by Ben Robinson
For a bit of context most of my fell running is in the Lake District, and my go to shoe for years has been the classic La Sportiva Mutant. My only issue with these shoes is that during the colder months my feet get absolutely freezing, making winter running extremely uncomfortable. So when I got the chance to try a pair of the new La Sportiva Tempesta GTX I absolutely jumped at the chance! So let’s see how they have squared up over a few hundred frozen winter miles.
Gore-Tex Shoes… Gimmick or Glorious?
I have never tried goretex running shoes before, as to me it seemed too good to be true. Oh how wrong was I! As someone who has really bad circulation in their toes I figured that winter running had to go hand in hand with bouts of hot aches and frozen toes but with these shoes that hasn’t been the case at all. The extra warmth has been exceptionally noticeable and a real game changer, even after a full river submersion my feet remained warm for the rest of the run. Sure, your feet won't stay completely dry in all conditions but running through wet grass, bogs and puddles, I was nicely surprised with how dry and warm my feet stayed.
Comfort straight out of the box…
If you ask any runner if you should wear a brand new, not yet broken in pair of shoes for a mid-winter ultra marathon, you can guarantee the answer will be a categorical no. Unfortunately for me, my test shoes arrived only a day before said race so I had no choice but to lace up and hope for the best. To quote the product description: “The Quick-Lace system with lace pockets and the Sock-Shield construction with integrated gaiter embrace the foot and eliminate empty spaces within the shoe. The lacing system is integrated with the structure of the uppers: This solution allows for regulation of volumes and keeps the foot in check on traverse routes.”Luckily for me this also meant that I could get a really comfortable, secure fit straight out of the box and managed to get round without a single blister. Although the integrated gaiter system means the shoes can be a little awkward to get your foot into, when you are in it completely stops any scree, stones etc. from entering the shoe.
Mud, glorious mud!
If you are winter fell running in the UK there is one characteristic that you can guarantee whatever area you are in - wet, muddy, slippery grass slopes. I have found the deep lugs (compatible with AT grip spikes if you so desire) matched with La Sportivas ‘Frixion Blue’ sole compound to be a winning combination at keeping you the right way up, whilst allowing off road descents to be run safely and with great confidence. However, when the terrain changes and you find yourself on wet rocky ground or damp stone steps then buckle up and prepare for a wild ride! This being said, no shoe can be perfect and I think the grip and security provided by these shoes on the soft, muddy ground outweighs the slippiness on the rocks.
So in summary, I have really enjoyed running in the Tempesta GTX so far over the winter and will definitely be sticking with Gore-Tex shoes in cold weather in the future! As well as being predominantly a running shoe I think these would also make a great lightweight winter walking shoe. The price tag may seem a little steep but I think it is well worth it for the comfort of warm feet!