Having put many miles on my La Sportiva hiking shoes, I embarked on my trekking adventure in the Ultra Raptor II.
I put these trail running shoes to the ultimate test, an extensive, two-month expedition through the rugged landscapes of the Scottish West Highland Way and Italy’s rocky Alta Via 1.
The Ultra Raptors excelled on the rough terrain, showcasing an evolved design from their predecessor.
One gripe was the slightly narrow toe box, but this small concession was swiftly outweighed by the enhanced impact brake system and the durable full-length rock guard, crucial for traversing the rocky trails.
At $165, the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II is a complete package for any trail runner or hiker. Their comfort, suitability for lightweight hiking or multi-day backpacking, and impressive performance on technical terrain make these shoes stand out in the crowded market of hiking footwear.
Curious about how these trail runners handle mountain running? Read on to learn about my experience as I tested them for my La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II review.
This is a low cut trail running shoe. If you are looking for the mid cut hiking boot, check our review of La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX.
- FriXion® XF 2.0 rubber outsole
- AirMesh upper with Microfiber reinforcement
- Full-length EVA rock guard
Things We Tested When We Reviewed La Sportiva Raptor II
The 2nd iteration of La Sportiva Ultra Raptor proved to be a durable hiking shoe. Upon testing, the toughness of the materials used, coupled with effective reinforcements like Microfiber and a full-length EVA rock guard, undoubtedly adds to this shoe’s longevity.
I piled on the mileage through harsh, technical and mountainous terrain, and the Ultra Raptor II took it all in stride. Yet, a point of concern was the toe box, quite narrow, which caused some pressure on the toe bumper, potentially impacting its lifespan, particularly for those with wider feet.
This is worth noting when considering this trail running shoe, even though it might outlast a typical lightweight hiking shoe or a rock climbing shoe in robustness.
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II excelled when it came to trail bite, thanks to its robust FriXion® XF 2.0 outsole.
While out on the rocky and technical terrain, I found it comparable, if not superior, to typical hiking shoes.
Personally, every stride felt secure, even when navigating rugged mountain trails where grip is paramount and most trail running shoes struggle.
The depth of the lugs and unique config improved the ‘trail bite’ remarkably.
The built-in brake system was noteworthy too, ensuring steadiness on steep descents, with just a few minor exceptions when the terrain became particularly muddy and wet.
Compared to my past experiences with hiking shoes and hiking boots, the Ultra Raptor II trail runner holds its ground well, providing excellent traction.
The Ultra Raptor 2 offers a good level of comfort, a crucial trait for any hiking shoe or trail runner.
During testing, I noticed the full-length padding that worked in tandem with the TPU shank to produce a kind of comfort and stability that felt superior to an ordinary hiking boot or a lightweight hiking shoe.
Yet, because of the narrow toe compartment, some might find it a bit suffocating, especially during long-distance trail running or mountain running sessions. Half size up might be beneficial for those with wider feet.
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II offers middling breathability – not the best I have experienced, but not the worst either.
Its upper is an AirMesh, a make designed for lighter-weight trail runners seeking breathable shoes.
Also, the mesh is woven to allow air to circulate, keeping feet cool in more temperate climates or trail running sessions during warm weather.
That said, on several hot, long-distance, cross-country travel sessions, my feet tended to heat up and sweat a bit more than in other trail runners I have tested.
A small drawback for an otherwise comfortable shoe.
The Ultra Raptor II is a middleweight champion in trail running shoes. Depending on the size, it could weigh anywhere between 11.6oz/330g (women’s) and 12.3oz/350g (men’s).
Considering the protection and features it provides – such as a full-length rock plate and TPU lacing harness – this weight is acceptable.
During my test on mountainous terrain, I found the Ultra Raptors’ weight created a good balance between stability and agility.
Yet, compared to some lightweight hiking shoes or shoes specifically designed for rock climbing, the Ultra Raptor II was noticeably heavier.
Despite not having a Gore-Tex membrane, the Sportiva Ultra Raptor II exhibits considerable waterproofing for a trail running shoe.
My feet remained dry during test hikes, even when trailing through puddles and wet grass.
Nevertheless, submerging the Ultra Raptor II in a stream could result in wet feet as the waterproofing does not extend around the ankle.
My hiking experience tells me that fully waterproof shoes or hiking boots could combat this.
The Ultra Raptor II trail runner provided admirable support during my testing, especially on mountain terrain.
This hiking shoe’s TPU heel counter contributed to a secure heel pocket, providing more ankle support and preventing my feet from rolling when navigating difficult trails.
Unfortunately, I noted that a break-in period is necessary for the shoes to conform to your foot shape, ensuring maximum grip.
Fit and Sizing
Testing the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor 2, I found the fit a bit on the narrow side, particularly around the toe compartment.
This might not be ideal for hikers and trail runners with wide feet.
It’s worth noting the shoe was true to size for those with narrow feet like mine.
