A tougher hiking shoe good for muddier, looser trails…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $120
A tougher hiking shoe good for muddier, looser trails and heavier packs. I found it best for light (not ultralight) backpacking.
- Upper is durable
- Good traction
- Strong support
- Bottom tread came undone (replaced under warranty)
- Heavier and less breathable than trail runners
Used for one summer season so far. The shoe fit well out of the box. I wear size ~10.5 normally and a 44.5 was perfect. The heel took some time to break in but after some light use was not a problem.
It's a very supportive and strong shoe that I found perfect for rocky terrain and light backpacking, where I was willing to trade away from weight and breathability for more support and ruggedness. It is Gore-tex lined and I haven't had any trouble with water infiltration, but I am sure that in a rainstorm water would leak into the ankle as debris finds its way in easily.
It is breathable enough for dryer Colorado conditions and occasional water crossings, but I would not recommend it for humid or wet weather; if you have sweaty feet you should choose something with more ventilation. I used it mostly for 14ers and I found it excellent for handling rough climbs or talus fields. The grip is excellent on rock and the shoe is stable for tough terrain.
Part of the tread in the front part of the heel came apart in my shoes. I believe the tread is too projecting and gets caught on talus then ripped off. La Sportiva replaced the shoe without issue when I sent them an email, but I recommend reinforcing this area with freesole or something similar.
The picture below shows the new shoes after La Sportiva replaced them. I've put freesole in some high-use areas and on the underside where my last pair ripped up.
A well-made walking shoe that provides sufficient…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $160 at MEC in Canada
A well-made walking shoe that provides sufficient support for hiking and for people who pronate. Goretex liner guarantees waterproof. Flat footbed takes orthotics and the shoe has a sufficiently deep footbed that (with stock insole removed) that there's lots of room for the orthotic.
- Strong support
- Stiff, supportive Vibram sole
- Waterproofing rocks
- This year's model fits different, larger.
- This year the heel does not "lock in" easily
- Quality last year dropped from two years ago; this year?
- Hot (waterproof, remember?) and sole slippery when wet
A well-made walking shoe with a stiff Vibram sole that provides sufficient support for hiking with a small pack (for a major pack, stick to a boot) and great torsional support for those who pronate. And is waterproof to boot.
Flat footbed takes orthotics and the shoe has a sufficiently deep footbed (with stock insole removed) to accommodate orthotics (most shoes don't). Moved to this when Garmont's quality took a nose-dive; I've since bought a pair of these and the boot (same model) once a year (three years now). They appear to last only that long, unfortunately.
Speaking of quality, it appears each year's model uses a nubuck leather in the forefoot that looks identical to last year's but seems to wear faster. I suspect cheaper quality, possibly thinner. Still have previous pairs to compare. Stop doing this! I ditched Garmont because they kept finding ways to make the product cheaper.
The rubber toe cap on the last two year's models started to lift and peel back at the edges behind the toe, and last year's model separated along the inside edge of the shoe just past the instep, where the upper meets the sole.
The sole is good: Vibram has good grip on soil, but does slip easily on wet rock. Slippery on cold surfaces, especially ice, but they're not sold for winter wear. Not the sticky (but soft) sole of La Sportiva's approach shoes, but on concrete in town they wear really well. I suspect the sole compound was optimized for this.
Wide forefoot and toebox — just what I want for hiking, especially given that it's a bit warm. Narrow heel fit, and design used to really lock down the heel. This year's model, however, appears to fit differently — larger than last year's model same size - and I find it's hard to get the heel locked down. I have to really cinch down the laces but the heel still lifts, which may cause blisters this year.
Comfortable, but not especially breathable: in mid-summer this shoe is hot. It is waterproof: no more wet feet when you get out of the tent into morning dew or walk through rain-soaked grass and bush. I wear with nylon/poly hiking socks & liner socks: between that and the room in the toebox, I've never had a blister and find they're not too hot til you get up to 90 degrees F.
So: a good supportive shoe for spring/fall hikes and summer hikes if it isn't too hot, but the change in fit makes me wonder whether La Sportiva is following other manufacturers that have outsourced manufacturing to Asia. No one outsources for quality! Too many brands are no longer interested in actually making quality shoes. They want to trade on past reputation and sell shoes made by contract manufacturers who know the purchasing agent will move the contract next year for a few bucks less.
And if the contract manufacturer can make something acceptable to purchasing (who appear at most brand companies to care only about cost) but somehow skimp on quality a bit they'll make more. Worst case: the brand suffers, but who knows the name of the actual manufacturer? They don't wear it. And they know they may lose the account next year anyhow if someone else offers to make it for a buck less. The range and overall quality of La Sportiva's line suggests they're the exception: either still making their own product or at least managing quality aggressively.
I keep buying these, but hope La Sportiva will be really vigilant in monitoring quality. Last year's model was near perfect; this year's seems to fit differently, suggesting a new manufacturing plant, but that's only a guess. If there was a change, please revert to last year's model for future design and fit.