The optimistically named Trango Tower GTX is the latest model in La Sportiva's extensive and highly popular Trango series of light mountaineering boots. Having owned, and loved, several pairs of the blue Trango S Evo, as well as pair of the stiffer Trango Cube, I was excited to see if this new iteration was as good as its predecessors. While there has clearly been a substantial overhaul to the boot, the good news is that in use these feel much the same as the old blue model. Lovers of the Trango series will be pleased to know that the Tower are still comfy out of the box; they still feature a super sticky Vibram sole; still have a waterproof Gore-Tex liner and are still crampon compatible.
In terms of stiffness and winter capability the Tower sits below the Cube in the Trango pecking order. La Sportiva say it's been "designed for mountain hiking, via ferrata and backpacking with heavy loads" but its mountaineering pedigree is obvious, and I'd say it also makes a brilliant boot for UK scrambles and low grade all-day mountain rock.
Retailers often pigeonholed the old blue Trango S EVO as B1 which, having climbed Grade V ice in them, I always thought was slightly downplaying their role. The real beauty of a boot like the Trango Tower is that it is a real jack-of-all-trades: warm enough for Mont Blanc (in good summer weather) or Mount Kenya; supportive enough for Scottish winter ridges and lower grade gullies; nimble and sticky enough to climb big mountain VS (assuming you're happy doing so in boots rather than shoes); waterproof enough for trudging through bogs on Mountain Leader Assessment and light enough not to be too heavy when chucked in your sack on alpine routes like the Gervasutti Pillar. In my view the only negative of these boots is that the super sticky, yet very soft, Vibram Cube sole (exclusive to La Sportiva) wears just as quickly as the Vibram Mulaz sole used on my old Trango S EVOs; however if that's the tradeoff for grippy and reasonably light boots then I'm OK with it.
Without footbeds my size 44 Trango Towers weigh 838g per boot - slightly heavier than my size 43.5 Trango Cube which came in at 813g, but by no means a deal breaker for a boot this capable and versatile.
In many ways boots are the trickiest products to review, since the best boot in the world can be totally useless if they cripple your feet. Having feet that are neither particularly narrow nor excessively wide, I am lucky that many different boots fit me. I would strongly recommend trying on any mountaineering boot before you buy them. I think it's also worth taking your footbeds and the socks that you normally wear in boots with you to the shop
The sizing and fit on the Trango Tower feels consistent with that of Trango S and Trango Cube. I'm confident that if either of those models fitted you well, then you could buy the Trango Tower in the same size and expect the same fit and feel. The Trango Tower is available in half European sizes, which means you ought to be able to get a near perfect fit. Having owned the old Trango S in both 44 and 43.5 I opted for a 44 in the Trango Tower, allowing for a more relaxed fit.
It has substantial metal eyelets that allows for smooth lacing, including a locking eyelet at the base of the ankle. This makes it easy to separate the tension between the foot and the ankle. I find that by doing a few twists in the laces before doing up the ankles I can get a snugly laced forefoot and a less-tightly-laced ankle, for instance. I also find that if I finish lacing my boots with a reef knot, rather than bow, I don't need to adjust the lacing all day.
As is always the way with boots, the Trango Tower is supplied with some basic floppy footbeds. I immediately removed them and replaced them with a pair of supportive footbeds. I've used these in all my mountaineering boots for about a decade now. They work by holding your foot in a more supportive position, meaning that at the end of a long day I find my feet are much less fatigued. Before I purchased footbeds I was put off by their cost. My pair cost £30 ten years ago, have now been swapped between numerous pairs of boots and are showing no sign of wearing out. They are probably the best value outdoor purchase I have made.
Having worn boots from a young age I rarely get blisters. On the rare occasion that I do it is normally due to worn out socks. I wear the Trango Towers with a single thick sock made from pure merino wool, which I find provides a good amount of warmth and padding - and the socks are still comfy and warm even when wet.
The uppers are fully synthetic, a mix of nylon and other materials, so they take less looking after than traditional leather. In high wear areas La Sportiva use an abrasion resistant Honey Comb Guard. They also use synthetic microfiber inserts, that are light, tough and don't absorb water, to provide structure. The synthetic microfiber is not noticeably different to that used on the old Trango S. However the Honey Comb Guard, made from high tenacity nylon, seems to be a substantial improvement on the silver cordura mesh used on the Trango S, which I always found to suffer badly from abrasion and to be an early wear point.
