It’s been five years since I’ve replaced my trail running shoes. My previous shoes went through a lot. All kinds of environments from sandy deserts to rocky terrains. From green forests to icy lakes. From Vancouver trails to Yosemite. They were tough and so were my stubbornness to stretch them out as long as I could. Then I started to notice I’m sliding more on slippery surfaces and getting blisters more often. The rips in the toe areas were getting bigger and the tread patterns were wearing out fast. It was finally time to buy new shoes.
I came across the La Sportiva brand while looking for climbing shoes. I had no clue they also made hiking and trail running shoes. Their shoes are a little funky looking and that’s what I like about them. They play with colors and designs to create unique yet functional outdoor shoes. After reading tons of reviews, I decided to try the La Sportiva Wildcats 3.0 because of the specs and design. After trying them on, I can’t believe I put up with my old, clunky hiking shoes for five years!
FIT AND COMFORT
These are super comfortable right out of the box! That might be because the Wildcats 3.0 were designed with a gender-biased fit. It was created with consideration to women’s feet structure so it’s not just a shrunken version of a male shoe. They were comfortable the moment I put them on with enough arch support (I have a high arch), a tongue that fits well over the top of the foot, and great traction thanks to the Frixion rubber sole.
It wasn’t until I tried them on the trails when I noticed some things that bugged me. The shoe box was little too wide for my narrow feet and the heel height was pretty high. Lots of wiggle room for my toes but with my feet being so narrow, this made the shoes feel too wide for me. It all comes down to preference. For trail running, I prefer my shoes snug, lightweight and with a lower heel.
I could also feel the toe guard lining on the inside. It bugged me because a habit developed where I would move my toes up to feel the lining. That sentence probably sounded weird but if you buy the shoes, you’ll know what I mean. This wasn’t a deal breaker, just an observation.
The mesh upper is a blessing and a curse. Like everything in life, there are tradeoffs. While it made the shoes more breathable, it lacks protection so durability becomes an issue. It’s mesh all around with no protection on the sides. The toe protection was also lacking. I got poked by cacti needles and those needles went right through to my toes. Ouch. Not much protection on these because after all, they’re made as lightweight as they can be for trail running. Word of caution, stay off desert bushwacking trails if you want to keep these intact.
With consideration to how much cushion the Wildcats has, they’re still light enough to make you feel stealthy yet durable enough for rocky terrain. I tested them on the rocky trails of Arizona and didn’t have any issues with sharp rocks. Although the plush cushioning does add some weight to the shoes so running on rocky trails might feel less stable for some. They’re not overly clunky though and I still felt better running in them than I did with my five year old shoes.
The tread is super sticky thanks to their Frixion rubber, the same kind they use in their climbing shoes. The only concern I had about the soles were the angled lugs. These are meant to increase braking and shock absorption. I’m not sure how to test those claims nor could I tell an increase in breaking while testing them, but I was worried that they would be prone to tearing off with extensive use especially in desert hiking.
WHAT I LIKE
- The design! Just check out how they have the brand name integrated into the mesh.
- Good arch support. Great for those with a high arch.
- Comfortable with a firm and cushioned midsole.
- Durable and sticky sole.
- These shoes will protect you pretty well on rocky trails!
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
- The heel was too high. Again, this comes down to personal preference.
- Shoe box was too wide for me. I have narrow feet.
- Upper isn’t durable because it’s all mesh.
- Could feel the toe guard lining on the inside.
I honestly enjoyed running in these despite the cons (and the cons aren’t deal breakers). This would be a good shoe for trail running and hiking as long as you stay away from bushwacking trails. The La Sportivas is great for those who prefer wider trail running shoes and lots of cushion.
In the end, I didn’t keep them because when compared to the Bushidos, they were just too wide for my narrow feet. Although I didn’t keep them, I would definitely recommend them depending on what someone is looking for.