Showing posts with label Tramping Boots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tramping Boots. Show all posts

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Tramping Equipment: Lowa Tibet GTX Boots

New tramping boots for a new year...

I recently brought a new pair of boots to eventually replace my current footwear as my La Sportiva's are starting to wear. I would gladly have brought a new pair of La Sportiva Valojets (my currently boots) but unfortunately they are no longer available in New Zealand. It is great pity because they are exactly the right boot for my foot size, foot type and style of tramping.

My trusty La Sportiva boots on the Harpers Pass Track in 2017...

I wanted to buy a really good pair of boots with the potential to last me a long time so I went with the Lowa brand. I have previously owned a pair of Lowa Rangers and they were excellent so I decided to buy some new ones....

Unfortunately they did not have any Rangers in my size (I wear a size 13 UK, 14 US or 48-49 Euro..big feet!) so I brought some Lowa Tibets instead.

My new Lowa Tibet boots...

Lowa Tibet GTX boots

Lowa is a German company that make a wide range of both women and men's boots and trail shoes. They have been making boots since the end of the 19th century so are well versed in designing and manufacturing top quality gear.

My new boots may be top quality but they cost a top price as well...$700 NZD a pair....ouch!

They are now the most expensive piece of tramping gear I have ever purchased. I've been wearing my $400 La Sportiva's for four years now so I figure I need to get at least six-eight years of use out of these boots for them to make financial sense. 

Lowa Tibets....full rand, high length, crampon compatible..
Lowa Tibets are high ankle tramping/hunting boots with a full rubber rand around them and thick and aggressive soles. They can be used for tramping, hunting and easy climbing and will accept most crampon sets.

They are really more boot than I need for most of my trips but they are well known for their comfort and durability once fully worn in.

As you can see in the photo below, even Max the cat approves of my purchase...

Max says...YES Jon...Vibram soles good....dogs bad!!!!!

These were purchased from the Hunting and Fishing store in Tower Junction and came with an extra set of laces, spare inner soles and a jar of leather conditioner. Nice!

Better view of the lacing system on the Lowa Tibet...

Lowa Tibet GTX: German precision!

All good quality tramping boots will have Vibram rubber soles on them. Vibram is the leading sole making company in the world and their products are widely used because of their quality and durability. I will only buy boots with Vibram soles on them.

...deep lugs on those Vibram soles...

I am currently wearing these to work a couple of times a week to wear them in. I will let you know how they work out when I take them for their first tramp.

PS: I wore them up to Packhorse Hut, they were super comfortable and had awesome traction.

Wearing the Lowa's outside the Packhorse Hut wardens biv, January 2018

I recently went up the Waimakiriri River to Carrington hut and the Tibets performed well. This is the kind of terrain these boots were made for... step, muddy and rough travel with plenty of boulder bashing involved.

One of my feet in a Lowa Tibet near Carrington Hut, February 2018

On a side note; I'm 50 in August, so these could quite easily be the last pair of boots I ever buy.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots: My personal thoughts on this discussion.

Sandals, shoes or boots: what to wear tramping? 

Hiking/tramping footwear comes in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Hiking shoes, hiking sandals, cross trainers, mountain running shoes, different brands and different versions – the options are mind numbing to contemplate!

A day hike to the Bealey Glacier in my Lowa boots....

What are the differences? When are boots better than shoes and vice versa? Is it worth the price difference to buy boots? We’ll start with some basic features of each and then elaborate on which conditions demand which type of “boot”.

Hiking Sandal

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but hiking sandals can be a great option for a casual hiker. Sandals are light, which means you aren’t going to expend as much energy moving your feet over the course of the trip. They are perfect for water crossings or as camp shoes. Many people prefer a sandal with some kind of toe guard to help protected against rocks and roots.

Keen Newport H2 sandal

Hiking sandals are best used for short well maintained trails or as a lite back up when their primary boots are temporarily out of commission. An example would be the Abel Tasman Coastal Track during summer. Nice, well graded tracks, a lot of tidal crossings, warm weather conditions.

