I was pretty excited to get the chance to work with these boots, since this is the first shoe review I have done for Woods Monkey. Like any person who spends a fair amount of time outdoors and in adverse conditions, having good shoes or boots to wear will make a huge difference in your overall experience. I’ve had several different brands of rugged shoes and boots over the years and have learned that you just can’t say “some are better than others” due to all of the defining characteristics for each brand and style.
For me, when it comes to hitting the trail, going camping or just tromping around in the woods looking for things to work on, I have always preferred mid-height boot with the quick lace up and unlace options. Spending five or so minutes getting in and out of your boots is not my idea of fun. I also like the added ankle protection you get from a mid-height boot. Other items to consider are breathability, waterproofing, all around materials and of course, comfort.
Upon learning I would be reviewing a pair of Lowa Renegade GTX Mid’s, I immediately started researching the company, and the product I was told that I would receive. Right away, I was impressed to find that Lowa was established way back in 1923 in Germany and to this day, they are still stationed Europe and their footwear is still handmade to this day. That alone impresses me a lot. Lowa is a very environmentally conscientious company and they really seem to care about their employees and their well being. With so many other products made in other parts of the world in less than desirable fashion, it’s really nice to see some tradition mixed with positive modern values.
The Lowa Renegade GTX’s themselves are very impressive on paper, as they are to behold in person. Starting from the outside, they feature a nubuck leather outer shell that is designed to securely hold your foot in place and help prevent “rolling”, which I know from experience can be rather painful. A waterproof GORE-TEX liner helps to keep your feet both dry and warm, depending on the conditions you are traveling in. For the bed of the boot, they have included a climate-controlled foot-bed that is said to allow air though, thus helping to keep your feet dry, minimize some friction, which will also help with fatigue in the long haul. Couple all of this with a full length nylon shank, a quality “monowrap” that helps to keep the actual weight of the boot down and a very durable Vibram outsole that should help the wearer maintain grip and control while traversing the outdoors. One of my favorite thing, something this boot possesses, quick lace-up and lace-down eyelets.
When the size 13 boots arrived, I tore into them like a kid at Christmas. The box itself is pretty standard and nothing fancy, just displaying the Lowa logo and a few other things of interest that pertained to the Renegade GTX. Inside the boot box, some literature was found loose in the box, as well as of the boots, laying on their sides. Two things immediately jumped out at me when removing the boots. The first being how sturdy they felt, the second being their weight. The Renegade GTX feels like they are rock solid, yet to me, feel very lightweight! I have running shoes that weigh this much, perhaps even more. The boots are a true mid-height, perhaps even a little taller than some others that sport the same claim, but I didn’t mind at all. I’m all for having that extra protection when climbing, descending and trekking over an uneven trail. The soft, rich feel of the upper nublock leather made me smile, as well as the inner GORE-TEX liner that both seamless and stretches nearly the entire length of top part of the boot within. In all, my first out-of-the-box impressions were great and I couldn’t wait to get them outside test out their comfort.
The first trip out of the house for the boots was rather uneventful and somewhat unexciting since I just wore them to work for the day. I work in a rather casual office environment, but I am up and moving around often throughout the day. Without a proper break-in period, I thought that maybe my feet would be bothered by the boots toward the end of the day. To my surprise, the feet felt fine and I could have headed out for a multi-mile hike. Thankfully, the next outing involved some physical labor AND was outside.
My first real test for the Low Renegade GTX boots came when I geared up and went out for a solo hike and camp-out in our local Hoosier National Forest. With my pack coming in at about 35 lbs, along with an extra 5-10lbs in gear on me, I figured I would go with light weight clothing and just hammock camp this time around. By this time I had worn the boots around town a few times, but they had yet to really be put to a decent test. I picked a spot to camp that was about four miles from my truck that involved some hills, a shallow stream and a few other obstacles. With the laces pulled up tight, I was off and hiking out. The trail I was on is well established, despite the uneven terrain. To make things more fun, it had rained heavily for several days before hand so thick mud was also something I got to contend with. Along the way, I didn’t experience any issues with lack of comfort, my feet stayed dry and the soles didn’t slip much at all despite the mud. A brief trip through a very shallow stream and the boots were clean, while my feet continued to stay dry. While at camp, I proceeded to set up my tarp and hammock, clear the area of debris and collect as much “dry” wood as I could find. Throughout the day and into the evening, the Renegade GTX’s performed well above my expectations and kept my feel dry and comfortable. I know I mentioned this before, but the low weight of the boots (3lb 3oz) really makes a HUGE difference after a long day in the woods or gathering and preparing. Then next day came with a change of socks (light weight Merino Wool) and when everything was loaded I headed back to the truck with the same positive results. After hosing off the mud and letting them dry, they looked practically new again.
On another more recent weekend I had a few ricks of wood delivered and spent the day splitting and stacking wood in preparation for next winter. It was over 85 degrees out without counting the humidity, so saying it was warm out is an understatement. Throughout the day of chopping and climbing around on logs, the support of the Renegade GTX’s really showed through and protected my ankles from disastrous twists and turns. I was sweating pretty heavy, but I did notice after a time that my feet felt rather comfy still, despite the overall dampness from the hot day and heavy work.
If I had to find one thing negative about the boots, it would have to be the cost. At just over $200 MSRP (size and color change the price point), you are looking at sinking a good chunk of change into these guys if you decide to check out the Renegade GTX. With that said, you most definitely get what you pay for with these boots and you will get a quality pair that should last you for many grueling adventures. Between the personal touch the company takes in producing their boots and shoes, to the quality materials used and the comfort I have been experiencing, you simply cannot go wrong in any way. Even if you might need to get a loan to purchase them. Well worth every penny!