What do you get when you cross the speed, flexibility, the ability to stop on a dime and the wicking properties of the your favorite mountain running shoe with the ruggedness, stability and protection of those leather hiking boots you haven’t wanted to give up just yet? You’d get shoes that rock the long trails and my first choice for thru-hiking, La Sportiva’s Akyra Trail Runners.
I have only just begun wearing trail runners exclusively while backpacking. I made the switch from boots because my feet began to feel too hot and confined and once they got wet, they stayed wet. I had great success with trail runners on the Coast-to-Coast and ali-loop-of-the-Lakes and have never looked back.
The Akyra uses a complex “origami” design to keep the foot stable, while also allowing the foot to feel flexible and supple. The shoe is like a solid box with a bomber heel cup keeping me from over-pronating. Torsional strength is especially key when I contour overland on steep terrain. The top layer is in three parts including a skeleton, mesh and a wrap that provides lateral stability when negotiating roots, rocks and sand. The cushioned tongue holds easily adjusted laces and place no pressure on the top of the foot, which is crucial as my toes are slightly deformed from arthritis. And this may seem like a small point, but these laces have never needed to be retied mid-hike.
The Akyra is ideal for backpacking especially in mountain environments because the soles are made of a sticky rubber – much like approach shoes – that adhere to rock, even if wet. Using a tight pattern, the lugs provides superb traction at the same time they shed mud and clagg. My friend Stephanie took these photos and said the soles looked like mini-shovels displacing the sand as I cracked up and downhill. La Sportiva uses a patented brake system that not only gives me confidence on slopes, but decreases impact and that’s a relief for those day-after-days walking on uneven terrain.
Sizing was a bit of a concern and the shoe feels a bit long and narrow, though I was able to find a good fit playing with the laces. I always wear men’s trail runners these days to allow room for my feet to swell. I did not keep the included foam insole but rather replaced them with Superfeet.
Specs at a Glance
- Drop: 9mm
- Stack: Heel – 25mm / Toe – 16mm
- Weight: 11.35 oz.
- Upper: AirMesh / TPU MicroLite Skeleton / Flex-Guard
- Lining: Airmesh (heel only)
- Midsole: Injection shock absorbing MEMlex EVA / 2.4 mm LaSpEVA
- Sole: FriXion Trail Rocker2 with Impact Brake System
- Cushioning: Midsole – 32A
La Sportiva supplied alison young with this shoe for use on the Te Araroa.