[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KzMfSEvA2Q] LaSportiva has long been known for their fantastic line of rock climbing shoes, and less known for their trail running shoes, but with the LaSportiva Vertical K that may be about to change.
LaSportiva has dubbed the Vertical K as not a trail running shoe, but a "mountain running shoe," and rightly so. The radical design of the Vertical K provides traction and rock protection that goes well beyond what a casual trail runner would require. This is not the shoe for a stroll through the woods, but for planting a flag at the top of a mountain and bombing back down the scree fields.
For being such a durable shoe, the LaSportiva Vertical K is surprisingly lightweight. At only about 7 ounces the weight of the Vertical K rivals that of the New Balance Minimus Trail as well as the Merrell Trail Glove.
To add to the list of surprising features of the vertical K is it's flexibility. From toe to heel, the vertical K folds over itself with ease. To a runner this means that your foot controls where the shoe bends rather than the shoe controlling how the foot bends.
The LaSportiva Vertical K has a 4mm heel-toe differential. Not a large drop, but still not a zero drop shoe. At 4mm, the heel-toe drop of the Vertical K falls into similar company as the Nike Free 3.0, Brooks Pure series and the Saucony Kinvara.
I love the look of this shoe, but it is the functionality of the design that has shaped it's unique look. The design is based on what LaSportiva has dubbed MorphoDynamic Technology. The wave pattern on the bottom of the vertical K, provides not only incredible amounts of traction, but also contributes to the shoes being surprising flexible and lightweight. This pattern combined with the particular softness of the foam used in the midsole also eli
minates the need for a rock plate, as the crevasses are deep enough and the foam soft enough to absorb the impact of sharp objects that a rock plate would usually protect against.
The one piece upper fits snuggly and holds the foot firmly in place with no rubbing or irritation on any particular part of the foot. The toe box is not incredibly roomy, but it is roomy enough that the edges don't blow out and the toes can wiggle. The entire upper is enveloped in a stylish Nylon wrap. The Nylon wrap seems to do little but to keep the laces tied and free of debris, but is stylish none the less.
This shoe is all about the traction. The traction of the vertical K is unmatched by nearly any shoe it the same weight class. The only other trail shoe I can think of that provides an equal amount of traction in a lightweight trail shoe is the Innovate X-Talon. The Frixionoutsole (LaSportiva's name for really sticky rubber) enhanced with durable lugs reinforces the vertical K as a true mountain running shoe.
Tech Specs From Sportiva.com
WEIGHT: 7 oz/ 198 g
LAST: Dynamic Race
FIT: Medium - Wide
UPPER: AirMesh / Nylon® 4-way stetch gaiter / PU Leather external toe cap
LINING: Mesh (back half and tongue only)
MIDSOLE: MorphoDynamic™ Injection Molded EVA
MIDSOLE HEIGHT (MM): Heel: 18mm / Toe: 14mm / Delta H: 4mm
CUSHIONING: Midsole 35A
SOLE: Morphdynamic FriXion® XF / VA Wave
SIZES: 36-47.5 (half sizes)
ITEM NUMBER: 16S
PRICE: $115 USD
Have you tried the Vertical K? What was your experience? Leave your comments below.