LA SPORTIVA HYPER MID GTX BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
November 03, 2013
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a light-weight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) and use a tent, stove and quilt.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: LA SPORTIVA
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sportiva.com
MSRP: $180 US
Listed Weight: 16.47 oz (467 g)
Measured Weight: 15.6 oz (442 g) each boot
Size Tested: 40.5 EU Unisex Sizing
Sizes Available: 38 - 47.5 (including half sizes)
Color Tested: Black/Red
Made in China
The Hyper Mid GTX boots are a part of La Sportiva's Approach line of footwear. They are a mid-height trail boot with a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Footwear waterproof liner. The upper is a combination of synthetic mesh and leather. The outsole is Vibram Idro Grip X-Traction with an Impact Brake System design. This design has lugs oriented in opposing directions which is supposed to increase braking power and decrease impact force. There is a rubber rand which wraps completely up and over the toe creating a rubber bumper. At the back of the shoe is a loop of webbing for pulling the shoe on and off. The ankle area is lightly padded.
The round laces route through eyelets and webbing and extend all of the way to the toe. The next-to-last set of eyelets is reinforced with something hard which resembles both plastic and metal but is difficult to detemine which it is. The top set is a metal hook. There is a strap of webbing off-set from the middle of the tongue to allow the laces to route through it to hold the tongue in place. This strap of webbing extends to the top of the tongue to give a loop for positioning the tongue.
The midsole is dual density EVA for extra cushioning and stability for long days. The boot construction is Strobel lasted which means that the upper is stitched to a thin liner along the perimeter. This style gives a blend of stability and flexibility.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
I first opened the boots and looked to make sure that I had the right size; I nearly panicked when I saw the US conversion size of 8. This would be WAY too small for me. But the EUR 40.5 was correct so I tried them on with my mid-height hiking socks and they fit perfectly. I had to look up the La Sportiva conversion chart before I realized that the 8 was a US Men's conversion and not a US Women's conversion. The European sizing is Unisex and since they come in half sizes that are nearly equivalent to quarter size increments in US sizing. So they provide a much more precise way to get the right fit than what I'm used to.
The next day I was ready to head out for a short hike and threw the boots on with my dress socks still on from work. In just a few steps around the house the boots felt uncomfortable and hurt the front of my leg (near my ankle). I changed into my hiking socks and they felt fine. I then filled our cooler with some water and stood inside to check the waterproofness. Not a drop came through. We then did a quick three mile (5 km) hike and the boots were perfectly comfortable.
These boots are an interesting combination of flexibility and stiffness. I've never owned any footwear quite like these. The forefoot is incredibly flexible akin to a running shoe while the heel and toe are stiff and stable like a heavy backpacking boot. The torsional rigidity is fairly stiff like a backpacking boot. I can't wait to get these out on a longer hike to see how they work. I'm planning a three week trek later this summer and haven't yet found the right boots. My typical light hikers will be too light for the heavy pack weight (carrying so much food) so I'm looking for something light yet sturdy and supportive. Maybe these will be it.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The boots came with a multi-language booklet explaining care and maintenance as well as warranty information.
The care and maintenance instructions recommend to clean the boots after each use and to keep the eyelets clean to minimize rust. Leather should be treated. Boots should dry neither in the sun nor near heat sources and should be taken to a knowledgeable cobbler for repairs.
The fit should be such that the foot is comfortably locked in place. This prevents wear and tear on the leather and Gore-Tex lining. I'll bet it helps with wear and tear on my feet too. I have a normal width foot and find the fit to be snug but comfortable. I'd say that my feet are comfortably locked in place with no sliding.
The La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX boots are a unique boot with an odd combination of flexibility and stiffness.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I wore the boots for three multi-day backpacking trips and nine day hikes for a total of 20 days and approximately 130 miles (209 km).
Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National Park, California: 4 days; 32 miles (52 km); 3,900 to 7,400 ft (1,189 to 2,256 m); 35 to 70 F (2 to 21 C); varied trail conditions from exposed dry granite to marshy bogs with multiple creek crossings and muddy sections.
Emigrant Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California: 4 days; 24 miles (39 km); 7,160 to 8,930 ft (2,182 to 2,722 m); 55 to 85 F (13 to 29 C); mostly dry trail of dirt and rocks.
John Muir Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 days; 24 miles (39 km); 4,035 ft to 9,940 ft (1,230 to 3,030 m); 45 to 80 F (7 to 27 C); trail varied from loose sand to talus.
Forni Lake, Desolation Wilderness, California: 10 miles (16 km); 6,600 to 7,100 ft (2,012 to 2,164 m) elevation; 50 to 60 F (10 to 16 C); early season hike with lots of water run-off and snow fields.
