Saturday, February 23, 2019

La Sportiva Lycan GTX Review: Burly Traction and Protection, Accommodating Toe Box, Waterproof/Breathable

Article by Jeff Valliere

La Sportiva Lycan GTX ($140)
Initial Impressions:
Very similar looking to the normal Lycan (RTR review here), with the exact same fit and similar overall feel, but the burly lugged outsole and GTX upper add some noticeable heft to the shoe.  Fit is the same as the Lycan with a wider, more accommodating toe box than other La Sportivas, yet still retains a locked down, secure feel.

  • Accommodating fit/toe box
  • Waterproof
  • Agility
  • Security
  • Protection
  • Traction
  • Durability
  • Thin static laces
  • Weight
Weight: 10.8 oz / 306 g US M9 /42; 10.2 oz / 289 g women's size 8.5 /39
Tested Sample: 12.4 oz. (351g) US men's size 10.5
Stack Height: 28mm heel/22mm forefoot (6mm drop)

Available now. Mens's and women's models.

The Gore-Tex upper is a significant change from the Lycan providing waterproof protection and added warmth in cold conditions.

Fit is the same, sharing the wider more accommodating toe box than most all of the La Sportivas I have run in the past.  Fit is almost true to size, maybe a touch short as I found with the Lycan, but because this is a Gore Tex shoe that I will wear in the winter, I size up 1/2 size regardless in La Sportiva to accommodate a thicker wool sock.  If you are on the edge of sizing or wear mid weight to thick socks in winter, strongly consider sizing up a half size.  Because the upper has a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort laminated to the outer material, it is thicker, heavier, less flexible and less breathable than the Lycan.  Given the winter purpose that added protection is very much welcome and the weight penalty negligible given the gains for use in tough, cold, snowy winter conditions.

The TPU toe bumper is very thick and sturdy, integrating with the rand/overlays that completely surround the shoe.  It is not noticeable from inside the shoe and makes a perfect guard when using Microspikes or other supplemental traction and as a durable layer for long term abrasion protection.
The heel counter is sturdy, stable, protective and rigid.  It is also somewhat low, especially for a dedicated Winter shoe, so in snowy conditions, a gaiter will be helpful to keep snow out.
The heel collar is well padded and comfortable.
Unlike the Lycan, the Lycan GTX has a gusseted tongue to help keep the water out and create a booty like fit/feel.
I find foothold and security to be excellent, though a touch difficult to achieve due to the lacing.  The laces are very thin and rigid.  When you pull them tight and go to they they don't hold in place well within the eyelets, so I have to apply continual and somewhat excess force to keep them in place, giving me a bit of rope burn on the back of the fingers.  A minor complaint, but a simple change of laces would do wonders here.

The injection molded EVA midsole with 4mm Ortholite Mountain Footbed provides good responsive cushioning, comfortable enough for mid to longer distances.  I found the non GTX Lycan to feel a touch on the thin side when really pressing in technical terrain, but the Lycan GTX with its very pronounced 6mm lugs plus Rock Guard (also found on Lycan) adds a lot of protection and substance underfoot in comparison to the Lycan with its very low profile lugs.

Outsole:  The outsole is classic La Sportiva mountain shoe with FriXion AT 2.0 rubber, deep 6mm lugs with impact braking design, so no real surprises here, providing what one would suspect from a La Sportiva mountain running shoe, superb all terrain traction.

As expected, traction is confidence inspiring in a wide variety of conditions, from snow and choppy ice, to mud, slush, steep dirt, rock, off trail, etc...., the Lycan GTX is always getting great traction.  So far I have seen not even the slightest sign of wear and expect many miles of rough use out of these shoes.
As you can with many of the La Sportiva shoes with this tread pattern, you can easily install La Sportiva Hobnails shown below on the Crossover 2.0 GTX (sold separately, $54 review).  The hobnails are excellent for getting that extra bite on hard ice.

The Lycan GTX is a very competent all around winter mountain running shoe with amazing traction, protection, waterproofing and fit.  The extra volume in the toe box is very welcome here, as I prefer a bit more wiggle room in cold temperatures to accommodate a thicker sock and not have any constriction that can interfere with circulation.  Fortunately, there is no compromise in foothold or performance.  Though not a feather lightweight shoe , they are reasonably quick and agile and can handle any pace or terrain with competence.  I wouldn't suggest the Lycan GTX as a road shoe per say, but if you are looking for a somewhat sleek, yet protective waterproof shoe with supreme traction to run roads and paths in sloppy, snowy conditions, then I wouldn't hesitate to reach for it.  It is a great addition to the ever expanding and improving line of La Sportiva mountain running shoes .

Jeff's Score:  9.8/10
- .1 for thin static laces
- .1 for weight (not too heavy, but shaving a little bit seems possible and would be welcome)


La Sportiva Lycan GTX vs. La Sportiva Lycan (RTR review here):  I sometimes wonder why they even named this the Lycan GTX given the differences in the shoe with its Gore upper, completely different outsole and overall added bulk all adding to making it feel like a completely different shoe.  Upper fit is the same, as is the midsole, but other than that, they feel completely different, with the Lycan being much lighter, nimble, quicker feeling (mostly because of the lighter weight and minimal tread).  This said on rough wet terrain, snowy peaks and in winter conditions, the added weight of the GTX is not necessarily a burden.

La Sportiva Lycan GTX vs. La Sportiva Uragano/Tempesta GTX (RTR review here): The fit of the Lycan GTX is more accommodating and traction is comparable, but the Uragano/Tempesta offer a bit more overall protection, particularly the Uragano with built in gaiter and even Tempesta with slightly higher heel collar, all at a comparable or even lighter weight.

La Sportiva Lycan GTX vs. Salomon XA Elevate GTX (RTR review here): This is a very logical comparison, as they are both a Gore version of a popular s non winter oriented shoe and have very comparable stats and overall feel.  The Lycan GTX has a slightly more accommodating toe box, but I think the XA Elevate GTX fits well, even with a thick sock and not sizing up a half size.  I do prefer the fit of the Lycan GTX, as I find it to be a bit more secure, especially around the tongue/ankle where the XA Elevate GTX feels a little loose and departs from the ideal fit of the non Gore-Tex XA Elevate.  For pure winter use, I do prefer the deeper tread of the Lycan GTX as it provides more bite.

La Sportiva Lycan GTX vs. Hoka One One Speedgoat Mid WP (RTR review here): Close in weight, the Hoka offers much more cushion and underfoot protection, as well as great ankle protection and stability with its over the ankle padded collar.  The Lycan GTX may have a touch more space in the forefoot, but both fit me very well with thicker sock and I didn't size up in the Speedgoat.  The outsole of the Lycan has a little better bite in the snow and off trail, but the Speedgoat is still very good.

Reviewer Bio

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he has recently worked in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 8 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.

The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
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