La Sportiva Prodigio Review

La Sportiva Prodigio

Although they are relatively unknown in the UK trail running market, La Sportiva have been making footwear since 1928, mainly climbing and mountaineering gear, but trail shoes in more recent years. The La Sportiva Mutant has an excellent reputation within the fell running community, often selling out as soon as they become available.

Photo courtesy La Sportiva

The Shoe

La Sportiva says: A revolutionary product dedicated to the Ultra Trail world of La Sportiva. New XFlow™ foam, designed and developed to ensure maximum cushioning and energy return – mile after mile. Every detail has been designed to meet the needs of the most demanding runners: the large toe box and breathable upper provide comfort even after several hours of running, while the construction Wrapping System and the perfect ergonomics of the heel ensure stability and protection.

+ XFlow™ midsole, supercritical foam with an ultra-dampening and resilient energy-return effect.

+ Foot rolling and stability are facilitated thanks to the Progressive Rocker and wide footbed

+ Wrapping System construction that snugly encases and secures the foot, preventing it from moving around inside the shoe

+ Breathable mesh upper for fast drying and to prevent the foot from overheating

I own a pair of La Sportiva Cyklon’s but hadn’t heard about the La Sportiva Prodigio until I was asked to review them. A quick search revealed the above; on paper it would seem to be the ideal shoe for most of my training. The perfect UK trail running shoe can be a tough nut to crack though. We have a diverse landscape and even more diverse weather which can test a trail shoe to the limits, both in terms of grip and longevity. I’ve had trail shoes come apart in as little as 60 miles in the past. Prodigio translates into English as wonder or miracle; let’s see if it lives up to its name.

Photo courtesy Andrew Holt

Unboxing

The shoe looks classy in the brands signature black, red and yellow colour scheme, not in your face bright but enough to stand out. Just like the Ferraris of its home country they look fast standing still. They appear of good quality. The mesh covered toe box has a tough rubber rand bonded around the leading edge and lower sides to protect the mesh from abrasion. The sole has a stiff, springy feel to it when twisted but allowing flex where the toes join the foot. Comparing it to several of its peers the Prodigio has the stiffest feel of any. The heel box is very stiff with a soft upper lip, I wonder if that will cause issues. They have a 6mm heel to toe drop although it looks more than that. The grips are fairly small and look more suited to light trail as advertised but I shall test them to their limits in the name of science.

Slipping them on they fit well, holding my foot in place without feeling constrictive or loose. I normally favour a wide toe box that lets my toes spread out; these are not as wide as inov8 TRAILFLY or Altra Lone Peaks but are not squashing my toes together either; they feel purposeful. I normally wear a UK 9 1/2 shoe, these are a UK 10 and fit perfectly so you may want to go half a size up. Anyway, time for a run!

Photo courtesy Andrew Holt

The Test

Arriving at the end of a particularly wet winter the La Sportiva Prodigio were in for a baptism of fire. Most of my training is done across farmland with its mix of arable and grazing land supplemented with trips into the Peak District for my longer runs.

My first run was the 12 mile commute home from work along a mix of hard pack and dirt trail. With legs trashed from the Cannonball Run the previous weekend (50K carrying a cannonball in your hands, over the Worcestershire way? Of course I’ll sign up to that) it wasn’t going to be a fast run. The Prodigio felt supportive, my worries about the stiff heel box were unfounded, there was no chafe or rub. Over stony sections of the trail the foam mid sole took the edge of the sharper stones well. I think La Sportiva have struck a good balance with this, getting the density of the cushion just right, you still feel connected to the trail but don’t need to worry about battered soles at the end of a long run. The foam conforms well to the trail on uneven sections as well, with my ankles staying stable, some stiff soled shoes have the tendency to make your ankles bend sideways as they have no give in them, again La Sportiva has got this balance just right.

Photo courtesy Andrew Holt

Over the following weeks I racked up about 200 miles in them. As spring turned to summer and the trails began to dry, they were tested in all conditions and types of terrain, they also went through many wet and dry cycles. Although the mesh now looks more brown than yellow they have held up well, there is no sign of any of the bonded parts separating and the mesh shows no sign of tearing, especially where the toes flex which is a common failure point for many brands. 

The fit and ride still feel good with the foam soaking up the impact on downhill reps. Although good on slow plods they really shine when your pressing on a bit, they want you to go faster and help you on your way with a springy feel. My only gripe is with the grip, whilst good on rocky terrain its very poor on mud, even struggling for purchase when its just the top surface of the dirt that’s wet, its manageable on flatter terrain but scary on steep ground. 

In fairness to La Sportiva, they are advertised as a light trail shoe. The promotional video on the website shows them being used on rocky terrain in the mountains where they excel. I’d have no qualms about blasting down the Pyg track on Yr Wyddfa or the mountain track on Ben Nevis, the problem is that away from the tourist tracks most of the UK national parks have very mixed terrain and will involve a lot of dirt sections. The same goes for many of the trails. I feel that deeper lugs on the shoe would solve this.

Photo courtesy Andrew Holt

I do love these shoes though, certainly through the summer months they will be my go to shoe for day to day running and I will be purchasing a pair when these are worn out.

Summary

Design: They look great and are well put together 9/10

Performance: Good at all paces but happiest when you’re going fast, soaks up the bumps along the way, only let down by the grip on wet dirt/mud 7/10

Value: They are retailing around £125 which I think for a feature rich shoe with good longevity such as this is a good price 9/10

Features: X flow midsole, progressive rocker and wrapping system all combine to give a stable, confidence boosting, springy ride 10/10

Overall 8.75/10.

About the author: I’ve been running since 2009. During this time I’ve dabbled in Obstacle course racing, cross country, road running (we all have skeletons in the closet) and everything in between. My favourite disciplines however, are mountain ultras and fell running.

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Header image courtesy La Sportiva

Photo courtesy La Sportiva

inov8 TRAILFLY
inov8 TRAILFLY
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Shoe Review
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA
DESIGN: 9/10
FEATURES: 10/10
PERFORMANCE: 7/10
VALUE: 9/10
OUR RATING:
5/5
YOUR RATING:
0.0/5

"Arriving at the end of a particularly wet winter the La Sportiva Prodigio were in for a baptism of fire. Most of my training is done across farmland with its mix of arable and grazing land supplemented with trips into the Peak District for my longer runs."

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