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La Sportiva Makalu

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: La Sportiva Makalu mountaineering boot

My playground resides 120KM west -- the Canadian Rockies. I spent the 3 months leading up to spring break searching for a boot. I visited every store that sold outdoor gear in Calgary and came up empty handed. My last resource was Banff National Park. This is not a place to buy gear if you are on a budget. Typically, costs in this resort town are 15-20% higher than the city. I paid $380.00 for the Makalu, $45.00 for gas on the first trip, then $45.00 again for the second trip because they put a size 10 in the box instead of an 11.

My first outing was on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Spent the summer hiking. I blessed my boots every time I laid them to rest at the end of the day. Knarly roots, rocks, and slick trails make up the rain forrest floor. These boots performed very well. They are extremely supportive in the ankle area therefore you may want to loosen the laces on long (2KM or more) uphill hikes and tighten going down. I never had to do this though.

Make sure you visit the LaSportiva web site and use the products they recommend for leather protection. I found wetting the boot and then applying the product works the best. This process of leather protection will darken the color of your boots slightly. The other way to apply the leather protectant is to apply directly from the bottle on dry leather surface. If you follow this method your boots will turn a very dark brown color. I have used both methods and have found they equally work well. I was fond of the tan color when I bought them though. I have stood in streams while filtering water and experienced no water penetration into the boots. Why was I buying Gore Tex boots?

After spending so much money I was fanatical about keeping my boots clean. I had a concern about the fuzzy leather surface of these boots. Other makers have a very smooth surface. At some sections of the trail mud coated the entire boots. I was certain I would not be able to remove it and that my boots would stain. I stood in a stream and the wet mud washed off. Boots looked brand new. I have removed dry mud in my shower with a little elbow grease and again, boots turn out looking like new. While I have spent well over $400.00 CDN for these boots, I have never had a moment of reservation.

Materials: Leather
Use: Backpacking/Mountaineering
Break-in Period: 3 weeks
Weight: n/a
Price Paid: $380 CDN

Version reviewed: 1997

I have the 1997 model of the Makalu and it is much improved over the 1996 model. The new double-density Vibram Clusaz outsole has much deeper welts than the Calgary sole, and it holds a crampon very well. Everything is basically bigger on the new model; the leather is thicker, the midsole is made of thicker polyurethane (Hydrel) than the old nylon midsole, and the shank is thicker. These changes combine to make the boot a lot stiffer than the 1996 model, further improving its crampon performance. They also replaced the calfskin lining with a Cambrelle one. The new midsole material requires no break-in period - unlike the Nylon version - only the uppers need it.

Initially I found that the roughout leather was soft, but after several moist outings and about three applications of Nikwax, they toughened up and became very water resistant.

Walking on flat ground is uncomfortable. After a while they develop a very small amount of flex, and there is some rocker built into the sole, but these are not trail boots. They are better on rough trails, and better yet off the trail when the stiffness and ankle support become more important. On snow they are absolutely delightful. They are also excellent running down scree.

The toe box is pretty small, and if I hadn't sized my boots for use with Thorlo's and liners, I'd be a little crunched. As it is, I can't replace the thin insoles with anything a little more cushy.

Another problem that my boots have is that the Vibram soles are very hard wearing, but it may be a little too hard. Small chunks of rubber have broken off a number of the lugs, and if the problem persists I will have to contact La Sportiva about it. Otherwise, I have no complaints.

Let me say again, these are not good backpacking boots. They're far too heavy, stiff, and warm for such duty. However, for light mountaineering they really come into their own. As long as the approach is not too dull, these boots excel in moderate conditions ( -15 ^C). Add supergaitors and VB socks, and you can even go beyond that.

Materials: Full-grain Silicon-impregnated Roughout Leather
Use: Light Mountaineering
Break-in Period: Minimal (Upper only)
Weight: 2.175 kg
Price Paid: $270 Cdn

I am planning to apply for a job at NOLS or Outward bound and have been told by several different sources that these are the boots that are used by most of the instructors and are one of the boots required for students for their trips. I have been shopping for boots for 2 months and theses are the best for what they are built for.

For some, they have a quirkie fit because they are a higher volume boot. From what I have read, heard and experienced they should fit: (With a thick sock and sock liner) Laced tight there should be room in the toes. They should not hit the front of the boot on a down hill slope. They should not slip more than a 1/4 of an inch in the heel. But, they are going to slip, until they get broken in. The reason is that your foot is going to flex therefore your heel is going to move some. The boots are like boards until they break in and they are going to flex very little if any at first. If you have to chose between a size go for the 1/2 size larger. You can also put "superfeet" insoles to take up volume and/or "5-6 irons" to do the same.

These are really good boots so don't give up hope if they don't fit perfect the first five minutes in the store. Lastly, these are not the only boots out there. If they just don't work for your foot get something else. I would suggest trying other brands at the same time anyway to compare fit. Good luck.

Materials: Heavy duty mountaineering
Use: Rough trail/snow w/heavy pack
Break-in Period: 50-75miles
Weight: 74 oz /pr.
Price Paid: $235 w/ 10% rebate at REI

Version reviewed: Ladies

My first La Sportiva boot was the regular hiking model similar to the Makalu. I wore them on two trips and liked them and than returned them for the crampon-accepting and slightly heavier duty Makalu Ladies. The men's boots seem to have too much interior volume for my feet and didn't fit as well as the ladies version. These boots were the only ones that straight out of the box felt incredibly comfortable.

