User Review: Lowa Men's Renegade GTX Mid
Price Paid: $160
Boot Survey: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
(M.A. [Environmental Science], Union Internationale Des Associations D’Alpinisme affiliate member, December 2010)
This evaluation is based on a factor analysis of user comments of the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid boot from two websites, one from Germany and another one from United States of America. The impetus for the study was as a result of defects in a predecessor Lowa boot model, the Lowa Duke GTX, having stitching that was coming adrift.
Lowa suggested that the author may be at fault through usage and poor care and suggested the purchase of its Renegade GTX Mid as the successor model. The analysis was conducted to see if the Renegade what strengths and/or weaknesses the boot had. Factor analysis from user ratings and rankings were used as no other empirical test was available.
Above: The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
For the survey two web sites were used, one from the USA and the other from Germany, the latter is where Lowa has its origin and headquarters. Comments were analyzed from reader reports and factorized as presented below. Information Sources: German: www.idealo.de (Sample size: 16 reviews); US American: www.outdoorreview.com. (Sample size: 35 reviews) Reader evaluations were made between 2006 (April) and 2010 (November).
One-off/single comments were not considered but are mentioned separately below each of the positive and negative tables. All comments were ranked from highest to lowest count in order to signify importance.
Reader/User Rankings: + Positive/Strong Points
Comfort, good fit & Light Weight
No. of VOTES/Mentions
No. of Votes/Mentions
3 general boot
3 sole only
Positive factors mentioned once:
Germans: Good sole, good ventilation;
Americans: warm, good stitching, warranty honored.
Reader User Rankings: - Negative/Weak Points
Gortex Membrane Leaks
Sole Issues (breaks)
Warranty Issue, Replace- ment Refusal
Shoe construc-tion - Lining Broken
Expensive –poor value for money
Poor sole padding/ cushion
Leather upper cracks or breaks
No. of VOTES/ Mentions
4 (breaks) 2 (wears out fast/ not re-pairable)
2 (lining breaks)
No. of Votes/ Mentions
8 (wears out fast or delaminate
5 (Lowa does not respond to nega-tive mail)
2 (stitch-ing & seams break) 2 (poor support)
Negative User Comments/factors mentioned once only:
Germans: Bad workmanship, cracked/broken leather uppers, expensive/poor value;
Americans: Expensive/poor value, poor durability, flimsy plastic lace loops, discomfort experienced.
O v e r a l l S t a r R a t i n g s
The two web sites used, as presented above, demonstrated congruence between German and American consumers.
Both groups ranked comfort in first place with the greatest weighting from the US consumers. However it appears that the “softness” of the comfort characterized by the Lowa Renegade may be achieved at the sacrifice of robustness mentioned by users, this being the second most important negative attribute of this boot.
In second positive place was the waterproof quality of the Gortex membrane. However there appears to be less agreement from German users as to the effective waterproof quality of the Gortex liner. This may be explained by the wetter climate of Germany, as opposed to that of the United States as a whole, placing greater demands on the boot and its Gortex membrane.
Warranty issues were the second most contentious matter, along with soles breaking and boots disintegrating placed first by US Americans and second by Germans in their negative ratings, mentioned by both German and US American consumers. Apparently from consumer reports, unless boots present problems directly after purchase, Lowa is reticent to repair or replace problems associated with their boots (customer service) by either ignoring consumer reports to them and/or placing blame for the problem on the consumer according to user owners.
Warranty of boots presents a problem for both manufacturer and consumer as hiking and mountaineering footwear are specialty items not generally worn every day, so usage has to be considered. A simple, “once size fits all”, approach cannot be considered fair to users.
A third web site, www.trailspace.com not used in the survey here, carried 11 reviews for the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid with an average rating of 4 stars out of a possible 5 stars. These reviews were not incorporated here but did carry the following comment suggesting that there appears to be a compromise for this boot, i.e. comfort versus robustness as pointed out earlier,
“They (the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid) broke in way too quickly and after a few months look like I have them for years without much hiking having been done in them.”
In respect of robustness one must be fair to Lowa that this model is probably not meant for extreme conditions such as a Himalayan trek. Here one user complained that his Lowa Rengade had caused him to abort his Himalayan hike because these boots disintegrated completely. Admittedly, they were 6 years old and one does not know how much wear they had during this time.
The overall star ratings given by consumer were polarized; users were either very satisfied or very dissatisfied with their Renegade boots. This may be due
In 2003 I purchased my second pair of Lowa boots because of me being impressed by their comfort, “buy and hike” – no need to break in the boots. This purchase was the Lowa Duke GTX, the forerunner of the Renegade GTX Mid according to Lowa. As I did not experience any problems with the Lowa Duke, despite warnings that stitching on multi-piece boots could present a problem, I subsequently purchased yet a third pair of Lowa boots. Only recently have I had problems with the Lowa Duke (stitching coming undone, see pictures below) which is the motivation behind my investigating and evaluating the Lowa Renegade.
