We tried out the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots along the Severn Way in Gloucestershire and in the Lake District, to see if they could become our next ‘go to’ footwear for adventuring around the world and here at home. We’re also giving away one pair of Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots – you can enter the giveaway at the end of this post!
Hiking is one of life’s greatest pleasures, along with strawberry mojitos and cowboy movies. There’s no better way to explore the great outdoors than by pulling on a pair of boots and heading to the hills. Yet the decidedly unappealing prospect of blisters after just a couple of miles, and that lovely sensation of water slowly seeping in to drench your socks is enough to put anyone off! Living in the Lake District we’ve come to depend on our boots. Not just for being out and about in the hills, but also for day-to-day living with our changeable and often wet Great British weather. It isn’t called the Lake District for nothing. So understandably, when we do find a super comfy and durable pair of hiking boots, it takes a lot to convince us to try anything new!
Let me tell you a little story. Until recently Hubbie had a pair of boots that were 16 (!) years old, first purchased back in the days when he was an outdoor instructor. Despite looking their age, no longer being waterproof and lacking a certain amount of essential stitching, he refused to throw them out. They were his ‘go to’ footwear for our travels because they were lightweight, had good grip and he knew he could walk for hours in them, so long as it didn’t rain! Which is why I spied a slight tear in his eye when the Amazon Rainforest finally finished them off on our trip last month. The boots were consigned to the rubbish heap, and Hubbie was on the lookout for a new pair of boots.
This was the last time Hubbie’s boots were used, on an Inca trail in Peru, between Chinchero and Urquillos in the Sacred Valley. He tried to put a brave face on it…
To be honest, the same fate awaited my boots too. Although not quite as ancient as Hubbie’s, they’ve been much loved and well travelled over the years, which accounted for the numerous holes in the soles, and why they too ended up in the bin. I just didn’t make a song and dance about it!
So, what do you need to consider when buying a pair of hiking boots?
There are several different types of hiking boot out there, which can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated. Which is why Hubbie has put together these helpful points to assist in finding the best walking boots for you.
Leather or Fabric – This is an argument that will never be resolved in the outdoor world. We’ve both worn leather and fabric over the years, but as our travels tend to involve hot dry climates, we do generally favour the lighter more flexible synthetics over the all round protection and sturdiness of leather. Yet when we’re back home in the Lake District, we do sometimes wish we had the security of a good old fashioned bit of leather.
Mid or High Cut – This is all about personal choice. Having a higher cut boot offers far more support and protection for the ankle on rougher terrain, but it doesn’t afford the same kind of flexibility as the mid cut. The high cut also requires more material so the boot will be heavier than its mid cut counterpart.
Season rating – Boots can generally be classified by a season rating system (a bit like sleeping bags) to give an idea of the conditions the boot has been designed for:
1 season = lightweight boot with flexible sole suitable for flat easy summer trails
2 season = sole generally stiffer for more varied terrains, can be waterproof
3 season = most versatile boot suited for year round UK use on rocky terrain, waterproof
4 season = specialist boot for tougher conditions, stiff soles, increased protection for the foot
Liner – You need to consider when and where you are going to wear the boot. If you are just going along easy summer trails, then you want to have a good breathable boot, so a liner is not really needed. But if you’re looking for a versatile all-year-round boot then you will need a good liner such as GORE-TEX, which will keep the bad weather out, but still allow your feet to breath. We’re big fans of GORE-TEX so would always go for this option.
Unboxing the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot
Lowa describes the Renegade GTX Mid hiking boot as a “multi-functional boot that can be called upon for a wide variety of needs”, claiming that as their “best selling” boot it brings “acclaimed trekking comfort”. We’d usually be wary of such assertions, but Lowa is a well-established and highly thought of boot manufacturer with over ninety years of design and manufacturing experience, and the “only outdoor footwear manufacturer in the world to be granted ISO 9001 status” – which sounds impressive.
Should be good enough for us then!
Opening up the boxes we immediately noticed the build quality of the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots. The Nubuck leather is layered and sewn together by both hand and machine which makes for a good looking and robust boot. Add in the all important GORE-TEX lining and you have a boot that is ideal for trekking in the inclement British weather!
Hubbie did notice that the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots were a little heavier than what he has been used to (his were 1110 grams per pair, whilst mine came in at 880g). This might preclude them from becoming his new ‘go to’ travel footwear, but when you look at what else the boot offers, perhaps this isn’t really an issue.
Comfort and Stability
The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots come with Lowa’s exclusive monowrap framework which provides enhanced protection to the side of the foot, and a full-length stabilising shank protecting keeping the underfoot secure. Combine that with the double injected DuraPU midsole for shock absorption and Vibram Evo sole technology you have a boot that offers great stability and non-slip performance for all terrain use. So a little extra weight can be forgiven and they are by no means the heaviest boot on the market.
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One thing I love about the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots are the sizing options. They come in narrow, medium and wide fits, because there’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ sized foot. Something which so many footwear manufacturers have failed to recognise. I also really appreciate that the boots come in half sizes, which is so important in hiking footwear, especially when you’ll often be wearing thicker socks. Hubbie and I both opted for the medium width boot, in UK sizes 10 and 5.5 respectively, and the fits were pretty true to size.
