The La Sportiva Akasha is back for version 2.0 with minor updates that will have fans of v1 happy. In a world of soft midsoles, super shoes, and carbon plates, does an old school mountain shoe like the Akasha still deserve a place on the shoe rack?
La Sportiva has released an updated version of their popular Akasha mountain running shoe with version two. Designed for challenging and technical terrain, the Akasha II aims to deliver top level performance and comfort to demanding hikers and trail runners. I’ve been testing the Akasha II for almost a year now and have a mixed bag of feelings for this update. The upper is comfortable enough, but still feels stuffy and overbuilt for most trails. The midsole is thick, but still rides harsh on non technical trails. The outsole is still the highlight of the shoe and delivers in spades on all but very wet and slick surfaces. How does this all work together and who is this shoe for? I’ll cover all that and more in this review.
Sizing and Weight
I normally wear a size 11.5 US shoe, but size up to 12 for most trail and running shoes. For La Sportiva, I have to size up to a 13 or 47. This is a bit annoying, but is usually consistent across all of their models. I’ve worn 8 different La Sportiva mountain running models over the last few years and all were a 47. For the Akasha II, things are smaller than usual, and I should have gone for the 47.5.
My size 47 Akasha II weigh in at 14oz (395g) per shoe, making this a very hefty trail option. This weight is really felt while running on fire roads and single track, but disappears in technical terrain where slower paces and power hiking are the norm.
Fit and Build
The upper on the Akasha II is mostly unchanged from v1, using a mesh under layer and TPU overlays. The TPU overlays in the midfoot provide a nice and snug wrap around the arch, but the elements on the toe box serve no real purpose. They might provide a small layer of protection, but from my experience, they mostly just trap heat and moisture. The tongue on the Akasha II is fully gusseted and thickly padded. This pairs well with the laces for a pressure free lockdown on the top of the foot. You’ll notice that everything about the Akasha is about bulk. This lends itself well for durability, but also means the shoe runs hot in the summer and won’t dry or drain well when wet.
The toebox on the Akasha is shaped well, but as I mentioned above, these shoes run half a size smaller than other La Sportivas. The width is otherwise adequate, but the volume is on the low side. This fit is really nice in technical terrain where precise footing is needed, but can feel a bit constricting on smoother trails. The toebox is very well protected with a wide rubber toe cap, but the microfiber layer under the toe cap has a really bad habit of getting caught on rocks and roots. You can see below where the microfiber layer is starting separate from the mesh from this toe hooking. No hotspots, blisters, or lost toenails though, so overall a nice toebox execution on the Akasha II.
The heel on the on the Akasha II is well padded and has a full rigid heel counter. There is no lateral wiggle on technical terrain, and no hotspots or rubbing to note. The heel collar does feel a tad bid lower than the original Akasha which is noticeable on very steep terrain.
The Akasha II fits very snug and secure through the midfoot. You can see in the image above how the TPU upper overlay starts in the heel and works its up up through the laces. I feel that most high stack shoes lack stability in the upper, but the Akasha II does a good job of keeping the foot centered on the midsole.
The midsole on the Akasha II is built on a 6mm drop platform with 31mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot. The dual injection EVA compound rides on the firm side and in many ways defeats the purpose of a high stack height shoe. The midsole does not have the plush ride of a Speedgoat, Mafate, or Ultra Glide, and feels more like a tall Cascadia. The thick midsole does provide great underfoot protection from sharp rocks despite not having a rock plate.
The Akasha II midsole also has two plastic stabilizers through the midfoot to keep the shoe torsionally rigid. This can be a bit of a sore point when running on smoother trails, but is a great feature for rocky ascents, and/or hiking and backpacking trips. The stabilizers combine with the dense high stack height midsole to provide a very structured and stable platform.
The outsole on the Akasha II uses La Sportiva’s FriXion XT 2.0 compound with 4.5 mm lugs. In the photo below, you’ll see the sticky black rubber though the base of the outsole, and the red durable compound in the high wear areas at the toe and heel. In use, the Akasha II outsole is fantastic on just about every surface. The lugs provide nice traction on smooth surfaces, but can also bite into softer sandy paths when needed. They’ve also proven to be very durable, and show very few signs of wear.
La Sportiva has jacked prices up on all of their models in this time of crazy inflation, and the Akasha II now comes in at $175. Is the Akasha II worth it? For my money the answer is yes. If you’re looking for a plush high stack shoe to crush single track, fire roads, and asphalt, the Akasha line is not for you. If you’re looking for a burly and stable mountain shoe for rocky ascents and off trail action, this shoe will be right at home for your adventures.
Have you worn the new Akasha II? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments.