La Sportiva Mutant Review
Regarded by trail runners as elite shoes for muddy, steep and difficult terrain, the La Sportiva Mutant provides sticky grip while attacking versatile mountain runs. Read below what Bogong employee Sam thinks of the shoe.
The “Mutant” by La Sportiva is an aggressive, ultra-sticky mountain shoe that inspires confidence in the most treacherous of conditions.
The Mutant means business. Every aspect of this shoe is thoughtfully and purposefully designed to take you well beyond the point that standard trail running shoes start slowing you down. Its packed with unique features, including the supportive and performance oriented upper with an integrated gaiter, the SpyralTongue and FusionGate lacing system (see pics below), the large lugs made from sticky rubber, and a 10mm drop. This shoe simultaneously feels like an extension of your foot (it’s locked in place and isn’t going anywhere!) and like you’ve got SUVs for feet.
The upper and lacing system is truly impressive. It’s slightly odd the first time you go to lace the shoes; one lace threads through the mesh pocket on the side and then, once you’ve tied your shoes, the laces tuck back into that mesh pouch so they won’t get snagged. With its unique lacing system and tongue that wraps around your foot, the shoe locks onto your foot in a way I’ve not experienced in any other trail runner. Although the upper is a little less stretchy and forgiving than traditional mesh shoes, the sturdy construction means the Mutants are very durable. Perhaps more importantly, your feet don’t slip around on technical terrain, like stretchier uppers sometimes allow. Depending on the width of your feet, the lack of stretch could cause issues when your feet start to swell on longer runs. I have a standard foot width and it has never been a problem for me.
Underfoot, the shoe has such a gentle shape that moulds into the arch without feeling like a stability shoe. This adds to the feeling that foot and shoe are going to operate as a single unit. The shoe has a 10mm drop, which for trail runners, may seem rather high. But keep in mind this is a mountain shoe in every sense. The higher drop makes a difference when tackling steep hills, bringing more of the shoe into contact with the terrain, to give you more traction. Engage SUV mode!
The outsole has deep lugs and uses La Sportiva’s stickiest rubber, making it the perfect shoe for rock, mud, and ice. While wearing other shoes, I’ve felt my feet slipping on technical descents. I’ve previously wanted more traction on steep rocky ascents, and I’ve felt like other shoes wanted to pull off in boggy conditions. The Mutants stayed firm in all these conditions.
Even though they have deeper lugs and are a touch heavier than some “all-rounder” shoes, the Mutants are more than capable (and comfortable) on hard packed trails. On a trip away where I only took one pair of running shoes with me – the Mutants, of course – I even used them for a bit of road running with zero issues. Although, with how soft those sticky rubber lugs are, you would likely wear them down quickly if you spent too much time on the pavement.
Living up to their name, the Mutant comes into its own in conditions that make other shoes anxious. Though certainly not as nimble as minimalist shoes like the La Sportiva Helios, the Mutant is at home on just about any trail, for any duration. Since they are hands-down the best fitting shoe I’ve ever worn, I find myself wearing them for anything that isn’t a dedicated road run.
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