The one major hike I did with them since I got the Makalu's I duct taped my heels and only got small blisters on the inside of my heels. Not a bad deal considering that I deserved worse for taking them straight out on a hike with zero break-in time before the hike. Considering, they were super on the hike and treated me well. I used them on a hike in the Rahwah Wilderness in CO were the trail gained about 2500' of elevation in 7 miles and was fairly rocky with quite a few stream crossings.

The other boots that I tried prior to the La Sportiva's were the green Montrails and however cool looking they were waaay too high volume for my feet and even a snug fit back to front gave me a sloppy side to side fit and blister-producing friction. The Makalu's are definitely a heavy-duty boot with the full steel shank and 3mm leather upper but I like a tough boot that will stand up to a beating and support my tired feet through the last mile. I did put waterproofing Nikwax on my boots that was provided to me in the box with the boots and it did turn my boots a darker brown but they still look cool. They are now impervious to water and dirt can be wiped off.

My friend has the men's version and he seems to like his boots as much as I like mine and both of us tried on a ton of boots before deciding to stick with the La Sportiva's. Their customer service seemed really helpful when I called and asked some questions about their boots before I bought them, haven't had to call yet with any problems.

I also put in a pair of Superfeet insoles and that helps out a lot in any boot. It gives you a more supported instep and hugs your heel better than a standard insole. Check them out, they are sold at most EMS and REI type stores.

Materials: 3mm leather
Use: rough trail, lots of steep ascents and decents
Break-in Period: still working them in
Weight: 4 lbs /pair
Price Paid: $240 at REI

Version reviewed: New

I've never owned a pair of boots that fit my feet this well. My feet are low volume, medium width with a smallish heel. Out of the box I had a hot spot on the outside of my right foot, but that went away as the boots broke in. Break in went pretty quickly, but about 15,000 vertical feet were covered during the 50 miles that it took me to break the boots in. Less vertical mileage will probably result in a longer break-in period. Getting the boots wet will definitely speed up the break-in process. I still have to tape my heels to avoid blisters -- that's a result of my soft skin and the relatively flex-free midsole.

Those remarks out of the way, the Makalu's are about as perfect a boot as I can imagine. The uppers support the ankle so well, it's amazing. The well padded collar lets you crank the laces as tight as you like without pinching or hot spots. I read it over and over here before I bought my Makulus "if they fit your feet, buy them." I firmly believe that. Traction with these boots is amazing. Spent a weekend walking on wet rocks and never had a problem. No traction on ice, but any boot needs crampons on ice. This boot is now my first pick for heavy backpacking, mountaineering and off-trail bushwhacking. They're overkill for hiking, but what do you expect, one boot to do everything?! ;-)

Materials: Leather
Use: mountaineering / heavy backpacking
Break-in Period: 25 - 50 miles
Weight: 4.5 lbs
Price Paid: $235

Like someone said here, one boot to get you from the car to the top of a snowy mountain.

The new crampon toe groove in the '97s is great -- I can't throw even an ice crampon, no matter how much I twist and thrash.

A bit fatiguing for extended front-pointing, due to the flex, but stiff enough (I weigh 150 lbs) for a short pitch of german or thin alpine rock. (I am not a very good rock climber, but didn't do much worse in the Makalus than in my rock shoes)

And they climb rock a lot better than approach shoes or my Sundowners!

I fit a lot of boots at the outdoor shop I work at, and the Makalu does seem to be a quirky fit, due to its very low volume. Either it fits exactly right or it fits like hell -- unlike a OS Moraine, there is not a lot of interior volume to accomodate a wide range of foot shapes.

Unlike just about anything heavier (Scarpa Manta, Assault, K3, Nepal Tops, Super Mtn Guides, etc), I can't imagine it will do very well on waterfall ice (I will find out as soon as it forms!) but you can comfortably *walk* miles in them.

Bottom line: a quirky fit, but a good general use boot for climbing mountains. There are better choices for backpacking or ice climbing.

Materials: leather
Use: general mountaineering, heavy backpacking
Break-in Period: still going (but getting better)
Weight: 74 oz/pair on a scale
Price Paid: $235

I have to admit that I fell in love with these boots once I put them to the test. I went on a NOLS wilderness course (30 days in the Wind River Range of Wyoming) this past summer and these boots survived to tell the tale. As far as support, I've never heard of a better boot at such a great price; they saved my ankles numerous times when traversing unstable boulder fields with a 75lb pack. Not to mention how well they did in the snow and river crossings. However, if you're planning a long trip where you might encounter snow and wet conditions, expect your feet to get wet. I waterproofed these boots up the ying yang, but that all wears off after a week or so of day-long travel in snow and wet conditions.

I'm a big guy (about 230lbs) so the break in period wasn't all that long, and I only got one blister, but these boots did remind me of ski boots when I first tried them on.

Despite the original stiffness, I have to highly reccomend these boots if you're looking for a heavy weight backpacking or moderate mountaineering boot; they'll withstand anything and it seems they are going to last forever.

