Lightweight isn’t a word that you associate with Lowa boots all that often. The company has always skewed more towards durability and support than courting those hikers and backpackers looking to go fast and light on the trail.
That has changed somewhat in recent years, as the footwear manufacturer has introduced some newer models that are a bit more svelte, at least by Lowa standards. Thankfully, those efforts have successfully brought lighter boots and shoes to the market without compromising boot maker’s decades-long tradition of creating shoes that are as tough and rugged as they are performant.
With that in mind, I was eager to test out the Lowa Alpine SL GTX mountaineering boot, which looks to take the brand in new directions in terms of weight and capabilities.
When I was asked to test the Alpine SL GTX, I knew that I was getting my hands on one of Lowa’s newest mountaineering boots, which was enough to get me excited long before they ever arrived at my front door. But when I took them out of the box, I thought there had to be a mistake.
These boots were much lighter than I expected, tipping the scales at 550 grams (1.2 pounds) each. That probably seems like a lot for someone who hits the trail in running shoes or light hikers, but for an alpine boot, that is indeed quite lightweight.
Fortunately, there was no mistake, and this boot lives up to the hype. It is a fully-featured, fully-capable, high altitude boot that is comfortable to wear and still manages to continue the Lowa legacy of creating very durable footwear for use in the outdoors.
David Göttler Collaboration
To create this boot, Lowa collaborated with alpinist David Göttler, who is among the world’s best and most experienced mountaineers. Göttler has summited multiple 8000-meter peaks, including Gasherbrum II, Dhaulagiri, and Lhotse.
He has also climbed Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Nuptse in Nepal, and has made winter ascents on the Eiger, Grand Jorasses, and the Matterhorn, amongst numerous other major expeditions.
In short, he’s a guy who knows his way around the mountains and brings some perspective on how our footwear should perform there. His goal in working with Lowa was to create a lightweight trainer/acclimatization boot for use at high altitudes. Those efforts resulted in the Alpine SL GTX.
But to make this innovative boot possible, Lowa had to get creative. The company designed a new fabric called Lowa Reptex, which is made from a polyurethane derived material that has been engineered to mimic the scales of a reptile.
This gives the boot its unique look and feels and provides a durable, abrasion-resistant upper that is extremely lightweight. It has the added benefit of feeling more flexible and supportive on your foot as well.
As you would expect, the Alpine SL GTX comes equipped with all of the components you need for use in the mountains. That includes a waterproof lining courtesy of Gore-Tex and an outsole made by Vibram. Both of these help give this boot a high level of performance, with the Gore-Tex liner keeping feet warm and dry while still nicely venting excess heat.
Meanwhile, the outsole is the Vibram Alp Trac SL, which was specifically built for Lowa. It offers surprisingly agile climbing on the vertical, excellent stability on various surfaces, and the ability to shed excess mud, dirt, and snow from the tread.
While these third-party materials help give the Alpine SL GTX added capabilities, as is typical with Lowa, the boot is more than the sum of its parts. Reading the spec sheet for the boot, you’ll see things listed like a “Synthetic/Microfiber” upper, an EVA midsole, and “Mountaineering Hard” stabilizers.
That, in addition to the Gore-Tex liner and Vibram sole, all come together to create high-performance footwear. But it is Lowa’s meticulous design and construction that help those jumble of parts seamlessly come together.
The result is a boot built to last and can take you into the most rugged terrain imaginable, short of scaling an 8000-meter peak.
The Alpine SL GTX performs even better in the field than the spec sheet would lead you to believe. While a bit stiff out of the box, they break in relatively quickly, providing a high support level in all the right places.
While I’m the first one to admit that every boot and shoe feels different on each individual’s foot, I found these boots to be extremely comfortable, particularly for something designed for use in alpine environments.
Their lightweight allows you to remain quick and agile throughout your climb and reduces fatigue after a long day on the trail. The boots are also as durable as you would expect from Lowa, shrugging off any manner of threats, including the occasional scuffing from rocks and crampons.
As you can probably tell, I’m super-impressed with what the Lowa Alpine SL GTX brings to the table. It is remarkably lightweight and athletic for a boot built for the mountains. That level of performance doesn’t come cheap, however, with this boot priced at $440.
That is more expensive than what most people are willing to pay for a pair of boots, but then again, the Alpine SL GTX isn’t mean for most people. This is a shoe that is overkill for day hiking and backpacking but is instead meant for epic mountaineering ventures that are as demanding on the climber as they are the gear that he or she is using. For those people, this boot is worth every penny, and then some.
For more information on the Lowa Alpine SL GTX, click here.
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