As adept as a real Lycan in running through the forest, La Sportiva Lycan trail shoe performs (especially in a full moon). The Lycan is a shoe that transitions very well between varying trail conditions.
I’ve run on buffed out trails, granite faces, scree fields, and even some concrete. This shoe handles all-terrain well. Let’s see why.
Size and weight
Normally, I wear a US 11. For this Italian running shoe, I went with an EU 45. The tongue of this shoe says US 11.5, but it fits more like a standard US 11.
Moreover, the stated weight on La Sportiva’s website is 9.5 oz, but when I weighed them in my size, they came in at 10.9 oz.
I chose the “Carbon / Apple Green” color for my shoes. They have a sleeker profile. The colors work well together, and look good even when they aren’t covered in dirt, should you take them to the gym.
I like the large “LA SPORTIVA” text along the outside of the shoe, the “LYCAN” text on the inside of the shoe, and the Apple Green color in the stitching and other highlights.
Drop and stack
The Lycan has stack height on the heel of 18 mm and the toe 12mm. The result is a 6 mm drop.
The upper is constructed of a combination of materials. Mesh and microfiber make up the material on the top of the toe and the area around the ankle. This provides flexibility and breathability.
The portion that connects to the midsole is made out of reinforced polymer material. This creates stability in the uppers, as well as makes for a nice abrasion-resistant surface.
The toe has a Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) cap.
La Sportiva uses an OrthoLite insole, with a 4 mm height on the Lycan.
The midsole is injected Ethylene-Vinyle Acetate (EVA). This standard midsole compound is durable and reasonably long-lasting. The exposed portion of the EVA midsole has an abrasion-resistant texture, which has held up well.
Rated for all-terrain, the outsole of the Lycan is equipped with some proprietary La Sportiva technology. First, the compound of the outsole is Frixion AT 2.0 Blue. The Frixion Blue compound is rated for high durability with good grip.
Second, the outsole has a built-in Rock Guard, which reduces the “feel” of rocks through the sole. Finally, the overall traction design is engineered with Impact Braking technology.
This technology absorbs impacts, maximizes traction while going uphill, and increases braking power by as much as 20%.
The Lycan comes with its standard style laces and five eyelet pairs.
The tongue construction is mesh and microfiber. It is not gusseted to the sides of the shoe and is only attached at the bottom.
I had initial reservations about the overall durability of the shoe. The mesh on the uppers is relatively thin, and I usually think of microfiber as a material for apparel, not shoes.
That being said, there have been no issues with the mesh tearing and wearing. I’ve taken them off-trail, and they have not snagged on anything.
The microfiber, while a solid fabric that is wearing admirably, tends to attract stickers, grass seeds, and pine needles. Not so much so that it is a major nuisance. But, if you intend on running in a lot of grass and undergrowth, you may want to wear a pair of gators with these.
Speaking of the uppers, there has been no fraying of the stitching. In fact, there is a nice amount of double reinforced stitching in typical wear areas.
The shoe lining has the right amount of “slip” to it, allowing for easy on-off of the shoes. This also means that there have not been any wear-through spots on the liner.
There are a few gouges and nicks in the exposed EVA midsole, but nothing out of the ordinary for a trail shoe. The outsoles are wearing evenly.
The Frixion Blue compound has held up better than I thought. The “lug” pattern and design has not broken down, even after some rocky runs.
Comfort and fit
The 6 mm drop on these shoes can take a little getting used to if you are accustomed to running with more heel height. I didn’t notice it on hilly runs, but I did notice it when I did longer flatter runs.
The arch portion of the shoe is a bit higher than I would typically choose, which had the effect of moving my stride more to the outside of my foot. The shoes felt like it was average width, and I had no “hot spots” from shifting.
The toe box is shaped nicely, and the TPU toe cap provided a nice amount of confidence. I did multiple 25+ mile runs in these shoes, over a variety of terrain, and found them to be fairly comfortable.
The EVA midsole provided a nice amount of absorption and rebound, and the Frixion outsole provided low rolling resistance and made for a smooth ride.
These shoes are not the most aggressive you can purchase. I took them up to the Bottomless Pit off Barr Trail, and they were just okay on the scree.
Once back below the timberline, though, they started to perform better in terms of grip. If your runs consist of rolling trails, hilly single track, and dry rock-face, these shoes will perform really well.
