If you put the Raptor side-by-side with La Sportiva’s Wildcat, you’ll see a lot of similarities. They’re built on the same framework – the outsole looks the same, same support system, same shaped upper. But there are some noticeable differences that will make all the difference to trail runners. One is the cushioning. If you thought the Wildcat was plush, (maybe too plush?) the raptor changes things by taking out the 2.4mm layer of LaSpEVA. Without the cush, the shoe has a low-to-the-ground, more aggressive feel to it. It also seemed like the heel-to-forefoot ratio changed, but that could be my imagination. The firm feeling compares favorably to the Crosslite, which is a super firm racing shoe.
The other difference in the Raptor is the TPU lacing harness. If the Wildcat felt a little wide in the midfoot, the Raptor snugs up nicely, “wrapping” your foot through the mid. This should add a bit more of that huggy feeling that’s apparent in the Crosslite and the Fireblade. Another cool thing is the type of rubber used on the outsole. It’s a stickier compound so it will work great on a course like, oh, let’s say the Ohlone 50K or even the Western States 100 Miler. Think slippery, rocky downhills that you can now cruise down with total confidence. Like the Wildcat, the Raptor has nice support from the heel cup through the arch and, as I’ve seen with all Sportiva trail shoes, the ankle collar is nicely done, causing no rubbing, slipping or ankle bruising.
Finally, the Raptor just looks cool. It’s clearly a La Sportiva shoe with its black and yellow, the logo blazing across the side. I’d put it right in between the Crosslite and Wildcat in its performance and cushioning ratings.