La Sportiva designed the La Sportiva Jackal II ($165) for mountain runners seeking a mid- to long-distance shoe for technical training and racing. This model boasts a lighter and more breathable upper, a newly constructed heel, and a redesigned lacing system compared to its predecessor.
Retrospective FOMO has been my experience while falling in love with the Jackal II. While I have not personally had the pleasure of testing the first few rendition, I happily vouch for the current model’s ability to feel nimble and responsive, yet sufficiently protective for miles of mountainous singletrack, ridgeline, shale fields, and so much more.
Fresh out of the box, my toes immediately embraced ample room to splay. No break-in time was required for these to claim MVP status of my shoe pile and honorable mention for their stellar performance delivering relatively unscathed feet from a multi-day mountain run-cation.
The La Sportiva Jackal II has an actual weight of 9.84 ounces (279 grams) for a U.S. men’s size 9, and we deemed it worthy of inclusion in our best cushioned trail running shoes guide.
For another option of this same shoe model but with the BOA Fit System laces, see also our La Sportiva Jackal II BOA review.
La Sportiva Jackal II Upper
The La Sportiva Jackal II upper is comprised of recycled sandwich mesh, reinforced with no-sew thermo-adhesive thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). A slightly different mono-burr and almost transparent mesh maximizes breathability on the medial and lateral aspects of the shoe. Approximately 150 miles into one pair, I’ve worn a few small holes in the mono-burr mesh; however, ample reinforcements prevent these small tears from expanding.
The tongue is svelte with just the right amount of cushion; updated reconstruction here has reduced the overall weight of the shoe. The lacing system, made of 100% recycled laces, is also new and improved in an effort to accommodate a precise fit, perhaps an especially important pursuit for the Jackal II, due to increases in volume and width. With a narrow midfoot, I tend to keep the laces on the tighter side.
I have experienced some toenail trauma when making prolonged steep descents in my go-to running shoe size (U.S. women’s 9; Euro 40.5), which I suspect is due to La Sportiva’s tendency to run a half-size small.
Opportunity to bomb around at full throttle, including a gloriously long descent, in the women’s U.S. size 9.5 (Euro 41) availed itself shortly after sizing up. My toenails emerged from my favorite backyard trail marathon fully intact, confirming aforementioned suspicions.
My gear chronie, who also tested this shoe a half-size bigger, reported that the toebox felt disproportionally big by about a quarter to a half size. For those who especially love splay and bunion room, myself included, this may not be a deterrent. My toes have been very content with more gradual changes in vertical, even in the U.S. women’s size 9.
TPU toe caps have successfully protected from extrinsic offenders, like rocks and roots.
La Sportiva Jackal II Midsole
The La Sportiva Jackal II provides an impressive balance of stealthy responsiveness and long-distance cushion, thanks to a midsole combo of EVA and Infinitoo PU inserts.
These were my go-to trail running shoes for three semi-consecutive six- to 10-hour mountain days this past fall and I couldn’t have been happier about how well taken care of my feet felt by the end of the week. They were low profile enough to not feel clumsy when scampering up rocky summits or descending on tired legs, yet had enough cushion that my feet didn’t feel beat up or tired by the end of the day.
La Sportiva’s design team aimed to improve breathability in the upper to help reduce foot fatigue. Perhaps this paired with the current midsole technology was to thank for my surprisingly comfortable mountain tour. I have historically worn custom orthotics to ward off overpronation in most of my running shoes. However, my feet have been sufficiently supported without further dissection/manipulation of the Jackal II.
There was a big enough size difference between the women’s U.S. 9 and 9.5 that I did use my custom orthotic to fill the bit of extra volume in the bigger size.
Dual-density 1.5-millimeter compressed EVA rock plates have offered a nice extra layer of protection on technical surfaces. I have noticed a few jabs underfoot when I step on something closer to the base of my metatarsal, likely beyond the range of the rock plate.
The claimed stack height is 29 millimeters at the heel and 22 millimeters at the forefoot, resulting in a moderate 7-millimeter drop, which seems to agree with my posterior chain.
La Sportiva Jackal II Outsole
There’s hardly anything I appreciate more on a rocky precipice or ridgeline than confidence in the stickiness of my outsole. The FriXion XT 2.0 rubber on the La Sportiva Jackal II is effectively grippy and resilient — 150 miles into my first pair has resulted in zero wear on the multi-directional 3.5-millimeter lugs. The stable, grippy base reminds me of the caliber of traction I’ve grown to love in Salomon’s trail shoes, but perhaps a bit less prone to wear and tear.
The lugs are oriented at opposing angles to optimize traction while reducing impact, resulting in an effective brake system. Most of my miles in the Jackal II have been logged during Oregon’s drier months. While I have zero traction issues to report, rock bridges across alpine lakes and streams have accounted for the majority of my exposure to wet surfaces versus rain and snow.
La Sportiva Jackal II Overall Impressions
The La Sportiva Jackal II’s ability to provide comfort and stability alongside grip and speed has truly been impressive. Historically, my favorite shoes for comfort and stability have been different shoes than my favorites for grip and speed.
My favorites for grip and speed have often not reliably delivered unscathed feet from mountainous long-haul days. The Jackal II, if sized correctly, appears to do it all. I can echo the general La Sportiva sizing recommendation; sizing up is wise if you’d like to keep your toenails.
Sizing, for me, has been the only finnicky aspect of the shoe. My go-to running shoe size felt perfect until a few too many steep descents marked the end of more than one toenail — a half-size bigger feels more than a half-size bigger. The increase in volume after sizing up has been easy enough to remedy by replacing the thinner insole with my own orthotics, with the exception of the toebox remaining a bit over generous.
However, I have a narrow midfoot and the shoe has been marketed to runners looking for a wider fit and increase in volume. If you generally gravitate to the aforementioned specifications and your foot trends on the wider side/you love a lavish toebox, this may just be your Cinderella slipper!
Overall, the La Sportiva Jackall II has been an easy choice for long days in the mountains and racing. I am anxious to log many more miles in this shoe and is a worthy addition to our best cushioned trail running shoes guide.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the La Sportiva Jackal II? How did you find it?
- How does it compare to the original model Jackal?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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