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Hands-on Gear Review

La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0 Review

La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0
Price:   $115 List | $78.45 at Amazon
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Pros:  Very protective underfoot, very durable upper, wide construction
Cons:  Sloppy fitting, very heavy, not sensitive at all
Bottom line:  A beast who’s best attribute is the ability to protect your feet.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Wildcat 3.0 is a beast of a shoe that will protect your foot no matter what you may encounter. The firm and highly cushioned midsole combined with a very effective abrasion-resistant upper create a durable shoe that can stomp right over any boulderfield or through any stream. The keyword here is stomp, because this burly shoe is the heaviest in our review by a healthy margin, precluding one from finessing their way through gnarly terrain. While we didn't dislike this shoe, and in fact had a few very enjoyable runs over talus and up 14er's while wearing it, we found that its blend of characteristics had it rated at the bottom of our review. This isn't an indictment of this shoe, which we would still recommend to the right person for the right circumstances, but just means that you are likely to find more high-tuned performance out of the other shoes in this review.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Trail Running Shoes of 2017

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Score Product Price Our Take
82
$125
Editors' Choice Award
This sleek, supremely comfortable shoe was our favorite trail runner and a no-brainer selection as our Editors' Choice Award winner.
80
$130
Top Pick Award
Tons of comfy cushioning at a super light weight.
80
$120
Best Buy Award
Great as an everyday trainer, for ultra distances, or as all-around do everything shoe.
79
$110
A lightweight zero-drop shoe for the speedsters and minimalist runners out there.
78
$120
Super aggressive traction make this shoe suitable for the gnarliest of conditions.
76
$120
Not a flashy shoe, but performs well. Great everyday trainer.
74
$125
The lightest weight shoes for uphill trail running that we could find.
74
$110
A very lightweight option that is designed like a traditional shoe.
73
$125
Succeeds in its mission to crush the Leadville Trail 100.
72
$120
Good balance between protection and sensitivity, really durable!
72
$130
A mountain and skyrunning monster.
66
$120
Our least favorite Cascadia we have tested, wouldn't recommend to a friend.
64
$115
A beast who's best attribute is the ability to protect your feet.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
September 8, 2016

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The Wildcat 3.0 is La Sportiva's most cushioned shoe designed for long distance running and high volume training. While not specifically intended for use on the most technical of terrain, we found that its extremely stiff board last and high amount of underfoot cushioning meant that it was ideally suited to protect us on the rockiest of runs. This shoe is durable and will serve great as a daily trainer that will last for a long time.

We honestly don't have many things to complain about when it comes to this shoe. We enjoyed our runs in it, and will continue to wear it moving forward. However, compared to the rest of the fine tuned machines in this review, it is simply outperformed. It ranks among the lowest in traction compared to the competition, is not very stable due to its large amount of cushioning and 12mm heel-toe drop, was the heaviest shoe in the review, and was also tied for the least sensitive, again owing to the burly underfoot protection. Worn in isolation, we think most people would be happy with this trail runner, but compared to all the rest, it simply isn't as good.

Performance Comparison


Many peaks in Colorado are sharp and jagged with spectacular airy summits... and many others are simply massive piles of rubble  with great views never-the-less. Here following the "trail" to the summit of one of 58 14 000 feet mountains in the state. We were happy to have these traditional shoes with their emphasis on foot protection to shield our feet from the rocks
Many peaks in Colorado are sharp and jagged with spectacular airy summits... and many others are simply massive piles of rubble, with great views never-the-less. Here following the "trail" to the summit of one of 58 14,000 feet mountains in the state. We were happy to have these traditional shoes with their emphasis on foot protection to shield our feet from the rocks

Foot Protection


This is the area where the Wildcat 3.0 really shines. We gave it 9 out of 10 points for foot protection, comparable to our Best Buy Award winning The North Face Ultra Endurance or the Brooks Cascadia 11. We aren't kidding when we say that the board last and ample amount of cushioning will allow you to happily stomp over all sharp objects in your way. We took these shoes for a run up the Colorado 14er San Luis Peak, consisting of miles of rubble and scree and sharp talus, and our feet were very happy that we did. We didn't award these shoes a perfect 10 in this category because while the abrasion resistant upper is great at doing exactly that, the toe bumper is a bit soft and there are no plastic or TPU overlays on the sides of the feet, like on many other shoes.

Similar thick mesh uppers on the Caldorado (bottom) and the Wildcat 3.0 (top) do a lot more to protect the foot than some of the lighter  more minimalist shoes in our review.
Similar thick mesh uppers on the Caldorado (bottom) and the Wildcat 3.0 (top) do a lot more to protect the foot than some of the lighter, more minimalist shoes in our review.

Traction


While many shoe designers are incorporating larger and ever more aggressive lug pattern designs, like those incorporated in the Saucony Peregrine 7 or the Salomon Speedcross 4, it is our opinion that the lug pattern and subsequent traction on these shoes is a bit lacking. La Sportiva calls the outsole pattern their "Impact Braking System," where the "angled" lugs are meant to increase breaking ability and shock absorption at the same time. There is no way for us to test these claims, but we feel like these shoes have too few large lugs and the ones that they have are somewhat diminished in their effectiveness by the rest of the rubber on the outsole design. We do love how sticky the rubber on these shoes is, but also found that the yellow rubber caps on the lugs is prone to tearing off from its black base rubber over time.

