La Sportiva AKASHA – Shoe Review

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to run in the La Sportiva Akasha? But, now that I have, I am somewhat perplexed that I have been missing an awesome shoe for months and probably years.

With 350km in the Akasha in just over 2-weeks, I can confirm that they are one of the most comfortable and reassured shoes I have used irrespective of the type of terrain or distance of run.

They are billed as a cushioned, protective and a long-distance shoe. When you first pick them up, you notice two things:

  1. They feel bomb proof.
  2. 2. They are a little heavy.

Of course, bomb proof and additional weight go hand in hand, but if the run comfort and feel is good, a little extra weight is no real issue. Weight is 310g for UK8.

From the off, the Akasha felt immediately comfortable with a great fit, roomy toe box, but not too roomy (3 on a 1-5 scale,) very breathable upper, padded tongue, excellent lacing and foot hold and a comfortable heel box.

The cushioning is notable with 31mm / 25mm stack height for a 6mm drop and lugs are 4.5mm

The cushioning platform is noticeable and especially so when running. It is injected moulded EVA in a single density. It has stabiliser anti torsional inserts and it features the trail rocker that helps slow the transition from heel strike to toe off by isolating and deforming the heel zone separately by providiing a separation

Out if the box I went on an 18km gnarly trail run with loads of rocks and vert. The following day was a 32km run on similar terrain. The shoes were just soooo comfortable and protective. I was cursing that it had taken me so long to use the Akasha and I was already thinking to myself, I need to get another pair…! The cushioning and protection remarkably do not lose ground feel, on the contrary, it’s really good! Of course, not comparable with a more minimalist shoe but hey, the Akasha is not trying to be that!

There is no rock plate, but with this level of cushioning it is no issue. Importantly, there is a real feel for the ground and a life in the shoe. The heal area is very cushioned and bouncy. The Ortholite Mountain Running insert adds to the comfort also. Rocks, irrespective of shape caused no foot discomfort and on no occasion did I feel anything push through the cushioning to make me wince with that all to painful twinge in the bottom of the foot.

Lacing up the shoes, there is an immediate foot hold and security in the instep. This I like. I don’t like sloppy shoes with poor foot hold, especially when running on technical trail. The tongue is gusseted and has a sock-like fit, again, another real bonus!

Overlays provide reinforcement of the very breathable and airy upper around the instep and at the front of the shoe. There is little to restrict the toes at the front and this has been superb when running on any type of terrain. The shoes bend beautifully and make the propulsive phase a pleasure.

Outsole is the aggressive FriXion XT which is unique to La Sportiva and is superb. The grip (4.5mm lugs) is well spaced out to help shed mud. With a built in ‘Trail Rocker’ these Akasha really role along. You will notice red areas on the sole which have a different look to the black areas. This allows for superb heel to toe transition should it be required – depending on your run style and gait.

No matter what I have thrown at the Akasha, they have responded superbly with superb ride, excellent comfort, and superb grip. They even accompanied me on a 16km road run and even then, the performance and feel were excellent.

They are a heavier shoe, but when running in them you just don’t notice it, especially when on challenging terrain.

Regarding size, you may want to consider going a half size larger. I am pretty much always a UK9.5/ EU44 in most shoes. The La Sportiva comes as a EU442/3 (which is a UK9.5+) and they have been great with no problems. However, just recently I ordered a second pair (because I have been so happy with the first) and I ordered an EU45 which has given me just a little more space and toe room. I have yet to run in the EU45.

Summary

Soft and breathable with a slipper like comfort, reinforced upper, superb cushioning, excellent grip and a 6mm drop – The La Sportiva Akasha has been revelation.

Irrespective of the terrain, the Akasha is a shoe that you can grab for any run, and they will perform superbly, be that for a short distance trail runs or a long and lengthy mountain run. It’s a shoe that would be ideal for say UTMB or similar. Feet feel fresh for mile-after-mile in the Akasha and when running back-to-back days, I got no sore points or aches.

It’s rare that a shoe can feel so good on any terrain and yes, they may tip the scales a little heavier than some of the competition but the ride and comfort more than justifies this.

The outsole, like the upper is bombproof and offers excellent grip on trail and rock and while not recommended, it ticks along on the road with no discomfort.

There are several shoes that I go to daily, the Hoka Torrent 2 being one that I can pick up and run on pretty much any terrain and for any length of time. The Akasha has now replaced the Torrent 2 as my daily ‘go-to’ and should I travel and only be able to take one pair of shoes, the Akasha would be the choice. The adidas Speed Ultra is still up there as one of my ‘shoes of 2021’ and for faster runs on more groomed trail, the Speed Ultra would win out. The Akasha will take some beating as a ‘grab and go’ shoe though and it’s rare to find one shoe that does so much so well and in a package that will last and last.

