REVIEW: Lowa Alpine SL GTX Boots
Finding the right mountaineering boot can be a challenge. You need something comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, provides plenty of support, and has a proper fit. The boot needs to be durable and hold a firm grip on a variety of surfaces, including snow and ice. It goes without saying that it must be waterproof, and it helps if it is crampon compatible as well. Finding footwear with that specific combination of traits is never easy, but finding boots that offer all of that and are lightweight too? That’s akin to discovering the holy grail of mountaineering footwear.
With the Alpine SL GTX, Lowa has come very close to delivering that exact boot. Lightweight by mountaineering standards, these shoes provide outstanding performance in an alpine setting. They will be especially appreciated by those who prefer to move fast and light, without compromising their confidence or safety.
Comfort (5) ★★★★★
A single Lowa Alpine SL GTX boot weighs just 1.2 pounds (550 grams), which may sound like a lot to a day hiker or backpacker, but for a mountaineering boot that is incredibly lightweight. This translates to improved comfort on your feet, particularly after a long day climbing steep slopes. The boots also provide excellent support along the ankle and offer enough mid-sole flex to allow plenty of freedom of movement. All of that adds up to a boot that feels good on the foot and requires minimal break-in time. Exactly what you want on aggressive approaches or peak bagging at altitude.
Fit (4) ★★★★
We found the Alpine SL GTX to run a bit larger in size compared to similar boots. The interior space feels a little wider and there is a fair amount of room in the toe box. This comes in handy when wearing thicker socks and when dealing with potential food swelling, which can be common when hiking in the mountains. While testing, we never developed blisters or hotspots, however, nor did the slightly larger size impact our comfort level. Nevertheless, this is something to be aware of when trying these boots on for the first time.
As usual, when it comes to performance in the mountains, Lowa nailed it with these boots. The Alpine SL GTX uses a Vibram outsole that provides excellent traction when and where you need it most. That translates to increased stability on mud, dirt, and rock. It even performs very well when those surfaces are wet or frozen over with snow and ice. The boot’s synthetic upper breathes surprisingly well, especially since it is paired with a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort liner to keep moisture out. That liner is thin and lightweight, which helps keep these shoes as svelte as possible without sacrificing protection from the elements.
The boot is rated for use in temperatures down to 20ºF (-6ºC), which is quite good considering its size and weight. Adding thicker socks will provide extra insulation from the cold should you need it, but for most outdoor pursuits the Alpine SL GTX is more than adequate. If you’ll be dealing with colder temperatures in the mountains, you’ll want something built to handle those conditions, however.
Mountaineers looking for a nimble, lightweight, crampon-compatible boot for all-mountain use will find the Lowa Alpine SL GTX to be a fantastic option. Comfortable to wear, even on extended climbs, this boot feels more like a hiker than something with an alpine heritage. With excellent stability, outstanding traction, and top-notch durability, this is the kind of footwear that will accompany you on many adventures.
The $440 price tag will likely dissuade some buyers but for a pair of boots with this level of performance and capability, the cost is pretty spot on. To be clear, these aren’t hiking boots for someone who enjoys hitting the trail on the weekend. This is high-quality footwear for use in the mountains, often far from any kind of trail. If that sounds like the kind of boot that you need, you’ll likely find that the Alpine SL GTX is well worth the price.
Own a piece of gear that you're dying to review? Read our submissions page and let's get it up on the interwebz!