I’m going to be honest. Until I walked into what turned into being about the fifth or sixth outdoor adventure shop in Brisbane, I’d never heard of La Sportiva.
This was in early 2014, almost two years after returning from our European adventures where I did most of my backpacking in various pairs £3 Primark shoes, and we were gearing up for a trek in Nepal and a few months backpacking through India.
I did a lot of reading and online research, filtering through hundreds of pages comparing different brands and styles, spoke to a lot of friends and visited the usual adventure shops– all trying to get some idea of what kind of shoe I wanted/needed.
We knew we would be in Nepal in the monsoon season, so something with GorTex (or equivalent) was a must. We hadn’t decided where exactly we were going to trek in Nepal (ideas included Annapurna, Everest Base Camp, Lantang etc.), but at the back of my mind what I wanted was something that would be great for long trekking days, can take the wet and the cold, and still be light and versatile enough to be my sole shoe for backpacking around India, Europe and North America.
I initially had my heart set on a pair of Salomon XA 3D PRO GTX. They ticked all the boxes – good for hiking, waterproof, light weight, looked great, had quick draw laces, were in my ideal price range ($200-250AU), and as an added bonus, I could use them for trail running whilst stylish enough to still walk into a bar at the end of the day. They were everything I wanted. My sister has a pair of Salomon’s and she raved about them.
But then I tried them on.
Don’t get me wrong, they were good, but they weren’t quite right. I’ve never really had too many issues with shoes, when I buy running shoes (to Tahlee’s scepticism) I don’t get fitted, I just find the cheapest and most comfortable shoes and think, ‘Yep, these will do.’
As much as I wanted these beautiful fast hiking shoes, they weren’t right for me.
So the hunt continued – Merrell, Keen Dry, Scarpa, Kathmandu, different Salomon’s, we went into all of our favourite outdoor stores – Mountain Designs (where we bought our original and still going backpacks in 2010), Kathmandu, Paddy Pallin, Anaconda, nothing was right, there were some good ones, but not ‘the’ one.
Then we finally went into K2. What a great little shop. I spotted this shoe (yellow and black version of the Wild Cat 2.0 GTX) and Tahl’s recognized the name. She said she’d read good things about them, but I’d honestly never heard of them.
They had a pair in my size (47.5EU – I’m usually a 45/46), I tried them on… WOW. Perfect. But me being too frugal for my own good, I didn’t buy them then and there.
The other bonus of walking into that shop on that day, was Steve. I think he was the manager, not sure, but Steve was awesome.
He was an experienced trekker and climber, had done Annapurna and a number of other high altitude climbing treks in Nepal and India – his stories were what our dreams were made of.
His knowledge of trekking Nepal also gave us both a lot of confidence. Our conversations guided us into the right direction of what we wanted to do and what shoes we should definitely be looking at.
Long story short, I bought these yellow and black La Sportiva’s and I have not looked back.
They blitzed the Annapurna circuit, outlasted the beating they took in India, and just last week, after over 12 months of abuse, I took them trail running in the Yukon (Canada). Still going strong.
I’ve never had a blister despite hiking days on end and running hundreds of kilometres in them – I’ve never been told they’re too casual for a pub, and I can go from walking to trail and road running in a heart beat – in the wet, in the cold and in the hottest days. No problem!
That is why I love my La Sportiva’s. They are the most comfortable and versatile shoes I have ever owned. I’ll be sad the day I need to retire them, and sad that I need to find another pair of shoes that suit me so well.
Are you an avid La Sportiva fan? Prefer another brand? We’d love to hear your thoughts, leave your comments below…