La Sportiva Jackal

The La Sportiva Jackal is a highly cushioned trail running shoe that is built to tackle long distances.

With thermo-adhesive TPU reinforcements in the upper, a dense rock plate, and plenty of high-end cushioning in the midsole to keep your stride nice and even, there are few trails that the La Sportiva Jackal cannot conquer.

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Pros & Cons
Pros
EVA Infinitoo™ Technology built into the midsole
Insulated upper is perfect for cooler weather
Affordable price point
Grippy and durable FriXion® Red outsole
Tapered lugs
Ample 7 mm drop
Includes a rock plate
Ortholite® Ergonomic footbed
Great for running long distances
Cons
Very small fit
Not ideal for speed
Awkward heel counter
Key Features
Key Features
MIDSOLE

The midsole of the Jackal is composed of La Sportiva’s proprietary Infinitoo™ Technology. When running on uneven and rocky trailheads, runners need something that is a little less cushioned and more rigid and responsive. Overall, the built of this midsole checks all of these boxes.

The midsole material is flexible enough to keep your stride nice and energetic, but the stiff materials transform rocky and uneven trails into fresh asphalt. This stiff midsole helps to mitigate impact absorption so you can run for longer distances without sending shockwaves of pain through your joints.

What I also love about the build of this midsole is that it is also reinforced with a polyurethane rock plate. This rock plate is noticeably rigid (especially under the arches), but it performs quite well in protecting the bottom of your feet from very sharp rocks.

Overall, the midsole of the Jackal is a little stiffer than many runners expected, but it works overtime to provide high-end energy return and a responsive ride that is perfect for those ultra-long distances.

Even after the 100-mile mark, many runners found this midsole performs just as well as it did right out of the box!

OUTSOLE

One thing that is consistent throughout La Sportiva’s entire lineup of trainers is the quality of the outsole. The outsole of this design is composed of FriXion® Red, which is the middle ground between FriXion® White and Blue.

FriXion® White is more grippy and FriXion® boasts high-end durability. FriXion® Red is the best of both worlds and offers runners a grippy and durable outsole that is built to tackle most trails as well as weather conditions. This isn’t your fair-weather running shoe.

The outsole is also reinforced with lateral IBS lugs which help to boost agility without sacrificing traction. The lugs on the outsole of this shoe measure to be around 4 mm in the center of the foot, and then taper off to around 2-3 mm towards the outside of the foot.

These tapered lugs are built to keep your gait cycle nice and bright without the added weight of aggressive lugs.

It’s important to note that the lugs on this shoe aren’t quite as aggressive as some of the other trail running shoes out there on the market, and that was a deliberate design choice.

The La Sportiva Jackal is a shoe that is made for long-distances runners that need aggressive lugs without the added weight and bulk in the outsole to slow them down. Where it suffers on loosely packed trails or snow it makes up for in agility and durability.

UPPER

The upper of this design is built like a tank. If you like minimalistic uppers that fit like a second sock, this isn’t the shoe for you. When running on technical trailheads, a reinforced upper is just as important as the midsole and outsole. There is a lot to unpack when it comes to the upper design of the Jackal, so let’s get started.

The very first thing that I noticed about the upper of this shoe is that there are more synthetic overlays than there is mesh. This translates to a more secure and protective fit that isn’t very breathable.

While this shoe does boast a few mesh panels to lift hot air up and away from your feet, many runners found that their feet get incredibly hot while running in this shoe. If you love running in cooler climates, this shoe insulates quite well.

With thermo-adhesive TPU reinforcements, worrying about puddles and mud isn’t an issue. These panels on the side of the shoe help to protect your feet from becoming wet and soggy on less-than-ideal terrain. The toe box is also capped in a thick and very unforgiving TPU panel that reduced your full range of motion.

It’s important to note that the heel counter of this design is very stiff. While this design feature helps to keep your feet locked down, it makes those first initial miles a little painful. While the heel counter will break in over time, those first initial runs may prove to be a test of your overall pain tolerance!

The midsole and outsole give your feet a little extra movement and flexibility, but the upper of this design isn’t messing around.

PERFORMANCE

Overall, I would recommend the La Sportiva Jackal for long-distance runners that need a good deal of protection and support. The midsole of this shoe boasts high-end durability and performance that really shines on even the most difficult trails.

The built-in rock plate and the EVA Infinitoo™ Technology in the midsole offer high-end cushioning and durability. This midsole may be thick and heavy, but it helps to transform uneven terrain into a nice and even surface. When the trail ahead is flat, you can maintain a nice and even gait cycle.

Overall, the performance of the Jackal is built more for distance than speed. This shoe is a little heavy, and the tank-like fit of the upper really reduces your overall agility and speed.

If you want a trail shoe that is also built for speed, I suggest checking out the La Sportiva Kaptiva. This shoe boasts similar features to the Jackal, but it is built to be a little more flexible.

FIT

La Sportiva shoes have a bit of a reputation of running a little small as well as narrow. While the Jackal is built a little wider than many of the other trainers in their lineup, they still fall a little short.

Overall, it may be in your best interest to opt for a shoe that is a half size larger than what you would normally wear. While the toe box provides plenty of room to allow your toes to naturally splay, this shoe runs a little small.

If you have the option, it’s never a bad idea to head to your local shoe store to give them a try before you make your final decision. While many shoes provide a little bit of wiggle room with their stretchy uppers, the upper of the Jackal is stiff and rigid. Finding the perfect size for your feet is the key to running happiness in regards to the Jackal.

When buying online, I suggest taking ample measurements of your feet and comparing those numbers to La Sportiva’s sizing chart. If your feet run even a little bit wide, I suggest opting for a half size larger than what La Sportiva suggests.

PRICE

One of the things that I love most about this shoe is that it comes in at a fairly affordable price point. While it’s not the most affordable trail running shoe out there on the market, it’s far from the most expensive.

Overall, it hits that sweet spot between an affordable running shoe and a high-end bank account-draining running shoe.

While it’s affordable, it doesn’t mean that it’s cheap. Overall, runners were able to squeeze at least 225 miles out of this shoe. It’s also a shoe that doesn’t fade over time.

The quality of miles achieved at mile 200 is just as impressive as mile one. The upper and midsole hold up quite well after 200 miles, but some users found that the slightly shallow lugs start to wear down over time.

Verdict
If long distances on technical trails are your main jam, the La Sportiva Jackal is worth checking out. With a responsive midsole and tank-like upper, this is a shoe that can go the distance without draining your bank account. While the lugs aren’t quite as durable as other dedicated trail runners, this shoe is still worth every penny!

What I love most about this trail running shoe is that it is perfect for long-distance running. The built of the midsole provide consistent impact absorption and works to transform rocky terrain into fresh asphalt.

Runners found that this midsole helps to reduce the impact to their joints when running on hard surfaces, and the durable and protective upper works to keep their feet nice and protected on those long-distance runs.

The only downside I found to these shoes is that they are ideal for speed. They are a little stiff and aren’t quite as flexible for running fast.

Plus, the overall fit is a little finicky. Some runners love the tight and supportive fit, while others feel that they fit just a little too tight.
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By Tara Summerville
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Best offer on: Jan. 20. 2022