La Sportiva Mutant & A.T. Grip Spike – Review
I’ve been running in my La Sportiva Mutant for over half a year now, so I though I could share some of my thoughts about my as-of-now favorite trail/mountain running shoes. I should also start by saying that I am currently ambassador for La Sportiva Denmark, but I’ve been a fan of their shoes a while before that. So I’ll try to be as objective as possible, but my opinions may be polarised.
Starting top down, the Mutant is built of a very resistant and breathable mesh. It has an integrated gaiter, and what La Sportiva calls as a SpiralTongue(tm) which avoids debris from getting into the shoes and closes the shoes very well around the ankle. The lacing system has a special feature called FusionGate(tm) which allows to adjust the volume of the shoes – when lacing them the system pulls the shoe together from the ankle. I also like the fact that there is a small pocket for the shoe laces, so they do not fly around while running. The Mutant has a protected toe box, in case you end up kicking a rock or 2 🙂 (it has spared me a couple of nails…).
One of the most important things in trail running shoes for me is grip. It is really important for me to trust that my shoes will stick to the ground, so I can concentrate in running and be a bit more relaxed about where I step. The Mutant features a ultra grippy FriXion XF outsole, with some deep studs. It provides a really good grip in any kind of terrain. The outsole it also ready for spikes (A.T. Grip Spike), but more about that later in this post.
The midsole is more on the hard side. I particularly like it, since it provides good protection and the shoes get very responsive. But yeah, it can be a bit tough in a long run if you are not used to it. It is a matter of taste, I think – I particularly like it a lot.
It terms of fit, La Sportiva describes them as ‘Normal Volume’. They are not super roomy, but definitely not narrow. I particularly do not want my shoes to be wide when running in technical terrain, so for my taste the fit of the Mutant is perfect.
It has a 10mm drop and weights 320g per shoe. For me, everything between 2-10mm works just as good, so I don’t think that 10mm is too much. A bit more drop can be nice (comfortable) when you have to run/walk uphill for a long time. It is not the lightest shoes in the market, but you definitely get a lot for the weight (I particularly do not think that 20-30g make a lot of a difference).
I’ve been using my Mutants during the whole last summer and now on the winter in all sorts of terrain – mountains, muddy forests, icy trails, snow – and it is the best all around trail shoe that I have owned so far (a close up with the Helios SR, which is also an amazing shoe, but not quite as versatile). I’ve ran the (UTMB) TDS with them last summer (120km with 7500+ of elevation gain) and I had a blast in the trails.
As I mentioned before, the Mutant is ready for the La Sportiva A.T. Grip Spike. So if you own a pair of Mutants and plan to go running in icy trails, consider setting some spikes on them – IT’S WORTH IT! I recently ran a 50 miles in Bornholm (Hammertrail Winter Edition) and the trails were covered by ice. The spikes provided me amazing grip even in the most slippery trails.
The A.T. Grip Spike is quite easy to setup. The kit comes with 16 spikes, that weight just 26g in all, and with a tool that can be used to screw the spikes into the sole.
The spikes have a snail shape and they really hold strongly to the sole. I haven’t lost a single spike in my 50 miles race and all the spikes were in the exactly same position when I finished (neither pushed into the sole, nor bended).
The good thing about this system is that the shoes get even more versatile, since you can screw the spikes on an off as you wish. You also have control over the grip, since you can decide how many spikes to use, where to place them and how deep to screw them (more exposure = more grip).
The downside of spikes, and I cannot really see how any system would come over it, is that you will loose cushioning. But I think that it is a small price to pay, considering the massive increase in grip that you will get. The spikes are quite sharp, so they work just as well in rocky and muddy terrain.
The size of the holes that the spikes make in the outsole is nothing very significant, and they will definitely not damage the shoes – in case you are wondering :-).
If I forgot to mention something that you would like to know about these shoes, do not hesitate writing me here or on the La Sportiva Danmark Facebook page.
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