La Sportiva Spire GTX - Women's Review
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La Sportiva Spire GTX - Women's
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|Pros||Excellent traction, responsive and stable support, breathable waterproof protection, comfortable right out of the box||Excellent traction, very supportive, breathable design, comfortable for various foot shapes||Versatile, nimble, excellent traction, excellent waterproof protection, supportive midfoot||Lightweight, affordable, versatile, water-resistant upper, good breathability||Ample traction, highly cushioned, stable, waterproof, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive, sizing runs large, 100% recycled polyester laces may require replacement||Not waterproof, minor durability issues||Single-pull lacing system has limited adjustability, fit favors narrow feet, not recommended for cross-country travel, less breathable||Sizing runs small, narrow toe box, synthetic mesh upper lacks durability||Bulky design, no additional runner’s loop eyelet, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||A stand-out hiking shoe that features ample comfort, great traction, a stable base of support, and a high quality, durable, and waterproof mesh upper||An excellent choice for those looking to navigate popular trails that feature polished granite or slippery sandstone||A comfortable, supportive, and waterproof shoe that offers excellent and responsive traction in a sleek, modern package||This lightweight shoe offers the performance of a trail runner with the increased support and protection of a hiking shoe||Supportive and affordable, this tried-and-true design is well-suited to numerous foot shapes, hikers, and backcountry experiences|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||The North Face VECT...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva Spire GTX||La Sportiva TX4 - W...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||The North Face VECT...||Merrell Moab 3 WP -...|
|Weight (per pair, size 8.5)||1.68 lbs||1.42 lbs||1.54 lbs||1.34 lbs||1.78 lbs|
|Upper||Abrasion-resistant mesh||Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand||Synthetic textile||Performance mesh||Leather, mesh|
|Lining||Gore-Tex Surround||Nonslip mesh||Gore-Tex||futurelight waterproof membrane||Recycled mesh/waterproof, breathable membrane|
|Midsole||EVA||Traverse Injection MEMlex||EVA||Single-density EVA||EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram XS Trek||Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System||Rubber Contagrip||Surface Control rubber||Vibram TC5+ rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Spire GTX was inspired by mountain running and successfully combines the stability of a hiking boot with the agility of a trail runner. The design is notable for its excellent comfort straight out of the box and a stable and supportive base. The burly Vibram XS Trek with Stability Control System enhances traction on all types of terrain, and the abrasion-resistant mesh upper remains flexible while offering exceptional and breathable waterproof protection. This low-profile hiking shoe can do it all. It is perfect for hikers seeking to shed the extra weight of a hiking boot while prioritizing versatility and support for everything from steep and technical day hikes to multi-day trips into the backcountry.
Though La Sportiva footwear tends to favor those with a narrow foot shape, we're happy to report that the Spire GTX offers comfort, straight out of the box, for both wide and narrow feet. Notable features of the Spire design include a high-quality, abrasion-resistant, and breathable mesh upper that increases comfort by releasing moisture from the shoe while offering protection on rugged trails without sacrificing flexibility or responsiveness underfoot. Though the design features a spacious toe box for toes to spread out naturally, it may offer the most comfort for those with a higher arch rather than a flat foot. If you often find yourself between sizes, we recommend sizing down, as some find the accommodating fit to run large. And, if you find yourself needing to reduce some of the space and increase the padding of the tongue on the top of the foot, some hikers have found tongue pads useful to add a bit more cushion and fill some of that extra volume.
The combination of the compression-molded EVA midsole and 5mm Ortholite insert offers a ton of support and shock absorption under the foot as well as adequate padding surrounding the entirety of the ankle. Our testers appreciated this somewhat low-profile padding that amplifies comfort and breathability by avoiding the added heat and bulkiness of an overly-padded construction that can minimize comfort after multiple hours on the trail. During our spring testing period, we found the laces to successfully lock the foot in place, whether moving up or downhill, though some previous testers of varying foot shapes have noted the lacing system requiring multiple adjustments throughout their hikes. Therefore, if you find yourself requiring lots of adjustment, we highly recommend an after-market shoelace that is less rounded than what comes with the Spire. Overall, our lead tester, who has a narrow foot with a high arch, was satisfied with the fit and comfort she experienced from this shoe.
