TEST SERIES BY
INITIAL REPORT - May 15, 2014
FIELD REPORT - August 08, 2014
LONG TERM REPORT - September 29, 2014
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.lowaboots.com
Measured Weight: 38 oz (1080 g) per pair size 13 US
Lowa says the Ferrox GTX hiking shoes are "ultra-light Gore-Tex hiking shoes".
The first thing I noticed was that the weight (38 oz/1080 g per pair) is not really what I would call ultra-light. It's lighter than any boots I've measured, and about the same as Gore-Tex shoes I've had, but there are lighter weight hiking shoes. I would call them lightweight, not ultra-light, but I would just consider this a minor description error, not a big deal. The reason the shoes weigh a little more, is the Gore-Tex lining, and the waterproofness/breathability is worth the extra small weight in my opinion.
I got the black/gray in size 13 US:
There are also some yellow and orange colors available.
The uppers are made from synthetic material (nylon?). There's a black, mesh/fabric material over most of the shoe. There are some decorations of a synthetic leather (maybe it's real?). There's a suede leather (maybe synthetic) reinforcement at the toe. There's a rubber material around the sides connecting the upper to the sole. There are two "Lowa" logos, a "GORE-TEX" logo, and a "MONOWRAP" logo. There's a webbing loop at the top of the heel to help pulling the shoes on.
The uppers are about 1/16 " (4 mm) thick. At the top, around my ankle, there's some foam inside so it's about 1/2" (13 mm) thick. I don't know if this is for comfort, or to keep dirt and stuff out of the shoes. This is about the same as every other pair of boots and shoes I've had.
It's 4 3/4" (120 mm) from the ground to the top of the back of the heel. It's 3 3/4" (95 mm) from the ground to the top of the shoe on the side - the low point. It's 3 1/4" (83 mm) from the inside of the shoe to the top of the back of the heel. That leaves 1 1/2" (38 mm) for the thickness of the sole at the heel. The sole is maybe 5/8" (16 mm) thick at the ball of my foot.
There are metal eyelets for the shoestrings to go through. There are six on each side. There's a slot in the tongue for the shoestring to go through between the 2nd from top and third from top pair of eyelets to keep the tongue from sliding sideways. There are no open eyelets to making unlacing easier as is common with boots but not with shoes.
The shoestrings are a woven material. They're kind of flat. They're a little stretchy. They're a black color with a gray accent.
There's a Gore-Tex lining. Inside there's a synthetic fabric that my socks will go against.
The insoles are three layer - a felt on the bottom, foam in the middle, and fabric on top. It's heat formed into a 3D shape that fits inside the boot. The insoles on a lot of boots seem sort of flimsy but these look very substantial. On the top is the Lowa logo and a portion of a topo map - hmmm... I wonder where that is...
There are black lug soles. The lugs are about 3/16 inch (4 mm) high:
One defect in some boots/shoes, is where the shoes flex at the ball of my foot (base of toes), if the boot leather wrinkles and there's a seam there, the stitches of that seam will often fail. These shoes have no seam there so should be okay. I'll see if there's any wear there by the end of my testing, although I usually have to wear them a little longer than this to see wear, but sometimes I'll get an indication of a problem.
The care instructions are confusing. They say how to treat leather shoes with wax, but there are just a few bits of leather on these shoes. One place it says to use fluorocarbon treatment. Another place it says to use "textile impregnation spray" which is probably the correct advice for these shoes, but it doesn't specify what this is.
I wore the shoes around a little. They feel very comfortable. I got blisters on my last couple boots, so this time I got a size bigger than in the past (size 13 US instead of size 12). Hopefully, now I won't get blisters.
The shoes are well made - no defects that I could see. Usually I can find a glob of cement or a bad stitch but these shoes are very good.
The Lowa Ferrox GTX hiking shoes are lightweight hiking shoes.
They are almost totally synthetic but I think I found a couple small pieces of leather reinforcement.
They have a Gore-Tex lining so they should be waterproof and breathable.
They appear to be very well made.
Lowa calls these ultra-lightweight but I would call them lightweight because there are hiking shoes available that weigh a little less. But they are significantly lighter than boots so I think they'll be a little more comfortable. The reason they weigh a little more than some shoes is the Gore-Tex lining, but I think this extra small weight is worth it for the waterproofness/breathability it provides.
