The Moab area saw a cold and snowy winter this year, and on my first trip to Indian Creek for the season, we had to contend with some pretty muddy and snowy approaches. I had just received the La Sportiva Boulder X approach shoes and figured what better conditions to see how they handled. Thankfully they took on the sloppy trails with ease, and even when moving over slabby, sandy boulders with snow and mud on the shoe, they performed well thanks to the Vibram® Idro-Grip rubber. After two months of fairly heavy use, they are showing little signs of wear, and are certainly one of the burlier pairs of shoes I’ve ever owned. In fact, that was one of the first things that stood out when I took them out of the box: this was a major step up from the previous incarnation of the shoe.
According to Sportiva they’ve added extra padding under foot for long approaches, and I’ve indeed found them to be quite comfortable. Repeatedly carrying a huge pack full of cams, water and a rope, hiking uphill for up to an hour on steep rocky trails, I never had any comfort problems whatsoever. They are also fairly stylish, at least in the western Colorado sense of the word, and I’ve found they are as good for a night out on the town as they are hiking up to the latest project. Sometimes at the end of the day, coming down a steep talus slope with swollen feet, they feel a little small, and because they are so burly, they don’t really stretch with your foot, but that’s a minor issue and hardly a negative, really just a fact of life of approach shoes.
My only real complaint, and the one I’ve heard from others as well, is that the laces come untied fairly easily. Perhaps this is a function of them being new and stiffer and maybe it’ll get better, though I have been using them for a solid 2 months. For now, I have to double knot them and really cinch it down or they will come undone without fail. Also, if the trail is super muddy, the treads get caked up pretty good, though I’m not sure what shoe wouldn’t have the same problem under these conditions.
I think Sportiva hit one out of the park with these shoes. Before getting this pair, I had been considering the Patagonia Karakorams, but these are everything I want and need in an approach shoe. I think they’d be great for big walling as well, and I imagine I’ll get the chance this fall to test that theory out and will report back. For now I’ll continue to use these for everything from hiking up Indian Creek talus cones to a night out on the town.
Disclaimer: The FTC thinks you need to know that this product was provided to SplitterChoss.com for the purpose of reviewing.