January 27, 2011

A blind date that turned into a love affair...

Northern Lights in Iceland

My husband and I married to join the Peace Corps together, but that’s not the love affair I’m speaking of (although we’re still completely in love). My love affair has been with a pair of Lowa hiking shoes. Just a few weeks before we packed most of our belongings into storage and the remaining select items into our luggage to head off for the Peace Corps, my husband ordered a pair of Lowa boots online.

When they arrived, he found them to be too tight. I found them to be the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Wearing these shoes, I am totally unaware that I am wearing shoes at all, because they fit so well. They have never rubbed, caused blisters, or made my feet sore. I can wear them all day, day after day, and my feet still feel terrific.

Finger Lakes, New York

These boots accompanied me to Suriname, and more recently to Iceland (they were the only pair of shoes I brought). I wear them in the spring and in the fall when I stack the wood that keeps us warm all winter. I wear them for hikes in the beautiful region of the Finger Lakes in Upstate NY that I call home. And now that one of them is beginning to deteriorate, I’m concerned that I’ll never find a pair this perfect to replace them.

The left shoe has remained in great condition, but for some reason the right has started to come apart. I kept wearing them this fall despite this, because I couldn’t stand to say goodbye! But thank you for providing me with so many years of excellent footwear—they have lasted just shy of 10 years! I hope to find another pair of Lowas very soon for the decade to come.


Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 25, 2011

Zephyr Deserts in Afghanistan

Dear LOWA;

I purchased a pair of Lowa Zephyr Desert boots when I learned my unit was going to Afghanistan.

After walking over 450 kilometers through the rugged terrain consisting of rock, wadi lines that soaked our boots daily, and desert with thorny bushes, I discovered that my boots had finally started to wear out.

They lasted longer than other boots I have owned and I plan to get another pair soon.

Even though they are rotting from constant immersion in mud and water they are still comfortable.

Thank you for making such a quality product.
-  SSG McKinnis, Infantry Squad Leader, Afghanistan

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 21, 2011

Blind Hikers Trek the Andes

* 16-year-old Andrew trekked to Machu Picchu with a group of 18 American teens, 5 who were blind and 4 sight-impaired.

Machu Picchu. Over 500,000 tourists visit this ancient Peruvian city every year. I wanted to be one of those people, and this summer I got the chance.

The cards were stacked against my being able to go — I'm 16, I'm blind, and Peru isn't exactly around the corner from Greenwich, Connecticut. I got the opportunity through a group called Global Explorers, a nonprofit organization that specializes in sending middle and high school students to interesting places around the globe.

Global Explorers teamed up with Erik Weihenmayer, the first and only blind athlete to summit Mt. Everest, and put together a hiking trip for both blind and sighted people. I applied, was accepted, and before I knew it I was on a plane to Lima, Peru!

Eighteen students and five group leaders headed out from Cusco to what we referred to as the "Super Inca Trail". The trail was "super" because it was longer, higher and more challenging than the trail the average tourist takes.

Our route was 6 days long, taking us to a highpoint of 15,200 feet above sea level. In order to complete the trail, we divided into teams of two or three.

A sighted team member would walk ahead of the blind one with a cowbell, and the blind person would follow the ringing sound and the occasional voice commands.

The trick for the guides was to speak as little as possible. Usually the guides would only talk to mention drop-offs on the side of the trail.

We eventually got creative with describing exactly what would happen if one of us slipped.

A "mildly annoyed" fall meant the worst bruises would be to your pride.
An "organ donor" fall was a bit more serious.
"Headaches" were rocks that jutted out at eye level.

 Descriptions like these helped to make hiking more exhilarating and fun for everyone.

With the excitement of the hike and the ever-present knowledge that a missed step just might land me in a Peruvian body bag, I was glad that I didn't have to worry about comfort on the trail.

My Lowa Boots kept my feet feeling great, even after nine and a half hours of hiking!