The Spire GTX offers ample support for varying foot shapes and sizes. The construction includes a compression-molded EVA midsole that, combined with the thin, 5mm Ortholite hiking insole, allows you to pick up the pace by absorbing the shock encountered underfoot on steep and technical hiking trails. Though this design features a burly outsole and structural arch support, the abrasion-resistant mesh also maintains flexibility for impressive trail responsiveness.
While conducting our support tests that involved wringing out the shoe like a sponge to determine lateral flexibility, the Spire delivered solid rigidity when twisted in both directions. Additionally, the lacing system aided in overall security when we hit the trails, both with or without a pack. Though this is not one of the lightest designs we tested, we're grateful for the lightweight feel underfoot, which provided enough support to prevent early fatigue and allowed us to push miles while moving through any trail system.
The design of the Spire GTX features an incredibly sturdy base thanks to the durable Vibram XS Trek outsole that performs well in all types of terrain. Additionally, the Spire offers a Stability Control System that resides on the heel of the shoe for added security when moving on steep ground. The deep and intricate lug pattern provides added grip and traction from loose sand to steep and polished stone.
During our spring testing period, we found these soles to perform well on polished and slippery granite slabs in addition to the ball bearings known as decomposing granite that can really test the performance of any outsole. Moving through snow patches, mud, and loose sand? Carrying a pack? The Spire is up for any backcountry challenge. Our testers were impressed and feel confident recommending this shoe for the most rugged outings.
The Spire GTX weighs 1.68 pounds per pair for a US women's size 8.5. When considering the range of hiking shoes we tested, this shoe is one of the heavier designs in the lineup.
While the Spire isn't quite as agile as its trail running shoe inspiration, we never noticed the increased weight underfoot. In fact, we're happy to add a little extra weight in exchange for additional traction, stability, waterproof protection, and durability to enhance backcountry travel both on and off the trail.
The Spire GTX really set itself apart from the other shoes in this review in balancing high-performing waterproof protection and breathability. Featuring Gore-tex Surround technology in addition to an upper mesh construction that ensures 360-degree breathable comfort, this shoe won't disappoint, especially if you're considering hiking during the spring when you will likely encounter melting snow and high-runoff conditions. The design also includes a high collar and one of the highest flood heights at 3.75 inches above the thick and burly outsole.
During our testing period, we were super impressed by the waterproof performance, especially when it meant the difference between completing our favorite loop or turning around due to inclement conditions. The Spire also passed our submersion tests, and we noted that the synthetic mesh upper never logged with moisture. However, it's worth mentioning that these shoes aren't as breathable as other options that don't feature a waterproof membrane; this is something you should consider if you're planning to hike in these shoes during the heat of the summer at lower elevations.
If a high-quality and long-lasting design is what you're after, look no further. The Spire GTX features a durable and abrasion-resistant mesh upper that offers complete waterproof protection while remaining highly breathable (for a waterproof design). The TPU toe cap and heel provide added protection from sharp rocks and tree stumps on the trail as well as additional durability in the most susceptible locations of the shoe.
After hiking hundreds of miles between multiple testers of various foot shapes and sizes, we've identified perhaps one of the only caveats to this shoe. Though the lacing system is one of the most durable that we've tested, as it is reinforced with the same mesh upper material and offers a runner's eyelet for a customized fit, the laces are constructed from 100% recycled polyester material. While we didn't experience any issues with these laces during our spring testing period, other previous reviewers noted issues and required replacement.
Should You Buy the La Sportiva Spire GTX?
Though the Spire GTX is expensive, it also offered the highest-performing design out of all the shoes in our testing group. It's one of the only shoes to provide enough support and stability that we're comfortable recommending it for extended backcountry trips in place of a hiking boot. The fit is comfortable right out of the box for various foot shapes, the design is stable and sturdy without added bulk or significant weight, and the waterproof upper remains breathable and flexible to increase responsiveness on the trail. This is the shoe that can do it all, whether traveling on or off trail, with or without a heavy pack; just keep in mind that the waterproof design may be a bit hot if hiking during the summer at lower elevations.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If you like the idea of a high-performing hiking shoe but you're on a tighter budget, check out the Merrell Moab 3 WP, which gave a solid performance in most metrics and is available at a more affordable price. If performance is important, but you'd rather shed some extra weight and features to pick up the pace, the The North Face VECTIV Fastpack FUTURELIGHT is one to seriously consider. And for a combination of the two, both performance and a lighter-weight design, the versatile Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is closer to the design of a running shoe but with the added durability and waterproof performance of a hiker.
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