Why We Chose It: Well-cushioned, versatile, breathable
This trail running shoe from La Sportiva is designed for people training for mid to long distance running off-road. For those kinds of distances and that type of use, what most people will want is a nice bit of shock absorption, cushioning and a bit of toe space to accommodate your feet when they start to swell or splay out a bit. The good news is that the La Sportiva Karacal brings all of that to the table.
Despite that specific use La Sportiva have designed this for, we’d say it isn’t overly geared to one style of run or to one type of terrain, meaning it’s the kind of shoe you could pull on for just about everything if you’re not too specific with your footwear choices. At 7mm, the drop is pretty standard, so too is the lug depth at 3.5mm. The build is light at 290g but it’s not uber light either.
Where it does stand out a fair bit is in the design of the upper, which, thanks to the amount of mesh, is very breathable and very ventilated. That makes it geared towards three-season running, with summer being the time for it to really shine.
The design of the sole unit is almost identical to the one on the La Sportiva Jackal, so if you liked that shoe but want something for warmer conditions, this will be the option for you.
“It’s the kind of shoe you could pull on for just about everything.”
The stack height is 26mm at the forefoot and 19 at the front, so there’s quite a lot separating you from the ground here, including dual density EVA foam, a 1.5mm rock shield/chassis and a 4mm removable Ortholite insole. Overall this sole unit brings plenty of shock absorption and protection but the feel of the trail certainly isn’t removed. There’s also a good amount of stability brought by the slightly wide platform, particularly at the forefoot.
At 3.5mm, the lug depth isn’t that aggressive though the deep cut out sections do add a bit of extra traction and reliability. The compound is La Sportiva’s FriXion Blue which, much like the other aspects of this shoe, adds to that overall versatility.