Lowa is one of those companies that you don’t hear too much about. They don’t toot their horn like some of the bigger name brands. The venerable (100 year old) company founded in Jetzendorf, a small town in Bavaria, has plenty to be proud of. Belying the firm’s modest beginnings as a family business, the company sells over 2 million pairs of boots and shoes a year in over 40 countries.
I first became aware of Lowa through the SHOT show several years ago and perhaps because I carry a German Reisepass (along with my US passport) I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this company.
As readers of this column know, I’m a big fan of on “crossover” wear, clothing or shoes that can be worn in the wilderness, at home, at work and on social occasions. Crossover wear is generally more durable, more expensive but longer lasting than conventional products. Of course the advantage is that you can use them anywhere.
Old fashioned leather combined with high tech
The manufacturer describes the Walker GTX as a lightweight, ‘sneaker-inspired walking shoe’ but I would say it’s a lot more robust than your everyday ‘sneaker’.
The sole provides ample traction so that you can go from sidewalk to trail without breaking stride. At under 2 lbs it’s both light and very comfortable but until you break it in, you’ll feel the sole has more of a stiff, almost boot-like quality.
I also like an old fashioned touch which you won’t find on a less expensive shoe. Lowa’s Walker GTX (like many of their shoes) uses nubuck leather. Nubuck is top-grain, extremely durable, cattle leather that’s been sanded or buffed on the grain side, or outside, to give a slight nap of short protein fibers. The result is a near velvet-like surface that is quite comfortable to wear.
At this point, without getting too wonky, it’s helpful to look at the technology this shoe utilizes. For cushioning material, LOWA employs LOWA DuraPU, a patented material that increases the shoe’s performance. In effect it adds a spring to your step. You can feel it when you leap from one boulder to another.
Combined with Gore-Tex, which has both water resistant and breathable qualities, this shoe is both comfy and practical.
They are also attractive in a no-nonsense sort of way. Mine were in Expresso, a brown, neutral color, that would work with just about any attire. You can also get them in black.
I took the shoes along with a big black German Shepard on a serious trek up the mountain into the Kooalau Range where we encountered sharp volcanic rock, smooth boulders and partly congealed mud. It was an environment more suited to a boot but the aggressive tread on the Walker GTX handled it admirably.
The next outing was to the range, where the sturdy sole was a stabilizing asset. When you’re shooting, above all you need a solid platform and the Walker GTX helped me feel totally grounded.
It’s crossover potential also makes it a great candidate for travel. No reason to pack two or three pair of shoes if you’ve got footwear that can pretty much handle any terrain. These shoes will definitely accompany me on my next trip to the South Pacific, to update my Fiji website.
If you want something for just about any scenario that’s going to last, look good and keep you steady, look no further than the Walker GTX.
Keep in mind, because it is a leather shoe, you’ll need to maintain it. That means brushing it (if it’s dirty) followed by warm soap and water and an occasional water repellent treatment.
It’s priced at $220 but as they say, you get what you pay for.
Material: Nubuck Leather
Lacing Hardware: Eyelets
Insole: ATC Climate Control
Footbed Midsole: Double Injection DuraPU™ with DynaPU® shock absorbing zones
Sole: LOWA Speedhiking
Weight (g): 870 Weight (lb): 1.91
US Size Range: 7.5 – 12, 13, 14
Country of Origin: Slovakia