The La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX boots are the latest version of what has been a successful lineage for the company, which has produced several variations of the Trango over the years.
In this case, the Trango Towers are designed as an all-around three-season boot that is compatible with hybrid crampons (accepts a heel bail but does not have a toe welt, which you would need for step-in crampons). It is both light and stiff, thanks to a PU midsole with EVA inserts (polyurethane and ethylene vinyl acetate: essentially a blend of plastics and foam) instead of a traditional steel shank. The upper section of this boot features “high-tenacity nylon,” a Gore-Tex membrane for water-resistance and breathability, and a Honey-Comb Guard that protects from wear and tear.
“La Sportiva has determined where the highest wear zones of previous Trango models are and then used the Honey-Comb Guard to better protect those areas,” said Cory Lowe, a publicist for Sportiva. “It is a tough mesh fabric that is not easily beat up by rocks.”
Considering these boots were designed for three-season use, I was a bit apprehensive about taking them out in August, which is peak summer season in the Colorado Rockies. To my surprise the Gore-Tex membrane did an excellent job at breathing, allowing my feet to remain comfortable while I hiked out in the blistering heat of lower elevations. Likewise, the boot remained warm in the cold mornings at higher elevations, even when I wasn’t actively moving around. One morning I spent a few hours photographing time-lapses in a biting September wind at 13,400 feet and experienced no discomfort! After thousands of feet of snow climbing in soft, soggy slush, numerous rainstorms and river crossings, I am confident in the waterproof membrane of these boots.
The Honey-Comb Guard held up well against the knocks and scrapes. I often have problems with my ankles rubbing against each other while hiking, creating serious abrasion on the inner ankle area. The fabric guards were ideally situated for this type of wear. After more than 80 miles of hiking, there is almost no noticeable wear. I can’t say the same for the toecaps, though. There are some serious gashes and scratches in them that make me wonder how durable they would be over a course of a few seasons of frequent use.
The sole of the Trango Tower is made with Vibram rubber and an impact brake system. The unique position of the lugs allows as many of them as possible to come into contact with the ground, for maximum impact absorption. Truthfully, I thought this sounded really corny and wasn’t sure what to think of it. Many of the fourteeners in Colorado have sections of lose dirt and rock that can be a pain to descend. The brake system along with the bulky toe guard of the boots allowed me to slide through these sections as if I were on skis. My knees hardly hurt, and my feet felt fresh, so I suppose the design was effective.
During my descent, all of a sudden it hit me: I never had to re-tie the boots. This is very rare for me, so the differentiated lacing system used between the upper and lower part of the boot really does work.
The Vibram rubber, on the other hand, gave me some mixed results. During a serious fifth-class traverse of the famous Maroon Bells, I came across a lot of wet metamorphic sedimentary mudstone. The rubber had no traction on the rock, and I found myself slipping frequently. There were numerous exposed sections where I was nervous because of a lack of confidence in my feet. On the contrary, on wet granite, the rubber gripped like glue. There is also a “climbing zone” on the toe area of the sole. This feature is unreal! I found myself edging on the smallest of features and would surely be comfortable climbing up to 5.7 in these boots. Unfortunately, the climbing zones have worn down quickly and already show serious signs of rounding towards the toe guard. Again, this makes me wonder how they would hold up to seasons of continuous use.
All in all, if you are looking for a do-it-all three-season mountain boot, the Trango Towers are a worthwhile option. My only advice is to try them on first if you’re not familiar with La Sportiva’s sizing. I am typically a size 10 street shoe, and figured a half-size upgrade would be enough. In hindsight, a full size would be ideal. Despite the small mishap of sizing, I will still be wearing these boots for spring snow climbs and fall adventures!
Jeremy Joseph has been climbing rock, ice and snow for seven years along with over a decade of experience chasing ethereal light in the mountains. He recently returned from an expedition to Peru, where he attempted to climb Taulliraju (5830m). You can see more of his photography at rawlandscapes.com
Great ankle flexibility
Real edging power on small holds
Great ventilation to keep your feet cool on hot days. Lacing system keeps you in tight all-day long
Very stiff sole for walking
Rubber gets a bit sketchy on wet surfaces
Rubber and toecaps wear quickly