Have La Sportiva gone soft? We try the new cushioned Prodigios to find out

La Sportiva are known for stiff and unforgiving trail shoes, but the new Prodigios are a surprising foray into squishier territory. Our new LFTO tester finds out how they perform.

from La Sportiva
RRP  £125.00
La Sportiva Prodigio main feature image w/stars

by Marisa Allen |
Updated on

Earlier this year la Sportiva released what could be considered the perfect all-rounder trail shoe: the Prodigio. The Dolomite-based company is well known for their stiff, durable, and protective footwear, designed to be used where rocky and unforgiving terrain is the norm. But taking a turn away from their previous models, the Prodigio offers a gentler ride, with comfort as the priority.

Advertised as an ultra-distance trainer, the Prodigio is designed to take you over miles and miles of endless trail, all whilst keeping your feet fresh, cushioned and plush. The shoe is a balance between classic La Sportiva durability and the speed and bounciness of a road shoe.

Fair to say, I was very excited to test these shoes. As someone who is used to running in more minimalist trail shoes which offer no cushioning and a lot of ground feel, I had been itching to try something that would be gentler on the feet. And it’s fair to say that the Prodigios lived up to expectations.

Pros

  • Responsive
  • Supportive
  • Heel hugging

Cons

  • People with wider feet may struggle
  • Not brilliant on sloppier mud

Upper

La Sportive Prodrigio laces shot
©LFTO

The upper is one of the features that sets this shoe apart from other la Sportiva models.  Not only is it a pretty colour that would make you the envy of other trail runners, the material is a breathable mesh. This prevents the foot from overheating and getting horribly sweaty on those longer runs. And, when your foot does get wet in the inevitable bog or river, the mesh enables quick drying all-over, keeping your feet fresh all day long.

La Sportive Prodrigio breathable upper
©LFTO

The Prodigio, like most la Sporitva shoes, offers quite a narrow fit. As someone with wide feet I noticed this, and I would usually go for more looser fitting styles. However, the shoes’ wide toe box helped to combat this as it gave space for my toes to spread out. I would also recommend sizing up at least half a size, as the shoes in my normal size only just about fitted.

Midsole

La Sportive Prodrigio single shoe
©LFTO

La Sportiva is known for its stiff and robust shoes, meant for attacking the most rugged of terrain. This style of midsole might not suit everyone and isn’t great for longer distances where more forgiving footwear is needed - but this is where the Prodigios come in.

They offer a more forgiving and cushioned ride meant to protect your feet and propel you forward with each step, without sacrificing grip and durability. I felt a sensation familiar to flying when running out the door in these shoes, even over technical trails. They're so springy!

La Sportive Prodrigio midsole shot 01
©LFTO

However, these features of stability and cushioning come with the disadvantage of not having as much of a feel of the ground beneath your feet. If you are someone who likes minimalist, no cushioning, hardcore style shoes these might not be your cup of tea.

They also wear in nicely, and after a few runs in them I felt the initial stiffness of the shoe start to give a bit and they became increasingly comfy as time went on.

Outsole

La Sportive Prodrigio outsole
©LFTO

The outsole gave the impression of being durable, with good traction and it felt grippy on most trails when testing. It seems that the Prodigio’s ideal terrain is gravel, foot paths and rock - it didn’t perform as well on more extreme trails and mud. The lugs are not that deep so I wouldn’t put it in the same category as shoes such as the inov8 x-talons or Salomon Speed Cross, which are made for harsher trails and fells. But, long distance running on footpaths and easy to moderate trails is where the Prodigios shine.

Features

La Sportive Prodrigio breathable uppers
©LFTO

The lacing system ‘sees the loops incorporated directly into the side panels of the uppers’ which La Sportiva claims to help the shoe change in volume as the foot swells during longer runs. Although this couldn’t be felt on distances such as 10km, the lacing did offer a snug fit without constricting the movement of the foot too much.

La Sportive Prodrigio cushioning
©LFTO

The heel hugging feature of the shoe was also really nice, as it made your feet feel secure in the shoes. This reduced rubbing and it felt as if there was hardly any friction between your feet and the material.

Sustainability

La Sportiva Prodigio main feature image
©LFTO

The upper consists of an ‘anti-abrasion mesh made of recycled material’ which ticks more boxes for sustainability than most shoes. However, nothing about the origin of the other parts of the shoe are mentioned so it’s reasonable to guess that the mesh is the only recycled component.

La Sportiva is known for its durable shoes and these are no exception, so you won’t have to worry about them falling to pieces after only a few runs!

Also, as a brand la Sportiva does well in the sustainability department, publishing suitability reports with an emphasis towards transparency between company and consumer. La Sportiva has also won the Sustainability Award at the outdoor trade fair in Munich.

All brands have their flaws, but it seems La Sportiva is trying its hardest to be one of the most sustainable brands on the market at the moment, which we all like to see.

How we tested | LFTO

Marisa Allen, Author photo
©LFTO

Although originally used to running in the muddy moors of Yorkshire, our tester for these shoes, Marisa Allen currently lives in Edinburgh. Her usual run is around Arthur’s seat and Holyrood park, and while testing this shoe she was also training for the Yorkshire Three Peaks, a 40km fell race. She put the Prodigios through their paces on terrain such as gravel paths, mud, rock and scrambly sections.

Verdict

The Prodigio is a great all-rounder shoe, and not only for people looking for a shoe to take them longer distances over the trails. It’s also a perfect shoe for those just starting out and who would like a little extra support and cushioning.

The price is about average for similar shoes on the market and while they are not the cheapest you can find, it’s easy to see how you are paying for the quality.

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