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Hands-on Gear Review
Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy, stiff, and not very comfortable
Bottom line: A stiff shoe for those who prefer minimal cushion but lots of durability.
The Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo is about as old school as it gets these days in the hiking shoe market. Put these on and you'll be transported back to the 1980's — the days of stiff leather boots with even stiffer soles that took forever to break in but lasted a lifetime. While there's a lot of positives to be said about this approach, including great stability and durability, the lack of comfort tends to negate a lot of the benefits. Every time we wore these shoes our big toes went numb after only a mile or two, and when compared to some of the lighter weight and much more comfortable models out there it leaves us wondering when Lowa is going to enter the 21st century. It also costs a whopping $210, which is twice the price than some of the other options available. For a newer school take on the hiking shoe, look to our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry - Women's, for all-around performance. And if you prefer a lot of cushion and comfort in your shoes, the Hoka One One Tor Summit - Women's is hard to beat.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo is made with a Nubuck leather upper, a polyurethane midsole, a waterproof Gore-Tex liner, and Vibram's Renovo sole.
This the only shoe in our review that uses a polyurethane midsole (Lowa's "DuraPU with Monowrap Frame). Lowa states that a polyurethane sole is "a terrific shock absorber and longer lasting than the more common EVA midsole." While we agree that it is probably longer lasting, this shoe feels like it has little to no cushioning to it, and we noticed a distinct lack of shock absorption particularly compared to some of the dual-density EVA midsoles, like the one on the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry. They also state that polyurethane involves a cleaner manufacturing process than EVA. While we can neither confirm nor deny that, there is something to be said about buying one pair of shoes that lasts for five years as opposed to a new pair every year. But if you never even want to wear them because they are so uncomfortable, then what is the point? Only the Asolo Outlaw GV - Women's scored lower than this model comfort-wise and that was because it had little cushioning and also had a slippery footbed which made our feet slide around in that shoe and get hot spots.
This shoe almost made up for its lack of comfort in our support metric. It provided some of the best support in our review, thanks to the stiff sole which gave us great lateral support, as well as the internal and external arch support. We did a hike in these shoes with a 30 pound pack on, and it gave us enough support even over rocky and unstable terrain.
This shoe had surprisingly good traction for such a stiff sole. Sometimes a stiff sole does not bend enough to create the friction needed to stick on steep surfaces, but the rubber lugs on this sole are soft and flexible enough to help overcome that. Whether on a loose dirt trail or steep rock slap, we felt really confident in the tread and traction the Vibram Renovo sole gave us.
This was the heaviest shoe in the test pack, at 2 lbs 2 oz in the women's size 10 that we tested. That's 9 ounces more than the Ahnu Sugarpine WP - Women's, about half pound, which may not seem like much but does add up over countless steps. While this shoe is still much lighter than a full boot or the heavy hiking shoes of old, lighter is still better as long as it can provide the comfort and support we need.
The Gore-tex liner and Nubuck leather upper did a great job of keeping our feet dry during our bucket test. There was little saturation of the leather, which is good from a weight perspective, but the shoe is a little lower cut around the ankle than the Oboz and Hoka One One models, which means that there is slightly less coverage available when crossing streams or walking through wet brush.
While no shoe will last forever, this pair could come close. The rubber sole wraps all the way around the shoe, with no exposed midsole, which is one of the first places to deteriorate when hiking through rugged terrain. The rubber toe cap will also help protect the shoe from those with sloppy footwork. While researching online user reviews of this shoe we found little durability complaints as well.
If you are hiking in rugged terrain and want a shoe that can last for several seasons, the Renegades are a good choice as long as you don't mind a stiff and uncomfortable footbed.
These shoes cost $210, which is significantly more than most other pairs in this review and twice the price of our Best Buy winner, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator - Women's. Are they worth it? While it's better to buy a quality pair that can last a few seasons rather than a new pair every year, considering the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo's lack of comfort, it seems a "stiff" price to pay.
The Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo is a beast of a shoe, but not a comfortable one. While you could put a cushier insole in there to provide some extra comfort, since you're already paying significantly more for this model than any other one in this review it's hard to justify any additional expense.
Lowa makes a variety of shoes in the Renegade line, including low cut Renegade and Renegade III models. They are all around the same price point, with the III being the lightest model and the original the heaviest. We also tested the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's ($230) in our hiking boot review and it was our Top Pick award winner for Durability.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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