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, but its shortcomings lead us to recommend the much more capable Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX as our Top Pick for Scrambling.
Cruising through alpine terrain, on firm snow to get to a peak is where the Trango TRK has found its niche.
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. It loses out to the Scarpa Zodiac Plus, the Top Pick for Scrambling, which is also considered an approach/mountain boot. 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 Salomon Quest 4D to give us a more comfortable experience.
Tester Ryan Huetter snugging up his La Sportiva TRK boots before a climb up Mount Whitney
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. It was as stable as the Hoka ONE ONE boot, but fell short of the award-winning Quest 4D and Scarpa Zodiac Plus models. 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 the Asolo Power Matic. 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 so those looking for higher performance should consider its bigger brother the Trango Cube GTX.
Hiking with loads in alpine terrain was where these boots shined, just don't expect them to last many years
The Trango TRK was a top performer on rock, snow, and mud, only being surpassed by the uber-sticky Scarpa Zodiac Plus. This boot features the Vibram Mulaz rubber, a stickier compound than the Vibram Mulaz used on the Zodiac Plus. The stiffer sole used on the Zodiac made it slightly more effective in maintaining traction in mountain conditions so had more of an advantage than the Trango TRK.
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 sticky Vibram Mulaz sole makes smearing on slabby rock much easier.
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 found a better performing boot in the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX with a weight savings of almost four ounces, though, without any of the drawbacks of using flimsy, synthetic materials.
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 the Quest 4D or Keen Targhee II, 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.
Even when only submerged to the laces, this was one of the leakiest boots we tested
The Trango TRK earned one of the lowest scores in the review, tying the Merrell Moab 2 Vent. 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 the leather outer found on the Scarpa Zodiac Plus, Asolo Power Matic, or Keen Targhee II.
After a full season of use, the light materials of the Sportiva TRK are showing heavy wear.
For hikers who are putting in long miles to get to their intended peak or who want the comfort of a rockered sole and the traction commonly found in mountaineering boots, the Trango TRK could be a good choice. Early season hikes with lots of travel on firm snow might be one of the best single applications for this boot. It has notable issues regarding durability and waterproofness, but if those are not concerns to you, you will find the Trango TRK to be a capable climbing boot that will last you one season of hard use or a couple of seasons of light use.
At $220, 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 like the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX 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.