REPOST - IR - La Sportiva Rajas Trail Runners - Gail
Thanks for the edits - I have re-worked the first part
of the IR and made necessary edits to the rest. I hope
it is easier to read, I actually was trained to be a
technical writer, but I have forgotten much :( Let me
know if the new version works.
La Sportiva Rajas Trail Runners
by Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
October 30, 2005
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5'9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 132 lb (60 kg)
Shoe Size: 10.5 US (42.5 EU)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Photo Album Website:
For the last 15 years, backpacking has become a
passion. I am a four season backpacker and an
off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips
to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my
trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight
varies considerably, but my base weight is under 20
lbs (9.1 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper, who
averages over 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge
variety of weather conditions, including relentless
rain, wet snow and sub zero temps.
La Sportiva Rajas Trail Runners--Description
Manufacturer: La Sportiva N.A., Inc.
Model: Women's Rajas # 308
Model Year: 2005
Size: 10.5 US (42.5 EU)
Manufacturer Weight: 1 lb 12 oz (0 .79 kg)
Actual Weight: 1 lb 12.2 oz (0 .80 kg)
MSRP: $90 US
Manufacturer's Product Data (Tester's Interpretation)
According to the hangtag that I received with the
Rajas, La Sportiva makes a range of footwear for rock
climbing, mountain running, hiking and backpacking,
and mountaineering. The Rajas belong to the mountain
running category which were created for extreme or
difficult terrain. Since that describes most perfectly
many of the trails that I often hike and run on, I was
The La Sportiva Trail Runners that arrived at my home
are the women's version of the Rajas. Specifically
designed for a women's foot, they have a different
last (Women's Tempo) than the men's selection. They
seem to have a number of features that make them ideal
for trail running and hiking. A combination of types
of FriXion rubber compounds are used in the sole of
the shoe. According to the manufacturer, these sticky
compounds were developed for extra grip or traction on
rocky surfaces. For additional traction, the
aggressive-looking sole has lugs that measure
approximately .14 in (3.5mm). It also has a separated
or "decoupled heel" that the manufacturer designed to
aid in traction. There are also built-in flex areas on
the sole - there are actually two channels in the sole
that run laterally to presumably increase flexibility,
as the sole bent easily when I flexed it with my
hands. The midsole offers multiple layers to protect
the feet from bruising while running or hiking on
The Raja's upper is composed of an apricot-colored
AirMesh material and gray and black synthetic leather
with a dark gray FriXion rubber toe cap. The later has
almost a sand paper type feel to it. The lining of the
heel of the shoe is also made with a breathable mesh
material in a lighter apricot color. A simple thin
removable footbed is provided. The upper is fitted
with a snug fitting lacing harness on top of a
semi-gusseted (partially attached) tongue. The lacing
starts close to the toe box end and finishes at the
ankle. There are double eyelets at the top to
facilitate different lacing styles. There are also two
web loops, one on either side midway between the top
eyelets and the back top of the shoe. I assume these
could be used to draw the lace through to tighten the
heel area with a mechanical advantage. A single wider
loop is located at the back of each shoe, to make
putting on or removal of the shoe an easier process.
La Sportiva Rajas Trail Runners--Initial Impressions
After a quick initial inspection, I couldn't wait to
try the Rajas on my feet. I was already dressed for
trail running as the shoes were delivered minutes
before my departure to the trails that I frequent. I
was happy to find out that they fitted perfectly and
that there were no uncomfortable areas or construction
issues. The first thing I noticed when I put the Rajas
on my feet, is that the lacing system is much longer
than any trail runners that I have owned - it extended
from the toe to the ankle area. This allows much
greater lacing options for snugness in the forefront
of the foot. I have normal or medium-sized volume feet
that tend to run a bit towards the narrow side, but
not enough to wear narrow sizes. There are also double
eyelets at the top of the lacing system which allow me
to use my favorite lacing technique (looping the laces
through both eyelets on the same side and pulling the
opposite lace though the loop).
I also immediately noticed the FriXion compounds
sticky-like grip when I walked across my ceramic tile
floor. I looked forward to testing this out on rocky
and wet trails.
The Rajas come in European sizes with US equivalents.
As I normally wear an in-between or half size that is
often not available by many manufacturers - Women's
10.5 US (42.5 EU), it was a true bonus that the Rajas
came in the exact size that I needed. I decided that I
would inspect the shoes further before wearing at this
point, so I departed for the trails.
The next morning, I had some errands to do in town. I
donned the Rajas as I felt this would give me a quick
clue to their overall comfort. They easily passed the
test, so I planned an afternoon trail run. I usually
have little to no trouble with initial comfort of
trail runners as I have no feet problems, so I was
anxious to begin my first real trail test with them. I
headed over to the steep, hilly, rocky and now slick
leaf-covered trails a few miles from my home.
My initial trail run with the Rajas consisted of a
five mile (8 kilometers) trail run. It has rained a
lot recently but the trails were now mostly covered in
a heavy layer of dry leaves with some wetness
underneath. The trail is very rocky single-track
trail, there are a lot of hidden hazards underneath
the covered trail so I cautiously proceeded. I knew
the worst part of the trail for me is the last mile
and a half where several steep switchbacks are
located. There is a very rutted groove down the
switchbacks which has become partially filled with
acorn-scree. The oak trees have dropped their acorns
and running on them is much like running on marbles. I
was amazed at how well the Rajas performed, my grip
held firm and I was completely comfortable. I had no
slippage during descents inside the shoe. The traction
I experienced with the sole of the shoes was amazing.
