Friday, April 05, 2019

La Sportiva Kaptiva Review - Light and Low, A New, Protective All Mountain Speedster

Article by Jeff Valliere

La Sportiva Kaptiva
Estimated Weight US Men's 9: 10.4 oz / 295 g
Sample Weight: 10.75 oz/305 g US Men's Size 10
22mm heel/16mm forefoot, 6mm drop
4-5mm varying height lugs
$139.00  Available now.
  • Fast and Responsive
  • Traction
  • Versatility
  • Secure upper
  • Quality
  • Sizing can be a bit tricky, not true to size and even runs small for a La Sportive
Tester Profile
Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.

Introduction/First Impressions  

The Kaptiva is a new addition to the La Sportiva family and feels light and low, somewhat reminiscent in looks to the Lycan, but with a more aggressive tread and step in booty style upper.  La Sportiva Sliding my foot into the Kaptiva for the first time, I am instantly aware that this shoe is built for speed and precision over any terrain, feeling lighter on the foot than it's 10.75 oz. weight would imply.  La Sportiva says: " Kaptiva is designed for those needing a precise, comfortable fit for running on technical terrain which will deliver superior grip on any surface." Fit is very precise and race like, with no extra wiggle room, this shoe is all business and performs as described by La Sportiva.

The first thing that stands out about the Kaptiva upper is the new booty style, with no actual tongue per se, but rather, what La Sportiva list in its technical specs as "Sock Like Compression / Knit Wrap Around Tongue with debossed Flex Lines / Thermo Adhesive Overlays / TPU Toe Cap".

Stepping into the Kaptiva is easy, the booty liner on either side of where the tongue would be is made of a stretch knit material.  After a minor tug on the "tongue" tab, the upper seats perfectly over your foot, feeling comfortably secure without feeling confining.  In fact, I could easily just remove the laces and wear daily with no issues and even run light to moderately technical trails, but add the laces and your foot is locked in for maximum confidence and control. The laces are thin like most La Sportiva laces, but it takes very little pull pressure to achieve a snug and secure fit.

Fit is not true to size and is even small for a La Sportiva. 10 is my preferred choice for most shoes, including most La Sportivas, though I do size up a half size for any winter Gore Tex La Sportiva models and I should have done so with the Kaptiva (had I known), as my toes are right up to the tip of the shoe with no wiggle room.  For my typical day to day runs on technical terrain, I had no issues with rubbing or blistering and never really thought of the lack of room once over the course of my test runs (lasting up to several hours), however for longer runs and especially in warmer weather, going up a half size from normal would be prudent.
The TPU toe cap is very substantial and protective.
The heel collar is fairly low and moderately padded with excellent heel hold.
The heel counter is well structured and supportive, without being overbuilt or bulky.

The midsole is comprised of Compressed Moded dual density MEMlex w/ torsion-resistant inserts / 1.5mm Dual-Density EVA Rock-Guard in forefoot and heel.  What does all of that really mean?  It means an exceptional combination of cushion and protection, with great response, all in a slim and reasonably light package.  The Kaptiva provides a great blend of ground feel and contouring over the terrain without feeling overly stiff or too thin and touchy. I can feel very well what is under foot without being overly sensitive to it. Even on sharp rocky terrain, I have not once had any zingers or surprises.  Though cushioning is on the firm end of the spectrum, I think it is reasonable to run in this shoe on any terrain for a handful of hours.  This said for all day outings I would likely pick the slightly heavier, but more plush cushion and protection of the La Sportiva Akasha.

The outsole is comprised of La Sportiva's FriXion XF 2.0 rubber with impact braking system. The lugs are 4 - 5 mm in height and though not massive in size, their shape, pattern and spacing provide very effective grip over a wide variety of surfaces from snow, mud and ice, to loose dirt, packed trail, dry rock, wet rock and slabs.

Durability thus far is better than average, with more than 30 miles on very rough terrain am seeing no noticeable wear.