If I accidentally stepped in water, the only way I would know was if people told me — my feet stayed warm and dry. After my trek to Machu Picchu, I can't imagine hiking in anything but Lowas! Thanks, again, for the boots!

Thanks, LOWA!
Andrew J

PS - Next year I hope to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro and of course my Lowas will be with me!

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 20, 2011

Now THAT's a Boot!

Dear LOWA,

I kidnapped a friend for her 50th birthday to hike the Grand Canyon at the last minute, a first for her.

Her boots didn't fit ~ she'd been meaning to get some Lowa Renegades and mentioned the size she needed. I bought a pair for her to try on when we got up there. She tried them on, they fit, and she wore them into the Grand Canyon one day and out the next without a single foot complaint.

I had confidence that was a possibility because I bought my first pair of Renegades shortly before a trip to the GC and had no problems at all. Now THAT's a boot!

~ Dena P.

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 19, 2011

Dispatches From Dhaulagiri

It's been awhile since we've been able to send an update. We're resting at Base Camp with everyone safe and sound.

The weather has been terrible. Fierce winds kept us at Camp 3, making it impossible to go higher. During a break in the weather, the Climbing Sherpa made their way up to Camp 4 placing fixed line along the route.

Finally, a quiet morning allowed us to set our sights on the ridge - though ice and rock and very technical terrain made it slow going. Late in the day, the winds picked up making progress even more difficult.

As darkness fell, the Climbing Sherpa, who had arrived the night before, helped us to reach Camp 4. We were exhausted after 14 hours of intense climbing.

We rejoiced in making it to Camp 4 though weather was preventing us from any attempt to go higher.

Our tents were battered by heavy winds and we rested in the thin air, waiting for a break in the weather. In the early morning of the following day, we got our opening. The winds died and we raced to get ready. We put on oxygen and began the climb, though by then the winds had already picked up again.

By early afternoon, we'd reached 25,000 feet. It was on this "perch" where fierce winds and difficult route conditions forced us make a hard decision: we had to go down. Ole, Tommy and I headed Camp 3. We arrived as darkness fell and got some muchg-needed rested. Those who stayed at high camp had a more difficult time of it, as the storm worsened.

The following morning, the remaining team members returned to Camp 3. Ahead of the storm, we continued our descent to Camp 2. It felt great to get into thicker air. After the storm passed, we descended to Base - our home away from home. What a surprise! Ang Dawa and the kitchen staff were waiting with a great meal and drinks.

So, what's next? For some, home, children, and work forced a difficult decision: they are leaving the mountain.

For the remaining climbers, we will rest and head back up there for another try. Adam, Dave, Ole and Ben will certainly be missed. This is a huge loss for the team, however everyone is behind the decision to go.

We wish them a safe journey home.

Thanks for everything, Lowa.
Mike L

* Editor's note: Weather plays a leading role on most climbing expeditions - and it can be friend or foe. After two more attempts to reach the summit, the core team conceded the weather had "won." They would need to return at a later date to achieve their goal. Team members have all arrived safely home to the US, Greece and Argentina. We applaud their efforts and wish them well.

Kept My Toes

Dear Lowa Boots,

I am writing to thank you for making the ice climbing boots that let me keep my toes. I was wearing my Lowa mountaineering boots when I survived a brutal experience under extreme conditions:

My partner, Mike, and I tackled the Liberty Ridge on Mount Rainier. The weather was unusually warm, so we encountered some tough conditions: soft snow, rock fall, and dense ice on the upper part of the Ridge. After three open bivouacs, we summitted on June 21, 1992.

As we descended the Emmons Glacier Route, we were in a relatively "safe" locale called The Corridor. Roped together, and probing for crevasses as we went, we were just an hour from being off the glacier... Suddenly, I sunk in the wet snow up to my ankle, then my shin, then my knee...crevasse! A hidden snowbridge three feet thick collapsed beneath my feet. I warned Mike with, "FALLING!"

