Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lowa Urban Desert Boot

I received these boots from Lowa this past summer and have been wearing them quite often since. They are Lowa’s Urban Desert boot and are designed with stealth operations in a desert environment in mind. This is a perfect boot for today’s forces. As you will see later in the review, these boots perform in any environment quite well, not just desert or hot environments.

A quick overview of Lowa I feel is in order since not everyone has heard of them. Lowa is a European company that believes that the feet need to be comfortable for the wearers ultimate overall comfort. They’ve been in the footwear business for over 85 years, so they’ve figured out a thing or two in making quality footwear. And, in my opinion, you can tell as soon as you put their boots on. They’ve made their boots to be anatomically correct as well. From the 2 degree ankle angle to the anatomically correct tongue. Their glove leather linings are super comfortable as well. All their materials are very durable which allows most Lowa boots to last 5-7 years of normal use.

So let me get back to the Urban Desert boot. What would I say the break in period is for these boots….break in period, they don’t need no stinkin break in period. These boots were so comfortable right out of the box that I’d swear that I’d been wearing them for years. The only part that gave me a slight discomfort was right around the top of the boot. I’ve had this problem in the past, and as in the past, unlacing the top eyelet solved this problem and also makes tucking the laces into the top of the boot more comfortable as well.

As I said, this boot is super comfortable, but still has plenty of support for the foot and ankle. This boot has a nice amount of padding, which I found somewhat odd for a “desert” boot. This padding will help to protect your foot from jagged edges that you might find in a desert mountainous area like you’d find in Afghanistan. I figured this would make them way too hot in a desert environment. Well, I didn’t test them in the deserts of Iraq, but in the hot humid summer weather here my feet were very comfortable. They weren’t overheating at all, in spite of the padding. There are a couple features that make this possible:
- Synthetic shank which won’t heat up like a steel shank, and is lighter weight.
- Mesh lining to keep the feet cool from the inside.
- A 3D mesh upper material along with the sand split leather helps moisture to escape the boot.

The “Anaconda” sole on these boots is pretty durable, being a Vibram® sole it’s proven to be a good sole. Not only is it a quality sole, but it’s designed to be silent. I’ve walked on linoleum and tiled floor with these boots both dry and wet and they really are silent. Not a single hint of a squeak. The traction on dry and wet surfaces as well as snowy terrain has been excellent. On top of the sole is a sand colored Polyurethane sole with a full length and width synthetic trekking shank. This is much more than most other boots which may only have a narrow shank down a portion of the sole. This really helps with the stability of the foot.

One small detail that shows that the company is dedicated to making boots specific to their intended use is the fact that the outer materials of the boot have a reduced IR signature. I know from my days in the military that you could always spot fellow troops at night by looking for the black boots through your NVGs. The boots stuck out among the natural vegetation around them. Attention to detail!!

Earlier in the review I said that these boots can perform in several environments. First off I wore these boots for casual wear as well as for hiking, climbing and for force-on-force military style training.

During force-on-force training I didn’t baby these boots at all. They got muddy, wet, grass stained and just plain old beat up. They were very comfortable the whole time. My feet never overheated and running up and down inclines didn’t cause any discomfort at all. I have a narrower heel and have always had a problem with getting boots that don’t cause blisters or raw spots on my heels. This was never a problem with these boots. I used these boots for several force-on-force exercises so far and after I return home I clean the boots off if they’re dirty and unlike traditional “rough side out” suede leather desert boots these boots cleaned up well. Mud, dirt, and grass stain easily came out with a small scrub brush and only a minute or so of scrubbing. This is important to help with the longevity of the boots, and if using these for military purposes you want to be able to clean them up so that they look good the next time you wear them in a formation. These boots clean up well.

I also used these boots while hiking trails and through a gully that was flooding with water. In this gully there is also a lot of climbing on wet rocks. I have to say I was super impressed by the traction of the outsole on the wet rocks. I have worn quality Vibram® soled boots before in this environment, but they didn’t grip like the soles on these boots. I believe it’s the material that they’re made of that makes them silent that also gives them good traction on the wet rocks. The fact that these boots got completely water logged and haven’t shown any breakdown is good. The typical GI desert boots tend to break down faster when they get wet due to the suede material they’re made of. These boots don’t seem to have that problem. They also went with me on a hike to the top of Whiteface Mountain.

In the last couple of weeks I was able to use these boots for some tactical training in the snow. Again, the boots performed flawlessly. The fact that they allow your feet to breath and wick moisture from the feet kept my feet warm and the padding helps with warmth as well. I wouldn’t use these in extreme cold environments where something like a mickey mouse boot or other extreme cold weather boot is required, but for your typical winter weather you should be good to go.

Overall I have been extremely impressed with these boots. The quality is way above average and the durability so far has met the companies claims. I plan on continuing to use these boots until they need to be replaced, so expect updates to this post for quite some time.

If you’re looking for a quality boot that will last you for years, give Lowa a look. They have every kind of boot, not only military and duty boots, but hiking, mountaineering, casual and more.

Sizes: US 8-12
Weight: 2.30 lbs (men’s size 9)
MSRP: $260.00

12 month warranty against defects.

No comments: