The La Sportiva Xplorer is a lighter-weight shoe that is meant to cross the boundary between trail running shoes and approach shoes. It is the only shoe in our test group that has a breathable mesh upper. It offers decent foot support for most distances and tasks, and also has adequate climbing ability when needed. If you are the type of climber who like to do super light and fast summits or tends to do long alpine approaches, this is a great shoe for you. If you want the lightest shoe you can find for carrying on your harness as a descent shoe, try our Top Pick winner, the Evolv Cruzer - Women's.
La Sportiva Xplorer - Women's Review
Cons: Not as lightweight as they could be given their purpose
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva Xplorer is a great combination of a trail running shoe that also gives you the ability to stay safe when you come across slab or rocky sections. It is breathable, lighter-weight, and still offers support and climbing capability.
Overall, these shoes come in middle of the road for their climbing performance. One thing to mention is that they do excel at edging. The Vibram® rubber rolls over from the tread to cover the midsole, which give them extra grip when edging.
Like the La Sportiva Boulder X - Women's, these shoes also have the Vibram® Idro-Grip rubber, which we think strikes a good balance between being decently durable and also suitably sticky. This, along with a flexible midsole makes them satisfactory at smearing. They aren't great crack climbing shoes and due to the mesh uppers, using these shoes to crack climb seems to completely trash the delicate mesh.
The Xlplorers are made with mesh uppers which provide excellent breathability so your feet stay dry and happy. In fact, they are the only shoes that we tested with mesh uppers and are the most breathable of all our test group shoes. Right out of the box, these shoes were comfy even for longer undertakings. They do have a lace system that goes all the way to the end of your toes, so this gives you a lot of adjustability in fit. Overall, these shoes seem more roomy than average. They might run slightly larger due to their focus on hiking versus climbing, but something to be aware of when choosing your size.
The Xplorers have a section of molded TPU that runs the length of the shoe on either side of the foot. This support system also has nylon cords that connect this TPU section to the lacing system, which allows extra support when you need to climb and really tighten these shoes up to make them secure. The midsoles of these shoes are fairly flexible, which means that they are less supportive for your feet when carrying heavy loads.
The Xplorers are on the lighter side of the group of shoes we tested, but they are not as light as you might expect this shoe to be for its intended purpose, which is to be the lightweight option for super-fast mountain missions. One shoe weighs in at 13.4 ounces, which is only approximately one ounce lighter than the three heavy-duty shoes in the group (La Sportiva Boulder X, Five Ten Guide Tennie - Women's, and Five Ten Camp Four). Both the Scarpa Crux - Women's and the Evolv Cruzer - Women's are lighter than the Xplorers.
The Xplorers have TPU molding along the side of the shoes. This is supposed to be for added foot support, but we think it also adds extra durability to otherwise not so durable mesh when you are travelling in terrain with lots of sharp rocks and talus.
These shoes are best reserved for light and fast ascents, long moderate traverses, running on slabby or rocky trails, or long alpine approaches.
The Xplorers will cost you $120 MSRP. This is in the middle range compared to the rest of the shoes we tested. While this is a little spendy and not a screaming deal, we think these shoes are still a good option for many types of approaches, and are a reasonable value for your money.
The Xplorer is the only shoe in our test group that has breathable mesh, and is designed to be a cross between an approach shoe and a trail runner. If you like to have the option of running part of your approach, these would be a great choice.
— Sarah Hegg