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La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX Review

This boot slays steep ice, but carries a high weight penalty.
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Price:  $599 List | $575.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  A dream on steep ice, durable
Cons:  Heavy, not the most nimble
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 2, 2019
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 7
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Warmth - 15% 6
  • Water Resistance - 20% 7
  • Climbing - 25% 5
  • Hiking - 10% 4
  • Lacing - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX is the latest in the Nepal line, which has set the standard for single leather mountain boots for many years. Its stout leather construction offers durability and excellent calf support for climbing steep ice. However, that comes at a cost; these are the heaviest boots in our review. Other models are significantly lighter while offering better all-around climbing performance. Nevertheless, the durability and moderate warmth make this a good quiver-of-one boot choice.

Climbers who want something that weighs and costs less with more balanced climbing performance should check out our Best Buy Award winning La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $575.00 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros A dream on steep ice, durableWarm, light, very water resistantWarm, light, climbs wellLight, climbs mixed and rock terrain wellLight, versatile, great for rock climbing
Cons Heavy, not the most nimbleNon-intuitive lace-lock, priceyLeaks like a sieve, expensiveNot super warm, overly complicated lacingNot very warm, minimal calf support
Bottom Line This boot slays steep ice, but carries a high weight penalty.This lightweight, warm boot will keep your feet dry while getting you to the top of alpine climbs.This is a great boot for cold weather climbing except for one problem, it can't keep water out.This lightweight boot is made for mixed climbing and high-speed mountaineering.These light, versatile boots are a good for all-around performance.
Rating Categories La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX Scarpa Phantom Tech La Sportiva G5 Asolo Eiger GV Trango Tower Extreme GTX
Weight (20%)
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Warmth (15%)
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Water Resistance (20%)
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Climbing (25%)
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6
Hiking (10%)
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Lacing (10%)
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9
Specs La Sportiva Nepal... Scarpa Phantom Tech La Sportiva G5 Asolo Eiger GV Trango Tower...
Style Single Single Single Single Single
Weight 2lb 5.4oz (1060g) 1lb 15oz (875g) 1lb 15.2oz (885g) 1lb 13.8oz (845g) 1lb 13.6oz (835g)
Sizes Available 37-48 38-47 38-48 5-11.5 38-48
Upper 3.2mm silicone impregnated leather with high-abrasion resistant fabric Schoeller, Cordura, aluminum High tenacity Nylon with Insulating felt and PE barrier High resistance polyamide fabric + microfiber Nylon 6.6 with Honey-Comb Guard and FlexTec 3
Waterproof Lining GORE-TEX OutDry membrane Waterproof membrane GORE-TEX GORE-TEX Performance Comfort
Shank Carbon Tech honeycomb insulation Carbon fiber 3mm Honeycomb Tech insulating carbon Asoframe carbon and kevlar 9mm Insulated IBI-Thermo
Midsole 2 mm Polyurethane Micropourous EVA 8-9mm TPU, PU inserts, SBR Airchushion Duel-density Micropourous midsole 6-7mm TPU/ Dual-density micropore EVA
Sole Rubber Vibram w/ Impact Brake System Vibram Zero Gravity Vibram Matterhorn Vibram 1225 Mulaz Vibram "One"

Our Analysis and Test Results

La Sportiva has been making boots with the Nepal name for a long time, and the Cube GTX is the latest in this venerable line. Newer technologies, designs, and materials have allowed the competition to surpass this boot in many ways, but it remains a solid choice for steep ice and general mountaineering.

Performance Comparison


Steep ice is what this boot was built to climb.
Steep ice is what this boot was built to climb.

Weight


The Nepal Cube GTX is the heaviest boot in our test, weighing in at 2lb 5.4oz (1060g). We think that the stout leather upper and substantial outsole certainly are a big part of this weight, but they probably offer increased durability.

The weigh-in.
The weigh-in.

The Arc'teryx Acrux AR weighs about 2 ounces less but offers more warmth and weather protection. The La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX is the lightest boot in our review at 1lb 13.6oz (835g). Remember that these are the weights for one boot (half of a pair).

