Review: La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX Boot

In an era when lots of climbing boots resemble your grandma's favorite slippers (read: flimsy), I'm reaching for the tried-and-true Nepal Cube GTX from La Sportiva. These boots are the current iteration in a decades-long lineage of footwear that are purpose-built for ice climbing, using modern materials to decrease weight and enhance weather-resistance over previous models. In fact, they weigh only 3.5 ounces more per boot than La Sportiva's most contemporary winter climbing boot, the G5 (a mere 10% weight difference); and the Nepals are much more comfortable. Not to mention, they're $200 cheaper.

The Nepals are supportive but not too stiff, with a smooth, progressive flex that prevents my ankles from feeling unstable. They are also fully waterproof—I've tested this by accidentally plunging into a frozen-over stream on several occasions. The cuffs have a low-profile rubberized gaiter to prevent snow from getting in and heat from getting out, keeping my feet dry and toasty, even in sub-zero temps. Insulation is ample—my feet have never gotten cold in them—but they don't feel bulky when climbing. The boots come with optional foam tongue inserts that provide a snug fit for folks with narrow feet like myself. Simply put, the Nepal Cube GTX is the most comfortable and supportive winter climbing boot on the market, and I hope La Sportiva continues this design in the years to come.

Available online; $649.