This is a review of the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mountain Running Shoes. If unfamiliar with the outdoor brand La Sportiva, it is known for making high-quality mountain climbing and hiking boots, as well as trail running shoes. Among outdoor enthusiasts around the world, La Sportiva is a synonym for top-quality boots and shoes for an all-mountain experience. And it seems that the new Raptors are no different than what we always expect from La Sportiva as one of the most reputable manufacturers of footwear built to deliver when it is needed. The Italian company offers a range of products in the mountaineering and hiking segments too.
When hiking, backpacking or running in the mountain, you need shoes that are capable to give a performance without compromising reliability or comfort. The Ultra Raptor II seems to be, on paper at least, the optimal backpacking footwear designed for long-distance off-road hiking and running. But is it so? In this review, we break down the Ultra Raptors’ performance across different environments; we also compare them to other popular backpacking shoes. Additionally, this post contains information about everything else you need to know about these trail runners.
Let’s get started!
Quick specs: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II (Wide) Mountain Running Shoes
Weight: 473 g (16.68 oz; right); 471 g (16.61 oz; left) for size US 13 EE (EUR 47 or UK 12)
Material: 100% Synthetic
- Upper: Textile (air-mesh with microfiber reinforcement band with anti-abrasion coating, shock-absorbing Endurance Platform in soft EVA with differentiated thickness for the toe and heel)
- Lining: Textile (mesh and “Easy-in” insert in PU leather)
- Insole: Textile (molded Ortholite Hybrid Mountain Running)
- Midsole: EVA foam with shock-absorbing injection
- Outsole: Rubber (FriXion White with IBS)
Width options: Regular, wide
- The FriXion sole system features a deep, aggressive lug pattern with a super sticky compound. This combo provides reliable grip and traction on mixed terrain.
- Injected EVA midsole engineered to absorb shock and to offer ample cushioning long-term.
- Endurance Platform guards the foot against roots and rocks.
- OrthoLite Hybrid insole with eco-friendly features provides long-term cushioning, comfort, performance; and better moisture management.
- Super comfortable out of the box.
- Combine the comfort of running shoes and the stability and durability of premium hiking boots. The out-of-the-box comfort is great but when it comes to the ability to hold up well on a combination of surfaces, it gets even better. Reliable for technical hikes, they provide great traction on slippery surfaces too.
- Premium materials and solid, reliable construction.
- Perfect for fast hiking and light-load excursions including off-road, these are a great solution for three-season hiking.
- Drain and dry fast, especially in warmer weather.
- Another major design that runs small/narrow. When someone with neither narrow nor wide feet tries both the ‘Regular’ and ‘Wide’ and finds out that the latter is much more comfortable whereas the former is narrow and compresses the foot too much, we can only advise you to try on different sizes if possible to make sure that you get the right fit for your feet.
- The outsole is aggressive but not very hard-wearing primarily because of the lugs – they wear quickly (see more in the Support, stability, and traction section).
- Definitely work best for dry weather conditions. While they can be used for both dry and wet conditions, we recommend you do this only in the summer when they will get dry relatively fast.
- Great for technical terrain but they are not that good for steep terrain full of fallen tree leaves.
In the last a few months, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II proved to be reliable and comfortable shoes that could tackle many different surfaces. We find them to be a great option suitable for 3-season conditions and off-road use on most types of terrain.
Looking for more insights about these trail runners? Below we elaborate further.
Fit, sizing, and comfort
The reviewed shoes are size US 13 Wide (corresponds to EUR 47 or UK 12), which fits well to my feet (28.95 cm length, average width). Size 13.5 Wide (EUR 47 ½ or UK 12.5) also fits well. The main difference is that the latter is a bit longer and feels a bit roomier so it will fit wide and high-volume feet. The recommended size for my feet turned out to be too short. Additionally, the regular Ultra Raptors are too narrow and tight, especially in the toe box area (there’s a strong tendency to make hiking shoes more and more narrow; if you think that the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II are an exception, see other models such as the Salomon Speedcross 5 and Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX or their newer versions). Thus keep in mind that the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II size chart may be a bit misleading.
