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