Hiking or running on the trail, the Sportiva Ultra Raptor II hugged the foot snugly, providing a sense of security.
While the shoe might feel tight for some, I found that a half-size up could potentially offer the sweet spot between comfort and performance.
How Does it Compare with Other Products?
La Sportiva Bushido II
Put against the $155 La Sportiva Bushido II, the Raptor II trail running shoe can feel heavier, which might make hardcore trail runners lean towards the more lightweight Bushido II.
However, the difference isn’t significant for most hikers who crave durability and protection.
The Bushido II also has a stickier rubber outsole that can give it an advantage while rock climbing, but the Ultra Raptor II’s FriXion® XF 2.0 rubber sole gives greater range and excellent ‘trail bite’ on challenging, rugged terrain.
The lug pattern of Bushido II is different, making it great for shorter, technical trails, but the Raptor II’s wider forefoot and ample cushioning offer more support and comfort for long distances. Both have a narrow toe cap, but wide versions are available for both.
Saucony Peregrine 13
Compared to the Saucony Peregrine 13 ($140), the Ultra Raptor shows superior wear resistance with its full-length EVA rock protection.
The Peregrine 13’s EVA midsole is responsive, making it ideal for many runners, but it may wear quickly on rocky terrain.
The difference lies in the approach to wet conditions; the Ultra Raptor keeps feet dry and maintains good traction, although not a waterproof model – while the Peregrine 13 has a non-waterproof version, but it may struggle more in the mud.
The Raptor II’s lacing system is also more reliable, offering a comfortable, personalized fit, and I felt it provides a little more ankle stability compared to the Peregrine 13.
Although both shoes have aggressive lugs for grip, the Ultra Raptor II feels superior in tackling the beaten path and wide-ranging mountain backdrops.
Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX
While both shoes promise great traction on a trail, the Raptor incorporates the FriXion® XF sole, giving an extra ‘trail bite’.
The similarly priced X Ultra, on the other hand, integrates a beautifully made Contagrip® MA outsole suited for all terrains and conditions.
The GTX’s Advanced Chassis, placed between the outsole and midsole, enhances stability as in the TPU overlays in Raptor II.
In a review of Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX, we found that it stands out in conditions like snow, thanks to its waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, while the sticky rubber in the Raptor II gives it an edge in rock climbing scenarios.
I know some hikers tend to prefer a softer, more flexible shoe like the X Ultra, yet the robust, durable construction of the Raptor II is undeniable.
Where La Sportiva Bushido 2 Performs Better?
The Ultra Raptor II excels in conditions where traction and stability are key. My testing encompassed various terrains, and these high-quality trail running shoes truly stand out on technical, rocky trails often encountered in mountain running.
Their rubber outsole offers reliable ‘trail bite,’ especially notable when descending steep terrains typically challenging for a backpacking boot.
On a course filled with dirt and rocks, or even during a summer trek involving some light rock climbing, you can rely on this pair to hold its ground.
The original Ultra Raptor was fitting for mild scrambling; the Ultra Raptor II takes the performance up a notch, hence its versatility exceeds that of an average approach shoe. Furthermore, the Ultra Raptor II caters to a wider audience.
It comes in both men’s and women’s versions, and wide sizes are available too providing a better fit for those with a wide forefoot or toes.
Even for long days packed with rigorous walking or heavy backpacking, these shoes promise all-day comfort and despite the added features, the Ultra Raptor II manages to maintain the light weight associated with La Sportiva’s shoes.
Where La Sportiva Bushido 2 Falls Short in Performance?
In examining the Ultra Raptor II, it’s vital to highlight a few places where it didn’t hit the mark. For instance, despite being handy trail running shoes, their side mudguard didn’t deliver in muddier conditions, reducing the trail bite heel.
Consequently, those seeking rock climbing shoes may find the Ultra Raptor II GTX or the II mid-GTX better equipped.
Additionally, the large pore size in the new version could lead to difficulties on rainy days, and while more sizes are available, including half sizes and a wide version, the stiff cushioning around the ankles might impact the right fit.
Do We Recommend It?
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II trail running shoe provided a robust hiking experience, combining comprehensive grip, durability, and comfort.
An exemplary choice, these shoes have a good lifespan, provide optimal support, and hold up fine even under taxing conditions.
While those with wider feet or those who prioritize toe room might find these shoes a touch restricting, their protective profile, coupled with Microfiber reinforcement, a full-length EVA rock plate, and a comfy heel counter are all fantastic advantages that especially came to the fore during extended running sessions.
Additionally, despite the extra ounces, I could barely feel them on my feet, resulting in a secure yet comfortable feel over varied terrains.
La Sportiva Raptor II trail running shoes feature a durable yet lightweight construction, a grippy and versatile outsole for varied terrains, a responsive midsole for cushioning, and a snug, secure fit. They also boast breathable upper and toe protection, making them well-suited for demanding trail runs.