LA SPORTIVA HALITE GTX BOOT
TEST SERIES BY MIKE WILKIE
March 18, 2008
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foreverwild1885 at yahoo dot com
Davenport, New York (USA)
5' 8" (1.73 m)
148 lb (67.10 kg)
Hiking for me started at an early age, as I was always an avid camper and Boy Scout. Living in the Catskill Region backpacking has become serious for me over the years. I camp, hike or multi-day backpack through the Catskill or Adirondack Wilderness every weekend. As a mid-weight packer I'm always prepared and use a tent for overnighters. Being an aspirant of the Catskill 3500 Club and Adirondack 46ers, peak-bagging is now my favorite outdoor activity. I will be climbing to mountain summits this winter equipped with snowshoes and crampons. My long-term goals are to complete long distance thru-hikes.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Year of Manufacture: N/A
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sportiva.com
Listed Weight: 22 oz (600 g)
Measured Weight: 21 oz (595 g) This weight is for the mens 9 (42 EU) that was received originaly.
Boot Size: 8.5 (41.5 EU)
RFS 3D(tm) (Reactive Flex System) ankle provides optimal multidirectional upper hinge
Impact Brake System(tm) outsole for increased traction and cushioning
COLOR: Brown/Grey UPPER: Leather/Spylon Mesh/UreTech abrasion-resistant reinforcements CONSTRUCTION: Board Lasted LAST: Trango 2 LINING: Vibram(r) Hiking with Impact Brake System(tm) SOLE: Gore-Tex(r) MIDSOLE: Trailon with half Polypropylene shank INSOLE: 2mm Polypropylene WEIGHT: 22 oz / 600 g
*Above details taken from the product page on sportiva.com
|Image courtesy of sportiva.com|
The La Sportiva Halite GTX Boots arrived in excellent condition. The boot box was packed inside a slightly larger heavy duty shipping box. Inside the boot box, besides the boots, was the Gore Tex guarantee. It states "If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness or breathibility of your GORE-TEX footwear, we will repair it, replace it or refund your purchase price."
When I initially opened the La Sportiva boot box I first took notice of the Vibram sole design on the Halite Boots. The lugs reminded me of treads on super swamper truck tires. The lugs bulge out at different angles and slants. It is a very impressive design. This innovative sole design is Vibram's Impact Brake System (IBS). Attached to the boot is a description tag for this system and states as follows.
"New sole technology designed to reduce up to 20% of impact forces on the body and to increase traction by 20% impact." Find the attached tag below.
|Actual tag attached the boot|
The Halite GTX Boots has a look of a fully supportive and highly technical boot. Surprisingly, it has the weight and feel of a trail runner. La Sportiva makes the following statement about the Halite Boots on their website, "A boot that feels like a Cadillac but performs like a Ferrari."
The Halite Boots are made up of leather and lightweight materials. They are built for day hikes or short overnighters.
The upper is a combination of leather and nylon mesh. The integrated nylon mesh material in the uppers is to help your feet breathe in warmer weather. Also added into the upper is UreTech abrasion-resistant reinforcements.
The RFS 3D (Reactive Flex System) ankle provides an optimal multi-directional upper hinge.
The Halite Boots have been built by the Board Lasted construction method. Board Lasted is "the method of crafting shoes around the insole (also called the board). In board lasting the insole is fixed to the last/form and then the upper of the shoe is wrapped around this assembly. In the final step the midsole, rands and finally the outsole are attached to the shoe."
The lining is made of Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is "a waterproof, breathable membrane. The Gore-Tex tag on our boots indicates a rigidly tested seam-taped sock which meets Gore's highest standards and is backed by Gore's waterproof guarantee".
The midsoles are La Sportivas Trailon with a half polypropylene shank. Trailon is "a compression molded midsole of 70% EVA and 30% IIR (Isobutylene Isoprene Rubber) that provides a firm, cushioned midsole that is very lightweight. Known for its high tensile strength the IIR is mixed and injection molded with the EVA to provide extra longevity and abrasion resistance".
The sole on the Halite Boot is the Vibram I.B.S. (Impact Brake System) outsole for increased traction and cushioning. The tread patterns and dual-density materials are designed to reduce impact forces by 20% and to decrease foot fatigue.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Attached to one of the boots is the La Sportiva Warranty booklet. This booklet contains the following.
"La Sportiva recommends choosing carefully the fit and size of the shoes, so that the foot is comfortably locked in place. In this way the foot can't move inside and the problems of wear and tear of calfskin leather, Cambrelle, Gore-Tex or other lining materials will be eliminated."
This above statement is an important one. Choosing the correct size is crucial for me not only to protect the shoe, but also to protect my feet. More on my experiences with La Sportiva's shoe sizing can be found in the next section of this report.
"Even though La Sportiva boots are made of water repellent, pre-treated leather and are resistant to dirt, weathering and wear and tear can cause leather to dry out and deteriorate. After each use the boot should be cleaned of mud and dirt with a light water flow and if necessary washed with a neutral soap and a soft brush."
"It is a good rule to take always out the footbed also in order to remove gravel that may have got into the boot and could damage the Gore-Tex membrane, if present."
