Reviews You Can Rely On

La Sportiva Spire GTX - Women's Review

A high-tech hiking shoe that delivers in every category, outperforming the best shoes we've ever tested
La Sportiva Spire GTX - Women's
Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $190 List | $141.93 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Superb traction, supportive, waterproof, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive, laces not durable, sizing runs long
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Mary Witlacil and Laurel Hunter  ⋅  May 20, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 9.0
  • Support - 20% 10.0
  • Traction - 15% 9.0
  • Weight - 15% 5.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 10.0
  • Durability - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Spire GTX is a sporty yet stable hiking shoe that became a favorite with our lead tester. It performed well on every surface while being supportive and protective. It is equipped with a Gore-Tex liner for excellent waterproofing, and the Vibram lugged soles are protective, making them suitable for multi-day hiking and loose scrambling. Weighing in at 1.81 pounds for a pair of size 9.5 US (41 EU), they aren't too heavy underfoot despite all their support. While they are expensive, we recommend this pair of shoes for anyone who is looking for a high-performing hiking shoe. Overall, the Spire performs incredibly well while hiking, earning our top praise.

Editor's Note: We updated the review on May 20, 2022, to reflect some new testing done this Spring.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $141.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$140.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$104.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$134.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
88
82
77
62
61
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Superb traction, supportive, waterproof, comfortableFeels fast, lightweight, waterproof, great tractionComfortable, stable, great traction, durableComfortable, lightweight, decent traction, inexpensive, vegan-friendlyWaterproof, great traction, breathable
Cons Expensive, laces not durable, sizing runs longAverage durability, not as protective underfootUpper absorbs water (but doesn't leak), a little heavyNot waterproof, below average durabilityNeeds breaking in, runs short, awkward tongue, laces difficult to adjust
Bottom Line A high-tech hiking shoe that delivers in every category, outperforming the best shoes we've ever testedThis high-performing shoe is impressively lightweight and suited for hard-charging missions across versatile terrainThis beefy shoe features rugged durability and excels at day hikes, longer adventures, and tricky terrainA budget-minded, lightweight, and comfy shoe for fair-weather day hikes when you know your feet won't get wetGood at most things and great at some, this solid hiker meets most needs at a surprisingly low price
Rating Categories La Sportiva Spire GTX Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Oboz Sawtooth II Lo... Merrell Siren Edge 3 Merrell Moab 2 WP -...
Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Support (20%)
10.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Traction (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
5.0
8.0
4.0
8.0
6.0
Water Resistance (15%)
10.0
10.0
6.0
4.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
5.0
9.0
4.0
6.0
Specs La Sportiva Spire GTX Salomon X Ultra 4 G... Oboz Sawtooth II Lo... Merrell Siren Edge 3 Merrell Moab 2 WP -...
Weight (per pair) 1.61 lbs (size 7)
1.81 lbs (size 9.5)
1.37 lbs (size 7) 1.83 lbs (size 7) 1.41 lbs (size 9.5) 1.69 lbs (size 7)
1.71 lbs (size 10)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular, Wide Regular, Wide
Upper Abrasion-resistant mesh Synthetic/textile Leather/textile Waterproof mesh, 3D-printed TPU Suede leather, mesh
Midsole EVA EVA Dual density EVA EVA EVA
Lining Gore-Tex Surround Gore-Tex B-Dry Mesh M-Select Dry & Mesh
Outsole Vibram XS Trek Contagrip Sawtooth Vibram TC5+ Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Spire GTX is an unexpected dominator that performed impressively well in every test we could throw at it. It provides support, traction, and waterproofness to handle any hiking adventure, from steep hikes to loose rubble. It features an abrasion-resistant mesh upper, Gore-Tex Surround waterproof liner, EVA midsole, and a Vibram XS Trek outsole. This shoe is only available in regular width — no narrow or wide options. They tend to run a tad long and may be too high-volume (or vertically roomy) for some feet.

Performance Comparison


Plenty of shock absorption and cushion make a very comfortable...
Plenty of shock absorption and cushion make a very comfortable hiking shoe.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

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 the shape of your foot. The Spire features a high-tech breathable mesh that is 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, so consider ordering down if you are between sizes.


The Spire GTX has flexible but supportive material, and we did not notice any hot spots or pinching, even on steep hikes. The insole is Ortholite 5mm, which has more cushion than the standard Ortholite insole. The compressed EVA midsole provides enough shock absorption underfoot that the shoes feel comfortable without being soft. These shoes accommodate a "high volume" foot, which means they are more vertically spacious than many shoes. This is great for folks with high arches and feet with more dimensionality than a flat-footed person. It also means that if you have a slender foot, you may need to tighten the laces more than on lower volume shoes and/or that the tongue may prove uncomfortable. Some people recommend trying tongue pads to make the tongues more comfortable and take up some of the volume. That said, the tongue is padded enough to provide a little extra cushion on the top of the foot.