Above: Three photos of the Lowa Duke GTX showing areas where stitching is coming apart (red arrows and yellow stripe). A Lowa representative on viewing these pictures stated that the above boots, “…appear to have quite a lot of miles on them for a light hiking boot and the leather looks like it’s dried out…”
Below: Underside of the Lowa Duke GTX showing the condition and wear of the soles. Clearly the boot soles still have a good profile and the heels are not worn down.
On approaching Recreation Equipment Inc. (REI)’s footwear specialists in Draper, Utah and Seattle both reported having returns regarding stitching problems with Lowa’s Renegade GTX Mid. REI have their own policy of guaranteeing customer satisfaction. Conversely, Lowa’s customer services manager, Amy McCoy, denies that Lowa boots have a stitching problem, “As far as you hearing that we have a stitching problem, we get less than 1% of all boots sold in the US back for any warranty issue (not just stitching). So I wouldn’t call it a problem.”
Hence it is strange that Lowa owners report warranty issues in connection with their boots and indicate a hard-line attitude by Lowa. It is hard to understand, if Lowa’s claim that only 1% of customers in the US have warranty claims, that Lowa does not demonstrate more accommodation in respect of these complaints. A 1% loss due to replacement would not impact greatly into Lowa’s profits and the gain in customer satisfaction and increased sales would, in all likelihood, more than compensate for this “loss”.
If a clean finish and comfort is your main criteria for purchasing a boot then the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is a boot to consider. If ruggedness is your priority then this boot may be the wrong choice based on user reports that the sole either wears out quickly or disintegrates.
Many users complained of warranty issues with Lowa. Complaints are summarily dismissed or ignored by Lowa. In only one case surveyed Lowa did replace a defective boot as this was shortly after its purchase (Lowa offers a 12 month guarantee). Lowa users report that Lowa suggests that customers abuse their products and this being the sole reason that problems arise with their product.
In my experience this is a common reuse used by some manufacturers to avoid any responsibility for replacement of merchandise from dissatisfied customers. Lowa is apparently not in the same league of companies like Sony, Sigma, Schwalbe and others who are quick to replace faulty products not withstanding that boots are subject to tough wear but so are bicycle tires!
In favor of the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is the almost undisputed comfort. Against the Lowa boot is its lack of being a robust boot especially in respect of a durable sole which cannot be repaired. Perhaps the most important issue is the warranty which Lowa keeps very restricted (24 months) and do not appear to concern themselves overly with customer satisfaction other than producing a reasonably good product within the limitations cited above. Considering the price of this boot at around $ 200, this is not a cheap boot and the price-performance may not be in balance especially for what Lowa claims is a light hiking boot; it may well be to look at what the competition offers in the same price range.
In the final instance, considering the aspects mentioned in the reviews above, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid can only be recommended with reservation.
Response from Lowa
A prompt response to this article came from Peter Sachs, Lowa’s USA General Manager, and is presented below.
Thanks for your report although we are not sure where you are planning to publish this or what your motivations may be.
The reality is that warranty issues are less than 1% of sales. Warranty issues do arise from stitching, sole delaminations, hooks & eyelets falling off and almost anything else one can imagine. In some cases, the shoe is well worn, in others it is like new.
The boots do come with a limited warranty and we do not just warranty anything and everything that a customer returns to us. If we determine that a boot has been misused, not cared for properly or having lived a full life or similar we reject it. If not, we offer some remedy to the customer. That remedy can vary depending on the situation, the boot, the years of use, etc. There is no uniform response.
The boots do not have a lifetime warranty. The Renegade GTX Mid is also made as a day, weekend and light hiker. It is not a thru hiker, it is not a boot designed for climbing 14’ers in Colorado or many of the other things that customers try to do in it. Sometimes, these things do lead to product failure and sometimes the customer is upset to learn that just because they think a boot can do something, we do not think the same. That is why we also sell backpacking, mountaineering and so forth products.
The surveys are interesting but to make them real you have to know the back-story. The back-story is not known for any of the results. The real story is that based on real warranties, our return rate is less than 1 %. We do have records of reasons for failure but those are not available for competitive reasons.
I am not sure what your intention is with your survey. Clearly you have done some homework. I urge you to be judicious in its use & accuracy.
Please feel free to contact me directly with any specific questions.
PS. As a matter of accuracy, the Duke was an offshoot of the Renegade. It was available for about 2 years about 8 – 10 years ago. The Renegade has been available for more than 15 years.
LOWA Boots LLC
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