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Review: Climb summer alpine in La Sportiva’s Aequilibrium Top GTX

It's Sportiva's latest offering for fast and light mountaineering at medium altitudes.

This spring La Sportiva launched its Aequilibrium series: three mountaineering boots with a new sole design to increase traction and comfort in the mountains. At the head of this series is the Aequilibrium Top GTX, a featherweight boot that bounds down trails and scrambles like a billy goat.

 The Aequilibrium Top GTX is at home in Canada’s alpine terrain for more than just our summer season. Intended for use at “medium altitude,” the boots kept us warm in -10 C temps while hiking into the Bugaboos early season, March cragging at Echo Canyon and kicking steps up couloirs in the Purcells. 

Price: $714 CAD

Weight: 650 grams (per ½ pair of size 42)

Crampon compatibility: Heel bail only. Use universal or semi-automatic crampons 

Waterproofness: Water-repellent Cordura® gaiter exterior with Gore-Tex Performance Comfort membrane

First and foremost, the Aequilibrium Top GTX walks like a dream. Forget pushing your winter-weight single boots along another crosscountry approach in August, its board-stiff platform gnawing at your heels while you convince yourself it’s not that bad. The Top’s Double Heel™ has a rockered profile to prevent excessive heel striking and muscle fatigue. It also has a pronounced pair of horizontal lugs in the rear — an odd look at first, reminding me of a hoof — to assist in braking on loose, scree-bound descents. 

Trademarked names and “never-before-seen” tech strike me as gimmicky, so I took a long and steep hike: Aequilibrium Top on the left foot, a traditional flat-soled mountaineering boot on the right. The difference is immediately apparent. My left foot rolled smoothly with the terrain, like a baby in a cradle. Each stride with the right was a two step process, clunk-clunk like a ski boot, as the stiff heel struck first and sent my forefoot down. And while picking my way down steep moraines, the Double Heel’s protruding lug noticeably slowed my descent.

I had no issues finding a snug fit with the BOA™ lacing system, whether at rushed transitions or with numb fingers, and appreciated the dial’s high placement to encourage ankle mobility. It’s also protected by an external Cordura® gaiter, so after you’ve given a quick tighten for that scrambling crux, you can relax knowing it won’t be bashing against the rock if your feet start to skitter. 

Thankfully, your footwork is aided by the boot’s, “climbing zone”: a flat, sticky-rubbered platform underneath the toes that remind me of a technical approach shoe. I was happy to keep these on in low-fifth terrain as they felt more akin to an agile tennie than a clunky, insensitive mountain boot.

After three months of testing, my solitary gripe is the durability of the lugs and sole. The Vibram rubber is sticky and supple, yet has begun to peel away in small amounts. This does not affect the boot’s performance but is a concern for its long-term use.

The Aequilibrium Top GTX is not your average summer alpine boot. It’s not cheap, it’s not uncomfortable and it’s not heavy. And two out of three ain’t bad.