The rocketed outsole and steeper angle of the ankle encourage forward movement. Additionally, the Spire has a higher ankle height than many hiking shoes. These features add some protection, but both the fabric on the inside of the ankle, along with the side of the tongue, were felt by our lead tester on the front of her ankle bone, especially hiking uphill. However, after many miles with no irritation or abrasion, she determined it wasn't an issue. Keep this in mind, however, when you try these shoes on. We recommend walking on a steep ramp, if possible, to ensure that your ankle won't be bothered by this.

The shoe is cut at a steep angle and may nudge your ankle.
The shoe is cut at a steep angle and may nudge your ankle.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

One minor note — the laces are long and thin. We were able to get a good fit, but our testers prefer flat laces as they disperse pressure on the tongue of the shoe. Longer laces also mean there is extra material flapping around. This is a tiny issue and more inconvenient than a real complaint. If this is a big deal for you, you can easily swap alternative aftermarket laces.

Support


Aside from evaluating support in the field and considering the shoe's features, we also do a series of tests to "measure" the degree of support offered by the shoes. 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 some of the greatest rigidity of the shoes we tested, both when laterally twisted from big toe to heel and from pinky to big toe. Perhaps, more impressively, these shoes had the most stiffness in the forefront of the shoe. Rigidity in each of these aspects of the shoe translates to better support for your foot on trail, and less fatigue for your feet over the long haul.

The Spires are a great option if you need the support to carry a...
The Spires are a great option if you need the support to carry a heavy pack into rugged terrain.
Credit: Mary Witlacil

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 Spire is made of the latest and greatest in high-tech, lightweight materials. The shoe feels supportive in the upper, with enough flex for comfort without being sloppy. Fantastic balance here. The midsole provides excellent shock absorption while being stiff enough to protect from rocks and roots underfoot. The heels flare at the bottom of the sole, making for a very stable platform on uneven trails. We tested these trail running, and while they are a bit burly for a run, they are a fantastic option for mountain running or fast-packing.

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, even on wet rocks.


The deep and multi-directional lugs shed loose material easily and grab on sandy trails. The heels have an Impact Braking System, which refers to the shape and angle of the rubber on the heels. Angled in the opposite direction from the other lugs on the outsole, this braking system helps your heel dig in and gain purchase when moving downhill. It works impressively when descending — even on volcanic rubble, snow, and loose sediment.

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 1.81 pounds (28.96 ounces) for a size 9.5 US and 1.61 pounds (25.76 ounces) for a size 7.5 US. This is just about average when compared to the other hiking shoes we tested.


Other shoes with a similar weight pale in comparison to the Spire performance-wise. Their feature-to-weight ratio is outrageous, and their weight never once slowed us down.

These shoes have impressive traction and they'll never weigh you down.
These shoes have impressive traction and they'll never weigh you down.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Water Resistance


We tested the Spire GTX in snow, sleet, and rain, and our feet stayed dry. They also passed the bucket test (standing in 3 inches of water for 10 minutes) with flying colors. We calculate the amount of water absorbed in our bucket test by weighing the shoes at the beginning and end. The Spire had the lowest absorption rate, having soaked in only 2.24 ounces (0.14 pounds) of water (mostly from water breaching the ankles). Impressive yet again.


The Spire boasts a Gore-Tex Surround membrane, which provides fantastic water resistance. Hiking shoes will always be a little limited in protection because they are shorter than boots. But with an ankle height of 3.5", the Spire provides more splash protection than the average hiking shoe. It is 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.

The bucket test: shoes submerged in 3 inches of water for 10...
The bucket test: shoes submerged in 3 inches of water for 10 minutes. No leaks for the Spire.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Durability


We saw no sign of scuffs, de-lamination, or unusual wear in the Spireduring 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, our lead reviewer pounded out hundreds of miles without challenging the integrity of the shoes. Admittedly she was using aftermarket insoles and has replaced the laces three times. 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.

Testing on volcanic rock showed no indications of abrasion on these...
Testing on volcanic rock showed no indications of abrasion on these shoes.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Should You Buy the La Sportiva Spire GTX?


There are more trademarked technologies at work on the La Sportiva Spire GTX than you can count on one hand. But the Spire lives up to the advertising, resulting in a high-performing, supportive hiking shoe that can do long miles while keeping you agile and quick in technical terrain. That is a whole lot for one pair of shoes to do. We like it, and we approve. That said, the Spire is among the most expensive hiking shoes available and may not be an affordable option for everyone. However, for the dollars you spend, you will have a superior hiking shoe that offers flexibility for longer treks, holds up when carrying a moderately heavy pack, and is burly enough to handle technical terrain gracefully. For serious hikes or for seriously rugged hiking adventures, we think they are well worth the price.

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 2 WP could be a good consideration with similar (albeit lower) test results for comfort and traction. If you prioritize lightweight shoes that excel in technical terrain, we can easily recommend the Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX. However, if you can afford the La Sportiva Spire GTX, this is the one to get.

Hiking through the Oregon Badlands, these shoes are up for everything.
Hiking through the Oregon Badlands, these shoes are up for everything.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Mary Witlacil and Laurel Hunter
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More