I plan to use these on two backpacking trips on each of the Field Report and Long Term Report periods. These will be in the summer, so it will be fairly warm. I should get some good wet weather testing too. I'll probably do a few day hikes too.
I will use lightweight gaiters when I wear these shoes, to keep dirt out of the shoes, and water if it's wet. I'll use medium weight Merino wool socks.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
May 28, 2014 - 5 day backpack and 2 day car camp in Trinity Alps in Northern California. 44 miles (70 km). 9000 feet (2750 m) elevation gain. 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C). Dry.
I wore the Lowas with lightweight gaiters which kept dirt and water out of my shoes:
July 2, 2014 - 5 night backpack on Mt. Hood in North central Oregon. 48 miles (77 km). 10,000 feet (3000 m) elevation gain. 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C). Mostly through trees but lots of open areas and 2 miles (3 km) walking on snow.
July 30, 2014 - 4 night car camping on Southwest Washington coast. 20 miles (32 km). 50 to 70 F (10 to 21 C). Half on paved trails, half on beach sand.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Lowa Ferrox GTX hiking shoes performed very well. I did a total of 112 miles (180 km) over 17 days. There were 10 nights of backpacking. 19,000 feet (5800 m) elevation gain. Temperatures were 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C). I wore over-the-calf gaiters on most of my hiking.
I tested a wide range of conditions - trails, snow, a little bouldering, and sand. I did level and steep up and down. About the only thing I didn't test good was the waterproof feature.
The Ferrox shoes were very comfortable. I didn't get any blisters but there were some red places on my heel. It didn't inhibit me at all, so this is about as good as it gets. For this test I wore size 13 shoes rather than the size 12 I've used in the past. I think this helped with my comfort.
The soles were stiff enough to be comfortable over rough terrain - edges of rocks and so forth. The Ferrox are stiffer than most shoes I've tried, but some boots I've had were stiffer. I like a medium stiffness like the Ferrox. If I did mountaineering, I'd want stiffer shoes.
The soles provided a good grip. I hiked on rock, loose dirt, and snow which was a good test. I didn't slip much, although this is unavoidable at times. Mostly, this is determined by the length of the lugs on the sole. The length of the lugs on the Ferrox sole is good for the hiking I did. Occasionally I have had shoes with rubber that was really hard, which makes them slippery on some surfaces, but didn't notice this with the Ferrox.
The Ferrox are very breathable compared to other shoes/boots I've used. Mostly, I think this is just due to the low height of the shoes compared to the mid height boots I normally wear. There is more ventilation out the top. My socks were pretty dry on the top. The bottom of my socks got slightly damp from sweat, but this is unavoidable in any shoe/boot I have ever used - but this is unavoidable in any shoe/boot I have ever used as the soles have not been breathable.
The shoes were very waterproof in the limited testing I did. I did a fair amount of walking in wet snow which is a good test. I walked through streams that were a few inches deep. My socks were only slightly damp from sweat. In the Long Term Test period I should get some good rainy weather to better test this.
A small negative was that the tongue slid sideways a little. There is a loop that the laces go through that prevents this, as is typical, but the gap between the two sides of the shoe are wide enough that the tongue slid sideways enough that the edge of the tongue was exactly even with the opposite side of the shoe so it's a bit uncomfortable. It's just at the top so dirt or water doesn't get into the shoe.
Over-all, I was very happy with the Lowa Ferrox GTX shoes.
They were comfortable - no blisters or anything.
They were more breathable than other shoes and boots I've used.
They were waterproof, but I need to do more testing during rainy weather.
The lugs on the sole were long enough to provide good traction in loose dirt, mud, and snow.
The soles are fairly stiff.
The only negative is that the shoes aren't quite big enough around my foot - the gap between the two sides where the tongue goes is too wide, so the tongue slides to one side just a bit more than I like.
I'll do a similar amount of testing during the Long Term Test period, except I'll get a little wetter and colder weather.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
August 18, 2014 - 2 night backpack and 2 night car camp at the Olympic Peninsula beach in Northwest Washington. 33 miles (53 km). 2200 feet (671 m) elevation gain. 55 to 75 F (13 to 24 C).
