La Sportiva for the mountains!

Updated: Apr 20


The Italian company La Sportiva, founded in 1928 in the Val di Fiemme, is a well known brand of footwear specialising in mountaineering, climbing and skiing.

It also produces a range of trail and mountain running shoes squarely aimed at the mountain environment.


Gear review: La Sportiva Akyra

La Sportiva Akyra GTX trail running shoe
La Sportiva Akyra for the mountain trails

The Akyra was originally launched in 2017 and is now almost 4 years old.

I have been using these shoes since 2018.This model has been my main shoe in the Swiss Peaks 360km. It is designed for long days in the mountains and on technical mountain runs.

First impressions of the Akyra, when taken out the box, is the solid feel and look. It becomes clear immediately, that it is not meant for racing over short and medium distances. These shoes deliver the sleek look and quality construction you would expect from La Sportiva. It looks and feels as solid as the rocks it’s intended to conquer on the trails. The impact brake system in the outsole and the flexible fit in the upper make for a durable shoe with great traction.

These are also great looking shoes that I wear happily on my feet away from the trails, strolling through town after a hard day in the mountains.


La Sportiva Akyra trail running shoes after 70km of use.
La Sportiva Akyra after 700km

Upper:

The upper of the Akyra looks more like a hiking shoe. There are a total of 3 layers.

The top layer is a MicroLite Skeleton™ overlay with a stretch AirMesh layer underneath. On top of that is TrailCage™ midfoot wrap to hold the midfoot and provide lateral stability. Despite the complicated and solid upper, it feels quite flexible and breathable on the foot.

The durability has proven to be more than worthy to the La Sportiva name. In the years that I have been using these shoes, I’ve dragged them over sharp rocks, scree, streams, roots, snow and mud, with hardly any signs of wear to be seen. The gusseted tongue does a great job of keeping out dirt and debris. Although, it does happen that some tiny stones and debris sometimes find their way inside the shoe. I can live with that, as it is not a shoe I wear if seconds or minutes are at stake. The toe guard protection would do justice to a tank! Never, in the last 3 years did I suffer with stubbed toes, even on the steepest and longest downhills.


La Sportiva Akyra toe box  and FriXion red outsole
Toe box La Sportiva Akyra and FriXion red outsole

Midsole:

The midsole is injected EVA, with what La Sportiva is calling, an ‘origami design’. The Akyra is listed at 25mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot for a 9mm drop. For reference, the Akasha has 26mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot for a 6mm drop. This shows the difference between the two La Sportiva models. The Akasha is lighter and more nimble, with less protection overall. The Akyra on the other hand does feel like a tractor, designed for Speed Hiking and running over very long distances, albeit at slower speeds.

There is no rock plate in the Akyra midsole, but the build of this shoe is such, that none is required. I’ve stomped all over rocks, scree fields and mountain ridges over huge distances and my feet never felt a thing. These midsoles offer some serious protection and stability, but without much ground feel. I really like the density of the EVA on the Akyra and sometimes wish the same for the Akasha!

What gives this feeling, is the extended TPU counter that runs from the heel into the forefoot. This TPU counter gives a great deal of lateral stability and overall support. It is probably the most stable running shoe, I have ever had. I often meet curious hikers, perplexed and interested how such a shoe can cope in difficult mountain terrain, where even hikers in serious hiking boots sometimes struggle.


La Sportiva Akyra heel view. The heel is held secure without any movement or chafing. The soft V-notch helps to protect.
Akyra heel view.