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La Sportiva Mutant Mountain Running Shoe Review | World-Class Performer?

La Sportiva’s Mutant Mountain Running Shoe is a 2015 model with highly technical features that have held the test of time. This model is what I would consider tried and true when it comes to delivering a strong performance for outdoor-focused training.

Like with most high-quality outdoor training gear, the devil’s in the details with the La Sportiva Mutant Mountain Running Shoe. If you can better understand the features that come along with this model, then you can make a better-educated buying decision which is huge for your performance and getting the right product for your needs.

In this La Sportiva Mutant review, I’m going to cover the following topics in detail to help you decide if this model is for you.

Who should buy the La Sportiva Mountain Running Shoe?

Runners and hikers alike, who are planning to tackle more technical, rough, and changing terrain. With that being said, this is a great running or hiking shoe for anyone, but it is intended for, and excels, in the aforementioned terrain. If you tend to run-flats on stable terrain, there may be a better shoe for you.

However, if you are trail running in the Rockies, hiking class 3 mountains, or a mix of the two, then the La Sportiva Mutant may just be the next best pair of runners added to your gear closet. The current pair of Mutants I own has been in my possession for over a year and I have put them through the wringer.

From flat trail runs, alpine runs, to hiking at 14,000 feet, this shoe has performed well in almost all conditions. This is my go-to shoe for trail running and hiking technical terrain that requires rock climbing. Having run and hiked with a few other La Sportiva models such as the Akasha and Wildcat, this is by far my favorite shoe of theirs. The durability of the Akasha fell short for me but the La Sportiva Mutants abrasion resistance and durability exceeded all expectations.

La Sportiva Mutant


la sportiva mountain running shoe

Best For

  • Technical Trail Running
  • Technical Hiking/Climbing
  • Mixed Activities

Falls Short

  • For Long Runs


La Sportiva Mountain Running Shoe Pros

There are multiple pros that come along with the La Sportiva Mountain Running Shoe. Here are four of the biggest pros that I’ve noticed and enjoy.

  1. Performance of the FriXion XF and Braking System Sole
  2. Durable Upper Construction
  3. Comfort and Stability of the FusionGate Technology Lacing System and Spyraltongue Technology
  4. Purchase When Climbing

The first pro with the La Sportiva Mutant is the performance of the FriXion XF sole. Whether hiking up steep loose terrain, running uneven jagged surfaces or exposed traversing a ledge, I have always felt stable when in the La Sportiva Mutant. One of the most impressive areas of performance is on the downhill. Running on steep loose terrain is no issue for the Mutants braking system technology and impressively durable lugged sole.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe tread

Another pro of the Mutant is the durable upper construction. AirMesh for breathability without sacrificing durability or water resistance. TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) for lightweight construction that generally lasts longer and is more resistant to splitting and abrasion.

This model utilizes a four-stretch scree guard in order to allow the shoe to move with the foot and keep unwanted debris out of the lining. As stated above, I have owned and tested this shoe for over a year. Other than minor wear and a pull loop seam break on the right shoe, the La Sportiva Mutant has stood the test of time.

Alongside the upper construction comes our next pro, the comfort, and stability of the FusionGate technology lacing system. For a lacing system intended to snugly fit the shoe and foot together, it is surprisingly comfortable. I do not wear my shoes overly tight but have never noticed an improper pressure point from this lacing system when dressing them down. I love how the upper construction scree guard and lacing system work together to create a secure and stable fit on the LA Sportiva Mutant.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe lacing

The FusionGate lacing system intertwined with the Mutants Spyraltongue technology adds more complexity to the technical features of the upper construction. Unlike most shoes where the tongue moves freely when unlaced, the Mutants Spyraltongue is fixed, which still allows for ease of entry and has performance in mind.

Looking at the shoe, there really is not any room for debris entry other than the entry point for the foot. This Spyraltongue technology continues to help the trend of keeping unwanted objects out of your shoe when completing high-performance activities on loose terrain. I find with both the FusionGate lacing system and Spyraltongue technology, the Mutants stability is world-class.

