La Sportiva Helios SR

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La Sportiva Helios SR Review Facts

Trails are my jam. I would personally always run on trails if that was the most convenient option. But even if you aren’t as passionate as I am about the woods and meadows, sprinkling trails into your runs can be great training to strengthen different muscles, and add some variety.

The La Sportiva Helios SR is a versatile trail shoe that can work for a casual trail runner or serious outdoorsman. It offers enough protection without being too bulky, and stays securely on the foot. Well cushioned, but not heavy, the Helios from La Sportiva will serve you well for the jog around the pond or the trek up a mountain.

My experience with the La Sportiva Helios SR has led me to think of them as a comfortable option that still offers a good amount of protection. On the other hand, it is not so much shoe that I felt uncomfortable running on the roads as well. I consider it a good option for road to trail transition, as well as more technical trails, since the snug fit hugged my foot in place.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • FriXion sticky rubber forefoot for grip
  • Lightweight for a trail shoe
  • Not too bulky
  • Snug fit with no rubbing or sliding
Cons
  • Minimal forefoot protection
  • Tight in the forefoot
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

Since it is a responsive for a trail shoe, I found the La Sportiva Helios SR to have a great outsole for mild trails. You can still feel the ground a bit, which is actually a good thing to better grip the trail and avoid rolling your ankle. This is because the thick rubber ridges on the bottom do not cover the entire surface of the shoe, which helps contribute to its lighter weight. The spots of softer sole also make the shoe less rigid, so it can mold to the surface you are running on instead of sending your foot twisting this way and that.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

Despite being able to feel the trail on the midfoot, the La Sportiva has quite the cushion in the midsole. It's form fitting design is exactly what I want out of a trail shoe. I don't want to worry about my foot moving around in the shoe. The heel feels like a cup for your foot, with almost a touch of memory foam feel. However, the midsole definitely does not make you feel like you are sinking too far into the heel and have to work extra hard to push off. All around, I found it very responsive, especially for a trail shoe.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The forefoot upper can be a bit tight, but that is certainly better than being too loose, especially in a trail shoe. I still had plenty of room for my toes to stretch. Do not expect too much water repelling action from the La Sportiva Helios SR though. They have a breathable mesh. If a shoe is waterproof you will just get drenched from sweat instead of from the water on the trail. The upper is actually called Hydrain and it is specially designed to vent well and drain water, which is exactly what you need in a trail shoe.
Weight
Weight

Weight

Weighing in at 8.1 ounces, the Helios SR is super lightweight especially when it comes to trail shoes. No, it is not a racing shoe, but the weight gets pretty darn close! After having run in the shoe, I was surprised by the amount of support and protection it had for such a light weight shoe! I knew it was light, but since it held up so well for the rough terrain, I figured it had to have some bulk to it. Nope. It’s light, and still functions like a boss.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The HyDrain mesh upper wicks moisture and drains water well. I noticed my feet never felt swampy or damp in these shoes, and once I looked into what material was used for the upper, it all made sense. It is very breathable, and while this does allow water to get through, the superior draining action certainly makes up for any issues this would otherwise cause.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Overall, I found these shoes delightful to stand, walk, and run in. The cushioning is present but not overwhelming. When my foot came down harder, the cushion was more apparent. When my steps were lighter, the cushioning cradled my foot without having that sinking feeling. Even on my longest run in these shoes, which was 8 miles, iIt felt very easy on my joints and was as comfortable the first step and the last. Even on pavement, the shoe was not too firm and it still provided adequate give when I needed it.
Style
Style

Style

Not many people will see the bottom of your shoe, but this is my favorite part of the La Sportivas when it comes to style. Then again, with these sleek shoes, you should be leaving everyone in the dust, so they can marvel at your style while they catch flashes of your soles ahead. Overall it is a good looking shoe. The black is nice and inconspicuous for the runner that doesn’t like to stand out. When looking at it from the side, the back of the sole has a nice wave to it that adds a final touch to the sporty look.
Durability
Durability

Durability

I would be pretty disappointed to find a trail shoe start falling apart early on. The La Sportiva has shown practically no sign of wear for all my testing of the Helios SR trail shoe. The back of the heel has a sturdy patented rubber. The heel is designed to minimize wear, while the midfoot is designed to grip well. I have seen no issues with wear on the upper, but that section does seem more like a typical running shoe.
Protection
Protection

Protection

Let’s be honest. Most of us are not running along the Andes or Rocky Mountains. This shoe is great for those trails where you need a little extra grip and protection. I would not expect it to offer enough protection though when you start mixing rough rocks and steep drops into the mix. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who likes to run barefoot or close to it on a typical surface, then using the La Sportiva as a trail shoe might be a great option, especially with the low 6mm heel to toe drop. It is not the most minimal trail shoe I have seen, but it certainly gives you a lot of protection for the weight.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

