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La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's Review

A modern version of a traditional hiking boot featuring excellent waterproof protection, molded comfort, and stability, all within a durable and sturdy design
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's
Credit: La Sportiva
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $229 List | $229.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Superior waterproof protection, excellent support, durable, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive, less breathability
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 18, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Support - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 15% 8.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 9.0
  • Weight - 10% 6.0
  • Durability - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX is the perfect hiking boot for extended backpacking trips in watery locations. Offering unparalleled waterproof protection and the durability you'd expect from a traditional hiking boot, this boot has a modern twist that allows for freedom of motion without feeling stiff or rigid. The soft nubuck leather molds to your foot while also preventing moisture and debris from penetrating the inner boot. While a little heavier and more expensive than other hiking boots that we tested, we're confident that the added features and durability make this pair worth your investment. The Nucleo High is an excellent choice for anything from moderate day hikes to extended backpacking trips, especially when inclement weather rolls in.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Superior waterproof protection, excellent support, durable, comfortableLightweight, comfortable, breathable, great traction, reasonable priceWide toe box, lightweight, padded ankle support, durable lacing system provides stability, lugs and outsole for excellent tractionAffordable, super comfortable out of the box, lightweight, superior traction, breathableWell-padded ankle, comfortable, breathable, inexpensive
Cons Expensive, less breathabilityNot as supportive as a traditional leather hiking bootMore expensive price tag, 0mm drop heel takes some adjustment timeLack some durability of boots with thicker materialLacks support underfoot, lacing system is not very durable
Bottom Line A modern version of a traditional hiking boot featuring excellent waterproof protection, molded comfort, and stability, all within a durable and sturdy designA lightweight, breathable, waterproof, and supportive hiking boot that excelled in multiple testing metrics and offers maximum control when moving through technical terrainThese hiking boots have a similar design and feel to your favorite running shoe while also offering a durable outsole, grippy lugs, and a spacious toe boxA hiking boot with a minimalist design that saves on weight while delivering high performance and excellent tractionThese boots are consistent and comfortable right out of the box, but they fall short in terms of durability and water resistance
Rating Categories La Sportiva Nucleo... La Sportiva Ultra R... Altra Lone Peak ALL... Salomon OUTline Mid... Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Support (25%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Traction (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Water Resistance (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Specs La Sportiva Nucleo... La Sportiva Ultra R... Altra Lone Peak ALL... Salomon OUTline Mid... Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP
Weight (per pair) 2.14 lbs (size EU 40) 1.68 lbs (size EU 40) 1.60 lbs (size 8.5) 1.53 lbs (size 8.5) 1.96 lbs (size 7.5)
2.15 lbs (size 8.5)
Upper Nubuck leather AirMesh, microfiber, TPU eVent fabric Synthetic textile Suede and mesh
Width Options Regular, Wide Regular, Wide Regular Regular Regular, Wide
Water Resistant Membrane Gore-Text Surround Gore-Tex eVent Gore-Tex M Select DRY
Heel Height 1.6" 1.8" 1" 1.2" 1.4"
Shaft Height 5" 5" 5.5" 4.2" 4.9"
Midsole EVA MEMlex Altra EGO EVA EVA
Sole Vibram Nano XS-Trek rubber compound FriXion XF 2.0 Rubber DuraTread Rubber Nonmarking Contagrip rubber Vibram TC5+

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nucleo High II GTX offers the support and durability of a traditional hiker with a modern twist. Soft, nubuck leather molds to your foot while moving down the trail, and EVA midsoles, 4mm Ortholite insoles, and a 3D flex ankle hinge give your foot the support it needs. If you plan to hike in precipitous places like the Pacific Northwest, this boot has you covered, as its waterproof protection is truly what sets this boot apart from the rest.

Performance Comparison


La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - a traditional hiking boot with a modern twist, the la sportiva...
A traditional hiking boot with a modern twist, the La Sportiva Nucleo is a great choice for durable, waterproof protection.
Credit: Steve Mace

Comfort


Thanks to a modern design that allows for some flexion in the boot, these modern hikers are comfortable right out of the box. The EVA midsoles and the high padded ankle make these boots stand out amongst other more traditional hiking boots that we tested. The soft nubuck leather upper and the 3D flex ankle hinge allow the boot to be less rigid and encourage more foot mobility without sacrificing support.



The 4mm Ortholite Insoles also help this boot to score well in terms of comfort by creating a supportive and comfortable feel underfoot. While La Sportiva is known for its narrow design, we found that the Nucleo High II GTX was able to accommodate most foot shapes. However, if necessary, there is a wide option available for order. Overall our testers were satisfied with this more traditional hiker with a modern upper that kept us comfortable on the trails, especially when carrying a heavy pack.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - excellent comfort, right out of the box, our testers love the la...
Excellent comfort, right out of the box, our testers love the La Sportiva Nucleo.
Credit: Steve Mace

Support


La Sportiva really nailed the design of the Nucleo in terms of support. This boot hugs the ankle with a padded cuff that stabilizes your foot while also allowing for mobility and range of motion. The combination of Compression EVA molded midsoles, and the Ortholite 4mm Insoles provide ample support for your heel and forefoot. Additionally, a Polypropylene stiffener is added to the insole to provide support without rigidity.



