Why am I reviewing a pair of LOWA Montreal GTX mid ($240) cold-weather hiking boots in early Spring? Because in Minnesota it still looks like winter, it’s still cold like winter and, while most of the country sees the first sprigs of green grass and daffodils, all I still see is snow, ice, gray skies, and an empty thistle feeder hanging from a bare tree.
Poetic? Nah. Just bitter.
What I liked
Versatility. Have you ever worn a pair of Sorel Joan of Arctic boots? If you have, you know that they’re a great boot. Their height and faux-fur trimmed tops are the shit when walking in knee-deep snow. But when driving and walking around town they’re clunky and heavy. When you wear them, there is no mistaking that you are wearing snow boots.
On their own, the LOWA Montreal GTXs feels like any LOWA boot. They are lithe, agile, stable, and comfortable for long days on the trail. In addition to the basic features that make LOWAs the best boot I have ever met, the LOWA Montreal GTX have a lovely GORE-TEX Partelana® lining that is made up of 80% polyester and 20% wool that provided much-needed insulation on all those cold-ass days (-2 degrees to upper teens) and hikes in snow. Add a pair of gaiters and snowshoes and there is no snow too deep for these boots. And yes, they are absolutely snowshoe-compatible.
Warmth. I touched on this above with the GORE-TEX Partelana® lining but I want to expand a bit more. Warm means something different for everyone. When the weather is cold, staying warm depends as much on staying dry. When you sweat, or if snow or water penetrate, the moisture stays trapped on or next to your skin, it becomes nearly impossible to stay warm. Moisture is the enemy of warmth – if your skin is wet, it’ll be more difficult to stay or get warm. I wish I could honestly write that when my feet got wet in the LOWA Montreal GTXs they didn’t snap off in a fit of frostbite but they didn’t get wet at any time during my month-long testing period from mid-February to mid-March and they didn’t get cold. What also helped keep my feet warm? The synthetic uppers, minimal hardware and fabric lace loops.
Traction. LOWA named the outsole for this particular boot the “LOWA Winter Trac®”. In all honesty, the name means nothing to me. It’s marketing fluffery. When I evaluated the Montreal GTX’s traction, I looked for how well the outsole gripped onto snow or terrain, not necessarily if I could sprint across a sheet of ice and stop on a dime. Like all LOWA boots I’ve tested, traction is always excellent. Consider the outsoles in the photo of the Sorel Joan of Arctic (honest-to-godess full-on winter snow boots) and the LOWA Montreal GTXs (full-on winter hiking boots). The LOWAs and the Sorels aren’t battling it out for any first place finish. I’m just giving you a perception of scale when it comes to winter walkig. Clearly, the Joan of Acrtics are made for walking in fluffy deep snow or flat terrain as they lack substantial lugs. The Montreal GTXs have a serrated stud arrangement that works much better in resisting slips when walking on steep terrain covered with frozen snow. You know what else is awesome about the LOWAs? When I strapped on my Hillsound Trail Crampons I could (and did) spring across a sheet of ice and stopped on a dime because they are Hillsound Trail Crampon (and Kahtoola MicroSpike)-compatible.
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 Montreal GTX’s are no exception.
Fit. Runs true to size. Since it’s still 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.
Waterproof-ness. “GTX” is code for “Gortex”. The Montreal GTXs, 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 snow, slush, pouring, sheeting, pelting rain and wading through puddles your feet will stay dry.
Comfort.The LOWA Montreal GTX Mid are plenty flexible for a cold-weather hiking boot. After a day of hiking in snowshoes or on trails hard-packed with snow, kicking them off my feet when I home wasn’t Priority #1.
What could be better
I think this is the first time I have ever completed this section of the review for a LOWA. Normally I have nothing to complain about. Technically I still don’t have any complaints, just one itty-bitty request for future iterations of this boot: Add a little gaiter clip d-ring below the laces.
Gaiter-compatible, snowshoe-compatible, toasty warm, waterproof, comfortable, stable as the day is long with excellent traction for winter maneuvers and outstanding quality and craftsmanship. And they’re damn fine to wear about town and not the least bit clunky that they interfere with my car’s gas and brake pedals.
This about sums up the LOWA Montreal GTX.
The LOWA Montreal GTX are a Gear Gals Recommended Piece of Gear.