La Sportiva have long and respected heritage in the footwear world in particular with the mountains. This heritage is apparent in the Akasha where they have made attention to detail a priority along with comfort and durability. They have avoided compromise with a little extra weight.

Key Stats

Uppers:

Breathable Air Mesh + PU leather at the rear and Dynamic ProTechTion at the toe.

Lining:

Mesh non slip.

Midsole:

Injected EVA and Cushion Platform.

Footbed:

Ortholite Mountain Running.

Sole:

FriXion XT dual density with Trail Rocker system.

Cushioning:

31/25mm

Drop:

6mm

La Sportiva Cyklon Review

The La Sportiva CYKLON is here. Renowned for shoes that perform in mountain, challenging and arduous terrain, La Sportiva have moved up a level with the CYKLON collaborating closely with BOA® Fit System to provide a new mountain running shoe with a difference.

Available in multiple (4) colour options, the standout for me is the classic and directly recognizable La Sportiva colours on black/yellow/red which has always been pleasing to the eye and one that grabs attention.

The CYKLON on first impressions could almost be mistaken for a lightweight boot due to the built-in sock-liner which comes higher up the leg, to beyond ankle height which has two purposes: 1. It keeps out debris from entering the shoe. 2. It provides additional support.

The CYKLON has slightly unusual sizing, I take an EU44 (UK9.5) in all my shoes, the same applies here in the La Sportiva, but this comes out as a UK9.5+ – I guess a 9 and 2/3rds. It works fine and, in all honesty, I would say that little extra room was welcome.

They are not the lightest shoes, 340g for an EU44, but on the foot and running they feel superb, secure, and strong. They certainly don’t feel like a 300g+ shoe. The weight is listed as 315g for ‘standard size’ which is typically UK8/ EU42.

Drop is 8mm and cushioning is 20mm at the front and 28mm at the rear providing excellent protection for tough and challenging terrain.

Designed to excel in mountain environments, 6x world mountain running champion, Jonathan Wyatt (who works at La Sportiva) has been closely involved with the development of the shoe with all important athlete feedback. In his words, the CYKLON is the next step from the extremely popular MUTANT. While similarities can be seen, particularly in the outsole, the CYKLON moves the shoe design on significantly. The addition of BOA® significantly changes things too and the two brands have worked together to develop and tweak to ensure that the shoe is as perfect as it can be.

It’s often easy to get bogged down in jargon when discussing a shoe and all brands have their names to describe key features, here in the CYKLON ‘Dynamic Cage’ is a buzzword and one of the key USP’s of the shoe. Working with a supremely comfortable and secure sock-like fit, the Dynamic Cage holds the foot like no other shoe I have tried, it is as good as VJ Sport ‘Fitlock’ but at the same time, completely different.

The midsole is EVA Memlex which helps absorb shocks, offers protection through double density and it also has stabilization inserts.

The outsole is FriXion XF 2.0 with 7mm lugs which clearly shows what the CYKLON is for – challenging mountain terrain that includes mud, snow and/or ice.

The upper has 4-way mesh and has a multi-layer side panel overlay. It’s all about foothold and protection and while it’s too early to comment on longevity and life, the CYKLON upper screams durability. This is only emphasized at the form of the shoe with a real sold toe bumper and the rear where the overlay gives way to the sock-liner.

THE SHOE

The CYKLON is actually a little tricky to get on, a little like putting neoprene socks on. It is worthwhile just taking an extra minute to ensure you have your foot in the shoe correctly and that the sock-liner is adjusted, a yellow tab helps you pul them on. The sock liner does come above ankle height, so, you may want to consider what sock length you use.

First impression is the incredible hold of the foot. This is even before the BOA is adjusted. It’s like sliding your foot in to shoe gloves. Turning the BOA, the shoe tightens to the foot via 4 key points. The bottom one is fixed, the other 3 are independent and move according to foot shape and applied tension from the BOA – this is the Dynamic Cage. Quite simply, the more you turn the dial, the more secure the foothold. I have tested multiple shoes with a BOA system before and one of my constant complaints was that I often felt I couldn’t get the foothold I wanted, not so in the CYKLON. The foothold here as stated previously, is up there with the best and this is due the sock-fit and the Dynamic Cage working in harmony.

