La Sportiva Vertical K Shoe Review

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Scott & Don

The La Sportiva Vertical K ($115) is a super light minimalist shoe coming in at 7 oz. I have never seen such a radical design. Let’s take a look at the Vertical K.



I can’t stress enough – Wow! Super light!.  It fit like a glove out of the box.  Some runners may need to go up half a size due to the form fitting nature of this shoe. It is also very flexible.


La Sportiva has their “Morphodynamic Technology”. This technology combines lightweight materials to a highly absorbent midsole with lateral grooves in the outsole that have a very sticky rubber. Also, notice the small lugs overlayed on the outsole.  See below.



I felt like I was wearing a sock with an outsole. I tested the Vertical K’s on 15 to 20 mile runs. It is very flexible. I was a little concerned about the light weight upper and how it would support my feet. I was surprised to not feel the shoe slip off my feet.  The Vertical K has a small heel counter (not really noticeable). They worked well in muddy and wet conditions (must be the small lugs). They drained extremely well. In the “lab”, the evaporation testing result rating was “Great”.

One word of caution, watch out for branches along the trail.  I poked a hole in the upper, that is, in the Scree Gaiter.  See picture below.

Watch Out for Branches

The Vertical K does not have a rock plate. With the Morphodynamic Technology, the soft midsole with the lateral grooves (void spaces) absorbs any sharp obstacles. I felt sharp objects on the trail, but it did not hinder my running or injury my feet. Please note, the Vertical K has less “push through” protection than other La Sportiva models (e.g., Quantum and Electron).

Lastly, I wanted to comment on the lacing system.  On the C-Lite 2.0 (review to come shortly), I noticed it was slightly difficult to tighten down the lower laces due to the lacing system being completely covered by the upper. With the Vertical K’s lacing system (use of thinner laces and a light weight upper/lacing cover), I did not have difficultly tightening down the laces.



  • Toe Measurement – 14 mm
  • Heel Measurement – 18 mm
  • Drop – 4 mm
  • Non-gusseted Tongue (But has a “Scree Gaiter” wrapping the shoe)
  • Neutral (Minimalist)
  • No Rock Plate (**Lateral Grooves – See comments above)
  • Midsole – EVA
  • Upper – Synthetic (Lycra)
  • Made In – China
Weight Breakdown

I truly enjoyed testing the La Sportiva Vertical K.  This shoe is for the runner looking for a minimalist lightweight racing shoe.  I enjoyed “flying” through sections of trail, but for me, I need a little bit more support for an everyday trainer. However, for those occasional runs and shorter distance races, I would wear the Vertical K.  Overall, the shoe exceeded my expectations of a minimalist lightweight shoe – Well developed and designed shoe, La Sportiva.


Join the discussion

  • I’ve worn the shoes on a few technical courses in Norther California. At about about 20 – 30 miles the bottom of my feet are definitely getting sore from being poked by rocks and etc. Not sore enough to drop a race, but sore. The fit is excellent. Best I’ve ever had. I wan’t to wear them for a few upcoming 100 milers but I’m worried… Even a thin plate that protects just the ball of the foot would help a lot.

  • I love my Vertical K’s! Light, comfortable and very “grippy” (like Spiderman). I ran some of the more technical trails around here with larger granite rocks and these shoes gripped the rocks like I’ve never seen before. They’re great.

    I have to admit I wore them around the house like slippers for a little while when I first got them. Did I mention they were comfortable?

    My only complaint is the “lateral grooves” that periodically allow rocks to reach up and bite your feet through the soles. It’s a small price to pay for a 7 oz. shoe.

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