All in all, a very capable trail running shoe that’s most at home on steep, snowy or muddy ground. They’re best suited to winter use in the mountains, so won’t appeal to everyone, especially considering their premium price point. Plus, the addition of a zippered gaiter adds a little extra weight compared to the standard Cyklon. However, serious mountain runners will love the unbeatable traction and protection, as well as the gloriously secure BOA fit.
Water and snow proof
Superb grip on mud
Precise, customisable BOA fit
Spike adaptable lugs
Only suited to winter
Grip spikes sold separately
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La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX: first impressions
With a look and a name like something out of science fiction, La Sportiva’s Cyklon Cross GTX is a premium mountain running boot that’s packed with features that will appeal to serious winter runners. They’re the cold season version of La Sportiva’s Cyklon, which we at Advnture were thoroughly impressed with on test last year.
Looking like a cross between a racing car, a space boot and a wasp, the striking yellow and black Cyklon Cross GTXs that I tested aren’t subtle. It took me a moment to get my head around the high, integrated gaiter, the mostly hidden BOA fit system and the huge ‘La Sportiva’ text, before a closer inspection revealed the traits normally associated with a trail running shoe – which, despite appearances, I can confirm the Cyklons actually are, underneath it all.
They look heavier than they are, weighing in at just 335g (11.8 oz). This isn’t too shabby for a winter running shoe that boasts its own gaiter. It features a 7mm drop and is intended for mid to long distances in the hills and mountains. Once on, they’re really comfortable, fitting like a cycling bootie rather than a standard trail running shoe.
Like their Cyklon brethren, the Cyklon Cross features a BOA fit system, allowing the wearer to fine tune their fit using a dial that tightens the integrated laces. When it comes to taking the shoe off or adjusting the fit, you simply pop the dial out and everything loosens off. BOA’s technology is becoming more and more prevalent in technical adventure footwear, also featuring in Adidas’ TERREX Agravic Pro trail running shoes and one of the Ckylon Cross’ closest competitors, Scarpa’s Ribelle Run Kalibras.
With their stretchy, water-repellent gaiter and their GORE-TEX membrane, stopping water, hail, snow, sleet or any other form of precipitation is clearly high on La Sportiva’s agenda here. The integrated laces are also shielded from the outside world by a water-repellent YKK zipper. As well as keeping the drink out, the gaiter is also intended to stop mud and other trail debris from making acquaintances with your feet.
The upper is made from a scuff-resistant mesh with a microfibre all-round band for protection. It’s likely on a mountain run you’ll have moments where the fronts of your feet will be negotiating moves on rock, so there’s the added protection of a TPU cap for your toes.
Designed to absorb impacts and gives propulsion, there’s an EVA-injected midsole that also provides stability. Meanwhile, La Sportiva’s Mountain Running 4mm insole helps to wick sweat away, while providing comfort.
The outsole is designed for running on the kind of wet, muddy ground that’s so prevalent in the mountains come winter. It’s made from La Sportiva’s Frixion White compound, which gives a great level traction and is hard wearing too. The deep lugs are well spaced out, ideal for gripping mud. For icy conditions, you can add La Sportiva’s AT Grip spikes to the shoe’s compatible lugs.
It's often the case that a winter mountain adventure will start or end in the dark, with the light of your best headlamp bobbing away. La Sportiva have taken this into consideration, including reflective detailing on the gaiter and the fabric loop.
List price: $235.00 (US) / £190.00 (UK) / €262.90 (EU)
Weight (per shoe): 335g / 11.8 oz
Best for: winter trail running, mountain running and snowy ground when combined with La Sportiva’s AT Grip spikes (sold separately)
La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX: on the trails
I tested the Cyklons on early winter fell runs in the English Lake District and on my local – and crucially very muddy – trails in the South West.
This is the second pair of running shoes that I’ve tested with the BOA fit and I have mastered the art of getting them on, tightening up and going. I find it’s even quicker than Salomon’s Quicklace system, which can be a bit fiddly when you’re passing the laces through the tongue loop to keep everything tidy.
I found that the fit was reassuringly secure around the midfoot, not constrictive in the toe around and my heel felt pleasingly locked in. Regardless of the gradient, the Cyklon was one with my foot; I experienced no slippage and my toes weren’t jamming into the front of the shoe, as often happens with inferior footwear on long descents.
There’s no getting away from the fact that they’re a little heavier than most trail running shoes, just as winter hiking boots are heavier than their summer counterparts. However, the difference in experience is certainly not as stark. The Cyklons are actually supremely comfortable and I barely noticed the additional weight. As far as I’m concerned, this is a small price to pay for the protection they provide on wintry terrain.
The traction is magnificent, particularly on muddy ground, which gave me lots of confidence when careering downhill. The lugs are spaced so that debris is shed rather than retained and they also grip rock well. Unlike on a pair of approach shoes, there’s no flat areas on the sole for edging and smearing during high end scrambles, though the Cyklons perform reasonably well on lower graded rocky terrain.
I found that the EVA-injected midsole cushioned the ride nicely, while giving just enough trail feel to appreciate what was under my feet. When tackling mountainous terrain for hours on end, I’m not after something with too much trail feel, as it can end up being uncomfortable. For me, the Cyklons gave a decent balance between propulsion, comfort and responsiveness.
I expected the Cyklons to run hot on my local trails but found that my feet were pretty temperate throughout. Considering the additional gaiter layer, they’re obviously not the most breathable pair around but my feet have actually been much warmer in many standard trail running shoes.
Although I’ve only been wearing them for a matter of months, I’m already impressed with how robust the Cyklons are. At one point on one of my fell runs, I hopped over a wooden gate and a sharp nail caught against the gaiter fabric. I feared the worst, sure that there’d be a gaping hole. I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything was somehow intact. This hints at a durable operator, which is a good thing too, as winter can be cruel to trail running shoes.
Alex is a qualified Mountain Leader, adventure writer and content creator with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently the President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a Winter Mountain Leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com
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