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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX Boots > Test Report by alex legg
La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX Boots
Test Series by Alex Legg
Initial Report: May 13th, 2013
Field Report: September 2nd, 2013
Name: Alex Legg
Height: 6'4" (1.9 m)
Weight: 195 lb (88 kg)
Shoe Size: 13 US; 47 EUR; 12 UK
Email address: alexlegg2 AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country: Lyons, Colorado, USA
I have backpacked extensively throughout the southwestern United States my entire life. I prefer a lightweight approach using tarp tents and trail shoes so that I can save my strength for clocking miles. I hike on average 4 mi (6 km) daily from my back door and also enjoy trips up to 5 days in the backcountry. I encounter elevation from 5,000 ft to 14,000 ft (1,524 m to 4,267 m) and temperatures from below 0 F to 90 F (-18 C to 32 C).
Product Information and Specifications:
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Listed Weight: 16.1 oz (450 g)
Measured Weight: 16.1 (450)
-Upper: Airmesh / Hi-Wear mesh / Synthetic Leather / Vibram rubber rand
-Lining: Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Footwear
-Midsole: Dual Density MEMlex / TPU Stabilizer / RockGuard
-Sole: Vibram Idro Grip X-Traction / Impact Brake System
MSRP: $180.00 USD
Product Description and Initial Impressions:
The La Sportiva Xplorer Mid GTX boots are a lightweight mid-height hiking boot with a Gore-Tex membrane to help keep moisture out. Straight out of the box, they look really cool to me. They are designed with a combination of dark grey and black synthetic leather accented with bright red and orange lines of thread, plastic and rubber. The eyelets are outlined in the bright orange color with only the top two being strengthened by anything other than the thread and synthetic rubber. I think this is a creative way to cut down on the extra weight from metal eylets, but am curious to see what kind of durability La Sportiva's design will provide. The second eyelet to the top is outlined in a hard plastic and at the top a metal hook also painted the bright orange color. Directed down from the top four eyelets toward the heel, a bright red colored thread accents the boots. There is also a hard plastic line in the red color that borders the sole of the boots horizontally from the middle back to the heel. Underneath the red line, a rubber line in the orange color is placed just above the Vibram logo at the heel.
These boots look to be well constructed. Layers of synthetic leather intersect with breathable mesh near the ankle area, and a rubber toe rand in the front. On the back of the boots a nylon loop is mounted for assisting me to get my feet inside. At the bottom of the loop the La Sportiva logo is mounted on a small yellow circle of plastic. The laces on these boots seem pretty skinny to me. I think this may be another creative cut down on weight.
Right when I put the boots on I noticed that the nylon loop attached to the tongue seems offset towards the inside of my ankle. I can't decide if this was meant as a style design, or if maybe it is meant to keep the tongue from slipping to the side. Either way, it looks good and it hasn't slipped as of yet.
The soles of the boots are made of sticky Vibram rubber. The manufacturer describes this model sole as the Impact Brake System and claims it provides a 20% impact reduction from opposing slanted lugs as well as increasing traction by 20%. To me the soles look less rugged than I expected. I thought the tread would be a bit thicker. The area near the toe looks to have very little tread at all and I wonder if it will be worn smooth quickly during the testing period. This area is labeled the 'climbing zone' but its lack of tread has me wondering if it will turn out to be the 'slipping zone' instead. The rest of the tread doesn't worry me, but it does still look a little less rugged than I expected.
The boots feel very light in both weight and construction. There is very little padding to speak of anywhere in the boot. This is something that felt a bit weird when I tried them on, but I am quickly learning to like. The extra padding on many of my other boots seems a bit unnecessary now. Without so much padding, these boots are lighter and provide a good amount of space inside for my foot to reside happily.
Trying Them Out:
I couldn't contain my excitement even a little bit when I got these boots. I took a few pictures and then quickly ran outside with my dog chasing behind. We ran up a steep hill into Roosevelt National Forest and bounded around on boulders and fallen trees. The lack of padding felt slightly odd at first, but my feet were not uncomfortable nor did they feel unstable. I had no problem sticking to the rocks with ease, and thoroughly enjoyed the light weight feel.
