Initial Update: 6/20/18
I recently completed a weekend backpacking trip in the southwestern corner of Virginia in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Many know to it and refer to it as Grayson Highlands. 23 miles and two nights on the trail gave me the perfect opportunity to put the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots to the test.
I’ve heard a lot about the Lowa Renegades from others, and one thing that really stood out to me was that they need little to no breaking in. I’ve worn the boots around the house, but nothing strenuous and not for a long amount of time. I made the perhaps poor choice of deciding not to put any miles in the boots before this trip. I was very nervous about this decision, as I usually have to put a good number of miles and stretch into shoes to break them in.
The first night, we drove the long 4.5 hours so it was nice to finally make it to the trailhead and head out. I wore a thinner pair of socks for the initial 8 miles that we had planned in order to make camp that night. The first trail we took was the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. The trail wasn’t too strenuous, but did have a couple of miles of gravel and loose rock that really taxed each step. After 8 miles and setting up camp in the dark, I remembered my boots. This is a testament to how comfortable and protective the Renegades are. My philosophy is that I shouldn’t even have to think about my feet if my shoes are good. They were that good.
Our second day consisted of 13 miles on a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The east coast, and especially this portion of the Appalachian Mountains had received close to 2 feet of rain in the previous weeks. The trail was soggy, but not muddy for the first hour or so of the hike. Then the storms rolled in. For the better part of 10 miles on day 2, we dealt with heavy rain from scattered storms. Not once did my feet get wet. I had no issues with traction, both in the mud as well as on the slick, rain soaked rocks that made up a good portion of this part of the AT. I always felt like I had good, secure footing and that I could trust my footfalls. There are always parts of rocky sections where, depending on how much protection my shoes offer, my toes could get smashed or jammed. The Renegades we rigid and thick enough in the toe box, that I didn’t have to worry about that. I had on a good pair of thick wool socks kept my feet comfortable and much to my delight and surprise, I had no blisters or hot spots when we rolled into our campsite that evening.
On our final morning, as my two friends complained about how soggy the interior of their boots were, I just smiled and I slipped into my dry boots with a fresh pair of socks. Our final day was a short, 2 mile, downhill hike back to the car. We made quick time and were back at the car in no time. My ankle stayed locked in and I didn’t experience any toe bash that can often happen on quick decents. As I peeled off my boots and slipped into my sandals, I marveled (and told my two friends who were with me) at just how good these boots were.
These are a great pair of boots! I can’t wait to hit the trail in them soon and forget that I am even wearing them. Check back in about a month to see my final update.
- Founded in 1923, Lowa has been making shoes for nearly 100 years.
- “Lowa footwear is 100% designed, sourced, and manufactured in Europe.
- “Lowa is the only outdoor footwear manufacturer in the world to be granted ISO 9001 certification.
- Check out this video by Lowa on how the Renegade GTX is handcrafted.
Footwear is an essential part of many outdoor activities. While there are many philosophies and schools of thought on what kind of footwear is best, I tend to consider these as my criteria for how to evaluate the shoes I wear on the trail:
- Comfort and protection: are my feet comfortable and safe from the elements and terrain?
- Durability: does the shoe stand up to the demands placed on it?
- Functionality: does the shoe actually perform as designed?
Lowa Renegade GTX® Mid
The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is a mid-height boot designed to be comfortable enough for day hikes and rugged enough for backpacking trips under the weight of a loaded pack.
Specs from Lowa website:
- Upper: Material Nubuck Leather
- Construction: Slip Lasted – Injected PU Midsole
- Lining: GORE-TEX®
- Lacing Hardware: Open and Closed Hooks
- Additional Hardware: Locking Ankle Hook
- Monowrap Frame®: MONOWRAP® Support Frame
- Insole: atc Footbed
- Midsole: Double Injection DuraPU™
- Sole: VIBRAM® EVO
- Country of Origin: Slovakia
- Weight Per Pair (lb) 2.44
- MSRP: $230.00
The boots in the colorway that I recieved (Sepia/Sepia) present what I think, is a classic hiking boot look. They aren’t flashy by any means, but they have a clean, no-nonsense appearance that I hope speaks well to their performance and quality.
While my feet aren’t wide, I am flat footed which means that narrower shoes can cause me severe discomfort. This means that finding hiking boots with a good fit can be difficult, and often leads to much longer break in periods for me as I stretch the shoe out. I initially opted to get a Wide last with the Renegade GTX Mid to help accommodate my flat-footedness. They ended up being a bit too wide; to the point where my foot could move laterally, even when I had laced down the boots as tightly as possible with thick socks on.
Because of this, I switched to the regular last and the fit was much better. I was impressed with the initial fit walking around in the boot. My initial impression is that the boot will offer ample and snug support around the ankle. The footbed is also comfortable, more so than I would have thought on first putting it on with a leather hiking boot. Unlike with the wide last, the normal last didn’t allow my foot too much lateral movement.
The boots lace traditionally, with three sets of open hooks at the top of the lacing system. Lowa refers to this as a “locking ankle hook” This system should allow me to adjust my boots to achieve the ankle support in the collar I need.
Gore-Tex seems to be the gold standard when it comes to weather-proofing outdoor gear. The Renegade GTX Mid boasts a Gore-Tex lining which should keep my feet dry when the elements aren’t. One caveat to weatherproofing technologies: heat retention. I will make sure to note during my testing how the boots breathe (or if they don’t).
As mentioned earlier in the post, one of my main three concerns in reference to this boot is comfort and protection. The Nubuck leather upper should allow the boot to remain soft and pliable as the boot is exposed to the elements. As noted in the specs the PU Midsole and MONOWRAP support frame could keep my feet comfortable and protected. I am also curious to see how the Vibram EVO sole performs.
As far as durability goes, I will make sure to note in my further reviews how the boot hods up. I am especially interested in seeing how the outsole/midsole seams stay bonded to the leather upper.
I am excited to put the Lowa Renegades to the test! Check back in about a month for my initial review.
Thanks to Lowa and 4AllOutdoors for the opportunity to test these boots!