Italian Craftsmanship, Born in the Mountains: The Early Years of La Sportiva
Like many companies who manufacture high-end mountaineering boots, climbing shoes or hiking boots, La Sportiva originated with a humble skilled craftsman in the mountains of Italy, who drew inspiration, purpose and knowledge from the people who lived and worked in the mountains. Beginning in the 1920s, Narciso Delladio worked in his workshop, crafting quality wooden clogs and leather boots for the local lumberjacks, farmers and his neighbors who required quality, reliable footwear. His business grew, due to a loyal following of customers who trusted his products. When World War II came to Italy, Delladio used his skill and knowledge to build sturdy mountain boots for the Army. His contract with the government gave him additional resources and production experience that allowed Delladio to continue to build his brand.
Following the war, the world began to heal by spending more time outside, exploring and experiencing nature. The demand for high-quality mountain boots increased, causing Delladio to hire new workers to help manage his growing business. His reputation grew as well and his boots became renowned outside of his home region, with word and business spreading to nearby cites.
During the 1950s, Delladio’s son, Francesco, joined the company, bringing with him an entrepreneurial spirit and drive to succeed. He spearheaded the construction of a new, larger workshop outside of Tesero, which gave the brand room to expand and grow. At the time Francesco identified that skiing was a quickly expanding market and with his leadership the company began to develop and produce technical ski boots. Spurred by growth and the popularity of the company’s ski and mountain boots, Francesco named the brand “La Sportiva” and launched their footwear collections under the new name at the Milan Exhibition. La Sportiva’s lines of innovative, technical ski and climbing boots, as well as traditional boots.
In the 1970s and 1980s, La Sportiva dropped out of the ski boot market. They also began to focus on a rapidly expanding market that would come to define and shape the brand for years to come: climbing shoes. Their first model was a high-top in an iconic purple and yellow colorway, and was a huge success. The brand quickly gained a reputation as an elite climbing shoe manufacturer and cemented their place in the climbing shoe market.
Industry Leading Products and New Markets: La Sportiva from the 1990s to the Present
Throughout the 1990s, La Sportiva continued to produce industry leading products in the climbing and outdoor boot sectors, which led to steadily increasing demand. As a result, La Sportiva expanded their distribution and built a new, modern factory. In the early 2000s, following an unsuccessful partnership with The North Face, La Sportiva consistently performed, even during tough periods in the industry. By 2006, La Sportiva was a major player in the climbing shoe market, with a 35% overall market share and a 65% market share in the $100+ segment. Additionally, the had grown into a role as the leading manufacturer of mountaineering boots. With the success of such important pieces as the Nepal EVO GTX, the Spantik and the Olympus Mons EVO, La Sportiva captured 65% of the market share for mountaineering footwear.
In addition producing the highest quality climbing and mountaineering footwear in the world, La Sportiva ventured into other mountain sports in the 21st century. By utilizing years of experience producing technical outdoor footwear, La Sportiva produced trail running shoes, ski boots and skis at the highest level of quality and performance. By focusing on the niche ski mountaineering market, they rose quickly to become one of the leading manufacturers of specialty ultralight skis, boots and bindings for the ski touring and ski mountaineering categories.
In the last few years, La Sportiva has been a consistent, reliable outdoor brand. They continue to push the limits in climbing, with the introduction of the aggressive, edgeless Futura climbing shoe and the machine washable, gym specific Oxygym shoe. They have also introduced innovations in mountaineering, with the super-lightweight Trango Cube and the updated version of the Nepal EVO: the Nepal Cube. They also began producing a line of high-end technical clothing for ski touring and climbing, one of the lightest backcountry skis on the market in the Vapor Nano, as well as two of the best new ski touring boots in the category with the men’s Spectre and women’s Sparkle. From humble beginnings in a bootmaking workshop in Italy, La Sportiva has grown into a global brand, represented on the hardest sport climbing routes in Spain, the most ambitious big wall lines in Yosemite, the summits of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, and the top of the podiums at the worlds toughest trail running and ski mountaineering races.
The La Sportiva Brand Today
Presently, the La Sportiva brand is segmented into three categories: footwear, ski, and apparel. Each section of the brand features specialized, technical products for high performance in a variety of mountain sports.
