For the past several months I’ve put a pair of La Sportiva Thunder III GTX hiking boots to the test on unseasonably snowy and wet trails in Wyoming and Colorado. I wore them on easy hikes with my kids, technical and steep trails, and I even tested them while snowshoeing.

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It took about 8 short 1-2 mile hikes to get past the initial break-in period. It wasn’t until I’d logged about 20 miles that these boots became really comfortable. Overall these are a great mid-weight boot and functioned well on a wide variety of terrain and on diverse trail conditions.

Features

The Thunder III boots set themselves apart from others because of La Sportiva’s Impact Brake System. According to La Sportiva, this means that the “lugs of the soles are oriented in opposing slanted directions.” This is supposed to increase braking power by an average of 20% and decrease impact forces by an average of 20%. I don’t know what sole lugs are and I don’t know anything about boot braking power percentage. But, I did notice that these boots were incredibly stable, especially while traversing down slippery and rocky trails.

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My favorite feature of the Thunder III’s is a thick piece of rubber that runs up the heel of the boot. After one morning of post-holing through crusty spring snow with a toddler on my back, I noticed that my feet and ankles weren’t as fatigued as they should have been after hours of twisting and turning to fight through the snow. I think this is because the rubber heel stabilizer kept my foot firmly in place and supported my ankles.

Pros

  • The reinforced rubber heel on this boot combined with La Sportiva’s “Trailflex half steel shank” work together to support the ankle without making the boot feel heavy, bulky or uncomfortable.
  • The Thunder III boots have a wide band of rubber around the toe area which does a great job of protecting the toes and keeping moisture out, especially when paired with gaiters on wet trails.
  • I was excited to discover that the Thunder III’s had a nice, roomy toe box.
  • La Sportiva didn’t skimp when designing the Thunder III’s. The Gore-Tex lining and grippy Vibram sole, and even the pull tab on the back of the boot, are nice features.

Cons

  • La Sportiva claims that the Gore-Tex lining on the Thunder III’s allows for breathable, waterproof protection. I would argue that these boots are not waterproof. But, when paired with a good set of gaiters and a quality pair of hiking socks they do offer some water resistance. My feet never got totally drenched in these boots but they were usually damp after 15-20 minutes on really wet or snowy trails.

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Final Thoughts

The La Sportiva Thunder III’s are a great boot. They won’t be my first choice in wet, slushy conditions but for your typical spring mud they performed great. I didn’t try these boots out in hot, dry conditions. I’m anxious to see if the Gore-Tex lining will breathe well this summer. The Thunder III’s retail for $185.00 which makes them a great value for a boot of this quality.

Tech Specs

WEIGHT: 18.62 oz / 528 g
LAST: Women’s Trango 2
UPPER: Nubuck Leather/ Cordura®/ Molded rubber heel reinforcement
LINING: Gore-Tex®Performance Comfort
MIDSOLE: Dual-Density Trailon
INSOLE: 4mm TrailFlex w/ half steel shank
SOLE: Vibram®River w/ Impact Brake System™
SIZES: 36 – 43 (half sizes)
COLOR: Grey/Purple
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