Gear Review- LaSportiva Boulder X Approach Shoes (and Giveaway!)

The LaSportiva Boulder X approach shoes are a rugged and supportive trail shoe best suited for rough trails and heavy loads. This past summer I received a pair to review and have since put about 80 miles on them and am ready to share my opinion on them.

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
LaSportiva Boulder X Review

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Weight

Right out the box I noticed they are significantly heavier than most of my other approach shoes weighing in at 2 pounds 2 ounces (968 grams) for my size 42’s. It is easy to feel the weight difference when compared to the super light LaSportiva TX 2’s that I reviewed here, which only weigh 1 pound 5 ounces (592 grams), however these two shoes perform differently based on the design choices and task at hand. Let’s look at some of the details.


Fit/Comfort

For reference I am a US Men’s size 9 (European 42) with a medium forefoot width, medium heel width, and slight Morton’s toe. I received a size 42 in these and they felt slightly snug in the forefoot but the relatively thick padded tongue and all leather upper packed out and broke in nicely after about a dozen miles. The removable LaSportiva “Fit-thotic) insole has a nice amount of cushioning and is more than just a flimsy insole. Under the removable insole is a 2 mm polypropylene insole, then a Micropore EVA mid-sole, and finally a Vibram® Idro-Grip V-Smear™ with Impact Brake System™ out-sole. This is a ton of support underfoot that translates to less foot fatigue after grueling days on rugged terrain but also has some negative effect on climbing performance that we will get to below.

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
LaSportiva Boulder X Review

 Hiking Performance

The LaSportiva Boulder X’s are great on rocky terrain and rough trails. The Vibram® out-sole offered plenty of traction in dirt, mud, and scree. After a short break-in period I could hike for 8+ hours in these and my feet would not be sore at the end of the day. This is because of the stiffer than most sole. You won’t feel every little pebble or protrusion under foot as you move through the mountains. They are also heavier than most so you might feel a little more leg fatigue after a long trail run. Because of this added weight and stiffness these would make a great early Spring/Summer alpine approach shoe if you need to occasionally cross snowfields. They will be able to edge in Spring snow better than lighter weight models and would match well with some Kahtoola Microspikes when added traction is needed.

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
The author heading off on an alpine adventure while testing the LaSportiva Boulder X approach shoes- photo by Matt Baldelli

Climbing Performance

The stiffness that helps prevent foot fatigue and provides so much support has positive and negative effects on the LaSportiva Boulder X’s climbing performance. The stiffer sole makes edging feel more secure but this also compromises the shoe’s ability to smear. It’s a trade off that can not be avoided. These felt great in all 4th class and low 5th class terrain but the author would swap into dedicated climbing shoes for 5.5 and above.

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
The author on in alpine climb in Huntington Ravine- photo by Matt Baldelli 

Durability

These are definitely one of the more rugged models of approach shoes I have tested in recent years. This comes with having a full leather upper and a full circumference sticky rubber rand in addition to the relatively thick Vibram® Idro-Grip V-Smear out-sole. After 80+ miles and thousands of feet of scrambling and climbing the shoes are still in great condition. I’d expect the soles of these to provide 500-1000 miles of rugged trail use before needing a re-sole.

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
Vibram® Idro-Grip V-Smear™ with Impact Brake System™- LaSportiva Boulder X Review

Pack-ability

When thought of as a hiking or trekking shoe this category wouldn’t matter that much, but as an approach shoe we must consider how pack-able the shoes are when it’s time to don more technical rock climbing shoes and in this case these shoes are quite heavy and bulky. While that extra weight equals more support and durability there is a definite trade off if you need to clip these to the back of your harness or stuff them into a small climbing pack.

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
The author belaying his partner on Cloud Walkers, Huntington Ravine, New Hampshire- photo by Matt Baldelli

Summary/Best Use

The LaSportiva Boulder X is a durable and supportive hiking/trekking shoe that can cross over to approach shoe realm by climbing technical routes better than most trail shoes but not as well as lighter approach shoes more dedicated to that cause. The stiffer soles are great for people who find their feet sore after a rugged hike and also make this a great choice for aid climbers who spend time standing in aiders. If support and durability are high on your list of priorities you should take a close look at these. If lightweight, pack-ability, and climbing ability is more prudent than take a look at my review of the LaSportiva TX 2’s!

(available in Men’s and Women’s)

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Backcountry

Buy at REI

LaSportiva Boulder X Review
The author about to hike down the famous Huntington Ravine Trail while testing the LaSportiva Boulder X approach shoes- photo by Matt Baldelli Photography

Contest & Giveaway:

The good folks at Friendly Foot have supplied me with a steady flow of the best damn foot-powder in the whole world. Every footwear review will offer a chance to win a bottle of this awesome sauce. Contest ends 10/31/17 12:00 am EST. To enter just click the link below!

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5 thoughts on “Gear Review- LaSportiva Boulder X Approach Shoes (and Giveaway!)

  1. Great review, and thanks for the hiking performance section. I started hiking in a pair of the TX3 two months ago and love them. Do you wear the TX3 as well as the TX2? How does the Boulder X compare?

    • I have yet to wear a pair of TX3’s so I unfortunately I can not fairly make that comparison. Comparing the TX 2’s that I do have is difficult as I see them in separate categories based of average weight/support. From the specs of the TX 3 I’d make an assumption that these are like a 3.5 on that TX scale, basically a little stiffer and heavier than the TX 3, but as I said I’m entering assumption land. I’ll see if I can’t get a pair of TX 3’s, and 4’s for that matter to add to the review list!

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