. It's the best neutral support trail shoe I have used (compared to five other models by La Sportiva and other brands). It feels more like a beefed-up neutral-support running shoe and less like a pared-down hiking boot.
Best shoe I've ever owned
I have worn these shoes almost every day for over a year. I wear them for walking (I do a lot of walking), running, light hiking, to work, and just anywhere I am going. These are the most "purpose built" sneakers I have ever owned, I am not a hard core runner and usually just bought whatever brand at "generic shoe store" fit comfortably. These are also the most expensive sneakers I have ever bought but I had a sizable dividend and decided to splurge to find something of better quality. Previous attempts at trying to "get what I paid for" did not leave me any happier than the previous cookie cutter shoes.
I do not regret this purchase one bit. These are the first sneakers that have held up to a year of everyday wear without falling apart. Usually sneakers will wear out on the inside of the heal, the sole will separate and stitching will fray. After a year, these sneakers show almost no wear. They look nearly as good as the day I bought them. The only minor blemishes are my own fault (a little wear on the heal of the sole because I step on the back to take them off).
The only con is that the sole wears out quickly. After a year, they are a lot closer to smooth than previous sneakers. However, I don't hold this against them because all my other shoes fell apart before this length of time. As a casual wearer, I can get many more miles out of these shoes.
I am glad to see REI still carries them as I will be buying a new pair to carry me for another year. My current pair will become the poorer weather backups.
Great for trails, pavement, and lounging
After a long bout of cheap sneakers, I decided to upgrade to some decent running shoes. After trawling REI reviews, I came upon a favorably rated pair: La Sportiva Wildcat Trail-Running Shoes.
Upon receiving my shoes, I noticed how light they were, with an average weight of 25 ounces. My concern was that they would be too flimsy, but the sole held to substantial hand pressure, from ball of foot to heel.
The heel is reinforced with an external urethane stabilizer. It looks too thin to be of any effect, but again I was surprised by the stiffness of the heel.
On a test run, I was impressed by the comfort and cushioning, contrasted with the light weight of the shoes. I also liked the feeling of moving air passing through the nylon mesh uppers. This helped keep my feet dry. Though well ventilated, these shoes take on water faster than a sponge, but the flip side is that they dry more quickly.
The sole is dotted with lugs. These lugs take the brunt of force from a footfall, leaving a cushioned step. However, the aggressive tread can hold a decent amount of muck that wiping on a place mat doesn't quite clear. Also, the shoes don't hold as well on slick rock as my Merrell's or Keen's.
My ankles are pretty bad from repeated sprains, but these running shoes take off a lot of stress, so I can go the distance even on bad days. They work well on pavement, trails, and around the house. Although I would use them on a day hike on tough trails, I'm not sure they're the right footwear for loaded backpacking.
Overall, I recommend them highly.
I've spent the last 6 months (literally) searching for a new trail shoe. I have a few trail marathons coming up this summer, and my poor luck in finding a shoe has made me nervous. I've tried dozens of different light hikers and trail runners from New Balance, Montrail, Salomon, Mizuno, and Vasque in my search. Having found something that works, I've bought another two pairs just in case La Sportiva suddenly decides to stop making these.
Like a lot of overpronators, I prefer to add an insole/orthotic to neutral shoe rather than use a shoe which has arch support built in. With the exception of Chaco sandals, I've not worn any shoe or boot with the right level of arch support in the right place. The Wildcat accomodates my Superfeet Blue pretty well, much better than most of the trail shoes I've tried.
The outsole is awesome. Yes, it wears quickly but it is amazingly sticky, Most recently, I'd been using Montrails with outsoles that tend to wear longer but be slippery on rock. There isn't any way around it- the better the traction and the more sticky the rubber, the more quickly it'll wear down. Don't use these for road running- it's a sad way for a trail shoe to spend its life.
The only thing I don't like about the Wildcat is the curvature. It makes sense for those with high arches who genuinely need a neutral shoe, but I'd prefer something a little straighter. The curve isn't severe enough for me to look elsewhere, but I'm not alone as an overpronator using the Wildcats with some orthotics.
Best shoe I've ever owned
I am training for a mountain marathon, and already did a mountain half marathon, with these shoes. They are AMAZING. I love the way they feel - not super cushioned like many shoes but more free, but not quite 'minimalist.' I have high arches and these shoes are perfect for me. They have really great, aggressive traction.