This was important for me to read as I never take the time to clean my boots to this extent. Now knowing how much damage can be prevented, from now on I will take the time to clean them more often.
"All the products we manufacture are covered under a Warranty.
This warranty doesn't cover wear and tear, improper use, or improper care. There is no implied life span of a shoe, due to the variables that can affect climbing and mountain boots. La Sportiva Warranty does not extend to any La Sportiva product that has been resoled, repaired or otherwise modified. Only original La Sportiva materials and workmanship are covered under Warranty. Any La Sportiva products to be warranted must be returned to La Sportiva for evaluation. Upon inspection La Sportiva has the option to replace the product, if it results covered under Warranty, or, in the other case, can repair it at the expenses of the customers. Damages due to normal wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable price."
"If you have a La Sportiva product that you think should be considered for warranty, please take it back to the store where you purchased it, with your dated receipt. If this is not possible, then please call us for a Return Authorization Number and ship the product back to us with your dated receipt. La Sportiva will not accept products without an authorization number clearly marked on the outside of the box. Please enclose a letter including your name, street address (no post office boxes), daytime and evening phone numbers, and include why you have returned the product and what you would like us to do. Send your package via UPS, certified mail, FedEx or any traceable shipping method. We recommend that you insure your package against loss enroute to La Sportiva. We cannot be responsible for packages until they arrive at our warranty department."
The returns process with La Sportiva has been hassle free and easy to get a return authorization. In the "Trying It Out" section of this report I will explain my experiences with the return process.
TRYING IT OUT
My Initial experience with the La Sportiva Halite GTX Boots was a failure since they were one size too big and needed to be exchanged. I did notice some uncomfortable rubbing on the front of my ankle. This could be due to the boots being the wrong size. I will continue this assessment when I receive the right size and will include any issue at the beginning of the Field Report.
I did have a hard time reading the La Sportiva sizing chart found below that was located on their website. It seems that the La Sportiva customer service team has a hard time with the La Sportiva sizing system as well. I contacted them to make arrangements for an exchange which was no issue at all. They immediately accommodated that request. However, I did have issues in trying to find the right boot size for my feet. My shoe size is an 8.5 US and according their chart (found below) that is larger than the Euro 41 and just smaller than 41.5. When calling La Sportiva, the customer service rep told me that size 41 is the same as size 8.5 US. Being that 41 is much smaller than 8.5 according to the chart below, I decided to exchange them for the 41.5. I will hope for the best as I do not have a local vendor of La Sportiva products. I will be wearing a thicker sock than normal during the testing months of these boots so the slightly larger 41.5 size will hopefully be the better choice. I feel that the La Sportiva customer service reps can better assist their customers with sizing for footwear.
True size of chart on sportiva.com
|Sizing chart courtesy of sportiva.com|
My plan is to test La Sportiva's Halite GTX Boots during all and any weather conditions Mother Nature has in store during my outings. My main concerns will be the durability, functionality, ease of use and most of all comfort and fit.
I intend to test them throughout the Catskill and Adirondack Regions on and during long day hikes at elevations on the Catskill Peaks of 3500-4200 ft (1067 -1280 m) and Adirondack Peaks up to 5000 ft (1524 m). I will also test the boots during multi-day backpacking trips. These overnighters will consist of temperatures below 0 F (-17.77 C) and snow a definite.
As I do backpack every weekend, here are some of my definite trip plans:
I will be summiting four mountain peaks to put towards my winter requirements to become a Catskill 3500er. This club requires each member to summit all 35 high peaks in the Catskills all over 3500 ft (1067 m) in elevation. Four of them are to be completed a second time during the winter months. Details of these four mountains that I will summit during this test series are as follows.
Slide Mountain (Highest peak in the Catskills) with an elevation of 4180 ft (1274 m)
Blackhead Mountain with an elevation of 3940 ft (1207 m).
Balsam Mountain with an elevation of 3600 ft (1097 m).
Panther Mountain with an elevation of 3720 ft (1134 m).
I also take a short 1.75 mile (2.82 km) hike every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I will be sure to wear the Halite boots on all of these morning hikes throughout the test period. These morning hikes take place in the forest behind my house that is mostly an uphill/downhill rocky terrain. This hike is a moderate ascent to an elevation of 2000 ft (610 m).
I'm excited to see how the Halite Boots will perform in the field. I can't wait to put the Impact Brake System to the test. The trails here are perfect for that. I am also curious to how long the break-in time will be for the Halite Boots. All assessments are soon to come.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The boots have been used daily while working on my farm to help speed up the break in period. I spend many hours a day working on the farm so the boots definitely received consistent use during this testing period.
I wore the La Sportiva Halite Boots on only one, long, all-day hike. This hike was in the Catskill Park. This was supposed to be a 10 mile (16 km) hike, but was reduced to 7 miles (11 km) at a bail out point due to heel and arch pain in both feet. The elevation on the mountain summit was 3573 ft (1089 m). Weather conditions were cold with temperatures around 25 F (4 C).
