Summer OR 2018: Footwear

Note: The products you see and read about here will be available for the Spring/Summer 2019 season — generally hitting stores around March/April of 2019. Exceptions to this are noted in the text.

Footwear seemed to be one of the big stories at OR this summer, with a slew of three-season boots announced, several new rock shoes, a few approach shoes and a couple new ice boots. I’ll deal with what interests me most first and then we’ll go down through the categories in order of duty/use: first, ice boots; second, three-season alpine; third, approach shoes; fourth, rock shoes. So feel free to skip down to whichever style interests you most first!

Ice Boots

Mammut Nordwand Knit High GTX

The most exciting new ice climbing specific boot is the newest member to join Mammut’s Eiger Extreme lineup, the Nordwand Knit High GTX. Basically a higher-cuffed, warmer version of the Nordwand Light Mid GTX (review here) the Knit feels very similar on my foot, with a roomy toebox and close-fitting supportive heel. The boots share the same last, Base Fit 2.0 system, insulated carbon shank and Michelin Alpine Lite 3970 sole — so it makes sense that they fit and feel the same.

The Knit has a new, knit, higher upper made of Microfiber Racing (no, I’ve never heard of this fabric before, either) and an additional Alumina Insulated Insole for added warmth. Interestingly, though the Knit is about 145-grams heavier than the Light, they both have the same temperature rating (-25C EN ISO 20344). The Knit weighs 790-grams in a size EU 42.5, compared to 645-grams in the same size for the Light.

Though the boots share the same sole, the Knit seems to have more of a rocker and feels noticeably more comfortable than the Light when walking across the concrete floors of the OR show (the Light is pretty much flat — it climbs great but isn’t the best for long approaches on hard ground).

The Knit will come in both Men’s (yellow-blue, aka ‘ice-sunrise’ in Mammut-speak) and Women’s (white-purple, or what Mammut calls ‘dark dawn-soft white’) versions. The Men’s will be available in EU 39-47 sizes, while the Women’s will come in EU 37-43. Retail price will be $850 CAD — I don’t have USD pricing, but I’d estimate $650-700 or so based on the Canadian price.

Mammut Nordwand Light Mid GTX Women

The Light Mid mentioned above (reviewed here) will now come in a Women’s version for SS19 in a black/dark-purple colour scheme. Retail price will be $650 Canadian and I’m estimating $450-500 USD.

Lowa Alpine Expert GTX

On the more traditional side of mountain boots is the all-leather Alpine Expert from Lowa. Insulated with 400-gram Primaloft with a Split Leather and Microfiber upper, these are going to be a solid all-mountain boot. Add in the typical Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and you’ve got the latest iteration of a classic mountain style. The sole is a Vibram Alp Trac Ice, which to me looks like an evolution of the old Phantom Guide tread pattern, with a somewhat redesigned toe climbing zone and additional siping across the lugs, presumably for increased traction over wet surfaces. Weight is 870-grams for a EU 42, and they will come in a Women’s last as well. Retail price will be $440 USD, which is a steal for boots this well built and lightweight.

Lowa Alpine Ice GTX

Not new for SS19 but rather coming out sometime this fall (November 2018 seems likely according to Lowa), the Alpine Ice GTX is a single gaitered boot designed for alpine and ice climbing. I don’t know how Lowa does it but their boots are consistently some of the most comfortable I’ve ever put on and the Alpine Ice is no exception: with a wide forefoot and a high, well-padded, cuff these boots feel almost like your favourite slipper; that is if your slippers are Gore-Tex insulated.

The sole is Vibram’s Alp Trac Ice designed for all-around winter traction, and is of course automatic crampon compatible. The outer gaiter is an abrasion resistant synthetic which feels quite supple — a good thing as these boots use the straight-up-the-middle TiZip design, which I have had issues with before on boots with a less flexible gaiter. Weight is 875-grams in a EU 42, which is reasonably light in this category of boot (Scarpa Phantom Techs are 812-grams and La Sportiva G5’s are around 857-grams in the same size). USD retail price will be $600, which undercuts both the Scarpa ($750 USD) and the Sportiva ($700) by a fair bit.

Asolo Mont Blanc GV

Also new-for-this-fall boot is Asolo’s Mont Blanc GV, another contender in the popular single gaitered alpine/ice boot category. The Mont Blanc might possibly be the warmest of all the single-gaiter boots thanks to multiple layers of carbon with an additional layer of reflective aluminum in the midsole. Further insulation comes from the waterproof Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort membrane and an additional layer of neoprene in the outer gaiter (think the stuff wetsuits are made of). Abrasion resistance duties in the outer gaiter are handled by a mix of Cordura and Schoeller Soft Shell fabrics with additional synthetic reinforcements.

Interestingly, Asolo uses the Vibram Mulaz outsole, which is more commonly seen on three-season and general mountaineering boots than ice-climbing specific footwear. The Mulaz sole has a more pronounced rock climbing zone at the toes and slightly shallower lugs than most winter-focused soles. Although the Mont Blanc uses all sorts of high-tech materials, it is the heaviest of the single gaitered boots weighing a claimed 922-grams in a EU 42 (hopefully I can disprove this if I can get a pair for review). Retail price in the US will be $935 — more in line with double-boots, but I am also expecting these to be closer in warmth to those larger, bulkier, boots.

La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX & Nepal CUBE GTX

Both these classic leather boots from La Sportiva get minor updates in the form of a small gaiter at the cuff, and new graphics. The gaiter looks like it’ll hug the ankle and better keep out random trail debris. It also looks to me like the rubber rand is a bit higher along the back of the boot.

Three Season Boots

I already covered the two coolest boots for three season and summer mountaineering use in the New Gear Awards post. Mammut’s Tiass Light GTX promises to be the lightest three season boot on the market, while Garmont’s G-Radikal GTX uses an innovative heel-sleeve to aid breathability and reduce condensation inside the boot. Read more about those two boots here.

Lowa Alpine SL GTX

The Alpine SL uses an innovative outer treatment to reduce the weight of the protective rubber rand. Dubbed Lowa Reptex the process coats the synthetic upper with poly-urethane ‘scales’ that aim to act like their namesake reptilian scales, increasing durability, flexibility and abrasion resistance. The boots also feature a Gore-Tex insert for waterproof comfort and a semi-automatic crampon compatible Vibram Alp Trac SL sole, which has a prominent climbing zone under the toes and Vibram Litease rubber for lighter weight without loss of traction or durability. Weight comes in at a remarkable 550-grams for a EU 42, and retail price will be $500 USD.

La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX

The lightest technical boot yet in the La Sportiva lineup, the Trango Tech GTX weighs 620-grams in EU 42 and will retail for a mere $269 USD. Using similar construction to the burlier (and more expensive) Trango Cube, the Tech uses the same QB3 Waterproof outer fabric and Thermo-Tech Injection Coating on the upper as it’s bigger stablemate but passes on the all-around Vibram rubber rand in a move to keep weight down. The sole is La Sportiva designed but made by Vibram, and dubbed “CUBE” which looks very similar to the “ONE” sole seen on the Cube, but with a larger climbing zone at the front. I unfortunately wasn’t able to squeeze my foot into these but I expect the same fit as the other Trango boots as they are all built on the same last. Not the lightest boot on the market but almost half the price of similar — though lighter — competitors!

Asolo Freney Mid GTX (& Freney Low GTX)

Asolo is taking an interesting approach to expanding their model lineup by creating three versions of the same boot by basically varying their cuff heights. The current boot is the Freney XT GV ($495 USD), a mid-weight three-season boot that weighs in at 620-grams in size EU 42, and features a Schoeller K-Tech Micro upper, a Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort membrane, carbon fiber midsole and Vibram Mulaz outsole for exceptional rock-climbing performance and semi-automatic crampon compatibility.

New for Spring/Summer 2019 is the Freney Mid GTX — basically the same boot but with a lower cuff. The Mid inherits the same upper construction and crampon-compatible Vibram sole but swaps the Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort membrane for the less-insulated Performance Comfort version and the carbon midsole for a less stiff polypropylene one. Weight of the Freney Mid will be 610-grams for a EU 42 boot. Retail price will be $395 USD.

Also new is the Freney Low GTX, which somewhat bridges the gap between a three-season boot and an approach shoe. The Low uses the same last, same upper and same sole as the other Freney Boots, but obviously loses the semi-automatic crampon compatibility. It retains the Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane of the Mid, along with that boot’s polypropylene midsole. Weight for the Low is stated at 490-grams in EU 42 and retail will be $295 USD. I suspect the Freney Low will be a superb shoe for long hikes over rough scree, and given its stiffness and the sticky sole it should climb exceptionally as well.

Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX Women’s

The superb Zodiac Tech from Scarpa will also be available in a Women’s version for 2019 — awesome! I love these boots (review coming shortly) so excited to see the lineup getting expanded.

Approach Shoes

If you just jumped straight to Approach Shoes, you may have missed the Asolo Freney Low GTX, which is covered above alongside its stablemate the Freney Mid GTX.

Butora Icarus & Wing

In case you haven’t yet heard of Butora for some reason, the company has been making their mark on the industry by offering most of their rock shoes in both wide and narrow (aka regular) lasts — which is awesome for those of us with wide feet — and they are also responsible for making all of the Black Diamond shoes (yes, really).

For SS19, Butora has two new approach shoes: the Icarus and the Wing. Both shoes have to-the-toe lacing, large rubber rands and a comfortable, fairly-wide, fit. The Wing also has heel-lock lacing for a more performance-oriented fit. Both shoes use Butora’s most durable NeoForce rubber compound, which incidentally also feels incredibly sticky. The sole is climbing oriented with mostly flat, high-traction zones and only a few shallow lugs. Retail price will be $129 USD for either model.

Scarpa Crux Air

The Crux Air is basically the exact same shoe as the Crux but with a super-breathable knit mesh upper. The upper is not only incredibly thin (feels like almost nothing between your fingers) but it also has numerous perforations along the length of the foot for even better breathability. They’re about 10% lighter than the regular Suede-upper Cruxes and will retain the same MSRP ($130 USD or $180 CAD).

Five Ten Fivetennie

A modern reincarnation of the original Fivetennie, the new Fivetennie features the latest sock-like construction for a close supportive fit, alongside a full leather upper and extended rubber rands for optimal durability. The toe is long and flat —perfect for jamming into cracks — while the Stealth S1 outsole is a modern take on the classic round-dot pattern featuring staggered cutouts for omni-directional traction. The front of the sole also has a dedicated climbing zone, and the lugs towards the front lack the asymmetric cutouts for better all-around traction on rock.

In addition to the retro-styling I took photos of (which I think is awesome!) the Fivetennies will also be available in a more subdued all-black style for stealthy missions. Retail will be $125 USD.

Rock Shoes

Black Diamond Zone

BD’s new Zone fuses the knit upper material from the Momentum with the aggressive profile of the Shadow to create a comfortable and breathable shoe that is adept at steep, overhanging routes. The Engineered Knit Technology creates a fabric that is soft and comfortable, stretchy where needed and breathable everywhere — perfect for hot days and extended gym sessions. The last is slightly downturned and fairly aggressive, while the toe has printed-on rubber patches for extra friction when toe-hooking. The midsole offers medium flex for enhanced sensitivity and the sole is sticky 4.3mm Fuse rubber, which is molded instead of cut for additional precision and better comfort. Two large Velcro straps keep it secured on your feet; the upper strap is extra-wide for better stick. The Zone will be available in a regular last, as well as an LV (low volume) version for those with smaller feet (BD is not calling this a ‘women’s fit’ but will instead be migrating all their shoes to ‘regular’ and ‘low volume’ lasts). The Zone will retail for $140 USD or $180 CAD.

