La Sportiva Kaptiva Review [For Fast, Technical Trail Running]

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The Kaptiva trail running shoes are my second pair of trail shoes from the La Sportiva brand, the first being the Bushido II. I rated that shoe very highly and I am just as impressed with the Kaptiva. In this La Sportiva Kaptiva review, I share the key features that make it stand out from its competition, how they perform under real trail conditions, their pros and cons, and a review summary with a rating out of 10.

RELATED: Best Trail Running Shoes of the year (so far…)

On first impressions, the Kaptiva felt snug, very lightweight, and super grippy, much like the Bushido 2.

One thing I will say, however, is that if you use the US sizing chart, I would recommend going a half size up on these, The UK and Euro sizing appears accurate though. Here’s the Strava activity of my first run in them to see how I put them to the test. By the way, did you know Trail & Kale has its very own Strava club? Join us over there for more inspiration from our extra active community members. 🙂

Read on for my thoughts about the build quality, performance and comfort of these trail running shoes.


Not sure where to start with trail running shoes? Here is my definitive list of the best trail shoes for running (updated regularly).


Fit & Design

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 9

Upper

The Kaptiva trail running shoes wrap around my feet very comfortably, made possible by what La Sportiva call TRUST FIT which is designed to cradle your feet for a precise and comfortable fit. This works very well in conjunction with the slip-on construction which makes it feel a bit like a swim-run aquatic shoe. This wrap-around sock-like feature also acts as a built-in gaiter, to prevent bits of dirt from getting inside the shoe, clever! The upper is breathable and drains water well too.

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 13
Here you can see the elasticated slip-on tongue/upper

La Sportiva is using a rubberised material for some areas of the upper for support and also strength in the shoe build. What I love about this particular material is that it’s very soft and flexible, and as a result, should not create any pressure points. Instead they soften and mould to your feet the longer you wear them.

Padding around the heel area is soft and comfortable. The side walls don’t rise too high either, which give me more flexibility in the ankle/Achilles heel areas without unwanted rubbing.

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 8

La Sportiva shoes are built on European half sizes which are smaller increments than US half sizes. This gives them five extra sizes per size run, which gives you a better fit! But as mentioned earlier, if using the US sizing chart, consider sizing up half a size. You can check your size using the La Sportiva shoe size chart.

Tongue & Laces

The tongue is very slim and made from an elasticated material, but has enough padding in just the right areas on the top of your feet, suggesting that La Sportiva has been thinking hard on how to reduce weight with the Kaptiva.

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 12

The laces look great, I love the flash of blue color on them that matches the accent color on the upper and outsole. I can confirm that they also stay tied up with just a single knot during a long run.

Inner

The shoe slips on very easily and feels like a slipper but there’s a little too much arch support in the Kaptiva for my liking. It surprised me a little, as the Bushido II does not have much of an arch in it, which I like. So, I prefer the fit of the Bushido II because of the more neutral arch.

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 4

Midsole

There’s also very good cushioning in the midsole, which is something that many high-performance mountain running shoes lack. It’s in order to reduce weight as much as possible, and I understand that weight/cushioning/support/comfort is a tricky balancing act in shoe design, but personally, I’d prefer not to sacrifice on comfort, even in a racing shoe. The cushioned midsole protects the bottom of your feet excellently from sharp rocks that you may run over too.

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 14

There’s a finger loop at the back for slipping the shoes on easily, and also a mid-level protective toe cap (not completely solid), designed to protect your feet, should you accidentally kick a rock on the trails, it happens!

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 5

The Kaptivas solid heel cage, when paired with the TRUST FIT system, locks my feet in place well, really important when navigating gnarly terrain at speed. I have every confidence with the responsiveness of this shoe while running fast over rocks and mud and feel a low risk of rolling an ankle.

Outsole

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 6

The tread on the Kaptiva is sticky and performs really well in the wet and dry! I’d liken it to some of Salomon’s high performance running shoe outsoles. It’s a material that may wear down a little quicker than some other rubbers but wow, it really does grip well. When in doubt about shoe longevity vs performance, I’d personally suggest going for performance over longevity, especially when it comes down to having an effective braking system which will provide extra control, responsiveness and ultimately, your safety while out on the trails.

