La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW

Ultralight mountaineering boots that are great on rock and ice as well as long approaches on the trail. But are they durable and warm enough?

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by Doug Johnson | 2006-12-26 03:00:00-07

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW

Introduction

The La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX are ultralight mountaineering boots that do well in snow and ice. They accept hybrid or strap-on crampons, have sticky rubber for sure-footed grip on rock, and are completely waterproof. They weigh much less that leather or plastic mountaineering boots but also lack insulation, making these better in some conditions than in others. Are they warm enough to tackle glaciers in above-freezing conditions?

What’s Good

  • At less than 3 ¾ pounds for a size 12, they are extremely light for capable mountaineering boots
  • Sole is very stiff front to rear, making these boots comfortable for front pointing sessions
  • Boot is more flexible side to side, giving flexibility for using French technique
  • Vibram sole provides good grip on rock, dirt, and snow
  • Accepts most strap-on and hybrid crampons
  • Gore-Tex liner is waterproof and never leaked during field testing
  • Comfortable for long approaches so only one pair of boots is needed
  • $285 price is expensive but reasonable when compared to other mountaineering boots

What’s Not So Good

  • Doesn’t accept step-in crampons (other Trango models do but they’re heavier)
  • Minimal insulation means that the range of conditions is limited
  • Cordura and Lorica uppers are tough and light but not as tough as plastic or full grain leather

Specifications

  Year/Model

2006 La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX

  Style

Full height waterproof mountaineering boot

  Weight

Measured weight (men’s size 45.5 / 12 US) 3 lb 11.9 oz/pair (1.70 kg), manufacturer specification 3 lb 2 oz/pair (1.42 kg) for men’s size 41 / 8 US

  Materials

Upper: Waterproof Cordura, FlexTec2, Water-repellant Lorica synthetic leather, Vibram XSV Rand, Gore-Tex lining

  Outsole

Midsole: polyurethane (PU) (forefoot), thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPU) (heel), crampon reinforcement in back, Sole: Vibram Mulaz (sticky Supertrek rubber)

  Features

3D Flex ankle, waterproof Gore-Tex lining, 7 mm Trangoflex Trailflex insole with integrated nylon shank, dual-density Micropore midsole

  MSRP

$285

Performance

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW - 1
The Trango S EVO is a boot that is comfortable in long approaches, on rock, and on technical ice.

The La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX boots are the lightest mountaineering boots offered by La Sportiva and among the lightest full-shank boots on the market. There are a total of five boots in the Trango line including women’s, ice-climbing, and insulated models. This is the lightest of those and is the least insulated.

At just over 1 ½ pounds each for my size 12 boots, the Trango S EVO GTX are some of the lightest mountaineering boots on the market. This weight savings is very noticeable when hiking long distances or kicking steps on long glacier routes. I felt much more nimble on my feet with these boots than with heavier leather or plastic mountaineering boots and was less fatigued at the end of the day.

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW - 2
When wearing gaiters, the tough Lorica (red) and rubber are the main exposed parts of the boot - and both are very tough.

The Trango S EVO GTX is constructed with three main materials in the upper. Lorica synthetic leather is used in high-stress areas such as the laces and for the main pieces that wrap around the foot. Waterproof Cordura is used in the upper boot for flexibility. A rubberized fabric called FlexTec2 is found in the lower tongue and along the sides for combined abrasion resistance and breathability. The upper is lined with Gore-Tex which ensures that the boots are waterproof. Gore-Tex linings in footwear allow some breathability and help a great deal in retaining warmth - important in an uninsulated boot that will be used on snow and ice.

The upper remained waterproof through water crossings and slushy snow and the waterproof Gore-Tex lining kept feet warm and relatively dry from sweat with its limited breathability. The upper provides enough flex to be comfortable when kicking steps in steep snow or bend them over when using French technique on steep ice. The Lorica synthetic leather is very tough and resists stretching. I have a pair of mountain bike shoes that are constructed of Lorica; after years of hard use, the fabric has never stretched and shows little wear - it’s tough. Despite many miles on the trail, rock, and glacier, the variety of robust fabrics used the upper show very little wear.

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW - 3
The upper heel is flexible enough to be comfortable kicking steps in steep snow.

The Trango boot has a Trangoflex insole with an integrated nylon shank. This gives them very little flex in the front and I found them to be very comfortable in extended kick-stepping and front-pointing situations on moderate ice. The upper is flexible enough to make them very comfortable when using French technique as well.

The removable footbeds of the Trango are fairly standard, offering limited arch support and padding. As with most boots, I quickly replaced these with Superfeet (and then traded to Sole footbeds) which greatly improved the comfort of the boot. Cheap footbeds are standard in boots but I would sure like to see more advanced models in boots of this quality.

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW - 4
The sole flexes very little, even when applying full body weight. The slight rocker allows for comfortable trail walking.

There is just enough rocker and flex in the boot to make them comfortable on extended approaches as well. I used these boots exclusively in training for a Rainier climb and put over 100 trail miles on them in addition to glacier work. While not as comfortable as flexible running shoes when day hiking, I found the La Sportiva boots to be surprisingly comfortable when hiking and I never experienced a single blister or hot spot. I wish I could say that about my leather mountaineering boots!

