La Sportiva’s first foray into the trail running scene was with the Vertical K, a lightweight racing shoe. It proved hugely popular and functional, so to meet the needs of those after a general runner or ultra shoe La Sportiva have since released the Helios. The influence of its predecessor comes in the form of a similar outsole and midsole shape, and the 4mm drop. But it’s slightly heavier, thanks to improved support and an increased upper.
Appearance wise, they look a little out of the ordinary, a cross between a racing flat and a mud runner. I kind of like it, but will admit it’s an acquired taste. In some regards it’s nice to have something different so you can stand out from the crowd!
Putting them on, the first thing you notice is that they are deceptively light and comfy. The heel fits well and feels well supported. The upper is made of mesh, which means the shoes drain well if you find yourself running through puddles, plus your feet stay cool. The lacing system is also good in that it’s integrated into the shoe and means you get a snug fit and better structure to the upper.
The EVA midsole has the addition of a 2mm LaSpeva plate. LaSpeva is a thicker, tougher foam that apparently adds to the comfort and rebound of the midsole. This proved affective in providing a nice feel on the trails and adequate cushioning on the road. To be honest though, I would not advise these for lots of road running as they feel a touch soft and I could feel the tread pattern through the shoe. Also of note is that there is minimal arch support.
The outsole is very unique. The tread design looks like something you’d find on a four wheel drive! At first I thought they would only be good on trails and in mud, but I was happy to discover that on all terrain they were grippy and responsive. Another of the good features worth noting is that they are designed to minimise debris getting in. This is a big plus as across long trail runs I found barely even the dust found its way through!