Review: La Sportiva Crossleather (RIP)

After two months’ hard use, my La Sportiva Crossleathers finally died. While I have been less than impressed with the durability of some other Sportiva shoes (Quantums), these both performed well and took an amazing amount of abuse. Sadly, they are being discontinued, so the pair I just bought for the rest of this summer will probably be my last.

The Crossleather is basically the Crosslite (mud-running shoe) with a leather upper. I bought them mostly because they were on sale, but found them well-suited to most of what I do, from day-tripping Gannett to climbing the Grand Teton’s Petzoldt Ridge, from long part-trail hikes to soloing 5.4 rock.

What made the Crossleathers work for me? Performance-wise, they have decent grip on mud and snow, their large lugs far better than some other models’ smooth waves. They protect both the toes and sides of your feet, though I prefer the Quantum’s squared-off toe guard. They both climb reasonably well and run like trail runners. The leather makes them somewhat more water-resistant in puddles, but also causes them to stay wet longer once they are fully soaked.

Durability-wise, they remained usable for close to 1000 miles before the soles started simultaneously peeling off and wearing through; the uppers are still in good shape. In the past, the Sierra Challenge (10 days on- and off-trail in the Sierra Nevada) has completely destroyed at least one pair of shoes, tearing the mesh sides and/or peeling off the soles. I expect my new Crossleathers to emerge in usable condition, and to last for the rest of my season.

If you need a light hiker or heavy trail-runner, pick some up while they’re still on clearance.

4 responses to “Review: La Sportiva Crossleather (RIP)

  1. Chance says:

    It’s funny that you just posted this because I was just thinking about what to do about how to replace my disintegrating approach shoes.

    My big remaining question was, “Do I go for a super-light trail runner or a heavy approach shoe?”

    Sounds like this shoe splits the difference. Now to see if I can actually find a pair…

    P.S. – Very impressed that googling “sportiva crossleather” returned this blog post at number 7, haha!

    1. drdirtbag says:

      They still make the Crosslite, which has a similar construction and looks fairly durable. Both have decent-sized lugs, so they don’t climb like approach shoes, but I’ve found they do just fine if you have reasonable expectations.

  2. Bought a pair based on your review… have put in 3 climbs that only total about 24 miles… like them… wish I had grabbed a few more pairs.

    I was going to ask you about traction, but see your comment above… the big lugs seem to require focusing on foot placement on slippery Sierra granite. Am wondering whether it improves with age?

    The flip side is that they seem to be outstanding on the typical loose scree slopes encounted in the Sierra.

    1. drdirtbag says:

      The lugs do wear down, but the shoes never seem to work as well as dot-rubber approach shoes (or the weird wavy-soled Sportiva shoes) on slabs. Overall, I think the lugs are a win, since they work on scree, dirt, snow, and mud, but on e.g. the NE ridge of Lone Pine, which had lots of slabs, I was glad to have rock shoes.

      My second pair is just about sole-less now, but hopefully duct tape will get them through one more big day.

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