La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX is a mid-top boot that is designed for rough travel over challenging terrain in a variety of inclement weather conditions. It succeeds in some aspects of this goal but falls short in others, namely adverse weather conditions and durability. We tested this boot on trips including the Mountaineer's Route on Mount Whitney, a 3-day route that requires stream crossings, off-trail travel, 4th class scrambling, and crampon use. We found that it was overall a decent boot.
The La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX is billed as a pair of hiking boots but performs much more like an approach boot, which we would define by being tighter fitting, less cushioned, and more driven by climbing ability than by comfort over long distance mileage. We awarded this boot a below-average score in comfort. Comfort points were deducted to the lack of stiffness in the sole which translated into sore feet at the end of a long day traveling over uneven terrain and the difficulty in achieving a secure fit due to the awkward inflexibility of the TPU Thermo Tech outer.
The coated polyester mesh was not easy to lace tight for those with narrow feet, leading to a loose feel without wearing thick socks to take up the volume. Our lead tester found that downsizing by 1/2 size was needed to get a proper fit. These boots had the least supportive insoles that we tested and we replaced the stock footbeds with those from the Editors Choice Winner to give us a more comfortable experience.
The Trango TRK was a decent performer in regards to stability, which is what we would hope coming from a climbing shoe and boot company. With a forefoot width of 4.5 inches, the sole is wide enough to resist rolling ankles in unstable terrain, and thick outer lugs allow the boots to find purchase on loose slopes. With above-average torsional stability, these boots can edge quite well, though not as well as others. Thanks to a narrower heel cup, the Trango TRK accepts a strap-on crampon for firm snow conditions but is not a true mountain boot.
The Trango TRK was among the top performers on rock, snow, and mud. This boot features the Vibram Mulaz rubber, a sticky rubber compound that makes it adept at scrambling on rock. With a more rockered sole than a mountain boot it did well on snow but not as well as our Top Pick for Scrambling.
Massive lugs allowed us to kick effective steps in soft spring snow but were not so pronounced that they rolled when edging up steep rock. Overall, the Trango TRK has the great traction that we would expect from a well-known climbing boot maker.
The La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX weighs 2.9 pounds in size 11 US on our scale. Considering that you are still getting a capable approach boot that can perform well on the trail and off at a sub-three pound weight, it is still reasonably light and is made so by its prodigious use of synthetic materials and sole technology.
We had high hopes taking the Trango TRK out on a mountain adventure for which they were intended, like one that involved lots of wet crossings; however, we found that among all of the boots that employed a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort liner, this one was the lowest scorer. When crossing a stream that barely reached ankle height, this model allowed water to enter via the toe box very quickly.
After we examined the interior of the boot, we found that unlike other models, the waterproof lining does not fully enclose the foot, leaving the tongue area susceptible to allowing water to enter freely. We feel this is a significant design flaw; despite having a flood height of 6.5 inches with a tall ankle collar and thick sole, the proper flood height is closer to 3 inches when measured from the bottom of the sole - barely the height of the top of the foot.
The Trango TRK earned one of the lowest scores in the review. Despite claims of being designed to take a beating on trails in any condition, we found that the TPU Thermo Tech application to the polyester mesh outer did not hold up to the rigors of its intended use. The coated material broke down over time, and delaminated, requiring Seam Grip patching to keep the water out. The polyester mesh used on the sides of the boot are also prone to wear, and when the fibers become fuzzy, they wick moisture in, rendering the Gore-Tex lining less breathable.
Our testers can appreciate the technology that went into making this boot, as one of the testers owns several other pairs of La Sportiva mountain boots that use this Thermo Tech coating. But, outside of snowy environments where there is less inherent abrasion than on rocky trails, we favor leather outers.
The Trango TRK falls right in the middle of our review when it comes to price. We feel that it is a reasonable value for the kind of boot you are getting, but with durability and waterproofness issues, recommend slightly more expensive boots for their value.
If you are a hiker that will see a range of mountain conditions, from mud and snow to rock scrambling, and are willing to sacrifice durability for weight, or the absence of animal products, then the Trango TRK could be a good choice for you.
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