Monday, March 22, 2010

LaSportiva Wildcat Review

LaSportiva has become one of the most dynamic running-related company's out there in recent years. They provide tremendous support to the trail running community through their Mountain Running site, sponsoring the LaSportiva Mountain Cup as well as providing support to a number of trail races throughout the United States. The company has done a lot in terms of product development to create some of the better trail running shoes out there. I started wearing LaSportiva two years ago with the discontinued "Raceblade", which was a great shoe for me on shorter (>50 mile), less rugged trail runs. Last year I began wearing the Fireblade , which quickly became my "go to" shoe. I liked the mix of good stability for rocky terrain combined with the lighter construction for better draining and less weight. I still really like the Fireblade a lot and continue to wear it. However, one of LaSportiva's newest shoes - the Wildcat has impressed me as well.

The Wildcat is similar to the Fireblade in terms of stability - in fact I think it may be a bit more stable. It also has a very grippy sole, which is great for wet and/or muddy surfaces. One big bonus is the additional cushion that the Wildcat boasts. It is one of the most cushioned trail shoes I have worn. Yet, it actually weighs less (about 1/2 oz. less) than the Fireblade. When comparing the two shoes, the Wildcat has more mesh construction which not only reduces weight but also promotes draining. I have worn the Wildcats in a variety of conditions: from a muddy trail half-marathon (actually wore them out of the box and set a PR!) to very rocky mountainous trails. I even took them for a spin on a 5 mile stretch of asphalt. In the mud, the shoe really gripped well and provided lots of stability on slick descents when others around me were "slip slidin' away". The shoe proves to be very versatile and performs well on all of these surfaces. I have yet to get a blister or even a hot spot in the Wildcats. My longest run to date in them is about 35 miles. However, I will be using them in a rugged 50 mile trail race this weekend. Like all LaSportiva's I have had, they are very well made and have held up very nicely after about 250 miles or so.

The only downside I can find is the sizing. I ordered the same size I usually get with Fireblades (corresponds to a US Men's 12.5) and they are a little snug. I wouldn't use the current pair for a 100 miler since there is less "give" in the toe box. I usually size up 1/2 a size for trail shoes but maybe size up a full size for the Wildcats. Pretty simple solution. Give the Wildcats a try. They are a great shoe from a terrific company. You can buy them at Backcountry at this link.

1 comment:

Scott Mason said...

I've run my last two 100's in those, sweet ride. Especially for those tricky steep downhills