UKH

La Sportiva G5 Evo Review

© Joe Trottet

The newly updated G5 Evo is a top of the range winter mountaineering and climbing boot. With some crucial improvements to the old version, as well as a few attractive modern features, the revamped G5 Evo should become a favourite for winter climbers and mountaineers alike. Over the winter season just gone we had the chance to test them out in the Scottish hills - and the general conclusion is that they have raised the bar in terms of performance and design, although the hefty price may push some elsewhere.

A tough cordura upper and PU rand provide good wear and abrasion resistance  © Joe Trottet
A tough cordura upper and PU rand provide good wear and abrasion resistance
© Joe Trottet

What Are They For?

The G5 Evos are designed for technical mountaineering, winter mixed, and ice climbing, and should be warm enough for high altitude peaks too. They are a B3 boot meaning they are able to take a fully automatic C3 crampon, and are stiff enough for harder ice climbing and mixed climbing here in the UK. Further afield these will also be well suited to steep water ice climbing and alpinism in the likes of Canada and the Alps.

The G5 Evo in use for early season mixed climbing  © Calum Hicks
The G5 Evo in use for early season mixed climbing
© Calum Hicks

What's New?

Most will be pleased to hear that after some strong criticism of the previous iteration, La Sportiva have updated the G5 Evo to address water ingress in the upper boot, identified by many users as an issue before. To tackle this they have removed the sewing on the gaiter and included a water-repellent internal gusset behind the zip which wraps under the sole. The boa lace system is now external, as opposed to being hidden under the gaiter as in the previous generation. The addition of Gore-Tex Infinium around the forefoot also aims to improve the warmth of the boot without impacting the bulk or weight.

Weight

On the home scales I make 930g per boot in size EU44 (La Sportiva quote 850g for EU42). Given the considerable warmth and technical performance of this boot, it is light in its category, coming in at a similar weight to the popular competition the Scarpa Phantom Tech. This low weight has definitely felt welcome on longer walk-ins and at the more tiring end of Scottish winter days. Like many high-end technical lightweight gear, the lightness obviously comes with a substantial trade-off in price, and it's sure to make your wallet that bit lighter.

Fit and Lacing

There is no specific women's fit for the G5 Evo, as seems to be common for the more technical end of mountaineering boots. For context, I take a EU44/UK9.5 street shoe, and my feet are only slightly on the narrow side. I decided to match my street shoe with a EU44 in the G5 Evos which felt perfect with a thick sock on. After breaking these in around the house I was able to wear them on a shortish day in Cairngorm's Northern Corries without any problems. This may not be the case for everyone so best to try on before purchasing and ensure the fit is right; users with a broader-toed foot might not always have had the best experience with La sportiva's technical mountain boots, which tend to be quite narrow and asymmetric at the front end.

I have found the sole to be ideal in width. The length is also good, allowing for space at the toe to avoid bashing up against the toe cap when on long downhills or kicking into ice. The toe box fits snugly width-wise and gives some volume, or vertical wiggle room, to keep circulation going when standing on a winter belay.

When walking and climbing the heel area's shape and padding have held my heel firmly in place without allowing for any heel lift. My previous La Sportiva Trango Extreme Light GTX boots were particularly tight in this area which put a degree of pressure on my achilles, so it's nice to not experience the same issue with the G5s.

Flex in the ankle allows for comfort on a long walk in  © UKC Gear
Flex in the ankle allows for comfort on a long walk in

At the collar, the ankle is held in place with a velcro power strap around the shin area which is easy to adjust to provide a tight fit. This can begin to dig into the front of my ankle slightly while walking on the flat for a while, but hasn't caused any significant discomfort. Others may find this a good area to pay attention to when trying them on, or to consider a better fitting insole. There is a good amount of flex within the ankle itself which is great for freedom of movement on the walk-in and nimbleness on technical terrain. This comes at the price of slightly reduced support on steep ice and small edges where I've found my calves have been susceptible to pump - they climb as more of an all rounder than a steep ice master.