I wouldn’t say this is the most responsive shoe I have ever run in. However, for a trail shoe, it offers quite the bounce back. On a scale of dry beach sand to rubber track, the La Sportivas definitely edge towards the track, but with a touch more packed dirt feel. The responsive nature of these shoes is probably not something you will notice in any direction. You won’t write home about the bounce on the La Sportivas, but you also won’t decry its absence.
Support
Support

Support

Everyone has a different arch, so it is tough to tell who will like the amount of support the Helios SR gives. I found that it fits nicely into the rear of my arch, following the contour of my foot. It should not feel like the support is too much for anyone, but if you have a high arch this probably will not be quite enough. Most people should not have any issue with the support here though. It is solid.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

I used these on dirt trails, grassy fields, as well as root and rock lined trails. They performed well on all surfaces and did not let me slip or slide. They also did not slide around on my feet while traversing some of the more technical sections of trail, like quick drops, and sharp turns.

I even used them on the road, and they did not feel like they were catching or scuffing. Really a great smooth ride on any surface. I would even use them for hiking mountains or walking on very rocky terrain. I would probably avoid running on the most jagged surfaces, as the sole on the front may not offer enough protection for that surprise protrusion.
Price
Price

Price

This is right in the middle to low range of price for the typical running shoe. After running in them, I would say the La Sportiva Helios SR are definitely worth the $125 price point. That is what you can expect to pay for most shoes of this quality and support. For a trail shoe, you could often expect to pay even more for the added protection. Not bad at all.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The pattern of the rubber on the bottom of the shoe makes sure nothing too jagged should stick through, offering protection in targeted areas. The heel is sturdier than the midfoot, with a nice wave pattern that takes the shock. The midfoot is where I felt most of the grip, which makes sense since they add their special sticky rubber called FriXion.

Going up and down grassy and sandy hills was a breeze. I went out in muddy conditions, onto some wet logs, and did not slip once! The sticky front really works wonders, and the wave design of the heel helps to catch a log or stick in the groove if you were to need some resistance.
Stability
Stability

Stability

This is not a stability shoe. It is a neutral shoe. I wouldn’t expect any correction for pronation from this, since that is not what it is designed to do. The arch support is great, so if you have only mild overpronation, this shoe might be sufficient. And with the 6mm drop which gets you onto your midfoot, the shoe is designed to skip the heaviest stage of pronation anyway.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

I found that the Helios SR flexed when it should, and stays firm when it should as well. The harder rubber on the midsole is split into sections so that the shoe has some ply to move when you hit something jagged that might otherwise twist your foot. But it is not so flexible that the support is lacking. The heel is all one piece, meaning it stays firmly in place, while the toes and forefoot have most of the flexibility.
Drop
Drop

Drop

I felt a surprisingly even midfoot strike in the La Sportivas. Looking at it, you might think the relatively bulky heel would come down first and heavy, but I found it did not get in the way of my usual midfoot strike. I felt like each part of the sole landed at the same time, which contributed to the sporty feel of these shoes.

This gives it a great quick feel, with still tons of protection. Turns out the heel to toe drop is a mere 6mm! I did not expect that from looking at the shoe, and it is certainly what helped give it a more natural midfoot strike and even transition step to step.
Key Features of the La Sportiva Helios SR
Key Features of the La Sportiva Helios SR

Key Features of the La Sportiva Helios SR

• Sticky Frixion heel XF and sturdy FriXion forefoot AT
• Moisture wicking well HyDrain upper
• 6mm heel to toe drop for midfoot strike
• 8.1 ounces makes the Helios a lightweight shoe by any standards
• Cushioned sole
• Nice arch, but not intrusive
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The La Sportiva Helios is a comfortable, affordable option for a lightweight but durable trail shoe. You get all the protection of something heavy, for only 8.1 ounces, and all the cushion of a bulky shoe, with a pitch of 2mm heel to toe drop. Lots of bang for your buck, especially since it is versatile enough to use for almost any trail, as well as the pavement. I loved trying them out on the trails, in the mud, and even on the pavement. And I would not hesitate to take these on even rougher terrain.

You would do well to have the La Sportiva Helios SR trail shoe in your running tool box. Sprinkle in a trail run, or put them on for that rainy or slushy day. Take them with you camping, or even consider them for an ultra trail run. They are an all around solid shoe that I found comfortable and functional for my trail runs.