Initial thoughts when slipping the boot on were positive. There was no obvious pinching, a bit of space where you want it and a comfortable fit when done up. However, pacing around the living room for 2 minutes isn’t really that much of a test!
Putting the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots through their paces along the Severn Way
We were down in rural Gloucestershire to walk a section of the famous Severn Way so we decided to give the boots their first test there, and did something that you should never do. We wore them straight out of the box. Heading out in slight trepidation, fearing blisters and hot spots because we hadn’t worn the boots in, we walked over fields, hills, roads and even sand. The result? Not a single sore spot between us!
Hubbie was raving about his boots almost instantly, apparently able to tell that they were perfect after just 100 metres. I preferred to reserve judgement until later. To get onto the Severn Way we walked along muddy farm tracks and through orchards and fields, before finally reaching the famous river. There’s really nothing better than being in the outdoors, enjoying a good old country ramble. Although it was soft underfoot thanks to recent rain, we felt no risk of slipping in the mud, and confidently glided across the multitude of puddles.
Well Hubbie did. I skirted around them where possible as I’m the kinda girl who doesn’t like getting her boots muddy, even though that’s what they’ve been designed for!
Our Severn Way section was a combination of grass banking and fields. Possibly not the most technical of terrains, but it’s not all about walking up and down mountains. At least that’s what I try and tell Hubbie! If you’re only going to invest in one pair of boots, you want a good all-round multi-purpose pair, and that’s where the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots come into their own.
To get back to where we were staying we had to walk along country lanes. Not something that the feet will enjoy if they have already covered several miles and are starting to feel tired. However thanks to the double injected DuraPU midsole Hubbie couldn’t really tell that he was walking on much tougher, less forgiving compact roads. On the other hand I found the soles of my boots a little hard and probably wouldn’t want to walk for long periods on such a surface.
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Testing the boots in the rainy Lake District
We couldn’t test our Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots without heading into the hills back home, and we wanted to be able to compare the performance of flat soft ground, to the undulations and raging torrents of the Lake District.
We didn’t have to wait long for a wet and windy weekend, and whilst some of us would perhaps have preferred to stay warm and dry inside, with the reassurance of a blister free hike it was actually a pleasure putting the boots back on and heading out into the National Park.
We intentionally chose a location along the Ullswater Way that would provide a variety of different surfaces to walk on, including mud, gravel, water, as well as ups and downs to truly test the boots. I must be honest, neither of us were disappointed with how well the boots performed.
The monowrap and underfoot stabilisation really came into their own providing us with the confidence needed to be sure footed when hopping over boulders, around tree roots and up slate stepping. All of which were wet and very slippery due to the weather. Hubbie ventured up leaf strewn mud trails to see how the boots fared on unstable ground. They did the job well and he didn’t slip and land on his backside…a bit of a shame since I had been ready with the camera!
Walking up and down hill we found that we had very little foot movement within the boot, which is a good thing. You want a bit of space in the boot to allow the foot to expand through use, otherwise you’ll soon be experiencing pinch points and blisters. Yet if you have too much room your foot will be slipping around regardless of how thick your socks are and how tight you lace the boots.
Waterproofness is essential with a boot in this part of the world, and Hubbie certainly put his Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots to the test. Not satisfied with the downpour of rain, or walking through torrents of water on the trail, he actively sought out becks and quagmires in which to submerge his boots with a gleeful glint in his eyes. I was half expecting the disappointing moan that comes from a foot slowly getting wet, one I’ve heard so many times before. However the Nubuck leather in conjunction with the GOR-TEX liner kept all moisture out and his toes stayed nice and dry. Smug doesn’t even begin to cover it. At least I didn’t have to listen to him complaining about cold wet feet for the rest of the day.
What we loved
- Although not recommended, we wore these straight out of the box and have been blister free throughout testing
- The laces are a decent length (I’ve sometimes found on other boots that because I prefer to have the lower section of the laces slightly loose, I can’t use all of the upper locking lace hoops because the laces aren’t long enough!)
- They performed very well over a variety of terrains, which is exactly what they’re designed for
- There is an excellent size, cut and an unusually large colour range (because we all know colour is the most important thing!)
What wasn’t so great
- When I first put the boots on I found the sole to be quite hard compared to what I’m used to, but through more regular use this has softened a bit (or I’ve become used to it). For longer walks on harder surfaces I would certainly consider using an insole to cushion my foot a little more. Hubbie has pointed out that the harder sole means the boots are more sturdy and excellent on rougher ground. I point out that I’m a lady and has he never heard of Cinderalla?
- The weight is absolutely fine for hiking in, and perfect for terrain here in the UK, but may prevent them from coming with us on our travels when keeping weight down to a minimum is essential (on our Kenyan safari trip earlier this year we each had to make to with just 10kg for 2 weeks!).
Having now used the boots over various terrains in different weather conditions, we are honestly really impressed with our Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots and can definitely see them being taken on all our outdoor adventures here in the UK. I’m really fussy about my footwear, and wasn’t expecting the boots to be anything special, but for a multi-purpose all year round hiking boot to explore the fells and countryside, they do exactly what they’re meant to do!
We’ve partnered with Lowa to offer our readers the chance to win a pair of Lowa Renegade GTX Mid hiking boots for themselves.
The giveaway is open to entrants worldwide.
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