La Sportiva Blade GTX Review Facts
The versatile and performance-oriented La Sportiva Blade GTX hiking and trail running shoe features a high-quality build and smart design that allows it to provide flexibility, comfort, breathability, durability, waterproofing and overall great protection for a more than reasonable price. Unless you have wide feet, there aren’t many reasons why you shouldn’t buy this shoe.
The outsole of the La Sportiva Blade GTX features a prominent traction pattern with multi-directional, aggressive lugs that ensure amazing traction and grip. The Trail Rocker 2 outsole utilizes the Frixion AT 2.0 rubber compound, which is grippy and reliable on a variety of terrains. Additionally, the robust outsole features the Impact Brake System which provides increased braking ability precisely thanks to the angled, multi-directional lugs. On the toe and heel area of the outsole is a rubber compound of enhanced durability, strategically positioned in high wear areas, in order to prolong the longevity of the shoe.
The greatest part of the midsole is made with the EVA foam compound that is lightweight and absorbs the impact forces very effectively. The midsole of the La Sportiva Blade GTX is thick and cushioned, while the rearfoot area features a visible TPU stabilizer that enhances the shoe’s performance on uneven terrain. On top of the EVA foam is a 5mm Ortholite insole that provides even more cushioning and shock absorption that is much needed during hiking or trail running.
The tech-packed upper of the La Sportiva Blade GTX features a waterproof AirMesh material with TPU Microlite overlays sitting on top of it, providing a great balance of breathability and durability. The upper is lined with a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort laminate which provides a great amount of comfort while insulating the foot from the outside elements. The upper also features the Flex-Guard inserts that increase the protection without increasing the weight of the shoe as well. The TPU toe cap is there to provide another layer of protection and durability to the outsole. The collar is padded so as to provide more comfort, and the heel features a pull tab for easy on/off. The lacing system is traditional and features a set of webbing eyelets and individual open hooks on the top row of the eyelets. The choice of making the upper 100% synthetic, with no leather whatsoever, is smart because it means that the upper doesn’t require a break-in period, that the waterproofing won’t diminish over time, and that the weight and price of the shoe can remain reasonably low.
The light build of the La Sportiva Blade GTX is praised throughout the hiking and trail running communities, and with the half pair of men’s shoe weighing 15.2oz or 432g, and the women’s weighing 12.4oz or 350g, you can hardly be surprised by the amount of positive feedback that the Blade GTX has gotten. Several users noted that there are some road running Asics shoes that weigh just as much as these trail running ones, which is an achievement in and of itself. Another user noted that the lightweight
nature of the Blade GTX allows him to wear the shoe throughout the day, making the hike much more enjoyable.
The waterproof Gore-Tex membrane with Extended Comfort Technology that is used in the upper construction of the La Sportiva Blade GTX will keep your feet dry without limiting the breathability of the shoe – unless you’re hiking in very high summer temperatures, where you might experience some sweating and hot spots. However, in the hiking boots category, this is a usual thing that can’t be considered as a drawback, due to the fact that hiking and trail running shoes by definition need more structured and resilient uppers, which often comes at the expense of supreme breathability that you’d get with a sock-like mesh upper found in road running shoes.
The vast majority of people who ran in La Sportiva Blade GTX stated that the shoe offers great comfort
in all aspects. Thanks to the synthetic build, the upper didn’t require any break-in at all, and neither did the midsole of the shoe. The upper offers a snug and secure fit which most runners found comfortable as well. The one problem of this shoe when it comes to comfort is easily manageable since the overwhelming amount of users have stated that the shoe runs a half-size too small. If you’re not able to try it out in the store before purchasing, make sure to go up half a size, or even a full size bigger when ordering online. The toe box is roomy enough to leave some stretching and wiggle space even if the laces are very tight unless you have really wide feet, in which case we do advise you to try the shoe out before purchasing it because the toe box could be too tight to offer you comfort. All in all, the Blade GTX has proven to be a really comfortable and enjoyable shoe to everyone except maybe runners with wide feet, which is unfortunate, but not unusual.
While one runner described the La Sportiva Blade GTX as a sharp-looking shoe, another customer described it as cheap-looking. Our assumption is that in both cases, the bottom line is how you perceive the TPU overlays – as too ‘plasticky’ or very technology-oriented. In our opinion, the Blade GTX looks modern, simplistic and unobtrusive, and this will be enough to satisfy the expectations of some runners, while others might require a bit more color and design in order to call the shoe good-looking. Whichever side you’re on, chances are that wearing the Blade GTX will get you at least a couple of compliments.
All shoes and clothes made with the Gore-Tex material have increased durability compared to their GTX-free counterparts. This is the case with the La Sportiva Blade GTX as well. The durability of the outsole and midsole are above-average, too, and the only weak spot experienced by hikers were the laces, which were deemed flimsy, weak and unreliable. This isn’t too much of a problem, seeing how you can always purchase a more durable pair, but given the price of the shoe, laces are a strange thing to not get right from the first try. However, if you know that this minor detail won’t bother you, you’ll find that the durability of the Blade GTX will probably exceed your expectations.
