La Sportiva’s Jackal Brings the Full Package for Ultras

Killer traction. Comfy cushioning. More toe box real estate.

The RW Takeaway: Fairly lightweight and fiercely durable, the Jackal offers un-killable comfort and cushioning for big efforts on the trail.

  • An EVA foam midsole with softer PU inserts feels responsive without tacking on extra weight
  • Rock plate, toe bumper, and sturdy TPU overlays provide rugged trail protection
  • Two-rubber outsole with multidirectional 3mm lugs grips exceptionally well across varied terrains, save very deep mud

Price: $229.95
297g (M), 249g(W)



The rugged Italian heritage of Calzoleria Sportiva—the Sports Shoemaker—spans nearly a century, reaching back to the days founder Narciso Delladio first cobbled shoes for farmers and lumberjacks in the Fiemme Valley. A far cry from those wooden leather boots that gave the company its start, the Jackal remains true to its hardy origins as a mountain running shoe for braving ultra-distances. To keep the shoe comfy over big, rocky miles, the lacing attaches to the lateral mesh panels to allow the foot to breathe and expand more easily inside the shoe’s inner bootie. Underfoot, a pair of PU inserts help soften the firm EVA midsole and full-length rock plate, and staggered impact-braking lugs dig in “while bombing down hills, crossing streams, and navigating rocks and roots.” Despite the wider fit and roomier toe box compared to La Sportiva’s usual offerings, our testers noted that the Jackal does run about a full size short.

La Sportiva



  • Durable, highly cushioned midsole with rock plate
  • Excellent grip on wet and dry trails


  • Length runs short
  • Less suited for fast, technical trail running

Cushioned for the Long Haul

The Jackal doubles up on EVA foam in the midsole; the top layer sitting closer to the foot is a little more forgiving, while the second layer has a firmer ride to stabilize the rearfoot upon landing. On the outsole, you can see the shoe’s full-length rock plate between that bottom layer and the outmost rubber tread. Alone, that can be a recipe for a harsh ride after double-digit miles, so La Sportiva adds a pair of PU inserts—one at the heel and another at the forefoot. They bring extra softness and spring to the otherwise firm cushioning, but the even greater benefit is the additional shock-absorption. When those elements all came together on the run, our testers found that the shoe’s ride wasn’t especially fast or flexible, but didn’t feel overly stiff or cumbersome. The slight toe spring helps, too, letting the Jackal roll forward more easily with each stride.

“The Jackal is a bit more cushioned for the long days, but doesn’t mute feedback from the trail or impair the ride, which I’ve experienced with other cushioned shoes,” one tester said. “I won’t grab this shoe for fast days, but I’ll save it for slowing down and logging 10-plus miles at a time.”

Grip for Uphills, Control on Descents

At 3mm long, the Jackal’s outsole lugs comfortably make the transition from the trail to areas of harder packed dirt and stretches of fire roads. But, overall, those lugs beg to be taken out into mountains for lots of up and downhill trekking. Their rectangular shape, spilt into two opposing triangles, increases the surface area of the tread so there’s more contact with the ground to disperse impact. The staggered design also lets each lug bite into uphills like a tooth chomping into an apple, and brake like a car on the downhills so you don’t slide. (Hence, the name “impact braking” lugs.) Plus, the placement of two distinct rubbers ensures that the outsole stays grippy, without wearing down early. A stickier, soft rubber fills the centre of the forefoot and heel areas, while a harder, more durable rubber rims the edges.

Failsafes for Foot Swell

Our feet expand when we run, especially when we’re covering seriously long distances. Just ask our video producer Pat Heine, whose feet swelled so much during his 200-mile Tour des Géants race that he actually had to cut his feet out of his shoes. Of course, that’s an extreme case, but a too tight fit can still feel super uncomfortable. That’s why the Jackal builds in a few failsafes for swollen feet, like a wider fit and a very generous toe box. The lacing attaches to nylon mesh side panels that allow the upper to expand and contract with your foot. This builds in a little extra space without making the fit sloppy; an elastic gusseted tongue still keeps the foot wrapped securely inside the shoe. The only major issue one tester noticed was that the high lycra heel cuff could rub the Achilles tendon on steep downhills; wear your tall socks to prevent blisters.

Wear Tester Feedback

Jason P. | Tester since 2018
Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
“Traction and durability are the areas where the Jackal really shines. I ran these shoes pretty hard (the cushioning allows you to play day after day!) and not once did I slip. The balanced cushioning and snug heel fit, paired with a strong lacing system, helped the shoe feel as though it was an extension of my foot. The shoe’s overall length was a bit short, and I wouldn’t rank flexibility as its primary feature, either; it is not stiff, but doesn’t offer the same freedom of movement compared to the average pair of road running shoes. That said, the slight loss in flexibility was a willing trade for the increased durability and water resistance. Both the Kaptiva and the Jackal scored high in my experience—La Sportiva is doing something right.”


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