The Lowa Ranger GTX boot is part of Lowa’s Trekking series and is designed to be more flexible underfoot. The Lowa Ranger GTX is specifically designed for hikers who cover a lot of ground while carrying a medium weight pack. The Ranger GTX boot is manufactured in Germany and is built in a classic one piece design. The upper is constructed from Nubuck leather, while the midsole is manufactured from SPS Cushioning. This cushioning is designed to help control over-pronation and supination, reducing fatigue and potential injury when covering long distances. The Ranger’s lining is born from a seamless, waterproof GORE-TEX® lining, which is manufactured to reduce hot spots and blisters. The sole contains a Vibram outsole, while the foot bed has a breathable top layer and slow reacting foam that helps provide a custom fit, transports moisture away from the foot and minimizes friction all of which help reduce fatigue. Paired with the climate control system of the Ranger that allows air to enter the boot, therefore pumping heat and moisture out, this boot is very breathable. The Ranger GTX boot also comes with a natural ankle flex system that helps improve stability and a patent pending tongue stud X lacing system that allows for better pressure distribution via the laces and helps cradle the foot with the C4 tongue. The Ranger GTX boot comes in an antique brown color and in sizes from 7 to 16 US. Extra wide widths are also available.
Upon receiving the Lowa Ranger GTX boot, I was immediately impressed with the sleek and smooth leather appearance of the boot. As I inspected the boot, the boot seemed lightweight, but at the same time appeared to have a stiff enough shank to carry a heavy pack for several days. I found the tongue of the boot equipped with the tongue stud/X lacing system to be unique and intriguing.
I began utilizing the Ranger GTX boot in February, while backpacking in the Ozark Mountains of Southwest Missouri and Northern Arkansas. During my first trip with these boots, I set off for a 2 day trip along the Buffalo National River, carrying a 40 pound backpack and covering approximately 9 to 10 miles per day. During the first day, the boots seemed to break in very quickly, as I did not develop any hot spots while ascending steep trail or descending on the other side. The Ranger boot proved to be comfortable and very easy to adjust and lace due to the thicker shoe laces and the tongue stud/X lacing system, which really seemed to work to keep the tongue in place and the laces from loosening.
As I continued to utilize the Lowa Ranger boots in the Ozark Mountains, I found them to continue to perform well. The Vibram sole has deep enough lugs to allow mud and debris to be extricated from the sole while walking, adding to the traction of the boot. The sole was also sticky enough to provide excellent traction on dry rock and boulders, mud, wet rock and even snow. The Gore-Tex lining also proved to be very waterproof, as I walked through numerous streams and spend one entire day hiking in the snow. In both scenarios, while the outside leather of the boot got wet, the moisture did not penetrate the boot and kept my feet dry.
After utilizing the Lowa Ranger boots for approximately 40 miles, which included both multi-day trips carrying a full backpack and day hikes with a light pack, I decided to really put the Ranger’s to the test and wear them on the Patagonia Expedition 2010.
During the first several days on the Patagonia Expedition 2010, the weather was great and we spend most of the time trekking and ascending hard trail up into the Paine Massif. While carrying a 54 pound backpack, I found the Lowa Ranger boots to continue to be comfortable, feel stable and provide secure footing. On one day, I left my backpack at camp, while we scrambled up boulders, rock and scree for approximately 2 miles to reach the Los Torres. The Ranger boots, provided excellent ankle support, as I lost my footing several times on scree and lose rock. The Vibram sole continued to be very “sticky” as I scrambled and climbed up boulders to reach the base of the Los Torres.
Several days later, we trekked through what they called the “Wetlands” before reaching Lake Dickson. The “Wetlands” consisted of a floating bog area that contained thick grass, moss and brush, topped with a layer of wet and sloppy mud. While I was wearing gaiters to protect my pants and parts of my boots, the trek through the “Wetlands” proved to be wet and very muddy. The Lowa Ranger boots continued to prove to be waterproof and provided good traction in both heavy mud and wet and sloppy mud. At the end of the day, the Ranger boots were covered in partially dried mud, which I was able to remove by striking the sole lightly on a boulder.
A few days later, as we ascended the John Gardner Pass, the Patagonia weather began to show its teeth and provided us with a cold steady rain and heavy winds. While I was again wearing gaiters, the steady rain made the trail very wet and then turned it into mud, which at times was several inches deep. As we climbed above the tree line, the trail became one of wet rock and scree that winded in between glaciers. The Lowa Ranger boots again appeared soaked on the outside, but inside the boots continued to keep my feet warm and dry. Upon reaching the summit, the rain turned to freezing rain and snow and provided yet another challenge for the Ranger boots as we began the steep descent.
During the descent, the trail at times consisted of rock and scree and then mud at the lower elevations. This descent also provided me with the opportunity to really test the Ranger boots on a very long, steep descent. While descending, the Ranger boots provided excellent ankle and heel stability and kept my foot from sliding inside the boot, thus preventing toe bang. The Vibram sole continued to perform well by providing good traction in mud, on wet rock and while in scree. During this part of the trek, I noticed that the fore foot of the Ranger provided my foot with enough room to move, but not slide, thus making the boot very comfortable. The laces continued to hold well and the tongue stud/X lacing system continued to hold the tongue in place.
As the expedition neared its end, I utilized the Lowa Ranger boots with strap on crampons, while trekking on the Merino Glacier in Argentina. The Lowa Ranger boots continued to impress, as I trekked on the ice, through water, slush and small glacier streams. The Rangers kept my feet warm, dry and continued to be super comfortable. The shank of the boots is stiff enough to work very well with crampons and yet flexible enough to be comfortable all day.
After weeks of use and abuse and over 100 miles in a variety of rugged terrain and weather conditions, the Lowa Ranger boots showed very little signs on wear. The leather showed a few scratches and scrapes, but once I cleaned the boots with a light brush and some warm water, let dry and then treated with leather treatment, the boots appeared like new. The outside of the sole on both shoes showed some wear, due to my gait, but the rest of the boot showed little signs of wear. I cared for the Lowa Ranger boots like I do other boots, by using a soft brush and warm water to clean the boots after use and then storing them on a shelf in my garage. I did however, use leather treatment to help revitalize and protect the full leather boots and also added a waterproofing treatment to the boots prior to the Patagonia Expedition. This however, was nothing different than I would have done to any boot before leaving on an extended trip.
The Lowa Ranger GTX boots are indeed one of the best pair of boots I have ever used. These boots are extremely comfortable, very tough and durable, waterproof, breathable and work well in all terrain and weather. I liked these boots so much it was hard to come up with any negatives, although they are not cheap. That being said, the full grain leather makes these boots feel indestructible. The fact that I utilized the Ranger boots for over 100 miles of hiking, in very tough terrain and I did not get one single blister, is a testimony to the comfort and manufacturing of these boots.