I’ve found that when a hiking boot makes me want to hike every chance I get, it generally has the moniker “LOWA” on it. Specifically, the LOWA Levante GTX ($185).
And finally! LOWA offers a full-size hiking boot that comes with the price tag and weight of a dayhiker.
What I like:
- Lightweight: LOWA never scrimps on construction. Outsoles, tread and hardwear are solid and beefy. However, the LOWA Levante GTX are actually on the lightweight side for a full-sized hiking boot. The feel is more dayhiker than full-sized hiking boot and they are quick, agile and responsive.
- Fit: For me this has always been an area that keeps me coming back to LOWA every time. My feet width runs right between narrow and normal and I’ve had problems in the past with hiking boots feeling too loose. But the Levante GTX’s not only run true to size in the length department, they have a snug and comfortable width fit. The other nice part about LOWA boots is that they offer sizes for people with wide feet, too. Since it’s a hiking boot be sure to always go a half-size up from your normal size. I wear a 7.5 shoe but a size 8 in boots.
- No Break-in Period: I took them out of the box, clean and fresh and virginal, and hiked three days on the Superior Hiking Trail and then another long trek in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. In between those longer treks there were countless day hikes. The short of it is that of all miles hiked in the Levante’s, there wasn’t a single hot spot or blister.
- Waterproof-ness: “GTX” is code for “Gortex”. The Levante’s, therefore, are waterproof. Allow me to clarify what waterproof means in a hiking boot. Can you walk into a knee-deep lake or river and emerge on the other side with dry feet? No. But if you’re hiking in pouring, sheeting, pelting rain and wading through puddles your feet will stay dry.
- Traction: LOWA named the outsole for this particular boot the “Multi-cross EVO”. This is what partially accounts for the Levante’s lighter weight. It’s not the deep lugs of the beefier Vibram soles of other LOWA boots but it’s geared for hiking with a solid wide tread pattern that delivers good grip on just about every surface and works well for shedding mud and debris. Ultimately, that is what improves your traction.
- Comfortable: These are the most flexible full sized hiking boot I’ve tested from LOWA. At the end of the day I wasn’t dying to get out of them. They do have a slightly narrower toe box than, say, the Mauria GTX, Renegades or Vantage, but then they’re also considerably lighter. The insole, however, doesn’t have same level of padding or support as the Mauria GTX, Renegade, or Vantage but then the Levante’s don’t come with the same price tag, either. I replaced the factory insoles with a set a set of Superfeet’s and I had nothing left to complain about.
- Quality: Outstanding. They’re made in Europe (not China). Even the materials are sourced locally, the cows shot on site (I made the part about the cows up). Germans have pretty high standards for hiking boots and LOWA represents that national pride in the art of bootmaking.
What I didn’t like:
I normally gripe about the enormous price tag that comes with LOWA boots. That whole “Handcrafted in Europe” and “materials sourced locally” bit? Comes at a price. Budget-minded hikers may hike on to a lesser-priced boot.
But not this time. At a $185 price point, I was astounded at what I got in return. LOWA actually has a high-quality hiking boot that doesn’t require taking out a home equity loan!
Sure, it isn’t the boot you’ll want to wear when hiking the Inca Trail or the AT with a fully-loaded full-sized multi-day backpack but for day hikes, or multi-day hikes carrying a lightweight pack, you can’t beat the LOWA Levante GTX’s.
The LOWA Levante GTX’s are a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear.
# of LOWA-sponsored women athletes: unknown