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La Sportiva Helios Review

Even before this past summer I have long been an admirer of La Sportiva’s quality line up of products- from the super slick carbon ski mountaineering race boots, to the massive range of mountain running shoes the Italian Dolomites based company has on offer.

Heading up "The Big Walk" at The Buffalo Stamped with La Sportiva Helios on.

Heading up “The Big Walk” at The Buffalo Stamped with La Sportiva Helios on.

I finally got my feet in a pair of their shoes- the 200gm Vertical K- on the Friday afternoon before this year’s Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon and happily raced in them the next day. I was impressed to say the least. My next pair was the original CrossLite- my lead in time for these was a bit longer, 5 days I think before I laced them up for the Motutapu Adventure Run. Again I was impressed and before I knew it I had my 3rd pair of La Sportiva shoes for the summer- The Helios. The Helios arrived the Tuesday before The Buffalo Stampede Ultra and were my first pair of La Sportiva’s I received for free from La Sportiva here in New Zealand, as a sponsored runner- yeah I am sponsored by La Sportiva- so take my review of the Helios with a grain of salt if you must.

After my experience with the Vertical K I had no issues jumping into my biggest goal race of the year, Australia’s first ever Sky Running Race, The Buffalo Stampede with what was for me more or less an untested shoe. I knew the 74km, 4500mD+ out and back course had a wide variety of underfoot conditions- fire/dirt road, single track, steeps, mud, rock and paved road.

With a catalogue weight of 230gm, a 4mm drop and a light weight upper they are light on the foot and have  a ”race” feel to them, but offer much more in the mid sole than many other shoes in this range. The mid sole is probably the biggest standout feature of the shoe, with the wave like “MorphoDynamic” midsole. While the midsole/outsole have pretty minimal traction I have found the “waves” offer good grip in soft/muddy conditions. La Sportiva do soles- that is one of their things- ask any climber about the quality of the La Sportiva rock climbing shoes.

If you want a nice photo of the Helios then click on the link below. I like to see a shoe 4 months on and how it is holding up. This is after some fun on muddy Port Hills trails.

If you want a nice photo of the Helios then click on the link below. I like to see a shoe 4 months on and how it is holding up. This is after some fun on muddy Port Hills trails.

I have to be honesty, I kind of expected the upper of my Helios to take a hammering at the Buffalo. I guess they did, but they came through surprisingly well, even more surprisingly they are still holding up really good now, 4 months on.

One of the biggest reasons for me being happy to jump right into the Helios for Buffalo was the roomy toe box. In the past I have had toes mashed and squashed in narrow shoes over the course of 8+ hours, resulting in puffy feet and a lack of toe nails. Not the case here, but I could see someone with narrow feet finding them “sloppy”.

I guess the only real issue I would have was with the foot bed bunching under my toes. We had to get the Helios sent in from La Sportiva in Australia, and while my Vertical K’s in 43.5 fitted nicely, only 43 and 44 sizes where available. Being an ultra and possibly in the heat, I went with 44. The extra room was great for my toes, but with wet shoes on steep descents I got the foot bed bunching. Luckily it seemed to work itself-flat as I ran on, and ended up not being a big issue.

I could also see possible issues for people running hard on really rocky terrain, as there is no rock plate in the forefoot area of the Helios. But in saying this I did race with the Vertical K (very very similar shoes) at the Northburn100 21km and Routeburn Classic, with no real issue.

The La Sportiva Helios will soon be available in New Zealand, most readily from The Frontrunner shops (and possibly the BCR Trail Shop), and I recommend giving them a look if you are after a neutral,  all-round work horse trail shoe, suitable for a wide variety of trails/conditions – training or racing.

Check out La Sportiva’s full Mountain Running Range


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