Gore-Tex is currently one of the most sought-after compounds in the world of outdoor equipment, and for a good reason – the lightweight, waterproof
protection it provides is exceptionally useful on longer trails and varied terrains. The abrasion-resistant Gore-Tex
upper of the La Sportiva Blade GTX does repel water, but it can’t prevent water from coming into the shoe box if the water level gets higher than the collar of this mid-cut hiker. A lot of people praised the Ortholite insole for the added underfoot protection it offered, while some users were less than impressed with its performance. However, this is probably due to inconsistencies across different retailers, rather than the insole itself. The stretch piece on the back of the collar does a great job at preventing debris and snow from entering the shoebox, and the TPU toe-cap really does a good job at protecting your toes against sudden impact.
The combination of the EVA foam midsole and the Ortholite insole on top of it doesn’t exactly translate to mind-blowing responsiveness
. However, given that this is primarily a hiking shoe that values stability and cushioning above responsiveness, it’s safe to say that you’ll be satisfied with the smoothness of the heel-to-toe transition, and that you’ll find the midsole to be enough to accommodate confident strides, even though it won’t allow you to develop speed as fast and easy as some road running shoes.
The La Sportiva Blade GTX is a mid-cut shoe that comes up to the ankles, which inherently provides extra support. Another great aspect of the rearfoot stretch panel is that it adapts to the shape of your ankle, providing subtle support to the Achilles in the process. The Blade GTX is a neutral shoe and is made to accommodate people with normal, medium-high and high arches. Around 75% of customers have stated that the shoe offers moderate arch support, while the rest thinks the arch support is excellent, so even people who overpronate
slightly could enjoy the support that the Blade GTX offers. That being said, the shoe doesn’t have a full-length supportive shank and can’t satisfy the needs of people who have fallen arches and flat feet.
Given the lightweight and flexibility of this trail running shoe, it’s no surprise that they’re able to tackle a lot of different types of terrain
with ease. The Frixion AT 2.0 outsole is made with trail running in mind, allowing for great grip and control, so you can expect the La Sportiva Blade GTX to perform well on almost any terrain, except for some really technical ones that require sturdiness over flexibility due to the harsh nature of their surface. If you need a shoe for hiking, trail running or trekking, the waterproof Blade GTX is a shoe that is one of the best for those purposes.
The users were almost unanimously pleased with the price to quality ratio of the La Sportiva Blade GTX, given that it’s on the lower end of the prices for a hiking shoe while giving you top-notch performance and great comfort. And if you happen to find it on a discount, feel free to buy two pairs, which will cost you as much as one pair of some other high-profile hiking and trail running shoes.
The aggressive lugs of the Frixion AT 2.0 outsole configuration of the La Sportiva Blade GTX provide great traction
on varied terrain. The sole of the Blade GTX is sticky – almost to the point of tackiness, and it offers a great combination of longevity and grip. One runner even stated that he used the Blade GTX to climb some snow-covered ski slopes – a feat that not a lot of trail running shoes can boast about.
The upper flexibility of the La Sportiva Blade GTX’s upper is surprisingly high, which is thanks to the thin and well-placed TPU overlays that provide structure, comfort, and stability, without overwhelming the shoe and taking over control of its flexibility. With the smart Overlay distribution, the brand has succeeded in making a great balance between the elastic mesh material and the supportive exterior, providing great flexibility from the get-go. Unlike some other trail shoes that have a medial shank, the absence of it makes the sole significantly more flexible than a lot of other hiking shoes, which has been welcomed by the trail running
The TPU overlays of the upper and the tight lacing system, along with the mid-cut design of the shoe, provide enough lateral stability
to make sure that your feet won’t slip or move around the shoebox, nor will your ankle get twisted during the run. Additionally, the slightly wider foot platform of the outsole that protrudes below the upper in the forefoot area provides great stability and a confident stride, without employing additional technology to achieve this goal.
The La Sportiva Blade GTX features a standard, ‘compromise’ drop of around 8mm, favoring both midfoot and heel strikers. The substantial heel cushioning will feel good to heel strikers, while it won’t get in the way of people favoring a more natural running feel. If you’re used to running in high-drop shoes
and want to make an effort to move closer to running in zero-drop trail shoes one day, the Blade GTX would be a good place to start.
● Frixion AT 2.0 rubber outsole
● Impact Brake System
● EVA foam midsole with 5mm Ortholite insole
● External TPU stabilizer
● AirMesh upper with TPU Microlite overlays
● 15.2oz/432g for the men’s half-pair, 12.4oz/350g for the women’s
● Flimsy laces, but good overall durability
● Very comfortable, runs a ½ size smaller
● Excellent price point
● Abrasion-resistant Gore-Tex upper
● Great traction
● Trail shoe
● Surprisingly flexible
● Mid-cut design
’s Blade GTX is one of the ultimate hiking and trail running shoes that excels in almost every category, save for a couple of solvable issues concerning its lace durability and sizing. However, spending some more cash on new laces and possibly a customized, more cushioned insole probably won’t be an issue, given that the price of the Blade GTX if one of the most affordable in its category. If you’re new to hiking and want a fool-proof shoe that will really allow you to soak the view instead of water, feel free to give the Blade GTX a go – you won’t be disappointed.