La Sportiva Mutant

2015 Gear of the Year Winner

La Sportiva's Mutant excels on technical trails but remains protective. (Michael Karsh)

OK, so the Mutant ($130) is a narrow-footed-runner’s shoe with little time for funky foot shapes. But to those who fit into this toothy slipper, it is a thing of beauty.

The most secure-fitting, responsive shoe in our test, the Mutant felt like a cross between a racer and a big-mountain rambler, cruising nimbly over sharktooth rocks and blasting through flats and turns. As one tester put it, “It’s low enough to excel on technical trails but not so minimal that it sacrifices protection.”

We love the gasket-like heel collar and the integrated gaiter and wrap tongue, which keep debris out. The lacing system takes a few moments to dial, but the locked-in feel is superb. 11.3 oz; 10 mm drop; sportiva.com

Speed: 5 
Protection: 4.5

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