The La Sportiva Wildcat was designed as a neutral shoe for trail running that requires more traction/support than your typical road running shoe can provide.
This is their niche.
Weight: 1lb 9 oz – slightly heavier than your average road shoe but considering its purpose and stability, you’ll never really notice.
Midsole: EVA – multiple layers to provide cushioning & nylon molded shanks to keep the arch support consistent while providing a firmness that protects from roots and rocks.
Upper: Nylon mesh that is advertised as water resistant and breathable. This helps keep the shoe-weight down as it is a 1-piece setup.
Upper & Toe
The nylon mesh was designed with plenty of holes for breathability and this works well. My feet don’t feel like they are burning anywhere from mile 1 to mile 6 (my usual distance is 5 miles).
I did get caught in a light drizzle on one outing and my feet remained dry, so I feel comfortable in supporting the water resistant claim.
The toe guard wrap provides good protection if you happen to kick a root or a dirt mound but it doesn’t take away from the overall ability of the shoe to breath well.
Between the lace design and the mold of the shoe, the tongue is held securely in place and slipping does not occur.
The shoe’s nylon upper and the laces actually wrap over the tongue (see picture) while leaving the tongue still independent in the upper area.
This creates a snug feel on the top of the foot without feeling too tight or bound in any other way – more as if the foot is wrapped.
The orange area you see is soft cushion but it is contained to the surrounding area of the heel and immediate sides below the ankle area.
It doesn’t go all the way down the shoe which allows for those areas to be comfortable without sacrificing the breathability.
This also helps wick the moisture away and holds the heel snug.
The shoe is advertised as neutral but and while the arch support isn’t aggressive, it is appreciatively present and doesn’t appear to have faded after the first 50 miles.
Traction & Stiffness
The bottom of the shoe has what La Sportiva described as “Sticky FriXion at rubber outsoles” & their “Impact Brake System [to] reduce impact forces while improving traction”.
The design provides a smooth ride (not knobby) while giving you the grip to turn quickly, stop suddenly, and zig-zag as needed. There is a nice bounce that the shoes provide though they keep it from feeling as if your feet are “springy”.
My feet feel supported without the shoe feeling too stiff and I don’t hurt at all from roots or rocks.
These aren’t made with the knobs that you’d want for off-trail or mud, but they are perfect for the single-track bike (type of) trails or only slightly kept paths that you might find.
My wildcats have saved my ankles from rolling on a random root or rock many times even though I don’t quite understand how they’ve made that work so well.
This is what I mean when I say they do trails and mountains and they do it well. I mostly appreciate the support, the traction, and whatever system is used that has saved my ankles.