The Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo Review

First Thoughts On The Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo

When I think of Lowa, either heavy duty mountaineering, or nimble rock climbing comes to mind. Obviously, the Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo speaks to more of an all around boot that gets one to the cliff or a way to traverse a mountain. I don’t go vertically up mountains, but I certainly do tend to reach for the peaks. Class 4 and 5 climbs take a certain type of talent. I’m at a point in life where taking those journeys are behind me. That said, any class 1, 2, or 3 trails or climbs can certainly challenge any active hiker.

Not that I have the numbers or percentages of people who hike versus those that truly rope up and scale a mountain, but I am going to guess that the hiking crowd is substantially larger. That’s not to say that this boot couldn’t be used as a true approach vehicle for the climbing enthusiast. I, however, am truly stoked to push the boundaries of this shoe climbing Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. These mountains are aptly named as the terrain can get quite challenging with jagged rocks, scree and boulder fields. Hence, the Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo should be up to the task.

The term Tank, Earthroamer, 4×4, dualie, Jeep, rockcrawler, or even Fat Bike could all be perfect metaphors to describe the Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo. I don’t know if any will truly do those terms and this hiking boot justice. The ability to tackle a mountain is certainly part of the lingo to describe this boot. The technological features are also top notch, and something I’ll touch upon as I dive into this review.

*****Disclaimer****  I received these mid winter, and in my 10 years in the Rocky Mountain state, I think we had the most consistent winter yet. The mountains are getting dumped on, and even the foothills are always covered in enough snow or ice to hinder my testing. I will have to report back when I have had a chance to hike, scramble, and climb some 13-er and 14-ers that are in my backyard.

Upper

The ultra lightweight upper helps to bring down access weight, and provide a nimble approach to ascending a mountain. Strong enough to withstand some dings, scuffs, or scratches, yet breathable and light. The rubber heel and toe protection provides a bumper car effect as it absorbs and deflects rocks, roots, and the occasional ghost obstacle that seems to trip me up with my clumsy tendencies. And true to its climbing heritage, the toe does have some grip when needed.

The Special Lacing is what Lowa has dubbed as the “Fit Ribbon”. It is certainly easy and fast to cinch up and loosen. Your typical laces have been around and are pretty foolproof for the most part. Hence, I am always a bit reluctant to mess with a good thing. I partake in the occasional triathlon, and the myriad of quick lacing systems I’ve seen is endless. That said, I will give these a good try to see how they function for me.

Midsole of The Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo

The lining is made out of Gore Tex, and the insole has a climate control foot bed that has provided proper relief. During a cold snowy hike my feet did sweat a bit, but they never got clammy. It will be great to see how they handle the summer heat.

The Bottom or Outsole of the Lowa Approach Pro

As mentioned, the bottom sole is stiff. There’s just no way around it. I am used to cruising around in running shoes with a soft and pliable sole. That is certainly not the case here. And for good reason. Anything less of a shoe will get torn to shreds, or could cause bruising on the foot. That has happened to me, so I take all the necessary precautions. It takes some getting used to, and I have noticed with wear that the boot is starting to mold to my foot. Plus, I am able to use the stiffness to my advantage by confidently attacking technical ascents or a tricky fast downhills.

The Vibram Rock Trac does give the Lowa Approach Pro that extra bit of grip especially on slicker surfaces. I will withhold complete and final judgement until the Spring snow run off causes another set of unique trail conditions.

Technical Details of the Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo

  • Upper Material: Abrasion-resistant Synthetic Fabric
  • Upper: Protection Rubber Toe & Heel Protection
  • Construction: Board Lasted – Cemented Sole
  • Lining: GORE-TEX®
  • Lacing: Hardware Double Speed Lace
  • Special Lacing: Fit Ribbon®
  • Additional Hardware: Fit Wing®
  • Insole: Climate Control Footbed
  • Midsole: Low Profile DuraPU™
  • Sole: VIBRAM® Rock Trac
  • Stabilizer: Hard
  • Country of Origin: Italy
  • Weight (lb) 1.98
  • Resolable: Yes

Performance Of The Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo

I gave these hiking boots a good warming up period by simply wearing them around the house and doing my daily thing. They are super stiff out of the box, so please keep that in mind. After a few days they started to slowly conform to my foot. Hence, I feel like they’ve been broken in enough to take them out for some real action.