I was worried at the rear of the shoe where the overlays for the heel stop and the sock-liner starts. Hold for the heel is excellent but I did wonder if I would have an issue? The answer was no. Hold and comfort was superb.

There does feel just a hint of arch support in the shoe. It’s nothing crazy and for someone who uses neutral shoes, it caused me no issues or problems. As mentioned, there is some stability added to the midsole and this all comes down to La Sportiva making sure you have a secure and resilient shoe that can handle the terrain that the shoe is designed for.

Width up front is a 3 on a 1-5 scale, 1 being narrow/ precision and 5 being wide. For me, a 3 fit it about right based on the intended use – technical and challenging terrain of mid distance.

The 20-28 cushioning is more than I anticipated as is the 8mm drop. When running on mountain, skyrunning and technical terrain a shoe with more ground feel and lower drop is usually preferable, say 18-24 with 6mm drop! However, the CYKLON excels on the rough stuff giving a very confident and secure feel and they adapt to quick changes of direction. The FriXion outsole with 7mm lugs works superbly. Interestingly. AT Grip Spike can be added to the outsole for use on icy ground. The footbed is Ortholite and specifically designed for mountain running.

IN USE

I have 124km in the CYKLON and this is a first impression review. There are two key features which I want to rave about:

The sock-like fit is superb.

The BOA system Dynamic Cage is incredible and holds the foot like no other.

The 2 features above are stand out and on all my runs, this security and foot hold has put a huge smile on my face. Tree roots, rocks, mud, climbing, descending and so on, the CYKLON just holds the foot and gives complete confidence. The downside is that all these layers and hold make the shoe run hot! I could feel that the heat generated when running had difficulty to escape despite the breathable upper. Quite simply, the anti-abrasion mesh and TPU reinforcements all add up. I did a challenging and technical 26km run that had me out for 2h 45min and while I had no pain, irritations or discomfort, my feet were noticeably hotter than in other shoes.

BOA is always going to turn some people off, I get it, laces work, are simple and you snap one, you can easily replace it… BOA has come a long way in recent years and here on the CYKLON I can see the advancement and in all honesty, I don’t think the foot hold in the CYKLON would be as good if provided by laces – the BOA brings a whole new dynamic to the shoe and I am completely sold. For perspective, BOA do offer a full guarantee on the system. Here they use a L6 dial and TX4 lace and I asked the question, ‘what if a lace breaks?’ Quite simply, BOA replied, ‘A lace snapping is highly unlikely, however, should it happen, you can just tie lace together (as you would with any lace), and this will work.’ One of the great things about BOA is the ability to adjust quickly on the go, especially useful in cold weather. We all experiences laces coming undone, it’s a pain to stop and do them up again. With BOA they will not come undone and if you need to tighten, you just stop, bend down, turn the dial and off you go.

Cushioning in the CYCLONE is on the firm/ protective side and considering the intended use, probably comes as no surprise. However, I did expect a little more bounce? However, with 50km on the shoes, I found them more responsive – they are not plush or bouncy. They are solid, secure, and reliable and trustworthy. Again, this is a shoe designed for mid-distance and not long distance. Certainly, I found 3-5 hours perfectly comfortable. I haven’t gone beyond that time in the CYKLON yet. There is some support in the shoe and that can be felt when the terrain becomes very challenging, it helps guide the foot, not control it.

The outsole is solid, reliable, and durable. It’s ideal for mountain terrain and excels on rock and technical terrain, particularly in conjunction with the foot hold and BOA system.

SUMMARY

The CYKLON is somewhat unique in that it almost occupies its own category, almost a crossover between mountain running shoe and boot. It excels in challenging terrain with incredible foot hold, protection, and a great outsole. Standout features are the sock-like fit in conjunction with the BOA/ Dynamic Cage which provided me with arguably one of the most secure footholds I have experienced.

Intended for mid-distance, I see the CYKLON as a great shoe for any mountain adventure, long or short. It’s crossover capabilities and weight would have me choosing this shoe over a boot, particularly if I wanted to hike fast in the mountains.

Climbing and descending is solid and reassured.

All-in-all it’s a great shoe and La Sportiva fans, particularly those who have used the Mutant are going to love.

The downsides for me are that the shoe runs hot and particularly in summer months this could prove to be an issue? It’s not the lightest shoe and despite the amazing foot hold, it probably doesn’t feel like a nimble and light race shoe, so, if looking to race, another shoe may be preferable? Day-to-day mountain adventures, fast or slow, the CYKLON will be a great addition to any shoe rotation.

Website here

Price 185 euro

The shoes were provided free for testing purposes and this is not a paid review or promotion.

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