The nubuck leather upper and the durable lacing system work together to create the type of support that prevents you from rolling your ankle while moving down the trail. Overall our testers were impressed with the support offered by this more traditional hiker.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - with padded support that extends over the ankle, in addition to...
With padded support that extends over the ankle, in addition to compression-molded midsoles, the Nucleo offers the support you need for extended time on the trails.
Credit: Steve Mace

Traction


Equipped with a Vibram Nano XS-Trek sole and an impact brake system, the Nucleo High II GTX provided excellent traction and grip, which kept us sure-footed on all types of trails.



We were so confident in the grip of these boots that we even wore them while building bridges in the Owens River Gorge so we could assess our favorite climbs. With the spring runoff high and the water moving quickly, we could trust our feet over the slippery wet volcanic turf in order to get the job done.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - vibram soles provide excellent traction while moving through uneven...
Vibram soles provide excellent traction while moving through uneven terrain.
Credit: Steve Mace

Water Resistance


The same day that we built the bridge in the Owens River Gorge, we're happy to report that we were the only ones on the crew whose feet remained dry after working so closely to the river. This is thanks to what La Sportiva calls their Nano-Cells technology. It works together with the unparalleled Gore-tex Surround membrane, providing waterproof protection while also allowing the foot to breathe and release excess moisture.



We even submerged our feet in Rock Creek near Crowley Lake, California, to see how well these boots would perform, and we're happy to report that our socks stayed dry and our feet stayed warm, even after minutes beneath the water. The Nucleo High II GTX performed so well in this metric that it was clear we needed to recognize them with an award for the impressive waterproof technology.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - the nucleo high gave us unparalleled waterproof protection and...
The Nucleo High gave us unparalleled waterproof protection and helped these hiking boots stand out from the rest.
Credit: Steve Mace

Weight


The Nucleo High II GTX ranks amongst the heaviest boots that we tested. Weighing in at 2.14 pounds for a US women's size 8.5, they are surpassed in weight by very few other models.



Most of the hiking boots in this review are trail run/hiking boot hybrids which highlight ultralight performance over the bulk of a more rugged hiking boot. With that in mind, it is no surprise that the Nucleo High packs a little more weight within its traditional design. Our testers don't consider the weight a dealbreaker, especially considering the trade-off for premium waterproof protection and stability on the trails.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - while the la sportiva nucleo was one of the heavier boots that we...
While the La Sportiva Nucleo was one of the heavier boots that we tested, we feel like it's superior durability and waterproof performance made the extra weight worth it.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Durability


This is another metric where the Nucleo High II GTX really shines. Impressive durability is offered through the upper, which is surrounded by nubuck leather, a Vibram rubber rand, and a substantial toe cap. This is definitely a benefit worth mentioning when considering a traditional hiker versus a trail run/hiking boot hybrid which can sometimes lack durability due to weight savings.



In addition to the nubuck leather, the Gore-tex Surround technology, and the Vibram Nano XS-Trek sole also help boost durability. Also notable is the double stitching encompassing the construction of the entire boot and the lacing system, which is also wrapped in nubuck leather and solid metal latches. Overall our testers were impressed by the durable construction of this boot.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - the la sportiva nucleo features a well-crafted and supportive yet...
The La Sportiva Nucleo features a well-crafted and supportive yet flexible nubuck leather upper and a vibram sole to boost overall durability.
Credit: Steve Mace

Should You Buy the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX?


Although this boot is more of an investment than other trail/hiker hybrids featured in this review, we believe that the performance achieved through the higher price tag is worth it for this modern twist on a traditional hiking boot. This boot features Vibram soles for maximum grip on all types of trails, a Gore-tex Surround membrane, a nubuck leather upper to enhance durability, and out-of-the-box comfort with minimal break-in time necessary. If durability and waterproof protection are at the top of your list, consider this boot a solid investment.

What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?


Overall, the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX is an excellent option if you are leaning towards a more traditional style of hiking boot. It offers superior comfort, excellent support, unparalleled waterproof protection, and durability, making your investment worthwhile. For a similar hiking boot with a stiffer construction, check out the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid. Or, if you love the La Sportiva fit but are considering a more modern hiking boot with lightweight performance at a much more affordable price, check out the impressive La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX.

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX - Women's hiking boots - planning a hike with multiple creek crossings or a precipitous part...
Planning a hike with multiple creek crossings or a precipitous part of the country? Check out the La Sportiva Nucleo, a top choice for waterproof protection.
Credit: Steve Mace

Trish Matheny
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