La Sportiva Jackal GTX Review
Weight: M11.1oz, W9.3oz
Offset: 7mm (29mm heel/ 22mm forefoot)
First La Sportiva made a rugged mountain runner to accommodate higher-volume feet. Then it waterproofed the shoe to give it the edge against almost any weather condition.
While the Jackal GTX’s use of Gore-Tex Invisible Fit waterproofing is new to the Jackal, it shouldn’t change much — other than girding the loins against the elements — because the moisture barrier is integrated almost seamlessly and with a design that avoids altering the shoe’s fit or feel, compared to the non-GTX version.
This is the shoe for you if…
You want a wide-toed burly trail shoe that keeps out the elements — at least those that try to penetrate below the ankle — with exceptional traction and protection from the compression-molded EVA with PU inserts in the midsole for push-through shielding and stability. The Jackal GTX is well suited for long runs or races on sloppy terrain or inclement weather, providing a firm yet flexible mountain-friendly shoe that holds up over many a tough kilometer.
Our test team was unanimous in its appreciation of the Jackal GTX’s underfoot prowess, its protection, cushioning, performance, stability and traction. “Very stable,” praised one tester, “providing comfort on trails without being too heavy and clumsy.” Another tester raved that the Jackal had great foot protection. “This shoe still provides a decent amount of ‘feel’ while also providing stability,” said a third.
La Sportiva tuned the midsole with a dual-density compressed EVA rock plate in combination with a compression-molded EVA base in which it inserted bouncier PU in an effort to reduce foot fatigue. The outsole features 3mm lugs, friction rubber and a braking pattern for descents. Test team members celebrated the traction as “grippy,” and called it “true to La Sportiva’s tradition of superlative purchase.” They praised the shoe for providing “really good traction!” for “stable confidence on trails” such that they favored the Jackal GTX as a “go-to” winter running shoe.
The biggest drawback for the Jackal GTX was the fit. While the toe box may be wider than that of other La Sportivas it was too short for most of our testers and, with some, that resulted in painful descents and the desire to size up in length but not volume. Potential purchasers should try these on before buying as the toe slamming really degrades the otherwise pleasant experience of these shoes.
And, not that Invisible Fit or even Gore-Tex are to blame, but, as with any waterproof shoe, if water penetrates, say from a deep puddle, a stream crossing or clumped ankle snow that melts, the shoe becomes the equivalent of a wet bucket with little egress for the moisture.
Fortunately, when sized correctly and under most wet conditions, the La Sportiva Jackal GTX is a superb trail or winter shoe for the long run, thanks to its weather-proof upper, protective midsole and grippy outsole.