Lightweight Trail Shoes
La Sportiva Raptor
$120, 1 lb. 9 oz. (men’s Euro 42)
Sizes: Euro men’s 36-47.5, women’s 36-43
Is this a running or hiking shoe? You decide. Rare is the shoe that excels at trail running and crosses over to perform among the best light hikers, but the Raptor does exactly that. After several trail runs, the longest a 25.5-mile, seven-hour run-hike (running perhaps three-quarters of the distance, walking the rest) in the Boise Foothills, I fell in love with these non-waterproof low-cuts. I also wore them for gym workouts.
The explanation lies in the part you can’t see: Sportiva has dialed the EVA midsole to keep the shoe flexible and light enough for real running, while retaining superior support and cushion for hiking. My feet would normally feel very fatigued after a 25-mile outing, but remained pain-free in the Raptors right to the end of that day. A flexible TPU rib cage-like overlay on the uppers is integrated with the laces and the midsole, holding the heel and midfoot snugly, and TPU is used in the heel for increased stability. The front of the shoe has beaucoup toe space for when your feet expand on a long day, and mesh to keep toes cool. The temperature was in the 60s Fahrenheit when I started that 25-miler, but rose into the 80s; still, the uppers breathe so well my socks were almost dry when I pulled them off—even though I had taken the shoes off only once, briefly, during the run (to dump out a few tiny pebbles). A thick toe guard and stiff heel cup protect your feet, and Sportiva’s sticky FriXion rubber outsole grips well on rock and dirt. Also, unlike some mesh-top low-cuts I’ve worn, these don’t allow pounds of dust through the uppers to turn your feet black. If you want a shoe that walks the fine line between trail running and light hiking without compromising performance on either side of that line, you can hardly do better than the Raptor.