The last performance characteristic pro is the purchase with the rock you have in the La Sportiva Mutant. Purchase is an ambiguous rock-climbing term that refers to how many shoes to rock feel or stability you are able to achieve. For example, a rock-climbing shoe has a lot of purchase when putting it on the wall even on small edges. This is due to the thin rubber sole, toe shape, and minimal materials between your foot and the wall.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe performance

When wearing a normal tennis shoe, there will be a low degree of purchase even when on large edges when climbing because of the toe shape, poor sole construction, and thick cushioned materials between your foot and the wall. The La Sportiva Mutant Mountain Running Shoe has a climbing-like shoe feel when tackling technical and steeper terrain. 
I love this shoe for class 3 to class 5 alpine climbing in the Rocky Mountains.

Must Read: 7 Best Cross-Training Shoes On the Market

La Sportiva Mountain Running Shoe Cons

While I like the La Sportiva Mountain. Running Shoe as a whole, there are a couple of cons I’ve found with this model.

  1. Cushion for Long Runs
  2. Narrow Construction

The first con involves easy longer runs and the comfort this model provides. With a 10mm drop, aggressive lugs, and listed as a moderately cushioned shoe, this may work fine for some on easy long runs. But personally, I do find that I enjoy a less responsive, less aggressive, and more cushioned shoe when on longer more gentle terrain.

With that being said, I have used this shoe on 16 to 18-mile hikes with mixed-in flat running and it has performed fantastically. But if I was going to complete a 10-mile run on easy non-technical terrain, I would likely go for a shoe that has even less drop, a less aggressive sole, and more cushion. The Mutant is intended for mountain running and technical terrain.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe width

The last aspect and potential con to consider is the narrow construction. Personally, this does not bother me but it is a complaint the La Sportiva Mutant has received on multiple review sites since 2015, so I felt it necessary to include it here.

If you have a wider foot and need a wider toe box, then this may not be the shoe for you. It is always best to go into your local running shoe store or outdoor gear shop to get properly fitted. But if you know that more narrowly constructed shoes fit you well, then this shoe should be a no-brainer for you to purchase online or in person.

La Sportiva Mountain Running Shoe Performance

Below I’m going to break down the performance of the La Sportiva Mutant into a few different subcategories to help you decide if this shoe, in particular, is right for you.

Versatility on the Trail

The La Sportiva Mutant is intended to be used for serious mountain enthusiasts tackling challenging objectives. Whether you are trail running or hiking, this is the shoe for you if you are on technical terrain. Full of features, there is not any obstacle in the warmer months I have encountered that this shoe cannot handle.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe for climbing

This shoe is breathable and water-resistant and is best used as a 3-season shoe. I have used this shoe in the winter when the snowpack was hard, but using the La Sportiva Mutant in soft snow, even with gaiters, is not recommended. It is highly breathable and will not cause your foot to overheat in the summer.

When using during the dry portion of fall, if your feet tend to get cold, you may want to consider wearing a thicker sock. Personally, my feet stay pretty warm and I have never had an issue with my feet getting cold in roughly 20 to 30-degree weather.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe for winter

This shoe is also great for both shorter and longer duration trail events, I do believe it excels for shorter technical trail runs in particular. While it is boasted to have the cushion and support for longer runs, it would not be my go-to while on easy flat long runs. If you are a hiker who wants a shoe that can walk longer duration flats comfortably and handle higher class alpine objectives, this is the shoe for you.


The La Sportiva FriXion XF sole and braking system technology provides world-class traction. It grips all surfaces whether loose or solid, steep or flat, and dry or wet. The aggressive lugs on the sole make it a perfect shoe for technical terrain. Safety on the downhill is of utmost importance and the Mutant is one of the best shoes for steep grades.

Hiking or running downhill is a breeze when wearing this shoe. Uphill hiking on scree can be a burden if you are always sliding and unable to grip the rock. Thankfully this shoe provides good traction on steep uphill climbs, making those long climbs just a bit easier. The La Sportiva Mutant has a climbing shoe-like grip when on steep and exposed rock. I have worn this shoe on countless fourteeners and many of them have been in the class 3 to 5 range.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe for trail

When the weather takes a turn for the worst, I’ve found that the La Sportiva Mutant is able to perform in muddy and wet conditions, too. Having used this shoe in the light rain, even though it does not have any GORE-TEX or other waterproofing, it does a decent job at shedding water and drying quickly when wet.

In the summer, I have carefully crossed a few rocky streams getting the shoe wet. When returning to the car after a few hours in the sun, my Mutants were nearly dry, exemplifying how quickly this shoe can dry in the right conditions.

