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Outdoor Retailer: La Sportiva Vertical K minimal mountain runner

by Alicia MacLeay
August 3, 2011

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.)