Monday, July 31, 2017

Outdoor Retailer La Sportiva 2018 Introductions: Unika All Trails, Lycan Light Mid Distance, and VK Swift and Minimal

La Sportiva, Italian masters of everything footwear for the mountains from Everest boots to hikers to climbing slippers to outstanding trail running shoes, rolled out three new trail runners at Outdoor Retailer for their 90th year making mountain footwear in 2018.

Leading the charge Unika ($190), available February,  a premium all trails shoe which they say is the first mountain running shoe to be completely made in Europe. We gave it our Best New All Trails Shoe of OR award.  It features:
La Sportiva Unika
  • a beautiful supportive upper with compression and differentiated stretch zones with integrated non removable sock liner.
  • an elaborate Lace-Up Harness which integrates upper to the midsole.  Like the Mutant, complex, different and should be effective. 
  • A PU Infinitoo midsole instead of EVA. Infinitoo is claimed to have high energy return and be more compression resistant for long term cushion durability and consistency. Salomon also is using a PU insert under at the forefoot in its new S-Lab Sense Ultra 2. 
  • PU tends to be heavier than EVA so the Unika comes in at 11.6 oz./380 g (M9), 9.28 oz./264 g (W8). 
  • 31mm heel/23 mm forefoot, 8 mm drop so a substantial well cushioned platform
We suspect the combination of materials could make this an exceptionally long lasting shoe for rougher terrain. Available April 2018.




La Sportiva's Product Manager presented the Unika to RoadTrailRun in the YouTube video below


Stability Lugs and Frixion XF 2.0 outsole with 8 mm lugs.
La Sportiva Unika
The Lace-Up Harness with alternating yellow and black cords locks the foot to the midsole
La Sportiva Unika Lace-Up Harness Photo: La Sportiva

La Sportiva Unika Lace-Up Harness Photo: La Sportiva
La Sportiva Unika
Women's color way
Women's La Sportiva Unika
Lycan ($115) is a mid distance, reasonably priced trail shoe coming in at a comparatively svelte 9.5 oz/268 g (M9), 7.9 oz./225 g (W8). It has a 23mm heel./17mm forefoot stack, 6mm drop. Available February 2018.
The Lycan has an injection molded EVA midsole so should have a lively bouncy ride.
The forefoot has a wider volume than is typical for La Sportiva.
The outsole has 5mm lugs in a softer high durability Frixion AT 2.0 outsole.
VK
Coming in at an incredible 6.9 oz./198 g (M9) and 5.9 oz./168 g the fast VK ($135) was designed in collaboration with the Vertical K world record holder Urban Zemmer. A vertical K is 1000 meters of climbing in the shortest trail possible to gain the elevation and the even is hotly contested in Europe.
La Sportiva VK
The VK has a Ghost-Stream lacing system which is part of the shoe structure. The VK lacing actually is tied into a knot below the tongue over the foot.  We told not to worry it feels fine The upper is a seamless knit with differentiated stretch zones and we were told lacing snuggly or much at all is not really necessary.
La Sportiva VK
The front Frixion XT 2.0 outsole with 6mm lugs is super sticky.
La Sportiva VK
The outsole is likely to change with more heel rubber in production. It has the same Frixion XT rubber as the Unika. There is a dual density EVA midsole upfront with rock guard EVA layer in the mix. The VK is very flexible.
Women's La Sportiva VK
We suspect the VK will not only appeal to those contesting the VK event but to trail runners seeking a very light weight fast shoe for shorter trail and mountain races.

"Innovation with Passion", the banner on the VK says and La Sportiva sure marches to its own unique and effective drummer!
VK is available February 2018.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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