Verdict from 3 experts and 5 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Traction: "Best in class," is how mountain racers find the grip of the Karacal from La Sportiva. From rocky, icy, gravel-packed, to muddy surfaces, the shoe provides exceptional traction.  
  • Fit: The upper is very secure, especially on steep technical terrain. This is owed to the structured heel cup, padded heel collar, and snug midfoot lockdown. 
  • Protection: The shoe mutes sharp rocks and roots, thanks to its rock plate and well-cushioned midsole. 
  • Comfort: Testers have NOT experienced any blisters nor does the shoe have any abrasive spots. The upper is also highly breathable. 
  • Ride: It has a sufficient ground feel and is very stable. 
  • Toe room: Because the shoe has "enough volume" up front, it provides enough space for swelling after a long run, reported various experts.

2 reasons not to buy

  • Stiff: Like the Jackal, the Karacal is "NOT plush, responsive, nor bouncy." 
  • Not for the cold weather: It's too breathable. Trail runners agree that their feet were freezing when they tested the shoe during the winter. 

Bottom line

A training sibling to the race-oriented La Sportiva Jackal, the La Sportiva Karacal is crafted for long days in the trails and mountains. Its intended purpose is to stabilize and keep your feet comfortable in ultrarunning endeavors, and the Karacal does just that.

However, if you're looking for a trail shoe that's a top choice for winter days, this is not it. 

Tip: see the best trail running shoes.

La Sportiva Karacal: Made for ultra distances 

One of the most critical factors in finding a well-suited trail running shoe for ultra distances is comfort, which is EXACTLY the reason behind the construction of the La Sportiva Karacal. It's light, breathable, very protective, and has loads of forefoot volume for sufficient wriggle room. 

Everything you need from an all-terrain running shoe

If you want a versatile shoe, that's the Karacal. From rocky, muddy, icy, and loose trails, the shoe can handle it all. This is allowed to its: 

  • Highly protective rockplate, shielding the foot from harsh ground elements like rocks and roots; 
  • Dual-density EVA midsole, which serves as another layer of protection while adding stability on uneven surfaces, and; 
  • An all-ground tread that bites well on all the mentioned terrain 

La Sportiva Karacal: What is it for? 

It's a daily training trail shoe that's great for long-distance efforts. For hikers, it's a great option for fast hiking in the mountains. Because of its comfort, it's also an excellent pick for post-race recovery runs. 


  • Rocky trails 
  • Muddy sections
  • Icy terrain
  • Gravel-packed surfaces
  • Mountains 


How La Sportiva Karacal ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 50% trail running shoes
All trail running shoes
Bottom 34% La Sportiva running shoes
All La Sportiva running shoes
Top 45% neutral running shoes
All neutral running shoes


The current trend of La Sportiva Karacal.
Compare to another shoe:
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.