Warmth


The Nepal Cube is about in the middle of the pack for warmth. The tall, supportive cuff means that insulation runs farther up your leg. The thick mid and outsoles provide some good insulation from cold surfaces underfoot. Sportiva uses some sort of carbon honeycomb structure for the shank, and we suspect this makes this version of the Nepal warmer than its predecessors. The removable tongue padding provides some extra insulation.

Two very similar boots: the Nepal Cube (left) and the Mont Blanc Pro.
Two very similar boots: the Nepal Cube (left) and the Mont Blanc Pro.

Our testers were divided on this issue, but some think that the Nepal Cube is slightly warmer than the similar Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro. The warmest boot in our review is the Acrux AR. Because it's not as warm, the Nepal is a little more suited to summer excursions.

Water Resistance


This is a very water-resistant boot. The tongue bellows extends almost to the very top of the boot and keeps water and snow out of the front. In the back, the cuff dives a bit, and though the small cuff gaiter keeps snow away, it is not waterproof. The "water line" of this boot is about 7.5", impressive for a single boot.

The tub test. This boots "water line" is at the top of the cuff  not the black fabric gaiter above.
The tub test. This boots "water line" is at the top of the cuff, not the black fabric gaiter above.

The only boots in this review that are more water resistant are the Acrux AR and the Scarpa Phantom Tech. This makes sense, given that they're both super gaiter boots with waterproof zippers.

Climbing


Let's just get it out of the way right now, this boot is a front pointing machine. It was born to climb steep ice. Tighten the firm upper part of the boot and prepare to send pillars of frozen water from New England to the Northwest. The two next closest models for steep ice performance are the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro and Phantom Guide.

Crampon fit. Grivel on the left  Petzl on the right. Note that the Grivel bail is a smaller accessory model.
Crampon fit. Grivel on the left, Petzl on the right. Note that the Grivel bail is a smaller accessory model.

However, this boot was not our first choice for techy mixed climbing or climbing rock without crampons. The upper part of the boot, oh-so-supportive when front pointing, restricts ankle movement for other types of climbing. This kept its total climbing performance score low.

Climbers who are looking to tackle more rock and mixed terrain than pure ice should consider the Trango Tower Extreme which gives up some calf support for performance on those media.

Lacing


Our testers liked the lacing system on the Nepal Cube. It's simple and solid. Any person who has ever laced up a boot can get these to work right out of the box. While perhaps not quite as fast to don or adjust than the closure system on the La Sportiva G5, it wasn't far behind.

We found the Nepal Cube to be compatible with most crampons and binding systems.
We found the Nepal Cube to be compatible with most crampons and binding systems.

Hiking


We weren't big fans of hiking in this boot. Again, the supportive upper was less of an asset and more of a liability, and the weight definitely felt a little clunky when trying to beat other parties to the base of the ice on frozen trails in the Canadian Rockies. The Trango Tower Extreme was our go-to boot for routes with long approaches.

Removable and adjustable tongue padding helps dial in the fit.
Removable and adjustable tongue padding helps dial in the fit.

Best Applications


This boot is best for climbers who want to get on steep ice, whether that's frozen waterfalls in the winter or alpine ice in the summer. Those among us who often suffer the pain and humiliation of the calf pump will be especially happy to lace these up.

Value


One of the benefits we get from heavier materials is often durability. We think that's the case with this boot. It's the third least expensive boot in our review, and we suspect it's the most durable, making it a good value.

Conclusion


The La Sportiva Nepal Cube is the best of a long line of mountain boots. Our testing team thinks of this boot like the Toyota Tacoma of mountain boots; it's not the fastest or lightest or the highest tech, but it will get you there. If it fits your foot, this is a good quiver-of-one boot. For those of you who can't wait for summer to be over, and find yourselves watching Steve House solo Repentance and Remission on YouTube over and over, this is your boot.

Side-by-side testing of the Nepal and the Mont Blanc.
Side-by-side testing of the Nepal and the Mont Blanc.


Ian McEleney