Gear Review: La Sportiva Akyra Trail Running and Hiking Shoes
Hiking/Trail Running Shoes
La Sportiva Akyra
$140, 1 lb. 11 oz. (US men’s 9.5)
Sizes: men’s Euro 38-47.5/US 6-14, women’s Euro 36-43/US 5-12
Build a shoe for running and hiking mountain trails, and it’s hard to keep that footwear from putting on weight—shoes intended for that level of hard use simply need more support and stability under the hood than your average, wafer-light shoes for running asphalt, or no-drop shoes with minimal underfoot cushion and support. So when I saw Sportiva’s Akyra weighing in lighter than many models in this category—and having owned and liked previous Sportiva mountain-running shoes that crossed over smoothly between running and dayhiking—I pounded the Akyra on a variety of trails, discovering much to like about them and one minor complaint.
I wore the non-waterproof Akyra shoes on a dayhike of almost 12 miles and more than 3,000 feet up Cannon Mountain and North Kinsman Mountain in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a dayhike of eight miles on the forested trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge, and on trail runs of up to 10 miles in the Boise Foothills. Each outing featured mostly dry trails and weather, with temperatures ranging from the 50s to 70s Fahrenheit.
A stable trail-running shoe with a more traditional 9mm drop, the Akyra have good support, thanks to a soft, dual-layer EVA midsole, a firm heel cup, and a thick heel for a cushioned strike when running. Enhancing stability are narrow, horizontal strips of plastic over the midsole exterior (below the uppers), extending from heel to midfoot on each side. The medium-volume fit cradles the heel and midfoot well, preventing any slippage, but the toe box feels a little cramped; I had to loosen up the lower laces, especially when running (as opposed to hiking), to give my toes some space so they wouldn’t get hot. The shoes run a bit small: I normally wear a U.S. men’s 9, but the Akyra fit me well in size 9.5.
The AirMesh uppers breathe fairly well, generally keeping my feet from overheating, even on a hot, humid day and a sweaty hike on steep trails in the White Mountains. Flexible TPU Microlite Skeleton overlays on the uppers protect the mesh and provide added support over the top of the foot. But despite cutouts in the overlays, that protection comes at the price of some breathability. Still, though, we’re talking about breathability on a scale of non-waterproof shoes, which as a group are far more breathable than any waterproof footwear.
The Akyra’s outsole is built for rugged terrain. Sticky Frixion rubber with an aggressively in-cut heel for braking, and relatively deep, well-spaced lugs for a shoe in this category, deliver all-around good traction for hiking and running on a variety of trail surfaces: packed dirt, loose dirt or sand and pebbles, and mud. But I slipped at times on steep rock slabs, especially if they were at all wet or covered with a thin layer of dirt or debris—not a surprise when the outsole design favors aggressive lugs over the kind of smoother outsole found on approach/scrambling shoes. (The latter feels “stickier” in part simply because more of the outsole’s surface area makes contact on smooth rock). Sportiva’s Trail Rocker2 outsole shape also gives a sharp upward curve to the forefoot, for a supportive and smooth transition from outer heel to inner toe when running.
For trail runners and hikers who frequent rugged, up-and-down trails, the Akyra is a light, breathable shoe with impressively good support for weighing barely north of a pound-and-a-half per pair.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase the men’s La Sportiva Akyra shoes at backcountry.com or rei.com, or the women’s La Sportiva Akyra shoes at backcountry.com or rei.com.
If you’re a fan of this shoe category and La Sportiva, I recommend also looking at two of my all-time favorite crossover shoes, the La Sportiva TX3 for hiking and scrambling (read my review), and the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor for trail running and hiking (read my review).
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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