Materials: leather
Use: heavy weight backpacking/light mountaineering
Break-in Period: only a few weeks for me
Weight: equivalent to a small dog
Price Paid: $235

These boots continue to amaze me!! Firstoff, break-in is best accomplished with a series of short climbs with much vertical. It took my achilles a while to get used to the extremely stiff shank and my boney heels suffered a few blisters as my soft skin wasn't accustomed to being pitted against a steel shank. After leather begins to become more forgiving the Makalu fits like a glove. Superfeet insoles compliment the boots very well.

The Makalu is the only boot that I could find that is hardcore enough to stand up to everything Montana can throw. From kicking steps up steep snowfields to downclimbing through waterfall formed crevasses to traversing talus fields these boots have never let me down. With a couple applications of Nikwax I have never gotten wet even the sligtest bit while walking through streams and wet snow crossings. The only wear these boots have shown so far is a bit bit of rubber missing on the outside and inside of the large lugs of the Vibram Cluzaz sole from edgeing on knarly rock. I can't wait to step into some crampons.

These boots are well worth the investment especially if you can get them on sale!! They'll last forever!!

Materials: one piece leather upper
Use: Heavy duty backpacking, light mountaineering
Break-in Period: ~50mi with lots of vertical gain
Weight: pushing 5lbs.
Price Paid: $230 (got mine on sale when they dropped gray model)

Extraordinary boot for their intended purpose, however, you must be very careful with the fit. These boots will not flex or move on the foot if fitted properly.

I suspect the problems referenced in the above reviews ie broken shanks or holes are attributable to an incorrectly sized boot (most likely too large), allowing flex in the foot to boot interface, which will workharden the shanks (it's about the only way you can break a full length steel shank). If you're getting blisters with these boots, you have at least a size too big.

The dual stage lacing system also takes some getting used too, and requires adjustment after the foot has swollen a bit, perhaps a mile or so into each day to maintain proper fit.

I would recommend these for any alpine activity or for heavy load bushwhacks. They simply are not flexible enough for average long distance trail hikes with light to mid weight packs. That said, I won't leave home without mine, absolute bulletproof support and stability.

Use: Long distance off trail hikes w/ 50+lb packs
Price Paid: $255

I had a pair of Solomons that didn't stand up to two years of climbing thru Montana talus fields. The soles held up fine but the leather uppers wore thru on the outer sides, so I decided it was time to upgrade to a boot w/thicker leather. My makalus are a well made boot but I think that they are going to break me in before the damn boots are broken in. I still get blisters on my heels (I must admit that my heels have always been blister prone) and I get foot sore on the return trip from any day hike (5-16 miles).

That said, I believe these boots will last me a long time. I live in Montana & try to go for summits when I hike. (mostly in the Bitterroots). My first trip in the boots was a scramble up Trapper Peak ( 10,000+) and the boots performed great on the snow feilds & talus slopes & wet boulders. We were bushwacking up to the heavenly twins on a subsequent hike and got stuck in some impenetrable undergrowth & blow down, our only option was a 2 mile hike down thru the creek to get back to the main trail. The boots held up beautifully even though I don't believe the manufacturer intended them to be used that way.

One last note: I've tried moleskin, ducttape, sock liners but still my heels are chewed up after 5 or 6 miles. The fit

was correct in the store & my heel is in tight with the great lacing system but still damn blisters!!! Oh yea, one other thing: Expect to initially feel a little clumbsy in these boots if you are used to hiking in lighter backpacking hiking boots these boots are heavy & the sole is very stiff but I guess that is the price u pay for support &


Materials: leather
Use: Light Mountaineering
Break-in Period: 3 months & still going
Weight: 4 1/2 lbs or so
Price Paid: $235

Reviews you read on the Makalu are either love or hate affairs. I love my Makalus. Basically La Sportiva uses lasts that fit my foot (which is long narrow and 'low volume' boot speak for flat feet I think!!). I took my time getting the right size and tried on three pairs from a 46.5 to a 47.5 before selecting a pair of 47's. I chucked out the supplied insoles and use a pair of sorbothane insoles which seem to do the job. A bit of wall kicking was in order (simulating front pointing with crampons and decending downhill) to see if my toes hit the end of the boot.

A weekend of tenative walking around the house and they felt fine. The lacing locks work really well and the boots are well made and lovingly crafted. Way better than my Garmont boots which these have now replaced. Their first outing in the mountains was the Tongariro Crossing a 17km hike over an alpine trail in the Mountains of New Zealand's North Island. No blisters and comfort straight from the box.

Subsequent forays have been equally impressive. They kick steps in hard snow with ease hike up or down hill with superb sure footedness and take my Charlet S12 newmatic crampons with ease. Can there be a finer boot for general mountaineering?

At some point I'm going to have to reproof them but not for a while yet. Combined with a decent gaiter they have kept my feet toasty warm and dry as a bone in: snow, bogs and stream and river crossings. A very, very good boot. You just need the feet to fit them. Hopefully La Sportiva never stops making them.

Materials: leather
Use: Alpine trails general mountaineering
Break-in Period: none
Price Paid: 450 NZD

Best boots I have ever owned. Going on 4 years and their still going strong. I use these boots on a daily basis as well as rough hiking trails in the Tetons. Break in period is a little rough but once you get over that you will not be disappointed.

