I’ve switched to La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Runners for three season hiking. These are fantastic shoes for hiking and backpacking in mountainous terrain where you need excellent traction and protection for your feet but don’t want to lug around the weight of a heavy leather boot.
I switched from Inov-8 trail runners to La Sportiva after Inov-8 changed the styling of the Terroc 330’s and eliminated the shoe’s mesh uppers. Mesh keeps my feet drier by allowing sweat to evaporate and helps my shoes dry faster when they get wet. I won’t hike in a shoe that doesn’t have it.
But there are a lot of other qualities that I like in the Ultra Raptors that seal the deal for me.
1) The Ultra-Raptors have excellent traction on slick wet rock: the best I’ve ever tried. The Salomon XA Comp 7’s I tried were a fail on that score.
2. The Ultra Raptors provide excellent foot protection with a beefy toe cap, heel, and side guards.
- I don’t look at my feet when I hike and extra protection is needed against the rocks and roots where I hike.
- The sole has a stiff nylon shank and the heel and the side walls are TPU-reinforced, providing better heel lock and torsional control.
- Weighing 14 ounces each, the Ultra Raptors are slightly heavier than my old Inov-8 Terroc 330’s but they’re still half of the weight of my old leather boots!
3. Ultra Raptors use shoe laces. Call me old-fashioned, but I need a hiking shoe where the laces are easy to replace.
- Proprietary laces and lace threading are too high maintenance when you are in the middle of nowhere and need to use paracord to re-lace your shoes.
4. The rear heel is narrow and not flared out like a road running shoe.
- The Ultra Raptors don’t require extra side clearance when hiking on rough trails. The Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2‘s I tried last summer were also a fail because they have an extra wide heel that made me trip on tree roots.
5. Ultra Raptors have a center arch that let’s me use Montbell’s Stretch Gaiters with a bottom strap.
- A lot of trail runners have completely flat soles now, which forces you to use an “unanchored” style gaiter.
- The Ultra Raptor arch is part of a “braking system” which works well on steep rock and slopes.
It was a bit challenging to get the right size with the Ultra Raptors, since they run slightly small. I normally wear a size 10 mens, but I’ve had to move up to a size 10.5 in the Ultra Raptors. This is still about a 1/4 of a size too large, but I fill out the extra space with a thicker sock. On the flip side, my front toes have a lot of space and there is no rubbing between my index toes and the top of the shoe, something I’d started to experience in my old Terrocs. I think my toes are curling a bit as I’ve aged.
I’ve now stockpiled a few pairs of Ultra Raptors as insurance and look forward to using these trail runners for all of my three season hiking and backpacking trips.
Disclosure: Philip Werner purchased these trail runners with his own funds.
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