LaSportiva XCountry (and Dirty Girl gaiter) review

Lets keep a short story short: I really like the minimal padding, small heel-toe drop, tread, and fit of these shoes. I think they can be used for the most rugged of long hikes, with proper preparation. Unfortunately the mesh upper is just not durable for me.

I demand a lot out of shoes, and these haven’t seen that much use.  In high summer they’d look like this in less than a month.  I don’t see the upper lasting long enough to wear the tread down, even though I headed to the basement after taking these photos and coated the side with shoe goo.

All in all rather disappointing, but not unexpected.  To be fair, every shoe save the Crossleather has died a premature death since I moved to Montana and started beating on shoes off trail and in the water so often.  It’s useful to recall the images in this post: both pairs of Crossleathers are still functional (albeit with increasing bare tread).  If you don’t kill shoes like I do, or care to spend more money on them, then the XCountry will deliver enjoyable performance for a fleeting time period.

It would be interesting to see how something like the XCountry would hold up with a big factory rand.

By contrast, some ultralight pieces of gear turn out to bomber, in spite of appearances.  Dirty Girl gaiters are one.

These particular gaiters have been under heavy use (90% of the trips written about here that didn’t involve ski boots) since September of 2009.  They tore, for the first and only time, on some deadfall last spring, necessitating the spandura patch.  Other than that and a lot of fuzzing, the only significant wear can be seen in the fact that they fit a bit looser than they did when new.  All in all remarkable for something so light and simple.  I’ve thought about looking at different options, but in the end that just seems silly when these work so well.

8 responses to “LaSportiva XCountry (and Dirty Girl gaiter) review”

  1. Really. My dirtygirl gaiters tore my first trip out. I like them, but I’m not that impressed with the durability. Those crossleathers are nice. La Sportiva is the bomb.

  2. Have you done a review on Keen hiking boots? I have had four pair in the last two years lose portions of their soles (in the heel area). I too am very rough on shoes/boots and while I like the fit and flex of the Keens I dont know if the problem is just with me or not. I met some folks in the Grand Canyon last week who had the same shoe with about the same miles on them but no such delamination of the sole.

    1. I don’t really use hiking boots at all, and Keens are much too wide for me, generally. Finding something that fits and holds up well is not simple, unfortunately.

  3. I opted for Sportiva Raptors over the Xcountry based mostly on the more robust rand, having switched from only wearing Inov8s for the past five years. Not enough use yet to comment on durability however.

  4. martin cooperman Avatar
    martin cooperman

    Well, I find the Salomon line too narrow for my forefoot.
    Any chance you could try one of these shoes when they come out this summer: New balance minimus amp 1010?
    It’s a low-drop shoe but with a rockplate for undersole protection.

    1. I can’t see myself trying any of the current Minimus line. The mesh looks way too fragile. The current 110 looks interesting with its rubber-ish upper. I liked the original MT100, but the harsh heel counter gave me a case of inflamed achilles which lasted for 5 months in 2010, so I’m a bit gunshy.

  5. Great comments, thanks. The Keens are not really “boots” in the since of the word but rather sided sandles. I have a letter off to them now inquiring about the matter. Really, really like your blog site. Thanks again.

  6. My X countires have lasted a bit over 200 miles but mostly on trail. What I don’t like is the fact that the uppers are basically all mesh. If they’d add a bit of leather or plastic over the higher wear areas they’d be better. Unfortunately I can’t wear crossleathers. The X Country barely fits my wide tos becaus of its more anatomical toebox. Even with sizing up the Crossleather won’t work.

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