If it has seemed difficult to find a shoe that can excel from everything from day hiking to trail running to light backpacking, then look no further. The La Sportiva Spire GTX is an all-around performer, able to do all that you ask of them while remaining light on the feet and keeping you dry with one of the best waterproof liners on the market. We put these shoes through the wringer and have been so impressed that we awarded them our Editors' Choice Award as Best All-Around Hiking Shoe.
Gearing up for a long-distance hike far from the trailhead? The Spire GTX won't let you down.
While reviewing this pair, we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were testing hikers, not running shoes. This shoe is built with comfort in mind, and thanks to its extra cushioned compression-molded EVA sole, it provides the same feel as some of our favorite trail runners. This sole kept our feet from feeling sharp rocks underneath on rough trails. With a moderate amount of rocker and great arch support, our feet felt comfortable and were not fatigued even after long days. On early season trail runs where we knew we would encounter snow on the trail and water crossings, we chose this shoe since we knew it could handle the running comfortably while giving the protection of a hiker.
We found the Gore-Tex Surround membrane to be highly effective and was easily the most breathable hiking shoe that had a waterproof-breathable liner. The Surround technology allows the foot to expel perspiration through the 5mm Ortholite footbed as well, allowing for a much drier foot even in warm climates.
The rocky and angulated rock of McGee Creek Canyon is notoriously painful under lightweight shoes, though we ran over these rocky trails with ease wearing the Spire GTX.
Slipping our feet into these shoes was a breeze, the gusseted tongue extends high up for protection but is easy to put on, and the lacing system is a traditional shoelace and snugs up nicely around the forefoot.
With a verified weight of 2.06 pounds per pair (size 11), these were average weight when compared to the rest of the contenders in our review. While certainly not as light as some of the lower cut and minimal models, we were happy to take on a few extra ounces in favor of the great level of support offered in this shoe. Long distance hikers would do well to look at this model for lightweight fastpacking adventures where a blend of lightweight and support is necessary.
Do not be fooled by the scant weight and low-cut height of the La Sportiva Spire GTX; this pair is built from the latest in technologies and provides phenomenal support for hiking in all terrain conditions. The ankle collar extends up 3 inches, reaching the lower part of the ankle bone and providing it with just enough lateral support to resist rolling ankles, but not as much as a mid-cut boot that might feel like overkill when not hiking with much weight.
The TPU inserts inform the stability of the sole, which was soft enough to consider trail running, but stiff enough that our feet did not tire when hiking over uneven ground. The forefoot width measured in at 4 inches, which is narrower than most other models in this review, though the shoe is overall more slender and nimble than most to begin with.
Running down the steep and loose Baxter Pass Trail in the Sierra Nevada, we were happy to have such stable footing thanks to the Impact Brake System.
The Spire GTX uses the Vibram XS Trek rubber compound for the outsole. This rubber is very grippy and dispatched both wet and dry rock scrambling with ease, although in steeper rock sections where smearing was required, these shoes did not do as well as those that had smoother soles and slightly stickier rubber.
The lug pattern on these shoes was also impressive and was one of the most aggressive soles in this review. Deep, widely spaced lugs cut through mud and soft dirt easily and shed it quickly instead of caking up on the bottom. We also appreciate the Impact Braking System, which is a pattern set into the sole allowing speed control on steep descents.
Our test period included lots of walking through slushy springtime snow, which the Spire had no problem with thanks to its heavy-duty outsole.
Our reviewers wore these shoes on casual day hikes around their local trails, on long adventure hikes deeper into the backcountry, and during general around-town use. They feel comfortable, snug, and secure, like many of our casual running shoes. With the extra traction and water resistance of a hiking shoe, this model can do it all.
With a relaxed, subdued style, the Spire GTX doesn't give away the fact that it is a top-tier hiking shoe, and easily fits into casual settings as well as wilderness outings.
This shoe can really do it all: trail running, day hiking, backpacking, it is up to whatever the task you have in mind.
We subjected the La Sportiva Spire GTX to the same rigorous water immersion test that the rest of our hiking shoes had to go through, and it passed with flying colors. We stood in a stream of spring runoff for five full minutes and had no leakage issues. We were also impressed by the flood level (4.15 inches) for its overall height.
The Gore-Tex Surround waterproof membrane allows for 360 degree moisture control, meaning that there are vents in the sole that allow the foot's perspiration to pass through, and we were initially worried that this could be another avenue for water to seep in, but we were pleased to discover that there was no water leakage through this lower lining.
Even after 5 minutes of the submersion test we had no leakage issues.
We tested the Spire GTX for several months in a variety of conditions, and we did not see any major durability issues arise. The material used for the outer of the shoe, an abrasion-resistant mesh, is lower weight and synthetic, which did hold up to our testing, though long-term abrasion resistance to rough terrain could be in question.
Sharp and rocky trails, mud bogs, and snow travel still didn't put a dent in the Spire GTX.
This is one of the more expensive hiking shoes in our review. Its features and performance do merit the higher price tag, though we feel that not everyone will be willing to pay the premium price for such a high tech hiking shoe.
Without a doubt, the La Sportiva Spire GTX is a top of the line, high-performance hiking shoe that is comfortable tackling long-distance hikes with ease. Using advanced technologies that ensure comfort and support, this is a shoe that will help you to keep putting down the miles without weighing you down, and it is one that we happily recommend as our Editors' Choice Award.
Fast and light missions where support is critical, but comfort and water resistance are necessary, should look to the Spire GTX.