Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
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Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor has been one of the most amazing hiking shoes I've ever worn from a performance standpoint. The combination of a grippy Frixion Green rubber outsole, and a cushy and protective La Sportiva midsole, make for the perfect combination. I've worn through two pair in the last two years, and now have a very intimate understanding of this shoe's strong points and weak points. I've now had a chance to give the Ultra Raptor a test on a wide range of hiking trails, and am always amazed out how well they handle anything I can throw their way.

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor has been one of the most amazing hiking shoes I’ve ever worn from a performance standpoint. The combination of a grippy Frixion Green rubber outsole, and a cushy and protective La Sportiva midsole, make for the perfect combination. I’ve worn through two pair in the last two years, and now have a very intimate understanding of this shoe’s strong points and weak points. I’ve now had a chance to give the Ultra Raptor a test on a wide range of hiking trails, and am always amazed out how well they handle anything I can throw their way.


Support Trail to Peak by purchasing the Ultra Raptor on Amazon with the links below:

Men’s Ultra Raptor | Men’s Ultra Raptor GTX | Women’s Ultra Raptor


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

Upper:

The Ultra Raptor has a very comfortable upper with lots of breathable mesh. This is really nice for those long and hot days on the trail, as I can still feel the breeze kissing my toes when I’m 20 miles into an adventure. The fit is precise through the heel and midfoot, which is something I like quite a bit. La Sportiva uses a leather-like overlay on the inside of the heel which creates a no-slip fit. This feels like it might create a little too much friction when you first try the Ultra Raptor on, but this feeling quickly goes away the second you start hiking. The outside of the heel uses a skeleton cage stabilizer for the heel counter.


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
No Slip

The upper of the Ultra Raptor uses plastic overlays to comfortably wrap the midfoot and provide excellent lateral support. This lacing system is very secure and has never caused my foot to have any hot spots.

To keep the Ultra Raptor free from debris, a one piece overlay was stitched under these wraps, but over the tongue. This is a really nice design that keeps rocks and pebbles out of the shoe without adding any pressure points to the top of the foot.


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Lateral Support

The upper of the Ultra Raptor utilizes a rand that runs from heel to toe. At first I thought this would be uncomfortable and diminish breathability, but that hasn’t proven to be the case.

The only thing that I really don’t like about the upper of the Ultra Raptor is the shape of the toe box. It is very narrow. I’m usually a 12-12.5 in trail running shoes, but have to order this shoe in a size 13 to accommodate for the narrow width in the toe area.  The materials used in the toebox are forgiving and haven’t caused any blistering or uncomfortable rubbing, but I’d still like to see the next version widen up a great deal here. The toe box has a nice rubber wrap for toe protection, which offers the right amount of burliness without getting in the way.


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Toebox

Midsole:

The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor has a 8mm drop with 30mm in the heel and 22mm in the forefoot.  The cushioning for this shoe is just about perfect. I like shoes with a wide and flared heel for stability, and was a bit worried when I saw how narrow the heel was on the Ultra Raptor. So far, this has not caused any problems with me rolling my ankles.

La Sportiva uses MEMIex EVA throughout the entirety of the midsole, with a compressed EVA stone guard to act as a flexible rockplate. This midsole can do it all, and offers incredible protection over the toughest rocky trails we have here in Southern California. This is one of those shoes that leave my underfoot feeling fresh, even after walking for 20+ miles on jagged scree. There aren’t many shoes that give me this kind of comfort.

For added protection, control, and torsional rigidity, La Sportiva uses the Flex Transfer Shank in the arch of the midfoot, which is a part of the shoe’s Impact Brake System. The Impact Brake System sounds like a bit of a gimmicky marketing term for useless technology, but I can assure, it’s not! This shoe offers a great deal of control and precision when flying downhill. Downhill hiking can add a lot of stress to the joints of your legs, but these shoes seem to handle it better than most.

The only downside to the MEMlex EVA midsole from my experience is the way it wears down. Both pairs of my Ultra Raptors have worn down unevenly and in a pretty quick fashion. This could be entirely due to my walking gait, but it’s something I thought I should mention, as I’ve seen it mentioned in other reviews as well. On both of my pairs, the outside of each foot compresses much more than the inside, leaving my foot an ankle in a permanently supinated position. This begins to occur shortly after 100 miles on each pair, which is far sooner than most shoes I’ve worn. I think La Sportiva should use a more durable and less compressible EVA for this shoe. I know that would forfit a lot of the bounce and comfort of the MEMlex, but the added durability would be a nice tradeoff.


