Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

La Sportiva Wild Cat 2.0 – First Impression

Usually new gear is exciting. But new shoes are not. They are terrifying!

Well, that is not always the case but when you find your tried and true footwear of choise being discontinued or changed you do feel little uncomfortable. At least this was the case when La Sportiva updated my beloved Wild Cat trail runners (see the original long-term report) into Wild Cat 2.0. Would the perfect outdoor adventuring shoe be ruined for good? As I assume I’m not alone with my fears, I thought it would be fair to share my first impressions on the new design. There’s also little extra in the post comparing Wild Cats to La Sportiva Raptors (predecessor of the “Ultra Raptor” model).

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Form left: old Wild Cats, new Wild Cat 2.0s and old Raptors

Wild Cat vs. the 2.0

To put it short: They’re not ruined!

Luckily La Sportiva seems to have done just a bit of cosmetic changes to the fantastic trail runner and the Wild Cat 2.0s are very similar to the original Wild Cats. They are not ruined and actually, there are even minor improvements.

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Old Wild Cat and the new Wild Cat 2.0 side by side

The only remarkable differences I noticed between the originals and the updated model are:

– webbing loop near the top of the tongue, to hold up the tongue
– little flap of rubbery fabric on the upper outer edge of the heel, to help putting on the shoes
– different, softer feeling fabric used in the lining

I see all these as minor improvements. I don’t think I really need the first two but I don’t mind having them and maybe they are useful for some. The third point I hope to be an improvement as the lining in my last two pairs of the original Wild Cats worn out quite fast from many places in the heel area. Because of the good heel fit this hasn’t been a big problem but not having things breaking and developing holes is always nice. I hope the change is for better, even though the softer touch might be a sign of less durable fabric…

I was told earlier that the heel would’ve been changed and was afraid the shoes would’ve been ruined but apparently the only change in heel section is the addition of the little piece of fabric. The Wild cat 2.0s still have the deep close-fitting heel cup which is crucial for good fit (at least in my case). The general design and fit are still the same. The sole seems to be exactly the same. In addition to the aforementioned additions the only difference seems to be new colors (and the new orange-grey looks very nice). In my opinion this is great as the Wild Cats are perfect for for me and I’m very happy with them.

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The perfect heel cup is still there. (From left: Wild Cat 2.0, Wild Cat)

I would still love to see the changes I mentioned in the original long-term report: little stiffer (mid)sole, more durable and/or aggressive lugs on the sole (both would increase the lifetime a bit) and little stronger mesh on top of the shoe. None of these are included in the Wild Cat 2.0s, but at least they are still great shoes.

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Training tool as a shoe stand.

To summarize: The Wild Cat 2.0 offer still the perfect fit and adequate performance just like it’s predecessor. I’m happy.

Raptors and Wild Cats

As many people have been happy with the La Sportiva Raptors (see for example Martin Rye’s review) and I’ve occasionally (scrambling, running in woods, etc.) wanted a more durable outer for my runners I decided to give the Raptors a try.

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Nearly identical soles. (From left: Wild Cat, Wild Cat 2.0, Raptor)

The Raptors are very similar to the Wild Cats: Same pattern and sole structure, though Wildcats seem to have lugs made of slightly softer and thus maybe a little stickier  material (yellow material in the photo above) while the whole Raptor outer sole is of the same compound. Both shoes share the superb secure and close-fitting heel cup and the generally wide fit (for an Italian running shoe).

The major difference is that the Raptor has fine mesh fabric on the outer with quite substantial reinforcements on the sides while Wild Cats have fine mesh covered with beefier mesh instead of extra reinforcements. The Raptors have a rand of rubbery material covering the lower part of the shoe (yellow band in the photo below) and  ribs of similar fabric protecting the sides (shiny black stuff on the photo below). This should make the Raptors outer more durable but make the Wild Cats faster draining and more breathable (though the difference might be meager).

