By Ben Humphris
Working in Scotland and the Lake District this winter season I have been using the new La Sportiva G5. I believe the winter of 2017-18 will be referred to as a ‘vintage’ season, and throughout I’ve had the chance to test out the G5 on a wide range of classic Scottish routes, many of which haven’t formed in nearly 10 years!
The La Sportiva G5 replaces the popular Batura 2.0. The G5 continues to use the integrated super gaiter style that the Batura popularised. This makes the G5 a very warm and versatile boot that is at home climbing in many arenas, including Scotland, the Alps or Norway. With the colours now reversed the boot is brighter than ever, volume and weight are reduced to a minimum shaving off 100 grams from the Batura. No expense has been spared with the materials used in these boots. The protective edge is made of a super lightweight material, PU TechLite™ while the midsole is made from insulating carbon fibre honey-comb tech 3 mm.
These boots were extremely easy for me to fit and bed-in. I wear a 42 in all of my La Sportivas – winter and summer boots and even approach shoes - and the G5’s were no exception. Straight out the box the G5 last sized up perfectly. One quick note on volume, which may be relevant to those decamping from Scarpa: these boots have a slightly lower volume when compared to Scarpa’s Phantoms.
Or the lack of it! These boots are light and they feel great for it . There are lighter boots out there for sure, some of the Scarpa range for example. However there have been huge question marks over their durability by some reviewers. My previous boots were the classic La Sportiva Nepal Extremes, which weigh in at 2250g for a pair in size 42. The G5’s are just 1710g for the same size. To put this in context that saves 240g per foot, every step. In a big Scottish day out 20,000 steps would not be uncommon, so that is a saving of 48000 kg. That’s an amazing amount and a difference I really felt when I switched back for a day to compare. At the end of a walk-in you inevitably feel fresher and likewise the end of the day. Enabling you to link up big days with ease!
For many durability is one of the main requirements of a winter mountaineering boot, you’ll often hear people wax lyrically about having this or that boot for 10 years or more… “and they’re still going strong!”. The fact they only wear them for their one trip of the year may have something to do with that. However, it is important when investing the price of a climbing holiday to Spain in your footwear. You want them to last. In testing, I did manage to tear the upper of the Cordura gaitor. The boots it seems are no match for an uncovered abalakov threader. Fair enough. Slightly more concerning is the wear, again to the gaiter, that is caused by the tension over the Boa dial. The sole and the new rand feel great, the sole doesn’t pick up snow like the Scarpa equivalents. The rand felt super solid when mixed climbing, the boot wedges in cracks and off-widths giving great confidence. There were very little signs of wear.
The boots climb really well. For mixed climbing I love rocking the ‘tucked in’ look despite looking like someone about to rob the local corner shop. The lack of weight is really notable on mixed route cruxes with high steps. Climbing roadside ice for pitch after pitch, as we were blessed with this year, I never got numb toes as the boots offered great protection. Some people say a light boot doesn’t swing as well, but with a sharp pair of crampons I never found myself wanting a heaver boot. I paired the G5’s with the Petzl Lynx. The all-round ability of the Lynx suited the boots and I easily achieved a snug and secure fit. I’ve had crampons trying to fall off mid route and its not something I want to repeat. A positive note on the updated Lynx: the new smaller heel bail makes it harder to accidentally realise them by inadvertently treading on the bail. This can be surprisingly easy to do on a tricky foot swap or simply shuffling round on a belay ledge.
If you’re a snowboarder or like me, have begun the descent into middle age by wearing Lycra at weekends and riding around on two wheels, the Boa lacing system is probably not new to you. The Boa system is simply operated one handed to tighten the boot. Fantastic to have the boot slightly looser for the walk-in then quickly crank up when its time to climb. The system is also easy to operate in gloves. People fear they may break, but hey, so might your shoelaces and this is much more likely. That said, being slightly harder to source than a new pair of laces, carrying a Boa repair kit (£15) in your pack might not be a bad idea. The stock footbed in these boots is poor. Come on La Sportiva, for this money, give us something that doesn’t resemble a piece of soggy carboard. Or is this just industry standard? Do all the manufactures assume you are going to immediately replace them for your own insoles, Superfeet or similar?
As so many manufactures do with similar products, La Sportiva market these boots as water resistant. I can confirm that on stream crossings or days when the snow pack is wet or thawing you will get wet feet. If you are heading out on miserable winter days any weather in the UK I would recommend keeping these boots for Sunday best and possibly going for a more burly model from the range such as the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX.
If you fit the La Sportiva brand and want a ‘go anywhere’ cold weather climbing and mountaineering boot that is warm, fast and lightweight, I would follow the link below and buy the La Sportiva G5’s for your next adventure today!