La Sportiva created the Men’s FC 3.0 GTX-XCR Hiking boot for hikers who want a compromise between a trail running shoe and a heavier hiking boot. This lightweight La Sportiva boot features the weather protection of Gore-Tex and the durability of Nubuck leather on the uppers. The FC 3.0 also comes with a Vibram sole and the Impact Brake System (IBS) to absorb rough terrain and give you excellent braking performance on the downhill. The boots come equipped with a semi-full tongue, an exterior that consists of Nubuck leather and synthetic in combination and a toe tip that is covered with both a rough and smooth rubber coating. The inside of the boot is lined with a Gore-Tex lining, a removable sole insert and a tab on the back to hang the boots. As tested, the boots were size 12.5 and Gray and Red in color.
When I received the La Sportiva 3.0 GTX-XCR Hiking boot and began an inspection, I noticed that the boots have fabric loop eyelets with one metal open grommet at the top of the ankle to provide ankle stability. The boots have a Vibram sole, that comes equipped with La Sportiva’s Impact Brake System (IBS). The Impact Brake System (IBS) provides opposing lugs on the sole that are slanted in the same direction. According to La Sportiva, this system increases traction in both ascents and descents, by providing more traction in all weather conditions. The boots come equipped with a semi-full tongue, an exterior that consists of Nubuck leather and synthetic in combination and a toe tip that is covered with both a rough and smooth rubber coating. The inside of the boot is lined with a Gore-Tex lining, a removable sole insert and a tab on the back to hang the boots.
As I put the boots on and began walking around my house and yard, I was very impressed with the comfort and feel of the boots. While these are indeed boots, the feel of the boot while walking is much more like running shoes. The toe box had plenty of room and the heel cup allowed my foot to be comfortable and secure. The boots fell secure and seemed to provide good ankle support along with a sole that felt comfortable and springy. The La Sportiva sizing also seemed very accurate.
I began using the La Sportiva 3.0 GTX boot on day hikes in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas. There was literally no break in time needed, as these boots felt comfortable and seemed to almost form fit to my feet. Even after a long dayhike, my feet still felt strong and fresh and had no signs of hot spots, blisters or wear. The boots performed well on hard packed trail, rock and in water, as I crossed several shallow streams, giving me opportunity to test the wasterproofing of these boots. The boots did not leak and also dried quickly.
I continued to use these boots, on day hikes throughout the Ozark Mountains, with daypacks weighting up to 20 pounds. The La Sportiva FC 3.0 continued to be very comfortable and continued to perform well on rock, boulders and hard trail, both cascending and descending. I did discovered that on very muddy trails, especially trails and areas that contained any type of clay, the soles of the boots would pickup the mud and at times would have a hard time discharging this mud, leading to the soles becoming slick and not performing at their best. I discovered that I could kick the boot against a log or rock and get most of the mud to dislodge, but had this happen several more times during the testing process.
Over the next several months, I continued to be very impressed with the comfort and performance of this boot on hard surfaces and rock. This boot really performs more like a running shoe on the trail and a climbing shoe on rock and boulders. The boot continued to provide great traction on rock, especially while descending. The sole continued to provide excellent traction on any hard surfaces and also proved to be very breathable and waterproof when crossing streams or traveling in rain. I also found the FC 3.0 to provide enough ankle support to protect my ankles, while climbing boulders, bushwaking or on the trail. I did notice that the laces on the FC 3.o boots are a bit thin, which can sometimes make them difficult to tie and also control the tension when lacing. These light laces made lacing the boots easy, but keeping the tension as I tied the boots more of a challenge.
Overall, I found that the La Sportiva FC 3.0 GTX boot to be one of the most comfortable hiking boots I had worn to date. The boot really does feel more like a running shoe that a boot, is very light-weight, surprisingly durable for it’s feel and weight and has the traction of a climbing shoe on hard surfaces and rock. The FC 3.0 provided good ankle support, is both breathable and waterproof and even after months of use showed little signs of wear. A deeper lug on the sole might improve the soles performance in mud and wet conditions and a heavier lace might help keep the appropriate tension while lacing the boot. If you are looking for the ultimate comfort in a light hiking boot, this boot is the ticket.