The Trail Running Shoes in my Gear Closet

3 December 2019 | Episode |

I love crazy colors and any outdoor brand that can deliver on that point will have my attention. Combine that with a long history of mountaineering in the Alps and you’ve got La Sportiva, one of the best gear brands for trail runners. You’ve seen their shoes on granite cliffs on Yosemite and on high altitude glaciers in the Himalayas. This shows La Sportiva’s experience and commitment to serious adventuring. A company born in the Dolomites and still family-run up until this day.

Here’s a quick overview of my history with La Sportiva running shoes. I hope these shoes will serve you as well as they serve me.


My first La Sportiva running shoe. The one that started it all

La Sportiva Bushido after 50miles at the Grand Canyon R2R2R.

I ran my first ultra (Squamish 50K) in some worn out Adidas. I knew that I had to get serious about my most important piece of gear if I wanted to stay healthy and continue running long distances. So I spend some time at my local REI and tried on a variety of popular trail running shoes from Brooks to Salomon to Altra and a few others in between.
None fit right, and neither did the La Sportiva Bushido I tried on at first. Only after upsizing 1.5 sizes did it finally click. The awesome colors might’ve been a deciding factor at first but what I continue to love about he Bushido is the aggressive traction, the low to the ground profile and the light weight. This shoe makes me want to go fast on the most gnarly terrain. It’s still my favorite running shoe and if I could I’d wear it 100% of the time. The only downsides are that the low profile can make my feet feel fatigued on really long (20+miles) runs and since most of my weekday training runs are a mix of road and trail I like bit more cushion and need a little less grip. I stopped counting how many pair of Bushido I’ve used over the years. I ran R2R2R in them and many of my early ultras.

If you’re like most runners and are in need to several pair of new shoes each year you keep your ear the internet constantly for the best shoe deals. This brought me to a variety of Non-La Sportiva shoes over the years. Many were meant for my usual mix of road and trail running, none I ever loved. They delivered the usual 350-500miles but none I ever felt compelled to buy again.


Cushy and a bit heavy

Along the North Rim trail in the Capitol Forest with La Sportiva Akasha – pic by Brent Miller

The earlier this year I decided I needed a new shoe for the most serious terrain runs. I consulted with La Sportiva athlete Maria Dalzot on Twitter and she recommended the Akasha for better padding and more stack heights. I enjoyed them this summer on gnarly terrains, like on my Enchantment Loop this fall. The extra cushion feels luxurious, almost to a fault, since they are a bit heavy, but overall a solid shoe. Which could use some more crazy colors.


The one for the road, sort of

Over summer I was able to pickup a pair of Lycan. A relatively newer shoe in the La Sportiva lineup I was curious where they would fit in. For Euro shoes, they offer a surprisingly wide toe box. The great cushion and moderate treading makes it the perfect shoe for my weekday runs. They feel great right out the door on my mile of pavement before I hit the trails. The wider toe box lets my toes breathe but requires a more tighter tying of laces so my feet don’t move around too much.

Tempesta GTX

My latest pair I love so much

La Sportiva Tempesta GTX inaugural run at Kaiser Woods

The Tempesta GTX are my newest pair and I love them. Just in time for the fall weather in the Pacific Northwest I got my first Gore-Tex trail running shoe. I was curious if my feet would get too hot. But it’s been cold out, and those shoes feel amazing. Seriously, I never had a nicer pair of shoes. The sock-like upper fits like a glove, the rugged mid is perfect for these winter conditions and the sole is so incredibly grippy running steep hills has never been more fun. Yes, those shoes would get too warm in the summer, but right now, they feel absolutely perfect. Sadly they are were on clearance and I can’t find them in my usual stores anymore.


Directing the Little Backyard Adventure race wearing La Sportiva Mutant

During one of my lucky online shopping sprees I picked up a pair of Mutants. They feel great, but I got them a half size too small (they were such a good deal that I had to risk it). Due to the sizing I never wore those running but have been wearing them as my walk-around-town shoes for the last year or so. Of course, there aren’t specifically made for this, but worked well and if I can find a proper size I would totally throw this one in the rotation. The ‘burrito wrap’ upper is a bit funky, but the shoes feels great on my feet.

Honorable mentions:

Trango TRK GTX – hiking boots

Money shot of La Sportiva Trango GTX on the Tahoma Creek suspension bridge at Mount Rainier National Park.

I got them in bright red and love them. Waterproof upper a solid sturdy sole that can handle crampons but won’t wear you tired on a long hike on a cushy trail. I climbed Mt. St Helens in the winter and wear them hiking with the family.

Tarantulace – rock climbing shoes

Feeling free with La Sportiva’s Tarantulace.

I bought this pair for rock gym climbing as cross training. I might be dreaming of free soloing granite walls but in reality I spend most days just screaming up and down gnarly trail in my neighborhood parks.

I know most people are scared of color in their lives, but really, get over yourself and wear some bright colored shoes, you won’t regret it, I promise.

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