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La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX Review

These light, versatile boots are a good for all-around performance.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $475 List | $475.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, versatile, great for rock climbing
Cons:  Not very warm, minimal calf support
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 2, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 7
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Warmth - 15% 3
  • Water Resistance - 20% 4
  • Climbing - 25% 6
  • Hiking - 10% 8
  • Lacing - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX is our Best Buy Award winner. What makes this boot a good value isn't just its low price. Though it's the strongest at rock climbing, it also puts forth a satisfactory performance on steep ice or mixed ground. Low weight enhances its versatility, as it won't punish you on long routes or long approaches. This boot doesn't give a lot of calf support or a ton of warmth. For some climbers that won't be an issue, but for others those are dealbreakers. If you're looking for something warmer for sending steep ice, check out our Editors' Choice, the Scarpa Phantom Tech.


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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $475.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Light, versatile, great for rock climbingWarm, light, very water resistantWarm, light, climbs wellRemovable liner, velcro ankle strap, waterproofLight, climbs mixed and rock terrain well
Cons Not very warm, minimal calf supportNon-intuitive lace-lock, priceyLeaks like a sieve, expensiveExpensive, slightly flexibleNot super warm, overly complicated lacing
Bottom Line These light, versatile boots are a good for all-around performance.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 is the lightest double boot on the market, and perfect for winter mountaineering in the lower-48.This lightweight boot is made for mixed climbing and high-speed mountaineering.
Rating Categories Trango Tower Extreme GTX Scarpa Phantom Tech La Sportiva G5 Arc'teryx Acrux AR Asolo Eiger GV
Weight (20%)
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9
Warmth (15%)
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4
Water Resistance (20%)
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Climbing (25%)
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7
Hiking (10%)
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7
Lacing (10%)
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Specs Trango Tower... Scarpa Phantom Tech La Sportiva G5 Arc'teryx Acrux AR Asolo Eiger GV
Style Single Single Single Double Single
Weight 1lb 13.6oz (835g) 1lb 15oz (875g) 1lb 15.2oz (885g) 2lb 2oz (965g) 1lb 13.8oz (845g)
Sizes Available 38-48 38-47 38-48 7-13.0 5-11.5
Upper Nylon 6.6 with Honey-Comb Guard and FlexTec 3 Schoeller, Cordura, aluminum High tenacity Nylon with Insulating felt and PE barrier 3L GORE-TEX w/ TPU Laminate High resistance polyamide fabric + microfiber
Waterproof Lining GORE-TEX Performance Comfort OutDry membrane Waterproof membrane GORE-TEX GORE-TEX
Shank 9mm Insulated IBI-Thermo Carbon fiber 3mm Honeycomb Tech insulating carbon PU Asoframe carbon and kevlar
Midsole 6-7mm TPU/ Dual-density micropore EVA Micropourous EVA 8-9mm TPU, PU inserts, SBR Airchushion CM EVA, carbon fiber Duel-density Micropourous midsole
Sole Rubber Vibram "One" Vibram Zero Gravity Vibram Matterhorn Vibram AR Vibram 1225 Mulaz

Our Analysis and Test Results

La Sportiva has been using the Trango last to build mountaineering boots for a long time. Many of those boots have had long or complicated names, and the Trango Tower Extreme GTX is no exception. Climbers and mountaineers familiar with the silver Trango boots of the early twenty-teens will be pleased with what is essentially an updated version of that boot, which was also a lightweight all-around boot. Read on to find out why this boot won our Best Buy Award.

Performance Comparison



Weight


This is (by a nose) the lightest boot in our test. It weighs in at 1lb 13.6oz (835g). The Asolo Eiger GV is ever so slightly heavier. Part of the reason for that is that there's no leather in the upper of the boot - its all synthetic materials. It also has no extra frills; there are no zippers or weird flaps on this boot. In many ways (including the muted color scheme) this boot looks more like a traditional mountain boot.


Our testing size is 43; most manufacturers quote weights for size 42 or 42.5. Also, listed boot weights are for one boot (1/2 of a pair). No rock climber ever wants to have a pair of boots in their pack (or, god-forbid, clipped to their harness) while climbing, but this is the pair of boots in our test which would punish climbers the least. The light weight of this boot made it a favorite for our testers who were carrying more than one pair of footwear, like if we were skiing in to an alpine climb.

On lead in the Trango Tower Extreme. Not our favorite boot for steep ice  but it got the job done.
On lead in the Trango Tower Extreme. Not our favorite boot for steep ice, but it got the job done.

The heaviest boot we tested is the La Sportiva Nepal Cube. The upper is mostly leather, and it's over an inch taller. The Arc'teryx Acrux AR is the second heaviest boot in our review and is significantly warmer and more water resistant.

Warmth


As you would expect for a boot that's so light, it also offers the least amount of warmth. The low cut doesn't run insulation up your leg, the boot is fairly thin, and the mid and outsole isn't unusually thick. This isn't the boot we'd recommend to cold-footed climbers or the one we'd reach for on bone-chilling days on the ice in Cody.


