La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Runners – Long Term Review

La Sportiva Ultra-Raptor Trail Running Shoes

La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor Trail Runners are hiking shoes that excel in mountain environments because their soles have sticky rubber which adheres well to rock, including wet rock while providing enough protection for your feet. A thick rubber toe cap and an armored heel cup protect the toes and the back of your feet without compromising agility. That’s really important in the mountains for scrambling across scree fields and the occasional smearing and stemming we need to do when climbing rugged, above-treeline trails. In fact, I’ve never come across a better trail runner than the Ultra Raptors that combines all of these traits, which is why I’ve stuck with them for so long.

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Runners

Foot Protection
Traction
Stability
Sensitivity
Comfort
Weight
Durabiility

Excellent

The Ultra Raptor is a stable trail runner with good toe and sidewall protection. Sticky soles provide great traction even on wet rock, while their mesh fabric dries quickly when wet.

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I’ve been wearing La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Runners for hiking and backpacking for the past 6 years. Made out of mesh, they drain and dry quickly, which is important in the densely forested and wet Northeast US environs where I do most of my hiking. I originally switched from leather hiking boots to trail runners in 2010 when I hiked coast-to-coast across Scotland, which is also incredibly wet, and haven’t looked back at boots for three-season hiking ever since.

Ultra Raptor Tread Pattern
Ultra Raptor Tread Pattern

If you need extra-wide shoes or lots of space for your toes, the Ultra Raptors are probably NOT a good choice for you. The fit is decidedly narrow and firm, with a deep heel cup that locks your foot in place and provides neutral, stable footing. The soles are surprisingly rigid with a stiff nylon shank that provides great torsional control. The heel is NOT flared out to distribute force, like a lot of road running shoes and some trail runners, so they don’t need extra clearance when hiking on rough trails with a lot of tree roots.

The Ultra Raptor soles also have an arch, something that you find less and less on trail runners. I like them because it means I can run a hiking gaiter strap through them, which I’ve found much more durable and repairable than flat-soled trail runners where you need to glue a velcro patch to the back of the shoe. The arch also forms enhances your ability to brake on descents using your heels, much like a pair of traditional hiking boots, another quality that makes the Ultra Raptors well suited for mountain walking.

La Sportiva ran out of black Ultra Raptors last year (I have a pro-deal), so I had to buy a few pairs of red ones.
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor has a very stable, neutral sole that helps prevent ankle rolling.

New Hampshire hiking is pretty hard on shoes, but I get about 400 miles on a pair of Ultra Raptors before the heel lugs start to wear down and tears begin to appear in the mesh next to the toe caps. This is a common wear-point on mesh trail runners regardless of the manufacturer because of the constant flexing the toe box and forefoot. I’ve tried to retard the deterioration of the mesh by covering these areas with Shoegoo plastic adhesive, but the heel tread wears out long before the mesh gives way, so I don’t bother anymore.

The factory insoles that come with the Ultra Raptors are your standard run-of-the-mill thin foam. If you need more arch support or a firmer heel pad to counter pronation as the heels wear down (25% of hikers and backpackers do), I’ve found that the thin Superfeet Carbon insoles fit well and don’t take up much volume inside the shoe.

Comparable Trail Shoes

Make / ModelMen'sWomen'sWide SizesPrice
Altra Lone Peak 5.0 Trail RunnersMen'sWomen'sY$130
Merrell Moab 2 Vent Low Trail ShoesMen'sWomen'sY$100
Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mid BootsMen'sWomen'sY$110
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail RunnersMen'sWomen's$130
KEEN Targhee III WP Mid BootsMen'sWomen'sY$150
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTXMen'sWomen'sY$165
Oboz Sawtooth II Low Men's Women's $110
Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 Trail RunnersMen'sWomen'sY$130
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking BootsMen'sWomen's$230
Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX BootsMen'sWomen'sY$190
Hike someplace that requires a lot fo stream crossings and you quickly come to appreciate mesh hiking shoes that drains dry quickly.
Hike someplace that requires a lot of stream crossings and you quickly come to appreciate mesh hiking shoes, like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor, that drain and dry quickly.

Recommendation

The Ultra Raptors run about a 1/2 size small. They’re also available in European sizing – for example, I wear a size 43 – so you can dial in a much better fit since European sizing is finer-grained than US sizing.

That, in a nutshell, is my take on La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Runners for hiking and backpacking. I’ve gone through about twelve pairs of these shoes in the past four years and plan to wear them again this year for all of my non-winter hiking trips.

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: The author has purchased over 20 pairs of these shoes.

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5 comments

  1. Just picked up a pair. It’s very difficult to find shoes and boots that fit my feet. One has slightly less volume so I have to resort to an extra pair of socks on that foot with added lamb’s wool to fill voids on the sides of the heel.

    Have to admit these fit great with 1 pair of midweight hiking socks using stock insoles. I use Treadlab Pace insoles for arch support, reduce plantar fasciitis and prevent another peroneal tendonitis episode. Those however result in heel slip, particularly on the low-volume foot.

    Thanks for recommending Superfeet Carbon. Apparently, any significant support under the heel won’t work in my case. The Superfeet “fit finder” suggested Trailblazer.

  2. great review,

    got a quick question on the ultra raptor and need your advice

    switching from asics fujitrabuco,(44) to LS ultra raptor, and have size question, my “normal” shoe size is 43,
    I now have new size 44 and 44.5 ultra raptor and don’t know which one to choose before sending one pair back

    what is your advice where does the “big toe” ideally has to sit ?
    A in front of the toe bumper or in the middle of the rubber front bumper, not hitting
    mainly used for ultra running (60/100K)
    what is the difference in mm

    thanks!

    kurt Belgium (some call it “a hellhole”, other calls it home of Karel Sabbe, Winner of the 2020 World Champion Backyard Ultra ;-))

  3. I’m wearing my 3rf pair with another pair still boxed.
    One noteable feature are the laces. I have never bothered to double knot my Ultra Raptor laces because they never untie.

    One noteable irritant. The heel cup is surfaced with some plastic material. When my wool socks (darn tough) become damp. The heel cups squeak. I can live with that, but it’s annoying.

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