Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Diadora Equipe Sestriere XT Review

Article by Sam Winebaum

Diadora Equipe Sestriere XT ($170)


Diadora of Italy is a brand best known for its tennis, soccer, and auto racing shoes.  That said they are also a very solid if not that well known running brand. In the last year we have tested and very much enjoyed their Equipe Atomo (RTR Review) and V7000 (RTR Review) road running shoes. Both featured Made in Italy construction making them beautifully crafted but pricey. And both featured Diadora’s DD Anima foam which along with the great styling was the star of the shoes.

The Sestriere XT, their first US distributed trail shoe in a while, also features DD Anima and as with road shoes it is the highlight of the Sestiere as this dense light foam is quite firm yet very vibration absorbing and stable with just enough bounce to move things along. 

In the Sestriere it is joined to a stout upper with plenty of overlays for support and durability and a big heel counter. 

It is shod with burly segmented outsole with 5mm lugs in a multi directional pattern that according to Diadora mimics the hoof of the alpine Ibex which, and I have seen them can climb anything and as I found out the Sestriere can too!

I put them to the test on an extremely rugged technical hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and for more mellow forest and gravel paths at cruising run paces. Diadora says: they are designed to perform and “provide best protection in 4 different terrain conditions : grass, gravel, mud, wet rocks”. Spoiler alert! Those are areas they shone best in and, what in my experience, is the mix of terrain one often encounters in the Alps. Please read on for all the details.


  • Great hiking shoe, even on the most technical of trails

  • Solid and protective long and slower trail run cruiser

  • Dense, stable, very protective midsole with great vibration reduction and a touch of bounce

  • Noticeable rocker and some flex moves the shoe along.

  • Solid multi surface midsole ride

  • Great wet rock grip

  • Rugged secure upper

  • Beautifully crafted, looks great, clean or trail dirty!


  • Somewhat heavy for faster trail running

  • Over stabilized over built heel area reduces landing agility, could use more drop

  • Tongue is too short and laces too soft and friendly

  • Upper is old school retro and looks great but could be slimmed down to reduce weight.

  • 5mm lug outsole adds to weight and could be reduced in height


Weight: men's 11.38 oz  / 322g (US9)

Samples: men’s 11.38 oz  / 322g (US9)

Stack Height: men’s 32 mm heel / 27 mm forefoot ( 5 mm drop spec) 

$170.  Available now

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

As always with Diadora, wonderful styling here with a retro look recalling run shoes of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The main upper mesh is white, the overlays at midfoot are blue and the rest a charcoal gray or at least they were until I got them trail painted.

The heel counter area becomes very rigid to the rear of where the webbing pull strap begins with additional support from the raised rear midsole and what I would consider a very rigid raised “elf” type achilles extension. The rear hold is incredible on very technical terrain at hike paces but I find it overly rigid and a bit blocky when some run agility over rocks and roots are required on the run. On smoother terrain on the run it was fine.

A thick sueded panel connects the heel area to the lace up and is key to tying the entire rear hold together.

The midfoot has 2 webbing straps reaching from the 3d and 4th lace loops to the midsole. The midfoot volume is big and the upper not particularly pliable yet foothold there was mostly just fine.

That said the tongue is very short and slips down and the laces are very soft and somewhat stretchy. 

You can see in the picture below how close the sides are with the sample pair a half size up from my normal US8.5. 

I think a more padded longer tongue and stiffer laces would help perfect what is an excellent mid foot hold as the very top of my foot was not as well held as I would prefer.

The Dnattivo sockliner features a slightly denser supporting blue arch area and an additional raised heel pad.  This is more than the usual cheap sockliner and I felt provided comfortable support. I do think the spongy main insole material could be replaced with a less water absorbing EVA type material.

The front fit in my half size up was just fine with no issues except at the very first try on where they felt low over the big toe at the big overlay extension but as soon as I ran them once this disappeared. 

The toe box is very secure and comfortable with moderate width for my narrower to medium feet. The toe bumper is quite firm around the front and less so further back. The front overlay creating the toe bumper and toe covering is doubled for durability and support. This is  one supportive locked down toe box with very decent volume.


The full stack height is 32mm heel / 27 mm forefoot so a 5mm drop so 1mm lower at the heel and 2 mm lower upfront than a Hoka Speedgoat 5 which I think has lighter foam and for sure a lighter upper. 

