La Sportiva’s Akasha trail running shoe is a great hybrid of comfort and speed, packaged into one of the most attractive running shoe designs on the market. Precision fit and a firm toe-off give the shoe a responsive racing feel, while the dual-injection shock absorbing MEMlex EVA gives enough protection and comfort underfoot that you can add this to your long distance collection. Displaying high levels of performance in with such versatility in purpose, it’s no surprise that this shoe won Editor’s Choice in Trail Runner’s magazine.
|A Quick Overview
|Easily one of the most attractive running shoes currently on the market.
Trail Rocker outsole with an impact brake system allows for a smooth heel to toe transition no matter how fast you get going.
Aggressive outsole that provides great traction on a wide variety of terrain, and fit that begs for technical trails.
Highly durable materials keep the shoe looking and performing at top notch.
|Sizing runs small, order accordingly!
Cushioning may feel stiff to those accustomed to highly plush rides.
Loses traction in deeper mud.
This section was a little bit hard for me to judge fairly, as the shoes were a little bit small on me. Most of the reviews I read before getting the shoes said order ½ to 1 full size up. I would recommend ordering a full size up if ordering online, as I only went with the half size up and they ran tight. I was also expecting a much cushier feel, as it’s listed as a high cushion shoe, but the dual-injection EVA midsole was much firmer than anticipated.
That being said, once I adjusted my expectation of the shoe, I was very impressed. The firm midsole seems to fit the shoe much better than one where your foot sinks into it. In my opinion, this is a shoe meant for higher paced work on technical terrain. The high 26/20mm stack height works great for absorbing impact for longer miles while not taking away from the shoes ability to perform at top levels on rough rocky trails. Essentially, instead of using the high cushioning as a bed for your foot to sink into, it is used to take the abuse of rough trails before it even hits your foot. This is a great feature that really adds to the diversity of use in the shoe, being able to do speed or distance work in comfort.
An air mesh upper and lining do a great job at preventing friction rub that leads to blisters and hot spots. The tongue of the shoe seems like it should feel weird when you’re putting it on, as it connects to the inner of the shoe in an unusual way. But once you’re laced in, you realize that it’s actually a pretty genius design that makes for a super comfortable upper. The laces string through further towards the sides of the shoe as well, which spreads the pressure over more of the foot. This makes for a super comfortable fit, while keeping things close and tight enough for a nice racing feel.
The traction on these shoes is phenomenal for almost any environment you’ll take them on. One look at the sole of these shoes lets you know that a lot of thought was put into performance on demanding trails, and the thought put in really paid off.
The heels are equipped with an extra hard rubber and long deep lugs. That design gives you great bite when your foot is first striking the ground, and is especially helpful when trying to put on the brakes or change direction when bombing down rocky hills. The rocker design of the sole then carries you into a barrage of rear facing, boomerang shaped pyramid design lugs. This helps you gain stability as you begin your transition from foot strike to toe off. The pyramid shape keeps the mud from sticking to your shoes, and is capped off with a raised portion around the outer edges that essentially keep you suctioned to the ground.
As you continue through your gait cycle, the boomerangs reverse their direction in the forefoot. The purpose of this is to provide a wider area for the lugs to bite into the dirt, helping to propel you forward. Finally, more of the super hard rubber wraps around your toe-off zone with larger diagonal cut lugs to make sure you don’t lose any footing as you push off.
Overall, the outsole is designed to provide maximum traction on the widest array of surfaces, and it works. The only time I lost footing was running through some deep mud after it rained; and to be fair spikes are the only thing that would’ve kept firm fitting in that type of environment.
Foot Protection: 10/10
I think you could read every review on the internet about the Akasha’s and not find a single complaint about foot protection. The bottom of these things is hard as a rock, while Sportiva’s STB technology still allows for fantastic foot flexion. Anything that you could have felt through the rock plate is completely absorbed by the dense dual-injection EVA midsole. Synthetic overlays cover most of the sides, and up front they’re rocking a heavy duty rubber toe cap. The heel outsole has a heavy duty impact brake system to keep you from losing footing or getting too much jarring from steep descents. I could keep going here, but there’s really no need. You get the picture; your foot is safe. Rest easy.
Built on a 6mm drop platform, these shoes provide a pretty stable base. While I am (quite vocally) a huge zero drop enthusiast, 6mm is a much shallower drop than most running shoes on the market. The dense EVA midsole allows the foot to sink in a little so you’re not slipping around in the shoe, but is firm enough to feel solid with lateral moves and uneven terrain.
But what really steals the show in this department is the upper. Yes, I realize that sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but let me explain.
The heel cup pulls in tight to your foot’s heel, keeping the base of the foot in place. But the air mesh upper portion gently and comfortably keeps your Achilles and ankle from going anywhere. The radical looking slashed TPU sides aren’t just there to look awesome (though lets be real, they do look awesome). They also keep your midfoot securely in place while allowing maximum foot flexion due to the cuts. Those sides are also covering super plush and surprisingly breathable interiors. The ultra-comfortable tongue we discussed earlier is cinched down by the wide lacing system (also discussed earlier). Moral of the story is that the whole upper locks your foot in tight, but somehow does so without ever becoming uncomfortable. Bravo.
And we have the easiest category to score. You’re looking at the pictures, so you probably understand why. These are definitely the coolest looking trail shoes I own. In fact, I normally adamantly refuse to wear my trail shoes around casually because I don’t want to mess up the soles, but there’s no way I can resist in these shoes. I get compliments on them pretty much wherever I go. In a sea of running shoes that have only a few basic designs, Sportiva definitely stands out from the pack with all of their shoe models. If you don’t believe me, here’s the link to their running shoes section
Notice how every single pair is double-take worthy? Yeah, if you’re looking for a pair of shoes that stand out in a crowd (in a very good way), this is definitely a brand worth looking at. Now if only I could get my hands on a pair of those Bushido’s… or Mutants… or Helios.
Final Score: 46/50
A Brief Summary:
The Akasha is a great shoe for many reasons, but the most important to me is the overall versatility in purpose. Most people don’t want to have to buy a bunch of pairs of trail shoes for every different condition or type of run. The Akasha is a clear leader in the pack because of how well it performs on all terrains, for all distances, and in all conditions. Whether you’re looking to jog 20 miles over rolling grassy hills; or if you’re speeding down loose rocky single track, these shoes will have you covered.
The La Sportiva Akasha’s are available for $140 and there are other great models too! See below.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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