For perspective, some chap walked the whole 3000 km Te Araroa Trail in sandals a couple of years ago, so just walking the Abel Tasman would be luxury...ay, sheer luuuxxxurriiieeeee!

Naresh Kumar walked the whole 300 kilometer Te Araroa Trail in sandals

Look for sandals with similar features to most good hiking shoes: tough stitching, quality materials, tough soles (Vibram if you have a choice), and good arch supports. Keen are one of the major brands for sandals, I own a pair of their Newport H2 sandals and they are rugged and comfortable to wear.

Trail Shoes or Hiking Shoes

Trail shoes are all the rage in long trail communities due to their compromise between comfort and functionality. They are sturdier than your average running shoe because of their thicker soles and leather reinforced fabrics while at the same time are lighter and more comfortable than standard tramping boots.
La Sportiva Lead trail shoes

Because of their versatility, trails shoe styles have started to become part of a more mainstream fashion. Be sure to double check standard quality measures such as stitching, arch support, waterproofing, and lace design so as to avoid buying shoes that look like trail shoes but don’t function the same way.

Good brands include: Salomen/Innov8/La Sportiva/Salewa/Merrell/Asolo

Trail Running Shoes

Trail running has exploded in popularity in recent years. Shoes designed specifically for trail running are similar to standard trail shoes with a few subtle differences.

Asics Sonoma,  lite mountain trail shoes

 Most trail running shoes have a bit more padding, tough soles, and slightly more ankle support. These shoes can be quite expensive, so if you aren’t planning on running up the mountain, you can probably go with a standard trail shoe.

Good brands include: Innov8/Salomon/Asics/La Sportiva/Hoka

Mid-weight Tramping boot

Many people would just call this “a hiking boot”. A mid weight boot is what most people think of when they think of tramping footwear. They will have extra ankle support, stiff foot support, and a reinforced leather or synthetic outer layer.

Synthetic Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid

They are versatile and rarely feel like overkill on a trail of moderate difficulty. Sure, they will be a bit heavier, but unless you are using them on a multi-day, long term trek, you probably won’t even notice. Don’t forget to look for the signs of quality: a toe rand, good quality soles (Vibram is best), quality inner soles and a Gore-Tex inner lining if that is your thing.

Leather Vasque St Elias GTX boots

Remember to give yourself time to break in all new boots. While modern boots take significantly less time to break in than old style all leather ones, you should still dedicate at least three to four days to breaking in your new boots. I wear mine to work for a couple of weeks, this usually does the trick.

My daughter in some Lowa mid weight boots

Good brands include: Salewa/Vasque/Asolo/Lowa/La Sportiva

Heavy Boot

Unless you plan on spending a significant amount of time out in the bush where there are no fixed trails, it is hard to justify a heavy boot. The heavy boot is therefore much favoured by mountaineers, hunters and bush bashers.

If you do fall into the category of hard arsed bush pig, then you know that a heavy boot can be your best friend.

Lowa Tibet GTX

A good heavy boot should feel like a cross between mountaineering boots and a hiking boot. They should provide extra grip with knobby soles and be crampon compatible. The ankle support should not only protect your ankle from twisting but also protect your lower calve area. Expect to see above the ankle lacing and a full rubber rand to protect against rock cuts.

Me wearing some Lowa Tibet boots on the Travers-Sabine Circuit in 2017

Of course, for all of this protection you pay a price. Heavy boots are, well, heavy! In fact they can be god-damn soul destroying heavy if you are walking a long way. They are also expensive, most are European made and you will not see much change from $600-$700 dollars.

Meindal Bhutan MFS boots

 Don’t expect them to be super comfortable either. These kinds of boots are designed for hard work and will be overkill for anything else! Think combat boots: you are the soldier and nature is the enemy...vanquish it with your colossal boots!

My heavy weight Lowa Tibets..note size 14 feet!!!!

Some well known manufacturers include: Haix/Lowa/Meindl/Carrimor/La Sportiva

When do I need hiking boots?