The Trango Tower is lined with Gore-Tex Performance Comfort. As usual with a Gore-Tex lined boot my feet stay nice and dry, until water goes over the top of the boot. As expected the waterproof lining makes my feet a little bit sweatier than an unlined boot. That said slightly sweatier feet is a trade off I am happy to make if it means my feet stay dry in all but the boggiest bogs - particularly in the cooler months.
The Trango Tower is soled with a super sticky Cube sole, made exclusively for La Sportiva by Vibram. This is the same as that used on the Trango Cube, but is slightly different in appearance to the Vibram Mulaz sole used on the Trango S EVO. Having used both soles extensively over the years, I'd say that in use it is impossible to tell the differences between the two. The Cube and Mulaz soles are both very sticky, both climb and edge well, both are relatively grippy on grassy, wet ground... and unfortunately both wear out fast if you use them a lot, especially on granite. While part of me wishes that companies like La Sportiva offered these boots with heavier soles, with deeper lugs, one of the real bonuses of using a boot like this is how light they are on your feet. Personally I would rather have less tired legs at the end of a long day on the hill and have to replace/resole my boots more regularly. In my experience the uppers on boots like the Trango Tower last twice as long as the soles and as such it is well worth getting them resoled. I've recently had my pair of Trango Cubes resoled, which brought them back to new for around a quarter of the price of a brand new pair. In due course I imagine I will be doing the same with the Trango Towers. As you'll see from the photo above, the sole is looking quite worn at the toe. After four months of mountain use - perhaps two days per week - this amount of wear is probably to be expected from a softer, grippier sole.
Whilst they are neither the stiffest nor the most precise boots I have used the Trango Tower strike a really sensible balance between these two things, making them excellent to scramble in. The sole is sticky and edges well. When laced up tight the cuff is very supportive, allowing you to be confident with your foot placements. There is some flex in the midsole, which I've found doesn't noticeably affect the edgeing performance but does make the boot more comfortable compared to stiffer counterparts at the end of long days out.
With a heel ledge but none at the toe, the Trango Tower fits a wide variety of strap-on and semi-automatic crampons. With a less stiff boot like this I tend to think it is worth replacing the centre bars of the crampons with a sprung steal bar. This allows for a more a secure fit, as the crampon is able to flex with the boot. You probably won't be climbing grade V ice in them, certainly not in the larger sizes (more flex due to leverage), but winter hill walks, alpine snow plods and low grade Scottish mountaineering ridges are well within their remit.
Comfortable, versatile, and lightweight for footwear of this stiffness and supportiveness, the Trango Tower GTX is a superb do-it-all boot that's suitable for a wide range of uses. Wear them on tough high-level trekking routes, or for mountaineering in an Alpine summer or Scottish winter; stick them on for a via ferrata or just a wet weather hill walk... but it's scrambling terrain on which they really excel. As you'd expect from La Sportiva they are well built, so although the sole wears fast the uppers ought to last well, and it may prove cost effective to extend their lifespan by getting them resoled.
La Sportiva say:
Lightweight, modern, Gore-Tex boot with the unmistakable aesthetic function of the Trango series, designed for mountain hiking, via ferrata and backpacking even with heavy loads. The uppers are made with the exclusive high tenacity fabric with differentiated abrasion resistant zones and Honey-Comb Guard™ reinforcements positioned in the areas most subject to abrasion. The aesthetic Trango line with seams minimized achieves the reduction of weight, also contributing to this is the Vibram sole with the exclusive La Sportiva Cube design with lightened thicknesses. The Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane guarantees water resistance and breathability. The 3D-Flex System allows for better control on holds. The differentiated lacing system between the upper and the lower part of the boot allows for perfect adjustment of volume for optimal wearing comfort. The Trango series is enriched with increasingly technical and aesthetic contents in advance of its time.
- Price: £285
- Sizes: 36 - 48 inc half sizes (men) 36 - 43 inc half sizes (women)
- Weight: 1676g/pair (size 44, our measure)
- Upper: High tenacity 6.6 Nylon water repellent with abrasion resistant zones Honey-Comb Guard™ and FlexTec 3
- Inserts: Microfibre + Light PU Thermal adhesive
- Lining: Gore-Tex Performance Comfort
- Footbed: 7mm Nylon with increased thickness in the back anti-torsion zone
- Sole: La Sportiva Cube by Vibram® with different thickness lugs Impact Brake System on the heel and climbing-zone at the toe
- Lighweight, microfibre inserts and Light thermal adhesive PU for maximum containment of the weight and cleanliness of design.
- Lightened, crampon compatible heel with shock absorbing, internal EVA with TPU insert that increases cushioning and elastic response of the shoe.
For more info see: lasportiva.com
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