La Sportiva Akyra Review | Cushioned Trail Running Shoes
As winter approaches and the trails get wetter, it’s the time many runners start to look for a versatile trail running shoe that can do it all. The Akyra is an offering from La Sportiva that might just tick all the boxes.
La Sportiva is an Italian Mountain Brand. Founded in 1928 in Val di Fiemme. They started making rock climbing shoes and transitioned 90 plus years later into all aspects of mountain-based activities.
The La Sportiva Akyra is described as a mountain running shoe. Designed for long days out when you are perhaps walking the steep climbs and running the flat or downhill sections. So, it’s designed to be versatile enough to cope with walking with a bit of weight on your back for example, whilst not feeling like a walking boot when you want to run. It means it’s a very naturally stable and supportive running shoe.
The first thing you notice when you put them on is the feeling you get with all the La Sportiva running shoes; a very supportive and snug fit. The exoskeleton on the outside of the upper pulls it around your foot. The heel of the shoe has a good grip and the shoe feels solid and sturdy underfoot. The upper is designed to hold your foot in place, not allowing it to roll around on a camber or on rutted, broken ground. This fit also gives you a feeling of security as you head out into the mountains.
The width I would describe as average. My feet don’t feel restricted in the shoes but there isn’t loads of room either. They are worth a try for a wide footed runner but there are wider trail shoes, for the widest out there. If you have a lower volume foot and are looking for a shoe that holds your foot well then the Akyra could be great.
The heel to forefoot drop is 9mm, so designed for more of a heel strike than a midfoot strike. The forefoot is quite flexible and I didn’t feel that the heel height inhibited my normal midfoot strike. I typically run in zero drop, too. The flexible forefoot gives a lovely feel for the ground and bends and moulds well to uneven terrain. The cushioning in the forefoot gives enough protection from lumps and bumps underfoot and you aren’t aware of the lugging on the outsole. The heel cushion is also nice and soft without being too ‘squishy’. Your foot flows through the gait cycle smoothly.
The grip is exceptional. On morning runs when I am on road and disused railway line for the first few miles there is plenty of grip, even on wet days. This is something that other shoes with long studs on the base of the shoe struggle to get right. The lower surface area often makes the shoes slippy on wet tarmac, even though the rubber is soft and sticky. Not the case with the Akyra. The lugs are quite soft and add to the cushioning without taking away the feel for the ground. When I enter the trails, the flexible forefoot makes the shoes nimble over the tree routes in the forest and the studs bite well on the wet muddy fields. I haven’t experienced any issues with the mud clogging in the studs on the outsole. However, it hasn’t been consistently wet in recent months, so the fields aren’t really boggy yet! The flexible forefoot should shed the mud reasonably well.
La Sportiva call their grip system ‘Frixion’ and this is symbolised by a coloured cross on the outsole of the shoes. The colour indicates what the combination of rubber compounds on the outsole of the shoes has been designed for. The Akyra is Frixion red. This is a dual compound mix designed to give a good mix of durability and grip. The heel and toe areas of the shoe are a softer, more sticky rubber (orange on the pictures). So they give the best grip possible on landing and push off and the central part of the shoe is a more durable rubber (black in the pictures). After a few hundred miles of running there is a touch of wear to the softer ‘orange’ areas but no noticeable wear to the rest of the outsole. This is what you would expect. So not only is the outsole nice and grippy, it is also durable enough to use on a variety of trail running surfaces.
The shaping of the lugs on the bottom of the outsole is such that they are designed to grip in all directions. They will offer some traction no matter the contour or shape of the ground you are standing on.
Although the Akyra doesn’t hinder your ability to run quick, it isn’t designed as an out and out fast running shoe and super responsive. It’s a longer run shoe or a great choice for newer runners as an everyday off-road training shoe. Ideal for putting the miles in over the winter, as when the ground gets wetter you’ll still be able to make forward progress over the muddier trails whilst enjoying the cushion and comfort on the firmer ground.
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle
Scott Supertrac 2.0: These are the main rival to the Akyra as they have both cushion and grip. The eRide in the Scott shoes give is a very different feel to the Akyra but, like the Akyra it is a serviceable shoe for winter trails. Here is our review:
Shoes are here:
Hoka Torrent: Similar ride to the Scotts not as grippy in the mud but, not too bad. A narrower it than the Akyra and the Supertrac 2.0. Here is our review:
Here are the shoes:
Brooks Cascadia: A definite heel strikers shoe with a 12mm heel and quite stiff. They feel like a road shoe but, with some soft rubber lugs. So, on harder trails they feel nice but, the lack of flexibility and flat stud makes them less able to cope with rougher trails or wetter trails.
NVii Terra TT: Nvii (pronounced NVee) is a Finish Orienteering shoe company. The Terra TT was a real surprise to us as despite the shoes looking like a minimal fell/orienteering shoe they are quite well cushioned. The shoe is very flexible so it moulds to the ground well and the natural Butyl rubber gives exceptional traction with 4.5-5.5 mm lugs. The cushioning will cope with a mile or so of tarmac to the trails and the rockplate protects the foot from protrusions. They have a very minimal feel compared to the Akyra and less support.