Staring down a display wall of hiking boots, brands and styles abound. Breaking in a new set of hikers is an investment—one not only measured in dollars but oftentimes blisters. We don’t mean to promote a follow-the-pack-mentality, but why take the chance? Why not first consider a tried and trusted brand and boot?
Such as the LOWA Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot.
With 25 years on the market, the Renegade has cut its teeth on countless trails, ranking as the brand’s best-selling hiking boot. Other accolades include earning a spot in Backpacker magazine’s Hall of Fame and in 2021, Renegade nabbed the REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award in the hiking boot category.
For hikers less familiar with LOWA, the European outdoor boot brand boasts itself as the market leader in Germany, Austria and Switzerland—a trio of countries where mountaineering culture can not be understated. With an origin story dating back to 1923, LOWA’s reputation treads deep in the alpine community. In 1963, Jim Whittaker—the first American to summit Everest—did so in a pair of LOWA mountaineering boots. Today, the company produces about three million boots each year. The top seller is the Renegade GTX Mid.
LOWA graciously provided explore with a pair of Renegade GTX Mids to test for ourselves. Here’s how it went.
The day I lace up my Renegades, sheets of summer rain sweep across Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains. I pull into the parking lot of Grouse Mountain Regional Park where I’ll find the trailhead for the BCMC hike. Overhead, the peak is hugged by low-hanging cloud and the air is muggy.
Truth be told, I’m annoyed by the inclement weather. I didn’t plan to hike in the rain, but I reassure myself that somewhat fortuitously for a gear review, slick rocks will make for a more robust sweat test.
Sitting on the tail of my vehicle, I slip my feet into the Renegades, taking note of a tag that reads “Made in Slovakia” and denotes the size: US 9.5.
In medium-thick socks, it’s a Cinderella-perfect fit; shoppers can order true to size. Those intending to wear a thick sock might consider sizing up. (Tip: Always try on boots in the socks you intend to hike in—albeit, harder to predict when shopping online.)
Jenn HubbertThree well-placed hooks anchor my foot snug in place. The tongue of the boot stretches just above the boot’s upper rim, so there’s little chance of any debris making its way inside. I feel very secure in the Renegade.
There is some natural stiffness to these out-of-the-box-new boots, but my overall impression is “wow, quite comfortable.” A big part of it has to do with lightweight construction.
It all starts in the sole. Turn the Renegade over and you’ll find a yellow Vibram® octagon, meaning the outsole employs the namesake technology. (Never heard of it? Vibram is an Italian-patented lug sole design that’s considered a leading brand when it comes to mountaineering gear.) For hikers who dig deep into the details, this boot’s base also features Monowrap® frame construction which promotes ankle and foot stability by creating resistance to rolling and twisting.
Sole aside, the uppers boast nubuck leather and suede, and a GORE-TEX membrane offers waterproofing with breathability.
It all amounts to just 440 grams per (womens) boot. For context, the average running shoe weighs approximately 210 grams.
The BCMC makes for a strenuous gear test.
With an elevation gain of 853 metres over three kilometres, the trail commands a “difficult” rating. The route is a blend of steps, roots, and both loose and hard-packed rocks along a winding forested trail. On my back, I’m carrying a VAUDE Asymmetric Backpack loaded with about nine kilograms of gear just to get a better sense of underfoot stability offered by the boot.
Between the varied terrain and the unyielding ascent, I spend the entire hike staring down at my smoke blue Renegades. The uninterrupted canopy of second- and old-growth evergreens offers some cover from the rain, but the rocks and roots are slick, demanding my unbroken attention.
For an hour and forty-five minutes, I gingerly toe my way through the uneven terrain. Every step is taken intentionally, but in my Renegades, I’m sure-footed. My feet are snug and secure, nary an ankle roll.
At the top, when I untie the lacing system and release my feet, my socks are pleasingly dry. And joyfully, no blisters.
We sweat-tested the LOWA Renegade GTX Mid hiking boot only to reconfirm what 12 million other owners have already validated: this high-quality, lightweight and supportive boot is worthy of the hype.
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This article was sponsored by LOWA
LOWA is a company with a long tradition that has been based from the beginning in the Bavarian town of Jetzendorf. Over a period of nearly 100 years, the small shoemaking shop has become a global outdoor company that sells boots and shoes all around the world. And all our products remain 100% sourced and made in Europe!