The La Sportiva Kaptiva has been a ‘daily driver’ type of trail running and hiking shoe for me over the last six months with heavy use on a wide range of trails. The Kaptiva is one of La Sportiva’s newest models and is billed as a well rounded trail shoe option that can work for training and racing. I love the precise fit of the socklike upper which has proven to be very secure while maintaining all-day comfort. The outsole grips well on wet and dry trails, and provides traction on slick and smooth surfaces. The midsole is the feature of this shoe that readers will most likely be making their purchasing decision on. The Kaptiva’s midsole has worked out well for my use, but I anticipate others finding the stable and firm ride a little harsh on most trails. I’ll be covering all of that and more in the review ahead.
Size, Weight, Build, and Fit
I normally wear a size 11.5 US shoe, but wear a full size up to 12.5 for La Sportiva. This puts me in between their 46 and 46.5. For the Kaptiva, I found a size 46 to fit best as the 46.5 was a tad too long. This sizing is very similar to La Sportiva’s latest model shoes like the Bushido II and Lycan (I opted for 46.5 on both). If you’re coming from a later model La Sportiva shoe like the Akasha, Mutant, or Akyra, you can go down a half to a full size from your previous orders. I wore a size 47 in those models.
My size 46 Kaptiva’s weigh in at 12.15oz (344.4g) per shoe, which is pretty light given the amount of underfoot protection they provide. The base of the Kaptiva’s upper is built using a knit socklike bootie that rests underneath a welded overlay top layer.
In use, the upper on the La Sportiva Kaptiva has performed incredibly well. In the heel, the Kaptiva has La Sportiva’s standard narrow fit that cups the back of my foot and doesn’t create any rubbing or slipping at toe off. The heel has a pretty rigid counter that locks my foot down on off kilter terrain and prevents any unwanted side-to-side movement. The heel is lightly padded internally and has a plush pad around the collar for all day comfort.
The low volume midfoot of the Kaptiva is built around the padded internal knit bootie and the external overlay. The knit bootie allows me to slip the Kaptiva on without using the laces and the shoe still feels very secure. Once I lace up, the structured overlays can be cinched down like a vise. Those with really wide feet might find the fit a bit too narrow, but my wider than average foot has had no problems. I’ve used the Kaptiva while hiking with 40lbs on my back, trail running on steep terrain, and even doing some speed work at the track. The midfoot lockdown of the Kaptiva has been a standout feature in each situation.
The one area of concern in the midfoot is the limited lacing options. This shoe fits my foot like a glove, but those that need to adjust the laces will find that it isn’t really an option. This could be a problem for those with very narrow heels in need of a lace lock technique.
The toebox on the Kaptiva is wide and low volume, fitting like a cross between the Bushido II and Lycan. Unlike older models of La Sportiva mountain running shoes that pinched the toes, there is plenty of room for toe splay in the Kaptiva. The toebox comes protected by a burly TPU toe guard. I’ve kicked more than a few rocks, roots, and ruts over the past few months and have been no worse for the wear due to the protection up front.
The upper on the La Sportiva Kaptiva has performed well for fast trail runs and for longer grinding hikes. The stability is top notch and the comfort isn’t far behind. The combination of the knit bootie and thick overlay makes for a warm shoe in really hot weather. This combo also holds a bit of water when drainage is needed. Those issues along with the lacing are the only drawbacks to an otherwise great design.
The midsole of the La Sportiva Kaptiva is built on a 6mm drop platform with 24mm in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. The actual midsole of the Kaptiva is built using two densities of EVA. The yellow EVA in the heel is a firm and rigid layer that sits beneath a slightly softer layer of black EVA. In most dual density EVA shoes I’ve worn, the top layer is plush and forgiving, and the bottom layer is firm for supportive. The Kaptiva really just has two firm layers, with the top layer a little less firm than the bottom. This makes for a terrific hiking and backpacking shoe that can easily handle 30lbs, and a good trail running shoe for those that like a fast and responsive ride. For those that like the plush and forgiving ride on shoes like Hokas, the Kaptiva will feel downright harsh.
To make the midsole even more burly and protective, the Kaptiva packs a full length rock plate from heel to toe. This makes for a very protective ride over rocky trails. The firm EVA paired with the rockplate do require a break-in period as they feel very stiff out of the box. After 20+ miles, they will start to flex a bit more.
The firm EVA layers of the Kaptiva’s midsole paired with its full length rock plate make this a serious mountain shoe. For hiking and backpacking, the Kaptiva is torsionally rigid and offers a ton of protection. I would easily recommend this as a JMT or PCT shoe without hesitation. For trail running, I would recommend this for technical terrain or softer trails where the harsh ride won’t hit the legs as hard.
The Kaptiva has a full length outsole with cutouts from heel to toe for flexibility. La Sportiva uses their FriXion XF 2.0 rubber compound with differently shaped polygon lugs in the heel and forefoot. The lug depth varies from 3.5mm to 4.5mm to put the depth where you need it most.
In use, the Kaptiva’s outsole has performed very well. The lug design grips sand and hard pack, as well as sofer trails with a little mud. The spacing between the lugs allows the shoes to shed sticky mud that otherwise can gum up an outsole with tightly spaced lugs. The wide areas of the polygon lugs pairs well with the FriXion XF 2.0 rubber to provide secure traction on slick rock and smooth surfaces. The Kaptivas have handled every test I’ve thrown their way. The only ding on this outsole is the wear rate. At 50 miles, I was already seeing pronounced balding in the high wear areas of the outsole. At 100 miles it had slowed, but not as much as I was hoping. At my rate of wear, these are probably a 250 mile shoe.
The Kaptiva is a welcome new entry to La Sportiva’s mountain running trail shoe line-up. The aggressive outsole, stable midsole, and secure upper live up to the La Sportiva mountain running heritage. At $140, the Kaptiva does come in at a high price point, and the premature wear on the outsole has me questioning the per-mile value of my purchase. The outsole’s performance, paired with the upper and dynamic midsole help me see past that and would push me to purchase another pair should the need arise. I would recommend the Kaptiva for all hikers and backpackers, and would suggest them as an option for trail runners that prefer a shoe that rides firm.