This post may contain affiliate links.

La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Runner Review

La Sportiva Wildcat 5 Trail Runner Review

The La Sportiva Wildcat is a moderately cushioned trail runner that provides excellent stability for hiking and trail running in rugged terrain. It has a mesh upper that drains water and dries quickly with nylon molded shanks and external thermoplastic stabilizers for extra stability. The toe box is moderately roomy and has a substantial front toe kick for additional protection. Its sticky rubber outsoles provide an excellent grip on rocky and mountainous terrain with multi-directional lugs that improve traction and help reduce impact forces.

Specs at a Glance

  • Best Use: Trail Running and Hiking
  • Trail Runner Shoe Type: Rugged Trails
  • Cushioning: Moderate
  • Waterproof/Breathable: No
  • Heel to Toe Drop (mm): 12
  • Heel Stack Height (mm): 29
  • Forefoot Stack height (mm): 17
  • Upper: Nylon Mesh
  • Rock Plate: No
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Support: Nylon Shank
  • Outsole: Rubber
  • Vegan: Yes
  • Wide Sizes Available?: No
  • Weight: 1 lb 8 oz / pair (men’s size 10.5 US)
  • Sizing: I found them true to size.

It’s been 9 years since I’ve used La Sportiva Wildcats for section hiking the Appalachian Trail and I decided I’d like to try them again to see if I want to take the backpacking Scotland this May. The region of Scotland where I’ll be hiking is both very wet and very mountainous. My preference is to wear well-draining trail runners in those conditions, that are comfortable when walking 15-20 miles a day, but still provide excellent traction so I can scramble up mountains when the weather is favorable. 

The Wildcat is a relatively stiff shoe that provides great proprioceptive feedback
The Wildcat is a relatively stiff shoe that provides great proprioceptive feedback

The Wildcat checks a lot of boxes for me in those conditions. The mesh uppers drain water and dry quickly. They have a beefy toe kick that protects the toe box in front from hard impacts. The toe box is roomy enough for my toes to lie flat and spread out without being sloppy. The heel is rigid without rubbing my Achilles or causing blisters. The sticky rubber soles also provide great traction on rock which you would expect from a La Sportiva, known for its soft-rubber climbing shoes.

The front toe kick provides good protection.
The front toe kick provides good protection.

The Wildcats are also very stable shoe with a moderate cushion that protects the foot from impact without muting the proprioceptive feedback you need to hike over and around obstacles and debris. They have nylon shanks that give the shoes a stiff feel out of the box with good EVA midsole padding for comfort. They also have a nylon liner that provides some added warmth when it is cool, as it will be in Scotland in May, without a noticeable loss in breathability, especially in the top of the toe box which is not lined.

One less fashionable aspect of the Wildcats is their drop, which is 12mm. This makes them wearable out of the box if you haven’t yet adapted to zero-drop shoes previously and the added conditioning required for your leg muscles and tendons to adapt to them. In my case, I’ve been wearing Oboz Bridger 10″ Insulated Boots all winter which have a 12mm drop, so the Wildcat’s are very easy for me to use without any adaption time.

The soft and sticky lugs provide superb traction on smooth rock.
The soft and sticky lugs provide superb traction on smooth rock.

Similarly, the Wildcats lack the large lugs you find on many trail runners which provide better traction in very soft ground or mud. I honestly prefer the soft and sticky lugs on the Wildcat for the added traction and control they provide for smearing up rock ledge and descending wet slopes.

How do they compare with La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptors (both the ones and twos), which I’ve also used extensively? The Wildcats are more of a “trail shoe” not as soft, particularly in the uppers as the Raptors. The toe box feels a smidge wider and the uppers have a bit more vertical volume, which is good if you prefer to swap out the foam factory insoles with something more durable and rigid, like Superfeet. Further, the Wildcats drain just as well as the Ultra Raptors and they have the same soft and sticky sole for traction. The biggest differences boils down to the drop height which is 12 mm in the Wildcats and 9 mm in the Ultra Raptors and the fact that the Raptors have rock guards (good for running) while the Wildcats don’t (best for walking). The Ultra Raptors are also available in myriad models, even leather and waterproof/breathable variants, as well as wide sizes. 


