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Long Term Field Test: La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX

The truth of the matter is, this review is woefully overdue. I first unpacked my La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX boots just over a year ago and only days before a trip to Nepal. I literally plucked them from a box and tossed them into a duffel bag. When I saw them next I was in Kathmndu and lacing them up for a week long trek into the Himalayas. The whole thing was a recipe for debilitating blisters, but the blisters never came. Even after several days humping a heavy pack full of camera gear over rocky terrain at altitude my feet never developed so much as a hot spot.

In the months since I’ve plied some mean miles in the Trango Cubes. I used them to kick steps in the snowy flanks of Mount Washington and only weeks later they carried me to over 16,000 feet in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Together we meandered amidst the Wind River Range in Wyoming and just this week they delivered me to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a three day solo backpack. As someone who tends to slut around with multiple boots throughout the year, that’s serious commitment to one pair.

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Of all the synthetic-upper boots I’ve owned, none have been as solid as these. That can be attributed to the clear rubberized exoskeleton which wraps discretely around the seamless upper. The 4mm graded midsole is stiff enough for a heavy pack, front pointing, and scrambling over rocky surfaces, but cushioned appropriately with well placed PU and EVA midsole components. A heavy rubber rand protects the lower portion of the boot and a GoreTex membrane seals out the elements. The paucity of seams and panels contributes to the overall comfort and keeps the weight to an ethereally light 710 grams. For featherweights, they’ve also proven profoundly durable.

Whereas other fabric boots quickly resemble a frumpy potato sack, the Cubes have maintained a taught shape and subsequently, all of their original support. With no seams to abrade and well place protective elements, even my clumsy feet can’t produce any noticeable signs of abuse. In fact, after a year of adventures, the only signs of miles are worn sole lugs.

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Ideally designed as an uber-light mountaineering and climbing boot, the reinforced lace points extend to the toe and the sole thickness has been kept to a minimum. This lends the Cube sure-footing on steep and unstable terrain, but also promotes a natural stride when logging long miles. I have no fear of burning through the Vibram rubber as they can be easily resoled.

So let’s talk about the elephant in the room––the color. I’ll be the first to admit, it does look like a unicorn pooped on my feet. They are loud, but to be honest I rather like the color. I also realize it might be a tad overstated for some of you, but not to worry, the current color for 2017 is far less shouty.

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For those overlanders apt to play deep in the hills, the Trango Cube GTX is a sound choice. Providing the protection and performance of a heavy boot at a fraction of the weight, they are as close to bunny slippers as mountaineering and trekking boots get. A testament to how much I love them can be attributed to the fact that every time I see them on a shelf, I feel an overwhelming urge to lace them up and walk until the sun sets. Nice work, La Sportiva. Bravo. $390

 

www.sportiva.com

Fit notes: Like all good boots, La Sportiva sizes their footwear in EU size increments which lends more options per range than US or UK sizes. The lengths run very true to the labeled size, although I feel the forefoot of the Trango Cube might run narrower than some other boots in the La Sportiva line. The heel is pleasantly not too wide and even for my low volume feet, there was ample width in the lace patch to get them adequately snug.

Christophe Noel is Expedition Portal's Editor and the Senior Editor for Overland Journal. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.