When the La Sportiva Mutant's initially turned up my mountaineer head struggled with the fabric when I got my hands on them. The colourful facade is layered over a skin of mesh! Once out of my hands and on to my feet the mesh wrapped around my feet and everything made sense.
When the laces lock down across the bridge of the foot there is an immediate security. The shoe surrounds the heel and mid-section of the foot securing it in place. The lace loops allow this along with the stretchy cover for the tie point. The overlapping tongue sits nicely and is comfortable under the restriction of the laces. The mixture of the fabric lace loops and the plastic loops allow the laces to be slip when tightening. The last 2 loops on the outside of each shoe bring the overlapping tongue together giving further foot security.
This is evident from first putting it on until prying your foot from the Mutants grasp. I wore them for 9 hours on the first day of the OMM, there was no adjustment or retightening needed. This has been the case for every occasion I have used them.
Predominantly I have used them to run in, however there has been occasion where I have used them for hiking, crag approaches and wild camping.
Not long after I received them I went to the lakes and used them as an approach shoe up on to the crags behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll, Great Langdale. Anyone who knows the area knows it can be quite rocky, like any climbing crag. I’m not sure at what stage on the approach on my first day of climbing it was but I caught the toe of the left Mutant and it nicked the rubber and the fabric. Not a massive issue, it’s not as if water can’t get in the rest of the upper. It hasn’t gotten worst either.
I have narrow feet and as I said the laces lock it over my foot really well. The toe box is open and has enough space for my toes to splay and my foot to spread on uneven terrain. With the rest of the foot secured in there is no movement causing blisters/skin issues. What I did find though was extended road running caused the balls of my feet to become warm. I have avoided using them for road routes over 3 miles but short blasts connecting trails is not enough to be concerned about.
The sole unit is very grippy on mud and soft terrain with its studded set up. It chews up trails and I found them highly proficient on grassy areas too. The rubber compound is quite stiff, on a very damp day in the Kyle of Lochalsh whilst standing on slopping wet piece of rock my feet slipped out from under me. Fortunately no harm done but I found the limit of their grip. On dry rock there has been no problem in regards to grip. The sole unit will take spikes, I don’t think I will need them though.
The mid sole has varied points of stiffness, more so underneath the ball of the foot. The remainder especially the heel has a softer cushioning for impact. I only know this as I have poked and prodded the sole unit. In real life use there has been no feeling of discomfort at any point through the foot strike.
Normally I am a size 11, for these I had to size up a full size.
I have given them a varied test but for their core use, and not being a runner per se, the Mutants have performed outstandingly. My personnal requirement was ashoe to do the OMM in, I din't even attenmpt to look for another shoe after putting them on and they have seen me right through training and more than comfartably through the event itself. They clutched my feet and gave me confidence in just about every foot fall. Long use isn’t a problem for the fit or the lace system. The mesh shelter for the tie point protects the loops from becoming snagged or loosening off. Even through the Galloway mud their colour pushes through.