REVIEW: The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX Trail Running Shoes

REVIEW: The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX Trail Running Shoes

REVIEW: The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX Trail Running Shoes

Written By: SportsShoes

The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX utilizes a dynamic gaiter and integrated tungsten alloy spikes for maximum protection and grip in the most severe conditions. Ideal for cold weather training and competitions during the winter months, they offer reflective details, a super secure lacing harness, an exceptional fit and unmatched traction.

Our Sportsshoes Ambassador, Ben Mounsey, has been busy putting the La Sportiva Blizzard GTX Trail Running Shoes to the test;

Price: £179.99 RRP. £199.99
Weight: 370g
Drop: 6mm (Heel: 18mm, Toe: 12mm)
Lug Depth: 7mm
Length Small fit
Width: Standard
RATINGS (out of 5)
Comfort 5/5
Cushioning 4/5
Support 4.5/5
Grip 5/5
Protection 4.5/5
Overall 4.5/5

Designed for the most extreme conditions, the Blizzard GTX is the ultimate winter trail shoe, performing faultlessly when tested to the limit.

I’ll cut straight to the chase, this is the best extreme winter trail running shoe I’ve ever worn, scoring consistently high marks across the board. And when it comes to trail shoes, I’m a tough man to please. I award full marks as often as Craig Revel Horwood (i.e. almost never!), so needless to say that any trail shoe going close to 5 out of 5 has to be something pretty special.

So, what is it about the Blizzard GTX that I like so much?

Firstly, I love the minimal design with a plain black upper, built on a bright yellow high-stack midsole. It’s clean, it’s simple and in my opinion the best-looking trail shoe in the entire La Sportiva range.

The upper is constructed of tough GORE-TEX mesh that is waterproof, yet breathable and extremely robust. At the very top of the shoe is a sock-shield gaiter which wraps around the foot providing high-levels of comfort and a completely personalised fit. Not only does this help repel mud and debris from entering the shoe, it also increases stability and support and prevents any rubbing or abrasion to sensitive areas of your foot, like the achilles heel. It almost feels like a natural extension to your feet, such is the high-level of comfort when worn. Having tested them in the most extreme winter conditions, I can honestly say that the GTX upper is extremely effective, helping to keep my feet warm, dry and protected at all times.

At the front of the shoe there is a lace pocket which keeps the traditional lacing system well-hidden and protected, ensuring very little chance of laces becoming loose during exercise. In addition, there are also three highly reflective strips - two at the front and one at the back of the shoe which really light up when exposed to a headlamp, helping you to be seen in the dark. That said, this shoe is built for the trails, so from a safety perspective you’re unlikely to encounter any traffic but it’s always good to be seen – especially in emergency situations. It is worth pointing out that the reflective strip of material on each heel also doubles up as a handy pull-loop, helping you to get the shoe on your feet and take it off – which is especially useful at the end of a long run when you have cold hands!

Judged solely on appearance, the Blizzard GTX looks quite heavy and bulky. Yet, for a mid-height shoe, it’s surprisingly lightweight for its size (370g) and especially considering the amount of support and protection that it offers. On the outside, wrapped around both sides and extending to the heel, a TPU reinforced skeleton is connected to the lacing system. This really helps to lock your feet in place and reduce lateral movement during exercise, as it’s designed to prevent you from rolling when negotiating challenging and technical terrain. There is also a TPU toe bumper at the front of the shoe for added protection against tough ground and loose rocks.

The EVA injected midsole is designed to provide the perfect balance of fluidity, stability and flexibility. At the bottom of the midsole, the EVA is extremely firm and acts as a shock absorber, also improving the stability of the shoe by spreading the energy evenly. At the top of the midsole the EVA is softer to provide underfoot cushioning. I’m pleased to say that it’s exactly the type of cushioning I like in a trail shoe, slightly soft and squidgy which makes running on hard ground feel pleasurable. Inside the midsole, there are TPU stabilisers and a dual-density EVA rock guard insert which protects the feet from sharp rocks and tough terrain. The midsole is designed to be versatile and therefore reacts to surfaces differently.

The outsole features dual-density Frixion rubber, for supreme traction and grip on all off-road surfaces. This rubber compound is durable and abrasion resistant, designed to prolong the lifespan of the shoe. Although, at this stage of testing it’s difficult for me to comment on long-term durability. For extremely icy conditions, the inclusion of integrated spikes provides extra grip which is essential when negotiating frozen trails.

What’s truly unique about this trail shoe is that it’s equally well-suited to both soft and hard ground because it has tons of cushioning AND very aggressive grip – two distinct features that you don’t normally see together on an off-road shoe. Usually, one of these features takes precedence over the other, for example, trail shoes suited to soft and muddy surfaces have less cushioning because they don’t need it and are designed to ensure you maintain a close contact feel with the ground. Similarly, for hard trail surfaces, cushioning is the main priority and grip less so. A typical trail shoe for hard trail surfaces usually feature a lug depth of around 4mm, yet the Blizzard GTX has a 7mm lug pattern and 9 integrated micro-spikes, designed to provide extra grip in icy conditions. With this shoe, you can enjoy the best of both worlds and it means that you can confidently switch from one type of terrain to the other in seamless fashion.

In terms of sizing, I find all La Sportiva models to be a snug fit and as a general rule I tend to size up, opting for a UK 10.5 as opposed to a UK 10. I also like to wear thicker running socks during winter for additional warmth. Given that this is a trail shoe you will only wear in the colder months, it’s something to bear in mind. As for width, this shoe is what I would describe as a standard fit, neither precision nor super-wide, but suitable for everyone in-between.

In truth, it’s hard to pick fault with the Blizzard GTX. However, it is worth making a couple of important points about suitability and specificity. Firstly, this trail shoe is not for everyone because it’s purely built to excel in extreme winter conditions, particularly in snow and ice (hence the inclusion of micro-spikes in the outsole). Don’t buy this shoe if you’re looking for an all-round model for regular use throughout the year. Only buy this shoe if you’re serious about off-road winter running and if you do plenty of miles in extreme conditions on gnarly terrain. For example, it would be absolutely ideal for anyone competing in long to ultra-distance events like the Montane Spine Series, where you need exceptional grip, comfort, cushioning, protection, support and warmth to tackle the brutality of the races.

Which brings me nicely to my second point. At 370g, I wouldn’t wear this shoe for short and fast racing, as it's more suited to long-ultra distances. Think of this shoe as a Land Rover, capable of driving across any off-road surface in any type of weather. If you want to go fast, then go light. But if you want to weather the storm, then wear the Blizzard.

Winter running, meet your match.

SHOP LA SPORTIVA BLIZZARD GTX TRAIL RUNNING SHOES HERE

You can follow Ben’s adventures on Instagram or via his website.

Find out more about off-road running by visiting our trail running hub and make sure you've got all the running kit you need for your next adventure.

Related posts: Review: The La Sportiva Cyklon Trail Running Shoes | Trail Hub | SportsShoes.com







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