Boa lacing

The G5 Evos use a BOA lacing system which is used across a variety of footwear types. This consists of a stainless steel wire - that essentially becomes the lace of the boot - which is attached to a dial to tighten the lacing (pop this dial out and wiggle your feet to release the tension). When testing the strength of the BOA lacing on these boots I have found that I want to stop tightening before I cut off the circulation to my foot. This is most likely down to the use of BOA's strongest and most durable system (SS2), which feels incredibly tough for the diameter of wire used, and should silence many critics who question the strength of BOA lacing.

The dial is a 1:1 gear ratio which after a few full rotations will begin to micro-adjust the lacing to the sweet spot of tightness. On a mountaineering boot where you often don't have the luxury to continuously stop and adjust your lacing tightness, this system really is great to have - and easy to use with gloves on (a tight-dialled fit for leading a pitch can instantly be popped loose at a belay to allow the warmth back to the foot). When tightened, the BOA fastening on the G5s does seem to predominantly tighten around the ankle whereas I would like to be able to more evenly tighten across the entire foot, a bit of a shame but not a deal-breaker for me.

Underneath the gaiter there is a quick to fasten power strap and waterproof gusset  © UKC Gear
Underneath the gaiter there is a quick to fasten power strap and waterproof gusset

Zipped up gaiter with boa lacing ready to be dialled into preferred tightness  © UKC Gear
Zipped up gaiter with boa lacing ready to be dialled into preferred tightness

With regard to Scottish mixed climbing, where you may on occasion be jamming your boots inside cracks, there is a very small risk of the BOA dial being popped out whilst climbing, as it is now placed externally on the new model. I have managed, after some effort, to do this deliberately against the rock but it hasn't actually happened in practice. This is probably not really a cause for concern 99% of the time and I would argue it's a small price to pay for the ease of use that the positioning of the dial gives the climber.

Upper

Thanks to La Sportiva's waterproof-oriented updates, my feet have stayed dry in these boots in the wet, snow and even in a river up to my ankles. The new gusset inner has added the needed waterproofing (up to about 7 inches from the ground) and a process where the gaiter's fabric is ultrasonically welded together claims to increase durability and remove the risk of any leaky stitching. In practice, the Cordura gaiter itself feels tough and able to shrug off most abrasions, although not quite as tough as some of the more heavyweight boots out there - a fair tradeoff. The top of the gaiter is elasticated with a simple to use pull tie to keep out any unwanted snow or ice.

Beneath the gaiter, the internal upper of the boot uses a 4-layered insulating structure of water repellent Cordura, an insulating felt, a tough polyethylene barrier, and a thin Gore-Tex Infinium Thermium layer. The Gore-Tex Infinium is zoned appropriately around the toe area (where your feet lose most heat) which manages to keep the bulk and weight down. Given Scottish winter climbing can often mean particularly cold feet, I haven't had any complaints thus far; these boots definitely feel warm for their weight and the Gore-Tex mesh has still allowed for my feet to breathe.

The protective rand is made from a lightweight, abrasion resistant PU TechLite which feels tough and durable enough to protect you against dirt, scuffs and general hardwearing use.

Platform like stiffness in the sole is great for on steep ice but flex in the ankle can mean a bit of pump in the calves  © Joe Trottet
Platform like stiffness in the sole is great for on steep ice but flex in the ankle can mean a bit of pump in the calves
© Joe Trottet

Sole

As you would expect of mountain boots designed specifically for steep and technical climbs, the sole is completely rigid, giving you the requisite platform-like support when climbing and placing screws. Being a B3 boot they are also C3 crampon compatible, with ledges on the heel and toe, and have worked well with my fully automatic Petzl Lynx crampons. The very front of the toe ledge does share some slightly softer material with the outsole package and I do wonder how this will wear over time. 

