La Sportiva Raptor Review

La Sportiva logoOn Thursday, I tried out a brand new pair of uber light New Balance WT 100s.

On Friday, I received a package in the mail with La Sportiva Raptors inside.

I couldn’t ask for greater contrast. After skipping around in the minimalist WT 100s, the Raptors seemed enormous, clunky, and heavy. I kept them in the box until hitting the trails again a few days later. I fully expected to hate them.

I was wrong.

After a week of trail running together, I can call the Raptor my friend.

La Sportiva Raptor

The friendly La Sportiva Raptor. Photo courtesy of Wilderness Running Company.

The Good
La Sportiva Raptors in actionWhile I still wouldn’t deem the Sportiva Raptor my dream pair of shoes, they bring definite attributes to the table. The biggest advantage of strapping on the Raptors is the sticky, gripping bottom of the shoes. When running down steep, muddy slopes, these shoes held their own. The traction on the Raptors is better than any trail shoe I’ve tried before.

The Raptor also proved fantastic when skipping around rocks and roots. The entire shoe is firm, structured, and durable, giving the foot and ankle protection when skirting rough terrain.

In fact, the Sportivas show their true potential on the most slippery and rugged terrain. I recently took the shoes on an early summer run/hike to Snow Lake in the Cascades near Seattle. Unlike the smoother dirt trails closest to the city, Snow Lake demands a more delicate, nimble dance. The Sportivas provided needed grip and balance when running on snow, and gave me enough foot stability over jagged rocks. I’d pick these shoes over my other trail footwear for technical terrain.

If aesthetics matter to you, I like the look of the Sportiva Raptor. The shoes sport the classic Sportiva bright yellow, black and gray. For me, it’s a welcome change from all of the running companies who think women’s shoes should include hints of pink or purple. I’ll never be a pink person, on the trails or off.

La Sportiva Raptors aesthetics

The Sportiva Raptor also passed my ultimate test, which is that I forgot I was wearing them. Throughout my trail runs, they gave me no wounds, pains, or nagging annoyances. I needed to remind myself to pay attention to how they moved. To me, forgetting you are testing shoes is always the best sign of a great pair of shoes.

The Not So Good
So what’s wrong with the Raptors? For me, they are still too big and clunky. The heel portion of the shoe is very built up. I run naturally on my forefeet, barely touching down with my heel, so all that extra material just seemed like needless weight.

I also didn’t find them a perfect fit for my long, skinny, narrow feet. The shoe as a whole seems fat and stocky, which would favor those with wider feet. The Sportiva Raptor uses a lacing system comprised of stitched loops, with the laces threaded through each, rather than the traditional eyelets. I found it harder to pull the laces really tight, which I often need to do. (I’m 5’11” and wear women’s size 10.5, so I frequently have to cinch a shoe closer to my foot.)

The Verdict
Would I buy a pair of Sportiva Raptors? Probably not. I can’t see lugging around all that extra padding in the heel of the shoe when I don’t need to. I prefer lighter, more minimalist footgear. I like being able to feel the trail underfoot, and the Raptor just has too much cushion.

But now that I’ve got them in the closet, will I use them? You bet. I’d break out the Raptors for a muddy, snowy, icy, or super wet trail because the traction is so good. If I knew I would be running extremely technical or steep terrain, I’d use these, too. I could also see using these as a hiking shoe. They’d be perfect for Mailbox Peak, a (currently very muddy) steep slog outside of Seattle that climbs 1,500 feet per mile.

In fact….Mailbox next week, anyone?

Availability
If you want to pick it up, the unisex La Sportiva Raptor is available from the Wilderness Running Company.

As an iRunFar reader, we can now hook you up with 10% off all Wilderness Running Company purchases. Just enter the code iRunFar10 at checkout. You’ll also get free shipping AND help support iRunFar.com. It’s a win-win-win!

Call for Comments and Questions
If you’ve used the Raptor, how did you like them? Thinking about giving them a try, but have some questions? Ask away and we’ll do our best to give you an answer.

Heidi Dietrich is a writer, journalist and trail runner living in Seattle, Washington. Learn more about her writing at www.heidiseattle.com

[Disclaimer: Heidi won her Raptors as part of iRunFar’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup giveaways for which La Sportiva provided the shoes. In addition, we’re part of the Wilderness Running Company affiliate program, so your purchase of the Raptors through the WRC helps support iRunFar.]

There are 14 comments

  1. Digger

    I agree with your comments about the unnecessarily big heel.I don't know what La Sportiva is thinking,I think trail runners are looking for lower heel profile shoes these days(like their Crosslite,one of my all time favorite shoes).

  2. Will T.

    Sounds like my kind of shoe! I'm curius how they differ from the Wildcat. Sounds like the Crosslite would be more your type of shoe (I just took my pair up Mailbox Peak over the weekend!)

      1. Steve Pero

        They are really different shoes. The Wildcat is a much lighter, forming to your foot shoe with the mesh on top. The Raptor has so much "stuff" up above that it does seem to press on areas, whereas none of that with the Wildcat. I have a wide forefoot and narrow heel and the Raptor seemed too narrow up front for me. I love the Crosslites and Imogenes (for rocky trails).

        1. Tim Barnes

          There is also a good write up on the Raptor vs. Wildcat at Wilderness Running Company. Click on the "Learn More" link while checking out the Raptor's page.

  3. Matt

    unisex? are you kidding me? men and women have different feet, different bodies, different gaits, etc and thus require a different fit and last and mold. expecting one shoe to work for both men and women is absurd. who's making the shoes over there? In my opinion, Sportiva's shoes have been slipping over the past few years. I think they should stick with climbing/alpine shoes and boots. Unisex trail runners…hahaha, that's hilarious

    1. Jo

      La Sportiva will have a women's Wildcat for Spring 2011. Lot of different types of shoes for different folks that's the answer. Some people like a lot of shoe like the Raptor for big alpine runs in the mountains or clydesdales that need more material underfoot. Others like a more minimalist shoe like the Crosslite.

  4. Jeff Montgomery

    I had some Fireblades from a couple of years ago, and I can second the opinion on the good La Sportiva tread grip; it was awesome. Unlike this shoe (according to this review), the Fireblade had a very minimal heel, which I liked because I'm also a forefoot striker. I just wish they made a wide, because the foreroot was just too narrow for me.

  5. Jennifer

    Sportiva Crosslites are the bomb. Low profile and light. I am on my second pair now. Love them! I also just purchased the NB WT100's and did my first run on those yesterday. They are a little "too light" for everyday for me but for dirt roads they are perfect and you can fly.

  6. HollyV

    I'm a girl and they have been great! I'm not having any problems with fit. And a male friend of mine wears them too and loves them. So it is possible to have a shoe that suits both. ;)

  7. HollyV

    I'd like to try the Crosslites. I'm currently wearing the Raptors. At first I didn't like them because they are definitely heavier and clunkier than my old Sportiva Sonics (which I adored) but you are right about how great they are on technical terrain. They are amazing! The more I wear them, the more they seem to be shaping to my foot and they feel better with each run. So I'll stick with them for now (until I can get my hands on some more Sonics, which appears to be difficult in Canada!).

  8. Paige T.

    I'm getting to this one pretty late, but wanted to throw in my two cents. I wear a pair of Wildcats and absolutely love them. I didn't even realize they were unisex, lol! I have a very narrow heel and wider forefoot so the current model fits me great. Love the weight, love the cushion, love the colors :) Raptor looks cool, but Wildcat's where it's at.

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