Stability, Durability, Comfort

The FusionGate lacing system provides a high degree of stability in the upper portion of the shoe without sacrificing comfort. Not once have I worn this shoe and discovered any pressure points that have hindered my performance. It is very easy to tighten and dress your shoelace, only needing to pull the top laces.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe lace system

This is a small feature but I always find it annoying when you need to start at the bottom of the shoe and pull each lace in order to tighten it down. Alongside the lacing system, the Spyraltongue design makes for a secure and snug all-encompassing fit. The tongues design and dynamic scree guard have the added benefit of keeping loose debris out of the shoe.

Owning my pair of La Sportiva Mutants for over a year now, durability has not been an issue. My shoes only have minor wear and tear, there are no noticeable breaks in the upper and the sole is in great shape. Abrasion resistance is very important when hiking or running through jagged rocky terrain. I am always hesitant when a company boasts a shoe as being abrasion resistant but the Mutant really does seem to meet that standard.

la sportiva mutant mountain running shoe trail running (1)

With a 10mm drop and moderate cushioning, it is very comfortable in my opinion. Comfort and responsiveness can sometimes be thought of as opposing features in a shoe, but this is not the case with the La Sportiva Mutant. Providing all-day comfort, I believe this shoe has excellent responsiveness. The Mutants injected molded EVA and TPU stabilizer midsole provide great shock absorption at a fairly lightweight, weighing in at only 10.70 ounces.

La Sportiva Mountain Running Shoe Sizing

La Sportiva shoes are built on European half sizes which have smaller increments than US half sizes, which the company advertises as allowing for a better fit. As stated earlier, it is always best to go into your local shop and try a shoe on before purchasing.

However, I believe La Sportiva’s sizing conversion chart to be fairly accurate. Owning a few different models of Sportiva Shoes, I have found that I am not the same size in all of them.

la sportiva mutant sizing

For the fit of the Mutant, it is advertised as a medium to wide fitting shoe. But if you look online you will find multiple complaints about this shoe not fitting true to size and running small. In this shoe, you may want to consider going up a half size.

I have found that it is a little more on the narrow side, which is not an issue for me personally but something to consider before purchasing.

Price Breakdown

For the La Sportiva Mutant, you can expect to pay $135.00 USD.

For the quality and technical features that come with the Mutant, La Sportiva has priced this shoe very fairly.

La Sportiva Mutant


la sportiva mountain running shoe

Best For

  • Technical Trail Running
  • Technical Hiking/Climbing
  • Mixed Activities

Falls Short

  • For Long Runs


Construction Details

Below, I have provided what I think are some of the construction features in regard to how this shoe performs on the trail and if its construction is a good fit for your style of running or hiking.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 10.70 ounces
  • Fit: Medium/Wide
  • Upper: AirMesh/4 way stretch dynamic scree guard/TPU
  • Lining: AirMesh
  • Midsole: Injected molded EVA/TPU stabilizer
  • Sole: FriXion XF, Impact Braking System
  • Rock plate: No
  • Spyraltongue Technology
  • FusionGate Lacing Technology

Takeaway Thoughts

Across the board, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed training in the La Sportiva Mutant Mountain Running Shoe. This model has been through the wringer with me on various hikes and trail runs and is still standing strong.

If you have any questions about the La Sportiva Mutant Mountain Running Shoe, drop a comment below!

I independently buy and hand-test everything recommended on That Fit Friend. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission. Read more here.

Will Quillman

Will Quillman

Will Quillman is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at The United States Air Force Academy. He works with the NCAA Division I FCS football program and teaches physical education courses, including basic cadet physical development and rock climbing. He holds a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine with an Emphasis in Strength and Conditioning from The University of Colorado Springs (UCCS). He loves outdoor gear and apparel. Training outdoors is one of Will's many passions and devotes hours every single day training for the activities he loves. Will knows that in the backcountry, gear and apparel can make or break a great experience.

2 thoughts on “La Sportiva Mutant Mountain Running Shoe Review | World-Class Performer?”

  1. S. Peterson here, 75 yr old male hiker Sierras, JMT, PCT, also lite to moderate trail runner,using La Sportiva Nucleo 12.5 hiker (greater fit than my Merrels). However I have the Mutant for rail and went 1/2 size up (i have a narrow foot) so went 12.5 –Not enough go full size. I am going to upgrade to Bushido ll size 13. The shoes are great, I have an Old, old pair of Rajas’s 12.5 starting to delamente (did 4.3 mi 2/28) still comfortable. Thank You

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