Gear Review

3 5

Great Design - poor craft

A well designed boot--blending hiking, approaching and climbing into one very versatile shoe. My intent is using a single boot for hiking, approaching and summiting California 14ers, light and fast...

After some preliminary mall-crawling I decided to test them on a traverse of Castle peak which would include some steep loose trail, 3rd & 4th class scrambling and lower 5th class climbing with about 10 miles of hiking.

First I realized the top speed lace eyelet was placed too high on the boot, annoyingly allowing the laces to slip up off the tongue and dig into the front of my leg. I was able to solve this by re lacing the upper going from the third eyelet to the top speed eyelet then crossing back down to the second eyelet loop for the knot. This allowed the upper to stay snug but moved the bow down the tongue so it wouldn't slip off. Hiking was comfortable with nice support--even if laced loosely, the last fits a foot really well (I have a medium to wide foot with a lower volume instep and wear a 43.5). When the trail turned steep (35-40°) and loose with small rocks and sand, after snugging up the laces, I was impressed with the traction of the Vibram Idro grip sole--no slipping whatsoever! What soon became apparent however, was the very hard and ill formed heel cup, (my right boot heel cup had an especially hard top edge inside the shoe). After inspection it seems the 'stack' between the grey mesh, the black band and the heel cup creates a hard edge which when laced and flexed forward pulls that hard edge (with every step) into the back of the heel - poor craft with NO padding! After the steeps and climbing traverses, for the hike out, I relieved the pressure and now pain on my heels by re lacing the boot into a low top, not using the top three eyelets, (now with every flex forward it didn't bring the heel cup with it) but, left the top of the boot open easily catching debris :( . For the more technical 4th and 5th class sections I was again impressed with the boot, confidently edging on pebbles and 1/2" edges, smearing on just about anything and along with toe down cracks and heel toe cams they felt very secure with just the right amount of stability and feeling. Unfortunately another example of poor craft became apparent, this time involving the lowest eyelets over the big toe. Again a sloppy seaming of the toe rand with the grey mesh and the tongue created a proud hard seam RIGHT under the lowest eyelet so when you snug the laces for climbing it pulls that seam right into the big toenail. The other lowest eyelet has the same combo of seams but is totally smooth creating no problem... Ok so I got around this as well by again re lacing this time starting one eyelet up, leaving the lowest free therefore not pulling the offending seam into my toes, by the time I hiked out I barely had them tied to my feet...

To summarize, it was a love/hate relationship. The design, fit and Vibram sole really give this boot a winning multi use ability, but the poor craft in executing the design sharply diminished its potential (surprising from La Sportiva).

Great Design - poor craft
Responded on

I concur with this user's review, I had a similar experience with my boots. Had the some love/hate relationship; when boulder hopping and scrambling over rocky terrain, I felt like spiderman, the grip was just incredible. I attribute this to the Vibram but also to the tread design. Ankle support was superb in all directions of movement, including rotational. BUT the heel cup was just too painful, I don't know why they didn't add padding here. On very steep ascents, I found myself climbing backwards because the pain was too great. And this was still present after about 20+ hours of break-in. I would probably hang onto these, hoping I just got used to the heel issue, because there is so much to love about them, but when the gore-tex membrane began failing in small puddles during my last hike, it pushed me over the, no pun intended...and I am now (reluctantly) returning them to try perhaps a different La Sportiva model. In conclusion, these are a marvel of technology and design where they excel, but unfortunately, the weaknesses outweighed the strengths for me.