La Sportiva Boulder X Review

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 VibramĀ® 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.

4 Responses to La Sportiva Boulder X Review

  1. I think the kind of approach shoe you get depends on what kind of approaching you’ll do most. Seems like there are two kinds of approach shoes: 1) Stiff, bomber ones like this, or 2) Lighter but not so bomber ones like the Five Ten Guide Tennies.

    The stiff, bomber ones like this are great for wall and long hiking. The lighter not so bomber ones aren’t so great for walls, but they’re great to climb and scramble in. They feel more like a shoe and less like a boot. The approaches I do usually aren’t super long (less than a couple miles), so I like the lightness of Guide Tennies. If I did more walls, I’d probably like the stiffness of a shoe like the Boulder X better.

    Tristan May 13, 2010 at 3:39 am Reply
    • Good point. For the Black Canyon, where you hike down to the climbs, I have a pair of very light Super Flys that easily stuff in a pack or can be clipped to the back of my harness. I do think the Boulder X’s are good all arounders, however, if you just want one shoe.

      BJ Sbarra May 13, 2010 at 4:04 am Reply
  2. Pingback: Sweet Gear Review: La Sportiva Boulder X » DreamInVertical

  3. One way around the lace issue in general is to wear them until broken in so you know how much lace you need, then tie a real square knot and cut the laces leaving a few inches for each end (err on the long side), and of course burn the ends. Untying a square knot is just as easy as a loop, a little upward tug on the correct end and they’ll undo, but they’ll stay tied much longer. Bonuses are no tripping over untied laces and less likely to catch on something that will untie them.

    This only works on round laces, and better on the 2-3 mm lashing rope I typically replace the laces with, which is firmer. This shoe is tricky because of how far around the lace goes, but I’ve had great improvement with square-knotting soft laces before.

    I just got my X’s, was digging around to see if others liked them as well as I do, they are wonderful shoes so far, and out of the box, which is rare for me. I will probably add some metatarsal support with a layer or two of toolbox drawer liner at some point, but much less work than getting the Patagonia Huckleberry’s ready for my arches.

    Learned the lace idea from a high-iron worker.

    Carl December 20, 2010 at 6:40 pm Reply

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