Monday, January 25, 2010

RJ Review: La Sportiva Wildcat GTX

The day was dark; the charcoal clouds were dropping snow, and the temperature hovered around 33 degrees.  In short, it was not the day for a run in my summer go-to trail shoe - the standard La Sportiva Wildcat - and I paid for it with painfully cold feet that slowed me to a crawl.  The breezy ventilation of the standard Wildcats that helped keep my feet cool and blister-free through August and September racing left an open door to the bone-chilling elements of fall and winter.  It wasn't pretty. 

The good folks at La Sportiva, though, seem to have felt my pain and developed a Gore-Tex version of the shoe, the Wildcat GTX, which I've finally been able to put through the winter paces here in the Rockies.  (Full disclosure: shoes complimentary from La Sportiva).

Overall, the GTXs are a near carbon-copy of the standard Wildcats, and nearly everything I said about the standards in my recent review (here) also apply to the Wildcat GTX.

The biggest difference between the two is comfort in wintry conditions.  Where my toes in the standard Wildcats could go numb running at near 40 degrees, in the GTXs my toes have felt comfortable running in windy single digits and in deep soft snow. 

As expected, the Gore-Tex barrier adds a bit of weight and structure to the shoe.  The forefoot seems to have more volume than in the standards, and the GTXs top the scales at 13.7 ounces, about 1.7 ounces more than its leaner brethren.  It's a decent absolute difference that takes something away from the nimbleness of the shoe, but in relative terms, it's not that significant since a lot of winter running is a slog no matter what a shoe's weight.  In the heat of summer singletrack season, the difference would be much more noticeable.

Overall, though, if you're looking for a solid, responsive trail shoe that can dish it out to winter as well take it, it'd be hard to go wrong with the La Sportiva Wildcat GTX.  As I concluded my December review of the standard version:
"While the Wildcats have a couple drawbacks, they're a standout on nearly all the points that really matter."

More shoe reviews on Run Junkie (shoe reviews).


Gretchen said...

I just got a pair of these myself for winter running. They're definitely a lot more shoe than I am used to in terms of stiffness and support. Since I am using them primarily for snowshoe running, that turns out to be a good thing. I haven't spent more than an hour in them at one time yet, but so far I'm giving them a thumbs-up!

Sydney Harbour Cruise said...
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