Road Trail Run: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Review: Trail Runner or Hiker?

Article by Alex Tilsley

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II ($149)

Introduction

I’ve always associated La Sportiva more with climbing and expeditions than with trail running, but last year I stumbled upon the La Sportiva Jackal and was very pleasantly surprised to find a cushy but stable running shoe that felt as good cruising on a gravel road as it did tromping through leaves and rocks on an off-trail adventure. My fondness for the Jackal made me excited for the Ultra Raptor II, the Jackal’s beefier older sibling, designed for rugged terrain and long days. Perhaps, I thought, the Ultra Raptor II could become my go-to for long adventure races, where I’d need a shoe that could handle off-trail running, would drain well, and would still feel ok after 12 or more hours on the go. 

Only the second iteration of a shoe La Sportiva has offered for years, the Ultra Raptor II is marketed as a “monster in technical terrain,”  and features La Sportiva’s Frixion XF 2.0 outsole, Trail Bite Heel, and Impact Braking system, along with an updated upper and a full-length rock guard. 

Pros:

  • Stable and protective

  • Incredible grip

  • Good for wide feet

Cons:

Tester Profile

Alex Tilsley is a displaced trail runner, currently living in Washington, DC and finding dirt wherever she can. Alex discovered running in college and was a happy 3-miles-a-day hobby jogger until her mom tricked her into running a 10k and it was all downhill from there. She has since run several marathons (PR 3:38) and dabbled in triathlons, but her true love is the trails, whether running, mountain biking, orienteering, or long-distance backpacking. When she’s not running or riding, Alex works full-time in education policy and part-time putting on trail races with EX2 Adventures

Stats

  Official Weight: 10.8 oz (women’s)   

  Sample: 11.1 oz / 314g (women’s US7/EU38)

Stack Height: 19/28

Available now including in wide sizing for men and women. $149

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

The first thing I did when I opened the box and saw the Ultra Raptor II was search my email to try to remember whether this was meant to be a trail running shoe or a hiking shoe. (As one of the resident RTR backpackers, I test quite a few hiking shoes!) The low profile said running shoe, but the sturdiness of the midsole and outsole and the weight said hiking shoe. I of course confirmed it was meant to be a trail runner, but if I hadn’t known I probably would have thought it was a low-profile hiker. 

Putting them on did little to change my initial take. The Ultra Raptor II feels as heavy on the foot as it does in your hands, and the midsole felt firm and stable. As in a hiking shoe, I felt like my ankle was well-supported and my foot secure, but I didn’t feel the impulse to do strides up and down the hallway. 

Immediately, though, the fit and upper stood out. As someone with a wider forefoot, I’ve historically been afraid of Sportivas, which have a reputation for being aggressively narrow. The Ultra Raptor II slid on just fine, and I found I had just enough room for my wider-than-average foot. The Ultra Raptor will also be available in wide sizing for women and men.

Although I had gone half a size up from my usual, the length felt just right. The upper is a soft woven mesh with TPU overlays (Sportiva describes it as a “TPU lacing harness”), that makes it forgiving up front while very secure through the midfoot. There is an aggressive toe cap – this shoe is clearly meant for aggressive activity – and a TPU heel collar. The heel is not overly padded or overly high, though the height and firmness might not work for all. 

Midsole

The Ultra Raptor II uses Sportiva’s injection molded EVA midsole foam, their Endurance Platform EVA rockguard, and a molded TPU shank. The result is a stiff, slightly dense midsole with just a little bit of give. Initially, I would have described it as firm, but it has mellowed out a bit after a few long hikes. Those looking for a cushioned or bouncy ride will not find it here, but the midsole isn’t too harsh, and it’s definitely protective. You won’t feel those rocks jutting into your shoe, but it’s not a particularly plush ride.  

Outsole

The outsole is where this shoe shines, in my opinion. The Frixion XF 2.0 rubber is super grippy, and I never questioned it on rock faces or really anything else I encountered. The lugs are positioned to provide maximum grip on downhills, which means that despite the lugs not looking super aggressive, the grip is. I’d trust these shoes on just about anything. 

Ride

As I mentioned to start, I had a hard time deciding initially whether the Ultra Raptor II was meant for running and hiking. (Often shoes meant for one thing  can be used for another, but generally they are designed with a specific purpose in mind.) So, I’ll evaluate the ride as a running shoe and a hiking shoe separately. 

Running: On the run, I felt everyone one of the 11 ounces on my feet. The EVA midsole with the full-length rock guard made my landings feel flat, the toe guard felt clunky, and generally, well, I felt like I was trying to run in a hiking shoe. 

Hiking: The hiking ride is a different story. The full-length rock guard becomes a real treat, as you can step on anything and not really notice. The stiffness of the midsole feels like less of a problem hiking, and in fact the support was helpful over long distances. I’d have preferred a slightly softer midsole for really long days, but generally I found the ride supportive and unobtrusive. 

My only real complaint about these as hiking shoes is that the TPU overlays make the shoe less breathable than it could be. On summer days, my feet get really hot, and once these get wet they just stay wet forever. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Ultra Raptor II is described as an all-terrain mountain running shoe. While it can definitely handle all terrain, if you’re not regularly running highly technical mountains, there are lighter, more agile options out there that are better suited to non-mountainous terrain. The weight is likely to be a turn-off for many runners. But if you’re running in highly technical terrain where rock protection and grip are critical, the Ultra Raptor II is worth a look. 

Personally, I’ve found myself reaching for the Ultra Raptor II more and more for hikes, because I know it can handle just about anything and will be supportive over the long miles. As a bonus, it also looks pretty good. If you prefer hiking in trail runners but find you need more ankle support, the Ultra Raptor II is right in that sweet spot. 

Score: 8.43/10

Ride: 5, Fit: 10, Value: 9.5, Style: 9.5 (minus .5 for the ugly toe protector), Traction: 10, Rock protection: 10

😊

Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

La Sportiva Jackal (RTR Review) 

The Jackal is softer, more flexible, lighter, and as an even wider forefoot. Unless you’re running really mountainous terrain, I think the Jackal is much more fun, while still providing plenty of protection.

Inov-8 ROCFLY G390 (RTR Review)

Though technically a hiking boot, the weight of this shoe is similar to the Ultra Raptor II, and I’d put both of them in the category of hiking shoes that can also run. The Rocfly G390 is much softer, but the grip pales in comparison to the Ultra Raptor II. Ultra Raptor II for anything rocky, Rocfly for anything else. 

The Ultra Raptor II &Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX are available now including from our partners below

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’

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