The perfect boot? I know this is a bold statement but what is needed from a boot? Comfort, warmth, dexterity, durability, being able to take a technical crampon and cost, fortunately the Trango Extreme has all of these qualities in spades…
Comfort- like most la Sportiva and Scarpa boots out of box I ditched the innersole and put in a more heavy duty Superfeet innersole, then set about breaking in the boots and possibly my feet… 5 days and a lot of strapping tape later, a boot drenching (river crossings) transalpine trip was complete and not a blister was gained. To this day, 2 years later, I’m still yet to have a blister from the boots. Then at 1.7kg (for a size 42) these boots are like wearing a set of trainers that you can run round the mountains in.
Durability - another concern with synethic light-weight boots is durability. Mine have gone through almost 2 years of punishment and while they may no longer be a show room model they are a very long way off retirement. Particularly if used in combination with a heavy duty gaiter. My personal favourite is an over gaiter such as a yeti gaiter. The life span of these boots shouldn’t be too far off the heavy weight leather alternative. The caveat to that is the front welt of the boot can and will wear thin over time so using a front toe bail is recommended.
Crampons - The Trango Extreme is a full shank boot with a front rand, so all technical crampons are ideal for this boot. By taking a light weight and semi flexible alpine boot (the standard Trango) and then fitting a fully ridged sole la Sportiva have turned this boot into an ice and mixed climbing dream. The ankle flexibility and dexterity of the boot combined with the ability to wear technical crampons makes this boot exceptional to climb in and really makes winter climbing less ridged and more flexible.
Cost - While nowhere in New Zealand currently stocks the boot, may retailers stock the standard Trango to gain an idea for the right fit and then purchasing over-seas and shipping would be the way forward. Prices are now below the NZ$500, once shipping is thrown in it’s a bit more than that but, notably cheaper than a set of la Sportiva Nepals.
Conculsion - The Trango Extreme is billed by la Sportiva as an extreme ice and mixed climbing boot, and it does this exceptionally well. It also handles all other alpine disciplines with equal valour. From the valley approach, to ridge travel, to summer and winter climbing this is one boot that does it all. If it’s a remote easy rock route in the Darrans in summer or the south face of aspiring in winter I only pack one set of boots and that’s the Trango Extreme. While it might not be perfect, it’s so close that I wouldn’t recommend anything else.
Pro’s- cost, dexterity, comfort, flexibility and weight.
Con’s- an integral gaiter would be nice however in new Zealand I really wouldn’t trust an integral ankle gaiter, the gore-tex lining can make the boot a pain to dry.