Tuesday, October 05, 2021

La Sportiva Akasha II Review: For Long Hauls on Any Terrain!

Article by John Tribbia

La Sportiva Akasha II ($150)

Introduction


John: In a recent product highlight video Jonathan Wyatt, multi-time World Mountain Running champion and La Sportiva Running Product Specialist indicated that the La Sportiva Akasha 2 is getting much anticipated updated features in line with the rising popularity of long distance trail running. 


The Akasha is La Sportiva’s go-to shoe for ultra and long distance trail running, be it for training or racing. The goal of La Sportiva’s updates were to add incremental improvements that increase the shoe’s comfort, durability, and stability. 


In its second iteration, the Akasha 2 gets updates to the lacing and webbing around the lacing cage, allowing for  better adjustability and precision as well as become more eco-conscious with recycled materials. The upper is updated with additional TPU to the anterior side of the shoe and toe bumper for reinforcement and added durability. 


The midsole package is enhanced with 3mm EVA liner that adds dynamism and stability to the shoe’s ride. The Akasha 2 uses a dual compound FriXion XT 2.0 outsole that is supposed to be more durable and perform well on any type of surface. 


The shoe boasts a 6mm drop in the midsole from 31mm in the heel to a forefoot height of 25mm, which offers cushion in the back and ground feel in the front. They come in at approximately 10.92 oz (310 grams) in US9 / 42 EU so a drop of about 0.45 oz/ 12g  from v1.


Pros: Long distance oriented, ground feel with cushion


Cons: dense cushion and muted rebound prevent fast paces 


Tester Profile

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.


Stats

  Official Weight:  10.90 oz/310 grams US9/EU42

  Sample: men's / 10.92 oz/310 grams US9/EU42

Akasha 1 US men's size 9(42) 11.35 oz/330 grams

Stack Height: 31mm Heel / 25mm Forefoot, 6mm drop

Available Spring 2022. $150.

  

First Impressions and Fit

John: Although I never ran in the La Sportiva Akasha 1, I am familiar with La Sportiva’s lineup and am excited to test out the Akasha 2. The Akasha 2 is incredibly comfortable, has a soft upper that is not abrasive and breathes well, and holds my heel and foot securely in place. Underfoot, the midsole feels thicker than most La Sportiva shoes and has a slight rocker to it that is subtly noticeable when walking around in them. The forefoot and toe box feels sufficiently spacious for my slightly narrow foot in the sample true to my size US9. The lacing and gusseted tongue provide a secure lockdown to ensure my foot is held in place and enveloped comfortably.



Upper


John:  With a seamless AirMesh upper that is covered with Dynamic ProTechTion overlays and with a thicker TPU toe bumper + heel counter, the upper of the Akasha is an excellent combination of support, breathability, protection, and flexibility. It is precise in fit to accommodate the foot on longer days where feet swell given the support, structure, and stretch of the ProTechTion overlays across the forefoot. 

The TPU Exo Skeleton below the lacing across the midfoot does an outstanding job of providing control and lateral stability. The heel collar is relatively low with just enough padding. There’s an external heel cup overlay that provides sufficient structure to the upper and enhances the heel hold and stability in challenging terrain.


Midsole

John: the midsole of the Akasha 2 is a dual-injection shock absorbing MEMlex EVA compound that is combined with La Sportiva’s Cushion Platform. The MEMlex is designed to reduce shock when navigating unstable rocky and technical terrain, while the Cushion Platform is intended to provide (obviously) cushion and give springiness even after a long day. There is no traditional rock plate in the Akasha 2. I found the combined midsole provides protection from technical obstacles and, unlike the Jackal or Karacal, I found the cushion plush, responsive, and bouncy, while also providing excellent stability upon impact. 


Outsole

John: The outsole of the Akasha 2 is a major highlight. The Frixion XT 2.0 rubber is sticky and provides best in class traction on just about every surface I encountered, both wet and dry.  I took the Akasha on dry and wet trail, grass, and rocks. I was confident on all surfaces (with the exception of the ice-like wet rock). The 4.5mm lugs were highly effective and are organized in a way that allows for a variety of surfaces and tempos. Moreover, the Trail Rocker outsole guides the foot through heel-to-toe efficiently. 


Ride

John:  The ride of the Akasha 2 is anything but flat. I found it lively and efficient on all terrain types and at a variety of paces. Granted, I don’t think this shoe is meant for high turnover runs or races, but it can handle those faster paces for short durations. Traveling over scree or other technical and rocky surfaces feels smooth and responsive. And the cushion is substantial enough to cradle your foot and protect your legs on steep descents and for hard impacts. Despite the cushion, I still felt like the Akasha 2 had exceptional ground feel, which gave me a lot of confidence and control such that I never felt wobbly or disconnected from the terrain even in varied technical situations. 


