I picked up this pair of La Sportiva Akasha back in February and started with a shoe preview post. At that point in time, the La Sportiva Mutant was my daily driver, but I was looking for shoe that offered just a little more protection. The Akasha seemed like the perfect option, but slid down the pecking order in my shoe rotation when I fell in love with the Nike Wildhorse 3. In the last few months, the Akasha have found their way back to the top of my shoe rotation and have racked up more miles than any other shoe I own in that time period (a little over 100 miles). In this review, I’m going to recap the upper, midsole, and outsole overview, as well as provide insight on the fit, feel, performance, and durability of the Akasha.
I’ve used the Akasha for a mix of trail running, hiking, and backpacking, and they’ve handled each activity quite well. The shining star of the Akasha is the outsole. I took a backpacking trip to Havasupai Falls the day after a major storm had passed and I was surprised how well the FriXion Red outsole shed mud and gripped wet rock. I also used the Akasha on two separate occasions to hike up to the 10,064ft summit of Mt. Baldy via the Register Ridge trail. This trail gains 4000ft in 3.5 miles on a ridge with some pretty loose terrain. I never once had to worry about my footing. The outsole has been near perfect for me in the performance category.
The midsole has performed admirably as well, but the ride of the Akasha can best be described as harsh. The firm dual injected MEMIex midsole is perfect for hiking and backpacking, but I found it to be a bit too stiff for longer trail runs. I noticed this when I first started wearing the Akasha, and figured they just needed to be broken in a bit. Even after passing the 100 mile mark, the Akasha midsole still lacks in forgiveness. I really like that stable and responsive ride for long hikes and days were I have a heavy backpack. If you’re looking at the midsole stack height of the Akasha and think it can replace a Hoka shoe in your lineup, think again. This works for me, as I find Hoka’s to be way too soft and unstable to take out on the trails. Just know what you’re getting with the dual injected MEMIex midsole of the Akasha.
The performance of the Akasha upper has been admirable in temperatures under 80 degrees. As you can tell in the photos, there is a lot of material on the Akasha upper. I love the support and protection that this shoe offers, but the tradeoff comes with a lack of breathability. I also found the Akasha to dry slowly and not drain water very well when submerged. This is obviously due to the amount of materials used to construct the uppers. I live in a very dry climate, so this is not really problem for me, but the heat was an issue in the summer months. I think that’s the main reason I just recently started to wear the Akashas again. They are much more comfortable for cooler days.
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Fit And Feel:
The La Sportiva Akasha is a thoughtful combination of many attributes I loved from the Ultra Raptor and Mutant. This starts by taking the fit of the Mutant and adding a more plush, padded, and comfortable upper. La Sportiva is known for having shoes that many find to be too narrow, but this is not the case with the Akasha or Mutant. The Akasha starts with a precise fit in the heel, and opens up to an supportive midfoot and comfortable toebox. The midfoot wraps the arch area of my foot very nicely, allowing for a dialed-in fit when needed or a relaxed fit when my foot begins to swell. The toebox of the Akasha is similar to the Mutant as well, and I found it very accommodating with no problems with rubbing or chaffing. It’s not wide like an Altra, but wide enough like the Nike Wildhorse 3 or New Balance Leadville v3.
I wear a 12.5 in almost all of my trail shoes. I wear a size 13 (47) in La Sportiva. The Akasha was no different, as a size 13 (47) fits perfectly and very similar to the Mutant. The La Sportiva Akasha is one of the heavier shoes in my rotation at 15.26oz. This isn’t something I notice while hiking or backpacking, but definitely something I’m aware of while running.
The upper of the Akasha looks pretty attractive IMO. The La Sportiva colorway of black, yellow, and red is tied in very nicely on this shoe. The thing I noticed first upon unboxing the Akasha was how well protected it looked. This shoe looks like a war horse ready for battle. It starts in the rear where a TPU wrap flows from the heel and around the shoe to secure itself under the arch. This wrap is also what holds the midfoot in place. Having gotten some experience now with the Akasha, I am really starting to love the security and precision of this wrap. There are also strips of rubber on the forefoot that La Sportiva calls ProTechTion™ HF, for added burliness in the toebox area. I like the idea, but don’t really think they’re a useful or necessary addition. The final bit of protection is the semi rigid toe bumper which has done a great job protecting my toes when called upon. For some reason though, I seem to catch and snag this toe guard on everything. This is something I haven’t experienced with any other shoe.
The tongue of the Akasha is gusseted, and I found it’s neoprene padding to be very comfortable. I’m able to tie the laces fairly snug without any pressure points or discomfort on the top of my shoe. The materials used in the toe area are an open whole mesh. The midfoot and tongue are made of a much less porous fabric that don’t breathe as well.
The wear on these uppers has been pretty good. The one area of concern I have is on the inside heel portion. The fabric is starting to ear and bunch a bit. I think this may have to do with the very firm heel counter of the Akasha. As the fabric begins to wear and bunch, I’m finding that it’s starting to cause minor hotspots on my left food.
The fit and feel of the Akasha upper is a lot like the Mutant, but the midsole is like a toned up version of the Ultra Raptor. The cushion and comfort of this shoe is superb for those who enjoy a firm and responsive ride. A lot of shoe manufacturers at the moment are churning out model after model of maximally cushioned shoes. I like the idea for the most part, but have not been a fan of how mushy and unresponsive the midsoles on most of the offerings have felt. The Akasha midsole gets the stability element just right. This shoe features a ton of cushioning, but being that it’s so firm, I think an identical ride could have been achieved without the elevated stack height .
The Akasha midsole is built on a 6mm drop platform with 31mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot. According to La Sportiva, the midsole is composed of a “Dual-Injection Shock Absorbing MEMIex” that acts as a full length EVA midsole engineered for enhanced cushioning. The Akasha doesn’t utilize a rock plate, but with this much firm cushioning it’s not really needed. The Akasha midsole has a plastic stability element that runs through the arch. This provides a very stable platform on which to explore the trails. I’m able to storm over gravel, scree, and talus without having to worry about my feet. These shoes provide virtually zero ground feel, but that’s the point.
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For the outsole of the Akasha, La Sportiva uses a full length FriXion Red XT compound. I’ve used the soft FriXion Green on a few La Sportiva shoes and loved the grip, but the soft rubber doesn’t last as long. I’ve also used FriXion Blue, which is durable, but wasn’t as grippy. This is my first shoe with FriXion Red, which is a dual compound designed for maximum grip and durability. As I mentioned above in the Performance section, the outsole of the Akasha is about as good as it gets. The FriXion red provides great traction on a multitude of surfaces, and the outsole pattern helps in providing great grip. The widely spaced lugs shed mud well, and the large surface area of each lug keeps the shoe firmly planted on most surfaces.
I’ve been very impressed with the durability of the Akasha outsole. The mountains here in Southern California have done a number on many of the trail shoes I keep in my rotation. After hitting the 100 mile mark, the Akasha hardly shoe any signs of wear. I think these shoes could easily hit 400 miles before the outsoles become a liability.
My initial impressions of the Akasha after a few outingswas very positive. Now that I’ve had almost a year to test the Akasha, I think I like them even more. The outsole might be the best in my shoe rotation, and the midsole is the perfect blend of cushion and responsiveness for my preferred activities of hiking and backpacking. My only real criticism of the Akasha is that it runs a little hot and it doesn’t drain well when wet. Neither of these faults is a major issue for me, but is something I think La Sportiva can improve upon when they make the next version of this shoe. Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions by using the comments section below.