Mount Ralston, Sierra Nevada, California: 7 miles (11 km); 6,400 to 9,235 ft (1,950 to 2,815 m) elevation; 65 to 80 F (18 to 27 C); steep trail with packed dirt, loose sand and talus conditions
Mount Rose, Carson Wilderness, Nevada: 10 miles (16 km); 8,900 to 10,776 ft (2,713 to 3,285 m) elevation; 60 to 80 F (15 to 27 C); trail varied from dirt to talus.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The first hike I did in these boots was to Forni Lake. Since it was early season the trail passed through some marshy areas, had lots of stream crossings and crossed many snow fields. The boots were fabulous and kept my feet warm and dry. Things were similar on our first half of the Hetch Hetchy trip but by the end of a warm 11 mile (18 km) third day my feet were hot and tired. I stopped and removed my boots and soaked my feet in the river and changed into camp shoes before even making camp. This feeling continued on the rest of my summer hikes with the warmer temperatures. My feet were uncomfortably hot and sweaty most of the time. I started leaving running shoes in the car so that I could change shoes immediately at the end of a long hike or trip. Shorter day hikes of just a few miles weren't an issue.
Despite my desire to wear these boots on our three-week 225 mile (362 km) hike of the John Muir Trail, my feet were much too hot on the starting 6,000 ft (1,829 m) climb out of Yosemite Valley. So, I swapped these boots out for light hikers after the first few days. I didn't have the same support or any waterproofness as I would have with the Hyper but overall my feet were happier. On the last two backpacking trips I also got some sort of itchy rash between my little toes. This is a first for me so I'm not familiar with what it was but I have to think that the hot moist conditions that these boots create contributed to it.
I usually wore the boots with light gaiters to keep the rocks and debris out. On the Mount Ralston hike I decided not to wear my gaiters and was sorry. The trail is steep and has a lot of loose scree and dirt on several sections which ended up in my boots.
So it sounds like I don't like the boots but I actually love them. They are comfortable (other than being hot), flexible, completely waterproof and are showing great durability other than the shoelaces. The shoelace at the toe is wearing quite a bit and starting to fray due to the gaiter hook.
I'm looking forward to some cooler fall weather in the next test period to give these boots some different test conditions.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Long-Term test period I wore the boots for a three-day backpacking trip and five day hikes for a total of eight more days and nearly 50 miles (81 km). I also wore them three times for cutting and hauling firewood in our national forest and multiple times for disc golf.
In total these boots have close to 180 miles (290 km) of use on them.
Beyers Lakes, Sierra Nevada, California: 22 mi (35 km); 5,360 to 6,920 ft (1,634 to 2,109 m) elevation; 30 to 65 F (-1 to 18 C); dry trail of dirt and rocks.
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Contra Costa County, California: 8.5 mi (13.7 km); 1,270 to 2,280 ft (387 to 695 m); 70 F (21 C).
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, Calistoga, California: 6.5 mi (10.5 km); 300 to 1,170 ft (91 to 357 m) elevation; 65 F (18 C).
Three hikes in the Auburn Recreation Area, California: 2.0 mi (3.2 km); 2.5 mi (4.0 km) and 3.6 mi (5.8 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 60 to 70 F (15 to 21 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
With the cooler weather during this period, I wore the boots without gaiters since I was usually wearing pants. The pants seemed to prevent any debris from getting into the top of the boots so I didn't have any issues with that. Even without gaiters interfering with any potential ventilating from the collar of the boot, I still found the boots to be hot on warmer days. Overall I found the boots to be much more comfortable in the cooler temperatures and am looking forward to wearing them as temperatures cool even more and the rain starts.
One of my last hikes was for some fishing in the American River during which time I purposely walked the edge of the river to see how the waterproofing was holding up. I spent several minutes with the boots submerged as deep as I could go. The leather upper eventually wetted out so that the boots looked wet but my feet and socks were completely dry. This is impressive considering how many miles I've hiked in these boots. Normally I see the waterproof liner of boots start to fail before this on other waterproof boots.
While cutting and hauling firewood I was scrambling up some steep pitches of pine needles and leaves while carrying or rolling heavy rounds of oak. The boots did remarkably well in helping me keep traction of some less than ideal terrain. They allowed me to feel secure with my traction while operating a chain saw.
The durability of the boots has been very good. The uppers are holding up well. The toe rand and soles are securely attached. The only sign of wear is the left shoe lace at the toe. It has been wearing through due to attaching gaiters at that point. The outer strands of the lace is worn through and the entire core of the lace is exposed as seen the in photo.
The La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX boots are a nice combination of flexibility and support and are completely waterproof. However, I find them to not breathe well enough for me to wear them comfortably for summer hiking.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
Not breathable enough for warm days
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to La Sportiva and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these great boots.
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith