First of all, let me say that I am not really much of a camper or hiker. If there isn’t a flushable toilet available, I’m not going. Having said that, however, I do like to get out with the kids and geocache and day hike. In the past when we were out, I would wear sub-par tennis shoes. They had no support, little tread, and I ended up sliding around on the trails and coming home with sore feet. So when I got the opportunity to test a pair of LOWA trekking shoes I jumped on the chance.
The shoes I tested were the LOWA Focus LL Lo WA Leather Lined trekking shoes in the anthracite/purple color. They are also available in apple green. These shoes have abrasion-resistant suede, leather, and microfiber uppers that stabilize the ankle. They are lined in leather which provides natural temperature regulation and they feature a lacing loop system that holds your foot securely. The midsole is ultra-cushioning PU and the outsole is the new LOWA “Trac Lite” which features a self- cleaning tread design, and the shoe is stabilized with a 5mm nylon heel and a 2mm forefoot. These shoes are designed to support a mid- weight pack (30-50 pounds) on and off the trail.
Although I initially thought the shoes were very bright in color when I looked at them online, they are actually more subdued in person. They were grey in color with purple laces. If they would have had a brown version, however, that’s what color I would have chosen.
When I first put them on, they fit comfortably and the laces were easy to adjust. I did have to borrow a thicker hiking sock from husband as I didn’t have any, and I’m not sure they would have been as comfortable with a regular thin sock. My feet stayed put inside them and didn’t move around. This was such a welcome change from the shoes that I used to wear, which caused my feet to slide forward and my toes to get smashed.
I decided to first try the LOWA shoes out on a spring day geocaching with the family. This trip entailed a trip to a local park and a good bit of walking on dirt trails and over terrain covered in fallen leaves. I found that the treads were very “grippy” and gave me good traction on the hilly terrain. While out, I was forced by my editor to stick my foot in a stream to test the waterproofing of the shoe, much against my will, I might add. He had me stand in the cold stream and keep sticking my foot in progressively deeper until it was up over the laces and approaching the top of the boot. I had to leave it there in the steam until he was satisfied that I had given it a thorough exposure to the water. I found to my surprise that my foot stayed entirely dry. I was concerned about my feet getting wet and spending the rest of the day miserable, but at the end of the day my feet were still dry and they did not hurt like they often did with my tennis shoes. This was a great first experience with the LOWA and I was looking forward to trying them out on future trips.
I had another opportunity to test the LOWA shoes on a weekend at Girl Scout camp with my daughter in late May. I basically wore the shoes all weekend and they performed very well. The ground was very wet from days of rain but my foot stayed nice and dry in this shoe. We did a LOT of walking on all types of terrain and I didn’t slip once. The shoes got very muddy but they still provided a good grip even with the soles packed with mud at times. After the trip the mud on the shoes wiped off very easily and the LOWA’s still looked pretty good.
Some casual wear in between trips gave me a feel for the shoes in a more casual setting and even just wearing them day to day gave me a good feel for their comfort on a variety of surfaces from grass in the park to concrete sidewalks. In late August I again got to hit the trail with them on a trip to Hocking Hills, Ohio. Hocking Hills is a really neat area consisting of a string of parks featuring beautiful gullies and ravines and some fantastic caves. Terrain ranges from steep, rocky downhill paths to muddy trails along the stream. The LOWA’s got a good workout on the ascents and descents into the ravines and when scrambling over rocks in the cave. I know that I would not have been nearly as surefooted on some of these steep and slippery surfaces with my old tennis shoes, and the LOWA’s were a welcome change from my old footgear.
After having the chance to try the LOWA Focus LL Lo WS Leather Lined Shoes out for an extended period of time throughout the spring and summer, I have to say that I think they are a good choice for light hiking, especially in the uneven terrain around Western Pennsylvania. They worked very well for the day hiking and geocaching that I did, and I would think that they would work out nicely for backpacking too. I was very happy with their performance, and about my only suggestion to improve them would be to offer them in more colors, as there were only two choices and the apple green was way too bright for my taste. MSRP on them is $195 which is quite reasonable when you factor in that they are a solidly made, quality shoe that’s actually made in Germany. Finding shoes that aren’t made in Asia these days is a rarity and you’ll find many of those imports rival these in price, but often not in quality.
Editor’s Note: The Focus LL Lo is also available in a men’s style in Black/Silver and Anthracite/Green colors.