I’d hesitate to say I’m obsessive, but I do own a lot of kit.
Some gear, say a tent or pair of crampons, lends itself to a fanatical analysis of metrics and specifications which will generally result in a well-informed, if not always well-reasoned purchase. The hiking boots market somehow seems a little more opaque.
Earlier this year, seeking to invest in a pair of lightweight summer hiking boots, I found myself disheartened at the bewildering mess of variation in design, cut, weight, lacing, tread zones and marketing slogans on show. So rather than dwell on it too long I saw a good deal, crossed my fingers, and clicked through to the checkout on a pair of La Sportiva Trango Trk boots.
“I found myself disheartened at the bewildering mess of variation in design, cut, weight, lacing...”
During the following fortnight I covered almost 300km in them, hiking coast-to-coast across the wild interior of Iceland’s volcanic landscape. For this reason, when I tell you these are a superbly designed and manufactured pair of boots, I’d hope the message comes from a source of some authority.
Fundamentally the Trango Trk boots are lightweight, comfortable, waterproof and warm. They weigh just 575g each and lace from close to the toe to just above the ankle joint, the perfect height to give decent support without the gait of Basil Fawlty. The lacing eyelets seemed far superior to any previous boots I’ve owned, a small detail that helps immensely with comfort when covering long distances each day as I found it easy to independently adjust the tightness of the lacing across the top of the foot.
I can’t understate how impressive the fit and comfort felt straight out of the box. In fourteen days I had no issues with the tongue rotating out of place, the laces slackening off, or hot spots creating blisters or sores on my feet. With such a lightweight boot it might be natural to have expected some premature wear and damage on the fabric, but six months later they are still intact. La Sportiva chose to weld rather than stitch all of the seams, a contributing factor to the low weight but also a great help in preventing the fabric from falling apart over time. They’re so light I’ve even carried them up multi-pitch routes recently for the subsequent descent. This highlighted the annoyance of a missing karabiner loop at the rear but this is a minor complaint on an otherwise impeccably manufactured product.
“I can’t understate how impressive the fit and comfort felt straight out of the box”
The soles are chunky, grip well, and stood up to some serious abuse. In mid-June the early part of our route was covered in extensive snow fields which I wouldn’t typically expect a flexible, lightweight boot to cope with. Kicking steps up the steep banks of wind-blown snow was certainly possible, but they really excelled on the loose scree, sharp volcanic rock formations and barren, dusty dunes which occupied the majority of our time in the country. As ever, Vibram know what they’re doing.
The boots have a Gore-Tex lining which was put to serious test in Iceland and in a thoroughly non-scientific study, noticeably out-performed my partner’s new pair of Salewa Rapace boots. It was a pleasant novelty not to finish each day with sweat-drenched socks clinging to my toes. Like most hiking boots they will accommodate a C1 crampon but if you’re looking to spend a long time hiking in winter you’ll probably want something a little stiffer.
“They really excelled on the loose scree, sharp volcanic rock formations and barren, dusty dunes which occupied the majority of our time in the country”
La Sportiva have a considerable brand presence in high performance, technical mountaineering footwear - classic pieces such as the ubiquitous Spantik and Nepal Extreme boots. Their efforts to apply this technology and experience to a lowly hiking boot have paid off: inside and out it feels like a member of the same family. The appearance of the Trango Trk boots is somewhat striking and carries the unmistakable aesthetic hallmarks of its bigger brother the Trango Cube, expect to get a few comments when wearing them around. Most notable is the peculiar web of translucent plastic which hugs the outside of the fabric, giving them a hi-tech, engineered aesthetic which won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Personally I’m a fan of the bold yellow and black and it is a marked improvement on the previous generation’s bright red colour scheme which was fairly offensive on the eye.
The La Sportiva Trango Trk excel as lightweight, comfortable, long distance hiking boots. Trekking those 300km of Icelandic landscape brought me into contact with a diverse and ever-changing selection of mountain terrain. I credit these boots with keeping me going when the body inside them was crying out for a rest. Save yourself the hours of Googling and go try some on now.
“The appearance of the boots is somewhat striking and carries the unmistakable aesthetic hallmarks of its bigger brother”