Beefy sole lugs provide good grip and braking when on rock and snow  © UKC Gear
Beefy sole lugs provide good grip and braking when on rock and snow
© UKC Gear

As mentioned, these boots don't seem to provide any significant problems with warmth and the sole assembly is no doubt a large contributor to this as well. The Gore-Tex Infinium Thermium wraps entirely around the foot and into the sole to keep feet warm from beneath. A 3mm honeycomb insulating carbon midsole has good insulating properties whilst keeping the weight down.

The Vibram outsole itself is a Vibram Matterhorn, which is tougher than normal Vibram rubber and is meant to maintain grip at low temperatures - although this is something which feels difficult to actually perceive when testing. The sole is thick and the lugs beefy which together with the impact brake system have provided assistance and grip on the downhill as well in biting into hard snow. Compared side by side with a partners Scarpa's Phantom Tech, the outsole is a fair bit thicker, particularly in the heel area, which will hopefully serve well for its durability.

Summary

The G5 Evo is a well-built boot, and its modern design and materials add up to a really good balance of warmth, lightness, and climbing ability. With the addition of proper waterproofing across the uppers, this will no doubt become a go-to technical mountaineering boot for many climbers who had snubbed the previous iteration. The BOA system is great in terms of convenience, but it would be better still if it allowed the fit to be fine tuned a bit more effectively towards the front end. Of course the narrow and asymmetric toe is only going to suit some people, and as ever with boots it's very much a case of trying before you buy. Other users may simply struggle to commit to the G5 Evo's high price tag. Overall, however, I think the benefits of the BOA lacing system and a thicker sole will help set these boots apart from other competitors in the field, such as Scarpa's Phantom Tech.

La Sportiva say:

Ultra-technical boot for high altitude mountaineering and ice climbing. Quick and easy to put on thanks to the Boa® Fit System external closure, the boot is equipped with fast-drying materials. G5 EVO combines the thermal insulation features of a double-shell boot with the lightweight and contained volumes of a single-shell boot.

  • Sizes: 38-48
  • Weight: 930g 1/2 pair size 44 (our weight)
  • Gaiter: Elasticated, water-repellent fabric + highly scuff-resistant fabric bonded usingUltraSonic Welding technology and internal thermo-taping + water-repellent internal gusset
  • Internal Shell: 4-layer insulating structure: water-repellent fabric + anti-drag insulating felt + insulating polyethylene barrier + scuff-resistant breathable mesh + Gore-Tex® INFINIUM™ THERMIUM™ Insulation Technology
     
  • Lacing: BOA® Fit System external to the gaiter for quick adjustment of the lower part + hook&loop closure on the upper part with two anchoring points for optimal distribution of tension
  • Removable insole: Thermal
  • Assembly footbed: HoneyComb 3 mm insulating carbon + Gore-Tex® INFINIUM™ THERMIUM™ Insulation Technology
  • Midsole: 2 mm polyurethane with differentiated thickness at the toe and heel for crampon attachment
  • Sole: Vibram® Matterhorn with Impact Brake System

For more information lasportiva.com


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26 Apr

Great review!

26 Apr

I got a pair of the old version for a bargain last autumn. They're brilliant boots, a revelation compared to my old Nepal Extremes. This new version seems to do a good job of addressing the minor issues, mine are certainly not as warm as the Nepals and adjusting the fit requires taking the gaiter down. I haven't had wet feet issues despite some bog bashing. Would I stretch to full price for these though? I think it's a bit steep for me, it might depend on how many seasons I get from the current pair.

I think that is probably fair if you already have a pair of the old version, they are a pricey pair of boots. Good that your feet have stayed dry in the old version, it seemed quite widely reported around the issue of waterproofing on those ones. More importantly, I hope they were able to brush off the stream of human feces that came down Point Five Gully (V 5) onto you recently (remember reading about that the other week there) XD.

26 Apr

I can see why, the top part of the gaiter keeps snow out, but could easily let water in, I might have been lucky so far!

They survived, dignity mostly intact.

26 Apr

Think you meant Petzl Lynx crampons - not sure Scarpa make crampons.....

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