Gear test: La Sportiva’s Primer Low with Gore’s surround technology
** Please note that I am one of Gore’s Australian Ambassadors (see http://www.gore-tex.com.au/brian-furze/w1/i1094414/). These boots have been supplied by Gore in the interests of getting my feed-back from my use.
It’s great to get the opportunity to review the La Sportiva Primer Low GTX hiking boot. I’ve been fortunate to have had a couple of pairs of La Sportiva’s over the years and I know how good they have been, so being able to test the Primer Low GTX was something I was looking forward to.
La Sportiva describe it as something to get you moving fast on all terrain. Gore’s ‘surround’ technology promised my feet staying dry even in warmer conditions. Perfect.
In keeping with my philosophy and approach to testing, I was after a boot that could work across multiple activities and places:
- Walking in the bush both on trails and cross-country
- Walking to get my morning coffee and other urban adventures
- Riding my bike either on country roads or mountain-biking
- Trail running
- Bike and hike, where I’d be both cycle-touring and walking especially in national parks.
So there were a few boxes the boots needed to tick. As of writing this, I’ve had them for just over two weeks, and here are some preliminary observations.
From the box to my feet
It’s usual these days that good quality boots take little wearing in. Even so, these were exceptional. As soon as I put them on, they felt extremely comfortable and I felt like I could walk in them for kilometres and kilometres with little effort and with no rubbing. Which I did. The first little trip was 7 kilometres on a sealed walking/cycling track along the river. No rubbing, no sense of needing to wear-in. They just performed like they had been on my feet for weeks and months rather than minutes and hours.
They are sooo comfortable – and light.
Walking in the bush both on trails and cross-country
So far the walking has covered 4WD tracks, single-track shared by mountain-bikes and walkers and variations on these. The tracks have been flat, steep, rocky, sandy, wet, dry. I’ve tested them walking fast, walking slow, changing direction, rock hopping, a little bit of scrambling and even checked them out jumping (when a black snake and I came face-to-face on some rocks. We both moved in opposite directions pretty quickly and I’m happy to report the Primer Low supported my perfect landing).
Here are some of the things I’ve noticed so far. First, there is a real sense of stability. Across all the terrain I haven’t felt like I was likely to slip or to lose my footing, even when coming down steep tracks which have really loose sand/gravel on them.
Second, they feel to me like they have real shock absorption capacities. Recently I’ve jarred my knees running and have been a bit tender when walking down steep hills and on rocky ground. But since using the Primer Lows, I haven’t felt much tenderness at all. I’m not sure that I can say this is only because of the Primer Lows, but I’m sure they are in the mix somewhere.
When out I’ve also played around in some puddles and a bit of mud. As expected, there is no sign of water getting in and they got good traction on slippery mud.
Finally, I’ve also been out in them walking when the temperature has been upwards of 36 or so. They are definitely allowing my feet to breathe (in walks up to three hours so far).
Walking to get my morning coffee and other urban adventures
The Primer Low’s have handled this rather important function extremely well! And walking in the rain has been rather pleasant.
Riding my bike either on country roads or mountain-biking
So far I’ve worn the Primer Lows on a couple of long slow distances (up to 80 kilometres) and some riding around 30-50 kilometres. There hasn’t been any noticeable difference in performance. No matter which distance the boots have been very confortable, have whicked moisture away and I haven’t had any of the ‘burning’ sensation I sometimes get with some boots on the bike.
Alas, my ageing knees have, in their own way, put out messages to give the running a break for a while, so I haven’t had the chance as yet. However, judging by the ways the Primer Low has dealt with the walking I’ve done so far, I really don’t see any problems. In fact, I’d probably go as far as to suggest the knees wouldn’t really notice, but I’ll leave it for a bit yet.
Bike and hike, where I’d be both cycle-touring and walking especially in national parks.
I haven’t had the time to test them with bike and hike yet. Given that the component parts of the bike and hike (riding and hiking) have been so good with the Primer Lows, then I’m not expecting any surprises. However, let’s see what happens when the riding and the walking is happening day after day after day – there will only be the Primer Lows and a pair of sandals on the bike when I do this, so they’ll have no place to hide….
Conclusions so far
So far, so (very) good. The Primer Lows are doing everything I hoped they would do, and doing it really well. They are very comfortable and feel like they will be an integral part of my activities. Let’s see what happens when I extend the distances and the times, but so far so good.