La Sportiva VK Review Facts
La Sportiva is known for engineering exceptional specialty performance shoes and the VK definitely hits the mark in that category. With its extremely grippy v-shaped lugs and firm yet supportive midsole, it is sure to help you scramble up rock faces quickly. These shoes feature a Dual Density Rock Plate that delivers an excellent response as well, which is something you want in a VK sneaker. The upper is extremely lightweight and boasts a very unique lacing system. Its low-profile sleek design will help you feel the ground beneath your feet, better enabling you to push ahead with confidence.
The super-grippy outsole of the La Sportiva VK is made out of the company’s FiXion XF 2.0 rubber compound. This compound is specially designed to stick to the ground easily when you are trekking up steep inclines on the trail. FiXion XF 2.0 is extremely durable and will help you tackle difficult technical terrains. This outsole is unique because the grippy lugs on the bottom of the shoe are not overbuilt. Many times on technical trail running sneakers
, the rubber lugs will protrude extensively but that is not the case with the VK. These V-shaped lugs are placed on the outsole in a staggered formation to deliver a stable pushing-off point when you are headed up the trail. The heel also features some excellent grip when you are on the downward slope. The rubber on the outsole is surprisingly thin compared to some trail running sneakers and it rounds up to the front of the toe cap to help grip and protect you on steep ascents.
This lightweight trail running sneaker boasts a flexible, thin, firm midsole. It is made out of compression molded MEMlex EVA which delivers a small amount of cushioning. This midsole material is designed to distribute the force and shock applied as you race through the trails and help you have a smooth push off. At the forefoot section of the midsole, you will find a Dual Density Rock Guard
. This is also made out of the same compressed EVA material and shields your foot from hazardous terrain. This sneaker is specifically designed to carry you quickly up rocks and does not have a lot of underfoot cushioning throughout the midsole. Therefore, they are not a great candidate for long races but are great for VK’s that range from 5k to 10k in distance.
Similar to its predecessor, the Vertical K, the La Sportiva VK features a slipper-like knit fabric upper that seamlessly wraps around your foot. Because the material conforms so well to your individual foot, it automatically supports the midfoot to keep it snug and secure and grips the heel of your foot tightly. This sock-like technology also provides precise fitting to your foot because it features differentiated stretch zones. The shoe features a unique lacing system with a cord that resembles the cording on daypacks
rather than traditional shoelaces. This cord is anchored by dual eyelets on both sides of the forefoot and then crosses once over the top of the foot and wraps around the heel where it can be secured for a tighter fit. It should be noted that although this is in no way a traditional lacing system that can be cinched down tightly on your foot, the sock-like upper provides enough tight grip that you won’t need it. At the front of the toebox, you will find a lightweight toe bumper that will help protect your toes on the trail. At the rear of the sneaker, you will find a lightweight non-slip microfiber spoiler that makes getting the shoes on and off a quick and easy process.
The La Sportiva VK is cut to be a men’s shoe but since the men’s sizing goes down to a men’s size 7, some women could wear them as well. They are extremely lightweight
thanks to their low profile design and lightweight upper and lacing system. This shoe weighs in at a mere 7 ounces.
Due to the fact that this shoe boasts such a lightweight knit upper, it is very breathable. There are no overlays or heavy accents at all which would hinder airflow into and out of the foot chamber. This knit material allows your feet to breath easily and you should be able to traverse the trails, even if they are wet, with ease and comfort. The lack of excessive bells and whistles on the upper will help with both airflow
Just like many of La Sportiva’s sneakers, the VK is a specifically designed shoe and is not meant for everyone or every type of run. The first thing you would notice upon taking these out of the box is that they are extremely lightweight. Secondly, you will notice that they are low-profile and resemble something like a sock. The bootie-like construction
hugs your foot well and will conform to your individual foot shape. The knit material that makes up the upper is seamless to prevent hot spots and blistering. The differentiated stretch zones are strategically placed throughout the upper to provide just the right amount of stretch combined with support, making them feel more like a tight sock rather than a trail-running shoe. The midsole is firm and not extremely cushioned, so you won’t feel a lot of softness when you step in. Rather, you will experience a certain amount of ground feel because the midsole is only 1.5mm thick. It should be noted that many users have commented that the sneaker fits rather narrow so if you have wide feet, these may not be the right Vertical Kilometer shoes for you.
One look at the La Sportiva VK and you will know right away that this is no ordinary shoe built for an ordinary run. The sleek silhouette resembles something of a souped-up sock rather than a trail shoe. This specifically-designed Vertical Kilometer sneaker is a performance shoe and it looks the part. It does not feature an array of unnecessary bells and whistles because it was engineered for speed
and efficiency. The style of the sneaker is really something that is unlike other shoes out there. It is aesthetically pleasing with its clean black form-fitting upper featuring bold yellow laces and “La Sportiva” lettering. This shorter-distance running trail shoe gives off a European flair and practically begs for you to slip them on and run up an incline at top speed.
In terms of durability with the La Sportiva VK, you need to consider what they were designed to do: run up and down technical terrain quickly. The FiXion XF 2.0 rubber that makes up the sneaker’s outsole is extremely durable and is designed to withstand abrasion from the technical steep terrain. Although the lugs on this shoe are not over-done in terms of size, they pack a punch and will help protect the shoes from wearing easily. Since the upper is made up of a seamlessly knit material, it most likely won’t survive for years to come but should help carry you up and down steep slopes for a decent number of races.
