Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lowa Renegade Hiking Shoes at 3 500 kilometers

The regular or serious hiker needs good robust footwear. While the last 50 years has seen some technical advances in shoes particularly the soles of running shoes, quality of construction and durability of shoes has taken a nosedive. I can recommend a product that combines the best of new sole technology with a quality of upper seldom available in the last half century.

Lowa Renegades come in a hiking shoe or a hiking boot. To get top quality hiking footwear, you usually have to settle for a European hiking boot because hiking shoes often tend to be less durable. Lowa hiking shoes do not compromise on the quality or durability of construction of the hiking boot.

We have been using a men's leather lined pair of Lowa renegade shoes and a women's synthetic lined pair. After 3 500 kilometers of use, the soles are showing a little wear but will probably provide another 3 500 kilometers of use before the tread is completely worn. The Men's pair have a Vibram sole and the women's are not. However the women's pair seems to equally durable and showing less wear.

The synthetic lining of the women's pair wore through at the heel, but this was easily repaired with a leather insert. The leather lining of the men's pair is not showing any wear. You might expect leather lining to be too warm in hot weather. However, it is in hot weather that leather lining is an advantage. Leather absorbs moisture and does not become wet, like synthetic linings. The feet stay free of blisters.

After 3 500 kilometers, other quality European hiking boots often show heavy creasing at the flex points in the upper. The Lowa renegades are not showing creasing and the stitching is intact and new looking. Winters in coastal British Columbia are wet and the constant wetting and drying of shoes tend to be hard on leather. Lowa seems to be using good quality leather.

Leather hiking shoes need regular maintenance with polish or shoe cream. Salt from sweat is harmful to leather. In the fall, I soak the shoes in lukewarm water for an hour to remove accumulated salt. Dry the shoes and follow up with a leather conditioner, a waterproofing agent, and polish or cream in that order. This restores the flexibility to the leather.

Sole of some hiking shoes loose their integrity much before 3 500 kilometers. The material commonly employed in the mid-sole of running or hiking shoes is EVA or ethylene vinyl acetate. This material tends to compress and the sole looses its integrity. It becomes floppy and you can feel every projecting rock in the trail. The better quality and more durable hiking shoes and boots use polyurethane in the mid-sole and it stands up to much more use. Lowa Renegades have a polyurethane mid-sole and a different method is used to wrap the sole to the upper. This makes for a light and stable sole.

Lowa hiking shoes or boots are a relatively expensive purchase, but they will provide the regular hiker very low costs per kilometer because they will outlast two or three pairs of average hiking shoes or boots. In Canada, Lowa hiking shoes and boots are available from Sport Dinaco

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