Thursday, July 13, 2017

Gear Closet: Lowa Alpine Pro GTX Hiking Boots Review

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Lowa boots, having tested and reviewed several of their products in the past, including the awesome Renegade Ice GTX. With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was when I recently received a pair of the new Alpine Pro GTX models to try out as well. This boot is Lowa's new flagship product for use in alpine environments, and promises to deliver a new level of performance for the company, which already has a legacy of fantastic footwear for use in the mountains.

The Alpine Pro GTX was designed to be a minimalist mountain boot, which is to say that it is built to be lighter and more comfortable than the competition in this market space. But, we're still talking about footwear for use in rough and tumble alpine conditions, so a pair of these shoes still tips the scales at 3.6 pounds (1650 grams). That may sound like a lot for anyone who doesn't venture far off the beaten path and usually walks in trail running shoes. But for serious trekking that is a fairly lightweight boot, and it shows out on the trail, keeping your legs and feet happier on longer excursions and remaining nimble while scrambling over rough terrain too.

Lowa has armed the Alpine Pro with a Vibram Alp Trac outsole that provides excellent traction and grip on a variety of surfaces and offers an expanded climbing zone for those tough descents. The lugs are aggressive, but not overly large, and offer a self-cleaning profile that helps to keep mud and other debris from collecting along the bottom. As with most boots however, that only goes so far, and thick, dense mud will still collect on the boots if conditions are particularly nasty.

The sole also offers a lower profile when compared to other boots of this kind, which is particularly helpful for getting a good feel for the ground underneath. Personally, I prefer a boot that allows me to feel more connected with the trail, as it helps me to maintain footing and remain safe when passing over difficult or dangerous terrain. These boots deliver that feeling quite nicely, making them a good choice for mountain excursions.

Inside the boot, Lowa uses a carbon fiber insert that provide rigidity and support, while also allowing for a good anatomical fit. The boots were snug without being tight, and didn't allow my foot to move around too much, avoiding nasty hotspots or blisters in the process. A shock absorbing heel with a comfortable insole also provides a nice level of support, while a Gore-Tex liner keeps moisture at bay.

Lowa says that it developed this boot with the help of its team of pro athletes and it shows. The attention to detail found here will be much appreciated not only by those mountain professionals, but amateurs like you and me too. For instance, the boot has been designed to allow the toes to have some flexibility and connection with the rock, making it easier to maintain a good toe-hold while climbing. Meanwhile, a removable interior pad found along the tongue and roof of the shoe provides extra padding and support as needed, but can be taken out if conditions warrant it. The footbed is also comfortable and soft while still maintain stability too. This goes a long way towards providing a sense of security no matter what the conditions are like under foot.

As you can probably tell, I'm very impressed with these boots. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and offer excellent traction on a wide variety of terrain and surface conditions. They are also quick to break-in for a boot of this type and offer plenty of support and stability too. In short, they are pretty much everything you could as for in a light-duty mountaineering boot, that could also serve you well when backpacking or hiking through difficult environments.

Priced at $425, Lowa is clearly going for the high-end market here. That price will make anyone who doesn't need this level of performance wince of course, but for those who do venture up into challenging alpine environments, it is pretty much par for the course. In my mind, these boots are worth every penny to the right person, delivering on their promise of providing a minimalist alpine boot that doesn't compromise on performance in any way. If that sounds like the type of footwear you need for your mountain adventures, the Lowa Alpine Pro GTX is going to make you very happy indeed.