These boots are True to their size, meaning I wear a size 9 in running shoes and the same goes with these which would be a 42 euro. I will definitely be buying another pair of these boots in the future.

Use: Rough Trails, Heavy Packs
Break-in Period: 1 to 2 Weeks
Weight: 2.16 lbs

Others have said that this boot takes a long time to break in, and I would disagree. I believe that you either have the foot for this boot, or you don't, plain and simple. I happen to have a very crappy foot for fitting most boots: long, narrow and low volume (low instep). But, it seems that this is precisely the foot type that fits perfectly with the Makalu! These boots fit me right away, with no break in required (by this, I mean that there was no period of suffering through painful blisters in order to get them to mold to my foot), only a modest amount of wear before trail use should suffice... FOR THE RIGHT FOOT TYPE.

Believe me, I've had horrible boot fittings before (see reviews for the Merrel Grand Traverse M2... absolutely horrible boot that was more expensive than the Italian made Makalu), and it sucks if the boot doesn't fit.

My recommendation: go to REI and try on the Montrail Morraine and the La Sportiva Makalu... these have very different fits... one will fit better than the other... you'll know which kind of foot you have by your decision in this experiment.

Also, be sure to get an after market footbed. Most mountaineering shoe companies are expecting you to pick up one of these, so they don't bother with making their standard one very good. The green Superfeet seems to be the insert of choice for most. Consult a knowledgable footwear specialist and ask them about this.

Materials: Leather
Break-in Period: Very Little
Weight: 4+ lbs
Price Paid: $165 @ REI

Forgive me if I sound like I work for LaSportiva but these are the best boots on the planet. I bought them mail order, wore them in the house and they felt fine.

However, they turned out to be too small once I began downhill clods with a full pack. I still love them even though I can't wear them. (If I can sell them, I would instantly buy another pair).

They are fully waterproof, rubber randed, and accept step-in crampons.

Materials: Silicone Impregnated Leather
Use: Heavy duty backpacking/Lightweight moutaineering
Break-in Period: ??? never got that far (boots too small)
Weight: ~ 2# per pair
Price Paid: $230

I bought the boots in 2000, so it is the older type of these tough moonwalkers. No toe protector, and it is with vibram outsole not with the MPE.

I have been using this in every second weekend for daytrips, and one or two times a year for 1-2 weeks long trips.

The breaking time is very very long, I think I needed around 1 month of daily walking in it before I allowed myself to use it an expedition. For me the insoles are very hard, I replaced them with a GEL type of insole, it serves well.

It is brutally waterproof, I mean the gore-tex and syntethic, half-leather solutions after a while will allow water in. I just always bring a newspaper with myself what I put in during the evening, I cure the boots with nickwax, if it is snow and muddy wet terrain I use pig or seal grease. Once I used a kind of wax, from this time my boots are discoloured and the metal parts, shoelace holes became greenish.

The lace system is not the best, takes time to lace up.
All in all, I always use double socks, even during the summer and I have never ever had any blisters. I have better boots than this, but nothing is tougher and more durable. This one is undestroyable.

If your aim is more vertical than horizontal I can give five stars, but as I used it everywhere, I just give 4.

Materials: Full- Leather
Use: 10years of everything
Break-in Period: 1 month
Weight: 2800gramm/pair
Price Paid: 130 Euros

The Makalu is a wonderfull boot. The sole is to stiff for your general day hike, For extended trips and off trail options, the makalu performs well. I have a size 11 1/2 foot that has a skinny heel, with a low volume instep. The Makalu is the only boot in this type of backpacking that fits well. I tried the Salomons super mountain nine, good boot, but you need a high volume foot.

Materials: Leather
Use: Off trail/Heavy Pack
Break-in Period: 50 miles
Weight: 5lbs
Price Paid: $229

These boots are great for rough and steep trails with a heavy pack or for off trail use. They also perform extremely well on moderate climbs. If you are in a very wet area be advised that without gore-tex, they will only keep you dry as long as you use a good treatment on them. (I use Biwell and it works ok until too many stream crossings wear it down).

Materials: leather
Use: hevy duty backpacking, light mountaineering
Break-in Period: 60-100 mi.
Weight: 4#/pair
Price Paid: $230

I wish to state for the record so that there is no confusion about this - La Sportiva has the worst customer service of any outdoor company I have ever dealt with.

I purchased a pair of Makalu's because they looked great and felt good upon fitting. After one year I went through 3 !!! pairs because the shank kept breaking in the right boot. You can tell when you have broken a shank by the popping sound as you walk. I went through a year of hell with La Sportiva trying to replace them.

The first time my local outfitter ate the cost and replaced them. The second time I had to mail them in to La Sportiva at my own cost, had to fight their beauracracy after which at the end of a month they sent my original pair of boots back and declined to replace them.

The third time I just found an outfitter who exchanged them for One Sport Morraines.

I will never deal with La Sportiva again.

If you are interested in buying a serious pair of boots, I recommend Asolo. They have excellent customer service and the boots they make are the best in the business.

Materials: leather nubuck with rubber rand
Use: rough trail with heavy pack
Break-in Period: 2-3 weeks
Price Paid: around $200

I purchased these boot around Christmastime and couldn't wait to use them. The worked wonderfully in the snow. I keep them water proofed with Nikwax aqueous solution. They kept my feet warm as long as I kept moving. The use of gaiters will make them even more unstoppable in the snow.

