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La Sportiva Jackal II: Trail Runners and Designers Weigh In

We talked with a La Sportiva designer and three of the brand's athlete testers to see what's new — and what's stayed the same — in the Jackal II.

Jackal II LaSpo(Photo/Tad Davis, La Sportiva)
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The Jackal II is designed for trail runners who want to run longer on cushioning that doesn’t compromise technical performance during descents. It should fit snugly and keep your feet comfortable from your door to the trail and back.

The designers at La Sportiva have a collaborative relationship with the ultimate field testers: the brand’s sponsored athletes. And for the Jackal II, La Sportiva took their feedback to heart, incorporating evolutions in footwear materials and technology that aim to change the overall weight and performance of running shoes.

The Jackal II gained width and volume as well as a plusher midsole yet still weighs nearly an ounce (25 g) less than its predecessor. See what the brand’s design manager and ambassadors have to say about the evolution of the Jackal II.

See the Women’s Jackal II See the Men’s Jackal II
La Sportiva Jackal II trail running shoes
(Photo/Tomas Gual, La Sportiva)

Informed Design

We asked Michael Carli, footwear design manager at La Sportiva, to tell us what informed the changes behind the Jackal II.

Carli said the original Jackal was created as a durable long-distance trail racing shoe without an exaggerated stack height.

“Once the full-size range of a product is available, you are able to get a lot more product feedback,” Carli said. “We knew that the collar area and the breathability of the upper could be improved, so we focused on addressing those issues in the update for the Jackal II.”

Carli and the footwear design team adjusted the gusset construction and quarter materials to increase airflow through the shoe’s side panels. He noted that the lighter and more breathable upper materials can reduce the feeling of fatigue in your feet. La Sportiva also updated the heel area with softer and form-fitting materials.

“You will notice right away that the upper hugs perfectly around the ankle, creating no pressure points,” Carli said. “This will also help secure your foot and provide a confident feeling during the run.”

(Photo/La Sportiva)

Jackal II Updates

Some of the Jackal II’s weight savings come from the recycled mesh in the forefoot, tongue, and lining. Similarly, the mesh in the upper adds ventilation for more airflow.

As noted above, the heel has new construction and materials. A redesigned lacing system also gives the shoe more “wiggle room” to adjust the volume in its forefoot.

La Sportiva’s designers gave the Jackal II a midsole that combines EVA and Infinitoo PU Inserts (10mm heel and 5mm forefoot) to strike a balance of long-distance cushion and trail stability. Underneath, the Frixion XT 2.0 Rubber Compound was chosen for its traction and durability.

Jackal II Specs

  • Sizes: 38-48.5 (half sizes)
  • Weight: 1 lb. 3.4 oz. (men’s pair); 1 lb. 1.2 oz. (women’s pair)
  • Drop: 7mm (heel 29mm/toe 22mm)
  • Last: Tempo Ultra
  • Fit: Wide
  • Upper: Recycled sandwich mesh, breathable mono-burr nylon inserts, TPU reinforcements and toe cap
  • Midsole: Compression-molded EVA with Infinitoo PU inserts; 1.5mm dual-density compressed EVA rock guard
  • Outsole: FriXion XT 2.0 with Impact Brake System, FLEX inserts
  • Lugs: 3.5mm

A Long-Range Go-To Shoe

La Spor Jackal II
(Photo/Tad Davis, La Sportiva)

Maria Dalzot is a trail and mountain ultrarunner based in Bellingham, Wash. She’s used the Jackal and Akasha as her training shoes for years because of their ability to tackle terrain – from the muddy trails of the Pacific Northwest to the desert trails of Central Washington.

“Given its versatility, it can be used for most types of training, trails, and races you’ll find in the United States,” she said. “For the vast majority of ultra trail runners, the Jackal II will meet almost all your needs.”

As a La Sportiva ambassador, Dalzot has a full quiver of shoes for training, races, and workouts. She may choose other models for fast workouts, shorter races, or muckier conditions, but the Jackal II is a common selection.

Maria runs an average of 90 miles per week. After a short break-in period, she finds that “the overall support and cushioning are great for long distances.”

Dalzot wore the Jackal II on everyday 10-mile runs, 20-mile tempo runs, and long 25-mile runs in preparation for the Lavarado 80K in Italy. She noticed the shoe was lighter and more breathable than the previous model. She also praised adjustments to the lacing system, which allows for more control over the tightness of the toebox.

“I would recommend the Jackal II as a great ultra training/race shoe, especially for a first-timer looking for one shoe that can be used for both training and racing,” Dalzot said.

Convinced by the Sequel

Von Cousins Jackal II thoughts
The new fit of the Jackal II won Von Cousin over; (photo/Matt Trappe, La Sportiva)

Kunlong von Cousin is a trail and mountain runner based in Boulder, Colorado.

The original Jackal wasn’t a good fit for him. There wasn’t enough room around his ankle, and the shoe rubbed his Achilles during runs.

After two and a half weeks in the Jackal II, he’s come around. The overall comfort and fit won him over, especially with its wider toebox.

“I am huge on how a shoe fits my forefoot, and I can splay my toes even though the shoes point at the end,” he said.

He noted the added cushion, too. “I feel like it has a rocker to it that gives me a little boost forward and allows my form to stay correct.”

Pick something else for your everyday walking-around shoe, though. Von Cousin explained this shoe is meant for running on trails.

“I would use the Jackal ll for more rolling hills and uphill training because of the fit and what I think the forefoot does for you. That being said, I believe some individuals can easily run a 50- to 100-mile race in this shoe,” he said.

A Climber’s Arch Support

La Spo Jackal 2
(Photo/La Sportiva)

Lauren Callaway may be best known as a climber, but she loves to run, too. She ran in the Jackal for years and considered it a favorite because of its fit and comfort on long, hilly runs. In particular, the Jackals made her high arches feel like less of an issue.

La Sportiva had her test out the Jackal II on a quick run up the steep and sometimes technical terrain of Mt. Sanitas, a popular proving ground for Boulder locals. It’s now her go-to shoe for runs around her home in Salt Lake City.

“I’m extra appreciative of it when I have long days outside. With past shoes, I’ve had to use insoles to keep my feet from getting tired quickly, and I don’t have to with these,” Callaway said. She also praised the upper for being noticeably more breathable on warm days.

“It’s a mid- to higher-volume shoe which I think is really great for running up and down hills and rocky terrain,” Callaway said. “If you’re like me and have sensitive feet but don’t love eating it on the downhill, this is a great option.”

She added that it could also work in any cross-country scenario where you want a higher-volume shoe with technical prowess.

Who’s the Jackal II For?

La Sportiva made the Jackal II for “mountain runners looking for a mid-to-long-distance shoe for runs and races on technical terrain.”

As the brand’s ambassadors can attest, the shoes can withstand hundreds of miles of use on trails for training and are agile enough to choose for longer races.

Even if you aren’t a mountain racer, there’s nothing wrong with wanting the performance and durability of the Jackal II for your everyday runs and favorite Strava segments.

See the Women’s Jackal II See the Men’s Jackal II
(Photo/La Sportiva)

This article is sponsored by La Sportiva. Learn more about the updated Jackal II trail running shoes online.

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