I’ve struggled with it for years. I’m not the only one. The question: when you’re doing hut trips or point-to-point ski tours, what comfortable real running shoe is light for lugging around in your backpack, but still, yep, comfortable and REAL?
Reebok made a thing called the “Travel Trainer” for awhile, but those were manky, with an upper constructed of non-breathable fako leather that cooked your feet. Other companies make fairly lightweight runners, but most only save a few ounces and weight saving mods such as grinding the sole down or removing footbeds make them uncomfortable. Oh yeah, and there were always and still are Crocs. Especially pink ones. Feel free.
Enter this little ditty from La Sportiva. Possible the coolest thing I’ve seen at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer, the Vertical K requires an assay scale to sense the air-light 6.5 ounces each shoe weighs. That’s before you cut off the lace cover and remove the insoles (he he). Amazingly (at least to me), it’s said these have been used to race the Hardrock 100 suffer fest. If that’s true, then they’ll offer adequate support to make it from the trailhead back to the burger joint.
What appears to make these shoes actually function while still weighing nothing is a thick yet super cushiony and low-density sole that’s a component of La Sportiva’s “Morphodynamic” shoe technology. As far as I can tell, that’s just a big word for using carefully designed cushioning and sole lug patterns in place of heavier stuff. Serious runners might wax on for 1,000 words about that. Here at WildSnow, it’s enough to know you can run in the things, so they’ll work for everything from dirt hikes to running from the Swiss border patrol when they find out you’ve got a jug of American whiskey you’re trying to sneak in.
Now, before I get taken to task, yes, other companies are always coming up with lighter and ever lighter shoes that still function. But Vertical K lacks the bright obnoxious coloration of some others, and the lace cover could actually be a good thing for backcountry applications. So at this juncture we’re high on these guys above all others. But I’m planning on continuing my search for THE SHOE today.
I suspect Vertical K will also be a go-to for rock climbers who clip their approach shoes to their harness or rack so they can swap footwear for the hike down.
Probably available mid-winter and for sure this coming spring. In production now. Toss your Crocs. Please.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.