First Look Gear Review
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Pros: Insanely light, great traction, keep out snow and dirt.
Cons: Don't like the logos sprayed all over the upper, sizing seems way off.
Best Uses: Mountain running and trail running.
The Vertical K is the lightest trail running shoe I have tested. My pair of size 10s weighs just 14.2 ounces, which is about the weight of a pair of Nike Free's. But unlike the Nike Free's, these shoes feel surprisingly stable, durable, and can be used off trail and on rock and snow. To my surprise, such a light shoe also performs well. These have amazing traction in dirt and mud and even scramble well when bagging High Sierra peaks.
O love the La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0 but I love this shoe even more. I'm biased toward the lightest shoes that still perform well and the Vertical K nails it. The C-Lite is for folks that want a little more traction and support (and it looks better).
These are by far the lightest trail shoes I have used. They're also some of the most comfortable. But other than just feeling light, they are very liberating due to the mesh upper. It feels like you are wearing a low cut neoprene booty you would wear for water sports.
These have a very unique tread pattern with deep horizontal grooves. These shoes grip mud, dirt and snow surprisingly well. They are some of the better snow and ice climbing trail shoes I have worn. They also are surprisingly sticky on rock. I felt comfortable scrambling steep ridges on High Sierra peaks. As an unsuspected bonus, these leave a deep and distinct shoe print. When returning home from a day of cross country travel, I could easily figure out which faint trails I had been up. This was comforting and could potentially helpful in an emergency situation (though it will not be useful if everyone starts wearing this shoe).
The uppers are made of mesh that the laces are hidden under. This makes it a little harder to get the shoe on but there is a handy little pull tab. Once the shoe is on, it fits like a glove. The laces are really just there to get you that last 10 percent of tightness. This mesh keeps rocks and debris out and makes the shoes easy to clean. It also repels snow a little. Eventually the shoes will get wet if crossing a snowfield or boggy terrain, but I also felt like the mesh upper helped them dry particularly fast. The one downside to the upper is it is sprayed with the La Sportiva logo. I do not think this is a particularly flattering look and hope the next design tones it down a little. I do not wear these around town for this reason. While these shoes have a lot of support for their weight, I would not describe them as particularly supportive shoes.
The sizing seems way off on these compared to other La Sportiva shoes. I wear a 9.5 in the C-Lite. A 9.5 is the Vertical K was WAY too small so I bumped up to a 10. Even that feels small; I wish I had a 10.5. So consider getting these in a half to a full size bigger than you are used to for a good fit (best to try them on in a store first).
— Chris McNamara
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: April 20, 2013
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