Lowa Baffin Pro LL II
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Tough boots for carrying heavy loads in warm or dry…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $300
Tough boots for carrying heavy loads in warm or dry climates. They provide good ankle support and foot protection, and they are a great choice for backpackers.
- Good traction
- Poor quality footbed
- Doesn't come in a narrow size
I've been using these boots for hiking, but also for wildland firefighting, which subjects boots to unique stresses. Still, I think my experience is relevant to outdoor sports, especially backpacking and hunting, where people carry heavy loads in rough terrain and can be on their feet from sunrise to sunset. That experience has made me a big fan of these boots.
Fit: I have narrow feet, and these boots are a little too wide for me. I make up for that extra width by wearing heavyweight socks and using high-volume footbeds. Nevertheless, the boots are workable for smaller volume feet because of an excellent lacing system. The lacing hardware makes pulling the laces tight easy. A unique feature is a small piece of hardware sticking out from the middle of the tongue that is supposed to help lock the foot and especially the ankle in place.
Comfort: When I was shopping for wildland boots, I considered all-leather logger-style boots like White's but found them uncomfortable. I was told that they could become very comfortable eventually, but only after a very long break in period. I also considered some more modern boots like the Scarpa Fuego, which was much more stiff than the Baffin Pro, although very comfortable.
Out of the box, the Baffin Pro boots were the most comfortable boots I tried on for wildland fire (they are not officially fire-rated, but they are very common among the fire crews I've worked with). They have only become more comfortable over time. Compared to hiking shoes like my trusty Merrells, they definitely take time to break in, so people who haven't used heavy boots before should be prepared to spend some time walking in them before setting out on anything major.
Support: These boots provide much more support than lightweight hiking boots, but significantly less than mountaineering boots. My La Sportiva Glaciers, which I used for climbing years ago, were more supportive but also miserable for long hikes. With support, it's all a tradeoff. More is better when you need it, but it can make life miserable when you don't. I think the Baffin Pro boots are a good compromise.
Water Resistance: These aren't waterproof. They are leather-lined and designed to be used in dry climates. I use Nikwax waterproofing designed for nubuck leather, and I have to be diligent in reapplying it if I want to maintain water resistance.
Temperature Control: I wear these boots with heavy socks to help with fit—I think these boots would run a lot cooler if I had boots that fit a little better and allowed me to wear medium weight socks. The way I wear them, my feet are about as hot as you would expect them to be when wrapped in heavy wool and leather. It feels good to air them out whenever I can.
Traction: Traction is good. I think traction has a lot more to do with the way a person moves over rough terrain, but I still think the Vibram soles of the Baffin Pro boots are very effective.
Features: These aren't fancy boots. I mentioned the unique tongue lacing system in the fit section, and that's about it as far as unique features go. A negative feature of these boots are the footbeds. Lowa insoles have very little arch support, and it's very common for people to replace them with Superfeet or something similar. I use Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer insoles, which are cheap but comfortable and effective. They're also thick, so be aware of that. I have a pair of cheapo Merrell Hilltop shoes, and I find their insoles to be a lot better than the ones that came with my Lowas.
Construction and Durability: I've worn these boots in a wide variety of conditions, and I've walked on a wide variety of surfaces, from asphalt to volcanic rock to mud. These shoes are holding up wonderfully. I think the first thing to go will be the soles. I will likely replace them rather than resole them when the soles are worn out (because I think I got a half size too large), but resoling is an option.
I've owned these boots since the summer of 2017 and used them for wildland fire assignments as well as forestry work. I've worn them in the dry forests of Arizona and New Mexico and in the boggy woodlands of Michigan. In terms of similar products, I've owned heavier boots used for mountaineering like the La Sportiva Glacier. I've also had boots that I would categorize as lighter than the Baffin Pros made by Danner and Oboz.