Showing posts with label La Sportiva. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Sportiva. Show all posts

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots: My personal thoughts on this discussion.

Sandals, shoes or boots: what to wear tramping? 


Hiking/tramping footwear comes in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Hiking shoes, hiking sandals, cross trainers, mountain running shoes, different brands and different versions – the options are mind numbing to contemplate!

What are the differences? When are boots better than shoes and vice versa? Is it worth the price difference to buy boots? We’ll start with some basic features of each and then elaborate on which conditions demand which type of “boot”.

Hiking Sandal

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but hiking sandals can be a great option for a casual hiker. Sandals are light, which means you aren’t going to expend as much energy moving your feet over the course of the trip. They are perfect for water crossings or as camp shoes. Many people prefer a sandal with some kind of toe guard to help protected against rocks and roots.

Keen Newport H2 sandal


Hiking sandals are best used for short well maintained trails or as a lite back up when their primary boots are temporarily out of commission. An example would be the Abel Tasman Coastal Track during summer. Nice, well graded tracks, a lot of tidal crossings, warm weather conditions.

For perspective, some chap walked the whole 3000 km Te Araroa Trail in sandals a couple of years ago, so just walking the Abel Tasman would be luxury...ay, sheer luuuxxxurriiieeeee!

Look for sandals with similar features to most good hiking shoes: tough stitching, quality materials, tough soles (Vibram if you have a choice), and good arch supports. Keen are one of the major brands for sandals, I own a pair of their Newport H2 sandals and they are rugged and comfortable to wear.

Trail Shoes or Hiking Shoes

Trail shoes are all the rage in long trail communities due to their compromise between comfort and functionality. They are sturdier than your average running shoe because of their thicker soles and leather reinforced fabrics while at the same time are lighter and more comfortable than standard tramping boots.
La Sportiva Lead trail shoes


Because of their versatility, trails shoe styles have started to become part of a more mainstream fashion. Be sure to double check standard quality measures such as stitching, arch support, waterproofing, and lace design so as to avoid buying shoes that look like trail shoes but don’t function the same way.

Good brands include: Salomen/Innov8/La Sportiva/Salewa/Merrell/Asolo

Trail Running Shoes

Asics Sonoma,  lite mountain trail shoes



Trail running has exploded in popularity in recent years. Shoes designed specifically for trail running are similar to standard trail shoes with a few subtle differences. Most trail running shoes have a bit more padding, tough soles, and slightly more ankle support. These shoes can be quite expensive, so if you aren’t planning on running up the mountain, you can probably go with a standard trail shoe.

Good brands include: Innov8/Salomon/Asics/La Sportiva/Salomen

Mid-weight Tramping boot

Many people would just call this “a hiking boot”. A mid weight boot is what most people think of when they think of tramping footwear. They will have extra ankle support, stiff foot support, and a reinforced leather or synthetic outer layer.

Synthetic Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid


They are versatile and rarely feel like overkill on a trail of moderate difficulty. Sure, they will be a bit heavier, but unless you are using them on a multi-day, long term trek, you probably won’t even notice. Don’t forget to look for the signs of quality: a toe rand, good quality soles (Vibram is best), quality inner soles and a Gore-Tex inner lining if that is your thing.

Leather Vasque St Elias GTX boots

Remember to give yourself time to break in all new boots. While modern boots take significantly less time to break in than old style all leather ones, you should still dedicate at least three to four days to breaking in your new boots. I wear mine to work for a couple of weeks, this usually does the trick.

Good brands include: Salewa/Vasque/Asolo/Lowa

Heavy Boot

Unless you plan on spending a significant amount of time out in the bush where there are no fixed trails, it is hard to justify a heavy boot. The heavy boot is therefore much favoured by mountaineers, hunters and bush bashers.

If you do fall into the category of hard arsed bush pig, then you know that a heavy boot can be your best friend.

Lowa Tibet GTX


A good heavy boot should feel like a cross between mountaineering boots and a hiking boot. They should provide extra grip with knobby soles and be crampon compatible. The ankle support should not only protect your ankle from twisting but also protect your lower calve area. Expect to see above the ankle lacing and a full rubber rand to protect against rock cuts.

Of course, for all of this protection you pay a price. Heavy boots are, well, heavy! In fact they can be god-damn soul destroying heavy if you are walking a long way. They are also expensive, most are European made and you will not see much change from $600-$700 dollars.