When trails are particularly rocky, covered in roots, or are made uneven by other objects in the trail.
When the trail is wet/very muddy.
When there the possibility of rolling your ankle is high.
When trails are exceptionally steep.
When hiking in the snow.

e.g: walking up the Joe River to the Olivine Wilderness area, crossing Waiau Pass, hunting in Fiordland

Boots are useful in muddy conditions..... are also suited to those rocky alpine areas like Mt Travers...Waiau Pass etc.

When will hiking shoes be OK?

Well maintained even trails
Day hikes
Trail running
Camp sites

e.g: Most of the Great Walks, The Queen Charlotte Track, most of the Te Araroa Trail, Te Ara Pataka

The Queen Charlotte Track can be walked in trail runners....

When will sandals do the business?

Well maintained trails, in warm weather.
Short beach walks.
River journeys
Camp sites

e.g: The Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, the Wanganui River Journey

The Able Tasman Coastal Walk is sandal summer...

What about Jon's footwear? 

What you may ask does Jon wear on his feet: good question!

Jon Tramping: boots and gaiters on the Lewis Pass Tops, these are La Sportiva Valojets

I have used all these types of footwear at one time or another, starting with full leather ex army combat boots and going right down to trail sandals. I seem to be going lighter as I get older, lunking about in those kilo a boot combats just don't appeal like it once did!

Currently I am wearing sandals, trail shoes and mid weight boots.

La Sportiva boots on the QCT in 2016

I use Keen Newport H2's as my hiking sandals, wear Asic Sonoma's for walking and some day walks and have Lowa Ranger III as my leather mid weight boot. I also have a pair of Lowa Tibet calve high boots for serious tramping in alpine and rocky river bashing areas.

Wearing my Lowa Ranger boots on MacKinnon Pass, Fiordland in 2018

My foot in a Lowa Tibet boot up the Waimakiriri River Valley in 2018

Monday, 10 June 2013

"......To all the boots I've worn before...."

My tramping footwear rogues gallery...

Here is my gallery of tramping boots/shoes I have worn and destroyed, I will add to this as time goes on! I intend to include before and after shots, and make some comment on quality, fit etc.

Wearing my Lowa Tibets, Waimakiriri Valley, 2018

Hi Tec Bryce, light hiking boot  (2012-2015) (Retired)

I brought a pair of these in 2012, I just didn't have the cash to buy a more rugged pair of boots because of all of the other tramping gear I needed at the time. They have worked well and have seen me through all of my trips over Spring/Summer/Autumn 2012-13.

Wearing my Hi-Tec Bryce boots at Ryde Falls, Oxford Forest Park in 2013

 I didn't expect them to last but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well they have stood up.  The uppers are still fine,  they have just starting to show signs of wear. I think they are good value for the $140 asking price. I will continue to use them for formed tracks i.e. those on the Port Hills, these could also be used on the Great Walks.

Light fabric Hi Tec Bryce boots,  purchased in 2012

Wearing my Hi Tecs up the East Hawdon Valley, 2013

Hi-Tec Bryce boots midway up the Hawdon Valley in 2014

July 2014: I have been using these boots for my fitness walking for about the last year, they are still holding out fine, I estimate I will need to dispose of them later this year as they have started to wear down on the sole. 

2017: I am only using these in the garden now as the stitching has started to unravel- they will get chucked when no longer useful 

Note: 2018 The Hi-Tecs have gone to the great tramping home in the sky...

Kathmandu Barigan, medium boot (2013-2017) (Retired)

I have recently acquired a pair of these boots for the very reasonable price of $100, they are a replacement for the Hi-Tec boots I have been using. I know Kathmandu does not have great name when it comes to durability, even if they only last a season they will have repaid my investment. Significantly they have a hard Vibram sole and are much stiffer than the Hi Tec's. 
Kathmandu Barigan, 2013
At the half way point in the Nina Valley in 2015

July 2014: I used these boot for all of the 2013/14/15 tramping season and found them very comfortable. Unfortunately they are starting to delaminate (a common problem), I have glued them up and will use them for day walks on the Port Hills etc. I should get a least another years use out of them on these shorter trips. They lasted as my primary boots for a year so they were worth the $100 I paid for them.

