By Rob Shaul
For a couple years years now I’ve recommend Hoka One One running shoes to MTI athletes. Hoka has lead the needed industry running shoe design change away from punishing minimalist footwear toward enthusiastically cushioned running and trail running shoes.
I’ve purchased and tried many of the Hoka offerings and earlier this summer thought I had settled on the new Hoka One One Speedgoat as my go-to trail running and mountain movement footwear.
However, at the urging of MTI Athlete and professional mountain guide, Brenton Reagan, I purchased and tried La Sportiva’s entry into the heavily cushioned running shoe category, the Akasha.
All of the Hoka One One offerings I tried, even the Speedgoats, had flaws. Overall, I found the Hokas to be fragile – the soles and uppers shred fast for off-trail uphill hiking and downhill running I do a lot during training.
Also, side-hilling in the Hokas sucks. I came to expect blisters on any bushwacking hill traverse.
Finally, traction is suspect. The Speedgoats are the best Hoka’s for traction, yet, but still their traction on rock especially, is not solid.
I’ve owned several styles of La Sportivas over the years, and found La Sportiva shoes to be bomber.
Traction? the Akasha’s include both hard rubber in the well-worn areas on the forefoot and heel, and sticky rubber for rocks in the rest of the sole. They significantly out-perform the Speedgoats.
The Speedgoats have more cushioning than the Akasha’s, but not enough to make up for their suspect performance off trail. The Akaska’s have ample cushioning even for my nearly 50-year old ankles and knees, and perform awesome off trail.
I spent several weekends this summer high in the alpine deer scouting in the Akashas, and liked them so much I wore them backcountry bowhunting this Fall for both mule deer and elk.
Not only did the Akashas perform on the off-trail approaches and stalking, but also on the heavy pack outs after I’d killed my game inlcuding a long, 6.5 mile sufferfest with a 90# pack full of boned-out deer and gear, and a 8 miles total of trips back and forth packing out elk meat.
I doubt La Sportiva would endorse using this mountain running shoe for heavy loads like this – but they work and I wouldn’t hesitate a second to use my Akaskas for ruck run training up to 75#.
Overall, a great piece of gear.
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