La Sportiva: Unika

Test of the bewitching and unique La Sportiva trail running shoe

15 May 2019
Unika is unique. Just open the box to justify the name of this new La Sportiva model and to understand that you have something special in front of you.

2018 for La Sportiva is a special year: the company celebrated its first ninety years and organized major events open to the public. Among the gifts this year, trail running enthusiasts have received a very special and enchanting object on the shelves of the shops, in a word Unika, the first Mountain Running shoe made in Europe!

The highly innovative design immediately catches the eyes, but the feeling on the feet must be built without expecting to get it immediately. This is the first consideration to report at the end of a test that, as only a few other models have requested, it has become necessary to spread on numerous session and paths with different lengths and characteristics to acquire a correct and satisfying feeling, which leads to acquiring awareness full of performance, distances and ideal ground of use.

The shoe is very adherent: as soon as you insert the foot it seems to wear a sock, but the correct wrapping sensation is completed only with the correct tension of the strings (separated and differently colored) to favor an effective but not constrictive wrapping.

The Lace-up Harness™ harness lacing system integrates the wraparound upper with the Sock-Like ™ technology in a structural way to the sole: almost a century of experience in the construction of climbing shoes leaves a positive mark also in the specific area of trail running! The upper has no seams and facilitates the achievement of a correct perception through a division into zones with differentiated elasticity.

The forefoot ends with a wide and unusually square but sufficiently protective tip, even if the protection is not one of the main features of the shoe. Being slightly turned upwards the tip makes the rolled even more fluid and effective, with the sole flexing in an advanced position of the foot in the pushing phase. The highly innovative solutions adopted for this model continue also involving the sole.

La Sportiva has adopted for this shoe a technology called Infinitoo™ with very high energy return during the race, which is able to maintain its characteristic shock absorbing properties over time.

The shoe is not equipped with any insole for overall design choice, but sensitivity is guaranteed. There is a soft polyurethane midsole co-molded with Rock-Guard Skin external protection coating, which is very effective during impacts. The choice of the tread compound fell on La Sportiva FriXion White® with its reduced weight, which guarantees excellent grip on the rock, while less suitable is the use on muddy or grassy grounds or too technical.

The reliability of the shoe in traversing paths in crosswise is facilitated by the presence of Stability-Lugs™, external progressive stabilizers that block the sagging on the outside of the shoe.

The drop is 8 millimeters but you can't hear it, and it helps on medium and long distances and during intense training. It is in this range of uses that the best performance of the La Sportiva Unika model is achieved. Given its real uniqueness, however, the shoe can still be used "in sensation" even in different contexts, and by runners who want to experiment with innovative solutions that could be successful in the coming years. Innovation with passion, not surprisingly, is the motto of the Val di Fiemme company.

Technical data

  • Upper: Double-layer Sock-Like ™ sock construction + Lace-up Harness ™: external lacing harness
  • Midsole: Infinitoo ™ technology in low-density PU that is not subject to crushing with high elasticity and a Rock-Guard Skin coating layer
  • Insole: without additional arch support
  • Sole: Frixion White
  • Weight: 350 g per half pair size 42
  • Drop: 8 mm

Ruggero Bontempi

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