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La Sportiva Akasha running shoes review

23-Aug-16

Last updated: 17-Aug-18

By Steve Diederich

I reviewed the La Sportiva Helios SR 2.0, earlier this year and was itching to see how the Akashas would perform in comparison. Billed by La Sportiva as being an endurance, mountain running shoe possibly undersells these shoes. I have put in a few hundred kms on these now in just about every condition. Whilst they are not 100% flawless, they did not disgrace themselves in mud, wet and dry rocks or sand.

FEATURES

  • Trail Rocker™ Outsole Technology promotes a rolling heel-to-toe motion for smooth performance on the trail.
  • STB™ Technology for amazing support and unencumbered underfoot flex.
  • ProTechTion™ HF reinforcements provide lightweight flexible protection.

PROS: What is good about the La Sportiva Akasha

The Akashas are the equivalent of a Range Rover, really comfortable, but don’t get fooled into thinking that under the pretty exterior there isn’t some extraordinary thinking and build that goes into these shoes.

First off, you will notice that although they aren’t the lightest on the market at 430 grams, the build quality is excellent and my test pair are hardly showing any sign of wear.

The slipper sock holds your foot in plush comfort, with a tongue that is as thick as Jamie Oliver’s, to ensure long distance runs are a breeze.

The shoe uppers breathe really well and drained easily after running through puddles and streams. 

The toe box on the La Sportiva Helios SR 2.0 was the weak point in their design in my opinion, not so on the Akashas. It is roomy and really well protected from rock kicks. Never once when I cracked my foot against anything hard, did I get any intrusion. The toe box feels like a safety crumple zone.

The Akashas have a 6mm drop on them, which suits my running style although with the forefoot rocker, this did feel initially greater than 6mm. The rocker, incidentally, I found really good as it makes the shoes feel a bit more alive on hard and steep tracks.

The positioning of these shoes as mountain shoes is evident in how robust the sole is. The mid-sole has tons of protection in it, you struggle to feel even the most pointed rock edge underfoot. The footplate provides support without sacrificing any significant flexibility, and this is where the shoe really shines - they are really stable, with the sole being significantly wider than the footbed. I did a long(ish) run over mixed terrain that was principally tennis-ball sized stones and small boulders that would normally have me doing an impression of a novice firewalker, the Akashas were both stable and comfortable throughout the section so much so, that I turned back and repeated it with a big grin on my face.

And then there is the grip. Have a look at the pictures and you will see that there is a label called “Frixion” on the soles -  I am not sure what room in Hogwarts the sole comes from, but they stick really well to smooth rock.

The lugs at the front and rear are reversed to provide better grip under acceleration / deceleration, meaning that going downhill was a drama free affair. There are two types of material used to optimise grip and wear, the black “stuff” that is super grippy that covers most of the sole and the red “stuff” at the higher wearing rear outer / front inner edges. This combination works really well.

CONS: What is not so good about the La Sportiva Akasha

There are a couple of small gripes that I have. They are not catastrophic, however they are worthy of note. The elasticated lacing, which is really good on the La Sportiva Helios SR 2.0 model is absent on the Akashas. This is a real shame as I ran out of lace when utilising the double eyelets at the top of the lacing system. Even more of a shame given that this was a standout feature of the Helios.

And then there is the heel/Achilles tendon cup/shield at the rear of the shoe. Because of the fantastic sock inner, the foot entry is slightly reduced. La Sportiva have thoughtfully placed a hoop on the rear of the she to allow you to pull up the shoe at the rear, however in doing so some of the padding around the rear cup has dropped. Again, this is rather a niggle than a huge problem as if I was to have another pair, I would simply open the sock right up and unlace the first couple of rows of laces to enter them rather than pull them on.

CONCLUSION

Overall, for longer runs through harsh terrain you would struggle to find a more capable shoe. Whilst not the cheapest, the Akashas are comfortable and perform really well at all levels and looking at my pair, they are set to last for a good while.

Score  
Design 9/10
Features 8/10
Performance 9/10
Value 8/10
Total 8.5/10

Men

Size 38-49.5 (Come in half sizes)
Weight: Manufacture states 330grams – I weighed them with laces at 430grams

Women
Size 36-43 (Come in half-sizes)
Weight: Manufacturer states 278grams

Other shoes you may want to consider:

Montrail Trans Alps
Salomon XA Pro 3D
Inov-8 Race Ultra 290

Have you used the La Sportiva Akashas? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.

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“The Akashas are the equivalent of a Range Rover, really comfortable, but don’t get fooled into thinking that under the pretty exterior there isn’t some extraordinary thinking and build”

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La Sportiva Akasha running shoes for women View deal
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