Monday, June 18, 2018

Gear Closet: Lowa Locarno GTX Mid Hiking Boots Review

For nearly a century, Lowa has been making exceptional footwear for use in the outdoors. The company has built itself a reputation for designing and crafting some of the best boots around for hiking, backpacking, mountaineering and a host of other outdoor activities. In fact, some of my favorite boots that I own come from Lowa and are my go-to options when heading out on a big adventure. But if there is one market segment that the company hasn't quite found its way into just yet, its creating boots for the more casual hiker. The person who loves to get outdoors and explore a trail, but may not be pushing it quite so hard in the mountains or spending days in the backcountry. The new Locarno GTX Mid looks to change that however, bringing the legendary quality and comfort that Lowa is known for to a boot that is built for a wider audience. 

As you would expect from Lowa, the Locarno GTX Mid is built from very high quality materials. The upper is made from a blend of very durable nubuck leather and other lightweight materials that are paired nicely with the company's Hybrid Trac sole, Monowrap frame, and a Gore-Tex liner. All of that translate to a shoe that is built to survive in difficult environments, even if the person wearing them may not be taking these boots to those kinds of places. 

Lowa has given the Locarno a unique design style that is both classic and timeless, and yet modern and sleek, all at the same time. At first glance, these boots look like a pair of hikers that could have been made at any time over the past three or four decades, but look a bit closer and you'll also see that they have been streamlined to a degree as well, giving the sense of a more athletic fit. This translate to a more nimble feel on your feet when wearing them out on the trail too, providing stability and comfort, without sacrificing quickness and agility. 

Speaking of comfort, when I first put these shoes on I had to double-check the box to make sure they were indeed from Lowa. Not that the company's other boots are uncomfortable – quite the contrary in fact – but these took that level of comfort to a new level. Not only does the boot show hints of an athletic shoe in its design, but it feels like a trail runner on the foot at times too. And while the Locarno boots weigh in at 950 grams (2 pounds) for a pair, they certainly don't feel like they weigh that much when used on the trail. 
Thanks to the Gore-Tex liner, these boots are both waterproof and breathable, something that goes a long way towards enhancing their versatility. When you combine those features with the shoe's classic good looks, you have a boot that is equally as comfortable being worn to the office, out to lunch with friends, and on long day hikes, all without missing a beat. I'd even venture to bet that the Locarno is the perfect option for frequent travelers who need a shoe that can perform in a wide variety of settings and conditions. I've worn mine in both cooler and warmer temperatures, on dry trails, and wet streets, and have found them to perform admirably at all times. This is the kind of footwear that you can throw on at any time, without even knowing where the day will take you, and feel confident that your feed will stay dry, comfortable, and protected at all times. 

I'm the kind of hiker that prefers a low-profile boot that provides a nice level of cushion for my feet, while still managing to offer a good connection with the ground. The Locarno does a great job with that thanks to the fact that it's sole doesn't have a massive stack-height, but still manages to be very supportive. As a result, I always felt like I had a good sense of the terrain under foot, which leads to better balance and overall traction on a variety of surfaces. 

Speaking of traction, that same sole manages to offer a good amount of hold no matter where you were these boots. They don't manage to compete with Lowa's higher end models in this area, but they do an excellent job for the market that they are designed for. These boots aren't made for high-alpine pursuits or long backpacking trips along the Appalachian Trail. But for day hikes in less demanding conditions, they are perfect, offering a nice blend of traction without adding excess weight or bulk. 

As you can probably tell, I really, really liked the Locarno GTX mid boots. They are incredibly comfortable, fairly lightweight, and look great too. As a frequent traveler, I love the versatility they offer as well, allowing me to bring one pair of shoes to accomplish a wide variety of activities. But, if there is one thing that could keep these boots from being a runaway success for Lowa, it may be the price. At $210, they are more expensive than most lightweight, casual hiking shoes from much of the competition. 

Having tested plenty of those types of shoes, it's easy to see where that money goes. Lowa has created a very impressive set of footwear here, and the materials used in their construction are head and shoulder above others in this market space. The question is, will the more casual customer be able to tell the difference, and be willing to spend the extra cash? If they do, they'll have a pair of boots that will last them for years, probably much longer than those made by other manufacturers. Hopefully, the casual hiker/traveler will see this and recognize the value being offered here. 

If you're already a fan of Lowa – or know the value of spending a bit of extra money for great boots – you won't be disappointed with what the Locarno GTX brings to the table. This is an excellent boot, and chances are you'll find a lot more uses for them other than just the occasional day hike. 

Buy the Locarno GTX Mid at REI. 

No comments: