Reviews You Can Rely On

La Sportiva Spire GTX - Women's Review

A top-performing high-tech hiking shoe best suited to trail days where speed, agility, and support are the priority
la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review
Stable, supportive, and responsive, the Spire kills when you need to move quickly over technical terrain.
Credit: Myrha Colt
Price:  $209 List
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Myrha Colt, Mary Witlacil, and Laurel Hunter  ⋅  Nov 7, 2022
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 6.0
  • Support - 20% 7.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Spire GTX is a sporty yet stable hiking shoe that is easily a favorite when the fit is right. It performed well on single-day trips over all-terrain surfaces, proving supportive, protective, and tough enough to handle the rigors of rugged off-road conditions. It wears relatively lightweight underfoot despite all the structural support. And equipped with a Gore-Tex liner, it offers excellent waterproofing in addition to Vibram lugged soles that deliver particularly well on loose surfaces and when scrambling. While notably long, slightly narrow in design, and high in cost compared to other models in the test group, this is a top-quality hiker for those needing a solid, responsive foundation to support quick, nimble movement across varied, even technical terrain.
REASONS TO BUY
Responsive
Stable
Waterproof
Breathable
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Laces underperform
Sizing runs long
Editor's Note: We updated this review on November 7, 2022, to reflect additional testing completed this Fall.

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Pros Responsive, stable, waterproof, breathableGreat traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, well-pricedExcellent cushioning, roomy toe box, great traction, stable, supportiveSpacious toe box, great traction, waterproof, durable, stableFast, nimble, excellent traction, waterproof, supportive midfoot
Cons Expensive, laces underperform, sizing runs longBulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyeletHard footbed, a little heavyHeavy, hard footbed, not the most breathableLimited adjustability, average durability, runs narrow and long
Bottom Line A top-performing high-tech hiking shoe best suited to trail days where speed, agility, and support are the prioritySupportive, affordable, and highly durable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to every type of foot, hiker, and hiking experienceThe perfect balance between strength and softness, with exceptional cushioning, deep tread, and a roomy yet supportive baseA burly, reliable trail partner with a wide base and sticky traction for when trips run long, and durability, stability, and waterproofing are importantThis high-performing modern hiker is impressively stable, supportive, and responsive, well-suited to narrow feet on hard-charging missions across versatile terrain
Rating Categories La Sportiva Spire GTX Merrell Moab 3 WP -... Oboz Sawtooth X Low... Keen Targhee III Low Salomon X Ultra 4 G...
Comfort (25%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Support (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Specs La Sportiva Spire GTX Merrell Moab 3 WP -... Oboz Sawtooth X Low... Keen Targhee III Low Salomon X Ultra 4 G...
Weight (per pair) 1.7 lbs (size 10) 1.8 lbs (size 10) 2.0 lbs (size 10) 2.1 lbs (size 10) 1.7 lbs (size 10)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular Regular
Upper Abrasion-resistant mesh Leather, mesh Oiled nubuck leather, Cordura fabric mesh Oiled nubuck leather, mesh Synthetic textile
Midsole EVA EVA Rubber-blended Adaptive Cushioning Technology foam EVA Dual density EVA EVA
Lining Gore-Tex Surround Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane B-DRY waterproof/breathable membrane KEEN.Dry waterproof, breathable membrane Gore-Tex
Outsole Vibram XS Trek Vibram TC5+ rubber True Tread rubber KEEN All-Terrain Rubber Rubber Contagrip

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Spire GTX performed impressively well under most test conditions, providing enough support, traction, and waterproofness to handle a wide range of day hiking adventures, from steep climbs to loose rubble. Notable features include an abrasion-resistant mesh upper, a Gore-Tex Surround liner, an EVA midsole, and a Vibram XS Trek outsole. While the design is sold in standard width only (no narrow or wide options available), it is important to note the Spire does tend to run a tad long and slightly narrow and may not be the most comfortable choice for those in need of a roomy toe box. Similarly, it may be a bit too high-volume (or vertically roomy) for some feet.

Performance Comparison


la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - the spire is an aggressive high-tech shoe made for technical days...
The Spire is an aggressive high-tech shoe made for technical days when you need to move fast but don't want to sacrifice stability.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Comfort


Comfort in a hiking shoe is the most important metric for most folks, but it is also one of the most subjective. Comfort can be relative to fit, which is why we look for aspects of the shoe that are universal, regardless of foot shape. The Spire features a high-tech breathable mesh lined with Gore-Tex Surround, allowing for excellent breathability. They are also plenty warm for hikes in the shoulder seasons if you run cold. Like many European shoe brands, the fit is a bit long and somewhat narrow, so consider ordering down if you are between sizes, and be sure to test drive a pair at home before hitting the trail if you run wider through the forefoot.


The Spire GTX has a flexible yet supportive mesh upper that remains comfortable without pinching or producing top-sided discomfort, even on steep hikes. The insole is Ortholite 5mm, which has more cushion than a standard Ortholite insole, and the compressed EVA midsole provides enough shock absorption that the shoes feel comfortable without being soft underfoot. Although the design is both long and slightly narrow, the shoe is also constructed to accommodate a "high volume" foot, meaning it is more vertically spacious than many other options. This could be great for folks with higher arches and feet with more dimensionality than a flat-footed person. The downside: those with slender feet (who will love the length) may find the upper requires regular lace retightening to maintain comfort and fit. And while the tongue provides some cushion over the top of the foot, the demands of repeat adjustments may prove uncomfortable over time. Some hikers have found tongue pads useful to add a bit more cushion and fill some of that extra volume.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - the heavy-volume spire requires regular lace retightening to ensure...
The heavy-volume Spire requires regular lace retightening to ensure a glove-like fit when you are moving quickly.
Credit: Myrha Colt

The rocketed outsole and steeper angle of the ankle encourage and support forward movement. However, some testers reported a poor fit in the shoe overall, with too little room in the toe box to splay toes comfortably while also seeing gaps and slippage at the heel (even with laces fully tightened), creating hot spots in both locations. Others found the ankle collar and inner tongue rubbed uncomfortably across the top of the foot and at ankle bones, especially when traveling uphill. For these reasons, we would highly recommend testing your individual fit on a steep ramp if possible, positioning the shoe both up and downhill to ensure appropriate comfort and foot stability under varying conditions.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - it's important to test hiking shoe options on incline surfaces to...
It's important to test hiking shoe options on incline surfaces to ensure a proper fit (as your foot may move within the shoe when you encounter such varied terrain, and adjustments may be required).
Credit: Myrha Colt

One minor note: the Spire laces are long and rounded rather than flat. This means they slip loose a bit more easily and do not disperse pressure as well across the tongue of the shoe. While this is a tiny inconvenience, and we were still able to get a good fit, it is also easy to swap out alternative aftermarket laces if it proves a problem.

Support


Aside from evaluating each hiker in the field and considering its features, we also do a series of tests to "measure" the degree of support offered by the shoe. The Spire GTX is impressive on this front.


First, we twist the shoes as if we were wringing out a sponge. In this test, the Spire delivered solid rigidity — both when laterally twisted from big toe to heel and from pinky to big toe — but with enough flexion to leave us confident we'd have no problem tackling even the steepest inclines on our upcoming routes. Rigidity in each of these aspects translates to better support for your foot on the trail and less fatigue for your feet over the long haul. Where the Spire gets it right is in striking a balance: combining a midfoot that provides a reasonably stiff foundation to protect your steps (including some structural arch support) with a forefoot that has a bit more flexion to allow for sensory intake and responsiveness.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - twisting and bending the spire in testing; demonstrating the high...
Twisting and bending the Spire in testing; demonstrating the high level of stability and protection this lightweight speedy trail hiker has to offer.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Typically, we expect the most support from leather hiking shoes because leather is thick and less flexible. This is why it can take months to get leather boots to relax enough to conform to your feet. However, the upper on the Spire is made of the latest and greatest in lightweight, high-tech mesh material, delivering durability and soft-sided comfortable support without becoming sloppy — a fantastic balance. Excellent shock absorption through the midsole and a backside heel flare means the shoe is stiff enough to protect from some rocks and roots while providing a stable platform on uneven trails. We tested these trail running, and while they are a bit burly for a run, they would be a great option for fast-packing. But in general, long trail days with and without pack weight resulted in tired feet. So there are better choices than the Spire for multi-day adventures.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - comfortable enough for a trail run, burly enough for big adventures.
Comfortable enough for a trail run, burly enough for big adventures.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Traction


We look at two factors for traction: the quality or stickiness of the rubber (which is important on rocky slabs) and the shape, depth, and direction of the lugs. The lugs on the Spire grab through mud and loose material to give you the confidence to ascend and descend quickly. They feature the Vibram XS Trek soles that provide excellent grip, particularly in loose dirt.