With such an impressive first outing, I decided to try
hiking in them the next day. I headed out for an eight
mile (13 kilometers) trail hike complete with a
lightly loaded 15 lb (6.80 kg) backpack. Trail
conditions varied with wet mucky areas covered with a
thick layer of leaves, loose rock sections, rock
escarpment and moderate terrain. With the added weight
on my back, the Rajas were just as comfortable. I wore
a very light pair of socks and I experienced no
pressure spots, plus I didn't need to make any
adjustments to the lacing system. I did a slip and
fell once, but that was mostly due to the fact that I
caught a root with the runners, that I didn't see
under the layer of leaves - no fault of the Rajas.
Right now, I am very happy with the superior
performance that I have experienced with the Rajas so
far. I will continue to test them under a variety of
conditions for both trail running, light backpacking
and later trail snowshoe running as winter arrives in
the very near future here in these northern climes.
La Sportiva Rajas Trail Runners--Test Plan
During the next few months, I will extensively test
the Rajas utilizing them both as a trail runners and
as hiking shoes. Most of my trail running is done
locally on an expansive system of hilly, rocky, rooty
and steep terrain. These are trails that
circumnavigate the sides and back of a local downhill
ski facility. They are essentially narrow single track
bike trails through heavy forest cover. There are
steep switchbacks with loose scree. Fallen autumn
leaves and wet conditions make trail running more
difficult. As fall turns in to winter, I will continue
to run in the La Sportiva Rajas with the addition of
running snowshoes when the snow depth exceeds 8 in (20
I will also be doing extensive day hiking and
backpacking during this time period. As conditions
permit, the Rajas will be used in a variety of
scenarios including several backpack trips. These day
hiking and backpack trips are mostly to the vast state
and federal forests in the state of Michigan. The
testing conditions will be at low elevation or
altitude 600 ft (183 m) to 2000 ft (610 m), with
mostly cold conditions and mid range humidity (50-90
percent). The amount of time in the field will far
surpass the minimum requirements for this test.
Rampant temperature changes and much precipitation is
expected during the four month testing period. Testing
location temperatures will range from the average low
in January of 3 F (-16C) to the average high of 37 F
(3 C) in November. These are only averages, I have
been on several trips where the temperatures have
dipped much lower. Average precipitation for this time
period is approximately 13 in (33 cm).
I will address the following concerns and more:
Will the trail runners be comfortable and supportive
at the same time?
Will I be able to use thin socks (my preference) with
the Rajas even in the winter?
Will the Rajas be fairly consistent size-wise with
Will the runners stay comfortable after a lot of use?
Will there be any pressure spots that would develop in
Will they be fairly comfortable even when they are
Will there be adequate room in the toe box?
Will the forefoot area have an adequately snug feel?
Will the lacing system be easily adjusted?
Will knots stay tied easily?
Will I want to wear the runners long term after the
testing period because I liked them so much?
Will the runners have a break-in period or will they
be comfortable from the first outing forward?
Will the Rajas support my feet adequately?
Will the thin footbed be comfortable enough so that I
won't have to replace it with another kind? (I always
just use the thin footbeds that come with shoes.)
Will the design of the shoe facilitate easy movement
through rocky areas?
Will the toe area be sufficiently protected when
jamming between rocks or plowing dead on in to a rock?
Will there be any rough edges on the toe box and the
sides of the runners to catch on rocks or roots?
Will the runners flex properly and not be too stiff?
Will there be adequate shock protection from
running/hiking on rocky surfaces?
Will the shock absorption decrease with colder
temperatures? (this is often a problem when certain
materials that are used become rigid).
Will the thin footbeds provide enough internal shock
Will the Rajas take repeated episodes of getting wet?
Will they dry quickly so that they are ready for the
Will the uppers withstand normal rough conditions or
will the AirMesh uppers disintegrate easily?
Will the runners hold up longer than most other brands
and styles that I have used?
Will the stitching on the shoes fray or remain intact
with repeated trail use?
Will the advanced mid sole design of multiple layers
endure more than a few months of hard use?
Will the FriXion sole help maintain stability on rocky
Will the FriXion sole prevent common slippage
Will the sole work easily on wet leaves or snow?
Will the Trail Bite Heel help grab loose scree and
Will the sole adapt to a variety of surfaces?
Will all the materials used in the Rajas need any
Are there any specific cleaners needed or can ordinary
soap and water be used?
Will the runners have too much ventilation in colder
conditions? - Or will I have to wear heavier socks or
a vapor barrier?
Will sweat dissipate quickly to the outside air in
Will the shoes retain odors easily because they poorly
I will gladly address all these issues and any
additional pertinent issues, as I continue to test the
La Sportiva Rajas Trail Runners.
Thanks to La Sportiva and BGT for this great
opportunity during the next four months.
**There is a pleasure in the pathless woods - Lord Byron**
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