The Gore-Tex lining holds in some warmth and not an excessive amount of moisture. For alpine environments, the compromise of warmth from a limited moisture barrier and the limited breathability is a great application for a Gore-Tex liner.

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW - 5
The Vibram Mulaz sole is tough, sticky, and provides excellent traction in a variety of settings.

The outsole of the Trango boots is comprised of polyurethane (PU) in the forefoot, thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPU) in the rear, and a Vibram Mulaz sole. The boot does a good job of absorbing impacts when hiking and hasn’t shown any wear in the outsole. The Vibram sole is a good compromise: it is tacky enough to provide good grip on rock without getting chewed up by crampons, the elevated arch provides control when plunge stepping in crusty snow, the moderate lugs provide excellent traction in mud and rocky soils, and a smooth “Climbing Zone” at the front gives solid purchase when edging rock. I found the sole and shock absorption to be nearly perfect in a climbing boot.

The La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX offers limited insulation, limiting their application in very cold mountaineering settings. However, by using thicker insoles and an insulated vapor barrier sock by RBH Designs, I was able to push these boots well into below-freezing temperatures without getting cold. While these aren’t extreme high altitude or extreme cold boots, by using a warm sock combination, I’ve found them to be warm enough for three-season mountaineering as well as winter backpacking at lower elevations in the Pacific Northwest. Other boots in the La Sportive Trango line offer increased insulation for colder environments.

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW - 6
A rear crampon reinforcement allows the Trango boots to be outfitted with strap-on or hybrid crampons.

The Trango S EVO GTX boots are compatible with most strap-on or hybrid crampons. Because they don’t have a front crampon reinforcement, they are not compatible with full step-in crampons. For step-in crampon use, other models in the Trango line are suitable (although with a weight penalty).

At $285, the Trango boots aren’t cheap but are comparable in price to other boots in their class. They are very lightweight, offer excellent durability, and will last many seasons, making them an excellent value.

What’s Unique

The La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX is a very lightweight mountaineering boot that doesn’t compromise on stiffness or durability. It is well thought-out and adaptable to a wide variety of settings from trail and off trail hiking to glacier and rock climbing.

Recommendations for Improvement

These La Sportiva boots are excellent and performed beyond my expectations. My only gripe is that they come with footbeds that are only slightly thicker than the standard and don’t offer much support. I always trade “throwaway” insoles for better models from Superfeet or Sole, but in boots this expensive, I wish better footbeds were included.


Citation

"La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/la_sportiva_trango_s_evo_gtx_mountaineering_boot_review.html, 2006-12-26 03:00:00-07.

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La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 12/26/2006 17:59:05 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Keen Growler Alternative? on 12/26/2006 18:47:02 MST Print View

Mtn Boots

Are the Keen Growlers a viable alternative for a lighter weight, more breathable, warmer, and less costly mountaineering boot?

Is either of these boots better suited for snow camping / snow shoeing than WPB trail shoes and neoprene over boots?

Edited by richard295 on 12/26/2006 18:57:59 MST.

D T
(dealtoyo) - F

Locale: Mt Hood
Re: La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 12/27/2006 02:01:47 MST Print View

Great article.

I've owned a pair of these boots for a couple of years and I love them. No wear issues yet. Tough, light, comfortable, and water proof.

This article is spot on, especially in regards to replacing the footbeds. I consider this an absolute must.

One footnote: As with most La Sportiva mountaineering boots, they are a little on the narrow side. If you have wide feet they might not be the boots for you.

R K
(oiboyroi)

Locale: South West US
Re: La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 12/27/2006 16:45:45 MST Print View

I just bought thses boots about a month ago for use this winter. I havn't had a chance to use them yet however this article is dead on as far as the description goes.

One thing that this article (or anywhere else on the web for that matter) left out was the a description of the fit. Depending on the manufacturer I typically wear a U.S. size 11 and have medium width and low volume foot. I bought these in a 11+ (size 45) as I thought I would need a little extra room for a thick sock. The boots fit although are slight loose. I could definetly go with an 11 (size 44.5) and still have plenty of room even with a thick sock. The toe box has plenty of volume as I can wiggle my toes up and down no problem. The lacing is very adjustable and has no problem taking up the extra volume my foot doesn't need. The first D ring locks the lace in place so once you have your laces adjusted across the top of your foot you can adjust the upper indepdently. Over all very nicely done.

To help get a better visual to the shape of the last, I took out the insole of my U.S. size 11 Salomon XA comp 2's and compared it to insole of my Trango's (size 45). They were identical in shape.

Richard, I did a small bit of hiking and backpacking last winter wearing my Salomons. They worked great for snowshoeing but walking on the snow in just the shoes left something to be desired. On steeper terrain the were wholly out of place. The extra stiffness of the Trango's allows you kick steps and in general have more stable footing in various snow conditions. The trail runners were just too flexible. I think the Keen Growler's may have the same short comings.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Keen Growler Alternative? on 12/27/2006 21:48:59 MST Print View

Hi Richard,

The Keen Growlers are very different boots. The Trangos are designed for mountaineering in that they're crampon compatible with very stiff soles as well as a stiff last. They are designed for glacier and mixed climbing routes.

