The new Akasha is Sportiva’s most highly cushioned shoe on the market at the moment. Don’t let the addition of more cushion fool you, this is still very much a mountain shoe that will excel in more technical terrain, it just won’t feel like a brick if you decide to take it on the pavement for a bit. It’s designed specifically for maximum comfort over long endurance efforts on varied terrain and weighs in at approximately 11.5 ounces per shoe . Those who prefer a lower-than-traditional drop will be pleased with the 6mm drop. While this shoe isn’t particularly light, due in part to the large amount of rubber on the outsole, it feels rather nimble underfoot and doesn’t run like a heavy shoe.
This is not your typical hyper-firm Sportiva trail shoe. The midsole of the Akasha is an injected EVA which La Sportiva states allows the midsole to retain cushioning and elasticity within the EVA over time versus the standard compression molded EVA that tends to pack out more quickly over the life of the shoe. Coupled with La Sportiva’s Cushion Platform, this shoe maximizes shock absorption, rock protection, and comfort while eliminating a boggy or marshmallowy feel. This is one of the few shoes I have tried that are burly enough for aggressive mountain terrain but are soft enough in the midsole to still feel ‘runnable.’ The fit, while snug, is not overly narrow and has a bit more room in the upper than other Sportiva options.
The outsole of the Akasha utilizes the FriXion XT dual-density compound soles (XF + AT) that optimize the wear-and-tear resistance and shock absorption. The lugs are substantial and deal with mud season quite well yet aren’t too annoying when linking singletrack with smoother dirt roads. The tread through the bulk of the outsole is made from the FriXion XF sticky rubber compound that excels on angled rocks and rocks with a film of wet or dry sand on them. Further, it has no trouble providing a comfortable ride banging down a rocky jeep road. La Sportiva uses reverse direction lugs to assist with breaking on downhills and also incorporates their proprietary Trail Rocker system which assists with the natural rolling of the foot through the gait cycle.
Because of the aggressive out sole and soft midsole, this shoe works well in a variety of conditions. It would serve as a great road trail option but functions as a more aggressive trail runner as well. Due to it’s soft midsole and relatively stable platform, this shoe will work well for sub ultra distances as well as longer events from 50k to 100 miles. The soft grippy rubber means that this shoe would also work well for technical runs that require some serious scrambling.