2017: Still using them around the house for yard work. 

Wearing the Barigans on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, 2017

Sept 2017: I wore these very successfully on the Abel Tasman Coast Walk although they are now finished as tramping boots.  I had to glue and tape them up a bit to use but my repairs lasted the full four days without problems.

The Barigans after completing the Abel Tasman Coastal Track 2017

Note: 2018 The Barrigans have gone to the great tramping home in the sky...

Asolo 535 TPS, medium boot (2013-2014) (Sold)

I brought myself a pair of Asolo 535 boots for the rocky gravel bashing trips I sometimes go on. These boots are from a good quality European maker, they have a much stiffer sole and the ubiquitous Vibram sole on them. I'm in the process of wearing them in as we speak. Obviously, because they are made in Europe the price is steeper, $500 for this type and brand.

Asolo 535 ful leather boots, 2013

July 2014: I have now sold these boots as they were slightly too small for my feet. They are excellent boots so I will potentially buy a larger size some time in the future.

La Sportiva Valojet, medium boot (2014 - ) (Stored)

I've recently brought myself a new pair of leather boots for the coming Summer tramping season. I have been wearing a pair of Kathmandu boots but as is the case with their gear they have started to fall to bits. These boots are Italian, La Sportiva Valojets, a medium weight leather boot with a Goretex liner, with a good quality Vibram sole. These ones were $350 on sale, normally $600.

La Sportiva Valojet, 2014

The Valojet's going strong on the QCT, 2016

The Valojets on the Harpers Pass track in 2017

Update 2018: I have been using these very successfully for several years now and they are awesome. Comfortable right out of the box, quality materials and great workmanship are worth paying for in my opinion. The soles are still fine, the only damage is a rip in the rubber rand I got on the third trip wearing these boots (barbed wire fence...). 

La Sportiva boots are fantastic, I would buy these again but unfortunately they have gone out of production. 

Currently stored in my garage as a back up pair of boots...

Lowa Tibet GTX, boots (2017-)   (Current Boots)

My newest and most expensive piece of tramping kit ever is a pair of Lowa Tibet boots. My La Sportiva's are starting to wear on the sole at toe and heel which is common for me. To this end I purchase a new pair of boots before the old ones wear out. I am currently wearing these in by wearing them to work and around the house.

Lowa Tibet GTX boots: I have big feet...size 13UK/14US/49EU

Lowa is a well known German company with a reputation for quality gear. These boots are great but quality comes at a cost...they cost an arm and a leg...$700 NZD for a pair. 

Lowa Tibet GTX boots: the lacing system

Lowa Tibet GTX boots: the chunky Vibram sole
I've used these boots on a number of tramps now and they have performed very well. They are heavier than some others I have worn but excellent for rough muddy tracks and off track travel. they were excellent on the Travers-Sabine Circuit...that is their real home gnarly tracks in alpine and rocky areas. 

Wearing my Lowa's at the Packhorse Bivvy, 2018

Lowa Tibets on the Travers-Sabine Circuit, Nelson Lakes NP in early 2018

 I have recently brought another pair of Lowa's in this case the lighter Lowa Ranger III, so I currently have two excellent pairs of boots to wear as the terrain dictates. 

Lowa Ranger III (2018 -  ) (Curent boots)

My Lowa Tibets are awesome boots but I also needed some lighter weight boots for walking the more front country tracks like the Great Walks (like the Abel Tasman Coast Track) and other less rugged trips.

The Lowa Ranger III boot 

I went with Lowa once again and brought a pair of their Ranger III's in a sale at Hunting and Fishing in late 2017. These are a lot lighter than the Lowa Tibet's but with the same excellent materials, comfort and craftsmanship.  

Great Vibram soles on the Lowa Ranger III

I'm currently wearing them in before putting them to use later this year...

Front view of the Ranger III boots

These boots have now be on a number of trips and I could not be happier with them. Comfortable right from the box, rugged and the soles are very grippy on wet surfaces. A real pleasure to use....this is now my preferred brand and type of boot. 

