La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Trail Runner Review

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Trail Runner Review

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II is a trail runner with mesh uppers and a sticky rubber sole that is great for hiking and backpacking in mountainous terrain. La Sportiva is a climbing shoe company after all, so it figures that they’d make trail runners that excel for mountain hiking. The new Ultra Raptor II is a refresh of the original Ultra Raptor which has remained the same for close to 10 years bucking the trend of many shoe companies that change their shoe models annually. I’ve hiked through 20+ pairs of the original shoe in the past 8 years and have a good appreciation of the shoe’s strengths for hiking and backpacking.

Specs at a Glance

What’s New in the Ultra Raptor II?

The pore size in the mesh uppers is smaller but the its very hard to tell the difference
The pore size in the mesh uppers is smaller but it is very hard to tell the difference between the Ultra Raptor II and the original model.

If you liked the original Ultra Raptor trail running shoe, and legions of hikers and runners did, the new model retains the same core features: the great drainage, sticky rubber sole, rock guard, heel and side protection, toe kick, and arched sole.

  • The upper fabric part of the Ultra Raptor II has been updated with new mesh resulting in a slight weight drop but retaining the same great drainage and breathability. The pore size of the mesh is also slightly smaller reducing the amount of grit that enters the shoes during stream crossings.
  • The TPU heel counter and heel pocket have been augmented to cup the heel more securely and enhance durability.
  • A wide model is now available that has an increased toebox height (5mm), in addition to a greater width (10 mm) in the metatarsal area.
  • More sizes have been added to the men’s and women’s models, which are available in EU half sizes.
  • The shoe is available in a much wider range of colors.

But overall, it is very difficult to notice any difference in the way the Ultra Raptor II feels from the original Ultra Raptor since the core chassis remains the same. As trail running shoe upgrades go, this model change is largely benign…to my great relief.

Why is the Ultra Raptor II Good for Hiking?

The Ultra Raptor II has a very grippy rubber sole that provides superb traction on rock.
The Ultra Raptor II has a very grippy rubber sole that provides superb traction on angled rock.

The Ultra-Raptor II is designed for hiking and running on rugged mountain trails. It has a rubber sole that’s soft and very sticky on rock, including wet rock. The sole has an arch that is designed to minimize impact to the mid-foot and encourages landing on your forefoot resulting in better traction by the front lugs. The sole also incorporates a feature that is unique to La Sportiva, called the impact brake system, which are simply reversed lugs that assist in breaking in steep and slippery terrain.

The Raptor II is also a very well-protected stable shoe, with a beefy toe kick, TPU heel counter, a side mudguard that provides side protection, a rock guard, and TPU strips alongside the lacing system that anchor into the midsole for excellent stability. There is an injection-molded EVA midsole with a TPU shank which provides anti-torsional stability in the arch sole. A rock guard also protects you against sharp or irregular-shaped stones and is an important feature for running and long-distance hiking.

In addition to durability, these features are great for protecting your foot when hiking across scree, gravel, and rocky trails. For instance, I don’t actually look at my feet when I hike across such terrain, since I’m more focused on picking the best line, and this added level of protection lets me hike fast without worrying about bruising and painful impacts.

The heels are well protected and provide a secure fit.
The heels are well protected and provide a secure fit.

The Raptor II’s uppers are made of a porous mesh that is highly breathable and drains very quickly when they get wet. I don’t bother taking these shoes off for stream crossings and just trudge through water crossings while wearing them, because they drain and dry so fast. That’s a huge plus for me because the shoes protect my feet well and I don’t have to stop all the time to change into stream crossing footwear.

With a drop of 9mm, the Ultra Raptor II is not a zero drop shoe and they’re decidedly not fashionable in that respect. On the flip side, it means that these trail runners are very easy to transition to if you’ve been wearing hiking boots or mids and want to try a trail runner to see what it’s like. You can literally put them on and start hiking without having to learn or train your feet and calves in the biomechanics of hiking in zero-drop shoes. It also makes switching back to boots much easier when winter rolls around and you need to wear insulated footwear.

Side protection is also excellent with a beefy mudguard running the length of the shoe just above the outsole.
Side protection is also excellent with a beefy mudguard running the length of the shoe just above the outsole.

