There has never been a better time to be a trail runner or light and fast hiker. Thanks to some amazing advances in shoe design and the components used to make them, today’s trail shoes are more comfortable and versatile than ever. Case in point, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II, which is built for running on rugged mountain trails but is equally well suited for hiking and backpacking too.
Recently, we had a chance to put this shoe to the test and came away very impressed. If you’re in the market for this type of footwear, here’s what you should know.
Updating a Classic
As a brand, La Sportiva is probably best known as a company that makes boots for mountaineering and backpacking, as well as technical rock climbing. But, it also makes trail running shoes, although those models don’t get as much attention. Such was the case with the Ultra Raptor, which remained in the catalog for nearly a decade with only a few minor updates to its design.
This year, the shoe finally received some love with the release of the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II. This version of the trail runner features new mesh fabrics that are lighter weight and more breathable, something that every trail runner can appreciate. It also has an updated fit that holds the shoe more firmly against the heel, creating more stability and confidence on the trail. The UR II now comes in a wide version and is available in more sizes too.
All of that is good news for fans of the original Ultra Raptor. This new model retains the durability and grip that La Sportiva is famous for, but makes some nice changes that help the shoe evolve and become better.
Built for the Trail
Weighing in at 12.5 ounces (355 grams), the Ultra Raptor II isn’t the lightest trail running shoe on the market. But, it puts those extra grams to good use by including some features designed to help protect the foot. For instance, the shoe comes with an injection-molded EVA midsole and TPU shank, along with an integrated rock guard. Those features further enhance stability and prevent rocky trails from battering a runner or hiker’s feet, allowing them to go further, faster, and fresher.
Out of the box, the shoes are a bit stiff and require a few miles to break in properly. Once they do, they are easier to run in, although they remain stiffer than most running shoes even after some time on the trail. This is in part because of their focus on true mountain running and hiking, which is where the Ultra Raptor II excels. On hard dirt or—heaven forbid—pavement these shoes are a bit of overkill. Get off the beaten path, however, and they’ll reveal their true colors.
La Sportiva’s aggressive sole is made for changes in elevation. That is to say, it works great when digging in on the uphills, but is equally impressive on the descents. The show holds a firm grip when coming down the trail, allowing runners and hikers to stay more in control. Something that is especially important when moving fast. The Ultra Raptor II is a surefooted option for anyone venturing up and down) in alpine environments.
Versatile Outdoor Footwear
Of course, it doesn’t really matter how well a shoe performs if it isn’t comfortable on the foot. Thankfully, the Ultra Ratpr Ii does well in that category too. As always, comfort is subjective and what feels good on my foot may not be the same for you. But I especially appreciated how well this shoe cradled my arch and kept the bottom of my foot protected from rocks, roots, and other trail debris. After a long run, my legs still felt strong and I was never in a rush to change my footwear, which isn’t something I can say about every trail shoe.
While the Ultra Raptor II stands out as a serious trail running shoe, it is also an excellent option for hikers. Whether you’re moving at speed or just out for a leisurely walk, it offers everything you need on trail. It even holds a firm grip on wet and muddy surfaces and sheds moisture quickly and efficiently. And while it may be a bit on the heavier side as a pure trail runner, it is actually quite svelte for a hiking boot. That makes it an attractive option for anyone looking for comfort without sacrificing performance.
The other thing that stands out about these shoes is the price. At $140 they are very competitively priced with other trail running shoes, but also less expensive than similarly specced hiking boots. Considering La Sportiva’s history and heritage, I would have expected these to cost more. But at this price, they are even easier to recommend.
If you’re in the market for a new trail running shoe or light hiker, I think you’ll find a lot to love in the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II. This is a footwear that is designed and built for use in the mountains and it shows.
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