Shoe Revisited: Lotto Raptor Ultra IV (Clay)
Over this past winter I got to try out the Lotto Raptor Ultra IV Speed. It was the first time I ever played in a Lotto shoe, and I found it to be a hidden gem. However, that anonymity might not be the case anymore, as the shoe seems to be growing in popularity. According to the company, 12 of the Top 100 on the ATP tour wear the Raptor.
I put the standard model through its paces on a balding, indoor clay court, but it’s actually better-suited to a hard surface. I haven’t used it much this summer since most of my tennis is played outside on thicker dirt. So I wanted to try out the clay-court specific herringbone tread to see if I liked that Raptor just as much on baked-out, slippery clay.
When I put the shoe on, I found a snug, secure fit. It’s one of those shoes you don’t need to lace that tightly to feel secure in. It actually took a little bit of effort to get the shoe on my foot, which I don’t mind; it gives the impression of strong materials that will support the most aggressive movements. However, my foot is pretty standard width and I do wonder whether players with wide feet might find the overall fit too tight a squeeze. I particularly liked the double-lacing loop on the tongue, which keeps it better positioned over the center of the foot. Sometimes I find the single loop results in a crooked tongue that slides to the side and leaves the top of my foot less protected. No problems here.
The shoe felt substantial on my foot, without being cumbersome. My size 12 weighed in at 16.5 oz., which is lighter than heavyweights like the Adidas Barricade 8+ I just tried (17.2 oz), but heftier than lightweights like the Asics Gel Solution Speed 2 (14.1 oz.). And just like the weight falls between the shoes, I found the Raptor to be a much lower ride than a high-heeled shoe like the Barricade, but not quite as dug in as a true lightweight shoe. Still, it was a worthy compromise, as I felt the Raptor played lighter than the scale would indicate and offered much more security than an outright speed shoe.
From a movement standpoint I thought the shoe sprung nicely off the court and grabbed the surface well. I happen to play at a club with the unfortunate reputation of having poorly maintained clay courts. By the end of a sunny day, they can be horribly chopped up and in desperate need of a drink. Still, I didn’t suffer any noticeable slippage on changes of direction, and my slides into shots were nicely controlled. The secure fit in forefoot also prevents any excessive toe jamming.
Shock absorbing on impact was impressive, even if the cushioning was a tad bit firm. I happen to like that kind of response, but it could be lacking for players who want a softer, cushier ride. The insole is rather thin, and substituting it with a thicker replacement could solve that problem. After only a handful of hours on the court, I can’t give an accurate assessment of long-term playability (will the upper maintain its integrity, or go soft too quickly?) and overall durability (will toe-draggers burn a hole after a few tournaments?) but it’s reassuring that the outsole comes with a six-month guarantee.
The only knock I had with the Raptor was a small case of hot foot. The upper is rather busy with lots of paneling and other features, and this, coupled with the snug fit, could be hurting the shoe’s breathability. After several hours of play my feet were a little more overheated than I’d like. It’s by no means a deal-breaker, but I wouldn’t mind seeing better ventilation in the next generation.
And I will certainly be keeping my eye out for it, because the Raptor has gone from unknown to one of my favorite models on the market—it’s hard to beat its combination of manageable weight, dependable support, and court feel. If you haven’t discovered them yet, and you like close-fitting athletic shoes, don’t go much longer before trying the Raptor.
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