Ultimate Winter Shoe

The ultimate shoe for wintertime trail running will grip on snow and ice, keep your feet warm, and stop the white stuff from coming in with integrated gaiters made to seal off the top. With its CROSSOVER GTX, a $150 shoe new this fall, La Sportiva almost nails the dream winter shoe design.

I have been running in snow and on icy trails here in Minnesota for the last two weeks, and the CROSSOVER GTX has been my main shoe. From its first cold trail run I knew I was going to be wearing them all winter long.

La Sportiva CROSSOVER.jpg


What the company gets right with the high-end runner is its streamlined design and its fast, low-to-the-ground build. A GORE-TEX lining makes them waterproof. The integrated gaiter has an asymmetrical zipper that tops out at an elasticized cuff to cinch around the ankle.

Depending on your feet’s sensitivity to cold, you can comfortably run in temps down to about 15 degrees F with these shoes if you’re working hard. The lugged soles grip good on flat and rolling trails with snow, but they fail (like most every rubber sole) on ice.

As an alternative to boots, you can clip the CROSSOVER GTXs into snowshoes or lightweight crampons. For non-winter use, the shoes’ all-protecting build might do double duty in serious mud or for running in desert sand.

La Sportiva CROSSOVER GTX.jpg

Top view and lugged sole

This winter, I have run up to 10 miles at a stretch in the CROSSOVER GTX shoes. They are a low and neutral shoe design, which is the style I prefer. They are fast enough for winter racing, though not so skimmed to be rough as a training shoe.

To be sure, the CROSSOVER GTXs are actually on the heavy side. The company quotes 12.73 ounces per shoe (assumingly in the standard men’s size 9). On my scale, the shoes in size 12.5 measured about an even pound apiece (15.9 ounces each, to be exact).

I would not wear a shoe of this weight in the warmer months. But with its extra material, including a GORE-TEX lining and the gaiter system, the weight is forgivable.

La Sportiva’s gaiter is slick, though not unbelievable. I like the zipper, and the ankle closure is good enough to keep most snow out. However, the closure doesn’t seal off tight enough for powder. Running through deep fluff, snow will seep in.

Overall, serious trail runners who want to brave the winter months will do well with the CROSSOVER GTX. It’s not the “ultimate winter shoe.” But it’s one of the best I have tested so far.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by Josh P. - 12/07/2010 08:15 AM

These look like they would be great for me. I would love something that zipp’s on and off with a breeze, as comparedc to what I usually wear on my hiking trips. My police issue combat boots are tough and stuff, but kinda heavy and a real pain to unlace on and off. I like these La Sportiva’s a lot! =)

Posted by sheila - 12/10/2010 01:46 PM

hey stephen! good running into you and kids at the pool … have you tried ice bugs? i can’t tell if these are good on ice. what do you think? someone stole my yak trax last year, so i’m looking for an alternative. also…do you know anything about snowskates for kids, by any chance??

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 12/10/2010 03:52 PM

Indeed! They’re great. Icebug review: http://gearjunkie.com/icebug-spike-shoe

Posted by Chris - 12/21/2010 05:11 PM

I live in Lexington, Kentucky, and I’m trying to decide between the Saucony Progrid Razor and the La Sportiva Crossover GTX. I want a shoe that will keep my feet warm and dry while running through 6 inches of snow and snow-shoveled pavement on the same day. I regularly run in the Nike Free, and I prefer a mid-sole strike. I own a pair of Vibram KSO Treks, but I have only run in them a couple of times. Are the Razors and Crossover GTXs my best options for the winter? If not, what do you suggest? Thanks for your time.

Chris McGee, Lexington, KY

Posted by Editor - 12/22/2010 09:22 AM

They are similar shoes and I actually like them both a lot. The Sportivas have a better gaiter closure and are a bit more aggressive (in sole/traction and overall build and design). Both leave some wanting for the gaiter closure, however. Some snow will get through when you run in powder.

Posted by Chris - 12/23/2010 04:44 PM

Stephen: I received my Sportivas today, and they feel a little tight. I’m wondering if I got the right size. Normally, I wear an 11.5, and this is the size of my Sportivas. Nikes run small on me, so my 12.5 size Nike Frees are a perfect fit. You tried the Sportivas in size 12.5. Is 12.5 your normal shoe size? Can you describe how a trail running boot like the Sportivas should fit? Thanks!

Chris McGee, Lexington, KY

Posted by Stephen - 12/23/2010 08:01 PM

12.5 is my normal shoe size usually. The Sportiva shoes fit me fine. I would say the sizing runs a touch small on them, maybe a half size. But it is so subjective from foot to foot of each person (and from company to company) that I rarely comment on subtle fit or sizing variances. From all shoe brands, I wear between 11.5 and 13. It’s a big range, and there’s no rhyme or reason. Kind of ridiculous. These Sportivas should fit snug all around like any trail-running shoe, though with enough room so you’re not rubbing, especially in the toe area.

Posted by Chris - 12/24/2010 03:00 PM

Stephen: I went up in size with the Sportivas, from an 11.5 (45) to a size 13 (46.5). Now they feel much better. I also received the Saucony Progrid Razors in size 11.5, and they are true to size. I like both of these shoes, but I can only keep one of them. The Razors seem better for running on roads and sidewalks, which is mostly what I will be doing this winter. Based on other members’ comments, the Razors are NOT waterproof. This worries me. I don’t want to run through some slush and get wet feet. They are lighter than the Crossover GTXs, and seem to be a better running shoe.

The Crossover GTXs are heavier, more rugged, and they ARE waterproof. They appear to be designed less for road running, and more for running on snowy trails and through snowy fields. To make an analogy, the Razors are for Ninjas; running quickly and stealthily down city backstreets; leaping over potholes, sharply changing direction and eluding their attackers under a light snowfall. The Crossover GTXs are for Delta Force soldiers; delivered by helicopters; carrying packs and weapons during a seek and destroy mission through the ever-changing terrain of the mountains and trails surrounding the Korengal valley in Afghanistan. Here’s my dilemma: This winter, I will be running mostly on snowy, slushy streets and sidewalks; dodging the occasional car and leaping over dog poop. But I am also planning several seek and explore missions this winter, on which I will be delivered by a Ford Focus; traversing the snowy, frozen trails, hills, and rocky gorges in the Kentucky countryside, where I may need to quickly run from the occasional farmer, religious snake handler, moonshiner, or the tribe-like people of the Eastern Kentucky Appalachia area. My final question for you (or any other knowledgeable person reading this) on this matter is whether you think the Crossover GTXs are suitable for running 10 to 20 miles/week on wintery streets and sidewalks? As always, I value and thank you for your opinion.


Posted by Editor - 12/27/2010 10:42 AM

Chris: Re “are the Crossover GTXs are suitable for running 10 to 20 miles/week on wintery streets . . .?” — yes. I do. But the Saucony’s, as you note, are a bit more road-oriented.

Posted by Dave - 12/01/2013 01:28 PM

Just a note on the weight of these shoes. At size 8.5 they weigh in at 12.35 oz.


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