The deep and multi-directional lugs shed material easily, grabbing onto sandy or unconsolidated trails with confidence. The heels have an Impact Braking System, which refers to the shape and angle of the rubber on the backend. Angled in the opposite direction from the other lugs on the outsole, this braking system helps your heel dig in to gain purchase when moving downhill. It works impressively when descending — even on volcanic rubble, snow, and loose sediment. Unfortunately, on slick rock, the seemingly sticky outsoles proved less grippy than visual inspection otherwise indicated. As a result, we slowed our roll whenever heading downhill on granite.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - deep and varied lugs along with a wide sole underfoot make a very...
Deep and varied lugs along with a wide sole underfoot make a very stable ride. We also appreciate the addition of the rear heel brakes (the yellow portion).
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Weight


The Spire weighs 1.7 pounds for a size 10 US. This is just about midrange when compared to the other hiking shoes we tested. While its weight felt negligible once on and never once slowed us down, this combination of features and performance is something we came to expect from a variety of shoes in this range.


Water Resistance


We tested the Spire GTX in streams, sprinklers, and rain, and our feet stayed dry. These kicks also passed the bucket test (standing in 3 inches of water for 5 minutes) with flying colors. We saw no signs of water inside the shoe upon completion of the test nor any indication of absorption to impact its final weight. These are the kinds of results you want when faced with a stream crossing.


The Spire boasts a Gore-Tex Surround membrane, which provides fantastic water resistance. Hiking shoes will always have limited protection due to their shorter structure (for more significant protection, you'd want to select a boot). But with a slightly higher ankle height than other hikers in the group, the Spire provides a tad more splash protection. It is, at minimum, high enough to keep your feet dry in shallow puddles and streams, as well as when moving through mud slop or a few inches of snow.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - the spire's waterproof liner and deep, sticky tread deliver...
The Spire's waterproof liner and deep, sticky tread deliver confidence whenever a stream crossing presents itself.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Durability


We saw no sign of scuffs, de-lamination, or unusual wear in the Spire during our testing period. While many shoes claim to be abrasion-resistant, this model stood up incredibly well to very aggressive volcanic rocks, thorny shrubs, granite talus fields, and even getting too close to a campfire.


Some online reviewers have had durability issues with these shoes; however, between reviewers, we pounded out hundreds of miles without challenging the integrity of the Spire. Admittedly, aftermarket insoles were at play, and laces have been replaced 3+ times (more than any other pair). But aside from having some of the least durable laces on the market, these shoes have earned their worth. Overall, we did not experience any concerning durability issues during our testing period.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - we put the spire through some challenging terrain with any number of...
We put the Spire through some challenging terrain with any number of hazards in between. It held strong with only the most minimal wear and tear noted, including laces that do need to be replaced regularly.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Should You Buy the La Sportiva Spire GTX?


The Spire GTX lives up to its advertising as a high-performing, supportive hiking shoe that can log many miles while keeping you agile and quick on technical terrain. We like it, and we think its recipe of trademarked technologies is more than worthy of consideration when the fit works. That said, it is also among the most expensive in our current test suite and may not be the best option for everyone. However, if you are looking for a well-engineered shoe that offers flexibility and strength with all the support you'll need to handle rugged and varied terrain with grace, we think it's well worth the price.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - adept at every hiking adventure we could think of.
Adept at every hiking adventure we could think of.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?


If your budget is tighter than this shoe will allow, we think the Merrell Moab 3 WP could be a good choice given its excellent test results for comfort, support, traction, and similarities in weight. If you prioritize lightweight shoes that excel in technical terrain and don't need quite as much support in your foundation, we can also easily recommend the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex.

la sportiva spire gtx for women hiking shoes review - the spire is a great choice when you want to move quick but you know...
The Spire is a great choice when you want to move quick but you know you'll need stability and versatility on the way.
Credit: Myrha Colt

Myrha Colt, Mary Witlacil, and Laurel Hunter
 
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