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Hands-on Gear Review

Lowa Renegade GTX Lo - Women's Review

Top Pick Award
Price:   $210 List | $209.94 at Amazon
Pros:  Waterproof, durable, good traction and stability
Cons:  Heavy, stiff, and not very comfortable
Bottom line:  A stiff shoe for those who prefer minimal cushion but lots of durability.
Editors' Rating:   
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Actual Weight per pair (size 10):  2.13 lbs
Sizes Available:  5.5-11
Upper:  Nubuck leather
Manufacturer:   Lowa

Our Verdict

The Lowa Renegade 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 of wearing hiking shoes instead of boots. If you're looking for something lightweight and comfortable, these aren't it! However, they are solidly made and will last at least twice as long as the hiking shoes with soft EVA midsoles, which is good since they cost a whopping $210! For a newer school take on the hiking shoe, look to our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry, for all-around performance. And if you prefer a lot of cushion and comfort in your shoes, the Hoka One One Tor Summits are hard to beat. If, however, you want something that is stiff and supportive enough to wear a heavy pack with, and which will last a long time, then our Top Pick for Durability is the way to go.

Product Update
The Renegade II GTX Lo has been updated! The photo above represents the latest version of the shoe. Read more about the changes below!


RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Hiking Shoes for Women


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring

Last Updated:
Saturday
April 14, 2018

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The New Lowa Renegade GTX Lo vs the Old Renegade II GTX Lo


Somewhat confusingly, Lowa has removed the Renegade II GTX Lo from their lineup and replaced it with the Renegade GTX Lo - dropping the II from its name. Note that there is also a Renegade III GTX version of this shoe, but that shoe is geared more towards the traveler and less towards the hiker. The Renegade has mostly seen cosmetic changes, though some are functional, as well. See the updated version of the Renegade on the left, followed by the Renegade II which we originally reviewed.

Spacer
Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo - Women's NEW
 
  • Streamlined aesthetics — Lowa has removed the side seam for the new version, for a cleaner, more casual looking hiking shoe.
  • Metal hardware — The metal hardware on the top of the shoe has been removed in hopes of reducing pressure points and providing a less "utility" style look.

Since we have only tested the Renegade II GTX Lo, all text that follows refers to that version of the shoe.

Hands-On Review of the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo


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.

These classic hiking shoes are durable and waterproof  but could stand to have a little more cushion underfoot.
These classic hiking shoes are durable and waterproof, but could stand to have a little more cushion underfoot.

Comfort


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.

The sole and midsole on this shoe are incredibly stiff  so while we couldn't feel the sharp rocks underfoot  we didn't feel any cushioning either.
The sole and midsole on this shoe are incredibly stiff, so while we couldn't feel the sharp rocks underfoot, we didn't feel any cushioning either.

Support


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. If you do prefer to wear hiking shoes even when backpacking long distances with a heavy pack, then you'll definitely want to consider a pair like this one, as the stiffer midsole can support the extra weight and provide the stability that you want and need.

Hiking Shoe vs Hiking Boot
A general rule of thumb (or big toe, in this case?) is if you are hiking with more than 30 pounds over long distances, you'll want to wear a boot for ankle stability and so that your feet don't bruise. But not everyone likes to wear a boot, as they are hotter, can take longer to break-in, and cost more. If you've swtiched to hiking shoes and never want to go back to boots, but need something for a big backpacking trip, consider something like the Renegades, which are more similar to a tradtional hiking boot than most of the lightweight hiking shoes on the market today.

The external rubber arch on both sides of the Lowas provide a lot of lateral support  and the stiff sole made traversing a rock slab a breeze.
The external rubber arch on both sides of the Lowas provide a lot of lateral support, and the stiff sole made traversing a rock slab a breeze.

Traction


This shoe had surprisingly good traction for such a stiff sole, and we scored it on the high side for this category.


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.

We couldn't get as much flexion in the forefoot as some other shoes  but the rubber is sticky enough to help overcome that.
We couldn't get as much flexion in the forefoot as some other shoes, but the rubber is sticky enough to help overcome that.

Weight


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.

These shoes even look heavy! All that leather and thick rubber adds up.
These shoes even look heavy! All that leather and thick rubber adds up.

Water Resistance


We didn't have to worry when hiking up a stream to access a remote canyon. These shoes are completely waterproof - but water can still get in from the top so beware!
We didn't have to worry when hiking up a stream to access a remote canyon. These shoes are completely waterproof - but water can still get in from the top so beware!

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.

Water rolls right off the leather upper. You're more likely to get wet feet from water coming in from the ankle than the shoe itself.
Water rolls right off the leather upper. You're more likely to get wet feet from water coming in from the ankle than the shoe itself.

Durability


While no shoe will last forever, this pair could come close. The Renegades received the highest score for durability in our test group.


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, making this our Top Pick for Durability. If you hike a lot of miles and are tired of shredding through a pair of hiking shoes every season, then consider something like the Renegades instead.

The rubber toe cap extends completely around the shoe  making this shoe highly durable. There is no exposed soft midsole  and the seams on the upper are all double stitched.
The rubber toe cap extends completely around the shoe, making this shoe highly durable. There is no exposed soft midsole, and the seams on the upper are all double stitched.

Best Applications


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.

Contemplating the hike out in the Lowa's. While this shoe is supportive enough to be worn with heavy pack  we wished for our feet and knees' sake that there was a little more cushioning as well.
Contemplating the hike out in the Lowa's. While this shoe is supportive enough to be worn with heavy pack, we wished for our feet and knees' sake that there was a little more cushioning as well.

Value


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. 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.

Conclusion


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.

Other Versions


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