I've also used them in many off trail excursions. The high ankle support and rigid sole allows you to go anywhere without fear of twisting an ankle or feeling the bite of a bad step.

The biggest test for my boots so far have been 320 miles on the Colorado Trail. My feet were noticibly worn during the begining of the trip but I attribute that to the nature of the everyday hiking. Even after 320 miles the only wear on the boots is a small amount of rubber worn off of the sole under the toe from pushing off.

Overall, a fantastic boot if you have the money. It will last you forever. I can't wait to try them on the snow and ice some more this winter.

Materials: leather
Use: distance backpacking, rough trail, kicking down doors
Break-in Period: 50 miles
Price Paid: $235 US

I bought these boots about 2 years ago and haven't had a winter season since. These boots have to be the most terrible thing I have ever worn. I suspect it may be my weird foot shape as some people seem to love them, however I have heard others who bought a pair complain that they just couldn't get on with them.

I broke them in (or rather they broke me in) over a period of a year and a half and they never became comfortable. I tried volume adjusters, different footbeds, had them cooked at the local mountaineering shop and the heels narrowed, all to no avail.

I just purchased a pair of Scarpa Mantas which seem comfortable for now, but time will tell.

If you're looking for a new pair of boots I recomend you look at getting your Makalus a little small as part of the problem I had was the increased volume in the boot once the internal padding was tramped into submission.

Materials: leather
Use: Scotish winter scrambles
Break-in Period: for ever....
Weight: unknown
Price Paid: £120

The Makalu may not be the latest and greatest from Sportiva but I just had to comment on it since it's treated me very well.

My Makalus have been used for two years of hiking in Ontario along with four years of scrambling in the Canadian Rockies. Anyone who's scrambled/climbed in the Rockies will know that the terrain is extremely harsh on boots. Going through a pair of boots per year isn't even a surprise. Well, with that being said, my Makalus have performed quite well.

During the last four years, I've scrambled over 50 mountains consisting of snow, scree, hard packed dirt, scree and more scree using these boots and they've never let me down. The soles are finally starting to wear thin but other than that the boots are still going strong. Sure, I've had to waterproof them a few times but the workmanship is obvious as there isn't even a single stich that has come undone.

Materials: leather
Use: rough trail, scrambling, some alpine
Break-in Period: 3 months

I am on my second pair. I walk about 130 km a month in the Drakensberg in South Africa at altitudes up to 11,500 ft, mostly off-path. First pair broke after 7 months. Nylon midsole delaminated from outer sole on both shoes.

Second pair has lasted longer and was much more comfortable with new lining. I have broad feet but no problems. This boot gives more secure footing on rough terrain (grass slopes and scree) than any other I have owned and still flexible enough to walk properly. Can also use for ice-climbing but a bit too flexible to front-point properly. I just think they could use better glue to stick them together (e.g. Liquisole instead of the cheap stuff they use). The boots are cold in snow but very waterproof in cold conditions. Not so waterproof in warm rainy weather (2 hrs max.)

In spite of the problems I will still buy another pair, preferably the Gore-Tex lined version!!!

Materials: Roughout Leather
Use: Off-path backpacking on steep gradients
Break-in Period: 2 to 10 weeks!
Price Paid: Over $200!!!!!

These are the best boots I've ever worn. But I couldn't wear 'em for very long periods until they were broken in. I also have plantar fasciitis (heal spurs) and these boots seemed to have been the cure for that. I can wear 'em for days on end where my other boots hurt after a day or two. I've tried Garmont, Racklie, Merrells...and Scarpa (also great!!) but the legendary Makalus have lived up to their reputation.

Only caveat is that they are not super warm boots... but I've found that two layers of wool socks (one mountaineering like Smartwools and medium hiking sock) seemed to cure that... but below zero F. these might not be adequate unless you're constantly on the move. I am tempted to buy AT ski bindings so I can use 'em for even that. Solid footbed that evens out the bumps in the Mountains. And stiffer than my Scarpa leather telemark boots.

Materials: leather, heavy Vibram soles and crampon ready
Use: hiking about in cooler months and construction (great on icy roofs!!)
Break-in Period: I was lucky, these were returneds that I got on bargain as the first owner couldn't take it...a couple of months of very part time use...
Weight: about 4 and half pounds guessing
Price Paid: reg. 240 dollars, but I got 'em for 90 very slightly used from EMS

This pair is my second pair. From climbing 5.8 rock, M3 or WI4, ferrying 70-100 pound loads to basecamp, doing 8hr days of backcountry ski trails maintenance through bogs and over and under slippery logs come rain or is amazing to me how tough and reliable thse boots are while keeping my feet warm and nearly always dry. The break in on this second pair was much better than the first leather lined pair I had. The fabric liners break in more easily and after three and a half years they still have all their lining material.

My first pair served me well from 1995 through 2002 without a resole and under similar demands from me. The break-in period was a few blisters over 37 miles long...but after that they never gave me a moment's trouble...even when frozen at -18F on a Nice WI3 route 4 miles from the road.