Gravity pulled me through the rotten snowbridge and blackness swallowed me. I was inside the slot. As a friend and as a partner, Mike was totally solid. Though he dug in hard in self-arrest, the sloppy snow would not hold, so he too got pulled into the crevasse. We were both in mid-air, and going all the way to the bottom. Bouncing madly from one icy wall to the other, I got beat up all the way down. Desperately trying to grab a ledge, I heard my gloves whiz across the rock hard ice in the darkness. The sound was high pitched, and the speed amazing. We were going in deep.

WHAM! I felt a crushing impact on my back and heard air rush from my lungs as I landed hard on a snow pile. I had survived the fall! But a second later, the collapsing snowbridge completely buried Mike and me. After several attempts, I managed to free an arm from the debris pile and clear off my face. Scared out of my mind, I fought to dig myself out while yelling for Mike into the darkness.

I am deeply saddened to tell you that before I could dig myself out or find Mike, he passed away beneath the snow. I found him later, and tried CPR, but it was too late. In shock, I realized that I was alone 80 feet down inside the crevasse. The ledge we were on was about eighteen inches wide. Walls of ice pressed against us, the cold seeping in.

The crevasse walls back to the surface were bullet-hard ice. They were vertical, then overhanging. I struggled to find the technique and the heart to climb out alone. But I did start moving up. I soloed, aid-climbed, and leap frogged my four ice screws up the wall. Up and down the wall I struggled, pulling the lower ice screws to reuse them higher. As I did, record high temperatures back on the surface melted the snowbridge dangling far above my head. Cold melt water rained down inside the crevasse during the six hours it took me to climb up the overhanging ice wall. I was thoroughly soaked.

Sixty feet up the wall, just below an ice roof, I hung from a screw to rest. Exhausted, I stared at my feet. As I shifted about on my front points, my moving feet forced cold melt water back out the tops of my boots. I was down there in the black icebox for a long time. Sad thoughts of my friend crushed my spirit and severe doubts about my own survival sapped my courage. I was hypothermic and seriously injured, but I made it out. I was driven by my obligation to my partner, and to those back home who cared about us both.

A day later, with the generous help of other climbers and rangers, I finally made it to medical help. The treating ER doctor scowled as he poked my white, wrinkled feet with a wooden tongue depressor. "Looks like you got some bad feet here. Frostbite?" I took a look and muttered, "I don't think so - maybe trench foot."

"Probably frostbite, especially in light of what you went through down there. Let's let them air dry for a while and take another look."

Thirty minutes later, he returned to poke at my feet once again while scowling even more. Nervously, I awaited his assessment. He straightened up, lifted his furrowed brow and said, "You're right. No frostbite."

I cracked a weak smile, held up my green Denalis and said, "Bought the best boots I could." He arched his eyebrows and said, "Good choice."

After a long recovery, I am back to ice climbing. I continue to wear Lowas.

Thanks so much for making the boots that let me keep my toes.

Jim Davidson
Fort Collins, Colorado
Speaking of Adventure

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 18, 2011

Unbeatable Boots!


Just had to let you know that after a ten-day, sixty mile hike in Kluane National Park, my feet were the happiest of all my friends!

Here are some photos of me and my happy feet. I'm on top of Bear Mountain at Bear Lake on Baranof Island — where I live and hike in my LOWAs every day.

As a guide, I wear my LOWAs everywhere. A trip to the grocery store won't fly if I'm not in my LOWAs.

From a happy customer in Alaska... I send many thanks and praise for these UNBEATABLE BOOTS!

Cindy E.
Anchorage, Alaska

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 17, 2011

Hard Feet to Please

I am a survival instructor in the USAF. I have worn my Tibet GTXs in the mountains of Washington to the mountains of Afghanistan and a whole lot of places in-between. I have hard feet to please but have never had a single problem with these boots since i walked out of the store almost 4 years ago. My only issue with these boots is that that when they finally wear out, they leave me no option but to buy another pair. Of course, that's if they wear out...

Johnny K.

