La Sportiva Boulder X Mid GTX: numbers and rationale

I recently bought the first pair of non-ski or snow boots I’ve had in a decade; the Sportiva Boulder X Mids. The reason? I wanted something that would be more comfortable than trail runners with strap on crampons, and I wanted the lightest and most hikable boot which would kick steps in moderate snow.

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In size 44.5 they weigh 20.2 oz a foot.
This is a half size down from what I usually wear in trail shoes; enough toe room for hiking when wearing one thin sock, tight enough to edge decently with the lower laces snugged up.

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I took them to Craters this past weekend, to shake them out and to avoid giving a lighter pair of shoes the inevitable lava thrashing. The fit is great out of the box, and construction quality is immediately evident, which is nice after the recent ski boot debacle.
First thing I did, after wearing them around the house for an hour, was fire up the oven and get two thick coats of beaswax in the leather. Even split grain benefits from this treatment. The oven helps it penetrate well; set around 200, open the door, and place the treated boots on the door. Turn frequently, and don’t overdo it and delam the rands.

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Note nice low-pro tongue gusset. The boots did great on the trip, my only mistake was not rigging them for trail gaiters, which had me picking sage twigs, cinders and snow out of my socks every few hours. My feet were sore at the end of each day, but it was not the fault of the boots. I’ll still wear lighter, more flexible shoes most of the time, but in the alpine these should keep the trail runners from getting holes so quickly.

I opted for the Boulder, versus the fabric La Sportiva Hyper, for durability.  There is a concern about Goretex shoes getting soaked in the deep spring creek crossings which are part and parcel of spring and early summer around here.  I’ll report back.  The Boulder has padding around the ankle and in the tongue but no where else, so it should dry faster than many in its class.  And a waterproof shoe keeping feet warm climbing snow isn’t a bad thing, either.

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The toe box is good, it reflects the shape of actual feet, is wide enough for comfort but tight enough for decent performance. Key with shoes like this is the use the lacing system to suit the circumstances. Leave the lower reaches loose for long hikes, and cinch them up for more technical terrain. The Mythos lacing system makes this easy.

Initial impressions are very promising.

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8 thoughts on “La Sportiva Boulder X Mid GTX: numbers and rationale

  1. I own a pair of similar leather boots for the same reason. They are perfect for early season snow. Leather is much better than fabric in those conditions. It is really hard (if not impossible) to keep a fabric boot dry when kicking steps (even Goretex liners don’t work) but properly treated leather works great.You can kick steps in them, do a standing glissade or come to nice tight stop with them. I’m not that good of a skier on skis, but I’m a great skier on boots. Have fun with those.

  2. Hey Dave,

    I’m looking for a boot for doing shoulder season trail work in SW Colorado and am thinking the boulder might be a good option. Do you find that the Boulder mids are flexible enough for regular hiking? I’m hoping that these could work for some light mountaineering as well as shoulder/winter season pursuits.

    Thanks,
    Tyler

  3. Looking for winter peakbagging and overnight shoes. Typically do trail runners, but tired of cold feet due to snow in the mesh. No experience with leather in winter. Can you speak to the comparison between leather and fabric a bit as it relates to long days in wet/snow then dealing with freezing temps overnight. You comment about concerns soaking goretex in creeks, and others commented about fabric being impossible to keep dry. Why is leather better in this regard? Rad fkn blog, btw.

    1. Leather is good because it’s more durable. It can be very waterproof if well treated with snoseal, but that needs to be a fairly regular part of maintenance. I like the Zamberlans we’ve spokend about elsewhere better for backpacking than the Boulder X mids (mainly due to fit), but the Boulders are great for scrambling and easy mountaineering.

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