La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX
Much more than your average boot, the Trango Cube GTX Highlander boots are great on more technical trails and rock scrambles, and perform ideally when the weather turns less than ideal.
- Unquestionably waterproof
- Highly resistant to abrasion/wear
- Lock-out laces
- Lightweight for class
- Good traction
- Seamless upper
- Although adjustable, uncomfortable tongue
- Overkill in some instances (not necessarily a con)
Highlander Model Note: The Trango Cube GTX Highlanders I tested are the same as the Trango Cube GTX mountaineering boots, but in a camo pattern aimed at hunters. I tested them primarily with that use in mind.
Trekking along the ridges and valleys of the Allegheny and Appalachian mountains, these boots have seen their fair share of the woods. For approximately four months, these boots have been put to the test while hiking and hunting. Conditions have ranged from 60°F to -10°F (15.5C to -23C) and the boots have trudged through snow, ice, mud, creeks, leaf litter, up and over limestone rocks, shale, and much more.
Although the boots have seen a great deal of elevation gain/loss, this has been done in a non-technical mountaineering manner. While wearing the Trango Cube GTX Highlanders, I have carried packs weighing up to 28 lbs. (12.7 kg) and dragged two deer out of the woods, both weighing 95-110 lbs (43-50 kg). (Unfortunately, these were my friends’ deer and not my own.)
US men’s 13 weighs 32.19 oz. or .913 kg each boot.
Fit and Comfort:
My feet are slightly narrow, with normal to ever-so-slightly high arches. My typical footwear size is men’s US 13, and so for these I tested a EU 47. Some hikers go up in size for their boots, but since half-sizes above men’s US 13 are rare, I stick to my size. Due to a variety of testing conditions and temperatures, I wore a variety of socks with these boots including two-layers on the colder days of hunting, and a micro-thin merino wool sock when warmer and putting in the miles.
The fit is more snug than other boots I own, but mostly comfortable. The toe box is adequately wide, the heel is secure, and the area across the laces fit fine, particularly with the lock-out laces that allow for easy customization of lacing styles. The one area where I’ve experienced discomfort is at the tongue, across the shin. I thought I could solve this discomfort with the removable tongue, but that hasn’t been the case. It feels like a pressure spot, particularly on inclines, and I’ve even noticed some signs of rubbing, but nothing that has caused a blister or bruise at this point.
Although a high-performing boot and perfect for some conditions, there have been times where I couldn’t help but feel like the boots were “too much,” similar to driving a Ferrari through the neighborhood at 35 mph. In rocky terrain or steep inclines, these boots are perfect. On a flat trail or simply still hunting, they may be a little overkill.
The Trango Cube GTX Highlander has an interesting design and construction. Without simply regurgitating the specs here, to me the most interesting features are the thermo-injected lock-out lacing system and the durable waterproof fabric across the boot’s uppers, lined with GoreTex protection. The thermo-injected lacing system also wraps in strategic locations (i.e. near toe and just below ankle) for additional abrasion protection and support.
Boots, removable tongues, and insoles
Closer look at the removable tongue and insole
Velcro attach point for removable tongue
The Vibram soles are very durable and after four months of use, show very little sign of wear. The lugs, known as the Impact Brake System, do a nice job of shedding dirt, mud, and grime and I have not experienced any slipping or loss of traction, even when hiking over snow-covered rock gardens and while dragging 110 pounds of deer out of the woods on a very wet morning. While I have not required crampons, I fit on a pair of hybrid crampons with no issues.
Water Resistance and Temp Control:
Having worn these boots through snow, slush, rain, and even wading through some ankle-deep creeks, I have no doubt the seamless upper and Gore-Tex membrane is up to the task of keeping water out. One downfall of almost all waterproof items is that when water is kept out, internal moisture tends to stay in. For this reason, breathability is crucial. My feet tend to run hot, and I almost exclusively wear some sort of merino or blended socks with hiking and hunting boots. These boots don’t run any hotter than normal, but I didn’t notice any considerable increased breathability or climate control either.
Without a doubt, the La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX Highlander is a well-made boot and will likely serve its purpose for many many years. Whether hunting or hiking, these boots can withstand a lot of elements. However, both hiking and hunting footwear requirements vary widely depending on the type of terrain. These are probably more boot than one needs for flat trails and or just walking to the tree stand. But when it comes to mountaineering, boulder scrambling, and slightly more technical trails, especially in foul weather, these are ideal boots.
Acknowledgment: Many thanks to both Trailspace and La Sportiva for the opportunity to test the Trango Cube GTX Highlander boots.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample provided by La Sportiva for testing and review)
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