Light weight and durability aren’t mutually exclusive shoe features, as La Sportiva proved with the Helios mountain runner.  The updated SR further reinforces the point, improving comfort, protection and stability without compromising weight.

La Sportiva Helios SR features

  • Weight:  1 oz (230 g)
  • Last:Tempo 2
  • Upper: HyDrain mesh/ wicking EVA airmesh
  • Conventional lace system with TPU harnesses
  • Midsole: morphodynamic injection molded EVA with endurance platform EVA insert
  • Forefoot rock guard
  • 2mm heel-toe drop
  • Frixion AT Wave outsole rubber
  • MSRP $125

la sportiva helios sr running

 

La Sportiva Helios SR Review

La Sportiva first introduced the Helios at the tail end of the minimalist wave, and it was designed as a thoughtful combination of minimalist design principles with the durable, rugged mountain running capability the company stakes its reputation on.  It was a departure from other La Sportiva models in that it offered a flatter platform, wider toe box, lighter weight, and more overall flexibility than the company had offered in the past.

That shoe found a loyal following among trail runners, and the SR model includes some welcome updates that make the shoe even stronger.  Our testing of the shoe lasted about 8 weeks, and included about 200 total miles with a couple of 50K runs on all manner of terrain.  From our testing, the SR is definitely an upgrade in terms of performance, but has a couple of fit issues that we’d like to see dialed in a bit better the next time around.

la sportiva helios sr medial

The most distinctive element of the Helios is La Sportiva’s MorphoDynamic midsole configured in a wave layout, which provides good cushioning throughout the stance phase and smooth energy transfer from rearfoot to forefoot.  The SR model has been updated to include a thin forefoot rock plate to help absorb and disperse impact forces on rocky terrain.  Technical roots and rocks were no problem at all in our testing, even when running at high speed.  Another modification to the SR is a flatter heel-toe drop (2mm on the SR compared to 4mm on the original), which further improves foot stability in tricky conditions.

la sportiva helios sr outsole

The hallmark of La Sportiva’s mountain running shoes are their outstanding outsole traction, and the Helios SR delivers the goods in this category with a sticky FriXion XT rubber compound with strategically positioned lugging in the heel, forefoot, and along the lower ridges of the midsole wave.  This arrangement is virtually identical to that of the original Helios, and proved highly effective in gripping pretty much all terrain, from sloppy mud to loose gravel to rocky scree.

la sportiva helios sr upper

Uppers of the Helios SR include AirMesh nylon mesh fabric that provides a nice combination of comfort and wicking ability.  They dry quickly upon immersion, but run a bit warm in hot conditions.  The SR model adds a bit of abrasion-resistant material around the upper to provide extra protection, and the lacing system has been modified to allow better customization of tension across the midfoot.   The rearfoot area of the upper is quite rigid, and caused some blistering in the Achilles tendon area on a long climbing day early in our testing.  After a break-in period, blistering was no longer an issue, but the heelcup remains on the stiff side, and this is an area we’d like to see modified in future editions.

la sportiva helios sr heel cup

The biggest caveat with the Helios SR is the overall sizing, which is completely wonky; wear testers have reported discrepancies of a half-size to 1.5 sizes in comparison to other shoe brands, and even in comparison to other La Sportiva models.  Definitely take the opportunity to try these shoes on before purchasing, or make sure your online vendor has a fair exchange policy.

The Good

  • Super lightweight
  • Great midfoot cushioning and comfort
  • Strong outsole traction

The Bad

  • Stiffness around ankle collar
  • Narrow forefoot for ultra-distances
  • Significant fit issues

Bottom Line: La Sportiva Helios SR Trail Running Shoes

La Sportiva’s Helios SR provides an outstanding combination of lightweight, minimalist construction with high performance and high durability for virtually any mountain running conditions.  Just be sure you get the right size before tackling your favorite trails.

Buy Now: Buy at REI

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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