Saturday, December 8, 2012

BAD Gear: Lowa Desert Zephyr TF (Taskforce) Goretex Boots

I've been running the Lowa Desert Zephyr Goretex boots for a few years now. At least one year domestic field ops including some leave-time deer hunting, and over two year overseas in both dry and super wet monsoon season. I bought mine with 30% off from shoebuy.com at a total of $134 USD. I think this is one of the best pairs of boots I have ever worn. Lowa is world renowned for hiking and mountaineering shoes and they don't disappoint.

I've worn various combat boots in my military career, and various combinations of hiking and combat boots in my contracting/consulting postings. Of all the shoes I've tried (Asolos, Danners, Merrels, Garmonts, Columbias), these Lowas are my favourite. There is no break-in period at all. Just run and gun. These boots are no different than the civilian version of the Lowa Zephyrs one can buy from REI. They are meant to be hiking style, more than a combat boot style. The only differences are the monotone colours, and the goretex lining.  One of the things that attracted me to this boot, is that I can still be incognito at the park walking the dog, or walking the kids, or being walked by the kids. Its a great multi-purpose boot. 
The lightweight multi-function boot is made with PU Monowrap technology for surefooted stability. Designed to breathe in hot, dry climates, it features split leather and Cordura uppers and quick-drying Goretex lining. The cushioning and fit inside is fantastic. The first thing I noticed was that if fit like a pair of high-tops (Hipster translation: kicks).
It features Lowa's cross sole unit with 3/4 length shank for stability. For the goretex lining, Lowa uses a proprietary lasted method for a smooth and seamless waterproof lining which reduces hot spots, promotes a better fit and fewer blisters. Feet stay dry and comfortably warm even in extremely cold and wet conditions. This I know first hand from waiting in my hide during the freezing and wet deer hunts in October. I liked that it kept my feet dry (granted I also have a great sock system), and the bottom soles had lots of grip in the kind of terrain. 

videoThe kind of weather my boots shined in can be seen in this video (monsoon season in Africa). It rains like this from March to July, then again from September to about November. Then its Dry season. This boot truly covers it all. The moisture-wicking lining enabled me to not only stay dry during this wet season, but also maintained moisture-wicking ability during the dry season. 

video
This other video shows during hunting season, walking through flooded fields. Instead of uncomfortable galoshes that don't take my custom orthotics well, nor keeps me warm, nor offer support on rocky terrain, I use these boots. As you can see I don't worry about getting wet. The only thing I do need to be concerned with is the depth of these fields. I oped to buy the mid-length boots, but there  is the full length combat-length. I don't need that anymore, as I don't blouse my trousers. As long as water does not ingress from over the top of the boot, you're golden.

One of the things I don't like about this boot, is that it is super super slippery on ice and snow. Its not meant for that. Nor is it meant for wet polished concrete. Try running in a parking garage with these boots on after a rain storm. Wear a helmet. It also is slippery on algae covered rocks. Or shit covered pavement, as is often the case in the places I work.

But for fieldwork, mountainous areas, hunting, mounted ops, dismounted patrols, hiking, standing around looking badass, picking up hotties, drinking scotch, smoking cigars, drinking scotch, looking like a goon in the airport, drinking scotch, doing push-ups  shooting people in the face, training to shoot people in the face, photo ops, looking for a Christmas tree to cut down for your BAKs, drinking scotch...this boot can do it all. When I said push-ups  I meant push-ups  Part of my PT drills is to do push-ups in full battle rattle. Part of my shooting drills is to also include push-ups and other forms of PT to simulate physical/mental stress. These boots have just the right amount of stiffness and malleability so the toes don't buckle during these exercises.

In terms of colour, it will pass parade inspection, sergeant major, uniform police as it is that desert colour. Here you can see the boot with my Arc'teryx LEAF combat jacket in Croc colour. The croc is a blend between Olive drab and desert, so if you wanted to do a linear regression analyses between the two, the boot would be closer to the desert colour.

A few other features I would like to point out: the speed laces. I don't have to tug on each section to tighten my boots (like your standard combat boots), I just need to yank on the top laces and everything else just tightens. I have seen some of my mates' boots where the top eyelets have gotten bunged up. Lowa replaced them easy peasy. But I've personally had no issues with them.

Another feature I would like to point out is that it's light, weighing in at 1.327lbs per boot. Now, that is quite light given the style and kind of boot, and it's intended purpose. Now, for sizing, its true to size. Size it like a sneaker. In fact, if you have the chance to visit a good hiking store, try before you buy.

In Asics I'm a 10, in Saucanys I'm in 10.5, in Asolo I'm a 9.5. In general I'm a 9.5 so I got a 9.5, and it fit. Mind you, I do have to put in custom orthotics. It is narrower, so if you have wide feet you may want to size up as I don't think they come in W. Also, if you intend to wear a sock system you may want to think about sizing up to accommodate the extra width.

I am now a Lowa evangelist, that is, anybody who asks me about hiking or mountaineering boots, I always direct them to try Lowa's first. That's not to say that Asolo isn't good, or Garmonts aren't good, or whatever, its just that at the price point, the fact that it is EU-made (DING DING DING DING), and with the Lowa Guarantee, there's no reason to look anywhere else first. Usually at the $140 price point, one is still hovering around the amateur market(stuff you can buy at Sportchek or Sportmart) and not considered a serious work boot. But this, this my bad ass friends, is a serious work boot. Granted it doesn't have a full length steel shank for shit kicking, but it can definitely kick down doors. I like Lowa so much that I bought my parents each a pair. BAF still likes her Garmonts as they are super stiff and provide support for her flat feet. But one day, one day, I will convert her. Isn't Christmas just around the corner?

9 comments:

  1. Great research, and much appreciated! I have been wearing Oakley tactical boots that look similar and they have preformed well on ice and slippery surfaces, but I think these Lowa boots look great and I will be buying a pair to test them out! looking forward to learning more about other gear you test. Best Jim

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  2. You convinced me to buy one of these.
    What is the best LOWA for ruck marches?

    Thanks Bad Ass Dad ;)

    A French military

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  3. These ones, but don't need the goretex, and get them higher cut

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  4. Thanks for your review, glad I stumbled upon this blog. I wanted some light, tactical boots. I have Wellco M760 combat hikers but they are tanks. I ordered Merrell Moab mids but as soon as they arrived I knew I would tear them up w/ my trek through anything style of camping. I was looking @ Oakleys but found a deal on the Lowas. They have been ordered & this review has me excited to try them out. I'll be doing a true minimalist excursion in 2 weeks.

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  5. Would you say these boots provide good support for flat feet and for running

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    1. I have pronation, and I wear custom orthotics with it. I can run in them. good support for that.

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  6. Ooh lady perfect timing! I just ordered a pair of over the knee boots and I was nervous about ways to style them. best red wing work boots for men

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  7. Nice try! Yes, I had tried the Lowa and I must say you're definitely right on some points you've made here. But then, when it all boils down to it, my all time love is the Scarpa Men's Kinesis Pro hiking boots. I love that it is waterproof, has a cushioned collar and is so darn durable. I sometimes think it will even outlast me! Pricey? A bit, but then you're paying for quality wear - that's very important! The Gore-tex lining is not bad either so hurrah for my Scarpa! For more backpacking boots, here's a minefield http://backpackingmastery.com/top-picks/the-best-backpacking-boots.html

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Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.