La Sportiva have to be one of the best-known brands when it comes to hiking footwear and their Spire GTX shoes are their ultra-lightweight and breathable offering which La Sportiva say are perfect for quick hiking.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Light weight
- Ultra breathable
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- Some may prefer a more rigid shoe
La Sportiva have got to be one of the biggest and best-known brands in the industry when it comes to footwear for outdoor use. Their range encompasses everything from lightweight trail shoes such as these to ultra specialized high-altitude boots worn by adventurers in the world’s toughest environments. The brand is well-regarded for integrating high tech material and bold design into their products and the Spire GTX is no exception, combining light weight and great breathability into a stylish package – though as you might expect, this doesn’t come cheap!
Compare to Similar Products
- Danner Women’s Trail 2650
- Adidas Terrex AX4 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes
- Keen Nxis EVO Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- Full guide: 20 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Analysis and Test Results
Industry giant La Sportiva are well-known for their innovative products – which also often feature bold designs. The Spire GTX is no exception, straddling the line between trail running and lightweight hiking shoe. La Sportiva say this is the shoe to choose if you want to prioritize speed and mobility on your hikes and looking at the specs, we can’t argue with this description. These shoes are not just light, but also prioritize breathability, whilst their design and material choice means that this performance does not come at the cost of comfort or durability. As you might expect, though, none of this innovation comes cheap.
The La sportive Spire GTX shoes feature a Vibram sole with a deep, aggressive thread pattern. The slightly soft rubber in the sole helps to improve traction on surfaces like slippery, wet rocks. The sole promises a sure grip and is just what you want beneath your feet when you’re aiming to move quickly through the landscape.
La Sportiva make a big deal about the breathability of these shoes and given their intended usage – ‘quick hiking’ as La Sportiva call it – this makes perfect sense as you can expect to work up quite a sweat when moving quickly over rough ground. We’d add trail running as another sensible use for these shoes, and this is a sport when high breathability makes perfect sense too. These shoes integrate a lot of material and manufacturing technology and innovation to live up to these claims. These include ventilation channels in the mid sole and a trademarked material structure La Sportiva call Nano Cells 2.0 in the mesh upper. Of course – and we’d expect no less of a product at this level – there’s also a Gore-Tex membrane to keep the water out of all this breathable material.
The La Sportiva Spire GTX are shoes, so their ankle support – or lack of it – will never match boots. For some potential buyers or usages, this may be an issue, but, for their intended use of quick hiking – to which we would add trail running – the lighter weight and increased ankle mobility offered by shoe sis a definite advantage.
As with pretty much every other product in our round up, the La Sportiva spire GTX shoes have a very subtly shaped arch support. This is what we’d consider a ‘neutral’ option and we think that most potential buyers will be completely happy with it. However, if you find that you need greater arch support, it’s fairly trivial to swap out the supplied, removable in-sole with something that offers better arch support.
The La Sportiva Spire GTX is available in sizes from US 5/ UK 3/EU 36 up to US 11/ UK 9/ EU 42, with larger sizes being available in the Men’s version. The shoes fit true to size and are suitable for those with normal to slightly narrow feet.
The La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes are made completely from synthetic materials and also feature a Gore-Tex membrane to help keep the extensive breathable sections of the shoe waterproof. Synthetic materials are rapidly replacing traditional materials like leather and canvas on high tech outdoor footwear as it offers lower weight, proven durability and better resistance to the very extreme cold and UV you might encounter at high altitudes (though these lightweight Spire GTX shoes are far from heavily insulated enough for high altitude use, so this last point is somewhat moot).
La Sportiva have long been known for their striking use of design in their footwear – they were pioneers in terms of bringing modern materials and design elements to hiking and mountaineering footwear. These Spire GTX shoes are no exception, and they feature a thoroughly modern and eye-catching design that show-cases the contrasting finishes and surface properties of the various high-tech materials used in their construction. The shoes are offered in three color ways, which are all distinct without being overly loud. Whilst La Sportiva were a pioneer of distinctive outdoor footwear, we wonder if some other manufacturers have surpassed them? Arguably the Adidas Terrex AX4 is a more eye-catching shoe, but its also quite a different product in many ways.
The La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes are built for light weight and breathability. These are both qualities that are often not associated with durability. However, whilst we can’t say the Spire GTX shoes will be as durable as, say, some of La Sportiva’s mountaineering boots, there are elements of their design and construction that indicate that durability was certainly a consideration for La Sportiva. First of all, the Vibram sole is sturdy and should provide long service on the trail. The upper section is also partially protected by a rubber rand around the toes and heel and the rest of the upper is rubberize din places to provide an extra layer of protection from abrasions and tears. Lightweight shoes like this will never have durability as an absolute priority, but we think La Sportiva have done a good job with balancing out the specs here.
La Sportiva claim a weight of 740g/1lb 10oz for a pair of the Spire GTX. They are not the absolute lightest shoes in our round up, but they do sit towards the lighter end of things and when you consider additions like the heavy-duty and grippy Vibram sole, the weight is, we think, quite impressive.
As with all the products in our round up, the La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes come with a set of fairly unremarkable removable insoles. We think that most buyers of these shoes will find these just fine. However, for some, changing out the insole can really make a big difference to the comfort of their footwear. Whether you want to fine-tune the fit, add deeper footbed cushioning or extra arch support, aftermarket insoles are a cheap and easy to way to customize the feel of your shoes.
No shoe or boot is completely without a breaking-in period, and we certainly would not advise wearing a new pair of shoes on a long hike on their first outing. However, these La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes have as close to zero breaking-in period as you could hope for. After a few short ‘warm-up’ walks, we were happy to take them out on a longer hikes. If you intend to run in the shoes, or hike very quickly, it’s worth paying particular attention to the socks you pair with the shoes. Thicker or padded hiking socks – especially those that contain Merino wool are a great choice for helping to keep shoe rubbing at bay when you’re on the trail.
The La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes use regular laces. Outwardly, there isn’t much to say about laces – most people are well familiar with them – however, it is worth mentioning that adjusting your laces is actually a great way to fine-tune the fit of your shoes as you can tighten or loosen them in different areas to better fit your foot. You can also change the lacing pattern you use – check out our guide for more information – to further adjust the fit and comforttof your shoes if needed.
The La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes feature a reinforced rubber rand around the toes and sole extended up at the very tip of the shoes too. This will provide some toe protection and will help prevent stubbed toes or take the edge of an impact if you trip or kick into a crock accidentally. However, this toe protection is not in the same league as some of the heavier-duty boots we’ve assessed in this round up, and you should be aware of this if foot protection is a quality your value.
Hiking Shoes v Hiking Boots
The choice of shoes versus boots on trail is very personal. Some hikers will prefer the added support offered by a rigid pair of boots but others will absolutely prefer the lighter weight and increased ankle mobility offered by shoes. These La Sportiva Spire GTX shoes are, as La Sportiva themselves state, aimed at those who ‘Hike Quickly’ and we’d also say that they are suitable for trail running too. These are applications where low weight and increased foot mobility all make sense.
In some ways, the La Sportiva Spire GTX looks like a niche product, being aimed at those who hike quickly or run on the trail. However, we think these lightweight and breathable, yet still relatively durable shoes are a great choice for those looking for a general-purpose lightweight hiking shoe and especially so if you regularly hike in very warm places.
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