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.
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.
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.