La Sportiva Spire GTX Hiking Shoe Review

La Sportiva's burly waterproof hiker offers boot-like protection and sturdiness
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Table of Contents

1 lb. 15.1 oz. (men’s size 9)

Yes (Gore-Tex)

Sturdy enough for technical trails, comfortable, and well-made.

Expensive and sits taller than most hiking shoes.

(4.5/5)

A departure from the current trend towards light and speedy La Sportiva’s Spire GTX is a backpacking-ready hiking shoe that functions in a variety of ways similar to an ankle-high boot. In general, the shoe is durable and moderately stiff, and provides good protection on the trail. It is expensive on the Spire and it’s higher than its competitors However, it’s proved to be a solid partner on everything from shoulder-season hiking to a rainy and muddy hike across the Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Here we review its overall efficiency. To compare it against the competition check out our review of the most comfortable sneakers for hiking..

Performance

Comfort

Hiking boots are becoming more similar to trail runners in terms of weight and flexibility, however the La Sportiva Spire GTX is more of traditionalist. It is a robust and solid, and comes with plenty of rigidity and a sturdy heel counter (La Sportiva goes as to call it an e-hiking boot that is low-cut). Additionally, the foam in the underfoot is durable and, in conjunction with a strong midsole, effectively shields you from rocks or rough surfaces. When in use, the Spire is a perfect match for backpacking. The shoe was extremely comfortable while hauling a 30 pound load of weight on a beach excursion that covered all kinds of wooden boardwalks, rocks, mud and sand. It took some time to relax but it was to be comfortable after just a few miles. Overall the Spire is a fantastic choice for people who are transitioning from an old-fashioned hiking boot. It will save you a lot of weight and be incredibly agile, yet the Spire is sturdy enough for you to feel confident on the most difficult parts of the trail.

 

 

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Weight

The size 42 for my male weighed at 1 one pound 15.1 pounds and 15.1 ounces, according to our measurement (only 0.1 an ounce over La Sportiva’s stated weight) This places it at the heavier side of the hiking shoe range. Other models that are equipped with Gore-Tex, like Salomon’s Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX (1 1 lb. 10.8 oz. ), Adidas Terrex Swift R2 (1 lb. 8.6 oz. ) 8.6 oz. Danner Trail 2650 (1 1 lb. 11 oz. ) All of them are undercut by a minimum of a few pounds. Overall If you’re seeking to cut down on weight for speedy packing or simple day walks, there are many lightweights, and agile shoes to choose from. However, in all fairness, the Spire did not feel heavy, even during long days of backpacking and the added durability can be a plus for the Spire.

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Traction

La Sportiva is a climbing company by nature It’s not a surprise that their hikers provide sturdy and durable grip. It’s Vibram rubber outsole features an elongated tread pattern with lugs of substantial size that grip extremely well, both uphill and during steep descents. The outsoles did a great job in mud. They’re not easily prone to scalding as the rubber is tough enough to hold up to anything from rocks to wooden bridges covered with moss along Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It is possible to get more traction for your heavy-rock terrain using The TX4 from La Sportiva However, I’m not having any issues regarding traction when using the Spire.

Stability and Support 

As I mentioned above, the Spire GTX feels a lot like a hiking boot that’s had a few inches trimmed off the top. The shoe is reasonably stiff underfoot thanks to TPU inserts in the midsole and feels stable on most trails while carrying a full pack. My only complaint is that midsole itself is fairly thick, which may be a result of the Gore-Tex Surround system (detailed below). Combined with a platform that runs a bit narrow at the heel, there are times when the shoe can feel tippy, such as while hiking over especially rocky trails. However, that’s not to say it isn’t stable in general, and the added support certainly is helpful on long climbs (it doesn’t have as much of a tendency to flex and dip at the heel like the softer Salomon X Raise). But if you’re looking for a more capable off-trail scrambler, La Sportiva’s lower-slung TX4 approach shoe is a better pick.


Waterproofing

After wearing the Spire GTX on a wet and sloppy backpacking trip on the Olympic Peninsula, I’m confident in trusting the shoe’s Gore-Tex membrane. The hike in was extremely muddy with many unavoidable sections of ankle-high muck and a few low puddles and creek crossings. Through it all, my feet remained dry and comfortable. Additionally, the tongue is connected to the upper almost all the way up to the collar, which means the Spire is waterproof almost all the way to the top—not always the case with low-top hikers.

