Founded in 1923 in Europe and based in Germany, the Lowa footwear company still has Lowa Boots as its official name and website. You’ll see plenty of their hiking boot models out on the alpine trails of Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and where many of their shoes are made: Slovakia. Over the years they have gone beyond hard-core hiking boots though and make a wide variety of quality outdoor and travel shoes.
Every week for about eight years I reviewed new travel gear items for a site I’ve since sold, plus I tend to live in pedestrian-friendly places where I can walk almost everywhere I need to go. So over the past decade, I have burned through a lot more shoes than your average person. Since I take a few hiking trips a year too, I try out a lot of footwear in the mountains. Many of those times I’ve had Lowa shoes on my feet and I haven’t had a single pair crap out on me yet. This is a travel gear brand that hasn’t let me down.
I’ve tried a rather wide variety of styles from them too, from casual street shoes to serious hikers. I’ve even got a pair of Gore Surround urban walkers that let hot vapor escape through the sole too—while still being waterproof all around! Pretty cool.
Their lines have expanded over the years to meet a wide variety of outdoor pursuits and conditions. From rock climbing shoes to sandals to ice climbers to big hunting boots, they’ve probably got what you’re looking for. The men’s options go on for pages online.
The latest version I’ve been trying out is the Sesto Lo GTX pictured below. I like the look of these a lot and they’ll be a good all-around shoe for traveling. They’re lightweight and feel great out of the box, but they have serious enough tread to do some light hiking when you leave the sidewalks. The sole clings well to rock surfaces and there’s good support inside.
You probably don’t want to do 15-mile days with a backpack in these, but for most of what you’ll encounter when traveling they’ll do the job. I even got to test them out in the snow and slush in Virginia last week. Since the GTX ones have a Gore-tex membrane, my feet stayed nice and dry. There is a mid version for more ankle protection and stabilization.
The Sesto Lo GTX comes in four colors and lists for $165.
Yes, the Lowa brand is at the premium end of the scale when you’re looking at retail prices, but there are a few good reasons for that:
From start to finish, LOWA footwear is 100% designed, sourced, and handcrafted in Europe.
LOWA is also the only outdoor footwear manufacturer in the world to be granted ISO 9001 status for the highest quality construction and process standards.
In other words, no sweatshop labor in Asia, no wasteful manufacturing with a side of pollution, no shoddy workmanship. (See more details here.) They don’t cut corners and that shows up in the price tag. This doesn’t mean you can’t pick them up on sale sometimes – I found the Sesto for $122 at Moosejaw. If you ever have issues finding shoes that fit, however, you probably want to try them on—or buy from Zappos where you get free returns. They are sized for Europeans, who apparently have skinnier feet as well as skinnier waists. If you have no trouble wearing a pair of Nike sneakers, you’re probably fine. But if you normally get a wide size from the likes of New Balance or Oboz, you definitely want to go to a brick and mortar store before buying.
When you find a Lowa pair you like though, you’ll be set for a good while. They’re made to last and if you get a Gore-tex version, they’re ready for any weather as well.