La Sportiva Helios SR Shoe Review
La Sportiva Helios SR Shoe Review
The successor to the La Sportiva Helios. I never ran in the Helios so can't provide a comparative review of how the Helios SR fits and/or runs but will detail any technical specification differences at the bottom of the review.
I've clocked around 90 miles in the Helios SR including 3 races. It's great when a shoe has a purpose, an obvious use, not a jack of all trades but something that is designed to perform well in specific conditions. In my opinion the Helios SR is one of these perfect shoes...
- It's light
- It's cushioned
- It's low drop
- It's got a racing last
- It's drains moisture
- What about the grip.... Well, it's not studded and it's not smooth so I guess this doesn't make it an all out fell shoe but it's no racing flat. One thing the Helios SR does have is rubber sticky as the proverbial! This shoe can grip on rocks like no other shoe I've worn barring climbing shoes.
The Helios SR is built on a fairly narrow last. The toe box is accommodating and quite symmetrical however the width over the mid-step isn't generous and should you have high volume midstep you might find it a little snug. (I'm a UK9 and have a 'D' width foot and I take a 9.5 in the Helios SR - I'm not swimming in the toe and the width is snug with out biting). Another aspect of the Helios I wasn't fond of at first but has grown on me is the depth of the heel counter. The rear of the foot does not sit deeply in the heel and the counter is low slung. Unlike some of La Sportiva's other shoes, namely the Anaconda and Bushido the heel counter is much softer. There is still some structure but it feels more plush.
Photo: Shows light mesh upper, symmetrical toe box & semi-aggressive tread.
Photo: Narrow and low slung heel counter.
The Helios SR really does have a lot of cushioning for such a minimal, lightweight and flexible shoe. The heel stack height is at 21mm with a 2mm drop. It has an exceptionally responsive and smooth ride. I was a little surprised for the Helios SR to be so flexible with a full length rock-plate. The plate is on a gradient, being thicker at the forefoot. Despite the plate and 21mm stack height if you tread on a sharp rock you will feel it, however I would say here is a great balance between feel and protection. It's perhaps not a shoe for the Isle of Jura Fell Race though.
Due to the Helios SR's flexibility the shoe feels nimble and excellent on technical trails and rock ascents and descents. As mentioned above the tread isn't super aggressive but it is super sticky. Sportivas' FriXion XF and XT rubber is perhaps the stickiest rubber I've used on a trail shoe. The XT on the heel is harder wearing but still bites into rock like anything.
Photo: Showing different compounds of rubber on heel and forefoot. The yellow rubber is firmer and harder wearing and black is slightly softer and very very sticky!
Photo: Despite having a full length rock plate the Helios is not lacking in flexibility.
La Sportivas' Helios SR is not going to be a shoe for everyone. The low drop and flexible nature of the shoe mean some might find it too minimal but if you're looking for a shoe for summer fell running and trail racing this is the shoe for you and if you get along well with low drop shoes I'd happily recommend this for longer races too. Unfortunately, 10 miles is the limit for my shonky calves.
For anyone who is local, I raced Calver, Grindleford and Tiger's Todger fell races in the Helios SR and was so happy. Never have a felt so confident in the grip of a shoe coming down the rocky, technical terrain through Padley Gorge.
The Helios SR is available at our online shoe here Helios SR