Breathability: Gore-Tex Surround

The Spire was one of the first shoes to feature Gore-Tex’s Surround waterproofing system. In short, rather than just venting through the upper of the shoe, the Spire GTX has been designed to also release air through the footbed and midsole (mesh dotting the exterior of the midsole is a giveaway of the design). Compared to standard Gore-Tex, however, I would describe the improvement in breathability as incremental at best. In fact, when working hard in mild summer temperatures, I found that the shoe ran about as warm as Salomon’s X Ultra 3, which uses the standard membrane. On shoulder-season hikes in cooler temperatures (mid 40s to 50s Fahrenheit), the Spire did a nice job keeping my feet cool, but it still was noticeably warmer than a non-waterproof shoe. And given the slight upgrade in ventilation, I wouldn’t recommend the Spire for snowshoeing or winter activities. Here, standard Gore-Tex will provide a light boost in warmth.

foot and Ankle Protection

Despite having a relatively small cut (compared with hiking shoes) The La Sportiva Spire GTX is good all-around protection against stones and other obstacles to the trail. First of all, the high-quality midsole and TPU inserts reduce foot pain to an absolute minimum. The toe cap isn’t constructed from a burly rubber material like those you’ll find in Salomon’s X Ultra 3, but the synthetic material is fairly thick and guards the front of your foot well. There’s a little protection on the outer edge of the foot as well as well as the heels are well-built and well cushioned. In all this Spire is more secure than other low-cut models we’ve tried.

 

 

Quality of Build and Durability

La Sportiva shoes rarely disappoint in terms of durability as their Spire GTX is no exception. At first glance it appears sturdy, and it’s supported throughout testing. I’ve put in a lot of hours on Spire over the course of about 6 months, and it isn’t much worse than wear. Its outsole has been wearing well and there are no indications that the shoe will fall apart prematurely. Furthermore, the materials on the upper are good to last. A portion of the upper, especially on the top of the toes as well as around the sides — is made of a thin mesh that is used to increase breathability. However, these areas are reinforced in a triangular shape and are showing no indications of tear or cracks. The only noticeable wear is from the Ortholite insole that has the sticker-like markings at the foot has fallen off. However, given the amount of use on trails my pair has experienced the damage is minimal and not a cause for concern.

 

 

Quality of Build and Durability

La Sportiva shoes rarely disappoint in terms of durability as their Spire GTX is no exception. At first glance it appears sturdy, and it’s supported throughout testing. I’ve put in a lot of hours on Spire over the course of about 6 months, and it isn’t much worse than wear. Its outsole has been wearing well and there are no indications that the shoe will fall apart prematurely. Furthermore, the materials on the upper are good to last. A portion of the upper, especially on the top of the toes as well as around the sides — is made of a thin mesh that is used to increase breathability. However, these areas are reinforced in a triangular shape and are showing no indications of tear or cracks. The only noticeable wear is from the Ortholite insole that has the sticker-like markings at the foot has fallen off. However, given the amount of use on trails my pair has experienced the damage is minimal and not a cause for concern.

 

 

Other variations of La Sportiva Spire

Additionally, to the Spire for men, in addition to the Spire that we have reviewed, La Sportiva also makes the shoes in a women’s specific version at the same cost. The two models are the same in terms of construction and features, however, women’s Spire GTX is lighter in weight. Spire GTX for women Spire GTX weighs less at just 1 one-pound 10.2 pounds and comes in a different colorway. In addition, if you want the extra protection and support that comes with a mid-height shoe, La Sportiva’s Stream GTX closely resembles the Spire extremely closely, including the waterproofing system Gore-Tex Surround and grippy Vibram XS Trek outsole. However, it features an over-the-ankle cut. It costs $199.

What We Like

  • The sturdiness and protection of a hiking boot in a lighter, low-cut design.
  • Solid and reliable grip on terrain ranging from mud to moss-covered bridges and hardpacked dirt.
  • Most La Sportiva shoes run narrow, but the Spire is much more accommodating and should work for most foot shapes.
  • Highly durable and well-made.
     