August 28, 2014 - 5 night backpack around Three Sisters in central Oregon. 54 miles (86 km). 7700 feet (2300 m) elevation gain. 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C).
September 16, 2014 - 5 night backpack around Mount Hood in North Central Oregon. 51 miles (82 km). 10,000 feet (3000 m) elevation gain. 32 to 70 F (0 to 21 C).
After my last trip I got some blisters on both heels:
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the Lowa Ferrox hiking shoes.
I did a total of 22 nights of backpacking, hiked 250 miles (403 km), and did 39,000 feet (12,000 m) of elevation gain. Most of that was carrying my pack which weighed about 20 pounds (9 kg).
Most of my hiking was on trails. Some of the hiking was just walking along without thinking about it and some hiking was on rocks where I had to look to see where each foot landed. On the rougher trails, sometimes the foot would land at an odd angle or position on the shoe, which is more of a test of the shoe. I did quite a few miles on beach sand. I did quite a few miles on snow. I did maybe 5 miles (8 km) cross country.
The soles aren't real stiff, so I thought the shoes would be less comfortable walking on rocky surfaces, but this was not an issue. I tested the shoes on rocky surfaces and my feet were always pretty comfortable.
The shoes provided good traction on snow and muddy surfaces.
I never did a trip with a lot of rain, however, I had one day of rain in the Three Sisters. I walked through a lot of streams and wet snow. The shoes always kept the water out well. My socks did get damp on the bottom from sweat but were otherwise pretty dry.
One thing that surprised me, was a couple times on the Mt Hood trip, crossing streams, my shoe got into the water above the top of my shoe. I have always considered this something to avoid, because the shoe fills up with water and because the shoes are waterproof breathable, they take forever to dry out. But the collar around my ankle prevented any significant water from getting in so my socks never got significantly wet and the little bit they did get wet dried out by the end of the day.
The shoes show little sign of wear. The sole is worn a bit but nowhere near end of life. I expect hiking shoes to last 2 to 4 times as many miles as I did for my test, and based on my examination of the shoes, I will probably get that off these shoes.
One problem I had after my last two trips was blisters on my heels. I did do a long distance (for me) over a week, then took a week off, then did another similar trip so maybe this is to be expected. It didn't significantly impact my trip. Maybe the last couple days I would have walked a few more miles if it wasn't for the blisters. I did a lot of walking up steep slopes of loose material which is probably the worst for making blisters. There's a plastic piece inside the heel. The top of this plastic piece is where the blister is. Maybe this is a defectively designed piece. I pushed out on it to stretch it which seemed like it reduced further damage to my heels.
Another problem I had was a weird one. On my last trip I walked up some steep slopes of fine volcanic ash. Some of the ash got trapped between the outer fabric and the inner shoe. When I rock the shoe forward and backward, the ash slides back and forth inside the material. I weighed the shoes and determined there are about 3 ounces (80 g) of ash inside the fabric. Mostly, this is just aesthetic, but I don't like carrying around 3 extra ounces on my shoes. If the outer fabric was a finer weave it wouldn't have this problem. The volcanic ash I walked through on Mt Hood is quite fine, and I made very intimate contact with it, so maybe this is just a fluke and could be ignored. I didn't notice this until after my last trip.
I like the Lowa Ferrox hiking shoes.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
The traction was good on many different surfaces.
The breathability was good, only a little dampness on the bottoms of my socks. Surprisingly, even when I quickly stepped into water above the tops of my shoes, little water got inside.
The shoes were very waterproof in wet snow and rain.
Towards the end of my testing I got blisters on my heels. It's at the top of an inner plastic piece. This was after a long trip, but I am unhappy that I got blisters there.
After my last hike, after walking up steep slopes of fine volcanic ash, some of the ash got inside the outer fabric and is now sitting there, weighing down my feet. It's only 3 ounces (80 g) total for both feet, but this also makes me unhappy.
I'll continue to wear these shoes in the future. I like the low weight and since they're low shoes, they're more breathable. I might slit open the outer fabric to dump out that ash.
Thanks to Lowa and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test these.
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