I really enjoy running in the Kaptiva and find that it suits my style of running very well, adapting to a wide variety of terrain and surfaces, with confidence inspiring traction and locked in foothold, stability and security.  Though the weight measurement falls mid range, it feels very light and agile on the foot and is quite quick and responsive, feeling equally suited to casual jaunts as it does pushing hard for a PR or in a race situation.  Quality/durability are excellent, but just be careful with fit, as, these do run small.

Jeff's Score:  9.9/10
Performs exactly as designed and presented by La Sportiva: "The Kaptiva is designed for those needing a precise, comfortable fit for running on technical terrain which will deliver superior grip on any surface".
- .1 for sizing


La Sportiva Kaptiva vs. La Sportiva Lycan (RTR Review
The Lycan has more cushion and feels a touch more plush, however I feel that the Kaptiva has better overall protection and for sure superior traction for a wider range of terrain.  Overall fit is more accommodating and true to size for Lycan, so likely a better shoe for longer distances on more moderate terrain.

La Sportiva Kaptiva vs. La Sportiva Akasha  (RTR Review
The Akasha was my favorite shoe of 2016 and it still holds up well.  The Akasha is slightly heavier, but provides much more plush cushion for all day pursuits with very good foothold, comfort and traction, but is not as quick and responsive as the Kaptiva, which is a superior race shoe/uptempo trainer.

La Sportiva Kaptiva vs. Nike Terra Kiger 5  (RTR Review 
The Kiger 5 is lighter and more responsive, certainly a shoe for racing and uptempo training on moderate terrain, but can also handle bits of technical.  The Kaptiva however is nearly as fast feeling, with a more secure fit and has a more sticky aggressive outsole It is more competent on technical terrain and in adverse conditions.

La Sportiva Kaptiva vs. Salomon XA Elevate  (RTR Review
Just because I have to drop the Elevate in everywhere, the Elevate has a more reasonable fit/sizing with comparable foot hold.  Traction is comparable with maybe an edge to the XA Elevate.  The Kaptiva is a bit faster, lighter and more suited for racing, where the XA Elevate is a great all day, all terrain shoe for just slightly slower paces.

La Sportiva Kaptiva vs. Hoka One One Torrent  (RTR Review 
The Torrent is lighter, has better cushioning and feels more responsive.  The Torrent upper is not quite as precise and secure, which could be good or bad depending on your foot and preferred terrain, however I have never really had an issue with the Torrent upper.  Slight edge on traction to the Kaptiva, however the Torrent is very good.

Read Jeff's full run bio here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.
Comments and Questions  
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Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you guys would review these. I am about 50 miles into my pair and I love almost everything about them except the heel. I usually go up a full size in La Sportiva but tried multiple sizes and the heel didnt really feel any different so it must just be my heel shape in this shoe but it is very insecure. I can feel it lift with every step and downhills it almost feels like this shoe has no heel at all. Pretty unfortunate because this shoe would be an ideal ultra race shoe for me, the grip is outstanding and climbs steep terrain like a boss. I've tried different thickness of socks and varying degrees of lacing tightness with no luck. I might try to punch some extra holes somewhere to change up the lacing to see if that helps.

Jeff Valliere said...

Anon, thanks for reading and sorry to hear of the heel issues. I experience the same occasionally with other shoes, but not with the Kaptiva. When I experience that with other shoes, I can often employ that extra set of optional eyelets, but unfortunately not an option with the Kaptiva. Let me know if you punch some and if it helps. Sounds like a good idea.

brett said...

Comparison to the Helios?

The Stoat said...

I'd be interested to hear comparisons to the Bushido 2...

Joe S. said...

I've definitely noticed heel slippage right out of the box. Seems to be something to do with flex in the sock-like upper around the sides of the ankle. I don't think it's anything to do with sizing. Quite pronounced arch support in the shoe too, not what I would describe as neutral. Akin to the Mutants in that respect. For these reasons I'll be returning the shoe, which is a shame as I was so excited for this one & really wanted to love it. Bummer.

