La Sportiva Levante Review: Toe Bumper & Ankle Gaiter Scream “Mountains, Please!”

This women's-specific trail running shoe is designed for all-mountain performance and technical, rocky, terrain.

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Hey guys, welcome to Trail and Kale, I’m Helen, and welcome to my in-depth review of the La Sportiva Levante trail running shoes. Whether you’re tackling rugged mountain trails or cruising through forest paths, this shoe is an all-mountain, lightweight trail runner that’s capable of going the distance, with the addition of some enhanced protective features to please your feet.

With so many options on the market, finding a shoe that balances cushioning, durability, and responsiveness can be challenging. That’s where the La Sportiva Levante comes in. Known for its exceptional grip and snug fit, this shoe is designed to handle a variety of terrains, ensuring that your foot remains secure and protected throughout your run. Interestingly, too, is that this shoe was designed to be a women’s-only design, with the input from La Sportiva’s elite sponsored trail running athletes.

In this review, I cover the key features of the La Sportiva Levante, how they fit, and perform on different types of trails, and provide some alternatives if these aren’t quite what you’re looking for. I’ve been testing these shoes on the beautiful yet challenging trails of Northern California, where we’ve got everything from steep climbs and descents, to smooth flat, buffed trails. Let’s see if these shoes live up to their $155 price tag and the La Sportiva reputation.

Key Features of the La Sportiva Levante

  • Price: 🇺🇸 USA $155 at Lasportivausa.com / 🇬🇧 UK £130 at Sportsshoes.com
  • Weight: 8oz (EU 39 / US Women’s 7.5)
  • Drop: 6mm (Stack height: 30mm heel, 24mm toe)
  • Outsole: Durable rubber with leaf-shaped lugs
  • Upper: Breathable recycled mesh with a protective toe bumper
  • Midsole: EVA foam providing balanced cushioning and responsiveness
  • Fit: Snug, runs slightly short and narrow so go up a half-size

👋🏼 Hey there! If you’re thinking about getting these shoes, using our links would be a huge help for Trail & Kale Running Co. We earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which lets us keep creating awesome content like this review. Thanks so much for your support – we really appreciate it!

La Sportiva Levante Performance Review

To make sure this review offers you the full scope of testing insights, and so you know we actually run in the shoes we review (believe it or not, some sites that like to cut shoes in half and call it a review, do not), you can also watch my performance video review on Youtube by tapping the image below – Don’t forget to subscribe to our Channel :).

La Sportiva Levante Review: Toe Bumper & Ankle Gaiter Scream "Mountains, Please!" 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

The Levante is built for protecting and moving with your feet as you run over technical terrain. The snug fit, combined with the stretchy ankle gaiter (with an integrated lace garage), keeps your foot locked in and protected from debris. The leaf-shaped lugs on the outsole provide excellent grip on loose and uneven surfaces, offering confidence and stability.

The protective toe bumper is another great feature, offering substantial protection against rocks and roots, which is crucial on more challenging trails and something not always found on other trail running shoes.

Protective toe bumper on the La Sportiva Levante womens trail running shoes
Protective toe bumper on the La Sportiva Levante women’s trail running shoes

On the climbs, the rocker shape of the shoe aids in smooth transitions from heel to toe, making the ascents feel more efficient. When descending, the snug fit and secure lacing system prevent your foot from sliding forward, reducing the risk of black toenails, which is something runners can experience when their feet are not well-enough locked into their shoes when running downhill in particular.

On flatter sections, the Levante allows you to pick up the pace. The shoe’s lightweight design and moderate cushioning create a responsive ride, enabling quicker foot turnover and an easy, fast cadence. The EVA foam midsole provides a balanced level of cushioning and responsiveness, making running fast very enjoyable, especially given how light these shoes are.

Well-placed lugs on the La Sportiva Levante's outsole provide traction while remaining comfortable on a variety of terrain.
Well-placed lugs on the La Sportiva Levante’s outsole provide traction while remaining comfortable while running over a variety of terrain.

