An honest and reliable hiking boot for hill, dale or trail that mixes traditional looks with modern materials. The Lowa Renegade is supportive and sturdy, yet very comfortable straight out of the box.
Comfortable, well-padded tongue and ankle cuff
Supportive and stable
Grippy Vibram sole
Warmer and heavier than a fabric hiking boot
Not the most cushioned underfoot
No protective toe bumper or rubber rand
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Lowa Renegade GTX Mid: first impressions
The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid is a boot with serious hiking heritage from an German brand renowned for producing some of the best hiking boots around. It was first introduced some 25 years ago and has stood the test of time to establish itself as one of the most popular boots in Europe, and beyond.
• List price: $245 (US) / £195 (UK)
• Gender availability: Male / female versions
• Weight (per boot, size UK 12 / US 13): 700g / 24.7oz
• Materials: Nubuck upper, Gore-Tex lining, PU midsole, Vibram Evo sole
• Colors: Men’s: Expresso / Dark Gray / Deep Black / Anthracite & Steel Blue / Anthracite & Mustard / Navy & Orange / Black & Olive / Dark Blue & Lime / Slate; Women’s: Taupe / Asphalt & Turquoise / Ice blue & Salmon / Graphite & Rosé / Anthracite & Mandarin / Smoke Blue / Prune & Mauve
• Compatibility: Sub-alpine hiking and trekking on hills, dales and trails
There’s good reason for its enduring success. First and foremost, it’s seen as a great all-rounder, equally at home on well-trodden trails or in the hills. That’s because it’s durable and well-built, with double-stitched nubuck leather uppers and a waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex lining for reliable wet-weather performance.
It’s also cut higher than most mid boots, offering superior stability and support, plus even more protection if you splosh through bogs or streams. You also get a well-padded tongue and ankle cuff for comfort.
Underfoot, the midsole consists of a full-length stabilizing shank embedded in a PU “monowrap” frame. It gives the boot more stiffness than most comparable rivals, warding off impacts from rocks and tree roots whilst also providing a more stable platform on uneven or broken terrain.
Traction comes from a Vibram Evo sole unit, which has deep, sharply angled lugs that give good grip across a range of different surfaces. The rubber compound is softer than some, for a little added cushioning and walking comfort, as well as better contact grip for non-slip performance.
The one trade-off is that they are likely to wear more quickly than some other boots that use harder, more durable rubber outsoles.
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid: in the field
Given their sturdy build, you might expect tem to need a little breaking in, but surprisingly, these Lowa Renegade GTX Mid boots were impressively comfortable from the get-go. The accommodating fit is one that seems to suit a wide variety of foot shapes, and the broad, blunt toe box gives plenty of room for toes to splay – ideal for long hill days.
It’s worth noting that they’re not particularly high-volume boots, though, so if you have high arches, they might not suit you as well. On the other hand, the rear of the boot hugs the heel nicely, with no slippage. Locking lace hooks above the eyelets and a double set of upper lace hooks let you to adjust the tension across the top of the foot and around the ankle for an even more precise fit. There’s a soft, well-padded tongue and ankle cuff to alleviate any pressure points.
As an all-leather boot, the Renegades inevitably feel heavier and slightly less flexible than a fabric hiker such as the Asolo Piz GV, but this has its upsides too. The moderately stiff midsole ensures good torsional stability, providing a good, solid platform underfoot. Leather uppers and a higher cut also give you plenty of ankle support and protection, which is great for added stability on loose or broken ground.
On test in Scotland’s rolling Galloway Hills, I was impressed with the traction supplied by the Vibram Evo sole. The deep and widely spaced lugs shed mud effectively, yet the rubber compound is tactile enough to plant securely without slipping on wet rock. A squared-off heel brake also gives improved control on sharp descents.
The sole has a slight rocker too, which helps to ensure an easy, rolling gait on high-mileage days. The Gore-Tex lined uppers kept my feet perfectly dry, and again, the higher cut and gusseted tongue offer more reliable protection than most mid-cut boots in wet mud and muck.
Drawbacks? The lined leather construction makes these boots a little hot and sweaty in high summer – but then, for those conditions, I’d generally switch to trail shoes anyway (for more on this subject see: Trail walking shoes vs hiking boots: which is best for backcountry adventures?). I do wish the toe of the boot had a rubber overlay or bumper to help fend off trail debris though – my test pair soon started to get a little scuffed.
At the end of longer hill days, I did occasionally found myself a little footsore, which I put down to the boot’s firmness underfoot. It uses a PU midsole, which is great for durability, since PU doesn’t compress over time, unlike the more common EVA midsoles you tend to find in trainers or sneakers and lightweight trail hikers. (In terms of sustainability, PU is also far more environmentally friendly than EVA.) But since PU is denser, it doesn’t offer the same spongy cushioning or bouncy feel as EVA foam.
Basically, the Renegades feel more like traditional hiking boots than some rivals. Still, that’s a minor drawback – and one that can be remedied in part with the addition of a cushioned aftermarket insole.
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An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.