LaSportiva Lycan

Price: $115

Specs: 6mm; 25mm (heel), 19mm (forefoot)

Weight: 9.5 oz. (men’s size 9), 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7)

The Scoop:Ā The Lycan is a new, well-cushioned shoe for running on rocky, rooty, technical terrain. This is bit of a departure for La Sportiva, which is known for making rock climbing shoes and trail running shoes that put an athlete close to the ground, close to the rock. Instead, this is actually by far the highest-off-the-ground shoe the brand has ever madeā€”thanks largely to the robust and energetic injection-molded EVA midsole that helps cushion each step. The midsole is soft, but not too soft and definitely not marshmallowy. The Lycan serves up loads of protection against sharp objects on the trail, most notably from a sticky rubber outsole and a TPU-reinforced toe cap. The adhesive climbing-grade outsole rubberĀ (a La Sportiva staple) offers almost unrelenting traction on wet and slick surfaces, including rocks, roots, timbers, gravel and concrete. The breathable mesh upper offers additional support and sidewall protection through thick, die-cut microfiber reinforcements that integrate with the lacing system. The fit is snug in the heel and midfoot but a bit looser in the forefoot to accommodate for foot swelling and provide room for toe swelling, proper foot flex and toe splay.

Who’s It Best For: Trail runners who run long distances on technical trails will appreciate the mix of shock-absorbing cushion, long-haul comfort, technical trail acuity and reliable protection in the Lycan. It’s built for multi-hour runs on rugged terrain, but it fares well enough on stretches of soft, smooth terrain too, and, in a pinch, you could run several miles on those kinds of trails without any complaints.

Plus: Aside from being made from very a tacky rubber material, the outsole also is shaped in such a way to increase braking power and decrease impact on slanted surfaces.

Minus: It’s not a shoe that inspires full-tilt speed. It’s not that it wouldn’t be a good choice for a trail race; it definitely would for longer events (maybe 15 miles to ultra-distance races) but it’s most comfortable running with a moderate cadence at mid-range speeds.