Paul L said...

Good to know that I'm not the only one experiencing heel slippage in these shoes. It's such a shame because I love everything else about them. I concur with Joe S that it seems to be related to flex in the material around the ankle. The lateral flex there creates the sensation that the shoe is moving independently of the foot, especially when rounding tight corners or navigating steep/technical terrain. It usually takes 30 minutes of running for my brain and leg muscles to adjust to this strange feeling. I suspect that this is more of an issue for biomechanically inefficient runners with poor ankle stability such as myself. For now, the Helios SR will remain my go-to shoe for most of my training and I'll reserve the Kaptivas for shorter runs.

Jeff said...

Excited to try these but will need to see about sizing. I have just run the 120km Lavaredo Ultra Trail and paced 30 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in La Sportiva Mutants — I have some ankle issues so I really appreciate the unbelievable ankle security of the Mutants, but would like just a touch more cushion ... am I right to think about the Kaptivas as a middle ground on ankle security and cushion between the Akasha and the Mutant? Thank you!

Jeff Valliere said...

Yes, that is correct, but after running in both the Kaptiva and Akasha this week, I very much prefer the Akasha for the cushioning/protection. That said, if you can run 120km in Mutants, you are WAY more resilient than I am, so the Kaptiva may work.

Nils said...

Hey Jeff! I'm looking for a fast trail trainer/racer with enough stability to hunt down some local strava segments and races up to the HM (kind of a Kinvara for the trails). I don't run alpine stuff (besides in my holidays) but more like MTB trails in my local woods and most of the time some k's on roads to reach the trails. Thought the Speed TRL Hyper would be the perfect shoe for that, but unfortunately it just doesn't fit my feet (too long, too much room in the upper but a top narrow toebox). Thought of the Merrell Skyfire or the Sense Pro 4 instead. But now I stumbled upon the Kaptiva and the exceptional score you gave to it. Do you think it might fit the bill for me? What do you think of other newer La Sportiva offerings like the Helios 3? Would love some comparisons and recommendations from you as the trail expert.

Jeff Valliere said...

Hi Nils, of the shoes you mention, the Sense Pro 4 is in my opinion, the best of the bunch for what you are looking for. I just ran in mine again on Friday and was noting to Sam how impressed I am with their balance of light weight, speed, response, protection, fit, stability, traction, agility and cushion, just rock solid performance as a speedy trainer or racer.

Don't overlook the Hoka Torrent 2 either.

Helios 3, I passed them up, as they a little too thin and flexible for my preferences and rocky terrain.

Nils said...

Thanks, for your opinion Jeff! I think I can't avoid to atleast give the Salomons a try.

Regarding the Torrent 2: Do you know when this one will release? Any major changes or just upper / cosmetics like most 2020 HOKAs?

Jeff Valliere said...

No problem Nils. Sense Pro 4 in my opinion is everything I wanted the S/Lab Sense SG to be, not quite as light, but more adequate if you run uphill, then back down with any kind of technical terrain underfoot.

Torrent 2 available this month, not sure which day though. I have not yet received a pair for review, but am chasing the UPS truck daily.

Sam Winebaum said...

Nils, new upper and slight changes to outsole. See here:

Jeff Valliere said...

Thanks Sam, meant to add the info on changes to Torrent 2. Torrent was my top shoe for 2018, so really eager for this update.

Nils said...

Thanks guys! Sense Pro ordered. Maybe I can resist to use them until the Torrent 2 is available for comparison.

Unknown said...

I'm so happy I found this review, but also bummed at the same time. I rand in Brooks Cascadias for the past 4 years and decided to switch things up with the Kaptivas, and after my first run I though the heel was slipping from the shoe a fair bit. I took me a solid 20 minutes of running to stop noticing it, and now I found that this is not just an issue for me. So many people commented here. I don't know if I'll keep them. Buying new shoes is so hard.