Verdict from 5 experts and 81 user reviews

10 reasons to buy

  • Users by the dozens couldn’t help but give the Primer Low GTX five stars for its breathtaking comfort. One hiker didn’t even get the usual knee pain in this shoe.
  • Many reviewers, including a few experts, got deeply impressed with the superb lightness of this shoe.
  • The La Sportiva Primer Low GTX has huge amounts of arch support, based on many favorable reviews.
  • Dozens of owners praised the shoe’s uncompromising defenses against water intrusion.
  • A large percentage of wearers greatly admired the Primer Low GTX’s ability to provide and maintain traction on virtually all types of surfaces.
  • Quite a number of La Sportiva fans found the shoe highly breathable, especially on hot days.
  • This piece of hiking footwear left many a user in awe for its undeniable versatility. Outside day hiking, they also used it for work and casual activities.
  • A couple of satisfied owners commended the Primer Low GTX for its almost non-existent break-in time. One expert backed this claim.
  • This hiker is a worthy purchase despite its hefty price tag, according to some customers.
  • A small percentage of Primer Low GTX owners lauded the shoe’s satisfying flexibility.

1 reason not to buy

  • A considerable number of people got irked by the shoe’s narrow forefoot zone. One said it was too cramped that he could visibly see the upper bulging around the ball of his foot.

Bottom line

With its stupendous amounts of comfort, highly reliable arch support, relentless waterproofing, and lizard-like surface grip, the La Sportiva Primer Low GTX is one remarkable hiking shoe. These positive characteristics, which include the shoe’s impressive lightness, versatility, and flexibility, make it a worthy purchase. Add its virtually zero break-in time, and wearers simply are left with no excuse but to give in and buy one. A smidgen of negativity in the form of a restrictive forefoot zone, however, brings down its almost perfect score a notch or two.

Tip: see the best hiking shoes.

Good to know

  • The La Sportiva Primer Low GTX is a low-cut day hiking shoe that promises to break restrictive barriers by sporting a lightweight AirMesh upper. This upper is infused with La Sportiva’s Nano-Cell Technology—a protective covering that reinforces the upper without impeding all-around breathability. It is also engineered with a Gore-Tex liner called Surround, leaving the shoe waterproof.
  • The Primer Low GTX has a compression molded EVA midsole. It is the shoe’s primary source of cushioning, ground stability, and impact absorption. Contributing to the shoe's stability is La Sportiva's STB technology.
  • Surface traction is courtesy of Vibram’s Nano outsole. This proprietary rubber layer has a series of round and horizontal lugs which provide grip over rough terrain.

La Sportiva’s Primer Low GTX is a below-the-ankle day hiking gear designed for both men and women. Some US half sizes bear the plus (+) symbol which indicates that these sizes are marginally bigger than their base counterparts. For a secure lockdown and snug fit, the Primer Low GTX uses a standard lacing system.

Vibram’s Nano outsole is the component solely responsible for keeping the wearer’s footing steady and secure on various off-road and urban surfaces. This rubber construction, rightfully stamped with the bright-yellow Vibram logo, promises grip no matter the weather condition, thanks to its numerous lugs. These low-profile yet sturdy lugs offer traction from every angle with their multi-directional design. This Vibram outsole also features the Impact Brake System—a segment around the heel zone that has an aggressive tread pattern which aids in downward maneuvers and descents.

In addition, the La Sportiva engineers crafted this rubber outsole to extend and cover the tip of the shoe’s forefoot zone. This rubber tip acts as a protective bumper which minimizes forefoot impacts and prevents toe injuries.

The shoe’s shock-absorbing and stabilizing midsole unit is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), a synthetic material characterized by flexibility and high resistance to weight and stress. This resilient rubber platform runs thick around the heel zone to cushion wearers against ground impact. Its form around the arch zone, on the other hand, is considerably thin, enabling the shoe to bend easily during transitions. The designers also infused the midsole with the STB technology. This tech unifies the midsole with the upper, thereby making the shoe stiffer for added stability.

When it comes to providing hikers additional underfoot comfort, La Sportiva Primer Low GTX uses an Ortholite footbed. This removable insole has slightly contoured hindfoot borders for extra heel support.

The La Sportiva Primer Low GTX is undeniably lightweight and breathable, thanks largely to its AirMesh upper. This featherweight upper has a cell-like membrane (courtesy of La Sportiva’s Nano-Cell Technology) which toughens the shoe yet allows the upper to breathe. It also has a synthetic leather overlay which adds to the overall durability of the footwear. The ankle collar and the upper end of the shoe’s tongue are made of soft synthetic material. The interior of these parts are also padded for extra comfort.

The shoe features a standard lace-up system to give wearers their desired fit. This closure system makes use of plated eyelets and synthetic lace loops which make lace adjustments and configurations a smooth affair.

The Primer Low GTX stands against intrusive wet elements with the help of Gore-Tex Surround. This waterproofing technology provides 360-degree water protection. It also has a breathable design, so the wearer’s feet can stay nice and dry, rain or shine.

Giving users extra toe protection is the stitched-on toe rand found around the front end of the shoe. This protective, synthetic covering works alongside the shoe’s rubber tip—the outsole’s extended part—in shielding the toes from bumps and hazardous terrain elements.

  • La Sportiva discourages users from leaving this footwear in direct sunlight. It should be stored in a cool, dry place to prolong its lifespan. In addition, if the footwear gets wet, it may not be dried with a heat source; let it air dry instead.


How La Sportiva Primer Low GTX ranks compared to all other shoes
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The current trend of La Sportiva Primer Low GTX.
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Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.