LOWA TIBET GTX REVIEW: BEST HIKING BOOTS
Built to handle rough terrain, the Lowa Tibet GTX is the go-to boot for many outdoor enthusiasts. From the contoured tongue to the locking lacing system, no detail has been overlooked.
While it is not insulated, its waterproof shell keeps feet dry and warm in all but the coldest of weather. Additionally, the heavy duty Vibram sole and supportive ankle design guarantee sure footing even while carrying a heavy pack over muddy ground or rocky terrain.
|Lining||Gore-Tex waterproof breathable membrane/textile|
|Average Footwear Weight (Pair)||4 pounds|
The features of the Lowa Tibet GTX make it more rugged and longer lasting than cheaply made boots. The flexibility of the ankle and lacking hardware make it more comfortable for daily wear than similarly priced competitors.
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Comfort is one of the Tibet GTX's strong points. These boots were designed with details that ensure they remain comfortable even over long distances and rough ground. The tongue has been selectively padded and contoured in such a way that it does not bunch up and will not rub against the top of the foot. In fact, when properly laced, there is very little risk of blisters, rub spots, or hot spots even when wearing them right out of the box and without a breaking in period.
To help aid a correct fit, these boots come in half sizes which makes selecting a snug yet comfortable option easier. Most people who have tried the Lowa Tibet GTX recommend buying a half size or even a full size larger than your normal shoe size as the toe box of these boots can be tight. Also, remember to wear heavy winter socks when trying them on if you plan to use them during the winter to ensure a proper fit.
Since the Tibet GTX was specifically designed as a workhorse boot for harsh terrain, these boots have excellent ankle stability. The supportive, yet slightly bendable FlexFit design keeps your foot from twisting and allows sensitivity to the terrain. The ankle of the Tibet GTX was recently redesigned to allow for a softer bend, and if you hike or hunt in an area with a lot of hills or slopes, you will appreciate the forward bend allowance. The new design makes walking up and down an incline as well as crouching down much easier while still providing support.
The stiff sole and the 5mm Full-Length Nylon shank stabilizer keep the footbed from twisting which makes this boot an excellent choice for rough, stony ground.
No matter how stable the footbed is, a good hiking boot needs a well-designed sole in order to maintain traction on uneven ground. Lowa Tibet GTX boots come with a Vibram Masai outsole which provides excellent traction. The deep waffling ensures that it grips well on either stony or muddy ground, and makes ascending and descending hills much easier.
Lowa Tibet GTX boots weigh in at a hefty 4 pounds (1800 g) when dry. While they are by no means the heaviest boots on the market, they are certainly on the higher end of the scale. Some people prefer the heavier weight of these boots, but if you are unused to the weight, you may find yourself tiring more quickly when first wearing these boots. It also makes stealthy approaches less likely. For this reason, some hunters prefer a lighter boot with more ground sensitivity.
While swimming in your Tibet GTX boots should probably be avoided, they have been optimized for wet conditions and can comfortably handle moisture. Submerging them will soak the interior, but they are perfectly able to handle mud, rain, snow, and shallow streams.
The NuBuck exterior repels water as does the GoreTex lining. Additionally, these boots have a high wall rubber rand to offer maximum protection against water and muck. The rand is the rubberized strip that runs along the bottom half of the upper and forms a waterproof barrier where the sole and the upper meet. Not only does this feature protect your feet from moisture, but it also provides protection from sharp rocks and thorns.
Like any high-quality hiking boot, you can expect to have your Lowa Tibet GTX boots around for many years. The quality of construction is such that you shouldn't see any ripping of the seams, wear spots on the interior or loosening of the eyelets. Indeed, the only part of the upper that should need to be repaired or replaced are the laces.
Like other boots, the first thing to break down on these boots is likely the sole of the heel or midsole area. After heavy use, you may begin to see an erosion of the rubber in these areas. Luckily, if you have a nearby cobbler, it is possible to have the sole replaced.
Lowa has long been a respected name in the hiking boot industry, and most serious outdoor enthusiasts will find that the Tibet GTX is a hard-wearing workhorse that will serve their needs well. It is especially well suited to hunters or to hikers who routinely need to carry 50lb packs in rough terrain. Additionally, the torsion free sole and flexible yet supportive ankle of this boot make it ideal for navigating areas with loose or jagged rocks. However, some hunters find that the inflexibility of the sole and heaviness of these boots make them less stealthy.
Another issue worth consideration is the lack of insulation in these boots. Most people will find that the waterproof GoreTex lining is enough to keep their feet warm during winter weather especially when combined with heavy wool socks. Indeed, some customers point out that during mid-summer, these boots may be too warm. However, if the area in which you plan to hike regularly sees winter weather that's in the negatives, you may want to invest in boots specifically designed for extreme cold weather.
Finally, the main limitation of the Lowa Tibet GTX boots is the price tag. Like other boots of this type, you can expect to pay three or four times as much as you would for a basic hiking boot. If you are an avid hiker or hunter who plans to use their boots frequently and has been disappointed by other brands in the past, this may be no obstacle. But if your funds are limited, the price tag may be daunting.
Lowa boots come in a wide variety of styles, and you can find a boot to fit almost any outdoor activity in their line. The Tibet design itself has several variations. The Tibet LL is leather lined and has excellent moisture wicking properties, but structurally is identical to the original Tibet GTX boot. If you need extra ankle support, the Lowa Tibet GTX Hi has an extra eyelet and laces to just below the calf. Finally, the boot also comes in an insulated variation, the Lowa Tibet Superwarm GTX. It has both GoreTex Duratherm and PrimaLoft insulation to keep your feet dry and warm.
Happily, Lowa offers most of its Tibet boots in a women's design as well. The design of the ankle means that, unlike other women's boots, they won't cut into the Achilles tendon despite being a tall boot. The original Tibet GTX, as well as the leather lined and Superwarm GTX boots, are available in women's sizes. However, the GTX Hi is not.
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Born in the French Alps, the Salomon boot line is specifically designed with high altitude alpine hiking in mind. Like the Tibet GTX, these boots feature a sole with a six-inch shaft for stability but are lighter weight than their competitors. The unique 4D Chassis combined with an ergonomic tongue make the Quest 4D both supportive and comfortable during long hikes. These boots also offer superior lacing hardware and a protective rubber toe cap for rocky conditions.
The Keen Targhee II is a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts on a budget. Like the Tibet GTX, these boots feature an outsole with a lot of grip, making them ideal for rough terrain or slippery mud.
They have a waterproof upper which will keep your feet dry and feature a KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane for extra airflow. With many of the features of more expensive boots, but at less than one-third the price, the Keen Targhee is a great alternative.
These retro hiking boots prove that stylish leather boots can also be functional. With 30+ years behind them, the Danner Mountain Light boot is an enduring classic.
Recently re-released, they feature a waterproof waxed leather upper for maximum moisture protection and breathability. They also have Vibram Kletterlift outsoles and a waterproof GoreTex lining which improves upon the original design. The company offers a recrafting service to ensure that you'll be able to wear your boots for years - if not decades - of daily use.
In an age when everyone seems to be locked to their small blue screens, I am vehemently passionate about getting more people outside to enjoy the wonder of nature. I grew up with the outdoors on my doorstep, and when I headed off to university I picked a degree in geology that allowed me to spend a lot of time outside on field trips! Over the last 30 years, I have camped or hiked through the wilderness on 5 continents. I hope my posts are informative for both the grizzled veteran and the complete novice alike.