La Sportiva Raceblade Review

When I wear the La Sportiva Raceblade, I often feel like I’m being propelled forward down the trail. This propelled feeling is above and beyond the light weight (12.24 oz/347 g according to La Sportiva) and responsiveness of the shoes and is different from any feeling I get from the La Sportiva Fireblade. (You should check out my review of the Fireblade, as I make numerous comparisons between the Raceblade and Fireblade in this review.) Overall, the Raceblade is a great shoe that is well suited to many uses and, despite the name, the Raceblade has already found a spot in my training shoe rotation.

La Sportiva RacebladeWhile perhaps not suited for the rockiest of 100 milers, I found the Raceblade to have plenty of forefoot rock protection. I hope to test it on a 20-30 mile very rocky run sometime soon and suspect it will perform well. The small toe cap also adequately protected my toes when I began kicking waterbars at the end the HAT Run 50k a few weeks ago. I’m also a fan of the Raceblade’s upper – the lace system works well and the integrated mesh tongue effectively blocks trail grit from entering the upper.

One big plus for the Raceblade is that it remains relatively light even when wet. During an 8+ mile trail run in the pouring rain wearing the Raceblade and a thin pair of Smartwool socks, my feet never felt heavy. Loved it. This quality makes playing in the puddles even MORE fun!

The Raceblades also fit my feet very well with a nice snug, but unrestricted feel. While the bottom of the Fireblade’s heel cup is just a bit too large for me (contributing to odd linear heel blisters at Old Pueblo), the heel cup of the Raceblade was perfect for my feet.

I’ve try to find drawbacks with the shoe, but they are awfully hard to find. One distinction, which can either be a drawback or a feature, is that you can’t be as lazy running in the Raceblade as you can be when running in the Fireblade. What I mean is that the Fireblade and most other trail shoes have a wider outsoles at the heel that provides additional stability. The wider heel smooths out more unevenness in the trail without you having to think about it. That’s not to say that the Raceblade is not stable and I was paying close attention to this aspect, as I anticipating including it as a drawback. The Raceblades provided more than adequate stability on easy-to-moderately technical trails as well as grass fields. One benefit of narrowing the heel section of the outsole is that it contributes to the shoe’s responsiveness, which the Raceblade has in spades.

One thing the Raceblade shares with the Fireblade is the lugging of its outsole, which was not designed specifically for attacking muddy trails. Both shoes handle occasional mud well and during 7 miles of running on puddle-laced trails in heavy rain, I only noticed the lack of traction on six discrete occasions. Four of those occasions were on very steep climbs with only one instance requiring me to alter my stride (I put one hand out to catch me). The two other instance were on downhills. One was a barely noticeable slip when I was specifically testing the downhill traction. The other downhill slip was on a steep makeshift clay trail late in my run. After some quick investigating, I decided to skip the hill and go down via a more established trail.

The La Sportiva Raceblade in yellow.

In sum, the Raceblade is a light, responsive trail shoe that is well suited for both racing and training.

The Raceblade MSRP is $85. Purchase from Amazon for $78.

You can find out more about the Raceblade

As always, please share your experiences with the Raceblade in the comments.

There are 10 comments

  1. Travis

    I'm a fan of this shoe too. I'm not fully ready to take on a light weight shoe all the time yet, but working up to it. I am using this one for 6-10 milers on the trail. My one complaint is that it does not lace up as high as most shoes so there is minor slippage in the heel that would be gone if there were just one more set of eyelets.

  2. Michael Valliant

    Very many thanks for the knowledge. I've had my eye on the Raceblades for a while. I've been training in lightweight trail shoes–Inov-8 Flyroc 310s–and have been wondering at what distance/point you look to add more cushioning to your trail shoe of choice? Got the Delaware Trail Marathon coming up this weekend, and 26.2 seems okay for lightweight, minimal cushioning. Be interested to hear your thoughts. –Mike V.

