Home > Footwear

New Kind of Breathable: Spire GTX ‘Side-Venting’ Sole

Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

‘Maximum breathability’ is the promise from La Sportiva with its latest hiking shoe. This includes a new kind of midsole with gill-like ventilation.

With new technology and design, La Sportiva built its Spire GTX to keep feet comfortable when the going gets wet. The light hikers are waterproof and weigh less than one pound each, yet include unique features to boost durability and utility on the trail.

Michael Carli, a product manager at La Sportiva’s Italian headquarters, expanded on the just-launched line for 2018.

Designer Q&A: La Sportiva Spire GTX Hiking Shoe

GearJunkie: The Spire GTX has a unique look. What sets this shoe apart?

Michael Carli: It was designed around Gore-Tex Surround technology, characterized by its side sole openings. The engineering solution unique to this product is the evolution of our Nano Cell design, which adds structure and abrasion resistance to a breathable surface while keeping as much ventilation as possible. The Nano Cell grid design is applied to the highly breathable mesh base.

The grid design has received technological and aesthetic updates and now integrates the Nano Cell 2.0 layer through a no-sew process, giving the product a lower profile than original models.

What sets this shoe apart within the footwear world?

The core technology of the shoe is Gore-Tex Surround technology. With plenty of other products on the market relying on the same technology, we needed to find a way to set our product apart.

All aeration openings on the Spire GTX midsole sidewalls are protected by a nylon mesh particle barrier. It keeps outside particles, like pebbles and sand, from jamming the channel system, which is the core design feature of the Surround technology.

The channel system supplies the bottom of the upper with fresh air and is responsible for the Surround technology’s extreme breathability by keeping outside air circulating around the foot. At this point, a solution of this kind is unique to La Sportiva.

la sportiva brake impact system sole

Who is the ideal person for this shoe?

The Spire GTX is ideal for hikers carrying light to mid-weight backpacks over a wide variety of terrain from smooth to rocky, rooty, or unknown. The Spire GTX is versatile and ideal for variable climate conditions including heat, rain, mud, and even snow. The Gore-Tex Surround technology keeps your feet dry and cool even when the conditions around you are not.

When is a mid-duty hiker like this better than a full boot or trail runner?

It’s much lighter than most boots. And in comparison to a mountain running shoe, the Spire GTX has a more cushioned fit made for carrying light to mid-weight backpacks. Less experienced backpackers carrying heavy packs over technical terrain may also benefit from the Spire’s comfortable fit.

What is the STB system, and how does it work?

The STB system is a trademarked technology of La Sportiva, found within our Mountain Running and Hiking product lines. It consists of two stabilizers placed on the midsole’s medial and lateral sidewalls. Through their placement and extension, they provide both stability and enhanced flexibility across the midsole. In the case of the Spire GTX, the STB system has been extended to the forefoot, integrated along the aeration holes and the nylon mesh particle barrier.

What was the biggest challenge making this shoe?

As the outdoor industry grows and hiking continues to gain in popularity, the market can seem saturated with an infinite number of products, and many of them seem to provide similar benefits to the consumer. Our main challenge is always striving to create a product with unique added value via technical features and practical solutions, which truly justify their existence.

By combining the updated Surround technology’s cooling benefits with our Nano Cell technology’s durability, we believe we have accomplished this task. The unique technological feature set of the Spire GTX provides unmatched breathability, comfort, and protection so that hikers may feel confident in a range of conditions.

Where and how was this shoe tested?

All of our products are tested by mountain professionals and athletes who reflect the product’s target audience and therefore have the same performance expectations for the product as future consumers. For the Spire GTX, the main testers were Val di Fiemme Mountain Guides.

La Sportiva Hiking Spire Shoe photo by Aly Nicklas
Photo credit: Aly Nicklas; courtesy of La Sportiva

–This article is sponsored by La Sportiva. Check out the company’s Spire GTX shoes at REI.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.