What We Don’t

  • At almost 2 pounds, the Spire is heavy for a low-top hiking shoe and rides higher than most other low-slung designs.
  • The shoe is a little wide at the heel, and I had to cinch it down tightly to avoid heel slippage.
  • Thick midsole can feel tippy on especially rocky trails.
  • Gore-Tex Surround is only a slight upgrade in breathability from standard Gore-Tex.

 

Comparison Table

SHOE PRICE CATEGORY WEIGHT WATERPROOF UPPER
La Sportiva Spire GTX $190 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 15 oz. Yes (GTX Surround) Mesh
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX $150 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 10.8 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX $140 Hiking shoe 1 lb. 8.6 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Synthetic
Vasque Talus XT Low GTX $190 Hiking shoe 2 lbs. 6 oz. Yes (Gore-Tex) Leather
The North Face Ultra 111 WP $120 Hiking shoe/trail runner 1 lb. 14.2 oz. Yes (DryVent) Synthetic
La Sportiva TX4 $140 Approach shoe 1 lb. 10 oz. No Leather


The Competition

La Sportiva’s Spire GTX is unique among its hiking shoe competition for its boot-like sturdiness and protection. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is its primary competitor and our top-rated hiking shoe this year. Both are comfortable, offer ample protection for most day hiking and backpacking trips, and have excellent traction over most terrain. That said, the X Ultra wins out for us as it’s a bit more balanced overall: it’s lighter at 1 pound 10.8 ounces, slightly more flexible and easier to hike in quickly, and undercuts the Spire by $40. The Spire is a bit more capable on technical trails, but it’s not worth the added investment for us.

Another option for a light hiker could be Adidas’ Terrex Swift R2 GTX that is my first thought of while trying to get on Spire. Both are extremely stiff right in the box and offer a decent balance of support and protection. But it’s the Spire is more robust and secure, and comes with top-quality cushioning beneath the foot. In addition, the Terrex’s fast-lace system is somewhat difficult to achieve a custom-fit as compared to traditional laces. However the additional mass (6.4 oz. more than Adidas) and price ($50) do not seem worthwhile to us as Terrex is the better value. Terrex is the best overall price.

Another option worth keeping on your list could be Vasque’s Talus XT Low GTX. It’s the Talus can be described as a lower-top variant of a mid-height boots and is a comfortable fit. It’s quite sturdy underneath and weighs greater than Spire with a weight of 2 pounds 6 ounces and features a substantial leather upper that’s both protected and weatherproof. In this instance you’ll find that the Spire is the most athletic of both and has a better fit for speedy and light walking. Given the relative newness to Talus Talus (it was first released earlier this the year) and our overall experience with the Spire’s build-quality and long-lasting use, we believe it’s the more secure option for durability.

Another extremely sturdy and secure low-top choice to take into consideration can be the North Face’s Ultra111WP. As with the Spire it is also a bit heavier. Ultra is a bit heavy, weighing in at just 1 one pound 14.2 pounds per pair, but provides a stable platform as well as a highly robust construction. The Ultra is made with TNF’s DryVent membrane that isn’t as breathable, as the Spire’s GoreTex Surround membrane however, both shoes perform very similar in other categories. The major difference for many could be the cost. At $120 the Ultra 111 undercuts the Spire by $70, with a few sacrifices.

Another option one of the best options is La Sportiva’s TX4. Technically speaking, an shoe for advancing that is an approach shoe, the TX4 (and the lighter TX3 which has mesh upper) has rapidly become one of our top hikers. It’s extremely grippy on rocks and is moderately flexible. It is a great choice for long hikes and its cushioning strikes the perfect balance between safety and comfort for us. However, the Spire is completely waterproof (something isn’t available on the TX4 however its leather upper is able to perform very well in mild humid conditions) and has better grip in wet and muddy terrain, and its additional stiffness is ideal for longer ascents and downhills. Overall the TX4 is the better choice for more technical scrambling, however Spire is a better choice for hiking and light backpacking. Spire is the more suitable choice for backpacking and hiking.