Gear Review: La Sportiva Women’s Nepal EVO GTX Mountaineering Boots

Lacing up the boots to climb in Pennsylvania.
Choosing the right mountaineering boots can be the difference between having an awesome day on a mountain and a horrible day on a mountain. 

If you're stuck in the wrong footwear 10,000 feet up Mount Rainier, for example, it's not as if you can simply sit down, take your boots off, and put a different pair on. You're committed.  Plus, mountaineering boots are one of the most expensive pieces of footwear in the outdoor world. Bottom line? It's important to choose wisely.

With high arches and narrow heels, I’ve found La Sportiva climbing shoes fit me perfectly. When I heard they were coming out with a women’s-specific pair of mountaineering boots, I knew those were the first boots I had to try on my quest for the perfect pair.

My first look at leather boots came after a less-than-comfortable experience with plastics on an ice climbing and mountaineering trip in the Adirondacks.  The unisex plastic boots were much too wide, and I ended up with blisters and knee pain after ascending Algonquin in them. I bought the La Sportiva Women’s Nepal Evo GTX boots in advance of a late summer Mount Rainier climb. I chose them over women’s models knowing the quality and fit of La Sportiva boots worked for me.

Ice climbing in the Adirondacks.
The first obstacle I ran into was finding a place to buy them in the correct size. Finding them in a size 42 was more difficult than I expected, and 42 was the largest size I’ve seen them sold in. I was concerned they were almost too small for my women’s size 10 feet. (Luckily, it looks like Amazon has a bunch of sizes in stock. Wish they'd had them when I was searching!)

The first thing I did was to replace the insoles that came with the boots with Superfeet; the stock insoles felt much too thin.  The toe box is wide and allows plenty of space for extra socks, which came in handy on Rainier. I wore one pair of liner socks with a thick pair of mountaineering socks, and my feet stayed warm even as the temperature dropped to 10ºF. With temperatures below zero, I would consider switching to plastics; the Nepal Evo GTX boots are not made for extreme cold. Other features include insulation and a Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membrane, which keep feet warm and dry. They don't need to be treated for waterproofing out of the box.

The lace locking system does take a little getting used to. The laces are locked down in the center eyelet, enough that I had to yank on the laces to get them unlocked. But it ensures they stay put and can be tightened down enough, and the removable tongue insert helps further ensures a snug, warm fit.

Ice climbing in Pennsylvania.
The boots were comfortable on the way up Mount Rainier, and I never had trouble with blisters. For mountaineering boots, they feel relatively lightweight. In addition to climbing on Rainier’s glaciers, I took them on many a training hike and ice climb on the east coast. They're full shank boots and are about as stiff soled as boots come; they're definitely not made for hiking. However, on ice climbing trips, they worked like a dream.

The stiff soles and toe box cushioned my feet while I kicked into the ice and my feet stayed put. They’re also designed to allow your ankles to flex despite the stiffness. I used them with both strap on and step in crampons without any trouble.

The only discomfort I had was on the descent of Mount Rainier; I had major issues with my big toes slamming into the front of the boot, enough to cause bruising. Tightening them down helped, but such stiff boots can only be tightened so much. This can be a sign that the boots are too small, but given that it had not been an issue on any hikes or ice climbing, adjusting sock layers was a good remedy.

Overall, I would definitely buy these boots again, and recommend them for mountaineering and ice climbing. They are pricey, but boots like this are an investment, and these are well worth the price. I have a feeling they will last me quite a while!

What's your favorite pair of mountaineering boots? Have you tried these? Leave a comment!