I mention the lighter foam as here there is DD Anima which is just about the ideal foam in a trail shoe. It is dense, very vibration reducing, highly protective (no rock plate and none needed) and has a clear quicker rebound. No mush or instability from the foam here at all as I feel a touch of in the Speedgoat 5. As such it is a great midsole for long days at moderate paces including hiking on technical and smoother terrain. I had zero soreness the next day and total confidence after our 10 mile test hike on the Osceola loop with a few miles of smooth gravel then all the rest the very technical rocky terrain.


The outsole is Diadora D5000 rubber as found in their road shoes. The blue areas are softer than the gum rubber colored ones. 

This is a relatively soft rubber outsole and with the segmentation more rock and terrain conforming than a fuller MegaGrip outsole is. The grip on all manner of wet and dry rock, often very steep and gritty was outstanding.

I had total confidence everywhere. Its rubber is not as “sticky” in nature as Vibram, Inov-8 or VJ rubber but in the end performed at least as well as the rubber and design conforms to the rock and trail surfaces so well.  Strangely on steep loose small gravel over hard trail (not rock) there was more slip than I would have expected I think due to orientation of the lugs.

After a few uses, the shoe developed plenty of long flex while remaining longitudinally rigid due to the segmentation of the outsole and the midsole design.  The softer rubber contributes, despite the big lug height, to a relatively smooth and pleasant ride on hard smooth surfaces including pavement.  

The lugs are 5mm in height, so quite high.  I think 4mm would be plenty and would reduce weight, the key issue with the Sestriere for me. 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

The ride is about as protective and easy on the legs as any trail run or hike shoe out there due to the DD Anima midsole’s dense yet reactive and vibration absorbing characteristics.  

The upper should prove very durable and is very supportive and comfortable but compared to modern trail run uppers is a bit old school and retro, super fine for looks, but adding to weight. 

The outsole has wonderful terrain conforming grip and with its segmentation is neither over rigid or over firm on smoother terrain.

While perfectly fine as a trail runner, the weight is up there compared to its competition such as the Speedgoat which is about 1.5 oz lighter but the Sestriere is actually a bit lighter than the Cascadia 17. 

I found it performed best as a hiker on very technical terrain, among the very best of 2023 and for mellow trail and slower trail runs. 

Its rocker is excellent and smooth but I did find the rear construction not particularly agile on the run as it is somewhat over built and rigid.

Diadora has rejoined the trail game with a great looking and I expect very durable shoe that shines on more technical terrain at hike paces and for long slower cruises on the run or hiking. I also see it as a very solid trekking shoe given its outstanding midsole and supportive upper.

Sam’s Score: 8.9 /10

Deductions for weight, short tongue/long laces top of foot hold, rigid heel area on the run  



Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

Hoka Speedgoat 5  (RTR Review)

Considerably lighter, and by more than 1.5 oz at 9.75 oz  / 276g (US9) with a similar 33/29 stack height, the Hoka sets a very high bar for light weight, big stack, and big outsole. The Diadora fits me better in the toe box being broader, higher and more secure. I prefer the DD Anima foam for its consistency and support but the shoe weight is really felt in this comparison. Give the Sestriere a “modern” engineered mesh upper as the Speedgoat 5 has to drop the weight and the competition would be closer. 


Brooks Cascadia 17 (RTR Review)

The Cascadia weighs about the same and sits on a 36/28 platform whereas here we are at a somewhat lower heel at 32/27. The higher drop of the Cascadia has it flowing smoother off the heel with less of a rigid stiff rear feel despite a big and equally as supportive heel counter. Its upper is lighter and less complex in construction and fits more smoothly. I prefer the more energetic DD Anima foam by a small margin over the DNA Loft v2 in the Brooks. The Brooks also includes a propulsion protection plate. The Diadora does not need a plate for protection and for propulsion it relies on its rocker plus flex although it must be said it is less propulsive up front than the Cascadia. 

The Diadora outsole is clearly more performant on wet rock but not as smooth feeling on hard terrain but close.  Despite my preference for the Sestriere’s midsole foam, more tenacious outsole on tech terrain and expected durability I lean towards the Cascadia overall in this match up as a trail runner and towards the Diadora as a long hiker.

Tester Profile

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets very very lucky, training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run, hiking or on nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks! Tough call on sizing as there was lots of mid foot volume for my fairly low volume foot but they did run a bit short and the front overlays are stiff. Socks also can play a role. With thicker socks I think half size up is a good idea as well.
Sam, Editor