Price Paid: $245 USD

Still in the break-in period, mainly due to the fact that my first pair had to be sent back. What looked like a shank started to come through in the front part on both boots so a replacement was sent to me. I then got my new Makalu's and found that they had sent me the new models ( I had the previous model without the rubber covered front section). These are by fare a lot less stiff which is a little bit of a concern. I don't mind putting in the hard yards breaking them in, and the new boots flexed allot quicker than I expected when hiking out to Mt Feathertop. I hope this doesn't affect the use of snowshoes or crampons and time will tell if they stuff up again. But overall boot looks and feels great.

Price Paid: $380AUS

The Makalu is the best boot I've come across in a long time, and I've been looking at many pairs since my Vasque Sundowners got shredded by the talus of the Canadian rockies.

The Vibram sole, high rand, full-grain leather uppers, and calf-skin lining suggest a boot that will outlive me. The break-in period may be long, but it will seem like no time at all when you've worn them for ten years, which would be the minimum life span I would predict. I have heard nothing but rave reviews from the few people I have talked to who own them already. La Sportiva says they're step-in crampon compatible, but considering the sole flex, I would not recommend this except when they are brand new.

Materials: silicone-impregnated full grain leather
Use: rough/extended backpacking/lightweight mountaineering
Break-in Period: 1-2 months of constant use
Weight: 4lbs+
Price Paid: $295 (Canadian)

Version reviewed: New

I bought my Makalu's last spring and have been trying to break them in ever since. I've climbed Mt Shasta twice in them. I got nasty blisters on my heals both times even after wrapping my heel in duct tape. They will be awsome after I break them in. They performed beautifully on steep snow and ice. Make sure you waterproof them before wearing them in the snow. I didn't waterproof mine before my first Shasta trip and my feet were soaked after 1 hour in the snow. Later during that same trip my boots froze and caused my feet to go numb. I've since waterproofed them with Nikwax and Biwell green. My feet were completely dry during my last Shasta climb after waterproofing them.

Materials: Leather
Use: Light Mountaineering
Break-in Period: 35 miles and still going
Weight: 5+ lbs
Price Paid: $235


Materials: LEATHER
Break-in Period: 4 WEEKS
Weight: 4.5 lbs
Price Paid: $245.89

I blew out a pair of Vasque Alpines, and decided to try the La Sportiva Makalu. What a great switch. These boots do it all. I've put many miles on them already and this winter. I've used them in replace of my Double boots (on warmer days) climbing vertical waterfall ice since they accept step ins. I had to adjust the bails of my footfangs a little for proper fit. I'm very pleased with them. I wouldn't even have considered using my Alpines on vertical ice. Keep them properly waterproofed and your feet will stay dry in all but the wettest of conditions. I highly recommend these boots for looking for a high quality leather boot.

Materials: Leather
Use: Rough Trail Hiking, General Mountaineering
Break-in Period: 100+ Miles
Price Paid: $230

I purchased the Makalu in the mid '90s and I still wear them. My Asolo boots blew out and I had to use these on a duck hunting trip last month (over 10 years later).

I've had many different brand of boots and I have not found a single brand that can stand up to the beating I throw them. This is the only boot that has lasted as long and strong.

The only drawback is the break-in time. If you can't tough it out for the first month of use, you're not going to like this boot. All that tough leather takes time to conform to your foot.

Use: Hike, camp, very rough trails.. Duck Hunting!
Break-in Period: few months at least
Weight: 5 to 10 pounds I'd say.
Price Paid: $225

Version reviewed: II

So far it's been a very good boot. Four trips to 10,000+ in snow/rain so far this winter and the feet have stay warm & dry. Definitely waterproof these boots thoroughly before use. The breakin has been murder on my heels, big blisters, advise the use of some moleskin on the heels from the first day until broken in. They accept step-in crampons and the black diamond's work well with this boot. If you plan on doing any extended glacier travel or real cold stuff, you will want more than this boot, but for general mountaineering it holds up fine.

Materials: Leather
Use: Light Mountaineering
Break-in Period: Not there yet
Weight: 5lbs
Price Paid: $235

i love these boots! they really do it all, no wonder the american alpine inst. gave them a guides choice.

after having all kinds of problems with my asolo globalines, i decided to replace them with a real boot, i can tell that i will have this pair for a long, long time. my only wish is that they had a pulley laceing system like the globalines (that was the only thing that worked well on that boot, but that is another story.) i cant wait to get them on ice next year!

Materials: full grain leather
Use: rough trail w/ heavy pack, mountaineering
Break-in Period: 50 miles?
Price Paid: $235

Version reviewed: New

I've got funny feet - they're wide at the ball but narrow at the heel with a high arch. These boots fitted first off due to the unique fit system, being a bit stiff at first i got one small hot spot on the one heel but i was not tightening the boot onto my foot properly. Done correctlyy it holds your heel in place very securely - not a bit of movement there while your arch is not crushed and your toes can wiggle. The best boots I've ever owned.

Materials: Leather
Use: light mountain/heavy backpack
Break-in Period: 40 km
Weight: 4 1/2 lbs
Price Paid: R 1200

Version reviewed: New

I have considerably wide feet, but it did not cause any harm or hot-spots. Boot was quite comfortable, but I had to sell it because of freezing feet unfortunately boots came up to be at least half of number too small and with crampions it did get cold even at low altitudes 4000 m. Nice boot for Alps but I dont belive it works higher, also boot hight is somewher between high and medium. dear to reccommend for nice trips where you need stable and comfortable walking boot.

