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The LOWA Z-6S GTX Boot: Put a Foot in It

The LOWA Z-6S GTX boot is toughest of lightweight boots on this tracker’s boot rack. The Z-6S GTX is designed as a light hiking boot designed to provide the same protection as heavier boots. That’s simple to claim, but does it perform as advertised?

My call on the matter is yes, this boot is more than meets the eye — which you can actually say for most of LOWA’s modern footwear. These boots are packed with good features and — so far — are proving to be ruggedly constructed. Some would say that’s not surprising from a company has been making footwear in Europe since 1923, but the fact is any manufacturer can screw up or fail. Although today LOWA is known for making top of the line performance footwear (with 200 million shoes shipped world-wide each year) I worked to begin wearing them with an open mind. Boots are too important a piece of gear to select, buy, and wear haphazardly, and while you should keep a company’s reputation and track record (pun intended) in mind, a little skepticism is always a good thing.

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A couple of months ago I received a pair Z-6S GTXs while unpacking in my hotel in Rockville, MD for a 2-week Greenside Training Kinetic Tracking Operations course for local LEOs (that was the “Weaponize the Senses” RECOIL and OFFGRID helped with). Although it’s not typically the best idea to hit the ground with brand new boots, I was only be carrying a 40lb ruck over perhaps 5 miles on an average day; hardly a land march, but certainly enough to get for feel of break in and performance.

My first impression involves evaluating weight, profile, materials, and features.

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Weight.

When I first put new boots in my hands, I ignore what the companies says about “weight”, because although the total weight may in fact be X number of pounds or kilos,  that manufacturer’s number rarely considers the distribution of the weight in regards to balance. My personal preference is to have footwear that distributes weight in approximately the following proportions: 35% in the foot bed/outer sole, and 65% dispersed evenly throughout the rest of the area of a mid-length boot.

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The reason for this is due to the dynamics of the swing phase of leg/foot movement, and how the bare foot naturally performs. Heavy soles produce premature fatigue, especially going up and down hill. This may not be so noticeable for your average hiker of 5-10 mile weekenders, but when you talk about rucking 100lb loads, 10-20 miles off trail in uneven terrain, day or night, wet or dry, then weight distribution becomes a painful lesson learned in ounces. These are bottom heavy boots for the long range recce dudes out there, with most of the weight (50% at least) at the bottom and midsole.

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Profile.

I really like the profile and contours of the  Z-6S GTX with its midsole Monowrap feature (the latter provides a skeletonized outer support frame). The heel cup provides excellent comfort and I couldn’t feel where it ended at the top after just one week. The hilt of the boot (where the lower/mid sole meets the upper) has smooth stream line edges to avoid snagging on vines, carpet, tripwires etc. The closed hook loops are large enough for running a spare set of laces through in a pinch, but smooth and closed sufficiently to avoid snags making them good for rope work or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane in style (like the boys over at Magpul Core).

Materials.

The materials consist of a split between nylon Cordura and a partially perforated leather. The sole is the multi-directional, multi-surface LOWA tread pattern. It ships with a great medium thickness nylon boot lace that stays tied (a nice touch, since some boots — even from high end manufacturers — arrive equipped with sad little laces). The perforated leather upper is part of the moisture management system designed to keep feet dry; this along with an excellent foot-bed, and heel cup will reduce blistering and hot spots. The 2.00mm Cordura tongue and GTX lining is described as “Hydrophobic”, as are my toes after walking 40 miles and running into a stream.

After 3 months the water proof and breathability of continues to perform as described.

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Features.

As I mentioned, there’s more to meets the eye with any LOWA products out. These were no exception. My favorite feature (besides the awesome grip they had on wet rock and ability to wick mud away) is that Monoframe midsole. The skeletonized midsole “Monoframe” is designed to provide supination and pronation stability. This is most apparent, and appreciated, while side hilling and contouring hill sides. They increase stability and the ankle erect as possible on the down-hill outer ankle and erect in the inner ankle of the uphill foot. This positive surprise realized in reduced outer and inner thigh fatigue causing the hiker to have to switch back less while moving up hill.

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Thus far they have proven to be very good boots indeed. We’ll see how they perform in other environments during the months ahead.

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From the manufacturer.

• UPPER: Extra-rugged 2.0MM hydrophobic split leather and Cordura® provides durability in harsh conditions, while the perforated leather improves breathability.
• CLOSED LIGHT METAL HOOKS: Allow for speed lacing, meeting jump boot requirements.
• LINING: Waterproof, breathable, GORE-TEX® lining.
• MIDSOLE: Our patented PU Monowrap® construction keeps this boot lightweight, while providing maximum support. This unique frame construction also features a special medial sole wrap for protection against abrasion while rappelling.
• FOOTBED: Climate Control footbed.
• STABILIZER: Stiff nylon.
• OUTSOLE: LOWA Cross Duty sole unit.

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More Info:

LOWA Boots USA is online here; follow them on Instagram @LOWAboots. Subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

 


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