The Wildcat 3.0 (left) and the Caldorado (right) are similar shoes in that they are on the heavier end of the specturm  offer burly underfoot protection  and are not super flashy. While the rubber on the Wildcat is stickier  the Caldorado has gripper lugs.
The Wildcat 3.0 (left) and the Caldorado (right) are similar shoes in that they are on the heavier end of the specturm, offer burly underfoot protection, and are not super flashy. While the rubber on the Wildcat is stickier, the Caldorado has gripper lugs.

Stability


It's 12mm of heel-toe drop is the largest in this review, providing a ton of underfoot cushioning for heel strikers, but costing the shoe a bit in the way of stability. It also has a high stack height, leaving the foot sitting well up off the ground. Unfortunately we found this to be a rather unstable combination, and had to rank it near the bottom.

Due to their incredible popularity  14ers in Colorado tend to have well manicured trails all the way to the top. This generally makes them fantastic trail runs. Here on the seven mile long exit trail down the valley from San Luis Peak  one of the remotest  and least traveled 14ers in the state.
Due to their incredible popularity, 14ers in Colorado tend to have well manicured trails all the way to the top. This generally makes them fantastic trail runs. Here on the seven mile long exit trail down the valley from San Luis Peak, one of the remotest, and least traveled 14ers in the state.

Comfort


This shoe is perhaps the widest shoe in the line-up from La Sportiva, a company that is somewhat known for producing narrow shoes. The ample room in the toe box allows for great comfort of the forefoot. Additionally, features like the padded, gusseted tongue, soft toe bumper, and felt lined upper make this a comfortable shoe. Our main complaint when it came to comfort is that we felt that while the toe box was sufficiently wide, the heel was too wide for us, leaving our foot swimming a bit sloppily in this shoe. In the water test, this shoe was exactly in the middle when it came to amount of water absorbed, and also ability to shed that water after the five minute jog. This is quite a feat considering how much material is included in the construction of this heavy shoe, but also reinforces its average rating. We gave it 7 out of 10 points for comfort, the same as we awarded the Montrail Caldorado.

The padded and gusseted tongue of the Wildcat 3.0 makes for a great fit with only tiny fabric overlaps to serve as rub or pinch points. We also thought the heavy duty weave on the upper made it one of the most protective shoes in the review.
The padded and gusseted tongue of the Wildcat 3.0 makes for a great fit with only tiny fabric overlaps to serve as rub or pinch points. We also thought the heavy duty weave on the upper made it one of the most protective shoes in the review.

Weight


Fresh out of the box these shoes weighed 28.4 ounces for our men's size 11. This was far above the weight of the rest of the shoes in this review, and so we gave it our lowest score. That said, it was still quite a bit lighter than the 32.4 ounces Salomon XA Pro 3D shoes that we reviewed last year, so its not by any means the heaviest shoe on the trail running market. While it does feel heavy while out running, it doesn't feel overly clunky.

Sensitivity


With a ridiculously stiff midsole that is buoyed by a ton of extra cushioning, it is no surprise that these rank at the bottom of the pile in terms of sensitivity. We found them to be roughly similar to the low-profile, but also very stiff, Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 4. If sensitivity is what you are after, then you are looking in the wrong place with this shoe. We don't feel like its lack of sensitivity is a knock on what this shoe provides, but its low score does hurt the overall score a bit.

Best Applications


This is a good shoe to use as a daily trainer or for runs in rockier areas due to its superb underfoot protection. We think it would also serve as a good shoe for a beginner trail runner breaking into the sport, or would also be a great hiking shoe.

For miles of talus slopes  it is wise to have a shoe with a burly rock plate to protect the undersides of your feet. The Wildcat 3.0 was a perfect choice for a run up the Colorado 14er San Luis Peak  whose highest slopes are covered in small loose rocks like these.
For miles of talus slopes, it is wise to have a shoe with a burly rock plate to protect the undersides of your feet. The Wildcat 3.0 was a perfect choice for a run up the Colorado 14er San Luis Peak, whose highest slopes are covered in small loose rocks like these.

Value


The Wildcat 3.0 costs $115 retail. This is on the lower end of the spectrum of shoes in this review, which is appropriate since it is not as high performing as the more expensive shoes. While we don't think many people will be disappointed with their purchase of this shoe, we also think that there are many higher performing shoes available for just $5-$15 more.

Conclusion


The Wildcat 3.0 is a quality trail running shoe that most people would be happy owning and running regularly in. However, this is a comparison review, and taken out of isolation and put head-to-head with the best shoes available on the market today, we don't feel like it performs nearly as well as the other very large handful of shoes that we have reviewed here.

Because of their relative heaviness compared to other shoes in this review  we wanted to be sure to test the Wildcat 3.0 on the vertical  so we went up. They performed well on a roughly 4 500 ft. scramble to the top of the Amphitheatre  just outside of Ouray  Colorado  the small town seen far below.
Because of their relative heaviness compared to other shoes in this review, we wanted to be sure to test the Wildcat 3.0 on the vertical, so we went up. They performed well on a roughly 4,500 ft. scramble to the top of the Amphitheatre, just outside of Ouray, Colorado, the small town seen far below.

Other Versions and Accessories

  • Wildcat 3.0 Women's - $115 — women's version of the same shoe
  • Older versions of the shoe also available online
Andy Wellman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 8, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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