Materials: leather
Use: mountaneering
Break-in Period: two weeks even less
Weight: normal
Price Paid: do not remember cheap

Well, these boots kick butt. However I have not yet fully broken them in yet. I was lucky and bought last years model (1996) for only $176.00 on sale. I treated the outside with Nikwax and the inside leather with saddle soap per the man.

suggestion. I have stomped through streams, mud and snow and I didnt even get close to getting my feet wet. If you want a boot that can get you from the car to the top of a snow covered mountain, these are it.

Materials: leather
Use: light mountaineering/heavy duty everything else
Break-in Period: not there yet (have heard 75 miles?)
Weight: 4.2 each
Price Paid: reg. $235

Version reviewed: 2

If it fits and your looking for a heavy duty backpaking/mountaineering boot this is the boot for you. I strongly suggest that you make sure you get a good fit before you purchase this (or any) boot because this is a serious boot that will not give much to a bad fit. Be patient, these babys took a long (but not painful) time to tame. These are the newest version of the boot which I believe are superior to the originals.

Materials: Leather
Use: heavy packing, talus smashing, snow slogging, mountaineering
Break-in Period: 50+ miles
Weight: 4 lbs+
Price Paid: $235

These boots are awesome! Slight break-in period with help of a boot stretcher (one hot spot). I backpack with heavy loads (60-80lbs.) OFF the trails and the Makalu supports my feet and ankles perfectly. The Makalu is a heavy boot, and if you're used to sport hikers, light loads and easy trails, these boots aren’t for you. However if you get off the trails and ramble the mountains hunting and camping you can trust your life with these boots.

Materials: heavy leather
Use: rough trail w/ heavy pack
Break-in Period: short break-in for me
Price Paid: $220

Version reviewed: 1997

I have not had one problem with these boots. I take a size 13.5 and I have thouroughly enjoyed them. They feel even better with a spenco arched insole. Even after a 13 hour day on Long's Peak I had no blister or even sore spots. I do keep to toe box laces loose to allow for bigger sox and less constriction, but they still perform very well and their grip in the cold on bare rock is fantastic. A fabulous all-around boot.

Materials: Leather
Use: Mixed (backpack, snow, ice)
Break-in Period: 5 months
Weight: Me: 250lbs
Price Paid: $235

Version reviewed: 1996

Great boots! I bought these for a backcountry trip in the Sierra Nevada, and they were excellent for the purpose. Great ankle support for scrambling, but not so stiff that trail hiking is uncomfortable. I wore these for a week before my trip, and they were pretty much broken in within a few days of starting. No blisters, except some slight chaffing at the ankle, which was not a problem. Very comfortable for the support they provide. Good with step-in crampons.

Materials: leather
Use: off-trail/light mountaineering
Weight: ~4 lb
Price Paid: $235

Version reviewed: Ladies, 1997

My wife actually just got a pair of these. She's only used them on one trip so far. She loves the fit; it's the first boot that has actually fit her properly (she's got bizarre feet; narrow heel, no arch, looongggg middle toe).

We went scrambling following a 4 km hike and she had absolutely no problems, blisters, etc. Maybe the new cambrelle lining in the 97 model helps, I don't know.

Materials: Leather
Use: Rough trail w/heavy pack; light mountaineering, scrambling, etc.
Break-in Period: seem to work good right away
Price Paid: $320 CDN

Comfy.. but not built to last. I do a lot of hiking in Hawaii and these boots dissolve on the basalt lava flows. I had to get them resoled after owning them for four months. The boots are not waterproof either.

That said, they are really comfortable and sturdy on uneven terrain. My complaint could be more with the vibram soles which cuts like butter on the lava.

Stiff but supportive, hard to break in but worth the effort (although my wife found hers comfy right out of the box, go figure). I use mine alot with snowshoes/crampons for winter hiking/climbing in the Adirondaks, Whites, and Catskills, the stiff uppers let you cinch the bindings down tight without cutting off circulation. Pretty warm, even warmer with supergaiters. Gear I'm glad I own.

Materials: Leather
Use: Mountaineering
Break-in Period: honestly, about a year
Weight: 4lb/6oz
Price Paid: $225

I was lucky enough to buy these boots for $165; they are the newest model. I have used them for about one year and they have never let me down. I walked through a river that had ice chunks floating through it in the middle of winter and they still kept my feet warm along with my wool socks. I would recommend these boots to anyone.

Materials: leather
Use: off trail, moderate alpine
Break-in Period: quite long
Weight: ?
Price Paid: $165

Great boots! They did take a long time to break in and I still tape my heels on long trips but they are pretty comfortable now. Completely weather-proof if treated well (Nikwax aqueous) and will probably outlive me. I'm looking forward to doing some light mountaineering with them this season. Overall a well-constructed boot that will take you just about anywhere through any conditions.

