Friday, January 29, 2016

Gear Closet: Lowa Renegade Ice GTX Boots

In a few weeks, I'm setting off on an trip to Quebec, Canada that will see me snowshoeing, dogsledding, and generally having a good time in the snow. To say I'm looking forward to that experience would be a vast understatement, as it isn't often that I get to go play in those kinds of conditions. Knowing that I would be heading up north for a week of outdoor adventure, I figured it would be a good time to test some new gear in prime winter weather. I knew that I wanted to take some new clothing with me to try out, but I also thought it would be a great opportunity to put a new set of winter boots to the test as well. Lucky for me, my friends over at Lowa were willing to ship me a pair of their Renegade Ice GTX boots to take along on that trip. Little did I know that my opportunity to see how they would perform would come sooner than I expected.

While I wasn't completely caught up in the massive blizzard that struck the eastern United States last week, my city did see more than 8 inches (20 cm) of powder fall in a very short time. That was enough to bring the town to a halt for a couple of days, and it was a good excuse to get outside and enjoy winter weather that isn't all too common here. Luckily for me, I have all the right gear to do just that, including my new Lowa boots.

The Renegade Ice is an updated version of Lowa's Renegade GTX that has been specifically designed for use in the snow. As such, they are taller than the original GTX to provide extra support – and keep snow out – when you wade into deeper powder. They also have a Gore-Tex liner to keep moisture at bay, and a fleece lining on the interior for added warmth. The Renegade Ice also features a specially designed frame that is meant to give them added stability on snow and ice, while still keeping them lightweight and durable.

Putting these boots on for the first time, I found them a bit stiff out of the box. This isn't uncommon on winter boots in particular however, especially with the taller ankle support. It didn't take long for them to start to loosen up though, and after wearing them for an hour or so I didn't find them stiff to walk in at all, although they did continue to provide a nice level of support.

In terms of comfort, you couldn't ask for more out of a winter boot. The interior is soft and warm, and offers plenty of room for your toes, even while wearing a thicker sock. And despite all of the extra padding and thick soles, my foot still felt well connected to the ground, making it easy to keep my footing while walking across icy surfaces. In fact, these boots were practically all I wore for a three day period, which should tell you something about how well they actually feel on your feet.

Speaking of maintaining footing, the Renegade Ice incorporates Lowa's G3 winter sole, which features special lugs and fibers that are meant to hold it in place on snow and ice. While wearing them outside I experienced very little slipping at all, even when transitioning from different types of surfaces. The sole held me firmly in place when walking up and down hills too, which is often where you notice a boot struggling to maintain its footing. But that wasn't an issue at all here, as I hiked through deep powder and walked on thick ice without missing a beat.

In terms of durability, the Renegade Ice GTX boots feel extremely well made. Their leather uppers are tough as nails, and even though I wore them nonstop for three days in icy conditions, they still look like they're brand new. Judging from the time that I've spent with them so far, they seem like a boot that is built to survive in tough conditions, and I expect that a pair will see you through many winter adventures.

Because of their lightweight – yet warm – design, these boots would be perfect for snowshoeing, winter hiking, or other fast paced winter activities. In fact, the only time my feet ever got cold in them at all, was when I was standing in one place for an extended period of time. While moving, they were warm and cozy, and didn't cause any problems whatsoever.

The Renegade Ice GTX typically sell for $285, which is a competitive price for a boot that is designed for winter use. They can be found online for less however if you do a little searching. If you're in the market for a lightweight and warm boot for your active winter pursuits, this is a great option. I think you'll find they are up to just about anything that you throw at them.

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