Gear Review: La Sportiva Core High GTX Boots

La Sportiva Core High GTX
La Sportiva Core High GTX

Lightweight Hiking Boots
La Sportiva Core High GTX
$200, 1 lb. 13 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: Euro men’s 38-47.5, women’s 36-43

Whenever a new boot comes along that’s mid-cut and under two pounds per pair, I want to try it out—that’s my preferred type of footwear for many hikes, from dayhikes of any distance, including ultra-hiking, to light backpacking. So I took Sportiva’s new Core High GTX on a very rugged, 20-mile dayhike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and backpacking for three days in Idaho’s Sawtooths, and found them ideal for light hiking and super breathable.

I carried just a 12-pound daypack in the Whites, and up to about 30 pounds backpacking in the Sawtooths with my daughter. A friend of mine also borrowed these synthetic boots carrying up to about 25 pounds on our three-day, 41-mile backpacking trip on the Timberline Trail around Oregon’s Mount Hood. The Core High GTX feel very light and have plenty of forefoot flex, like a trail-running shoe, while providing moderate support and ankle protection. I could stride fast on trails. But one tradeoff for the low weight is that I could feel the rocks in the trail through the soft, EVA midsole, especially when carrying a pack weighing over 20 pounds.


On a 19-mile, 13-hour, seven-summit traverse of rocky and steep trails on Wildcat Mountain and the Carter-Moriah Range in the Whites, on a very hot and humid day, my feet only got slightly sweaty. Credit the breathability of the mesh uppers and the new Gore-Tex Surround technology, which delivers reliable waterproofing for splashing through puddles and mud, plus 360 degrees of breathability, thanks to a spacer in the sole that pumps air upward through vents in the sidewalls of the boot’s upper with each step. The Nano-Cell overlay wraps the foot in a polyurethane grid, protecting both your feet and the mesh uppers from abuse. The Vibram outsole’s widely spaced, deep lugs bite into mud, dirt, and gravel and gripped well enough when I scrambled steep, rocky terrain in the Whites. The fit is snug, best for low-volume feet, with comfortable padding in the tongue and ankle.

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If you prioritize low weight in a mid-cut boot, you’re carrying 20 pounds or less, and your feet and legs are strong enough to not need much support from your footwear, then the Core High GTX is a good choice.

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See all of my reviews of hiking shoes and backpacking boots that I like, all of my reviews of hiking gear and ultralight backpacking gear, and my “Pro Tips For Buying the Right Boots.” See also my story “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun.”

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NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

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