Meindal Bhutan MFS boots


 Don’t expect them to be super comfortable either. These kinds of boots are designed for hard work and will be overkill for anything else! Think combat boots: you are the soldier and nature is the enemy...vanquish it with your colossal boots!

Some well known manufacturers include: Haix/Lowa/Meindl/Carrimor/La Sportiva

When do I need hiking boots?

When trails are particularly rocky, covered in roots, or are made uneven by other objects in the trail.
When the trail is wet/very muddy.
When there the possibility of rolling your ankle is high.
When trails are exceptionally steep.
When hiking in the snow.

e.g: walking up the Joe River to the Olivine Wilderness area, crossing Waiau Pass, hunting in Fiordland

Boots are useful in muddy conditions

When will hiking shoes be OK?

Well maintained even trails.
Day hikes
Trail running
Camp sites

e.g: Most of the Great Walks, The Queen Charlotte Track, most of the Te Araroa Trail, Te Ara Pataka

Walking a section of the Christchurch 360 Trail in Asiacs

When will sandals do the business?

Well maintained trails, in warm weather.
Short beach walks.
River journeys
Camp sites

e.g: The Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, the Wanganui River Journey

What about Jon's footwear? 

What you may ask does Jon wear on his feet: good question!

Jon Tramping: boots and gaiters on the Lewis Pass Tops


I have used all these types of footwear at one time or another, starting with full leather ex army combat boots and going right down to trail sandals. I seem to be going lighter as I get older, lunking about in those kilo a boot combats just don't appeal like it once did!

Currently I am wearing sandals, trail shoes and mid weight boots.

La Sportiva boots on the QCT


I use Keen Newport H2's as my hiking sandals, wear Asic Sonoma's for walking and some day walks and have La Sportiva Valojets as my leather mid weight boot.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Tramping Equipment: La Sportiva Valojet boots

New boots for new adventures...La Sportiva Valojets

I've recently brought myself a new pair of leather boots for the coming Summer tramping season. I have been wearing a pair of Kathmandu boots but as is the case with their gear they have started to fall to bits. 

La Sportiva Valojet Boots

These boots are La Sportiva Valojets, a medium weight leather boot with a Goretex liner, the sole is a good quality Vibram one. The last fit is for wide feet...many of these European boot makers seem to have very narrow boots so finding some quality boots that are wide is a real bonus.

La Sportiva Valojet boot

La Sportiva is a well known Italian boot manufacturer better known for their plastic mountaineering boots but the reviews for their trail boots are very positive.

I know a lot of trampers are going away from boots and wearing trail shoes, mountain trainers or their ilk, but I actually like a pair of hard wearing leather boots on my feet. I find them more supportive and hardier on the rocky trails and river beds which characterise the Canterbury region.
La Sportiva Valojet boot, Vibram sole

Vibram soles for long life

Vibram soles are the bench mark for quality on tramping boots, they are hard wearing and technically advanced. I also like the high rand on these, good for protecting your boots from rock scuffs etc.


The boots on my feet.....

Choose your boots wisely...

Tramping boots are really expensive, good ones go for $400-$700 a pair. I had originally placed these boots on my wish list but removed them because they normally retail for $600.
There was a sale at one of the local outdoor stores which saw me walk away with these for the bargain price of $350.

Here's  hoping they are a successful purchase.

POST SCRIPT: I've worn these on many trips now and they have performed very well. They are really grippy in wet conditions, nice firm sole, and fit well in the ankle area. I've switched to slightly thinner Smart Wool socks as my usual thicker Munds/Bridgedales are too much sock for these boots. 

My Valojets on the Lewis Pass Tops, December 2015

Wearing the Valojets on the QCT in 2016
I love these boots and would buy more but unfortunately they are now out of production...a pity as they are excellent boots for New Zealand conditions.

Monday, 10 June 2013

"......To all the boots I've worn before...."

Here is my gallery of tramping boots/shoes I have worn and destroyed, I will add to this as time goes on! I will include before and after shots, and make some comment on quality etc.

Hi Tec Bryce, light hiking boot  (2012-2015) (Retired)

I brought a pair of these last year, I didn't have the cash to buy a more rugged pair of boots because of all of the other tramping gear I needed. They have worked well and have seen me through all of my trips over Spring/Summer/Autumn 2012-13. I didn't expect them to last but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well they have stood up.  The uppers are still fine,  they have just starting to show signs of wear.

