Lowa Weisshorn GTX
Excellent overall boot, especially for technical alpine…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $460
Excellent overall boot, especially for technical alpine work. Surprisingly comfortable fit.
- Good fit (at least for me)
- Lacing system allows adjustment
- Excellent for technical usage
- Adjutable tongue assures "custom" fit
- Price (to be expected)
I've always had to use a stiff boot due to injuring both ankles in a bad skiing tumble ages ago. After using my Kastinger Denali boot for close to 35 years (and going through three sets of soles), I decided to move up into something new. I chose Lowa as their boots usually fit my feet the best of all brands. I originally wanted the Silberhorn, but I waited too long, and they were sold out.
I had a bit of sticker shock originally — $440 for Silberhorns, and $460 for the Weisshorns. However, once I considered that I paid $200 for the Denalis 35 years ago, I guess these prices are not out of line.
When I opened the box, the first thing I noticed was the bright glare of the Lime Green color. I've already had more than my share of Shrek and Kermit jokes, and a while back a teen-aged girl asked if I would give her the boots because she though they were "so cool looking".
I am in the process of trying to transform the color toward a more reasonable brown (good old Kiwi polish), but the excellent waterproofing of the Weisshorn is making this a long term project.
When I put the boot on the first time, I had to double check that I received the correct boots. These boots are LIGHT for a stiff mountaineering boot. Compared to the Asolo TPS 520 boots I had, these are only about half a pound more per pair.
Not only are they light, the rocker and very slight forward flex make these boot a pleasure to walk in — gone is the Frankenstein clomp.
Originally I couldn't understand why I had great discomfort in the fit on the top part of my foot, especially as I got these a size larger than I normally wear. No matter how I adjusted the lacing, the boot acted like a low volume boot -- rather unusual for Lowa boots. I actually was just about to send them back when I found out the tongues are adjustable due to being installed via velcro rather than being sewn in. After experimenting with different tongue placements, I found the ideal arrangement. Now these have nearly a "glove" fit
The next item to finding the best fit is learning to use the unique lacing lock Lowa has on these boots. There are a pair of triangular-shaped cam locks midway up the lacing. Making sure the cam locks are open (aimed outward), the lower lacing can be adjusted for best foot comfort (I use a surgeon's knot within this section to help fine tune this lacing). Then close the cam locks into their locked position (turned inward, the natural position when getting ready to continue lacing the boot).
The cams work like a set of Jumars, preventing the lace from being pulled through the cams. With the cams locked, the ankle part of the lacing can be made very tight to lock the heel without affecting the lower lacing. Three sets of hooks help finish the lacing.
There is one VERY SERIOUS CAVEAT on lacing these boots. The laces go through a pair of loops right after the cam locks (this is the part of the lacing that locks the heel). The outside loop of each boot has a protective leather cover to keep the loop and lacing from being damaged by contact with rocks when climbing. It is possible to pass the lace between the leather cover and the actual loop — I did this accidentally on both boots.
The leather covering is sewn to the loop, and this sewing will actually hold the lace for quite a while before suddenly letting loose. So double check that the lace is actually through the loop when reinstalling the laces, not between the leather and the actual loop.
The boot is fairly tall for a mountaineering boot. However, the neoprene cuff, combined with the synthetic material and thick tongue, prevent any pressure on the shins or back of the leg.
The factory waterproofing of these boots is extremely good. When I first tried to augment this with Sno Seal, the factory waterproofing allowed very little Sno Seal to be absorbed. Only until I used the boot quit a bit and got them scuffed, Sno Seal was not really needed at all.
Even though these boot are very light, the Thinsulate insulation makes them very warm. So far I've had them out to -10 without and cold spots. Hopefully this coming winter I'll be able to see what they do at lower temperatures. Surprisingly, these boots do not overheat my feet during summer hiking -- they seem to keep my feet comfortable at all temperatures.
I was concerned the forward flex would compromise actual climbing. However, this flex is limited, and standing on the toe is quite secure. I could not get any lateral flexing on edging, and the ankle is just flexible enough for comfortable "flat-footing". The synthetic materials in the ankle portion of the boot make them pleasing flexible for walking, but still plenty stiff for front-pointing.
Once you get the tongue and lacing figured out, the heel is completely locked in its pocket, allowing complete control of the boot. This also prevents blisters. There is sufficient "wiggle" room for my toes to prevent pinching, and the arch support is superb.
The sole is cut narrow, so there is no overhang past the boot edge. This makes edging extremely stable and confident. The boot takes my Sabertooth crampons without a hitch -- in fact, all side points are perfectly aligned with the sole edges, making mixed climbing much easier (I always know where both the inner and outer crampon points are).
The tread pattern is not the traditional Vibram "waffle-stomper", but has more tapered edges on the lugs that don't collect rocks and mud as readily as the "standard" pattern. As with all hard sole compounds, be careful on slippery wet rocks.
The Weisshorn is not a good fit for someone who just wants a heavy duty backpacking boot. I thing the Lowa Mountain Expert or Cevedale would be a better choice in that event. But if someone is looking for a very good overall alpine boot, this is definitely the boot to get.
These boots got sent back to Lowa. Total 180 on this…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300
These boots got sent back to Lowa. Total 180 on this review.
- They look cool!
- Toe rocker allows more efficient gait on hard surface.
- Lace eyelet locking system allows boot to be tightened in three sections
- Excessive pressure on my 5th Metatarsal. Wide forefoot may be issue for Lowa fit.
- Composite material of heel welt cracked after 1 year of use. Roughly 15 hikes/climbs.
This review started out with a positive regard to these boots, although there have been a particular set of circumstances that have left a bad taste in my mouth for these boots.
I hiked and climbed in these boots for half a season with no major issues and they appeared to perform quite well, although I did begin to notice a pressure spot on the lateral aspect of my 5th metatarsal which became progressively worse with each climb I did (ice, alpine, and hiking). By the end of this season (2015), I had 8/10 pain in my foot after just 1 hour of climbing.
To make matters worse, I discovered that the heel welt on the left boot had a 1.5" crack running horizontally where the welt meets the heel. The pressure spot I can attest to poor fit which I understand happens with fitting these types of boot. I have a fairly wide forefoot which the new Lowa boots (Weisshorns and Latok) do not seem to fit well with my foot. The crack is a structural defect and I returned these boots to Lowa and will not be donning a second pair come next season.
On a side note, the boots I wore prior to these were the Lowa Mtn Expert GTX which I loved and beat the snot out of with no issues.