When I received the La Sportiva X Country trail shoes I wasn’t sure what to think. They don’t look like any other shoe, trail or otherwise that I have seen. They kinda look like they have spats. I slipped them on to my feet and could feel the aggressive lugs through the foot bed. The La Sportiva website describes the X Country as “A minimalist low profile lightweight shoe with aggressive traction for wet muddy conditions or anywhere that gnarly lugs are needed.” X Country come in at a weight of 9.95oz / 285g. I am guessing most of the weight is in the midsole. The shoe’s midsole height 13mm heel, 8mm toe with a delta height of 5mm. Not quite a zero drop, but 5mm is close enough to zero for me. Out on the trail the great traction on these shoes was easily noticeable and might be what is most noticeable about the shoe other than it’s unorthodox styling. Whether ascending or descending on the trails the footing was secure and gripped the terrain with a bite. The shoes feel light and fast. I always felt connected to the terrain and could feel the contours of the trail with every foot fall, the shoes are quite responsive. The X country have a thin EVA wedge and a one piece rubber (FriXion® AT/ Impact Brake System V-Groove) bottom with large lugs. The upper doesn’t look like it, but it is actually very breathable. When standing still I wasn’t convinced I liked the overall look of the shoe, however, when I was running I loved seeing the bright yellow as my feet darted over the terrain.
The shoe feels similar to the New Balance MT 101. The one piece rubber bottom gives the shoe a feeling of rigidity and less flexibility than the New Balance MT 101. Even with the slightly less flexibility the shoe lets the runner feel the trail very well. For overall fit I like the slipper feel of the MT 101, but the X Country’s fit was secure and comfortable. The X Country’s traction was superior to the MT 101, no contest.
I really enjoyed my runs in the La Sportiva X County Trail shoes. The only time I wasn’t thrilled with the shoe was when I was on paved portions of the run. This is a trail shoe with lugs for trail running. Hard packed trail and pavement let you feel every lug. If your running a race on trails and only trails this shoe is a great choice, for mixed trails and pavement runs I would choose a different shoe. This shoe is a specialist, like they say on the La Sportiva website “IDEAL TERRAIN: fell running and trail running in wet and muddy conditions.” Check out the video with my first impression of the La Sportiva X Country.
A pair of La Sportiva X Country were provided to enable this review.