To find the perfect width and length, i.e. the right fit for your feet, our recommendation is to try on both the regular and wide to compare (especially if you have average-width feet). Choose a shoe that fits properly to ensure the best performance and comfort. It is a good idea to have your foot measured by a professional at a running specialty store, or to measure your foot yourself (using a Brannock device or a similar tool). It is also important to try on the shoes and walk or run in them to ensure that they fit properly and feel comfortable on your feet. In general, it is a good idea to choose a trail running shoe that is snug but not tight, and that allows for natural movement of the foot. In our case, the toe box of the ‘wide’ felt more spacious and fitted better than the toe box of the ‘regular’ design.
Once you get the proper fit for your feet, you will notice that the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II are very comfy out of the box (no break-in period necessary). Moreover, they are easy to put on and take off and work great for trail hikes. The Ultra Raptor II shoes offer a secure, comfortable fit that allows for natural movement of the foot and helps to prevent blisters and other common foot injuries. However, while comfortable in most situations, these shoes may be unforgiving on the feet after a hard day on the trail. When negotiating overly technical terrain, alas, discomfort and soreness are inevitable.
Support, stability, and traction
The outsole compound is called ‘FriXion White’ and is used by La Sportiva for mountain running shoes. Aggressive and super sticky, it is built to provide great grip and traction on any terrain but it does best on slick rocks as well as uneven vegetation. The hardwearing of the compound is somewhere between the hardwearing of climbing shoes and shoes for medium-distance runs (such as the La Sportiva Mutant built for running on soft and muddy terrain). This probably explains why the lugs wear relatively quickly.
While the Raptors fit and perform similarly to the Salomon X Ultra 3, there are still some noticeable differences regarding their features, appearance, and efficiency/performance on the trail. So, what to expect from the Ultra Raptor II?
- The ankle height is relatively low to allow for a greater range of motion and flexibility of the ankle so that it could move freely and naturally to maintain balance and traction. This improves stability and performance on the trail.
- This low-cut trail running shoe is lighter in weight than a high-cut shoe, which helps to improve speed and agility on the trail.
- Best for rugged mountain trails; very good off-road performance, in general, due to the top-level support, traction, and stability they offer (thanks to the FriXion White outsole with Impact Brake System and Trail Bite heel). The well-cushioned EVA midsole provides shock absorption and support for the foot. The outsole and lug pattern are engineered to provide slip resistance and traction on a variety of surfaces and terrains. What we don’t like is that the lugs wear quickly as they are smaller and not very sturdy.
- We find them to be excellent for steep and rocky terrain. However, when walking through steep forest terrain covered by a blanket of fallen leaves and branches, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II can be slippery and can cause trouble. That’s probably the only type of surface they don’t excel in. The best solution is probably to move slowly and deliberately through off-road routes like this. Otherwise, you could learn firsthand just how sturdy the lugs are (see the image below).
Construction, durability, and protection
High-quality trail running shoes offer a combination of support, protection, and comfort for the foot of the user. The upper part of the shoe is usually made from a breathable, moisture-wicking synthetic material that keeps the foot cool and comfortable. The shoe should also have a supportive insole and a shock-absorbing midsole. The Raptors have all these and more. They are well made, very durable and protective, and can withstand abrasion from rocks and brush without a problem. These trail running shoes have a flexible but resilient and durable air-mesh upper coated with an anti-abrasion microfibre reinforcement band. This allows the upper to take a beating with long days on the trail.
Additionally, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II are designed to provide protection for the toes of the wearer. The construction of these trail runners includes a reinforced toe cap (called ‘Endurance Platform EVA rock guard’) to protect the toes from painful impact from rocks, roots, and other objects that the foot may come into contact with while hiking or running on the trail. Moreover, the rock guard also helps to provide support for the toes and can help to prevent toe injuries, such as stubbed toes or blisters. Unlike other trail running shoe models, the toe cap is durable and actually works. Additional features such as a side mudguard, TPU lacing harness, and integrated tongue help to provide additional protection and support for the foot and the toes.
These trail runners come with an OrthoLite Hybrid insole. OrthoLite insoles are made from a lightweight, breathable material that is designed to help reduce foot odor and keep the foot cool and comfortable. Made to be durable and long-lasting, they can provide support and comfort for the life of the shoe. This particular OrthoLite insole breathes well and provides superior cushioning and heel support. Moreover, it’s more eco-friendly as recycled rubber (5%) and waste foam (15%) make up about 20% of the insole composition. The rest is OrthoLite’s open-cell foam.