I think they are good value for the $140 asking price. I will continue to use them for formed tracks i.e. those on the Port Hills.


Hi Tec Bryce, 2012




Wearing my Hi Tecs up the East Hawdon Valley, 2013


July 2014:I have been using these boots for my fitness walking for about the last year, they are still holding out fine, I estimate I will need to dispose of them later this year as they have started to wear down on the sole. 
2017: I am only using these in the garden now as the stitching has started to unravel- they will get chucked when no longer useful 


Kathmandu Barigan, medium boot (2013-2015) (Retired)
I have recently acquired a pair of these boots for the very reasonable price of $100, they are  a replacement for the Hi-Tec boots I have been using. I know Kathmandu does not have great name when it comes to durability, even if they only last a season they will have repaid my investment. Significantly they have a hard Vibram sole and are much stiffer than the Hi Tec's. 
Kathmandu Barigan, 2013



July 2014: I used these boot for all of the 2013/14 tramping season and found them very comfortable. Unfortunately they are starting to delaminate (a common problem), I have glued them up and will use them for day walks on the Port Hills etc. I should get a least another years use out of them on these shorter trips. They lasted as my primary boots for a year so they were worth the $100 I paid for them.
2017: Still using them around the house for yard work. 


Asolo 535 TPS, medium boot (Sold)

I brought myself a pair of Asolo 535 boots for the rocky gravel bashing trips I sometimes go on. These boot are from a good quality European maker, they have a much stiffer sole and the ubiqitious Vibram sole on them. I'm in the process of wearing them in as we speak. Obviously, because they are made in Europe the price is steeper, $500 for this type and brand.


Asolo 535, 2013

July 2014: I have now sold these boots as they were slightly too small for my feet. They are excellent boots so I will potentially buy a larger size some time in the future.



La Sportiva Valojet, medium boot (2014 - ) (Current Boots)


I've recently brought myself a new pair of leather boots for the coming Summer tramping season. I have been wearing a pair of Kathmandu boots but as is the case with their gear they have started to fall to bits. These boots are Italian, La Sportiva Valojets, a medium weight leather boot with a Goretex liner, with a good quality Vibram sole. These ones were $350 on sale, normally $600.
La Sportiva Valojet, 2014


The Valojet's going strong on the QCT, 2016
Update 2016: I have been using these very successfully for several years now and they are awesome. Comfortable right out of the box, quality materials and great workmanship are worth paying for in my opinion. The soles are still fine, the only damage is a rip in the rubber rand I got on the third trip wearing these boots (barbed wire fence...). 
La Sportiva boots are fantastic, I would buy these again!


Asics Mens Gel Sonoma 4E, Trail Shoes (2015- )

These are my current general purpose trail shoes, I am onto my second pair of these. I use these for general fitness walking as well as trips along the Port Hills and on day trips when the weather is fine. I wouldn't use these for a long hike like the Te Araroa, although they might make fair work of even that trail.

Asics Men's Gel Sonoma 4E Trail Shoes

My first pair lasted for about 14 months before they started to fall to bits. For $150 that is pretty good going when you consider that I use them for at least one 10-15 km walk every second weekend. I suppose I could go for a $300 pair of Asolo/Salewa/North Face/Innov8 trail walking shoes but why, these work just fine. 
Sole on Sonoma Trail shoes

I brought them from Rebel Sport, they are still available at the time of writing (September 2016).

When my second pair wear out I will definitely buy these again if they are still available. 


Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Outdoors Shoes (2015- ) (Retired)

I was using a pair of these before i switched to the Asics shown above.  I mainly purchased them because they were cheap ($130 NZD) at a time when I could not afford better quality footwear.

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Trail shoe

Wearing the Blazers on a section of the Christchurch 360 Trail



 These shoes were good for the first 4 months and then they started to disintegrate. First the inner soles wore through so I replaced with after market versions. Next the stitching started to unravel, this was repaired. I finally retired them when the sole delaminated, I have glued the sole back on but they cannot be trusted over a long distance. 

Hi Tec shoes are fine for around town but I just don't think they are rugged enough for trail use. 

I use these around the garden now.