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Published on October 21st, 2011 | by Greg

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Boot Up With Lowa: Serious Footwear, Part One

Some­one wise once in­sist­ed: Win­ter is com­ing. It’s hard to ar­gue with fact, and even in San Fran­cis­co, tem­per­a­tures drop and folks grab jack­ets and hats and scarves. And though we don’t get much in the way of snow, a reg­u­lar rit­u­al is the trip to Tahoe, where snow is a way of life. Not all of us love ski­ing and snow­board­ing- some of the staff far pre­fer surf­ing or climb­ing in Hawaii- but we sent out a brave soul will­ing to suf­fer tem­per­a­tures be­low 50 de­grees Fahren­heit with the pur­pose of test­ing out two footwear op­tions.

To­day, we’ve got the LOWA Rene­gade GTX Mid men’s boots. LOWA isn’t a name you hear a lot in the Unit­ed States, but we sus­pect that will be chang­ing. Hand­craft­ed in Eu­rope, this was a sur­pris­ing­ly sleek and sexy pair of leather boots, in­tend­ed for all-ter­rain use. GORE-TEX wa­ter­proof lin­ing isn’t a sur­prise, but one thing that caught our eye was the Vi­bram EVO out­sole. Made by the same folks be­hind FiveFin­gers, those al­most-bare­foot gloves for your toes, it was nice to see the fa­mil­iar tread pat­tern and lo­go , and we loved the trac­tion pro­vid­ed (es­pe­cial­ly in wet­ter con­di­tions).

Avail­able in sizes 7.5-16, ours were sized 9.5, and seemed to fit about right if a tad on the small end. Our tester’s foot is a lit­tle nar­row, but these of­fered enough padding to sup­port the an­kle nice­ly. We loved the va­ri­ety of col­or op­tions avail­able, un­like some footwear we’ve seen, and you can choose from blue or gray as well as a few brown and blacks. The very first time the boots went on, they were im­me­di­ate­ly com­fort­able, no break­ing in re­quired. Snug, warm, and dry- three im­por­tant things that many boots can’t han­dle in in­clement con­di­tions. These aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly meant for se­ri­ous alpine use- they just aren’t warm enough- but are ab­so­lute­ly the per­fect choice for hik­ing.

Our first jour­ney in­volved a va­ri­ety of ob­sta­cles- sand, rocks and grav­el, boul­der­ing, wet pave­ment, as well as plen­ty of dirt and mud. The rea­son­ably light weight was a fac­tor- de­spite the rugged­ness, these man­age to stay around two pounds to­tal. With boots, you have to care­ful­ly con­sid­er your like­ly con­di­tions and your nor­mal use- if you’re go­ing to be on your feet all day or wear­ing a pair for hours on end, com­fort is ab­so­lute­ly paramount. Of­ten, we’d rec­om­mend an af­ter-mar­ket in­sole, but the in­clud­ed ones were as good as we’ve seen- cush­ioned but per­fo­rat­ed for what they call cli­mate con­trol. In­deed, de­spite a rel­a­tive lack of ven­ti­la­tion vis­i­ble in these, feet were cozy and fair­ly dry even af­ter hours of chal­leng­ing hik­ing.

Laces were sol­id, and craft­man­ship was top-notch- we found no loose stitch­ing, com­mon on in­fe­ri­or de­signs. And there were re­mark­ably few seams pre­sent. We tried scuff­ing these up and twist­ing our feet side-to-side, but the marks came right off and our an­kles and arch­es stayed un­in­jured. While not ev­ery­one will love the “mid” style- it can feel a lit­tle weird on the back of your foot at first- we got used to it quick­ly. The footbed and es­pe­cial­ly the heel were en­gi­neered well; in some oth­er shoes you can feel some wob­ble or give around the heel, but not with these. About the on­ly com­plaints we reg­is­tered: the Rene­gade GTX’s could use a bit more re­flec­tive touch­es for safe­ty, and they are def­i­nite­ly on the prici­er side.

A sin­gle fall, sprawl, or even just wrong step can be cost­ly though. And one thing we learned ear­ly was not to skimp on footwear- noth­ing is worse than damp feet on a long walk back to camp or on the tail end of a hike. At $200 or so, this could very well be the last pair of boots you’ll need- and it’s our fa­vorite set so far for sheer en­dur­ing com­fort and sta­bil­i­ty.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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