Since La Sportiva began as an outdoor footwear brand, it follows that the footwear category within the company’s current product lines is the broadest and most encompassing segment. La Sportiva makes footwear for:
Mountaineering- La Sportiva has built a strong reputation for producing high-quality boots for mountaineering and ice climbing. When they released the first iteration of the Nepal, it revolutionized the industry and showed that a single, leather boot could be warm enough and stiff enough for technical ice climbing. Since then, each new boot that La Sportiva produces sets a new industry standard and garners acclaim. Building on the success of the game-changing Nepal EVO GTX, La Sportiva released the Nepal Cube, which features the same all-around technical prowess and comfortable fit of the Nepal EVO, but with a significantly lighter design due to an all-new midsole and insole. For warmer weather ice climbing, technical routes and mixed routes, the Trango Extreme EVO LT GTX boot is an excellent lightweight, responsive option. For high altitude mountaineering, La Sportiva introduced the Spantik, a double boot that is extremely warm, while remaining lightweight and highly technical.
Climbing- La Sportiva entered the dedicated climbing shoe market very early on and hasn’t given any ground since. They have produced some of the highest performance climbing shoe models that have helped drive innovation. The La Sportiva climbing shoe line has retained some stalwart, iconic models that are favorites of pros and new climbers alike. The Mythos is a true classic and an icon in the climbing world, featuring an unchanged retro aesthetic, comfortable design and a proud trad climbing identity. A more modern shoe that has attained elite status over the past decade is the Miura. Featuring an all-around, yet aggressive design, the Miura has been the choice of elite climbers around the world for years. In addition to their time-tested models, La Sportiva has also been pushing the boundaries of climbing shoe technology. The innovative and acclaimed Solution is one of the premier bouldering and aggressive sport climbing shoes on the market due to a sharply hooked toe; responsive, glove-like fit; as well as a molded rubber heel and toe. The La Sportiva Futura also breaks new ground with a revolutionary “no-edge” concept for maximum sensitivity and technical performance.
Trail Running-Since La Sportiva has always focused on all manners of technical ascent in the mountains, trail running is a natural fit for the brand. They feature a line of aggressive trail running shoes that are popular for moving quickly in the mountains or for light and fast hiking. One of the most popular models that La Sportiva makes is the Wildcat. Featuring a comfortable cushioned midsole with a 12 mm drop, a breathable mesh upper and an aggressive, multiple density tread for excellent grip on loose terrain, the Wildcat is a great shoe for long runs or hiking. La Sportiva has also ventured into the minimalist running realm with the 4 mm drop Helios. The Helios is extremely light and breathable, with a highly flexible midsole to adapt to any terrain.
La Sportiva returned to the skiing market with boots, skis and bindings that were focused on touring and ski mountaineering. With boots such as the Stratos and skis like the Vapor Nano, La Sportiva has established themselves as a premier competitive and high performance ski mountaineering brand. The innovative skiing products that La Sportiva produces has been popular both with ski adventurers and competitive ski mountaineers. In 2013, Frenchman William Bon Mardion won the world championships of ski mountaineering in a pair of the innovative, lightweight Stratos Cube boots
In 2013, they stormed the skiing world again, with the incredibly light, yet stiff and responsive Spectre and Sparkle touring boots. Featuring a traditional 4-buckle design, but with a 60 degree cuff rotation and a weight of just 6 lbs 5.9 oz, the Spectre and Sparkle provide both amazing uphill and responsive downhill performance.
La Sportiva has also evolved as a brand and ventured outside of just footwear and hardgoods, bringing their trusted quality manufacturing and performance to outerwear and apparel. They now have a full line of technical outerwear, with a focus on climbing, ski touring and other high intensity sports. The Storm Fighter GTX hardshell utilizes Gore-Tex Active waterproof/breathable technology, which breathes exceptionally well to allow moisture to escape, while still acting as a stringent barrier to the elements. For cold days, turn to the lightweight Cham down jacket. Featuring 700-fill down and a durable, water repellent face fabric, the Cham is the perfect option for cold days at the summit, belaying, or staying warm after a long day of skiing. For layering, throw on the Galaxy hoody, which features a stretchy, breathable fabric that provides insulation and moisture wicking. The Galaxy hoody is a great midlayer, or even an outerlayer for spring skiing or climbing.