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.
While 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.
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.)
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?
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.]