The outsole grips well on both dry and slightly wet surfaces (think: morning dew), although I haven’t tested them in extremely muddy conditions yet. If you plan to run in a lot of mud and sticky wet conditions then other shoes are going to be better suited to that, as the lugs on these are designed for rocky terrain and are not as deep as those you find on shoes such as Salomon’s Speedcross 6, for example, which is a great shoe for running in muddier terrain.

The Levante showcases impressive durability. The outsole rubber shows minimal wear after running on rocky and rough terrains. The upper’s construction, including the protective toe bumper, stretchy gaiter, and well-placed engineered mesh and overlays, stands up well to the rigors of trail running, ensuring longevity.

The upper features a breathable mesh made of recycled material throughout the shoe, except for the solid toe bumper and some other sections, which limit airflow. While this might reduce breathability slightly, it increases durability and offers added protection, which could well be a worthwhile trade-off for trail running, depending on when and where you’ll run in them.

Close-up on the La Sportiva Levante's mesh upper
Close-up on the La Sportiva Levante’s mesh upper

The Levante fits snugly, running slightly short and narrow, so I suggest you consider going up half a size for a more comfortable fit even if you normally don’t do that with your running shoes. The snug fit ensures your foot stays secure, which is particularly beneficial for technical trails where foot movement inside the shoe can lead to blisters or instability, although may not be great for those with wider feet – if that’s you, I have some alternative shoe recommendations for you later in this review.

The midsole features EVA foam, offering moderate cushioning that balances comfort and responsiveness. This medium cushioning level is perfect for those who prefer a bit of ground feel while still enjoying some comfort and protection underfoot. It’s definitely not the 9/10 La Sportiva states on its website for the overall level of cushioning, but that’s not an issue just something to consider when looking at these shoes.

That stretchy ankle gaiter on the Levante, designed to help hold your feet in place while preventing debris from entering your shoe.
That stretchy ankle gaiter on the Levante, designed to help hold your feet in place while preventing debris from entering your shoe.

In summary, the La Sportiva Levante performs exceptionally well on a variety of trail surfaces. Its snug fit, combined with the stretchy ankle gaiter, ensures that your feet remain secure and protected from debris. The EVA foam midsole provides a good balance of cushioning and responsiveness, making these shoes suitable for both technical terrain and flatter sections where you can pick up the pace. The durable rubber outsole with its unique leaf-shaped lugs offers excellent grip and stability, even on loose and uneven terrain.

Rocky trail-ready outsole on the Levante trail running shoes from La Sportiva.
Rocky trail-ready outsole on the Levante trail running shoes from La Sportiva.

These shoes are particularly suitable for runners who enjoy technical trail running and need a shoe that offers protection, durability, and a secure fit. If you have narrower feet and appreciate a snug, locked-in feel, the La Sportiva Levante could be a great addition to your trail running arsenal.

Other Shoes to Consider

If the La Sportiva Levante doesn’t seem like the perfect fit, here are a couple of alternatives to consider:

  • HOKA Speedgoat 6: Known for its exceptional cushioning and comfort, suitable for long distances on technical terrain.
  • Altra Timp 5: Offers a zero-drop platform with ample cushioning, ideal for runners who prefer a more natural foot position and have wider feet.

Are They Worth the Money?

At $155, the La Sportiva Levante sits in the same price range as other high-performance trail running shoes we’ve reviewed recently here at Trail & Kale, such as the HOKA Speedgoat 6 and Altra Timp 5 mentioned above.

👋🏼 If you’re thinking about getting these shoes, using our links would be a huge help for Trail & Kale Running Co. We earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which lets us keep creating awesome content like this review. Thanks so much for your support – we really appreciate it!

Given its durability, protective features, and performance on technical terrain, I believe the Levante is worth the investment, especially for runners with narrower feet who need a snug, secure fit and value the gaiter and toe bumper for protection when running on rocky trails in particular.

Helen
Helenhttps://www.trailandkale.com/
One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Let me know if you have any questions at all! And if you have specific requirements for you running shoes reviews, let me know in the comments and I’ll get you hooked up with the best running shoes for you! 🙂

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