Just the name conjures up images in my mind of a mud loving, water dwelling snake. So if they have named them after an awesome animal like this I better try them .....
These are the next shoe in my La Sportiva collection. They are designed for short course mountain runs & vertical K`s. They have a much more aggressive lug pattern than the Helios. They also have a 4mm drop so are classed as a minimal shoe.
I was blessed the day I received these shoes as we received an awesome downpour of rain. You beauty let’s give these things a real test. First thoughts when slipped on... MMMMM comfy. Very interesting heel cup (I will explain shortly)
I decided with the rain I would take these to one of my favourite trails. Stoney Rise Walk this trail has it all, steep, technical, Rocky and most of all CLAY. There is nowhere to hide on this trail. Usually done as climb (160mtr ascent over 900mtr) I decided for a real test let’s run down
As soon as I hit the clay these shoes did not disappoint. They stuck to the clay, rocks & any other obstacle like glue. I hit the bottom of the trail a little surprised not have taken a nice swallow dive at some point and thought the next test was to run up & see how they felt as a climbing shoe. After all, this is what they were designed for. Weighing in at a touch over 300 grams men`s US size 10.5 Again they were excellent. Nice and light the aggressive lugs were grabbing without any trouble.
They have a nice stiff toebox which came in handy as I am very good at kicking the rocks on my way up a climb.
The stiff heel cup was great they felt snug & I felt all my energy was not being taken up by extra padding. They reacted so well to the climb, enough cushion to protect my feet from any sharp rocks but thin enough that I could sense what was happening under foot.
I really like the slightly wider toebox in these shoes. My deformed little toes are not trying to escape. I have a problem with having slightly wider feet and my little toe`s always wear holes through the side of my shoes. It actually hurts quite a bit until there is a large enough hole for my toe to stick completely out.
NOTE: Do not attempt to run on the bitumen with these shoes... They will chew you up and spit you out. You don`t see an Anaconda slithering down Bourke street.. These shoes are designed for the rough stuff. The more aggressive the terrain the better they perform.
I would say anyone who enjoys Mountain / Technical or just steep trail running would love these shoes. Running in the rain the water beads off them & they drain so well. I cannot wait to hit some scree & snow in these shoes :)
GOOD FOR: Short/Middle distance steep runs, Technical trail up down. Racing fast
NOT SO GOOD FOR: Longer runs, Also if the laces loosen the stiff heel cup causes a lovely rub on the Achilles. Make sure you get a proper fit when buying these shoes
I also ordered my shoes a half size larger than normal. They seem to fit nicely.
I bought these myself from Bogong Equipment in early 2014.
By Shane Hutton, Ultra and Adventure Trail Runner, who recently completed the epic Tassie Traverse in these Helios.
Where to begin.....
These shoes are by far my favourite. I had never run in a pair of La Sportiva`s, all I knew was they made great mountaineering/climbing shoes.
The first thing you will notice when you put these shoes on is how light weight they are. They are sold as lightweight, highly breathable shoes. The mesh used is light and welded with overlays to give you a snug fit.
They drain extremely well because of this. I have run in mud, snow, rain, & dry conditions and find my feet dry quickly and the shoe does not weigh me down being waterlogged.
These shoes have a low drop 4-5mm. So by most standards a minimal shoe . If you are new to minimal shoes I would suggest wearing these shoes in slowly.
The sole has some cushioning but is still light weight enough that you can feel a good contact with the ground. I enjoy being able to feel the different surfaces under my feet so this is not a problem. The only time I have had a problem is on the odd occasion when I have been running over very sharp large rocks. You can sometimes get one on the ball or mid sole of the foot & it does hurt.
The toe box on these shoes is very solid. I have kicked many rocks and tree roots and have loved the fact that I did not hurt my foot. Some people have said they think the shoe has a narrow toe box. I have medium to wide feet and have not found this to be a problem, However the sizing of the shoe is a little off from regular so I order mine a half size larger than usual.
Down to the best part..... The GRIP....... La Sportiva use a product called " FriXion" rubber. This rubber is extremely grippy. I was a little dubious when I first looked at the tread pattern on these shoes. It did not look like it would do a lot but wow was I wrong.
These shoes give me traction on every surface, they are simply amazing. I guess when you make climbing shoes you may know a thing or two about grip. I have 100% confidence in these shoes sticking when I need them to stick. A friend of mine said ** You could run up a tree in these shoes**
The tread pattern is very different from most. It doesn`t have huge lugs to trap all the mud in. Each of the small lugs is slightly higher or lower than the opposing one giving a unique traction on all surfaces.
They have a sewn in tongue which helps stop the mud and debris from entering the shoe. I find that once these shoes are on that`s it, leave them alone. No fiddling mid race.
Cons: The only downside I have had with these shoes is, being a lightweight shoe they have the tendency to rip or tear easily. I have also had the outer around the top laces fray and come apart quickly but this does not alter the performance of the shoe and will not stop me from purchasing another pair....
** Disclosure: I paid for these shoes. They were not donated to nor am I sponsored by La Sportiva.
I purchased mine from Bogong Equipment in Melbourne CBD. Pop and see the team, or grab a pair online!
I would highly recommend these shoes to anyone. You won’t regret it. Happy Running :)
UPDATE 17/7/2014 - Additional disclosure: I have recently been asked to become a brand ambassador for La Sportiva. Please note that when this review was written i had no affiliation with La Sportiva at all. I'm super excited to be brand ambassador now , as I love their shoes!!