Those qualities make this boot uniquely suited for year-round performance. Most other boots in our review could leave your foot really sweaty on a mid-summer ascent of a Cascade volcano. The Trango Tower Extreme is much more suited to summer romps, while still being warm enough to suffice for most winter days.

The gasket style cuff from the inside (top) and outside of the boot with our lead tester's skinny legs keeps snow out during all but the most sustained post-holing.
The gasket style cuff from the inside (top) and outside of the boot with our lead tester's skinny legs keeps snow out during all but the most sustained post-holing.

The warmest boot in our review is the Acrux AR. Second in warmth but much lighter is the Scarpa Phantom Tech.

Water Resistance


As we mentioned above, the Trango Tower Extreme is built with modern waterproof materials, including Gore-Tex. The top of the cuff has a grippy gaiter-like finish on it, that does a pretty good job keeping the snow out on extended post-holing sessions.


This boot's weak point for water resistance is its relatively low "water line". The grippy gaiter like part of the cuff is not waterproof, and the top of the cuff has a deep cut-out for your Achilles tendon. This means that the point where liquid water can enter the boot is just under 7 inches (about 17cm) off the ground. Below this, it's watertight.

Under water in the tub test.
Under water in the tub test.

The Acrux AR and Phantom Guide, both with super gaiter construction, are very water resistant.

Climbing


Overall the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX is a slightly above average climber, but it has some distinct strengths. This is the boot to reach for if your route involves climbing on bare rock without crampons. It's got a bunch of range of motion built into the ankle and a good amount of rocker in the sole. It would be an excellent choice for the North Face of Mount Edith Cavell, which involves loads of 4th class scrambling, a glacier crossing, many pitches of 5th class rock, and some moderate ice. On a route like this confident rock climbers can skip the rock shoes and simplify their day by just bringing these boots.


Our testers also liked this boot on mixed pitches and for dry tooling. The ankle flexibility helped us with tricky footwork, and the rigid sole was supportive. This is also an excellent boot for French techniques. Our favorite mixed/dry tooling boot is the Eiger GV.

Our lead tester making it happen on weird rock. This boot climbed rock well.
Our lead tester making it happen on weird rock. This boot climbed rock well.

Its climbing weakness is steep ice. This shouldn't be a problem for folks with strong calves and good ice technique, but the chicken-legged or new ice climbers may feel the calf pump more with this model than others. The boot most tuned for steep front-pointing is the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX. Our all-around favorite climber is the La Sportiva G5.

Lacing


The Trango Tower Extreme has a simple, secure lacing system. It's a pretty traditional set up with lace hooks on either side of the ankle to let you lock in different amounts of tension for the upper and lower boot. Any climber who has worn a boot will instantly figure out how to lace these up.


The Nepal Cube has a similarly simple and secure lacing system. The Eiger GV has the most complicated closure system, with elements that we feel are unnecessary.

We liked the simple and secure lacing system on this boot.
We liked the simple and secure lacing system on this boot.

Hiking


This is the highest performing boot for hiking in our test. The low weight certainly helps, you won't feel like you're clomping along the trail in a pair of alpine ski boots with the Trango Tower Extreme on your feet.


Our testers also appreciated the rocker built into the sole of this boot; it seemed to encourage a more natural and efficient gait. This boot also has a cut out in the back of the cuff for your Achilles tendon. We felt like this lessened the resistance when we were stepping forward.

The Eiger GV (left) and Trango Tower Extreme weigh almost exactly the same.
The Eiger GV (left) and Trango Tower Extreme weigh almost exactly the same.

The Eiger GV, G5, and Acrux also weren't bad to hike in. Our least favorite boot to hike in is the Nepal Cube.

Best Applications


We think this is a great boot for any ascent where weight is at a premium, especially if it's not super cold. This boot is also a good choice for year-round mountaineers who want one boot to do it all. For alpine rock climbs where the rock movement is easy, but boots are still necessary for snow or ice on route or the approach and descent, this pair is a great solution.

Value


At just $475 MSRP we think these boots are a good value. While we didn't have them long enough to really test durability, there are no obvious weak points in the construction or materials. Their year-round versatility contributes to their value.

Conclusion


The lightweight mountaineering boot can be an incredibly useful tool for mountaineers who like to enjoy all four seasons and for climbers who's main focus is the rock climbing but like to get out in the mountains occasionally. Both of those groups will be rewarded by this boot's low weight and comfortable hiking performance. It also climbs reasonably well overall, with an above average showing at mixed climbing and dry tooling and on rock without crampons. In many ways, this boot reminds us of Scarpa's excellent but now-discontinued Rebel Pro. For the above reasons and its low price (for a mountaineering boot), we've honored the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX with our Best Buy Award.

The gaiter-like cuff kept snow out even when post-holing through breakable crust.
The gaiter-like cuff kept snow out even when post-holing through breakable crust.


Ian McEleney