In my Lowa Rangers on MacKinnon Pass, Milford Track in December 2018...photobombed!!!
Heading up to the Bealey Glacier in 2018...

Asics Mens Gel Sonoma 4E, Trail Shoes (2015- ) (Current) (pair number four in use)

These are my current general purpose trail shoes, I am onto my fourth pair of these. I use these for general fitness walking as well as trips along the Port Hills and on day trips when the weather is fine. I wouldn't use these for a long trail like the Te Araroa, although they might make fair work of even that trail.

Asics Men's Gel Sonoma 4E Trail Shoes

My first pair lasted for about 14 months before they started to fall to bits. For $150 that is pretty good going when you consider that I use them for at least one 10-15 km walk every second weekend. I suppose I could go for a $300 pair of Asolo/Salewa/North Face/Innov8 trail walking shoes but why, these work just fine. 
Sole on Sonoma Trail shoes

I brought them from Rebel Sport, they are still available at the time of writing (September 2016).

When my second pair wear out I will definitely buy these again if they are still available. 

My Asics Sonomas in use on the Christchurch 360 trail, 2016

Note: 2018 I'm currently wearing my fourth pair of these fine shoes, they are becoming difficult to source so I will be loking for something else to wear at some stage...

Salomon XA Pro 3D trail runners (2017- ) (Current)

I have a pair of Salomon XA Pro trail runers for walking sections of the Te Araroa Trail. These ar available in New Zealand but I had to buy mine from Amazon US as they do not sell a US size 14 in New Zealand and that is the size shoe I wear. 

The Salomon XAPro 3D trail runner

Good chunky soles on these Salomon shoes

Ive worn these enough to wear them in and have used them on a couple of short walks on the Port Hills but have yet to utilise them on the Te Araroa. I will use these for much of the North Island Trail as trail runners are more suited to the conditions there (with lots of road waking).  I will use boots for the alpine sections of the South Island  and shoes on the flatter sections from Canterbury down to Bluff. 

Speed laces and airy mesh to keep the feet cool....

These were the main type of TA footwear a couple of years ago but people seem to have moved on to other brands; Hoka, North Face and La Sportiva seem to be the favorites at the moment (2018).

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Outdoors Shoes (2015-2017 ) (Retired)

I was using a pair of these before I switched to the Asics shown above.  I mainly purchased them because they were cheap ($130 NZD) at a time when I could not afford better quality footwear.

Hi-Tec Trail Blazer Trail shoe

Wearing the Blazers on a section of the Christchurch 360 Trail

 These shoes were good for the first 4 months and then they started to disintegrate. First the inner soles wore through so I replaced with after market versions. Next the stitching started to unravel, this was repaired. I finally retired them when the sole delaminated, I have glued the sole back on but they cannot be trusted over a long distance. 

Hi Tec shoes are fine for around town but I just don't think they are rugged enough for trail use. 

I use these around the garden now.

Note: 2018 The Blazers have gone to the great tramping home in the sky...

Keen Newport H2 Hiking Sandal, (2017-  ) (Current)

It may come as a bit of a surprise, but hiking sandals can be a great option for a casual hiker. Sandals are light, which means you aren’t going to expend as much energy moving your feet over the course of the trip. They are perfect for water crossings or as camp shoes. Many people prefer a sandal with some kind of toe guard to help protected against rocks and roots.

Keen Newport H2 sandal

Hiking sandals are best used for short well maintained trails or as a lite back up when their primary boots are temporarily out of commission. An example would be the Abel Tasman Coastal Track during summer. Nice, well graded tracks, a lot of tidal crossings, warm weather conditions.

For perspective, some chap walked the whole 3000 km Te Araroa Trail in sandals a couple of years ago, so just walking the Abel Tasman would be luxury...ay, sheer luuuxxxurriiieeeee!

Naresh Kumar walked the whole 300 kilometer Te Araroa Trail in sandals

I have a pair of Keen Newport sandals which I ocasionally wear around the place. I have yet to use these on a tramp because I just do not think sandals are a good tramping shoe for me. I could have used these on either of my Able Tasman Coastal Walks...I saw a number of other trampers wearing similiar footwear.