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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Lowa Vertex GTX Hiking Boots 2006 > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Lowa Vertex GTX Hiking Boots
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW
October 13, 2006

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Lowa Boots, LLC
Web site: www.lowaboots.com
Product: Vertex GTX
Year manufactured: 2006
MSRP: $240.00 (US)
Size: Men’s 11 (US)
Sizes available: Men’s 7-12 in half sizes, 13,14 Women’s 5-11 (US)
Weight listed (size 9): 3 lb (1.36 kg)
Actual weight of reviewed pair 3 lb 9.8 oz (1.64 kg)
Color tested: Blue/Silver
Warranty: (From company web site) “Your LOWA boots are warranted to be free from defects in workmanship and materials for a period of 12 months from the date of purchase.”

Historical note:

I wrote an Owner Review of the 2005 Lowa Vertex boots in June of 2006. It may (and should) be viewed here. The 2006 is very similar to the 2005 except for a couple of minor differences. A strange difference is that the numbers on the box were different although everything else inside and out (name, hang tags, pamphlets etc.) were the same. The importance of this review lies in the Observations.

Lowa 2006

Product Description

The Lowa Vertex GTX boots (hereafter called the Vertex or the boots) are a medium duty hiking boot, with an interesting difference when compared to most of the other boots I have owned.

The boots came in the box pictured above. Inside the box was a pamphlet containing care and use suggestions. The left boot also had three hang tags attached. One was from GORE-TEX. The others are from Lowa discussing the Biomex Protection System, and another of general consumer care tips.

The Vertex is a full height boot, as opposed to a low or mid. They stand 7.5 in (19 cm) high at the front/tongue. The outside is made of what the company only calls “synthetic, microfiber material combined with tough, abrasion-resistant nylon”, and limited areas of leather.

The ankle cuff is nicely padded. The tongue is bellows-style to help keep debris out of the boots. It has a lace hook protruding from the center of the tongue near the top to keep it from sliding sideways and/or dropping during use.

top


The most interesting part of the Vertex (and the recipient of many awards) is the Biomex system. This is the light gray plastic wrapping around the boot that is seen in these pictures. It attaches to the boot at the blue plastic disk on the sides. Here is what Lowa says about this system.

” BIOMEX® is a unique technology that combines an innovative ankle support system in lightweight construction. Originally developed to protect snowboarders and in-line skaters, BIOMEX® is now available for hikers exclusively in LOWA Boots.”

“Virtually every hiker has experienced an ankle twist or sprain at some point. That's because traditional boot design, which is based on a straight, vertical axis, has little to do with our bodies' actual geometry. As a result, the foot tires after a short time and becomes more prone to tripping. Once a trip or a twist begins, the leverage from the front of the foot creates pressure on the lower ankle joint, and presto, a sprain just ruined someone's day.”

“BIOMEX® is a simple yet revolutionary approach to protecting the ankle. It's based on the premise that prevention – in this case, ankle stabilization – equals protection. By stabilizing the ankle with a flexible, articulated cuff that's positioned at an offset angle, rather than on a straight vertical axis, the ankle is no longer subjected to the twisting forces that cause injury.”

Since buying the first pair of these boots I also tested another pair of boots with this same concept.

There is a hefty rubber rand protecting the toe of the boot, along with a section of the sole that wraps up on to the front.

The round nylon laces run through a loop of leather above the toe and then thread through a series of 8 metal loops as seen on right. There are two pairs of speed hooks at the top.

The Vibram Vertex soles, seen below, have the usual aggressive treads, (what Lowa calls “non-slip universal profile”) and the famous yellow Vibram elongated octagon logo of course. They are attached to the boot with some type of adhesive. The soles have a dual density construction (the light gray seen above the lugs is stiffer) and continue up at the heel quite a ways for added stability.

Soles


Inside the boots are some thin insoles that are nothing to write home about. I tried to replace them but could never get the right fit around the heel except with the stock insoles. So they stayed.

The quality of the Vertex boots again seemed to be very good. The stitching is all straight and uniform. There were no loose threads or blemishes.