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Outer
Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Inner

Outsole:

The outsoles on the Ultra Raptor are incredible, and quite possibly the most grippy outsole I’ve ever worn. Wet rock, wood, leaves, dust covered slab, slick slab, talus, scree, crushed gravel, you name it, this shoe will stick to it like glue. The trade-off you make with a soft and sticky outsole is durability, and that was the case with the Ultra Raptor as well.  This is largely dependent on the types of trails you frequent, so keep in mind that I hike on some pretty nasty stuff with lot’s of sharp and jagged rocks. There aren’t too many shoes that make it past 200 miles on the arid range I call home. Still, compared to other shoes I’ve hiked in over the past two years, the Ultra Raptor has shown excessive wear the quickest. This doesn’t really impact it’s overall grip or performance right away, but my first pair was rendered just about useless after 150 miles.


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Outsole

The outsole of the Ultra Raptor uses the Frixion XF Green compound and not the Frixion AT Blue that is found on the Wildcat (a similar La Sportiva Model). In my experience, the Green is a stickier and softer compound that sticks to everything, but wears down a little quicker. The friction blue has great grip as well, but a little less than the Green. The Blue is a harder rubber compound which makes it last a little longer and makes the ride a little less bouncy underfoot. I think this might be one of the big reasons many hikers I see on the Pacific Crest Trail use the Wildcat and not too many wear the Ultra Raptor. That extra durability goes a long way.

The lug pattern on the Ultra Raptor’s full coverage outsole is very well designed, and as I mentioned before, sticks like glue to just about any surface. The Frixion Green oval shaped lugs compress underfoot giving great cushion and ground contact.


Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Forefoot Lugs

Closing Thoughts:

In conclusion, this is a great hiking shoe for all outdoor adventures. I’ve had a few issues with the durability of the midsole and outsole, but a lot of that has to do with the trails I’m using this shoe on. When it comes down to it, I’m on my second pair now, so clearly the functionality vs durability trade-off is one I’m willing to make.


Support Trail to Peak by purchasing the Ultra Raptor on Amazon with the links below:

Men’s Ultra Raptor | Men’s Ultra Raptor GTX | Women’s Ultra Raptor


I’m Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

9 comments on “Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

  1. Just bought a pair of these and have tested them on two shorter trails. I am still breaking them in and haven’t made a final decision. I did notice a bit of slippage in the heel on the last hike, but it didn’t seem to cause a hot spot or any blistering, so I’ll see how that fairs in the future. They do stick to everything, though wet rock was still a bit slick. I’m coming off a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilators after about 400 miles that I love, but needed something more breathable. Hoping these work out as good as those did.

    • Let me know how that goes. I’ve read a lot of nice things about the Ventilators, but like you, many have had problems with the breathability and weight. .

  2. Anonymous

    Taking a pair of these on the JMT and I’m wondering how quickly they will dry. Wondering if i need to take a water shoe for the water crossings. Great review and a great site.

    • They dry fairly quickly. The overlay in the midfoot retain a little water, but overall they do very well. I don’t think it would be worth the weight to haul around a water shoe for the few creek crossings on the JMT.

  3. Got a size 43.5, my size in two other La sportiva’s that I own. So I went with that size in the Mutant. Way to small although lengthwise they were fine. So I got a 44. It fit great. However they have high arches and I got a hot spot on the arch of my right foot and the left foot arch didn’t feel good either. Unfortunately they are going back to the seller. I can’t criticize a shoe sinceI haven’t really worn that much because of fit issues. But my other La sportive’s were great so I’ll be buying a new pair of them in the future.

    • Drew Robinson

      The Mutant can feel a bit more narrow in the arch and instep area. The more pronounced arch plays a large role in that. The new Akyra fits a lot more like the Ultra Raptor.

  4. Pingback: Gear Review: La Sportiva Wildcat - Trail to Peak

  5. Drew, really appreciate your reviews. Some of the best I’ve found. I’m trying to decide between the Ultra Raptor and Akasha for a fastpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. (Have done a lot of trail running and backpacking. This will be first time trying to mix the two. I think the pack will be about 15 pounds.) Thanks!

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