Lowa Arko GTX
Materials: leather, GTX
Use: backpacking, military rough terrain, mountain packing, dayhikes
Break-in Period: 1 month or a few good days hikes
Absolutely great pair of boots. I purchased these in the fall of 2004 and haven't regretted them yet. I once owned a pair of La Sportiva hiking shoes, and the comfort didn't compare. These Lowa's are very comfortable. I went with this brand because a buddy of mine swore up and down on the comfort of his Lowa Renegade II's.
I can't recall but I think I bought them off the Lowa web site in the clearance room for an outstanding price.
I am in the Air Force and have a unique combat mission where the use of these boots proved highly effective in the mountains of Afghanistan back in the winter, spring, and summer of 2005. The were unbelievably comfortable, waterproof, and conveniently more lightweight than the standard issued military gtx boot. I recall treading through streams for days and these boots being drier in less time than those that wore the standard thin canvas desert (jungle style) military issue boot. They had diesel spilled on them which seemed to dry out the brown leather a tad bit but they work fine. I did trade out the laces for some gutted black 550lb parachute cord. There was nothing wrong with the laces, I just tend to like the 550 cord more.
I haven't worn them too much lately but I am due for another hike. They're a little too much for casual wear around town because of the stiffness in the sole needed for backpacking and/or hiking. They work great for a day hike and I would even go so far as to wear them with short or trekking pants in the warmer months since they're not true high tops.
Materials: Leather upper with Gore-tex lining
Use: overnight backpacking & day hikes
Break-in Period: none
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Price Paid: $100
I actually just got these boots and haven't had a chance to hike in them yet. However, out of the box they seem quite comfortable though a little tight in the toe box. I wear a thin liner sock and a thick wool hiking sock and the boots feel a little tight across the front of the foot. However, after a few minutes wearing them around the house they seemed to loosen up. I'm anxious to give them a try out on the trail and will post a follow-up after a few days of hiking. Until then, I can tell you that I looked at a lot of boots and these appear to be well made with an almost entirely leather upper. They have just the right amount of sole flex (not too much, not too little) and are torsionally stiff. My only word of caution would be to those of you with wide feet ... the toe box just might be too tight for you.
Use: rough tails/rocks
Break-in Period: less than 50 miles
Weight: 2 kg
Price Paid: $140
I am over 65 and still do a lot of solo off-road milage both in New Zealand and Europe. I have a large, low volumn foot which causes me a great deal of trouble when it comes time to buy new boots. My GTXs are the best boot I've ever worn.
I walked the Camineo Santiago last year from St. Jean Pied d Port, France to Finnisterra, Spain, (about 550 miles) with a medium weight pack, 10 - 12 Kg., in old my GTXs. The hot weather caused my feet to swell with a few resulting blisters (larger boots are necessary in extream heat), however overall I had no foot or boot problems.
At home in New Zealand, I've done several 6-8 day packpacking trips with a +20 Kg pack without any foot or boot problems, even in heavy rain.
Materials: Leather + Goretex
Use: Short day hikes
Break-in Period: None
Weight: 145 lbs
Price Paid: $100
I have made two medium length hikes with them and may buy a second pair for the future now. They go through water, up steep inclines and handled a lot of toe jambing downhills without any damage to foot.
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