Lowa Focus GTX Lo Review
If you’re an avid hiker, the brand name Lowa is no stranger to you. Lowa has been around the hiking community for many years making quality hiking boots and shoes. Since I often like to hike in low-cut shoes, when Lowa came out with the Focus GTX Lo, I had to get my feet into them.
The Lowa Focus GTX Lo is a low cut hiking shoe that acts much like a heavy duty hiking boot, but doesn’t have the added bulk. While I call it bulk, there are some key features that will be taken away using a low cut hiking shoe and they are important to some, and not to others. For starters, the cuff that covers your ankle can offer a lot of benefits to some. The cuff on a hiking boot can offer additional ankle support, more waterproof coverage, and can help protect your feet from debris such as branches, sticks, stones, etc. For me, I don’t like the extra material around my ankle from a weight, feel, and look perspective. Now onto the Focus GTX Lo…
The upper of the Lowa Focus GTX Lo is made from abbrasion resistant suede and Cordura material that is often used when a company wants a particular product to hold up to harsh conditions. Underneath these materials is a GORE-TEX layer that keeps water from getting through the shoe. Since this shoe is low cut, it is only waterproof up to the cuff of the shoe which isn’t very high. I’ve tested the Focus GTX Lo in varying conditions including hiking up 14,000 ft mountains in CO where the trails/paths consisted of jagged rock, scree, snow, and water. I have also used these shoes on less aggressive trails, the majority of them consisting of rock and dirt. Throughout my hikes, the Lowa Focus GTX Lo outer held up extremely well and by the looks of it, it has another 5 of 10 more years to live.
The midsole of the Lowa Focus GTX Lo is made from a PU Midsole that offers a good amount of cushioning for a hiking shoe. While it’s not as soft as a running shoe, it was soft and comfortable for a hiking shoe. The PU Midsole also does a nice job absorbing rocks and other sharp objects. This is one of the big differences between a trail running shoe which many people use for hiking because the PU works much better at absorbing stones than blown EVA.
The outsole of the Lowa Focus GTX Lo is made from a sticky and durable rubber. I’ve tested the outsole out on a number of steep rock slopes and my feet had no problem gripping the rocks. From a durability standpoint, After about 150 miles of hiking in these shoes, the Focus GTX Lo shows almost no wear.
While I have a lot of good things to say about the Lowa Focus GTX Lo, I have found that I consistently get blisters on my heel when I have hiking for long distances or at a steep grade. What I attribute this to is the minimal amount of padding on the collar of the shoe. With more padding, the foot would be held in place a little better which would help prevent the foot moving around in the shoe which often causes blisters. Sometimes you can also try different lacing patterns, but I wasn’t able to make any of the lacing tricks work to help not develop blisters. While I did get blisters on long or steep hikes, shorter less steep hikes are very enjoyable. While I personally get blisters with these shoes as mentioned above, please keep in mind that everyone’s feet are different.
My other beef with these shoes is that the footbed did not stick to the bottom of the inside of the shoe well. What this meant is that the my foot would slide with the foot bed on sudden stops or while hiking downhill. The result of this is banging your front toes.
While I really wanted to like these hiking shoes, I feel that Lowa still has some work to do to make this a great hiking shoe. With a price point of $195, I feel these issues should be cleared up.