La Sportiva Genesis Low GTX ReviewJanuary 12, 2018
- High quality leather & construction
- Gore-Tex surround technology
- Good protection
- Requires a little bit of a break in period
- Heel rubber tab peels off
- Somewhat pricey
La Sportiva had been producing stable, high quality trail runners for years and finally rolled out a low top traditional hiker in the Genesis. Referred to as STB Technology, the midsole is connected to the upper portion of the shoe, creating a unified fit. The outsole sports Vibram rubber in addition to an Impact Brake System (IBS), that advertises a 20 percent increase in traction and a 20 percent decrease in impact (how much it tears up the trail). Despite this claim, we didn’t find any noticeable added benefits from a traction standpoint compared to other similar Vibram treads in the test without the IBS. Regardless, during a full weekend of hiking off-trail in the rugged Holy Cross Wilderness, including rough bushwacking, steep sidehilling, and prolonged boulder hopping where stability and protection were paramount, the Genesis held up remarkably.
This was where the Genesis stood out. Having the wrap-around stabilizing technology (the Gore-Tex Surround), and the largest toe guard, the protection on this shoe was hard to compete with. Even the interior protected us with a thick Ortholite footbed that conformed to our feet. This shoe had a great mix of protection when off trail and comfort when cruising on trail, due mostly to it’s soft flex mixed with solid, 360 protection. The Genesis was the only shoe in the test group reinforced in the most needed spots. The tongue, for example, is bellowed and thick, for maximum protection from the elements while providing comfort as well. The toe guard is the largest and thickest in its class and fully protected the front area of the foot. This did end up causing some minor comfort issues when descending steep terrain for long periods, but that was the only downside and not a huge deal.
At first, the Genesis felt way too narrow, but after a short break-in period, it rapidly improved in the comfort and fit category, probably due to stretching the nubuck leather. No hot spots or blisters were reported during testing, but there was a small issue of the toes smashing into the toe guard during prolonged descents off trail on steep terrain. The Gore-Tex Surround technology worked well in terms of breathability, yet still kept feet dry after prolonged exposure to stream crossings and wet terrain. A prominent feature of the Gore-Tex Surround is when crossing a stream, the shoes feel cool, as if water is being let in, but this is just the temperature of the water seeping through the microscopic nano-cells of the shoe but being stopped short of coming in the shoe by the membrane.
The construction of the Genesis was on par with the rest of the shoes in its class. For the most part, it’s a classic, well-made European product, but there were a few areas where problems could arise down the road. Being a narrower shoe, people with a wider foot could find the stitching along the sides fray and open up, rendering the shoe useless. Also, the red rubber impact brake system on the heel of the shoe has a tendency to snag on boulders and roots and started to peel after a couple tests. The high quality nubuck leather didn’t consume the upper of the shoe, and contained a perfect blend in conjunction with the large thermoplastic polyurethane toe guard and STB technology that wrapped the upper with the midsole and the protective rubber sidings. Approximately 25-30 miles were logged on these in the Front Range foothills as well as an entire weekend of mostly off-trail hiking in the Holy Cross Wilderness, and the shoe shows minimal signs of wear or trail damage.
The nubuck leather and Gore-Tex lining does fine on wet terrain, just not as well as the Lowa Renegade for some reason. The Gore-Tex grips well when boulder hopping and moderate scrambling, but tend to slip during more involved moves. The Genesis doesn’t excel the way others do in this category, it’s just a very well made all-around shoe that, along with the Salomon X Ultra 2, has the most versatility across all realms. It’s soft flex makes it a comfortable option for 15+ mile, on-trail days, but its durability and protectiveness give it an obvious advantage off-trail. Is stability and grip provide confidence when boulder hopping or scrambling up moderate alpine terrain.Continue Reading
Brian Miller- Hiking
Brian is an avid hiker, ski mountaineering guidebook author and former Division 1 lacrosse player. He lives with his wife in North Denver.