The LOWA Locarno GTX Mid ($210) are a new paradigm for LOWA. Although they still rank highest in my heart for the ultimate boot for climbing fourteeners in Colorado, trekking in Austria and humping a full-on backpack through the Alps of Switzerland, LOWA recognizes that not everyone is an extreme hiker and mountaineer. Some people, myself included at times, go on vacation with a wide variety of non-extreme activities planned. The LOWA Locarno GTX Mid is the boot designed for them.
What I loved
Fit: Runs true to size. 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. Even if you plan to use this just for hiking around town or on a flat dirt trail. Fit, however, is dependent on a couple of things. First and foremost, did you lace them correctly? If you didn’t know that there’s a special lacing technique used to cinch your heel into the boot, watch Boot Lacing 101. The star of the vid is a LOWA boot but the concept is applicable to any boot. Your toenails will thank you. Second, always try your boots on at the end of the day when your feet are naturally swollen. Be sure to take your own hiking socks along, too.
Break-in Period. None. I took them out of the box, clean and fresh and virginal, and hiked the Devil’s Kettle trail one day and then climbed Eagle Mountain the next. Keep in mind that both the trail and the mountain are in northern Minnesota so we’re not talking about anything even remotely in the vicinity of a 14,000-foot peak or the Appalachian trail.
Waterproof-ness. “GTX” is code for “Gortex”. The Locarnos, 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. The Northern Minnesota trip had its share of muddy puddles left over from a week or so of pelting rain. Most had a sneak route around them but two did require me to wade through some mossy bog. The LOWA’s waterproof-ness crushed it. My foot stayed dry even though the boots were submerged to a quarter-inch above the lasts.
Traction. The Locarno GTX’s are most definitely not the boot you want to bag a fourteener or hike the Pacific Coast Trail in. They’re a mid-weight dayhiker with outstanding support and comfort in conditions that are less demanding, such as nature hikes, for the casual dayhiker. Still, for the purpose of my hikes in Northern Minnesota on terrain that was a mix of wet, slick dirt and exposed tree roots with an elevation gain of two-thousand feet, the Locarno GTX’s delivered the same sure-footedness that LOWA’s are known for.
Versatility. If you were going on a trip that combined city sight-seeing with easy trail hiking and anything in between, the Locarno GTX’s can be the only shoe you bring. Case in point. I went to California in September where I was in San Francisco, Napa and Big Sur. These were the only shoes I brought. I wore them on the plane, walking the vineyards, hiking the trails along the coast and hoofing around the jungle that is downtown San Francisco (in the rain no less). Their Gore-Tex liner makes them both waterproof and breathable and their urbanized look means they’re just as suitable in the city on a rainy, slushy day as they are on the trails. And let’s not leave out casual Fridays at work. Pair these with cuffed jeans or leggings and a chunky Scandinavian wool sweater and you’ve suddenly become the poster child for mountain town fashion.
Comfort: The LOWA Locarno GTX Mid are plenty flexible for a casual hiking boot. In fact they’re so flexible that they transition with superb ease from trail to tavern. Think comfortable trailrunner cross-pollinated with a hiking boot.
Outstanding Quality: They’re made in Europe (not China). LOWA is a German brand and Germans have pretty high standards for hiking boots. LOWA represents that national pride in the art of bootmaking. The Locarno GTX Mid’s are no exception.
What I Didn’t Like
I have a friend—her name is Beth—who is a fiend for designer shoes.
Her most recent pair of Jimmy Choos cost her $1,100.
For a pair of stilettos with no purpose other than wearing to work.
Because she’d never wear them around town.
She doesn’t want to ruin them.
Although nothing with the LOWA label is going to come cheap, I think everyone can agree that LOWA’s are worth their price tags. Their materials, functionality, quality and durability absolutely justify their price tag. Although honestly, $210 for the Locarno GTX’s is a freakishly good deal.
The $1,100 Jimmy Choo’s?
Not so much.
The LOWA Locarno GTX Mid are, and always will be, a Gear Gals Recommended Piece of Gear.