Sizing

The Ultra Raptor II’s are narrow in the heel and wider in the toebox, but the degree of roominess is considerably smaller than in a zero drop shoe with a wide forefoot like the Altra Lone Peak. However, the Ultra Raptor II is also available in a new wide size that is considerably larger, with 5 mm more clearance in the height of the toebox and 10 mm more room in the metatarsal area of the forefoot. If you prefer a roomier fit, I’d suggest trying the wide first.

The Ultra Raptor II is available in EU sizes, both full and half sizes, which I find is optimal for dialing in a precise fit. I think the shoes are true to size, but you might need to buy a few pairs in adjacent sizes to dial in a precise fit if you haven’t used the finer-grained EU sizing before.

The Raptor II comes with a cushioned insole, which has very little arch support. I find that removing it increases the interior volume of the shoe and I usually replace it with a Superfeet Carbon insole which is very thin and provides excellent anti-pronation support to guard against plantar fasciitis.

Hike someplace that requires a lot fo stream crossings and you quickly come to appreciate mesh hiking shoes that drains dry quickly.
Backpack someplace that requires a lot of stream crossings and you quickly come to appreciate mesh hiking shoes, like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II, that drain and dry quickly.

Recommendation

La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor II Trail Runners excel in mountain terrain because their soles have sticky rubber which adheres well to rock, including wet rock, with a level of stability and protection that has no equal among other trail runners available today. Their mesh uppers also drain and dry quickly making them ideal for wet environments with numerous stream crossings.

If you’ve used the original version one of the Ultra Raptors, this new release is very similar in terms of fit, construction, and performance, retaining all of the core features that made the Raptor such a great hiking and backpacking shoe. The most significant change is the availability of wide sizes, in addition to leather, waterproof (GTX), and mid-height versions of the Ultra Raptor II.

Disclosure: La Sportiva donated shoes for this review.

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16 comments

  1. Bill in Roswell GA

    I need the Wide to fit La Sportiva. I chatted w REI customer service. They confirmed REI will carry the Raptor 2 in Wide versions but they’ve yet to recieve them. Said to check back in a bit.

  2. Bill in Roswell GA

    Indeed Jeremy. Seems all the hiking shoe companies put Goretex in their mid heights (for winter use it makes sense), and now in Wides? That is insanity. They obviously do no market research of hikers buying their shoes!

  3. I gave up on ultra-raptors because I needed more toe room. The mesh tops also let in more grit than than the Hoka Challengers I now use. So it sounds like they addressed both issues and I feel the ultra-raptor shoe sole is superior to the Hoka. I look forward to trying them out again once they are in stock.

    Thanks for the info. I would not have known without your article. Thanks for all you do

  4. These are my favorite hiking shoes for non winter conditions. My feet are narrow with a fairly high arch. I just purchased a higher top version with gortex that I’ve been using to hike in the snow. The water proofing seems good as I’ve walked through rivers a few times without getting wet feet. I’m wearing a half size bigger in these to accommodate a slightly thicker sock.

  5. So excited to see this refresh! I am gearing up for PCT 2023 (after being part of the lost class of 2020) and was worried that the Ultra Raptors would be gone entirely, but this makes me super happy. Love the Ultra Raptors so much with my narrow feet.

  6. Sounds like a winner. $200 with the insoles is a bit high on my typically frugal spend-o-meter, but as I have matured I’ve concluded that shoes (and toilet paper) are not where you want to skimp. Foot injuries suck, and take forever to heal. I’ve never been one to intentionally walk through a stream, but with Olivarian and Downes Brook trails on my agenda this summer I’m intrigued. That strategy might be quite a timer saver and could actually feel good too, depending on the weather. It seems you don’t experience any discomfort while your feet are drying out. Do you have a particular sock that you use when planning to get submerge your feet during crossings? Thanks a lot for the wealth of quality data you produce here on SectionHiker.

  7. I’m so disappointed they did not change the cloth on cloth lacing system. I’ve owned 2 pairs of Ultra Raptors and both pairs demise was one or two of the lacing loops breaking/tearing. Still lots of tread, but can’t figure out how to lace them up.

    • Is it possible that you cut the lacing loops on rocks or debris? I’ve never encountered that problem on any of the footwear that I’ve used that has cloth loops. Perhaps wearing gaiters would help too. I can’t imagine how lacing would tear through those loops. Not saying it didn’t happen, but you might want to call La Sportiva Customer Support and ask them if they’ve heard of this happening.

  8. Phil (or anyone that can speak to it…),

    Would you consider this shoe to have a “rigid” toe box to alleviate symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma?

    Thanks

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