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 16, 2011

My Tibets Get Two Thumbs Up

To say that my wife and I are outdoor adventurers is an understatement. We both love to hike the great mountains of Colorado, as well as backpack the canyons of Utah.

Recently, I underwent total ankle reconstruction. The most important thing for me, after this surgery, was to continue hiking, hunting, and exploring. LOWA has ensured that I can do all of those things. I found the ankle support and comfort I needed in the Tibet GTX boot from LOWA. The solid leather sidewalls along with the Vibram sole are a perfect match for comfort and stability.

During the archery season in Colorado, my wife and I must have put over 400 miles on our LOWA boots. I was surprised to discover that these boots were comfortable right out of the box and did not need to be broken in.

Thanks LOWA for providing a solid product that will last forever. You guys deserve two thumbs up from my wife and I! I would recommend LOWA to anyone who needs a pair of boots they can rely on.

Sincerely, Jason B

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 14, 2011

The Road To Kathmandu

Double-check your brakes before heading to the finish line. Lhasa to Kathmandu is the world's longest & deepest mountain bike descent.

On road and off road trails between Lhasa and Kathmandu are plentiful - and odd! You never know who you might meet along the way. But, they're good people and they take great interest in us wasting time on follies, such as biking, when the snows are coming and cattle must be moved to lower elevations.

It takes about 4 days, round trip, for stories that will last a lifetime. Go off road to Rongbuk and view the north face of Mount Everest. Continue on to Everest Base Camp – not many people arrive there – on a bike.

Once you reach the Tibetan Frontier at Thang La, the hard work is over. Now begins the longest descent in the world, an astonishing drop of 10,000 feet to Nepal.

Kick back with a bottle of Tiger beer and Chicken Tanduri. The restaurant bill should set you back $2.00 US dollars – which makes spoiling yourself with a massage a whole lot easier…

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

The Pacific Crest Trail

I had a few personal days to burn before the new year. What better way to spend them than a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)??

Problem was... it was pretty short notice and I was a bit wanting for winter backpacking gear. Credit card in hand I headed to the local REI. At the top of my list was a new pair of boots, since my old boots were too worn to risk the inclimate weather. I tried on a few different boots before getting to the LOWAs, which were an instant match! It was like they were made for my feet, they were so comfortable immediately.

Boots in hand I finished my shopping and began to plan my trip.

This was my first experience on the PCT and also my first experience with winter backpacking.

I set my route from Warner springs to Anza, about 40 miles in 2.5 days. I figured that if I planned the route southernly enough and stayed below 6000ft I probably wouldn't run into to much snow or ice. I was wrong.

My hike consisted of endless peaks and ravines through numerous state and federal parks that all had desert somewhere in the name. The nights were a cool 22-25 degrees Fahrenheit, while the day temperatures quickly rose into the mid 60's to low 70's.

My boots took it all and kept my feet at an even temperature. With a 40-45 pound pack covering 15 miles a day through rugged terrain I have not a single blister or hot spot on my feet. All this from a boot and I didn't even get a chance to break them in!

The next time I am in the market for a pair of boots the LOWAs will be the first pair that I reach for.

Aaron B

Got a story?

January 13, 2011

Cold Mountain

I recently purchased a pair of LOWAs and I had little time to break them in. In fact the longest walk I had was 5 miles of moderate trail walking.

Yesterday, I took them to North Carolina for a trip to Cold Mountain (same mountain as the movie and novel of that name). The terrain was very rugged with steep ascents and descents,long jumbled rock gardens and numerous blowdowns. Add to all of this 11 miles of heavy rain and slick trails.

The boots performed magnificently. I not only had no blisters I didn't even have a hot spot. All of this with virtually no break-in time. The lacing system allowed me to change the fit of the boot quickly for some of the long downhills.

I have been hiking and backpacking for more than 25 years and these are BY FAR the most comfortable boots I have used.