Conclusions and Recommendations

John: If you are looking to add a shoe that is best for really long days on both technical and cruisy terrain, the Akasha 2 is a top choice. The shoe is comfortable, stable, and much more cushioned than others in the La Sportiva lineup. Moreover, the Akasha 2 feels secure and stable when running across varied terrain, sticks to rocky surfaces, and is designed for long days on your feet in the mountains.


John’s Score: 9.2/10 

Ride: 9 (fun mountain shoe with stable and well cushioned ride)

Fit: 9 (the flexible toe box is accommodating and comfortable)

Value: 9 (this is an all-arounder that does well both hiking and running)

Style: 9 (classy La Sportiva look) 

Traction: 10 (best in class)

Rock Protection: 9.5 (toe protection, durable upper, and protective midsole)


Comparisons


La Sportiva Karacal (RTR Review)

John: Karacal feels lighter on foot (and is 0.6 oz lighter on the scale)  and is more nimble. I would say the Karacal is best on technical terrain and the Akasha 2 can perform a little better onthe more runnable stuff – I would use the Karacal for shorter peak bagging adventures and I would use the Akasha for short and long outings on mixed terrain where there was more running involved because I like the fit, feel, and ride of the Akasha. The low center of gravity and snug fit of the Karacal yields more ground feel. By contrast, I prefer the Akasha fit and that it has more cushion. 


Hoka Torrent 2  (RTR Review)

John: The Torrent 2 is lighter, faster, with less overall protection. I think the Torrent does well in most terrain, but lacks an edge to the Akasha in longer distances and even rocky and technical terrain. The Akasha is well suited for most trail and off-trail sections where superior traction and protection are needed for the long haul.


Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Review)

John:  The Mad River TR 2 feels quicker and more responsive, It is better for road-to-trail and faster running on more buffed out terrain and it is lighter in weight. The Akasha 2 has better traction, stability and agility for rougher trails and off trail.


Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 (RTR Review)

John: The ATR 6 has a much more plush and cushioned feel but the Akasha 2 has superior traction. However, I felt like the ATR had more snap, was more nimble, and had a more responsive and quicker ride on trail and road compared to the Akasha. The Akasha seemed more muted with less snap in the transition from impact to lift-off, but is built to go in terrain where the ATR would not perform well. Both are excellent options for longer endeavors, with the ATR 6 being a solid option for road-to-trail and the Akasha for more rugged outings.


Salomon Sense Ride 3 (RTR Review)

John: The Sense Ride 3 is Salomon’s heavier duty longer run shoe. It has a greater drop and is slightly lighter than the Akasha. The higher drop makes the Ride 3 a better ascender on the steep stuff compared to the Akasha. Both are incredibly stable and secure; and both invite longer, all-day adventures. I find the Ride 3 to be more snappy and nimble than the Akasha, while the Akasha brings structure and reliable security to its ride. Both feel reasonably and comparably cushioned. 

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content

The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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8 comments:

Martin said...

What about comparison with Hoka Speedgoat 4?

Drew Coughlin said...

Ah, the beloved Akasha - so many pairs, so many miles. Feet come in all shapes and sizes so everyone has to find a brand and model that works best for them but I'd encourage anyone who values a well constructed, durable shoe for ultramarathon events on varied terrain to give these a shot.

Unknown said...

I agree with Drew, great shoe ! There's nothing which really stands out, but the package works together so excellent, that you can run endless in every terreain...can't wait for the second version, review sounds promising (a tad lighter, a bit more cushion, everything else more or less unchanged)

Unknown said...

What about comparison with Akasha 1?

Sam Winebaum said...

As John says he did not run v1. We hope to get more pairs for a multi tester review eventually
Specs indicate tweaks to upper and a new midsole foam for one of the layers.
Sam, Editor

John Tribbia said...

@Martin That's a very good question and, unfortunately, I have yet to run in the Speedgoat. Hopefully a few more people on the RTR team can get into the Akasha II so we can build out more comparisons (including a comparison to the previous model)

rms said...

Can you comment on sizing? I'm very familiar with the Bushido 2, is this a similar fit?

John Tribbia said...

@rms I find the Akasha to have a more relaxed fit compared to the Bushido. There's slightly more forefoot room and play. Depending on the La Sportiva shoe I fit in a 42 or 42.5. In the Bushido I have to go with the 42.5 and in the Akasha I am comfortable in the 42. In other words, Bushido is snug and Akasha is more relaxed, but both are very secure.