La Sportiva is committed to trail running–so much so that they have built their program around “Mountain Running,” which they have also trademarked. Their involvement in trail racing is second-to-none as evidenced by the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. With a variety of trail running shoes suitable for casual trail running/hiking to dedicated race-day treads, La Sportiva has you covered. Up for review is the sleek Crosslite trail runners. Lets dig in.
About the La Sportiva Crosslite
The Crosslite provides amazing traction and cushioning with its well-spaced sticky rubber lugs that deform upon impact to reduce impact force. Awarded the Runner’s World Best Buy award for 2008, the Crosslite provides an excellent lightweight snug fit with its integral external scree guard that locks down the upper and the nimble flexible midsole provides excellent cushion and response for those tricky foot dabbing sequences on the trail. Great for medium to long distances and for runners that prefer a more deconstructed shoe with great traction.
More Crosslite features:
- Last: Racing Lite
- Construction: Slip Lasted Stobel
- Upper: AirMesh/ UreTech/ TPU overlay
- Lining: Mesh (back half and tongue only)
- Midsole: Dual-density MEMIex/ TrailShock with Nylon molded shank/ High-tensile composite Rock Guard
- Outsole: AT/ Impact Brake System™ V-Groove™
- Weight: Stated 12.35 oz (my 44’s weigh 11.9 oz each)
- MSRP: $90
La Sportiva Crosslite Review
Upon first inspection, the Crosslite looks unlike any shoe I’ve got in the closet. The low profile and extended scree guard really make for a streamlined look. Flipping them over, the treads really impress. Without making a single step onto the trails, I had no worries about the quality of traction the Crosslite’s would provide.
Lacing them up, these shoes feel like slippers. The uppers conform to every part of my feet and cradle them well with a single pull of the laces. The scree guard does block your ability to cinch the laces down any farther than the 2nd loop, but the metal o-rings and thin nylon laces pull very consistently from top-to-bottom. Should you need to replace the laces, re-lacing these could be a chore, but hopefully that doesn’t ever happen.
While the Crosslite’s have a low profile feel and look a lot like racing flats (but with monster treads), they definitely have more cushion and support than your typical race shoe. As a result, they are a little heavier than some race-specific trail running shoes, but you’d never notice that on the trail. They feel super light and offer a smooth and efficient stride. Let me re-state the obvious… the traction provided by the Crosslites is unparalleled. Without question, these offer the most tenacious traction of any trail shoe I’ve ever worn. They sound like track spikes on the trail as each tread digs into the dirt.
With all that traction, I really felt faster on the trails as every step was met with solid traction in all conditions. The traction alone makes these shoes winners, but the whole package continues to impress in many ways.
To beat the dead horse here… the outsoles are superb (did I make that point already?). In concert with the grippy outsoles, the midsole is more like a race car with great support but not a ton of cushioning. Luckily, the large lugs offer a little bit of extra cushion so you don’t have too harsh of a ride. I replaced the standard insoles with Superfeet Green insoles with good luck (and for good luck). The entire package worked very well and my flat feet were happy in these on some rough terrain with the only caveat being long-distance downhills when the balls of my feet took a beating over time.
Overall stability is there and foot protection is really good with only the sharpest of rocks being felt in the forefoot. The uppers provide excellent breathability and comfort in both high (85 degrees) and low (45 degrees) temperatures. You’re getting a very impressive trail-specific package with the Crosslites.
- Track shoe-like traction
- Very breathable
- Excellent race-worthy shoe
- Scree-guard keeps loose dirt out
- Super-efficient and fast
- Large lugs can catch on rocks or roots if you get lazy
- A few lugs tended to crack or chunk slightly on rocky terrain… will post updates on their longevity
- I’d hate to have to re-lace these
The Bottom Line: La Sportiva Crosslite Trail Runners
It’s hard to overstate the obvious, but the traction provided by the Crosslites is absolutely amazing. Up and down–nothing beats the speed and efficiency provided by these lugs. The entire shoe fits like a slipper and breathes extremely well. These are a great option for raceday or long-distance, hard-core running where traction and speed is key.
Buy Now: La Sportiva at Backcountry.com
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I’ve had a pair of Sportiva’s now for about two months and have put 50-60 miles on them. I’ve done a fair amount of trail running including running the Squaw Peak 50 mile race on a pair of Pearl Izumi Peak XC, which I also like. I was thinking that I’d try the Sportiva and immediately switch back to my Pearl Izumi’s, but was sweetly surprised by the fit, comfort and traction of the Sprortiva. Overall I really like the shoe and would be confident wearing it for the 50 I’m doing again this year.
The shoe has good traction both running uphill as well as downhill, felt light on my foot and provided my foot ample protection. What I was most surprised about was the comfortable run on pavement to and from the trail. This is where I really expected, based on the tread design, to feel a great deal of discomfort, but actually liked it.
Lately, I’ve been wearing the shoe while snowshoeing and like it equally well. The covering over the laces poses a problem when trying to latch my gaiters, but the covering over the laces acted as its own gaiter and kept out all moisture and snow. My feet stayed relatively warm and dry and very comfortable while snowshoe running.
Overall, I have to say I’m pleased and impressed with the Sportiva trail shoe.
Thanks for your feedback, Phil. Once again confirms how great these shoes are.
I’ve got a pair of the La Sportiva Fireblades and absolutely love them. I’ve done 2 trail races and even 1 road half in these and tons of training and don’t feel like I’ve lost anything in them inspite of all the miles. But I’m looking for something with more traction since the Fireblade does not fair so well in any wet or muddy condtions as I have come to realize this early spring in Northern Utah. How does the Crosslite fit/feel compared to the Fireblade?
Spencer… hard to say exactly since I’ve never run in the Fireblade. They are both very low-profile designs, but the Crosslite has oodles more traction. I wish I could say more though. Sorry.
Jason… Nice write up.
I’m very interested in how they’ve held up over the past months and if your personal thoughts toward the Crosslites are still glorious. I just tried on a pair yesterday, wonderful glove like fit, and thinking about getting them for trekking around the Bellingham area terrain.
James: I passed these shoes along to a friend of mine who has now run hundreds more miles in them. The other day I saw which shoes he had along for his run… the Crosslites. He loves them and says they are still going strong.
Can anyone provide another durability report on these? I had the Salomon SpeedCross 2 and they wore out VERY fast. Not just the sole (which is expected due to the soft grippy rubber) but also the uppers, which became unstitched, etc…
“Should you need to replace the laces, re-lacing these could be a chore, but hopefully that doesn’t ever happen.” It does happen. Happened to me. Re-lacing is just flat out impossible. If your laces break, you have two choices: one, buy new shoes, two, cut out the scree guard, which I ended up doing. I wish they modified the design to make it possible to replace laces somehow. But I ended up buying these shoes again, as I can’t find any other shoe with comparable fit and traction.
Dang! I thought it would be tough, but not impossible (as it turns out to be). Bummer about having to cut out the scree guard. Did you contact La Sportiva directly for suggestions before performing surgery? If so, what did they say?
With it being so involved, it would seem like they would re-lace them for you somehow. It looks like you’re back for more, in spite of it all.
I thought about calling La Sportiva, but the shoes are already near their death throes anyway, so it did not seem worth the trouble. With new laces I might get some 50 more miles from them and then it’s time for shoe heaven. This is my 4th or 5th pair of this shoe and in the previous pairs I wore the sole bare, with the top of the shoe and laces still in good shape. So overall the laces seem strong enough, I’m not complaining.