Materials: leather
Use: rough trail, wet and snowy conditions
Break-in Period: 50 miles or more
Weight: 4lbs
Price Paid: $185 (REI sale)

Version reviewed: II

This boot was my next step after wearing out two sets of Vasque Gore-Tex hikers. With Shasta, Hood, and Ranier on my horizon, I have relied on the Makalu II as my choice, instead of plastic boots. Easy break-in period, waterproof, and crampon-ready, this boot is a good value for the money. A hand-made Italian paw that's worth every penny.

Materials: Full Grain Leather
Use: Heavy approach, scree, ice boot
Break-in Period: None
Weight: 4lbs 6oz
Price Paid: $245

I sincerely hope this product doesn't dissapear from the face of the market as other such products which are "too" good! Since 1990 I have owned eight or so pairs of heavy leather boots and put them through alot of the conditions which exist below 4000 feet and none excel in as wide a multitude of enviorments as the Makalu!

Materials: Roughed out silicone impreagnated leather / no gortex
Use: Anything / Anywhere above 10 degrees. I run down the tallest hills around with my friends off trail
Break-in Period: Long time. Although not painful, just semi uncomfortable/stiff!
Weight: Well balanced. Not as heavy on your feet as one would think for a four and a half pound pair of boots.
Price Paid: Expensive but well worth their cost in paper money.

Having heard of these boots to be the best for off trail/ mountaineering use, I decided to try them out. I purchased a pair on sail at REI and was not dissatisfied. Quite clearly the best price for boot, durability, materials, ect. They are the best boots in my closet and my first choice for the trail.

Materials: leather
Use: off trail/ mountaineering
Break-in Period: 1-2 mo w/ minimal use
Weight: n/a
Price Paid: $235

I have tried to wear these boots several times with several different sock combination, and I have ended up with blisters within a couple miles every time. There is a lot of slippage in the heel because the boots don't give at all. This is not a boot for trail work or any kind of distance.

Materials: leather
Use: Mountaineering
Break-in Period: Infinite

By far the most comfortable boots I've ever owned. I used to be a big fan of Sundowners, but these are even better. I have a low profile foot, but the boots fit very well. Suprisingly required very little break-in time. Strong soles (Vibram) that can be re-soled. You cannot go wrong with these boots!

Materials: leather
Use: trekking
Break-in Period: very little
Weight: ?
Price Paid: $225


Materials: LEATHER
Break-in Period: 160 MILES
Weight: 4.5
Price Paid: $180 USD

I am an apprentice powerlineman. My foreman recommended these boots and I have never climber in anything better. I never plan on buying another pair of boots. I have also worn them on several Colorado 14ers and have no complaints. Best boots I have ever worn.

Materials: leather
Use: work heavy pack
Break-in Period: never had a problem

Good boot, most comfortable around under $500. Biggest design flaw is the third shoelace eyelet down from the top; it is a fabric/nylon loop (the type found on rock climbing slippers) that will probably give out and wear through or pull out around year 3 or 4.

Price Paid: $255

These boots have proven great on the trail. the quality is outstanding, and i know they will last a long time. the break in period takes a long time though so be very patient with these boots.......blisters will be suffered the 1st 2 or 3 trips

Materials: makalu
Use: rough trail with heavy pack, winter mountaineering
Break-in Period: 60 miles
Weight: 4lbs
Price Paid: $235

These are very good boots. I used the same pair for 5 years now. They are finally starting to be fairly trashed. Very comfortable. I have never even gotten a blister despite many miles and climbs with heavy packs.

If they fit your feet, buy them.

Materials: Leather
Use: Rough trail/ heavy pack
Break-in Period: 3 or 4 trips
Weight: ?
Price Paid: $235 US

These boots have gone through three years of winter camping, backpacking and over two dozen scrambles in the Canadian Rockies and they've never let me down. They stick to the rock like glue and they provide excellent support for my feet.

Amazing boots if you take the time to break them in.

Off trail/rough trail performance is fantastic.

Awesome ankle support so heavy packs aren't a problem.

Also great with crampons and supergaiters deck them out for light winter use.

Materials: Leather
Use: light moutaineering/off-trail/heavy pack
Break-in Period: a while (worth it)
Price Paid: $230

Don't know what that Timothy guy is on about -- best boots I've ever owned. If you want a boot for all occasions, this is it - just as happy up Mont Blanc or trudging through a peat bog.

Materials: Leather
Use: Mountaineering
Break-in Period: under a week
Weight: 4.4lbs
Price Paid: £130

Version reviewed: II


Materials: LEATHER
Break-in Period: 5 WKS
Weight: 5
Price Paid: $250 US

There was a break-in period, but after they are the best boots I have ever had. I work for the forest service and wear them daily. I love them.

These are the best pair of boots that I have ever had.

They work well for hiking and are killer on snow and ice.

Materials: Full grain leather
Use: rough trail w/ heavy pack and mountaineering
Break-in Period: 45 miles
Price Paid: $235

Very good boot.

Alpinism in the Alpi Marittime. No good in snow.

Makalu souffered rain.

Materials: leather
Use: mountainering
Break-in Period: never
Price Paid: Lire it. 180.000

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Best For: General mountaineering and heavy backpacking


Price MSRP: $305.00
Current Retail: $229.71-$349.00
Historic Range: $68.18-$349.00
Reviewers Paid: $165.00-$255.00
Weight 34.57 oz / 980 g
Product Details from La Sportiva »