Joe B.
Cold Mountain, North Carolina

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 12, 2011

Chef Ben's Hungry Hikers

Dear LOWA,

I own a terrific restaurant in Greenville, SC. I'm on my feet 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week cooking for my customers. And, after days like that I still have the energy for a happy home life with my wife and son.

I truly owe it to my LOWAs. They are without a doubt the most complete and comfortable shoe I've ever worn in the kitchen. (And they are grease resistant to boot!) I've tried cooking clogs, cooking shoes designed for chefs and they just cannot compete.

I started wearing LOWAs in the late 90's when I lived in Colorado. I was a baker and an absolute madman to get my feet out on a hiking trail whenever I could. Even today - with owning a restaurant and being a father - I get to the woods several times a month. My wife, Betsy, and I both believe that getting our dogs and baby boy into the natural world is imperative to a healthy, happy family.

From the kitchen to the trail, my LOWAs never leave my feet.

Ben G.
Greenville SC

When in Greenville, visit Ben's restaurant, Bistro Europa, and tell him LOWA sent you!

Chef Ben's Hungry Hiker Potatoes
This Dutch Oven recipe serves 4-6 Hungry Hikers

  • 3 lbs. of potatoes, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1 12-oz. pkg. pepperoni, prosciutto or bacon, cooked, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 12 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, garlic powder or chopped garlic cloves. For an extra kick add a dash of crushed red pepper, chipolte seasoning, or cumin.
  • Approximately 1/2-cup water

Layer potatoes, onions into the Dutch oven. Between each layer add salt, pepper, garlic, pork, and other spicy seasonings. Pour water over the top layer, cover and bake between 45 and 60 minutes. Serve with lots of cheddar cheese.

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 11, 2011

Hiking the Big Mountains of Colorado

I was getting ready to spend 10 days in Colorado doing nothing but hiking. A month before the trip, I had decided to buy a new hiking boots at REI and with the advice of one of their employees, purchased a pair of LOWA Tempest Lo's. I did not have much time to break the boots in, so as soon as I arrived in Colorado I went on a 7-mile hike to Waldo Canyon just west of Colorado Springs. The hike was great and the boots were extremely comfortable. My feet felt great.

The following day I went hiking to St. Mary's Alice just west of Denver. Not only did I hike up to the glacier, but also above and beyond. I had no problems hiking up the snow-covered glacier and once the glacier was conquered, I saw two peaks two miles ahead. This took me above treeline and beyond.

A couple more miles brought me to the base of one of the two peaks. Seeing a storm heading in, I quickly headed back to treeline. Heading down the glacier was extremely easy. The traction in these new hiking boots was awesome especially on the snow and ice. In no time I was back at the trailhead and my feet felt great.

Two days later, I went to Quandary Peak, Colorado's 13th highest mountain at 14,265 feet. Hiking up Quandary was a challenge for this lowlander, but with the comfort of these hiking boots, I made my way up with ease. Less than 500ft. from the summit, an enormous rumble of thunder halted my hike. For a moment I thought I could summit Quandary Peak, but something told me my life was worth more than this peak and I would be back another day to conquer it.

I turned around and quickly began to descend the mountain to treeline. No sooner than 30 seconds after the first ripple of thunder there was a quick flash of lightning, an immediate clash of thunder, and the ground began to shake. My quick descent turned into a thigh burning, quad killing run down to mountain to escape the storm.

It began to sleet and snow as I descended the mountain. I had to cross boulder beds at times to continue along the trail, but my LOWA's kept me from slipping on the wet boulders. Soon I was below 12,000 feet and the sun began to shine above. The sleet stopped and clear blue skies appeared above Quandary Peak. Too tired and in too much pain I depressingly continued to head down the mountain knowing that mother nature had defeated me that day. I will conquer Quandary Peak another time.

Three days later and after an hour of massage therapy on my legs, I headed out early morning with a friend to hike Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Bross. We began our hike at 6AM and it was absolutely beautiful outside.