The material and construction are of high quality and thus the footwear has all the components for long-term durability. We will definitely report on this in the coming months.
Weight and maintenance
With a weight of around 470 g (16.6 ounces) for size US 13 EE (EUR 47 or UK 12) these trail runners are a bit on the heavy side, especially when compared to lightweight competitors such as Altra Lone Peak 6 or Brooks Catamount. The weight of trail running shoes can vary depending on the specific design and features of the shoe. In general, trail running shoes tend to be slightly heavier than road running shoes due to the added support and protection they provide for the foot. A typical trail running shoe of this size can weigh anywhere from around 340 g (12 oz) to 567 g (20 oz), depending on the construction of the shoe. Of course, those offering superior protection for the foot are typically heavier.
It’s important to choose a trail running shoe that provides the right balance of support, protection, and weight for your needs and the type of terrain you will be running on. More often than not, a few extra ounces are not a big deal if the shoe is reliable, i.e. stable and protective.
They’re easy to clean and maintain in good condition to stay serviceable. The dirt comes out easily with washing. We say it often but, proper care in a timely manner is really a must if you wish to extend the life of hiking footwear. Also, it is important to mention that these shoes are made for mountain running and hiking so avoid wearing them around the city. Yes, they are very comfortable for walking but the pavement will shorten their lifespan pretty fast.
These shoes have breathable and porous air-mesh material in the upper that provides sufficient ventilation and promotes airflow in order to keep the feet cool and comfortable. It’s so important because the feet tend to get hot and sweaty during intense physical activity, and this can lead to discomfort and irritation unless the shoe allows air to flow through the shoe and around the foot (helps to keep the foot cool and dry).
In addition to the excellent breathability, the drying speed of the Ultra Raptor II is impressive. It is shorter than the drying speed of similar designs and huge role plays the drainage. Anyway, no shoes dry as quickly as we would like.
For when water resistance is needed (which happens less often than most people expect), we recommend the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX as this pair of boots has very similar characteristics and features but also a Gore-Tex membrane.
The price of trail running shoes can vary depending on the specific model and brand of the shoe, as well as the features and materials used in its construction. In general, high-quality trail runners range in price from around $125 to $200. Some high-end models can cost more. A higher-priced trail running shoe may or may not offer more support, durability, and comfort than a lower-priced model. Before buying, it is important to consider the quality and performance of the shoe. If your budget is tight, it’s worth considering investing in a higher-quality shoe only if you are serious about hiking or trail running.
The usual price of the Ultra Raptor II by La Sportiva is $155, which is around the average for top-quality trail running shoes (competitors offering similar performance such as the Salomon Speedcross 6 and La Sportiva Bushido II cost $140 and $145 respectively). The GTX version and the Leather GTX have a reliable waterproof breathable Gore-Tex membrane inside and cost $25-30 more. There are also two high-cut versions – La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX whose price is around $200 and La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid Leather GTX. The latter version is $10 more expensive than the Mid GTX. If you need water resistance and extra arch support, it’s more than reasonable to consider one of these two models.
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II vs La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Technically, the Ultra Raptor II is the Ultra Raptor’s successor. However, there are no big differences between these two designs as the Ultra Raptor II retains most of the features and characteristics seen in the previous version. So what are the differences?
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II has:
- a slightly different mesh in the upper (the pore size is a bit smaller)
- a stabilizing heel cup to keep the heel snug
- wide-fit version available (unfortunately, it seems that most stores do not offer it)
- different color options (both are available in six colors and whereas the Black/Yellow and Goji/Carbon coincide, the rest are different than the colors seen in the original Ultra Raptor)
- four more size options (unlike the Ultra Raptor whose max size is EUR 47 ½ or US 13.5, the biggest size available of the men’s design reviewed in this post is EUR 49 ½ or US 15.5).
We consider the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II a great option for hiking because of the overall build quality, decent weight, excellent maneuverability, and comfort they provide. These trail runners are built for rugged mountainous terrain but can be used efficiently for various surfaces. Among our favorites on the market today, these are a worthy successor of the very popular – among outdoor lovers – original Raptors. And one last thing: to ensure that you make the most of these shoes – just make sure to get the right fit.
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