Wednesday, December 16, 2020

La Sportiva Jackal GTX Review

Article by Jeff Valliere

La Sportiva Jackal GTX ($170)


The Jackal is designed to open things up in fit and soften the ride without compromising La Sportiva’s legendary support and protection. The upper is on a slightly wider last than normal for the brand with the midsole  a dual density compressed EVA with Infinitoo PU (polyurethane) inserts to provide more cushion while maintaining the stability and protection provided by the a full length hardened EVA dual density 1.5mm  rock plate. The lugs are 3mm in height with an aggressive multi directional profile intended for smooth long runs on more moderate terrain while having plenty of grip for more technical terrain. The addition of a Gore Tex Invisible Fit lining adds to the versatility of this shoe, making it a fine choice for wet outings and especially Winter use. We reviewed the non GTX version earlier this year here

Pros:  More generous fit for a La Sportiva, traction, cushion, protection, agility, waterproofing and reasonably light for a Gore Tex winter shoe.

Cons:  Tricky sizing, heel instability, stiffness contributing to instability, thin laces are a bit harsh.


Weight: men's 11.1 oz / 315g  (US9) 

Sample:  US Men’s Size 10 - 11.6 oz. / 333g

Non GTX version weighed 10.7 oz / 304g in a US9

Stack Height: 25mm heel / 19mm forefoot

Available now: $170

Tester Profile

Jeff Valliere  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

First Impressions and Fit:  

My first impressions are that the GTX version is exactly like the non GTX version, only a different color and am impressed that they do not feel all that much heavier in the hand and the additional 11 grams over the non GTX are unnoticeable on  foot. I had trouble with sizing with the non Gore Tex Jackal, with my normal size 10 being much too small and having to go with a 10.5, which is what was sent to me in the GTX.  I normally size up a half size for Winter Gore Tex shoes to accommodate a Winter sock, especially in La Sportiva and I think given a choice, would likely go size 11 in this model, so a full size up (which I have never done before).  Either way, the 10.5 works for me here when using a medium to thinner wool sock, but with little room to spare.  


The upper of the Jackal is superb and provides very good protection, with very durable overlays, reinforcements, a solid toe bumper and continuous wrap around rand for added protection.  

The Gore Tex Invisible Fit lining with Abrasion Resistant Micro-fiber creates a warm, comfortable and waterproof barrier to keep the elements at bay.  

While not that breathable, I find the Gore Tex to be reasonably temperature regulated and not overly warm in temperatures in the 50’s-60’s degrees F range and comfortable in cold temps in the teens and 20’s.  

Waterproofing is excellent, ideal for several hours in snow and slush, but given the fact the Jackal has a low collar and there is no built in gaiter, I would recommend wearing a gaiter in all but the most packed snow situations.

The heel collar is relatively low with minimal, but has adequate padding.

I really like the booty style tongue which eases step in and  increases comfort and security.  


Heel hold and midfoot hold are excellent and the width of the toe box seems to be good, though with the fit being so far off, it is somewhat difficult to assess.

The laces are soft and have a little bit of stretch to them, however I find them to be a bit thin and experience some rope burn on the back of my knuckles when tightening, but they do stay tied very well.

Upper security is very good and stays secure when running on steep technical terrain.


I find the midsole to be well cushioned and protective enough for long distances and adequate for rocky, technical, mountain terrain as would be expected from  La Sportiva.  Cushioning is firm, though not overly so.  While not the fastest and most responsive shoe , I feel as though they are adequate for fast running.  While I found the non Gore Tex version to not be particularly fast and responsive, it takes on a whole new demeanor on snow and feels more responsive in this application.


The 3mm  lugs, while not the deepest in the La Sportiva line up, are sharp and aggressive and provide excellent versatility over a wide variety of surfaces.  

Traction has been excellent on any trail I have run, off trail, steep loose dirt, etc…., are OK in mud with the FriXion XT 2.0 rubber compound griping amazingly well on rock and wet rock.  

Grip on packed snow is very good and the compound and surface contact is good on moderate, textured icy frozen surfaces.


The ride is reasonably responsive and comfortable and I see this to be more as a purposeful mountain shoe than a plush all day trail cruiser. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Jackal is best suited to mid distance running or long day excursions on just about any terrain and especially on rocky, technical mountain terrain.  I appreciate the secure upper, protective midsole and superb traction.  I do find them to be a bit tippy at times, particularly at the heel on rocky, unpredictable terrain which sometimes catches me off guard. The midsole, while appropriately firm for rocky mountain terrain, is a bit too firm in my opinion for ultra distance cruising, but in this Gore Tex version and its intended usage on snowy terrain, the Jackal is more forgiving.  They accommodate supplemental traction devices very well with great underfoot protection from the device and a thick upper to keep the straps from biting.

If ordering online, size up and be certain whomever you order from has a good exchange policy just in case.  Size up at least a half size, if not a full size if you prefer a bit more wiggle room and especially asra Winter shoe if you typically wear thicker socks.

Score:  8.3/10

Ride: 8, Fit: 7, Value: 8, Style: 9, Traction: 9.5, Rock Protection: 9.5


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

La Sportiva Blizzard GTX (RTR Review)  

I find the Blizzard to be a bit more comfortable and appreciate the built in gaiter (asI don’t always feel like remembering to include/install a gaiter). While  heavier, I also appreciate the added traction of the Blizzard outsole, with not only more prominent lugs, 9 of which are topped off by studs for use on ice.  

Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX  (RTR Review soon) 

The Peregrine 11 GTX sizes more normal, has slightly better traction on loose terrain, though the rubber compound is not quite as sticky as the Jackal’sl.  Both are equally waterproof.  I find the Peregrine 11 GTX to be more stable.

Salomon SpikeCross 5 GTX (RTR Review)   

The SpikeCross 5 has impressively deep and pronounced lugs, topped off with studs for ice traction.  Sizing is normal and the quicklaces are easy and convenient.  The SpikeCross weighs more and is more plush/cushioned, however the big and blocky heel can be a little unstable in really technical terrain.

Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro (RTR Review)   

The Agravic Tech Pro has comparable traction, response and agility, though weighs and costs more, but has a nice built in gaiter and premium build.

Please Check out our Big Holiday Runners' Gift Guide HERE

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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