REVIEWER: ABDUL-RAOUF MOHAMED-ISA
IMAGE: SUZANNE POLI
Shoe Review: La Sportiva Akasha II
CREATED WITH A FOCUS ON ENDURANCE, the La Sportiva Akasha II fits snug, but not too tightly around the forefoot. It’s a high cushioned shoe built specifically for longer runs on technical terrain, with its aggressive tread providing great traction and its ability to work at its best in wet and muddy conditions. In saying that, I found them less responsive on dry smoother trails, and felt that with the amount of cushioning and tread, the shoe felt like overkill on ‘easier’ terrain.
The shoe provides good protection around the heel and toes from rocky terrain, which it excels in. The Trail Rocker outsole technology promotes a rolling heel to toe motion. I didn’t feel this so much being more of a mid-to-fore foot runner, but when hiking it was noticeable how the rocker helped to promote forward motion.
When running downhill it did feel like my toes were being jammed into the front of the shoe, but in saying that this could have come down to sizing as others have said to go up half a size compared to what you normally wear. The heel lock lacing technique helped though to keep things more in place. Being used to a wider forefoot, I may have felt this a little more.
The well-padded tongue and Orholite Hybrid insole makes the Akasha II incredibly comfortable. The open dual-layer mesh material dries quickly if you happen to get them soaking wet, while the lacing system allows your feet to feel locked in and nice and secure.
Being a first time user of this brand I came in with an open mind. Out of the box you definitely feel the cushioning and snug fit. At first I tried it on wide bridal trails where it was comfortable enough but felt like too good of a shoe for that type of simple trail. The Akasha II comes into its own on more technical terrain, where you can feel the grip sink in going up and downhill, especially when the terrain’s gotten the ground wet and muddy. The shoe gives you more confidence here, even if you’ve picked up some speed. No problems slowing down and stopping if needed.
Compared to other shoes the Akasha II midsole feels only slightly rigid, however that most likely comes with the amount of protection from rocks and sharp objects – once again another reason this shoe is better for longer runs. You get enough feel for the trail for short bursts of speed but it’s definitely not one for high turnover or fast races.
Here are some of the stated specs of the Akasha II.
The stack height is 31mm in the heel and 25mm in the forefoot giving it a 6mm heel-to-toe drop. A US Men’s 9 weighs in at 310 grams. Frixion Red dual-compound with trail rocker provide good traction and promote smooth heel to toe motion. Ortholite hybrid laces are made from recycled materials. The colour options in the men’s shoe are Black/Yellow, Space Blue/Kale, Carbon/Flame and Space Green/Metal whilst for the women they are Hibiscus/Malibu Blue, Topaz/Red Plum and Carbon/Cherry.
Some changes I would like to see, and keep in mind this is more of a personal preferences: a velcro attachment on the heel for gaiters and perhaps slightly more room in the toe box. The only other thing would be a bit more flexibility in the mid sole, however I’m the sort of runner who likes to feel the trails underfoot and this comes at the cost protection.
Overall the La Sportiva Akasha II is a well-designed running shoe suited for those looking for high cushioning with enough protection in the heel and toe, and plenty of grip for technical terrains and durability. It’s comfortable, breathable and provides great support for longer runs.
THE LOW DOWN
GREAT FOR: Technical trails. High cushioning provides good comfort for longer runs. Does well in the wet and mud
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Smooth trails and dry pea-gravel
TEST CONDITIONS: Multi-use trails, rocky terrain and wide bridal trails
TESTER: Adul-Raouf Mohamed-Isa
TESTER MECHANICS: Overpronator with wide feet, usually running in zero drop shoes
RRP: $229.95 AUD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by La Sportiva