Lowa Weisshorn GTX
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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 are superb for technical mountaineering…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300
These boots are superb for technical mountaineering and ice climbing.
- Climbing performance snow, ice and rock (exception to wet rock)
- Lace eyelet locking system allows boot to be tightened in three sections
- Good rocker and stiff sole with just enough flex in toe
These boots saw extensive use this past season in New Hampshire's White Mountains ranging from backcountry technical mountaineering climbs to general redline mountaineering on the trail. For me, these were an evolution in boots up from the Lowa Mountain Expert GTX, which is also a great boot for more general mountaineering. The Weisshorns are basically the Mtn Expert on steroids.
I'm an 8 1/2 and went with a 9 as it appeared sizing up was the best option. Weisshorns seem a bit wider in the forefoot compared to Nepals. Very comfortable with little to no hot spots or heel lift and outstanding climbing performance on WI2 and WI3 ice and snow. 10+ miles hikes go without a hitch as there is just enough flex in toe to allow comfortable hiking on flat, uneven and rocky terrain.
These boots were the warmest at temperatures 0 and above, yet as long as I didn't remain stationary for more than 10-15 minutes temps down to -20 F were manageable even in less than 1' of snow. Waterproofing appears to stay true even in 1' of wet spring snow, although I assume at some point I will have to treat them (leather boots). Crampons compatibility great with BD Cyborg Pro and Serac hybrid crampons.
The harshest criticism I have thus far is that the removable tongue can be a bit annoying to adjust upon the first outing. The right tongue sat differently in the boot as oppose to the left as it was perfectly flush against the top of the boot and the left tongue was sticking down onto the top of my left toes. I found if I moved the left tongue forward in the boot so the edge lined up perfectly with the tips of my toes, the problem was solved and I still had plenty of room to wiggle.