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 10

The outsole has a good rock-plate too which keeps your feet protected while running over sharp rocks.

Drop & Weight

There’s a drop of 6mm from heel to toe. It’s a happy medium for runners who like a minimal drop and others who prefer more. I’m a fan of keeping the drop as low as possible as it helps to improve my running form due to the more natural footfall. Having 6mm on the La Sportiva Kaptiva feels great for me.

Weighing in at 260g the Kaptiva is a very lightweight racing shoe, almost 40g lighter than the Bushido 2, which is already a very light trail shoe.

Toe Box

La Sportiva Kaptiva review Trail Kale wm 15

The toe box is a medium width and feels nice and airy due to the breathable upper material.

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Find the best price for the Kaptiva, at a reputable store below:

In Summary

The La Sportiva Kaptiva is an excellent trail running shoe if you’re looking for a high-performance racing shoe that’s super lightweight, responsive, and offers unparalleled traction over all types of terrain.

The midsole provides great cushioning and forwards momentum while keeping enough flex for overall comfort. The performance and protection on technical terrain, is very impressive too, to say the least. The Kaptiva has a medium arch, which feels a bit much for myself as I prefer a more neutral footbed. For this reason, I rate the La Sportiva Kaptiva just below the Bushido 2, reviewed HERE.

At $139 though, the Kaptiva is an excellent deal. The overall build quality and shoe design/innovation are on par the Salomon S-Lab range, which for me puts La Sportiva’s pricing at an extremely competitive standpoint.

Compare prices for the Kaptiva, at a reputable store below:

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Hi. Thanks for the review! This shoe looks a lot like the Lycan. Have you reviewed the Lycan? How would you compare the two? Thanks!

    • Hi Mark,
      It does look similar but I think the Kaptiva is more of a racing shoe. It’s a fair bit lighter and has a clever 1 piece sock-like upper that drops the weight even further. Not tried the Lycan though, so I can’t compare them fully.
      Alastair

  2. Curious how you would compare the Kaptiva, Bushido, and cloudventure for a 100km trail race? My last 100k was in Nike Tera Kigers which I normally like but being a hair wide for me, I blistered like crazy and my feet felt quite beat up by the end due to rocks. I’m looking for a similar run with but a little more protection. Would any of those three mentioned be a decent option in your opinion?
    Thanks!!

  3. Hi Alastair — Excited to try the Kaptivas I just bought a pair & I definitely concur with your negative observation about arch support. It’s something I’m very sensitive to having struggled with plantar fasciitis on and off. Other reviews haven’t mentioned this but I find it to be very pronounced, enough that I’m considering a return. Is there any sort of break in period after which the arch support feels less prominent, or does this sensation underfoot not go away? Cheers.

  4. I agree with this review entirely!
    I wanted to love this shoe and there is soo much I do love about it, but that arch support was very bothersome. The grip of these is much better than the bushido 2, but I still can’t get over that arch.

    Have you tried the mutant?
    That’s one pair that is also supposed to be more grippy than the bushido, but I’m so worried the arch will be an issue again.

    • Hi Haley,
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who picked up on the arch support. I haven’t tried the Mutant but they do look like a good trail shoe. If try them, let me know how you get on as I’m interested in the arch situation too.

  5. Hi, thanks for the review.

    I have a few hundred mountain miles in my Kaptiva. They’re a good shoe and quite versitile, but the lacing or lack of tongue cushioning has been an issue for me. After some long days in the mountains, the laces have managed to bruise the top of my feet. I wish I had a solution!

    • Hi Aaron,

      Interesting point, and I can see how that may have happened, it is pretty minimal up top. I wonder if slightly thicker socks may help, or switching out the laces for some more stretchy ones… Let me know if you find a solution!

  6. Hi Aaron,

    Interesting point, and I can see how that may have happened, it is pretty minimal up top. I wonder if slightly thicker socks may help, or switching out the laces for some more stretchy ones… Let me know if you find a solution!

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