As we were hiking up Mt. Democrat, we could see that the summit was under cloud cover. As we approached the summit the winds kept growing stronger and stronger, but we persevered and by 9:30 we had reached the summit of Mt. Democrat (14,148 ft).

At first we could not see anything more than 50 feet from us because of the cloud cover. From time to time we would get a quick glimpse of the mountain ranges off in the distance. Mt. Demo SummitStill it was beautiful up there and peaceful. On our way down the clouds began to break and we were treated to a wonderful site of the Rocky Mountains. We could see several ranges and mountains from every view - Mt. Massive, Pikes Peak, the Collegiate Peaks and Mt. Elbert. Soon we found ourselves descending 750 feet and once again ascending up toward Mt. Cameron. We reached the summit of Cameron (14,238ft), but were too exhausted to go onto Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Bross. We enjoyed the views that Cameron had to offer and we headed back down to Kite lake and eventually back to Colorado Springs.

Your hiking boots are awesome! They are the most comfortable boots I have ever hiked with and I will continue to hike with LOWA boots in the future. With all the hiking over the boulders and rocks, I found your boots to be really comfortable and provide excellent support.

Thanks for making a great hiking boot.
Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

January 9, 2011

Tarakia Waterfalls, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Tarakia Waterfalls, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Dubbed as The Tropics To The Arctic, your path to summit Kilimanjaro begins in a dense rainforest, thick with moss-blanketed trees and rushing waterfalls. Shy Blue Monkeys spy on you through the dense vegetation.

Higher and higher you trek, leaving behind the shelter of the trees, entering the Mooreland zone, speckled with tough heathers and giant lobelia flowers.

On Day 3 you should be entering an eerie alpine desert and then it's up into a winter wonderland of ice and snow.

Claim bragging rights when you reach Gillman's Point, elevation 18,635 feet on the lip of the crater. Trudge on to Uhuru Point, the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Here you’ll be standing on the Roof of Africa, on top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

And, you can do it all in a pair of sturdy hiking boots with layers of warm clothes. 

Hemingway created a false impression of this imposing giant. It kindly allows you to reach the summit without technical know-how or climbing gear. You just need a stout heart, a little perseverance and a guide.

Once your feet are firmly planted at a lower altitude, celebrate with a Pombe – the local's favorite banana beer.

Got a story?
We'd like to publish it.

Midnight Hikers

Dear LOWA:

This has been a wonderful hiking year for me. With an average of 4.5 miles per day starting at 5:00 AM or earlier, we hike Montserrat Mountain near my home in Fallbrook California. Almost all of the 1,558 feet elevation is gained in 1.2 miles with a long traverse and return.

We climb this every day of the year except for Sundays. I started a Club called the Midnight Hikers, we hike Midnight to dawn with friends and anybody we can sucker into getting up that early. So far we have five who brave the early morning.

This new hiking area was opened just a year ago and it is one of the best training hikes we have in San Diego County. I appreciate you letting me test and evaluate your boots.

The last pair you sent me had an SPS feature (Supination/Pronation Walking Support.) I'm not sure what that means but I can say out of all the boots so fare these have been the best fitting and wearing boot to date. They are leather lined, fit very well and last with no liner deteriorations which has been a problem for me in the past with the fabric liners. With a light pair of gators I even summated Mt. Fuji this year.

Thank you and Lowa for great products that give me comfort day in and day out in the back county and my every day street use. I feel privileged and honored to be able to test for you. This year we have many grand adventures lined up, The High Sierra Trail, The John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow and the 8000 Meter Challenge.

Thanks for all the years wearing your boots.

Yours in the spirit of adventure,
Wayne Gregory
Vice President of R&D

About Wayne Gregory
Wayne Gregory has spent most of his career designing backpacks that fit your body. Like a good pair of shoes, a properly fit pack will be more than comfortable; it will disappear from your mind. Today, Wayne is the Master Pack Designer and the mind behind all of Gregory’s innovative technology and continued evolution in backpack comfort, fit and durability.

Got a story?