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Photo credit: Fiona Russell.

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor running shoes

02-Nov-15

By Fiona Outdoors

Fiona is a keen runner, preferring off-road and hilly to flat and road. She lives in Scotland where the weather is fickle so needs to be prepared for all conditions.

A well-structured off-road running shoe, La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor offers a lot more support than other footwear on test, such as the inov-8 Terraclaw 250s and the Brooks PureGrit 4.

If you prefer a shoe that is stiffer, more supportive and cushioned yet still boasts good off-road grip, La Sportiva is worth a look.

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor - Features

Buy La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

  • Breathable air-mesh upper
  • Additional abrasion-resistant coating
  • Soft EVA graded platform (wider at the toe and lower at the heel) “for optimum shock absorption and reduced ramp angle”
  • Mid-sole: Injected shock absorbing EVA
  • Footbed: Ortholite Mountain Running
  • Sole: Grippy FriXion XF with “Impact Brake System” and integrated rubber protection toecap
  • Integrated lacing system and internal stretch “sock”
  • Drop: 9mm
  • Weight: 700g (pair, size 42)

Photo credit: Fiona Russell.

Pros: What’s good about the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

There is a lot of features jargon to cut through with La Sportiva but essentially this is a well-made and well-designed off-road shoe with seemingly high levels of comfort and durability.

I like that my feet feel ultra secure and stable in the shoe. I have been told by a podiatrist that my over-pronating feet and wobbly ankles need to be more stable in my running shoes and the more structured design of the Raptors offers exactly that.

The internal sock, a slightly wider forefoot box and responsive lacing system adds to the overall “secure” feel of the shoe.

Another thing to note is that the heel box is higher than on other off-road shoes. It works fine for me, without any rubs, and I do have quite low ankle joints/bones so I imagine the fit will be okay for other people.

In addition, there is a plastic support at the back of the heel, presumably for extra stability and more ankle support.

The footbed and sole also give lots of cushioning. If you like lots of flex and feel in a trainer this shoe is not for you but many people do like a stiffer shoe, especially for long-distance routes on harder terrain.

The shoe is also roomier than other off-road trainers and the UK8 fits my normal UK8.5 foot.

The grips are what I would call middle of the road. They work well on stony trails, paths, grass and mud. The design of the lugs allows for most mud to escape rather than clog up the soles of the shoes.

Durability and grip are good and if you are doing lots of miles on hard-packed trails these shoes will serve you well.

The full rand and toecap offer excellent levels of durability and I can see these shoes lasting a long time. It could be that the soles wear out well before the uppers.

The style of the laces, which are sort of flat, help them to stay tied for an entire run. This is brilliant and should be commended.

Colours and design shouldn’t matter when choosing a shoe but I really like the black and yellow. Off road shoes become very mucky and the black is a good colour to wear, rather than lighter shades.

Photo credit: Fiona Russell.

Cons: What’s is not so good about the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

It depends on what you are looking for in an off-road shoe. If you want lightweight and flexible, the Raptor is not for you.

The shoes weigh a hefty-ish 700g and they do feel noticeably heavier than the inov-8s and Brooks. But that means they should last longer and give far greater support and cushioning.

The shoes are not ideal for slippery rock slabs and deep mud. You would need a more aggressive lug system for that. It states that the shoes have Grippy FriXion XF with “Impact Brake System”. I have no idea what this really means but I found the sole to offer only medium levels of grip rather than being super sticky.

I have concerns that the grip would wear out quite quickly but I’ve no evidence of this and the soles seem fairly tough and robust. If you are wearing them for many miles on hard-packed trails they will not be as long lasting as wearing them on grass and mud.

Some people might also feel as though their feet are too “hugged” in these shoes. They are more like a road shoe than the average off-road shoe.

If you are running in wet terrain the Ultra Raptors do not allow water to easily escape from the shoes. Inov-8 are masters at water escape but there is too much going on with the uppers and rand protection to easily allow water that has got in to get out again. You could choose the GTX version if you want Gore-Tex lining.

Conclusion

For a durable, fairly grippy and very well structured shoe that offers lots of support, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptors are really good. They are nicely cushioned and would serve you well if running many miles on hard-packed trails. They are not for runners who want a barefoot, flexible feel but there are plenty of other shoes on the market for that. 

Scores  
Design 9/10
Features 8/10
Performance 8/10
Value 8/10
Total 8.25/10

Buy La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

Other shoes you may want to consider:

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor GTX (same shoe but with Gore-Tex lining)
Salomon Speedcross 3
Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX
Brooks Adrenaline ASR 12 Trail

Have you used the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor running shoes? 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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For more shoe reviews have a look at:

Merrell All Out Charge

inov-8 Terraclaw 250

Brooks Puregrit 4

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