I am really excited to review these boots! I think they look super cool and well constructed. I look forward to testing the durability and strength over the next four months. This will be an interesting and fun testing period!
What I like:
2. Minimalist construction
3. Not overly tight
1. Concerned about the minimal tread on the soles
2. Will the lightweight design hold up to the tests of the Rocky Mountains?
I have worn the La Sportiva boots extensively during this period of the review process. They have been on backpacking trips, day hikes, and all around town. Some of the trips I have worn them are listed below.
I wore the boots on a 3-day 2-night trip into Rocky Mountain National Park. I entered the Wild Basin area through a somewhat unknown trailhead in a nearby town. I started the trip at just under 9,000 ft (2,743 m) and climbed as high as 11,632 ft (3,545 m). I wore the La Sportiva boots the entire time through rain and mud in temperatures ranging from 35 F to 55 F (2 C to 13 C).
I also took the boots on multiple overnight trips to the Indian Peaks Wilderness West of Boulder, Colorado. The elevation ranged from around 8,400 ft to above 13,000 ft (2,560 m to above 3,962 m) as I made my way up a few large peaks. I experienced temperatures from 65 F down to 25 F (18 C down to -4 C).
The boots have been on many day hikes to bag peaks and explore lakes throughout the Front Range of northern Colorado. Temperatures have ranged from 55 F up to 90 F ( 13 C up to 32 C) and elevations ranged from 5,500 ft to 11,000 ft (1,676 m to 3,353 m).
Performance in the Field:
These boots are a lot of fun. The fact that they are so lightweight allows me to move quickly through the hills. I have easily put over 100 mi (161 km) on them and they are only showing minor wear. I haven't had any issues with moisture getting into them unless I was completely immersed in water above the top of the boots. I have had some issues with the laces falling apart and a serious case of swamp feet when hiking in warm weather.
These boots have quickly become my go-to choice for day hikes and multiple day trips alike. They are light enough for quick day hikes, and still sturdy enough to support a load of around 30 lb. The comfort of the boots is great unless it gets hot outside, then the GORE-TEX feature holds all my sweat inside and the smell becomes terrible. After many day hikes I have been forced to leave the boots outside for a day or more to calm down the odor. I normally do not have problems with foot odor, and I can't say that I'm happy about it at this point. In all fairness I feel that I suspected this could happen with the GORE-TEX boots. I have experienced very similar issues with other waterproof materials that were so good at stopping moisture that they stopped it from both directions.
Most of the features of the boots work great. The tread that concerned me in my initial report has not turned out to be a problem. In fact, I have found the tread to be awesome and I have zero complaints about it. The GORE-TEX is great at keeping water out of the boots. Whether it comes from the rain or I step into the river, I have not had any water get inside unless I overly submerged them above the top of the boots. The laces on the other hand failed me pretty quickly. They began to unravel shortly after the testing process began. I had to use some duct tape to stop the separation process, but the laces are so stretched out now that they have to be tucked into the boot. I originally thought this was no big deal and that I could easily replace them, but due to the very thin size of these laces, none of my local outdoor stores carry them. This is most annoying considering I live in a hub of outdoor companies in Boulder County, Colorado. At this point I have just been dealing with the lace issue and have yet to contact La Sportiva to see if they can replace them. I plan on discussing this issue with them before my Long Term Report is written.
Other than the laces unraveling, there is some slight separation occurring near the toe rand on the left shoe. It hasn't gotten bad enough to affect the waterproof feature, but I do have my concerns about the longevity of the boots due to this problem.
At this point I really like these boots! I have put them through a lot of dirt, mud, and water and they are holding up better than I expected. It is surprising to me that such a thin and lightweight boot can be so sturdy. I look forward to continuing to put them through a vigorous test over then course of the next two months.
Things I like:
1. Laces unraveling
2. Slight separation near toe rand
I would like to thank both La Sportiva and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to review these cool boots!
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