La Sportiva Vertical K, Ultimate Rando Shoe?

Post by blogger | August 6, 2011      

I’ve struggled with it for years. I’m not the only one. The question: when you’re doing hut trips or point-to-point ski tours, what comfortable real running shoe is light for lugging around in your backpack, but still, yep, comfortable and REAL?

La Sportiva Vertical K

La Sportiva Vertical K shoe will start to enter retail sometime next winter. 6.5 ounces per foot, and no lie used in Hardrock 100 foot race!

Reebok made a thing called the “Travel Trainer” for awhile, but those were manky, with an upper constructed of non-breathable fako leather that cooked your feet. Other companies make fairly lightweight runners, but most only save a few ounces and weight saving mods such as grinding the sole down or removing footbeds make them uncomfortable. Oh yeah, and there were always and still are Crocs. Especially pink ones. Feel free.

Enter this little ditty from La Sportiva. Possible the coolest thing I’ve seen at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer, the Vertical K requires an assay scale to sense the air-light 6.5 ounces each shoe weighs. That’s before you cut off the lace cover and remove the insoles (he he). Amazingly (at least to me), it’s said these have been used to race the Hardrock 100 suffer fest. If that’s true, then they’ll offer adequate support to make it from the trailhead back to the burger joint.

What appears to make these shoes actually function while still weighing nothing is a thick yet super cushiony and low-density sole that’s a component of La Sportiva’s “Morphodynamic” shoe technology. As far as I can tell, that’s just a big word for using carefully designed cushioning and sole lug patterns in place of heavier stuff. Serious runners might wax on for 1,000 words about that. Here at WildSnow, it’s enough to know you can run in the things, so they’ll work for everything from dirt hikes to running from the Swiss border patrol when they find out you’ve got a jug of American whiskey you’re trying to sneak in.

Now, before I get taken to task, yes, other companies are always coming up with lighter and ever lighter shoes that still function. But Vertical K lacks the bright obnoxious coloration of some others, and the lace cover could actually be a good thing for backcountry applications. So at this juncture we’re high on these guys above all others. But I’m planning on continuing my search for THE SHOE today.

I suspect Vertical K will also be a go-to for rock climbers who clip their approach shoes to their harness or rack so they can swap footwear for the hike down.

Probably available mid-winter and for sure this coming spring. In production now. Toss your Crocs. Please.


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12 Responses to “La Sportiva Vertical K, Ultimate Rando Shoe?”

  1. Gordon August 6th, 2011 12:16 pm

    The ultimate pair of “hut shoes” are my Mizuno racing flats. Weighing in at 8 ounces PER PAIR, there is no excuse to avoid packing them on any trip that requires a backpack OR suitcase. Take your choice: lace up (like mine) or elastic (if your feet aren’t as close as they once were). Get them with spikes for lightweight fall protection on ice.

  2. Lou August 6th, 2011 2:03 pm

    Finding some new iterations of hut shoes around here, I’ll cover soon. The Sportiva does look like a winner…

  3. Scott August 6th, 2011 2:10 pm

    yeah, I tried on a pair of the La Sportiva Crosslites recently (looks very similar to the vert k) and I was really impressed. Normally Sportiva’s shoes are way too narrow for me (I’m a D width) but the crosslites felt great, almost a sock-like fit with a pretty aggressive sole, and super light weight. Would be a great crag shoe.

  4. Jonathan Shefftz August 7th, 2011 8:58 am

    Thanks for the idea on the racing flats — looking up the specs, those seem like ideal hut footwear when such footwear is necessary. (Although for the past couple years, I’ve just worn my DyNA and now TLT5 except when I was sleeping, but I can see how some huts wouldn’t want ski boots tromping all over everywhere.)

  5. XXX_er August 8th, 2011 2:44 pm

    I normaly buy a motion control shoe (Saucony stabil grid) but this time I went with the La sportiva wildcat GTX which is a neutral shoe, they sure do fit my skinny ankle/wide forefoot/low volume foot nicely with that stretchy upper, I think that due to that stretchy upper I couldn’t get any kind of orthotic or aftermarket footbed which I normaly use to work BUT they just work right out of the box period and are about as minimalist as I am willing to go

    My only complaint would be no heel tab to get them on/off which would be real nice with such a stretchy upper but I am guessing that would cost a few grams & compromise the GTX envelope

  6. Jan Wellford August 8th, 2011 4:46 pm

    These must be 6.5 ounces per pair. Otherwise that’s 13 ounces, which would make them heavier than almost every other trail runner out there. 6.5 oz per pair is indeed very light!

  7. Lou August 8th, 2011 5:13 pm

    Too much going on in my explodo brain, but are you sure about that Jan? 6.5 ounces per shoe seems pretty danged light…

  8. Jonathan Shefftz August 8th, 2011 6:13 pm

    That’s per shoe. A typical lightweight trail runner is around 11 to 13 ounces per shoe. (Etailer sites can indeed be confusing on this, but just put a pair on a scale.)

  9. Jan Wellford August 11th, 2011 8:47 pm

    I’d use either my Montrail Streaks (10.5 oz) or Hoka Mafates (12.5 oz) if I were to run Hardrock. Guess I just figured that if these were being billed as super light than they must be lighter than most standard shoes.. But you’re both right, there’s no way the Vertical K could be only 6.5 oz. Too bad!

  10. Jan Wellford August 11th, 2011 8:55 pm

    Never mind, I’m an idiot. 6.5 oz per shoe is indeed wicked light! I just realized that the weights I quoted above are also per shoe, not per pair. That means these Vertical Ks are almost half the weight of my Hokas. Wow!

  11. Lou August 12th, 2011 8:19 am

    Jan, first, any time the outdoor industry calls something “light” that is always suspect. The scale is the only thing that one can rely on for the facts, it seems. Also, you pick up the Vertical K and you _know_ those things are like a feather. Really impressive. Can’t wait for them to be available, they’re really going to help with traveling, luggage weight, hut trips, that sort of thing. Shoot, if they fit me good and hold up reasonably well I might run them for my only low-cut shoe. They’d look good at weddings (grin).

  12. Jonathan Shefftz December 14th, 2011 2:08 pm

    @Gordon, thanks again for the tip — my Mizuno Wave Universe 4 just arrived. (On sale at Zappos!) Only 7.9 oz per pair in a size 9 (which runs pretty short, although given how minimal the upper is, they can be sized almost like socks). I don’t have the technique to run much with so little cushioning (although stability seems surprisingly good), but for hut use, business trip workouts, and long non-technical approaches after which any add’l footwear has be carried around during the tour (as opposed to stashed for later retrieval), these are great!

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