La Sportiva Levante trail running shoe | Designed especially for female athletes

Our tester puts the La Sportiva Levante women's trail running shoes to the test in the Scottish highlands

from La Sportiva
RRP  £134.99
Star rating of the La Sportiva levante trail running shoes

by Fran Brosnahan |
Updated on

I was really intrigued to try the La Sportiva Levante because it was designed from the ground up with La Sportiva’s female athletes as a women’s only shoe.

There has been a big push in the running industry in the last few years to empower women with shoes specifically designed to cater for their different biomechanics and anatomy. La Sportiva is one of a number of brands jumping on this long-awaited trend. They say that women runners will love this shoe. We shall see if the Levante stacks up to the test.

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Pros

  • Excellent heal to toe sensation
  • Comfortable toe box
  • Great balance of cushioning and responsiveness
  • Vegan and uses recycled materials

Cons

  • Not the deepest lugs for muddy terrain
  • Fit comes up small

Upper

I was interested to see what a woman specific shoe would feel like in terms of the shape and I was not disappointed when I slipped my foot into this shoe. It just felt right. The shape of the toe box felt nice and roomy whilst feeling snug and secure around the centre of my foot, with the mesh side panels integrated with the lacing system. I was concerned that the heel counter would be uncomfortable as it initially felt as if it was digging into my heel at the top. After a run or two I realised that this would not be an issue and I was able to hit an 18km run in Scotland’s Pentland Hills with no problems.

Laces of the La sportiva levante trail running shoes
©LFTO

However, you should definitely size up from your normal running shoe size. I found my toes were too close to the end in my normal running shoe size. The upper is constructed using La Sportiva’s ‘Breathable Air mesh’ with ‘thermoplastic film ripstop reinforcements’. I found my feet were well protected with this feature and the toe cap at the front of the shoe. Unfortunately, there was a small amount of fraying on some of the stitching quite quickly, but this seems to be just aesthetic damage. However, it remains to be seen as to how the shoe will last over time. I found the shoe to be pretty breathable, but I’m interested to see how it goes as the summer months roll in.

Midsole

I found that there was a really good balance of cushion and responsiveness. This is thanks to La Sportiva’s new X-flow super foam which strives for reactivity and protection. My first run in these shoes was on uneven, narrow, rocky forest paths and I found myself enjoying the precision of this shoe as I hopped between rocks and avoided obstacles in the path.

Tester wearing La Sportiva Levante trail running shoes
©LFTO

Whilst you can certainly feel the trail, this shoe has good cushioning for those short stretches of road that can often crop up. I did not feel as if my foot was slapping on the road surface, even though the midsole stack isn't excessively high (30mm at back and 24mm at the front).

Outsole

La Sportiva makes use of its ‘FriXion White’ rubber in the Levante's outsole. They describe it as a ‘super sticky compound’ which is ‘ideal for high performance running shoes’. I had no issues with grip in this shoe, but for those super muddy runs, you may prefer something with slightly deeper lugs or arrow shaped lugs.

Our tester showing the La Sportiva Levante lugs
©LFTO

One thing that I really enjoyed about this shoe was the heel to toe transition. The ‘trail rocker’ combined with the grooves in the front of the outsole made for a very smooth transition, which was really a joy when running downhill especially. The whole process felt very natural.

Features

The gaiter is a nice addition to this shoe, especially up in Scotland where paths are not always well defined. It can be helpful to have this detail to avoid getting unwanted visitors such as dirt and rocks into your shoes. The gaiter also extends round to the top of the laces into a helpful band under which you can tuck your laces, which I found to work very well.

Back of the La Sportiva Levante trail running shoes
©LFTO

One thing that is worth noting is that the gaiter made the shoe quite hard to get on initially but after a few wears it became easier and moulded to my feet. Another nifty feature, according to La Sportiva, is the 'anti-compression technology’ in the insole, which limits the amount that the material compresses to 5% over time.

Sustainability

This shoe features recycled materials in the mesh upper and an ‘anti-abrasion mesh’ lining which is constructed from recycled materials. The laces are also made from recycled materials. The insole is made from 20% recycled material from the production process and is machine washable. The above should help enhance the durability of the shoe, but I will be interested to see how the outsole and upper fare with further use.

Upper of the la Sportiva Levante trail running shoes
©LFTO

As a company, La Sportiva make some efforts to maintain their sustainability credentials with 54% of their energy needs being met by renewables and 3.5% being self-produced using their photovoltaic (solar panels) system and district heating from biomass. I think there is a long way to go before we can call any company truly sustainable, but it is nice to see some efforts being made.

Verdict

LFTO Tester Fran Brosnahan in the La Sportiva Levante trail running shoes
©LFTO

To be completely honest, I have very little to complain about with this shoe. They have a nice balance of cushion and reactivity and a comfortable, snug fit, with space and protection in all the right places. One thing to note is that those with wider feet my not get on with this shoe due to the snug fit through the centre of the upper and it is important to SIZE UP. I will definitely be continuing to run in these and look forward to seeing what they have to offer going forwards.

How we tested

LFTO trail running gear tester Fran Brosnahan
©LFTO

Your tester for the La Sportiva Levante shoes was Fran Brosnahan, a member of our Scotland-based testing team. Indeed, Scotland pulled out all the stops to test the Levante with rain and shine, sometimes within five minutes of each other. From the Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland to the Pentland hills of Edinburgh, these shoes have seen a variety of different terrains. She also incorporated some faster and shorter runs as well as longer runs, to see what this shoe had to offer.

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