La Sportiva Trango Alp Evo GTX - Women's Review
Cons: Not insulated, less suited to steep snow, not meant for ice
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva Trango Alp is a summer mountaineering masterpiece that climbs rock well and will last for many miles and several seasons of heavy use.
The Cube series from La Sportiva has been all the rage, as something new, naturally, but mainly for the weight savings. La Sportiva advertises the Trango Cube to be 1200 grams/pair for size 38, and the Alp at 1350 grams/pair. This is just over five ounces (a chocolate bar is usually around 3-3.5 ounces).
It is said that for every extra pound of weight on your feet (in the form of footwear, skis, snowshoes, etc.), it is as if you added anywhere between six and ten times that amount to your backpack. Is the tradeoff worth it? Here's a calculation: is the benefit of the Alp over the Cube enough to justify essentially adding 30-50 ounces (2-3 lbs) to your backpack? That's a lot! Some of our reviewers found the Cube to be uncomfortable and too fragile to last more than one season—for them, the answer was a resounding yes!
The Trango Alp Evo GTX is relatively closely related to the old standby, the Trango (now offered in many subcategories). It is a lightweight mountaineering boot intended for summer use with a lot of travel on trails, and less on snow. It is not insulated, but in our experience using the other Trango models, we felt these were just a touch warmer than the synthetic versions, likely due to the fully leather upper.
This is our favorite summer mountaineering boot for midsummer ascents at moderate elevations in the Cascades (i.e., never warm enough for Mount Rainier). We are especially fond of this boot for ascents like Mt. Baker which are still high enough to be chilly at night during the ascent, but then the snow gets sloppy and wet because the days are so hot. If you run warm enough not to need an insulated boot at 10,000 feet in the summer, then this might be your dream boot. Otherwise, it is excellent for lower elevation climbs that involve a lot of trail time and don't require much warmth.
The Trango Cube is very similar to this boot, but is lighter weight and synthetic, it was not quite as warm. Granted, neither boot is designed for warmth, as they are both uninsulated summer mountaineering boots. For a similar fit in an insulated boot, La Sportiva offers the Nepal series, a single layer insulated winter mountaineering boot great for ice climbing in all but the coldest conditions. And for something super warm, check out the La Sportiva Spantik, a "unisex" boot that we still love, now officially reviewed for women.
The Alp features a full Gore-Tex lining, making it an excellent summer mountaineering boot. We stood in babbling brooks up to our ankles to make sure this is the case—and we carried on with reliably dry feet. The boot is fully lined, through the tongue, and all the way to the top of the cuff—you can see this when you go to slide your foot inside and see that the whole boot is one solid piece.
If you tend to have sweaty feet, the Gore-Tex lining could spell trouble—this will reduce breathability. However, since these boots are best suited to summer alpine environments, we did not have an issue. On really hot, dry approaches on trails, however, we tend to wear hiking shoes or trail running shoes instead and carry these boots in our backpack until the terrain gets technical and the temperatures ease off. Good thing they're lightweight!
Warmer boots like the Nepal and the Spantik do not have a Gore-Tex lining, which is sometimes a bummer for summer mountaineering, but theoretically makes sense, as these boots are intended for colder places. In the lower 48, however, we have high peaks like Mount Rainier that get cold enough even midsummer, that you need an insulated boot—but when you're slogging downhill on the Muir Snowfield under the late afternoon sun, they can get pretty wet, and this is not the best for the long-term care of the boots.
Imagine a stiff mountaineering boot that still smears like a rock shoe, easily gripping slabby, featureless rock—that's the Trango Alp. The partial shank allows more toe flexion, hence improved smearing abilities. And this doesn't even come at a cost to the edging ability of the boot. The wrap-around "climbing zone" at the big toe offers excellent grip on thin edges, a common feature on jagged alpine rock.
These boots are supple enough and confidence inspiring to climb moderate rock routes in the mountains. For example, if you comfortably climb 5.10 traditional climbs in rock shoes, you would likely feel okay on 5.4 to 5.6 routes in the mountains, and with a lot of practice and mileage on alpine rock, you can work up the grades from there.
The Trango Cube is the most similar boot in this review. The leather upper of the Alp makes the articulation of the Alp feel much more natural than the synthetic materials in the Cube. For a winter boot that still climbs rock surprisingly well, but will be warm enough for ice climbing, we love the simple, tried and true Nepal.
This is expressly not an ice climbing boot. This is a summer mountaineering boot, and as such does not have a toe welt for step-in crampons (with a metal toe bail). These boots will only work with hybrid or strap-on crampons—these styles both have a plastic toe strap.
We do like this boot for steep snowy approaches to rock ridges. It is a compromise, for sure, between rock and snow performance, but so long as most of the climb is on rock, and most of the approach is on trail, this boot will likely be a good fit for the route. On snow, the toe flexes a bit more than we would like—a full shank boot provides an excellent, flat platform when kicking steps in snow—but once we step onto rock, the advantages are well worth it.
For much better performance ice climbing, check out the Nepal, or the Scarpa Mont Blanc.
This boot is marketed as a supportive backpacking boot that can be used for mountaineering. We think it is the other way around: this is an excellent summer mountaineering boot that is okay for hiking. As avid mountain athletes, we spend a lot of time in boots—so, perhaps amusingly, we try to minimize that time as much as possible. This means we try to wear the most minimal footwear we can safely manage. We believe it is important to keep your feet strong, and overly supportive boots don't allow you to give your feet much of a workout. But they are great for reducing fatigue on big climbs. So, there's a tradeoff in there somewhere…
Here's our strategy: we spend a lot of time on trails in minimal footwear any time we are not carrying heavy loads, to keep our feet strong and healthy. When we put a heavy pack on our backs, we wear more supportive boots. And when we are moving over steep rocky terrain for an extended period, such as on a summer alpine rock route, we wear summer mountaineering boots.
All this is to say unless your doctor specifically said to get stiff mountaineering boots to hike in due to an injury or foot issue, don't buy these boots for hiking. Strengthen your feet, slowly and carefully over a lot of time and gentle miles, with minimal footwear. Then your feet will be strong, and you probably won't have tired feet after a long alpine rock route in these Trango Alp boots. The Trango Cube is a similar design, though we still think the Alp articulates more naturally, offering smoother hiking performance.
As professional guides and avid mountain athletes, we put a lot of miles on our mountaineering boots. The Trango Alp has been our favorite summer boot for several seasons (1) because it has lasted several seasons, and (2) because the fully leather upper is much more durable than any synthetic boot we have used, which results in #1 above. For a warmer boot with similar durability, we love the Nepal and the Scarpa Mont Blanc.
The Trango Alp is an excellent summer mountaineering boot for those who appreciate a full leather boot with smoother articulation, increased durability—and don't mind the slightly heavier weight. These offer a slight increase in warmth over some synthetic summer boots, also due to the leather.
The Trango Alp is an excellent value. If you plan to log some miles and want a boot to last several seasons, this is the summer mountaineering boot for you. The leather upper is far more durable than synthetic boots, all for the same price. The only cost is a few more ounces to carry around.
The La Sportiva Trango Alp is an excellent summer mountaineering boot. It is relatively soft and supple for a supportive summer mountaineering boot, meaning it climbs rock well. It is less suited to snow, and not meant for ice climbing as an uninsulated boot, but it can handle moderate summer snowfields and steep snow couloirs on the approach to your alpine rock ridge. This is a very durable leather boot that will keep you psyched for several seasons and lots of miles—horizontal or vertical.
— Lyra Pierotti