La Sportiva Testarossa

The Testarossa’s most visible update comes in the form of a bright Ferrari-red colour, but the more subtle change is the redesigned heel pocket which has been modified for a closer fit and better breathability thanks to some perforations. The leather/Lorica construction remains, as does the aggressively down-turned fit with Sportiva’s signature P3 rand. The rubber gains a bit more sensitivity in the form of 3.5mm XS Grip2 (vs 4mm in the current yellow/red version) and the toes and sides receive additional perforations to aid breathability. $199 USD retail.

Scarpa Arpia

The Arpia is a new shoe designed to bridge the gap between traditional flat-lasted shoes, such as the Force V, and more downturned aggressive shoes like the Vapor series. The slightly downturned last has a 1.5mm Talyn midsole for all-day support and 3.5mm XS Grip 2 rubber for unparalleled grip. The upper is soft, comfortable, microsuede that feels great next to skin while the padded tongue and Z-strap Velcro closure ensure a snug fit without pressure points. There will be a Men’s and Women’s version and retail prices will be $165 USD and $169 CAD.

Scarpa Instinct SR

Taking the proven Instinct S slipper platform and refining the fit into an even lower-volume platform, the Instinct SR also has expanded rubber over the toe and forefoot and a lower-volume heel pocket. The microsuede upper has a reinforced elastic band for a snugger fit (as opposed to the Instinct S’s sewn reinforcements) while the Bi-Tension active rand drives power to the toes. The Instinct SR retains the 1.0mm Flexan midsole and 3.5mm XS Grip2 rubber. Men’s style only; USD $175 and $189 CAD.

Scarpa Vapor V

The superb Vapor V gets a full material redesign for 2019 while retaining the current shoe’s shape and performance. The upper is now full synthetic microsuede for a stretch-free fit over the lifetime of the shoe; the heel cup has been redesigned for a tighter, lower-volume profile; the tongue has an all-new air mesh design and redesigned straps for better comfort and easier adjustment. The Bi-Tension rand focuses power on the toes without jamming them forward, while the split-sole design and 1.5mm Talyn midsole allow for greater flexibility than the lace-up Vapor. The Men’s shoes will use 3.5mm XS Edge rubber while the Women’s version will utilize 3.5mm XS Grip2. $180 USD and $189 CAD.

Five Ten Grandstone

Climbers have been asking Five Ten for a high-top shoe for years and the company delivers with the Grandstone. Fusing classic 90’s style with modern materials and design, the Grandstone has a full microfiber upper for minimal stretch and all-day comfort. A stiff thermoplastic midsole provides support for long days on the wall while the Stealth C4 rubber sole offers sticky grip without compromising edging performance. The toe has a unique in-cut design that allows the toes to lay flat and fit easily into cracks, while a printed rubber overlay provides additional grip and protection. $180 USD.

Five Ten Aleon VCS

The Aleon is quite possibly the first rock shoe to feature a sock-like fit thanks to its use of adidas outdoor’s proprietary Primeknit material for the closure and lining. The Primeknit is soft and stretchy and completely seamless — the shoe literally feels like a sock inside. The microfiber upper retains its shape without stretching, and a single Velcro strap keeps the shoe secure. With a downturned and asymmetrical design, the Aleon is designed to excel on steep, overhanging bouldering and sport routes. Stealth C4 rubber offers sticky grip, while the medium stiff midsole blends support with sensitivity. $190 USD.

Five Ten Dragon VCS

The Dragon makes a return for 2019 with the aim of being the ultimate bouldering shoe. The fully lined Microfiber upper ensures a stretch-free fit and a traditional lacing system accommodates a widee variety of foot shapes. 3.5mm Stealth HF (High Friction) rubber combines with a soft midsole for unparalleled friction on all types of rock, while an extended toe rand protects when toe-hooking. $160 USD.

Five Ten Dragon Lace

There’s also apparently going to be a Dragon Lace, but it’s not in my workbook and my brain was too tired to retain any information about it. So all I have for now are photos, but stay tuned for an update to this article once I learn more about this shoe from Five Ten.

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