The Keen boots are very interesting indeed, but for different purposes. While they will accept a very flexible crampon, they won't have the stiffness for work on steep ice, especially when front pointing or using French technique. For snowshoeing and general winter travel, though, they look very good. They're more insulated, use eVENT (more breathable than Gore Tex), and have a softer sole which is better for snowshoeing in all but the most icy conditions.

But while I have several pairs of Keens, I've never used the Growler boots so I can't give any info about their field performance. But they could definitely be a viable option if you're doing winter travel without the mountaineering piece.

Happy holidays!
Doug

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Keen Growler Alternative? on 12/27/2006 23:21:03 MST Print View

I agree with Doug! I've got a couple of snowshoe day trips on my Growlers. They're warm, reasonably light, comfortable, fairly grippy on snow/ice, and more breathable than I expected. They are not remotely, however, any kind of mountaineering boot.

If I had one wish, it's that they were an inch taller so that the power strap from the Karhu Karvers that Santa gave me would fit them. :-)

Cheers,

-Mike

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 12/27/2006 23:36:43 MST Print View

"I used these boots exclusively in training for a Rainier climb..."


Doug, if you did climb Rainier, what boots did you use?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Re: La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 12/28/2006 02:17:05 MST Print View

Hi Douglas,

Sorry if I was unclear- what I meant to say was "I used these boots to climb Rainier and also used them exclusively in all of my training for the climb."

What I meant to convey was that they have MANY miles on them on rock, glacier, and over many miles of trails.

Thanks!
Doug

R K
(oiboyroi)

Locale: South West US
Re: Re: Re: Re: La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 01/28/2007 22:29:17 MST Print View

Hi Doug,

Not so much a question about the boots but about the RBH Designs VB socks. How thick are they? Are the comparable to say a smartwool hiking w/medium cushion or trekking? Or is it more like their mountaineering sock. Also if you needed to could you layer another sock over the top for additional warmth with out much difficulty or would that be too bulky?

Thanks

Roy

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX Mountaineering Boot REVIEW on 02/08/2007 14:44:57 MST Print View

Do you think it is possible to push the low temperature range of these boots to -10 degrees "F" if necessary and how?

Thanks.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Trango S EVo on 02/08/2007 18:40:38 MST Print View

Few people nowadays seem to use supergaiters, but what intrigues me is the possibility of making your own SUL supergaiter. Instead of a rubber rand, you could, perhaps, permanently glue the bottom of the gaiter to the boot, using Cuben sailcloth? Or, Momentum 90? Insulate with a lightweight insulation? "MOUNTAIN TOOLS GLACIER SUPER GAITERS & BUZZARD INSULATED SUPERGAITERS. Our SUPERGAITERS boost the warmth of your feet by trapping a layer of air around the boot upper and prohibiting cold ice, slush or water from ever touching your boot. A sticky, stretchy strong elastic 5.10 Stealth Rubber rand forms a gasket seal - just above the welt - leaving the front and heel of your boot sole exposed for hiking and climbing traction on dirt, snow and rock."

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Trango S EVo on 02/09/2007 15:57:55 MST Print View

>Cuben sailcloth?

I wonder how long they'd last wearing crampons over them (let alone slashing them with crampons). Outdoor Research used to make a supergaiter without the rubber rand (OR X-Gaiter; 17.8 oz with open-cell foam, 21.0 oz with closed-cell foam). They used stretchy cord under the boot to hold the gaiter to the boot, which is probably fine except for hiking. It is made from 1000d Cordura,

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Trango S EVO on 02/09/2007 16:45:56 MST Print View

Anyone who occasionally slashes one boot with the crampons of the other boot is like the sky diver who occasionally forgets to deploy his or her parachute, in my arrogant opionion (IMAO). More practice is needed walking around on flat snow before heading into the hills.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
supergaiters and crampons on 02/09/2007 17:45:34 MST Print View

I've never used supergaiters myself, but the argument that I've heard aginst them is that because they leave the sole of the boot exposed they don't provide as much insulation as you might think because of conductive heatloss through the sole of the boot, especially when wearing crampons, which being metal, are great at sucking the heat out of your feet.
It's funny, I almost never have problems with cold feet, and usually I just go with a pair of leather mountaineering boots, thick socks, and gaiters. Once, in New Hampshire, Using this footwear combination,I was trekking around on Mt. Washington and it was unseasonably warm and raining, and so my boots ended up soaked. That night the temp dropped into the single digits and my boots froze solid. Putting them on that morning was really unpleasant, but after walking around for an hour or so, they thawed out, and my feet actually felt really warm.
And seriously, everyone who has ever worn crampons (and I don't care if you are Mark Twight or Steve house) has slashed their gaiters once in a while, not that it's a good thing, but it's definitly a universal one.

Edited by joshcgil2 on 02/10/2007 15:16:07 MST.