Overall Rating ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX is billed as a lightweight ‘crossover’ shoe that can bridge between the worlds of mountaineering and backpacking, suitable for Alpine guides as well as Alpine Hikers – when I first saw it it just screamed super light summer Alpine boot!
The big story technically about this boot is the construction of the upper which won it both an OutDoor Gold Award and a Gear institute ‘Best New Gear’ award. The La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX has a “seamless, waterproof upper with protective rand and direct-inject lacing system for maximum abrasion resistance and reduced weight” This translates as a tough fabric upper lined with GoreTex that is then re-enforced with injection moulded Thermoplastic Urethane to improve abrasion resistance and take the strain for the lacing system. An added bonus is that with no seams the durability of the boot should also be improved. What this means to the wearer is that you get a boot that is not only tough but also lightweight and comfortable. They look a bit like a cross between an approach shoe and a mountain boot and that holds true for the comfort and performance in many ways too.
Straight out of the box these are comfy boots. The fit, in my very unscientific judgement, was medium/narrow but even my wide feet felt comfy after a few break-in walks. The initial impression was of a very agile and noticeably light boot, I was quite happy wearing them in situations where I’d normally be reaching for a pair of trail shoes as there is a noticeable rocker to the sole and sufficient flex that they are not fatiguing to wear when tramping around the Lakes or local moors. The tongue is a clever elasticated ‘gusset’ with a removable padded insert. This insert stiffens the fore and aft flex at the ankle a little and takes up a bit of volume but I could find no clear explanation of its purpose. I used the boots both with and without it walking but always preferred to have it in when climbing.
The Trango Cube GTXs are rated as B2 and can take a ‘Semi Step-in’ crampon binding like Grivel’s Newmatic (plastic toe bucket and rear heel bail). Weight wise my size 43.5 came in at 785 grams (740grams for a 42) which puts these up with lightest of the full mountain boots out there. La Sportiva rate them as being ideal for “technical mixed climbing and ice climbing” on their USA site and “technical mountaineering and hiking on climbing routes (google translation!)” on their Italian site. I’m not sure they are ideally suited to technical mixed and ‘ice’ climbing as we interpret it in the UK – you can’t fit a fully rigid crampon- but for normal Scottish/alpine mixed and ice up to about 80º they are perfect. So to me the Italian description of ‘technical mountaineering’ would seem a better one.
There is more than enough stiffness for technical rock climbing which is further aided by a solid rubber climbing block on the toe of the boot and together with their sensitivity gives you more confidence than is usual when rock climbing in big boots. On the typical mixture of ice, nevé and rock that is a day out on the Ben the Trango Cube GTXs proved excellent. Their lightweight, agile feel made the climbing fun and on short sections of steep ice there was more than enough rigidity to instil total confidence whilst soloing. Perhaps the most noticeable sensation was at the end of the day when their lightness meant there was still a skip in my step as I headed back down the Allt a’Mhuilinn path. As expected the GoreTex liner kept my feet dry and comfortable in all manner of muddy, slushy, rainy, snowy conditions and even on cold days my feet were comfortably warm if I was moving regularly. Stood still in the shade on the Ben I could begin to feel a bit chilly after 15 minutes but these are un-insulated lightweight boots. Durability wise they are holding up very well with no signs of wear or damage, I must admit I was a little sceptical about the plastic lace hooks and eyes but even after a fair bit of scraping and jamming on rock pitches there is no sign of damage.
Overall the Sportiva Trango Cube GTX is a great lightweight mountaineering boot that can cope with Scottish Winter but I think their true forte will be summer Alpine use where their agility and lightweight would be an even bigger asset – I can’t wait to try them out in that arena!