Lycra-Wrapped, Sticky-Sole ‘Mountain-Running’ Shoe

It won’t be for sale until 2012. But the just-announced Vertical K shoe from La Sportiva undoubtedly has fanatics of running steep mountain trails drooling already. The shoe is ultra-light — as scant as 6.5 ounces per foot in some sizes! — but it seems La Sportiva has somehow not skimped on the cushioning underfoot: A sticky-rubber outsole is affixed to an EVA foam mid-sole that’s almost two inches thick at the heel, ostensibly offering protection and absorption when running downhill, but remaining light and unburdening on the run back up.

La Sportiva Vertical K

I like the shoe’s full wrap of Lycra, which hides its laces and serves as a “gaiter” to keep debris out. The Vertical K has no tongue, just a foot-ensconcing upper. There’s a bumper on the front of the shoe to protect your toes.

Says Jonathan Lantz, the president of La Sportiva N.A., “This is a minimalist shoe that runners can actually use in all conditions. It [balances] lightweight materials with just enough cushioning underfoot.”

The shoe debuts next week at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah and can be seen next weekend also at the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase in Park City, Utah, on Saturday, August 6th, a tough mountain-running race I competed in last year that would be perfect for this lightweight racing shoe.

—Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.