The LOWA Focus GTX features leather uppers, with a Gore-Tex lining and rubber (but not Vibram) soles. They are sturdy, they are waterproof, and they are German engineered. Unfortunately, they are not quite what I was looking for.
The women’s last is narrower in the heel and the ball of the foot, which is not great for me. My wide feet just could not fit comfortably into the narrow last of the LOWAs; the anatomically contoured C4 tongue that is supposed to cradle and stabilize the top of the foot was more detrimental than helpful for me. The leather is stiffer than, for instance, fabric, so it felt more like my foot was encased in the shoe, rather than being allowed to flex and bend in my natural stride. But in three days of wearing the shoes in varying terrains and walking/hiking speeds, I never once rolled my ankle; I cannot say the same of my other boots.
In addition to hiking, I took the boots on a couple of trail work parties. They served well as work boots, but I cannot imagine hiking any great distances in them. The second weekend, our crew got caught in a rainstorm and wound up working most of the afternoon in clay-like mud only the Pacific Northwest can produce. I decided to test the leather upper/Gore-Tex lining combo by wading into a small stream near the trailhead to wash the mud off, and was impressed to find that no water at all made it to my feet. Even when I got home, my feet were relatively dry in spite of a full day of work – the leather was more breathable than I expected.
Of course with that comes a lot of care that goes into that leather to maintain it. The shoes come with a pamphlet of product care tips that emphasize the importance of keeping them clean and treated with “impregnation spray” and shoe care cream, in order to maintain the malleability and breathability of the leather. Add that to the $220 price tag of a pair of LOWA Focuses and the average consumer is looking at quite an investment. But if a hiker took proper care of these boots, they would probably last quite a long time.
Final verdict: While it was nice to get a chance to try a different pair of hiking boots, LOWA does not have a convert here. I would rather give my feet a little air than ensure nothing from the outside gets in, and I like to have more flexibility in my boot as I hike. And while the Focuses might last a long time, they are still priced a little high for me.
- Waterproof claim is 100% accurate
- Great work boot
- Sturdy, great ankle stabilization
- Will probably last longer than many other hiking boots
- Too stiff, foot flexibility sacrificed and stride affected
- Too narrow for this hiker
- Leather is high maintenance textile
Date available: Currently Available
Manufacturer’s Website: Lowa Focus GTX
Listed Weight: 2.40lbs
Actual Weight: ~2.5lbs
Materials: Abrasion-resistant split leather and CORDURA, Gore-Tex, PU, rubber
Warranty info: 1 year with proof of purchase
Colors Available: Anthracite/Turquoise, Beige/Yellow, Brown