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Wild Cat 2.0, Raptor, Wild Cat 2.0, Raptor…

The big news is that the reinforcements do seem to affect the fit as well! The mesh on the Wild Cats stretches quite a lot allowing estra width and room in general. The reinforcements on Raptors don’t stretch much if at all and thus the fit in the forefoot is a more snug. Unfortunately this means that size 46 (my normal size) Raptors with my normal running socks caused blister on my toes. I’ll give them a try with thinner liner socks and see if they would stretch a bit in use but if they don’t I might have a very little used pair for sale for reasonable price…

With limited experience my advice would be: If you have Wild Cats and feel that they have good snug fit, size up half a size if buying Raptor or the new Ultra Raptors.

– – –

Disclaimer: I’ve bought all the footwear discussed and pictured in the post with my own money and own them. And I don’t even make any money with the links in the post. But I’d happily take a pair or two of trail shoes for free. If interested in supporting me, please send an e-mail for address and details. ;)

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9 responses to “La Sportiva Wild Cat 2.0 – First Impression

  1. AlanR 26/06/2013 at 16:05

    On the wildcats I would like to see the rubber toe protector wrap round a little more and do away with the C shaped cut out in it. lots of these i have seen where the mesh has completely worn away around the little toe area but the rest of the shoe is still serviceable.

  2. hankalajatka 26/06/2013 at 16:54

    The softer lining fabric is not necessarily a improvement. My pair is only a month old and I have run with those only about 250km. The lining is already broken from heelcups.

  3. korpijaakko 26/06/2013 at 19:06

    AlanR: My Wild Cats have also worn on the area you mentioned. But on the other hand, during the same time the soles and lining from the heels has worn out badly, so I don’t know if the extra toe protection would help to increase lifetime of the shoes in my use.

    hankalajatka: Bad news then. I was hoping it would be more durable. TIme will tell.

  4. hankalajatka 01/07/2013 at 21:02

    Ok Jaakko, maybe its just my Haglund´s deformity which is eating shoes.

  5. elteeoberonus 31/01/2014 at 11:52

    Interesting and informative post and thanks for sharing it 🙂 I have a question that you may or may not be able to help me with… I am looking to buy some Trail Runners (my first pair on moving from boots) and I was wondering at the fit of the La Sportivas’. I understand that everyones feet are obviously different but for info mine are quite narrow in the heel and wide-ish in the front with normal arches. My Salomon Quest 4D’s are a great fit and I have looked at Salomon trail runners but I really prefer the apparent ‘sticky and cushioning’ of the Wildcats and Ultra Raptors. The problem for me is I live too far from anywhere that stocks any La Sportiva shoes. I recently mail ordered two pairs of Berghaus Vapour Claws but although a nice shoe they were too wide and had a poor heel cup for me.

  6. korpijaakko 31/01/2014 at 12:21

    Hi and thanks for the comment. Of course I can’t be sure but sounds that the Wildcats might be a good fit for you: the heel cup is secure and fitting and the forefoot is relatively wide and stretches in the Wildcats. I use my typical shoe size (size 46 for me) with thin or medium thick sock and the fit is good. The fit of the Ulta Raptor is the same but the front doesn’t stretch due the reinforcements and I’d recommend sizing up half or full size. I’ve found most Salomon shoes too narrow while testing (sizing up 1 size helps) but have tried only few models.

  7. elteeoberonus 31/01/2014 at 15:00

    Thanks for the reply Jaakko. Good advice and confirms my inclination toward the Ultra Raptor (one size larger), which may be more durable than the Wildcat. However I am now liking the look of the Brooks Cascadia 7/8’s lol Wish I lived closer to a store for fitting purposes! Thanks again.

  8. elteeoberonus 11/02/2014 at 08:28

    Hi again Jaakko. I opted for the Wildcat 2.0 and though I have yet to wear them on the hill or trail I really like the level of comfort, support and grip. The only thing that occurs to me is how to clean them effectively, particularly if the mesh gets filled with mud. Are they easy to clean simply with water or do you have a particular method? Thanks for any help.

  9. korpijaakko 12/02/2014 at 10:45

    Nice to hear. I just rinse mine with water and sometiems with a brush. And sometimes if they are really dirty I’ve put them in the washing maschine in a mesh bag (of course rinse first).

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