It’s mid winter, and grabbing a technical rocky 14-er isn’t quite on the agenda for several more months. I am itching for some challenging rock, scree, and bouldering. The mountains are socked in with snow. This is a good thing, I suppose, for our state’s tourism economy as well as raising our snowpack which provides water to millions of people along the numerous tributaries that flow out of our state.

That said, I tackled Buffalo Mountain near Silverthorne, Colorado via Snowshoes (check out the Northern Lites review HERE  from a few years ago). At the start of my hike, I questioned the need for the snow shoes, and my Lowa’s alone probably would have been fine. Then the trail became less traveled and steeper with deeper powder. Hence, the Snow Shoes were a good companion to have. The Lowa Approach Pro has a very stable platform, and I appreciated that as I needed the stability to make aggressive strides as the trail got tougher. Even with the powdery snow, my feet stayed dry for the duration of my hike. Because they are of the LO variety, I did have some ice form around my ankle which made my socks slightly wet, but not really an issue.

I consider myself a trail runner, and challenge myself by going up above tree lines to some high alpine peaks. If the trail is not too technical, and the vertical slope isn’t too steep, a trail running shoe is certainly a great option. The minute the trail tilts up, the running stops and the hard hiking commences. Add in some of those gnarly broken off pieces of granite, and it becomes more of a push through an obstacle course. This is where the Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo has really gone on to shine. The Vibram outsole is tough enough to handle the rocks, and the insole provides plenty of comfort and cushion to enjoy the ride.

The Fit Ribbon lacing system is unique for sure. The green color laces control the upper part of the foot and the ankle control to keep your foot put. The grey color laces control the front of the foot. At first I tightened them both with a good strong pull. I quickly realized that I needed to adjust both ever so slightly. The grey ones for my toes were too tight, so I let up on them. The green laces wanted to be much tighter around my ankle. My reasoning for a tight fit is that I do not want any foot lift as I ascend. Upon descending, I also don’t want too much sliding forward.

Sizing can vary greatly from brand to brand, so trying on a pair at your local Lowa dealer will certainly be a smart move. I decided to go slightly larger this time around, and if I were you, I’d try on a pair before purchasing. A Euro size 45 equated to a US 11.5.  An 11 is usually my go-to size. I would say, these Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo do run on the medium to narrow range from a width perspective.

Final Thoughts on the The Lowa Approach Pro GTX Lo

I tell you after a couple of months of wearing these Lowa Approach Shoes, I still have yet to truly break them in. They are certainly stiff. That is not necessarily a bad thing as these bad boys will be exposed to some rugged mountain terrain this coming summer. I have another pair of hiking boots that now after 3 years are finally broken in. Hence, I will stick with my Lowa’s to hopefully enjoy a long journey on them. I am still not sold on the Fit Ribbon lacing system, but will continue to use them for now. I can always exchange them for some regular laces. Definitely a pricey shoe, but I venture to guess that these shoes will last a long time. Therefore, the price point starts to become more negligible with each use over time.

The Lowa Approach Pro GTX is a solid performer on technical trails where it absorbs the gnarly inconsistencies. The grip is also very reassuring when traversing steeper mountain rock faces. In all, you get a very durable and heavy duty performer for a wide range of terrain.

Lowa’s Slogan is “Simply More”. That is no lie, and a strong and “simple” message to boot. For more information, please visit LOWABOOTS.

Suggested Retail price is $250.

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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