ProView – La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX Mountaineering Boot
As a Pacific Northwest local, I was very excited when La Sportiva announced a flashy new three-season mountaineering boot, the Aequilibrium. Our “upper-left” mountains tend to require versatile footwear that can handle multiple mediums in a single day, and this boot looked promising. After a prolonged production delay, I was able to get my hands on a pair and test them in the rugged and glaciated terrain of the Cascades, where their features would truly shine.
La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX
Product Name: La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX
Product Description: Achieving equilibrium between technical performance and the demands for modern alpinists and mountaineers is a perpetual challenge. the state-of-the-art Aequilibrium ST GTX orchestrates a perfect blend of ultralight construction, durable materials, superlative comfort, and elite performance for moving fast in the mountains.
Offer price: $329 MSRP
A true-to-size boot that is well designed for different foot shapes. A very versatile piece of footwear that comes with features to improve performance and comfort. An extra gold star should go to the ability to keep snow out and feet dry.
- Flexibility for climbing
- Low weight
- Water/snow proof
- The tongue seems to crowd the neck of the boot — can cause some shin-bang
- The flexible heel gaiter and low ankle means less calf support on tough stances.
With spring melding into summer, this self-declared dirtbag started to turn his attention towards the steep peaks and beautiful country of Washington. Having started my climbing career in the North Cascades, I know to expect all sorts of terrain. I brought along the Aequilibriums to cover the gamut of glaciers, rock scrambles, and long approaches. An abnormally warm and sunny spring allowed me to test the boots on just about everything from steep scree slopes, calf deep slush, soft windblown snow, and dry rock climbs. And of course, being in the North Cascades, I also had the less desirable opportunity to get the boots on slippery log crossings, raging mountain streams, and endlessly long slogs.
I took a gamble on the fitting of the boot, and ordered it online (I know, scary right?). Thankfully, La Sportiva’s sizing game was true as ever, and they fit snug and perfect out of the box. As a three-season boot, the Aequilibriums are a lot more comfortable than the heavier winter counterparts I have been accustomed to the past few months of climbing. As someone with categorically wide feet, they didn’t cramp my digits too bad, except on long descents (I don’t believe my toes will ever be comfortable downhill, so don’t blame the boots on this one). I did have some slight issues with the tongue of the boot crowding around my ankle and causing some discomfort, but it didn’t blister or bruise.
These boots knock it out of the park with rule number one, looking good. As usual, La Sportiva delivers a flashy bit of kit that is sure to wow the crowds. My personal favorite color design feature is the yellow outlined toe box, which helps identify the boot’s profile in peripheral vision, and facilitates better foot placement when climbing.
When it comes to versatility, this boot has it covered. A heel welt allows the use of semi-automatic crampons, a handy feature to quickly switch between snow and rock climbing. The 3D-Flex ankle technology is not just another company gimmick; I was surprised at how well these boots could move when climbing, and yet still give good ankle support and protection. They particularly exceeded when bumbling down scree/boulder fields.
As all good three-season boots should be, these are on the nice and light size. On long 15+ mile days, or the classic Cascade extreme vertical ones, I was glad to have a boot that didn’t weigh much. I even used it for longer climbing approaches and easily stowed it on or in my pack when the going got tougher.
If you can’t tell already, I loved how the boot performed. The narrow toe profile allowed for precision placements when rock climbing, the stiff platform helped reduce calf fatigue when edging on rock or front pointing on steep snow, and perhaps best of all, was the waterproofing. I can’t say enough about how these boots kept me dry. From post-holing in deep slush and powder, to sloshing through low creeks, these boots kept it all out. The heroes here are the tight and flexible neck that keeps snow from pouring in, and a boot-tongue that is sewn into the upper of the boot all the way up to the top.
As should be expected with any of the larger popular brands, this boot is made very well. The Nylon Honeycomb upper is incredibly tough and resilient to sharp granite scree, while coming in at a low weight penalty. Add to that some well-designed lace aglets for durability and a classic Vibram outsole and you have yourself a great boot.
Friendliness to the Earth
While this boot doesn’t have any of the “Eco-Green-Bio” buzzword features attached to it, La Sportiva’s contribution to the environment shouldn’t be discredited. Their operating and production facilities around the world utilize zero-waste and renewable energy systems.
The Final Word
It’s hard to find fault with a boot this well made. It’s not going to beat a rock climbing shoe, or an ice climbing boot, or a trail runner at their respective trades, but as a three-season mountaineering boot it excels at its intended purpose, versatility. A lightweight option that will get you where you need to go in the mountains and look stylish while you are doing it, I would highly recommend these boots if the fit is right!
About the Gear Tester
Evan grew up in the small hometown of Boring, Oregon, where he cut his teeth hiking and backpacking in the local Cascades. He now enjoys ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and trail running around in the Western States, and manages to fight off permanent employment despite an environmental engineering degree and perturbed parents.