La Sportiva G2 SM Review
La Sportiva/Lyon Equipment asked me to review the new G2 SM mountaineering boots. I've used them for a month of winter alpine climbing here in Chamonix, and I'm impressed.
I consider the climbing feel and fit, the warmth and the weight to be the most significant aspects of a high altitude mountaineering boot such as this. I’ve also mentioned the Boa lacing system, since I feel it’s also noteworthy.
The feel is slim and snug. They seem to have a much smaller profile than the Spantik (previously the go-to boot for Alpine winter and 'high-ish' altitude climbing). They feel precise whilst climbing, and I can place the boot edge or a frontpoint on small holds quite easily. This is partly because of the low weight, too.
The best way to describe the ‘feel’ is: when you change from mountaineering boots to climbing shoes, your feet suddenly feel light and your placements are precise. You can stand on much smaller holds with ease. This is a similar feeling when pulling on the G2 SM - they’re the opposite of clogs.
The fit is, of course, entirely personal. They suit my feet, whatever shape/arch/volume they are, so I like it. Try them for yourself.
This is one of the most important aspects of a technical, high altitude boot. I think these boots strike the right balance between warmth, low weight and slim volume. It can make the difference between being able to feel your toes whilst climbing a pitch, and frost-nipped toes whilst rapping off. I've used them in the Alps in winter and - although it hasn't been a super cold year - I've always had 'warm enough' feet. During a bivi on Le Dru, I wore the G2 liners inside my sleeping bag and my feet were comfortable.
They should be great at 6000m, and in the right circumstances I imagine they could take you much higher. If you were constantly moving, they could be warm enough for climbing at 7000m+. Do a bit of research first, though.
The liner feels like a neoprene composite and certainly adds to the warmth. It stays relatively dry even when standing in snow. The underside of the liner has a grippy, rough surface so it doesn't slide around in the outer boot, which helps with the climbing fit.
Remember arriving at the base of the route in winter, and having to take your gloves off to tighten your laces? Whether in Scotland, the Alps or further afield, I used to always joke that tightening my laces was the crux of the day. I have terrible circulation and my fingers would instantly freeze, and I'd spend the rest of the day trying to re-warm them.
In a self-confessed geek moment, I'm genuinely psyched about the Boa lacing system on the G2 SMs. This style of lacing is becoming more and more popular (I think the Batura replacements (the G5) also feature Boa lacing). You can tighten and loosen the wire lacing easily, with gloves on, and in seconds. I can't stress how much I disliked tying my laces in winter, so this is great. I've experienced no slippage on the Boa system, and because there's two tightening wheels, you can fine tune the fit.
I can't find any cases online where it's failed, and my only reservation would be: what happened if it broke on an expedition? I think a repair kit is available.
Again, crucial but only when balanced wth warmth. Each boot weighs just under one kilo, which is pretty impressive when considering their construction. I've realised how important weight is when alpine climbing - just read Colin Haley's blog. Wearing a boot that weighs under 1 kg is great, especially when you consider you'll be repeatedly lifting this weight a few thousand times every day.
La Sportiva developed these with Simone Moro, who knows how much fun (suffering) you can have at high-altitude, and I'm looking forward to wearing them in Alaska this May, and long into the future.