La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Runners are a stable, relatively stiff, and moderately cushioned trail runner that provides great grip, traction, and support for hiking and trail running on rocky trails. Highly breathable, their mesh uppers drain water and dry quickly after stream crossings while sticky lugs provide excellent traction over wet or dry rock ledge. If you’re looking for a trail runner that excels in wet and mountainous terrain, the La Sportiva Wildcat is hard to beat.

Shop at REIShop at Amazon
SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.


  1. I have used La Sportiva’s original Ultra-Raptors since 2014. (I am currently using the last pair I had in storage – kind of dreading having to try the ultra-raptor IIs). I love the fit, support, and traction they provide, but in spite of claims to the contrary by various reviewers (including Section Hiker ;-) I have never felt that they drained particularly well for a trail runner. They have a protective band that prevents water from easily draining.

    The last few springs we have been hiking in the Smokies along various creek trails with lots of crossings (Eagle, Hazel, Fourney, Nolan, Indian, etc.) and I decided to give the Wildcats a try. They have mesh all the way around (except the toe kick) right down to the sole, and they drained and dried much better than the Ultra-Raptors. However, for reasons I can’t really explain from the specs they don’t quite “feel” as stable and planted for me as the Ultra-Raptors. Another difference is the sizing – I wear a 46 1/2 in the ultra-raptor and a 45 1/2 in the wildcat. From their appearance you would think that they must use the same Last, but they don’t seem to from the fit. I still plan to keep the Wildcats in my quiver for hikes with lots of water crossings – I think they would be perfect for Scotland.

    • La Sportiva has a chart on their website where you can compare the lasts of all of their shoes and I believe the Wildcat and Raptirs use the same last. The biggest difference between the two seems besides the stack height is that the Raptors have rock guards and the Wildcats don’t. I added a paragraph comparison above to flesh this out more.

    • An open question for Scotland is the pore size in the mesh, which does let in a lot of sand, which can be very abrasive to socks. Less of an issue for me now that I only wear Darn Toughs, but that sand ate through my Smartwool socks in days when I wore Raptors on my last hike across Scotland.

      • The Wildcats look like they have a slightly tighter weave inner fabric than the Ultra-Raptors – perhaps they will be better at keeping out the sand. The higher volume must be the reason I can get by with the smaller size in the Wildcats.

        We will have to disagree on the ultra-raptors draining as well as the wildcats. Not sure how you get water past that lower rubberized section of the ultra-raptor uppers – it gets pumped out eventually while walking, but just not as easily as with the wildcats – at least for me.

  2. I’ve been using these for a few years and now own 2 pairs in different sizes. The first, for a light merino liner sock in warm conditions and the second a 0.5 size larger for use either with a larger sock or for multi-day trips where my feet my may swell. I also added velcro tabs to the heel for those times I might wish a small gaiter (i’ve got the ORs). I like everything about them except perhaps longevity (actually better than I imagined) but that is the trade off and like yourself supplement footwear based upon season and suited uses.

  3. Different rubber compound on Wildcat vs Ultra Raptor. Higher friction white on Ultra Raptor vs blue on Wildcat. Blue would be longer lasting.

  4. I have gone through almost ten pairs of these shoes. I wear them for hiking but also wear them every day – working at home, running errands, walking the dog and even out to dinner if it’s a casual place. They are very comfortable and supportive. Currently I’m using two pair in case one pair gets wet and have a third pair still in the box that I bought on sale. Because of the soft soles and wearing them for almost all uses, they wear out quickly. I have to replace them about every five months. I’ve been told it’s not good to wear the same shoe all the time. I wonder. One pair has custom orthotics. The other has green Superfeets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...