Looking for advice on how to choose hiking boot replacement. Have Lowa boots that I love, but soles came off. They have served me well and were recommended at REI. How do I choose new?
@gk this is such a great (and big) question - thanks for reaching out with it! We'll point you towards a few resources and then imagine you'll hear from members of our community with other suggestions:
We look forward to hearing back, and hope this information gets you started!
@gk Hi GK,
I love my Lowa trekking boots for carrying heavy loads. Most of my backpacking trips are to visit caves high in the wilderness. So I wear the boots into caves too. I totally trash my Lowas every three to four years. They last twice as long as other boots I've worn, but replacing them is sooo expensive. So about a year ago I asked the REI employee in boots what they recommended for backpacking up slick wet river rock. She suggested Oboz Bridger Mid BDry Hiking Boots. I got a pair for a particularly wet cave with a slippery approach and I love them. They are comfortable and light weight, but still provide decent ankle support. They have above average arch support. (Don't know if that is a good or a bad thing for you.) Best of all, they cost around 40% of a new pair of Lowas. So I'm going to standardize on them for a year or two. I think new boots every two years for the same or less price as Lowas every four years is a good deal.
If you love your Lowa boots then why change a good thing? Boots are by far the most important item of gear a hiker uses. Just spend a few minutes wearing a pair of poorly fitting boots that are chafing and causing blisters and you'll be convinced. Continue to wear such boots for the rest of a hiking trip and you'll pay any price for a properly fitting boot. I'm on my 5th or 6th pair of Lowa Renegades. The most comfortable boots I've ever owned.
Compared to the annual cost of most other hobbies, the cost of new boots every couple of years is a bargain.
@REI-JenK I don't think the soles on most Lowas can be replaced. The ones on Renegades and most other boots these days are molded on, unlike traditional soles that are glued and/or stitched. In any case, I find that the Gore-Tex or similar waterproof membrane only lasts a couple of years anyway. My guess is that it cracks from the constant flexing. So even if a pair of modern boots can be resoled, you still have to deal with that issue. Also if anything on the uppers should need restitching, that too will penetrate the membrane, destroying the waterproofness.
I minimize the cost of boots by
1. Once the boots lose their waterproofing and/or the tread wears down so that it's no longer ideal for hiking, I continue to wear the boots in less demanding situations like short day hikes, even in the winter on mild days, etc. They can last another couple of years in that role.
2. REI holds frequent sales and offers 20% off coupons. I wait for those to buy expensive stuff like boots.
3. Lowa boots sometimes appear in the Outlet store as new styles come out. That applies even to Renegades as Lowa refreshes the look by changing the colors of leather trim and even soles. I don't care about this so why not profit from other peoples' need to keep up with the latest style.
Indeed the only time I paid regular price for my Renegades was once in Austria when a sharp protruding rock tore the stitching on one boot and I had to get a replacement pair immediately.
P.S. Replacing boots every 2 or 3 years may not be the greatest thing for the environment. You can extend the useful life of boots that can no longer be worn by repurpose them as flower pots, e.g. https://www.alamy.com/hiking-boots-as-pot-for-flowers-in-scotland-image354307937.html