  3. Trail Goat

    Travis,Thanks for the comment. I'm not in for lightweight shoes all the time either, but they are growing on me every time I run in them. If I ran trails every day, I'd probably have made the switch by now. As for the eyelets, I can't say that I had any problems with heel slippage in the Raceblade, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone in La Sportiva's design department gets a hold of your comment.Mike, I think the best advice re switching to a lighter-weight trail shoe like the Raceblade is embedded in Travis's comment. I wouldn't recommend that someone who hasn't been running in lightweight trail shoes switch to them for a trail marathon. However, as you've been training in the Flyroc 310s, you should be fine with the lesser stability of the Raceblade. That's not to say the Raceblade is unstable. It's just not the Montrail Hardrock and, as I noted in my review, the Raceblade is also slightly less stable than the Fireblade. Note that the Raceblade seems to have a bit of cushioning (it's not a racing flat or fell shoe), so that aspect wouldn't be an issue.All that said, I wouldn't switch to the Raceblade for this weekend if you won't have a chance to get a decent run in them first. Go ahead and wear your Inov-8's – they should serve you well. As far as lighter weight, less cushioned shoes in general, I had no problems racing the Uwharrie 40 miler in the Montrail Highlanders last year.

  4. Derrick

    Hey Goat,Great review! I have been using the Raceblades for the majority of my training runs the past year (I run almost entirely on trails), and raced two 50milers in them. For me, they have been the best trail shoe I have ever worn! Although, I'd have to say that I'm REALLY enjoying the new Crosslites right now too. Also, just a quick sidenote about a couple of new La Sportiva blogs…http://adventurerun.wordpress.com/http://mountainrun.wordpress.com/Take care,Derrick

  5. Michael Valliant

    Gotcha, Trail Goat, thanks. Yeah, I wasn't planning to make a switch to a new set of kicks before the race, but will be looking later this spring, early summer. Hoping to get into the Escarpment Run this summer, and then have the 16-mile anchor leg of the Vermont 50-mile relay this fall, so unless I move back up to a fall 50K, my trail races for the remainder of the year will be between 16 – 26 miles. Very many thanks!

  6. Bedrock

    Goat,As we have discussed via email, I am a big fan of this shoe. I can't see me wearing it in a 100 miler but defintely for 50 miles and under. I really liked how well the shoe drained too. At Bel Monte there were several ankle deep water crossings and the shoes never felt "heavy" afterwards. My only critique is the laces are kind of flimsy (at least mine were). After about 100 miles, mine have already broken. No big deal and as you said, finding a downer on this shoe is tough. The "Ferrari-esque" yellow and red color scheme even grows on you after a bit. Bedrock

  7. Grae Van Hooser

    trail goat,Is the only difference between the race and Fireblade the heel width? I thought the race was very stable. I ran two 50k's in them and thought they were very stable and comfortable.I think that this was due to the fact that the heel is a lot closer to the ground, much like a road flat.I also had purchased the Immogene with the hopes that this would be my "go to" shoe for 100's. The shoe fits great and has a little more heel height, due to an increase in cushioning from toe to heel. I really liked the feel of the shoe, but unfortunately where the tongue is sewn to the toe cap, on the inside, rubbed both left and right 4th toes raw on the top. This on a 4 hr. run. I have never had this occur in any shoe in my life. I was greatly disappointed, but I'm not going to pop for another $95 bucks to see if this was a design flaw or not. Sportiva is cool about it and is going to trade me out for a pr. of Lynx. They say that this is a shoe between the Blades and the Immogene. Hopefully they have enough cush for a 100?

  8. Trail Goat

    Grae,In addition to the heel/stability difference between the Raceblade and Fireblade, the Raceblade also feels lighter and has a faster/racier feel. I'm not sure what about the construction leads to the latter point, but it's there. For me, those distinctions would make Raceblade the better choice for most races 50k and under, while the slight increase in stability makes the Fireblade a better choice over miles or on technical terrain for all but elite or eccentric trail runners. BTW, I still owe you a response on the simplicity post. Life just hasn't been simple enough… ;-)

  9. Trail Goat

    Derrick,I couldn't remember whether it was you or Sara who preferred the Raceblade to the Fireblade and vice versa. I think I'll be a Raceblade man except for longer or more technical efforts.I'm already subscribed to the new La Sportiva blogs, but thanks for getting the word out. Should be some good info and interesting reads there.I hope you're not a size 42, cause if you are you're stopping me from getting the crosslites! ;-) I can't wait to try given my new affinity for La Sportiva shoes.Valliant,The Raceblade will be the bomb for races from 16 to 26.Bedrock,Thanks for teh input. I've yet to encounter laces problems, but haven't hit the century mark in them yet. I'll get the rockability and laces testing done at MMT.

  10. Anonymous

    Has anyone tried the crosslites? I train solely on a pair of slingshots, and wondering how they compare to these. I have heard many runours of them being even more cushioned than the fireblades? anyone heard?

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