Some short hikes take place in the forest behind my house that is mostly an uphill/downhill rocky terrain. These hikes were a moderate ascent to an elevation of 2000 ft (610 m).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
So far my experiences with the La Sportiva Halite Boots have been mostly unpleasant up to this point. They are now just becoming comfortable to wear as my left foot is comfortable but right foot is still slightly uncomfortable.
My first time wearing the Halite Boots was on a short hike that was mostly uphill. This was only a 2 mile (3.25 km) walk and my feet felt like I ran a marathon. My arches ached and had major hot spots on my heels. I had these same experiences on hikes to follow. Trying different lacing techniques and thicknesses in sock didn't seem to help.
I wore the boots daily on my farm to help break them in. The boots weren't as bad as my farm is mostly level land. After a week of wearing them on the farm and experiencing some comfort with the Halite boots I decided to wear them on a full day hike to the summit of Indian Head Mountain. This was a big mistake. Luckily I had a bail out point at the 6 mile (10 km) mark. My feet were in lots of pain. The pain was mostly on my heels where major hot spots occurred that were almost at blister stage.
After this experience I decided to wear them on short walks and while working on the farm. I experimented with them as far as lacing techniques, socks worn and on what terrain I experienced pain. My finding turned up that my heels hit the upper part of the heel cups when walking uphill or on a steep climbs.
I am still unsure if this pain was due to the stiffness of the boot and will completely disappear after they are completely broken in. As far as the break in period, it seems to be taking longer than expected. My boot purchases in the past did not take this long to break in nor did I experience as much pain.
Besides these negative experiences I had with the La Sportiva Halite Boots, I did however find some positive aspects of the boots. Like, falling through some ice over a stream I found the boots to be completely waterproof as the ankle deep water didn't seep in. Also I found my ankles to be fully supported by the Halite Boots on uneven and rocky terrain.
I am hoping to find that the Halite Boots will become more comfortable on longer hikes throughout the final testing period. As I am now starting to experience more comfort I will increase the mileage while wearing the boots on my hikes to come.
I will continue to wear the La Sportiva Halite Boots daily while working on my goat farm and during short walks and easy day hikes throughout the rest of this test series. The mileage will slowly be increased on my hikes as I do not want to end up having major foot pain like in the past.
If or when the boots become more comfortable during this leg of the test series I will assess how they perform on heavy terrain as I will be mostly climbing to Mountain Summits of the Catskill high peaks. I will also ascertain how they perform with use of crampons and snowshoes.
This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report should be completed by 3-18-08. Please check back then for further information.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I continued to wear the La Sportiva Halite boots daily while working on my goat farm. The weather conditions varied from lots of snow with temperatures below 0 F (-17.77 C) to mild days while sloshing around in snowmelt and mud. Worn with the shoes were all mid to heavy weight merino wool socks.
The boots were also used while snowshoeing in the forest behind my house. These few hikes were a moderate ascent to an elevation of 2000 ft (610 m) and was mostly an uphill/downhill trek.
Balsam Mountain - This hike was a 5.5 mile (9 km) round trip loop. It was a bit strenuous up the steep scramble to the summit with an elevation of 3600 ft (1098 m). The trail took me through many stream crossings and ice sheets that required crampons. Temperatures stayed just below freezing at 30 F (-1.10 C). Small snow squall hit early leaving about 1 in (2.5 cm) of snow.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During this portion of the test period the Halite boots didn't give me any major problems. It seems that after a long and hard break-in of the boots they are finally doing what they are designed to do. My feet are now getting the protection and support from the boot as needed. For them feeling "like a Cadillac" I would have to disagree.
The boots have much improved in comfort but are not as comfortable as they are described on the La Sportiva website. After spending many long days in the boots while working in my warehouse and on the farm my feet became very sore. I have had more comfort when wearing my sneakers for the same length of time during the work day.
I would not recommend these boots to anyone who is planning on walking high mile day hikes or long distances. From my experience I can say these are good for short day hikes with heavy, uneven rocky terrain. They have given me the support needed for this type of terrain. Personally I would much rather have a boot with more comfort or one designed for backpacking for the longer distance or overnight treks.
When crossing streams and sloshing in wet snow, the Halite's Gore-Tex lining definitely did its job. My feet always stayed dry and I never experience any water seepage into the boot.
To me, the comfort level of the Halite boots is not as described by the manufacturer. However, I would have to say that they are fully supportive and handle rough terrain very well. Not for the long haul, the La Sportiva Halite Boots work well for me on quick short mile hikes. The best aspect of the boot for me would have to the Vibram sole. The innovative lug design offers unbelievable traction on the most uneven and rocky terrain.
The Vibram Impact Brake System (lug design)
Gore-Tex Lining (waterproofing)
abrasion-resistant reinforcements (rubber around toe)
Low comfort level
Thin spaghetti size laces
Low comfort level
I will continue to wear the La Sportiva Halite Boots while working on the farm. As for wearing them on my wilderness hikes I will probably keep it at a minimum, like only on my shorter low mile day hikes.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
When the weather breaks and temperatures begin to rise the boots will not be worn. The heavy construction of the boots keeps my feet warm now and I wouldn't want them to over heat during the warmer months.
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