Aside from the outsole grip, the uppers provided a nice amount of lateral stability, without feeling constricted. I was able to adjust the laces to a comfortable level of tightness, as the shoe broke in.
My first runs in these shoes were in the fall. Then winter shows up, and my favorite trails were soon iced in. If you run on mixed snowy, icy, mud, and dry trails, these shoes transition well, provided that you use some traction device.
The reason I brought this up is that the flatter design on the Lycan makes for excellent Ice Trekkers or Yak Track application. I find myself grabbing these shoes over others when I know I’ll be wearing traction.
What I like
I really like the understated appearance. The colors and patterns make this shoe look fast, even when you’re standing still. Even though I listed the microfiber as a potential issue, I like how it feels and cushions.
I like the grippy Frixion Blue outsole, and on the appropriate terrain, the Impact Braking design. When I travel for work and don’t know what to expect for trails, I gravitate to the Lycan as it is versatile on some trail types.
But, I can still run on city pavement, if no trails are to be found. Finally, I like the quality. You can tell that this is an Italian shoe.
What I don’t like
The cushion is a bit lacking. The EVA is comfortable, but there could be just a little more of it. I wish that the Frixion lugs were deeper; I just don’t feel that they grab the trail quite as much as they should.
Finally, the arch and drop combination just don’t agree with my feet for longer runs.
- Appearance 90/100
- Materials 80/100
- Longevity 80/100
- Value formoney 90/100
- OVERALL 85/100
If you want a go-to shoe that can perform well for mid-distances and a variety of terrain, holds up well, comes from a respected company, and does not break the bank, then consider grabbing a pair of the La Sportiva Lycan shoes.
Good to know
- For runners who frequent long trail runs, the La Sportiva Lycan is worth a try, as it features a layout that is unlike other running shoes from the brand. It is a lightweight runner that aims to deliver speed and unparalleled performance on light to moderate terrain.
- The upper is designed to give an adaptive fit that caters to runners of any foot shape. It is made with a breathable mesh that has a minimal yet sturdy finish.
- A molded ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) makes up the shock-absorbent midsole of the Lycan, while a 4-mm thick Ortholite Mountain footbed supports it by offering additional cushioning. Correspondingly, the outsole is aggressively-lugged, as what La Sportiva shoes are known for. A combination of sticky rubber and rough tread pattern result in a grippy outsole that works on both wet and dry surfaces.
The La Sportiva Lycan comes in a variety of sizes. Although it has a standard running shoe length, the width is more accommodating, as it is available in medium and wide for both the men’s and women’s versions. The toe box has a broad structure that promotes a natural toe splay, even for runners with a high foot volume. However, the snug midfoot and heel areas might prompt wearers to go a half-size up if they prefer a fit that is not as tight.
The outsole of the Lycan is made of FriXion® AT 2.0, the brand’s proprietary outsole material for trail running. The FriXion® is made of an environment-friendly compound and is engineered to withstand wear and tear with high resistance.
Another feature of the outsole is the Rock-Ground design, which significantly improves the traction on surfaces that are rocky and dry.
The Impact Brake System™ is another proprietary technology of the brand that is in the form of the lug pattern, displaying them in opposite slanted directions. With such a layout, the braking capability of the shoe is increased by 20%, while impact forces are decreased accordingly.
An injection-molded EVA foam acts as the midsole of the La Sportiva Lycan. This material is known for its shock-absorbing property, while also delivering ample cushioning and underfoot protection. In contrast, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 utilizes a compression-molded EVA, which works at maintaining a smooth and stable transition cycle.
The flex point of the midsole is at the forefoot, enabling a quick and effortless toe-off. The litheness of the midsole allows natural mobility, even on technical trails.
An Ortholite Mountain sock liner is installed for an enhanced cushioning. It also aids the EVA foam in dispersing impact and providing a smooth ride.
The airy mesh of the Lycan gives a fit that is flexible and sturdy at the same time. Unlike other running shoes, the upper of the Lycan is also abrasion-resistant, thanks to its microfiber reinforcements. These details encourage the runner to undertake even the most rugged trails.
A low-profile padded heel collar equips the foot with a secure hold, but not at the expense of comfort. A tongue that is also padded accompanies the collar for an overall pleasant wear.
There is a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) toe cap that protects the toes from rocks and debris that could potentially cause injuries.