Seems like I’m always messing around with hiking boots. Many of today’s are too much the runner and not much the slogger. More, most fit me strangely. Years ago I found one boot last I liked, but it got discontinued. I was spending quite a bit of time on the boot stretching machine till I discovered La Sportiva. They’re using a more “relaxed” last that’s just plain comfy. Of course everyone’s feet are different and you have to find “your brand,” but if you’re searching for hikers, don’t miss these guys for a try-on.
These days I use my heavier duty hikers mostly for hunting and firewood work. Thus, something with Gore-Tex works well as I’m doing those acts when conditions are gloppy and cold. Read, autumn in the mountains. Or winter trailhead work during backcountry skiing expeditions. During summer I don’t like Gore-Tex boots. Too hot.
La Sportiva Cascade is what you’d call a “mid weight.” It’s got enough cuff for average support (though I could use a bit more lateral stiffness here for my weak ankle), enough sole last to not be too twisty, and exterior of mostly rubber and leather that’ll hold up to abrasive incidents much better than lighter shoes that present nylon mesh as their exterior. Weight is average for this sort of shoe, 29 ounces each size US 10. Sole is said to increase traction and reduce impact. Not sure how much of that effect you really get, but anything helps. Nice colors, they don’t blind you.
So far the Cascade has been plenty durable. Indeed, in my opinion they could do with even less rubber around the toe (to increase breathability and reduce weight) and still hold up fine. Lacing system is basic and works well: leather eyelets lower down and two lace hooks on the cuff. Lace hooks can catch on things and cause a stumble, so use gaiters with this sort of boot if you’re doing any exposed scrambling where a trip could send you on a rapid downward journey. Sportiva’s lace clips are angled and tapered to mitigate this, but still, stuff happens. This boot is stiff enough to work for glacier walking with strap-on crampons, but they are not clip-on crampon compatible.
In all, good stuff from La Sportiva!
Shop for ’em, at this time they might even be on sale here.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.