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Outdoor Retailer: La Sportiva Vertical K minimal mountain runner

La Sportiva Vertical K mountain running shoe

Outdoor Retailer kicks off today with Open Air Demo at Utah's Jordanelle State Park. This is the actual outdoor part (yay!) of this crazy, jam-packed outdoor show.

To make the most of it, I'm starting the day at Trail Runner's It’s a Shore Thing Trail Run, a benefit run for GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors).

I'll be wearing my trusty La Sportiva Wildcats, but those 10-ounce shoes will probably feel like overbuilt tanks compared to La Sportiva's newest mountain running shoe, the Vertical K.

The Vertical K, new for 2012, highlights a number of continuing gear developments:

  1. minimal structure,
  2. ultra lightweight at 6.5 ounces (185 grams) per shoe (Compare that to the SkyLite, which has been La Sportiva's lightest at 9.4 ounces (269 grams) per shoe), and
  3. bright styling.

Like it or not, lots of outdoor shoes are getting not only lighter (where will it end?), but also brighter and, dare we say it, flashier. (I kind of like it.) These kicks are not subtle, nor will they be for everyone, but they do aim to make a statement.

“The Vertical K is La Sportiva’s take on a minimalist shoe for real trail runners”, says Jonathan Lantz, president of La Sportiva N.A. “This is a minimalist mountain running shoe that runners can actually use in all conditions all the time. It is the perfect balance of lightweight materials with just enough cushioning under foot for big time adventures in the mountains.”

Salomon Synapse

While, the Vertical K is available in a unisex's model, over at Salomon, their forthcoming Synapse "natural motion hiking shoe" will come in models for men and women.

Jen Pharr Davis wore the Synapses on her recent Appalachian Trail speed record, lending credence to Salomon's suggestion that the Synapse intuitively speeds up your trail adventures so you can "run your hike!" (10.58 oz/300 g women's shoe; 11.99 oz/340 g men's shoe, $120)

Also, Patagonia Footwear will have its lightest trail runner yet, the Fore Runner (7.76 oz women's shoe, 9.17 oz men's shoe, 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, $110).


Stay tuned for regular updates and announcements, including more trail runners and gear, from OR. Subscribe to our blog and news RSS feeds for real-time updates of our daily show coverage, and follow our tweets from Open Air Demo and the show floor on Twitter.


(Disclosure: While I tested and reviewed a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats for Trailspace in 2009, I've since bought on my own numerous pairs of Wildcats and Wildcats GTXs, including the pair mentioned above, for the majority of my trail running and hiking.)


Here we go!  Minimalist is an excellent move.  I'm wearing some Saucony Peregrine's on my feet right now and did all my indoor work this winter in a pair of Kinvaras.

6.5oz per shoe is excellent.  A couple of questions (don't know if you have time to respond to these):

 - La Sportiva has some pretty tacky rubber at times... since rubber is usually reduced on minimalist shoes, how's the rubber? 

 - Heel drop?  I see Patagonia listed a 4mm drop (which isn't bad).  Are others following suit?  This is where the minimalist trend starts to move towards the "natural" or "barefoot" running trends. 

Excited to see this post.  Love new shoe news... especially when they're moving towards minimalist designs.

Starting the day with a trail run... as part of a conference?  I need to change careers!

I had a pair of Crosslites for a bit that I loved but didn't quite agree with my feet; the Vertical Ks look promising!

I am strictly boots on trail but I like the looks of the Synapse.

Thanks for your patience waiting for more info, guys. Here's some more on the Vertical K.

The Vertical K has a FriXion XF rubber outsole (same as on La Sportiva's other mountain racing shoes — the Skylite 2.0 and X Country — plus the Raptor) with MorphoDynamic waves for traction and grip.

Heel is 18 mm, Toe is 14 mm, for a 4 mm heel drop.

Here are two pictures from OR:



There's enough happening in footwear, minimal and otherwise, for us to cover it from here to perpetuity, or at least it feels that way. I'm planning to pull together more info on trail runners and hikers this month.

Way too ugly to even consider.  Surely the idea that someone might want to be seen wearing it.... must have entered into Sportiva's conscious at sometime?

I have actually been looking at La Sportiva's Electron:

(best pic I could find online)

While still being "flashy" its a lil more mellow than the Vert K. I like the Vert K but its just to "flashy" for me.

Dont care about the flashy design. It's all a blurr when I'm running anyways...

Besides, having flashy trail shoes will distract from the dirt and sweat-stained shirt I'm wearing when I enjoy a post-workout drink in an "establishment". I I usually (and inadvertently) take some branches home with me after my trail-runs


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