I always get a little nervous when choosing a new boot for my hiking adventures – once you’re out there, if you’re uncomfortable or unable to maneuver the terrain, the joy of the experience is dampened, since your shoes are the primary barrier between you and the elements. I’ve also bought some hiking boots in the past only to be disappointed after six months of use when the sole starts falling apart. So when I first picked up a pair of La Sportiva Core High GTX boots I thought there was no way a boot so light could withstand the wear and tear I planned on subjecting them to. Intrigued by their new breathable technology and the possibility of lightening my load, I decided to give these boots a try and keep my fingers crossed that they deliver what they promise.
I opted for a low-key trial run, and took the family car camping for the weekend at a lake a couple of hours from our home. Walking around the campsite and fishing around the lake wasn’t exactly tough on the Core High GTX boots, but I was intrigued by the fact that a lightweight shoe could provide such sure footing.
The following week I was off to hike the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness of Colorado for five days – this would be the true test of the Core High GTX. During the hike to our destination, I ended up covering over 30 miles with 45 lbs. strapped to my back, and then embarked upon another dozen or so miles of fly fishing around lakes and streams with roughly 10 lbs. packed into my daypack. My friends Shawn and Tom joined me for this excursion and we started the hike in at roughly 6,000 feet above sea level, ending the day above treeline at over 11,000 feet. The first handful of miles felt like a leisurely stroll compared to the challenge we faced once we got above treeline.
Our destination was a couple of lakes that sit right below the Continental Divide, far above the safety and cover of the trees. With no real trail into this area, there was a lot of off-trail navigation of boulders and rolling tundra. Once we arrived, and base camp was set up, we were off to explore the lakes and catch some amazing cutthroat trout. The Core High GTX handled all types of terrain effortlessly – we scrambled up and around cliffs, navigated the rocky shores of the lakes, and trudged through boulder fields between the lakes. To my surprise, I was sure-footed and comfortable, not to mention cool, the entire time. These boots far exceeded my expectations.
After spending a couple of days above treeline, we headed back down the valley and set up camp again, taking day trips to fish the stream and other lakes in the area. Over the five days we ambled around the wilderness, hiked and fished four lakes, three sections of the stream and multiple beaver ponds – catching hundreds of fish between the three of us. Even with the terrain and altitude challenges, the combined durability and comfort of the Core High GTX, convinced me that I would happily be able wear these boots for six months and beyond!
Head over to the La Sportiva site for the specs: Core High GTX, but for me the real world use was much more useful and informative and I can honestly say I haven’t had a more comfortable and versatile experience in a hiking boot.