Field Conditions

I took these on a break-in hike to the Momyer Trail in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. I was on rock and dirt in temps from 60 to 80 F (16 to 27 C) I started at 5500’ and climbed to 9800’ (1676 to 2987 m) in 6 miles (10 km) giving me a total of 12 miles (19 km) and 4300’ (1311 m) of gain for the day.

Next was a four day backpacking trip from Onion Valley to Horseshoe Meadows by way of Cottonwood Pass. I climbed Kearsarge and Forrester Passes along the way. I was on a lot of Sierra Nevada granite, dirt and sand in temps from 30 to 82 F (-1 to 28 C). Pack weight was 32.5 lb (14.7 kg) at the start. I went 58 miles (93 km) and had 11,100’ (3383 m) of gain. Here is a picture from that trip.

Nice gut Ray


Next is right from my hiking log. I will comment on it later. September 21: “Took the Marion Mountain trail to Mount San Jacinto. Dave started feeling bad before 9000’ and his leg was hurting so we just went up to the peak and back. We went 11.4 miles (18 km) and had 4000’ (1219 m) of gain. The new boots are not feeling as good as the old ones.”

After that was a monster day-hike to the peak of San Gorgoinio (11499’/3505 m) on the South Fork trail. I went 23.2 miles (37 km) with 5200’ (1585 m) of gain.

Last was a five (supposed to be eight) day trip to the western Sierra Nevada, leaving from Edison Lake and going over three major passes. I started with a 37.5 lb (17 kg) pack. This trip saw temps down to 29 F (-2 C) and had a lot of water crossings and exposed rock trails. I put on 88 miles (142 km) with 15525‘ (4732 m) of gain.

Observations

I bought these boots in April of 2006 with my REI dividend check and annual coupon. I was still using the 2005 boots at the time but liked them so much I decided to buy another pair to stick in the closet for the point a few years (I thought) later when I would wear out the first pair. When the first pair failed I did not have time to wait for the pro-rated replacements to get to me, so put these into sudden service.

They fit as well out of the box as the first pair. The stability was just as stellar. I really do like the Biomex system. I have still not had a twisted ankle even though the opportunity is there with all of the rock and scree I walk on.

One difference was the toe-box. Only when I went down-hill I was getting hot spots on the top of my little toes, mostly on the right foot. I played with tightening the laces and switching combinations of outer socks with my liners. I finally liked the way that a heavier weight SmartWool sock felt with it. I never got a blister with the 2005 boots and did not get one with these until the last trip, although I do not fault the boot’s fit for that.

The hook on the tongue is different from last year also. I like the loop better as sometimes I would miss catching the hook with the top crossing of laces rendering it useless.

The sole is very soft also. It has excellent traction even on wet rock. It did wear very fast though. Here is a picture of the 2006 boots with 192 miles (309 km) on them next to a new sole. I do not know if they can be resoled. If they would hold up long enough I would have loved to find out.

Wear


The reason I took them back last year was the GORE-TEX liner failed on a late spring snow trip resulting in wet cold feet. This year the liner was fine for 115 miles (185 km). On the second day out from Edison Lake I crossed a creek and felt water seeping inside. They leaked for the rest of the trip. Fortunately I brought another pair of socks to swap out with the wet ones each day. Because of having wet feet a forced back-to-back pair of 24-mile (39 km) days saw some bad blistering on both feet.

When I got back to my office I put the toe of each boot into a bucket of water. They filled up within minutes. The liner on these boots is not durable at all. I thought about dissecting them to see where the liner tears but think it is pointless at this stage. I am going to take them back to REI, but I will not even try to get anything back considering how it went last time. I will just have them send them to Lowa along with a copy of this review. Hopefully they will be able to use the experience I have gathered to make this otherwise great boot better, no, right in the future.

I am very sorry to say that I can not justify the expense of the Lowa Vertex GTX boots. I paid for two pairs that saw a total of 364 miles (586 km) between them. That is inexcusable to me. I have the new pair that cost me the prorated $50.00 (US) that I am sure will get worn someday. I will not write about them, or bother to collect data on their use. I think that these boots have a lot of promise if Lowa can get the liner figured out.

Pros: Excellent support, great traction, comfortable.
Cons: Extremely poor durability, weak GORE-TEX liner, much too expensive for the longevity.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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