close up la sportiva nucleo gore tex boots

Nucleo High GTX: La Sportiva ‘Most Breathable’ Boot

A ‘macro membrane’ pattern serves as a visual cue (and a functional feature) on the Nucleo High GTX boot, which La Sportiva claims is its most breathable boot to date.

la sportiva nucleo hiking boot
Hiking boots can get clammy, especially on warm days. But the quest for breathability in waterproof boots has taken a step forward in recent years. The waterproof/breathable membrane Gore-Tex Surround increases breathability in footwear.

This year, La Sportiva upped the ante with its Nucleo hiking boot by combining Gore-Tex Surround and a proprietary feature, Nano Cells (see the web pattern on the image above).

GearJunkie got a pair to inspect for this breakdown. The Nucleo is for sale now at REI, in men’s and women’s models for $199.

la sportiva nucleo hiking boot

‘Nano Cells’ Make The Boot Unique

La Sportiva injects a polyurethane “web” onto the mesh upper to form what it calls Nano Cells. You can see a fine (breathable) mesh material through the PU web. This system protects the mesh yet allows air to circulate around the bottom of the foot, letting feet breathe.

Upper: Leather & Mesh

Nubuck leather is a rugged performer with a velvet-like surface. It is resistant to wear and a good choice for hiking boots. La Sportiva balances the leather with breathable, protected mesh (see “Nano Cells” section above) to give you the best of both rugged protection and breathable comfort.

la sportiva nucleo hiking boot

Footwear Breathability From Gore-Tex Surround

Gore-Tex has long been used in hiking boots. But Gore-Tex Surround incorporates a woven polyester or polyamide mesh insole that allows air to pass beneath the Gore-Tex bootie insert. The result is underfoot breathability, whereas most footwear offers no air movement where the sock compresses against the insole.

Waterproof Hiking Boots

Gore-Tex Surround provides full waterproof protection and improves airflow around the foot. Go ahead and walk through shallow streams or puddles. Your feet will stay dry. The same holds true on dewy, early-morning hikes or light mountaineering in snow.

Lightweight Hiking Boot Choice

For leather hiking boots, the Nucleo is lightweight. Its sample size weighs in at 16.8 oz. (men) and 13.4 oz. (women) per boot. For comparison, similar boots often weigh 3 to 5 ounces more apiece.

la sportiva nucleo hiking boot

Durable Boot Option

Some footwear with Gore-Tex Surround lacks the durability seen in boots like the Nucleo. This is because mesh and synthetic material compose the uppers, not leather.

As noted above, the Nucleo uses a solid ply of nubuck leather to add significant durability against abrasion and wear, which sets this boot apart from other Gore-Tex Surround Products.

Hybrid Hiking Boot Sole

The aggressive tread pattern made of sticky rubber is unique. It’s made to grip dirt trails, talus, and rock. The brand touts it for trail hiking to mild scrambling situations. La Sportiva worked with Vibram to create the outsole, called “Nano.”

The brand’s Impact Brake System on the outsole functions to cushion and catch on terrain underfoot when hiking fast downhill.

la sportiva nucleo hiking boot

La Sportiva Nucleo: Who It’s For

La Sportiva offers a comprehensive line of boots and footwear. The company says it designed the Nucleo High GTX for hikers who need a medium-duty boot “for day hikes in rugged terrain.” Backpackers in need of a versatile waterproof boot that breathes well and supports moderate loads are also candidates for the Nucleo.

–This post was sponsored by La Sportiva. Check out the company’s Nucleo boots at REI.