Though these may not be the most protective trail shoes out there, for what they are designed to do, they are pretty protective. The underfoot protection is stellar with its rubber lugs, rock plate, and firm midsole. With that said, these are extremely cushioned, so you will definitely have some ground feel underfoot. The front of the shoe boasts a toe bumper
than several users have stated to be effective but not obstructive, which is exactly what you want in a shoe like this. The upper, on the other hand, does not offer much in terms of protection since it is made of a knit material with no overlays. However, the upper does help keep debris out of the foot chamber thanks to how high up it extends on the ankle.
Looking at this low-profile, lightweight sneaker, you may think that it does not have a lot going for it in terms of responsiveness. However, the La Sportiva VK has actually proven itself to offer just the opposite. Because it is a sneaker specifically designed to carry you up and down steep trails quickly, it offers response where you need it most. The lightweight factor enables you to get up on your toes quickly and easily, which automatically helps to propel you forward. The carbon plate embedded in the midsole acts as a propulsion plate and it helps you to feel the shoe snap on the toe off to push you ahead. Because these shoes have a low-to-the-ground design, you will get a lot of ground response, which is something to look for in a VK race shoe.
These are specialized shoes meant for one purpose: to carry you up and down steep descents safely and quickly. They do not offer a ton of support other than the customizable fit of the upper. The knit material hugs your foot and gives you individualized support. The sock-like fit will allow your foot to be secure within the foot chamber and you won’t have to worry about any lateral movement. The lacing style may take some getting used to since it is difficult to get it really tight, but if you trust it to hold your foot, you’ll be fine because the upper keeps you supported enough to not need the laces super tight. As far as arch support, the VK is made for people with a neutral arch so if you have arch concerns, you may need to look elsewhere.
As you can surmise from the rest of the info in this review, the La Sportiva VK is meant for a certain kind of terrain: steep. VK races travel up and down steep technical terrain and since these sneakers are specifically engineered for those kinds of races, that’s what they should be used for. With that said, some users have said that because the shoes do not boast overly aggressive protruding lugs, you may be able to wear them on well-groomed trails or perhaps even the road but that is not their intended use. Because these sneakers do not offer a ton of support or cushion, they should really only be worn on VK runs with lengths between 5k and 10k.
Because these are specialized performance sneakers, the price tag is going to be a little heftier. Currently, you can snag yourself a pair of these svelte-looking VK shoes for around $135. This may seem steep, but it really isn’t too bad considering they are a specialty sneaker with a trusted brand name.
In terms of traction, the La Sportiva VK is both agile and not-so-agile. These sneakers are great for what they were designed for: bounding from rock to rock, scuddling around obstacles, and ascending rock faces. Thanks to the shoe’s incredible grip and impressive tread pattern, they perform well in both uphill and lateral movements. However, because the lugs on the VK are not very deep, descending becomes a little bit of a questionable situation. Steep descents, downhill switchbacks, and loose descending terrain have proven to be a little bit of an enemy to these sneakers. Some users have questioned the traction of these shoes because the outsole is grippy and not sticky. One user said that they work well if you are ready to tackle a descent full-tilt, but look out because you may have trouble stopping quickly.
Thanks to the lightweight and not-overdone outsole, thin midsole, and lightweight knit upper, the VK is a pretty flexible little sneaker. There isn’t a whole lot of material making up this specialty performance shoe so there won’t be a lot in the way of allowing it to flex with your foot. Many users have said how easy it is to quickly get up on your toes and spring forward, as well as to climb steep rocks. If the shoe was inflexible, you would not be able to achieve such stunts.
If you are looking for a stable VK sneaker, you may be looking for quite a while. By nature, stability running sneakers include a plethora of supportive features to help keep your foot stable and your run in line. However, because these are not your typical run-of-the-mill running shoes, they aren’t going to give you this kind of stability. With that said, they do offer some support in the midfoot thanks to the sock-like fit. You certainly won’t have to worry about your feet moving around within the foot chamber. These are really meant for the neutral VK competitor so if you need more stability, you won’t find it here.
The La Sportiva VK does not have much of a drop to it, as it shouldn’t. It is engineered to be a fast-paced VK competition sneaker and you want to be able to traverse the trails quickly and easily with moderate ground feel. That is exactly what you get in these shoes. The drop on this shoe measures out to be a mere 4mm.
-Impressively lightweight to help carry you up and down steep descents with impeccable agility
-Seamless knit upper hugs the foot securely for a highly individualized fit
-Unique lacing system requires no tying at all but also helps to keep the foot firmly in the shoe
-Knit upper features differentiated stretch zones to give you stretch where you need it
-Lightweight V-shaped FiXion XF 2.0 rubber lugs will propel you forward and grip the ground well
-Dual Density Rock Plate will propel you forward and up rock faces with ease
There’s no getting around it, the La Sportive VK is a sneaker meant for a small sector of the market. They are engineered to be a speedy Vertical Kilometer racing sneaker and they perform well in that category. They fit just like a sock and won’t wobble when you are scrambling up and down rock faces and they definitely will not weigh you down. The rock plate will push you up and propel you to new heights as you traverse hilly technical terrain. The sneaker offers just the right amount of support in its firm midsole and hugs your foot with an individualized feel. Although some users question their ability to help you out on steep descents, other users say they work like a dream. They only come in men’s sizes but can be worn by women if you can find some that fit your feet. Despite that, they tend to run narrow, so they may not work for every VK competitor. However, if you are in the market for a specialized VK shoe, then you may not have to look any further than the La Sportiva VK.