I like the single-layer-under-mesh design because my feet are very ventilated, and if I step in a stream or something they dry fairly quickly, and even while wet I don't get blisters. In fact, I had a blister on my heal from hiking and the next day I ran 15 miles in these shoes and they didn't aggravate the blister at all.
I have also used these many times in a few inches of snow and only had wet feet when I stepped in a puddles, and even then my feet were only cold for a few minutes.
I would take these shoes, on trail, over my road shoes on... the road. That said, these shoes are for trail use ONLY. When on pavement they have this really odd feeling of sticking, sort of like you have gum all over your shoe. The balance is fine, but the sole feels quite uncomfortable - you can feel the lugs through the bottom.
If you need a shoe exclusively for intense trail running, this setup is awesome. If you're looking for waterproof, there is a GoreTex version - though I'm sure the GoreTex makes the shoe very hot in warm weather.
My first pair of shoes from La Sportiva. looking for something that was going to fill the trail running/light hiking category. I've put a few runs on them (none to far) and some great day hikes and so far I've been nothing but impressed. When running, my feet stay locked in and comfortably cushioned from the often rocky PNW trails I've been on. (note: I use a pair of orange Super Feet insoles) The shoes feel light and breath very well with a good pair of running socks. They cross over to light hiking-and maybe some lighter, shorter backpacking-incredibly well. The soles are super tacky and provide awesome grip on mixed terrain.The shoe seems to be a bit more rigid than other trail-runners that I've seen, but for me that just means that I can use them more often. Overall, they have fit great and look sweet too. I would (will) buy a second pair when these wear out.
I stand by this 5 star rating, but buyers should beware that the soles won't stand up to pavement and will wear down extra fast when worn off trail in the city. Mine also squeak a bit which has been noticeable, but not distracting.
Great shoes for road or trail
I bought these to train for and run a marathon (on road, of course). I prefer using only one pair of running shoes, so I was looking for a versatile all-purpose shoe that was built for trail but wasn't too bulked-up for the road. This one fit the bill.
It is extremely lightweight and comfortable, with all-over mesh and a snug, almost elastic fit with secure lacing. It has a wide toe box (a U-shaped front rather than a V-shaped one) which suits me perfectly. The cushioning is adequate and the traction is good even on slightly wet/muddy trail. Downhill 'braking' is especially good and inspires confidence even on steep/muddy slopes.
The downside to this 'rubbery' outsole is that it does wear fairly quickly on trail. I've run over 150 road miles in them, though, and they're still good on trail - if they wear out further I can still just use them on the road. It's also showing some frayed stitches/ripped edges but seems to be holding up well.
Overall, excellent shoes at a good price. If you're looking for a true running shoe (as opposed to a stripped-down hiking boot) these are dope.
Light and Agile Trail Runners
I was quite happy with Asics 2100 series trail runners for a couple of years, but switched to Vasque Velocity GTX for the winter 2009/2010. The Velocity was acceptable for bad weather, but too heavy and clunky for nicer days. So for the spring/summer 2010 I decided to try something different. After reading reviews I had planned on buying Salomon XT Wings, but the fit did not suit me. After trying on every trail runner at REI I selected the Wildcats, and I am happy that I did. The Wildcats offer metric sizing with half sizes so I found my first shoe with a perfect fit (43.5 for me with Dean Karnazes inserts). It took me a couple of runs to adapt (resistant to change), but I am now a full convert. I love these shoes! They are so light and agile; they just make me want to run fast. I have not had them long enough to assess durability, but I don't care if they wear relatively fast, they are great! Shoe fit and use is highly personal, but I recommend that you give these a look. It's going to be hard to get me into something else.
This shoe is amazing. I am a ultra light backpacker and went out a couple weeks ago after some heavy rains. The creeks weren't passable without getting wet (which I thought be dreadful; because who likes to get wet?) I ended up just plowing through the creeks up mid thigh & was expecting to get blisters from my now wet socks. I kept looking down at my feet as I was hiking along and to my amazement every step I took pushed the water out of the shoes. I was expecting some loss of tread from the 46 mile trek but I still have a boat load of tread and none of the sole is coming apart yet. I do however suggest after taking this backpacking run your shoes under the sink with it plugged so you can see how much dirt does come out of the shoe. This also will allow your shoes to breath better. I plan on ordering more of these.