La Sportiva - New For Spring 2016
La Sportiva is best known for its rockshoes and mountaineering boots in the UK, but there's a whole lot more to the Italian brand than that, with a range of approach, hiking and trail-runnning footwear already out there and, believe it or not, clothing poised to appear too.
Trango TRK GTX
There are new rock boots in the range - two serious high performance models for starters - but for most of us, La Sportiva's under-appreciated range of hiking boots are probably more day to day interest. Oddly, for a brand that's specialised in distinctive alpine footwear and the Trango family in particular, most of its past hiking boots and shoes have been pretty nondescript.
That's going to change from next spring 2016 with the launch of the new Trango TRK GTX, a lightweight mountain walking boot that in our best of show round-up we dubbed the 'climber's hiking boot' thanks to its Trango-family looks.
It's a distinctive beast with black and yellow colour scheme, distinctive seam-reducing TPU welded upper, a Gore-Tex lining, dual-density midsole and a Vibram sole complete with blocked-out 'Climbing Zone' toe, though this is very definitely a trekking boot not a technical alpine one, though hopefully it'll share La Sportiva's renowned fit.
It's decently light too, around 1000g per pair of size 8. Price is in the ballpark for quality walking boots too at £170 and it's available in both men's and women's versions.
There are new technical approach shoes in the range too. The TX4 - see the images right - is a fairly conventional sort of creation with lacing based on the established Mythos rock shoe. It has a suede upper, full rubber rand for durability on the rock, a shock-absorbing EVA midsole and a Vibram MegaGrip outsole complete with dotted forefoot and aggressive 'Trail Bite Hell' to avoid those embarrassing wet and grassy descent slope windmilling moments.
Finally the shoe's uppers apparently wrap around the midsole in the middle of the shoe to give a really secure fit and, it says here, 'torsional stability for traverses'. It'll retail for £100 from spring 2016.
The TX2 is the same price, but lighter and slimmer - just 560g per pair says La Sportiva. Again there's a Vibram MegaGrip sole unit, Mythos-style lacing and EVA midsole, but the shoe's most distinctive feature, a USP even, is the 'C2 Combo Cord'.
In a nutshell, it's a loop of shock cord that in normal use sits unobtrusively in a groove on the outside of the heel, but can be deployed to fold the shoes flat and link them together -see pics - allowing you to simply clip them to a harness while climbing. It's a neat idea if you're climbing the sort of big multi pitch routes with a longish walk-off at the top and need to take your shoes along for the ride with minimal hassle.
Helios 2.0 Trail Running Shoe
One model we didn't actually see, but appeals is the Helios 2.0 'door to trail' running shoe. The idea is you can set out from your front door, run to the trails on tarmac if necessary, but still have enough off-road traction to tackle the rough stuff too.
Lightweight breathable mesh uppers, are mixed with an injected cushioned MEMLex EVA midsole and a Cushion Platform footbed for decent shock absorption. Could be worth a look if you mix up road and trails regularly. Price will be £110.
Full details of the current La Sportiva range at lasportiva.com