La Sportiva - Kaptiva Overview
La Sportiva - Kaptiva Overview
Before I get into the fine details of the Sportiva Kaptiva. I really do like La Sportiva kit, whether it's running shoes, rock boots or mountaineering stuff. I am of the opinion they make good quality kit. I've used all of the above and aside from 1 pair of Katana rock boot I had about 15 years ago, have been very impressed with their stuff.
However, as a runner I have a mixed relationship with their mountain running shoes. Since, they introduced the Mutant a few years back I have always wanted to be able to run in it. It's cushioned, stable and grippy - the perfect shoe for longer runs and recovery runs for me but for whatever reason it just doesn't suit me. Then they brought out the Akasha, now this shoe I didn't want to like but I just find it so easy to run in and love it. The Bushido, again I wanted to like this one but I just found the heel too narrow and the midsole too stiff.
Bring on the Kaptiva.... now this one I really, really wanted to like. I mean when you read about it on Sportiva's website or look at the reviews and it just ticks the boxes BUT as someone who fits shoes day in day out and has some awkward lumps and bumps on my own feet I know that it's not always that simple. Anyway, I'll talk you through the shoe and at the end I'll let you know whether it was a Cinderella story for me and the Kaptiva.
La Sportiva use a relatively simple method for categorising the rubbers they use (See terrible screen shot below). The Kaptiva uses their White compound which is marketed as being Super Sticky, I can confirm that it is pretty damn sticky. I've not had chance to use it on wet limestone yet but can confirm it performed really well on wet gritstone flagstones. The worry with a softer, grippier compound is its' longevity. We'd expect a softer compound to wear down a little quicker, there isn't really anyway around that but obviously you still want to get some life out of the shoe! The good news about the outsole on the Kaptiva is the surface area of the lugs, each stud is roughly 1cm² and there are 44 studs on the shoe so you've got about 44cm² of rubber in contact with the floor, meaning it's not going to wear down that quick. In addition to this they've grouped the lugs well on the outside of the heel (a high wear point).
The studs are around 5mm deep and have a nice pyramidal design with a flat contact point. As you'd expect from an Italian brand, the shoe isn't wholly designed for fell running. Although the traction is good and the Kaptiva will hold its' own in mud it isn't specifically designed for wet, steep grassy descents. The tread patter however is an unbelievable allrounder. It is very good on rock, great on hardpack trails and surprisingly good on tarmac.
The White X shows the rubber compound on the sole.
Heel tread pattern
La Sportiva's compound chart
If we compare the Kaptiva midsole to the Mutant, Bushido or Akasha it's much more flexible. It certainly isn't a super flexible midsole unit, it still provides a stable platform but when compared to some of Sportiva's other shoes it has a bit more feel, precision and agility. I'd have said they've got the balance between cushioning and responsiveness spot on.
I believe that the added flex to the midsole is what makes the ride of the Kaptiva so good. Whether I'm mid-foot of heel striking the flow from initial contact to push-off feels smooth & peppy. The Kaptiva has an EVA rock plate, I've used it a fair amount on rocky/gravel paths and although the plate is in there it's not so protective that you lose the feel with the ground. To help with the nimble nature of the Kaptiva you've a 6mm drop from heel to toe.
The Kaptiva mid sole.
The Upper & Shape.
I guess I'll start this section with one of my gripes with the shoe. I like shoes which have an extra lace eyelet at the top, this is probably because I've got a smaller left foot and funny heel spurs so this extra lace eyelet gives me more customisation of the shoe. I'm fortunate in that the heel on the Kaptiva fits me okay, it could potentially be a bit shallow for some people and am aware or 2 people who opted for other shoes because they weren't 100% sure the heel was perfect (The importance of trying shoes on!!). Around the heel collar is small amount of padding (See image below). They've utilised a fully gusseted slipper (see image) with really nice flat lock stitching on the foot side. The slipper style liner gives a lovely close fit and holds the foot well. For those that run on dusty/gravel surfaces you might like the gusset for keeping out debris but I don't ever have too much trouble with this in the Peak District. The top of the slipper/gusset does come a little further up the front of the ankle than I'd expected but it hasn't caused me any irritation.
Slipper / Booty
Flat lock stitching
Over the mid and forefoot the Kaptiva has a relatively structured upper, the overlays don't stretch/give a huge amount, meaning the foot is well held and lateral movement is limited. Thankfully, the overlays around the big and little toe joint are much softer and have a bit more give to them (see photos below). There's a robust toe cap, obviously it helps protect the toes but also means the volume/height of the toe box is more than adequate allowing your toes to spread and not touch the top of the shoe.
I've a pretty broad foot (just nudging on an E width) and the only point that feels remotely snug is the outside of my foot just back from the little toe. In addition to this I've also gone up half a EU size but I do this in most Sportiva shoes.
Softer overlays over the toe box
Again, softer overlays over the inside of the toe box + toe cap protection
With all shoes, if it doesn't fit your foot then it's useless but if the Kaptiva does fit your foot and you were looking for a shoe that would perform well on most surfaces (I honestly think that the Kaptiva performs well on; grass, hardpack, rock, gravel, tarmac, scree & talus the only thing it might struggle on is proper claggy mud). If you're after something super cushioned then it's probably not the one for you but if you want a shoe that can cope with some miles, feels light enough to go quick and structured enough to keep you going then the Kaptiva is a great shout. Of other shoes I've used I'd liken it to the Scott Supertrac.
The Cinderella story....
Initially I thought me and the Kaptiva weren't going to get on, the heel counter felt a little to close to my Haglund's Deformity but it came good and the 60 miles we've run together so far have been very enjoyable!
The La Sportiva Kaptiva is available on our website however we'd prefer that you came down to Front Runner and saw us to get your feet measured, gait analysed and we made sure the footwear was fit for purpose.
Written by Steve.