A little over 12 months ago I was asked to road test a pair of LOWA Hunting and Hiking boots by Colin Shields-OAKEY OIL AND BATTERY BARN, OAKEY QLD, ant at the time I thought to myself that you can’t do a good appraisal on something like a pair of boots unless you are wearing them for along time, with this in mind I agreed to take them and put them to the test, cautioning Colin that they had to be a very good pair of boots for me to give them a good review.
A few days later a pair of LOWA boots Z-8S GTX’s arrived in the mail as agreed. I took them out of the box for a close inspection to find what appeared to be a pair of very well made high quality hunting and hiking boots. I went over each boot thoroughly looking for any obvious flaws in the manufacture, ie; poor stitching, any raised lumps or bumps in the lining that may cause irritation to a persons feet and the preliminary inspection that I did showed I had a very well made boots manufactured to a very high standard.
The inside of the boots appears to be a memory foam type substance that readily adapts to the shape of the wearers feet giving really good support around the heel and ankle area and under the arches of the feet down to a moulding around the sides of the toes, right around both sides of the foot and the heel, the support comes up high enough to protect the side of the foot and stops your feet from moving the in the boot in a way that is likely to cause blisters.
These boots provide very good ankle support with the high tops of these boots being padded right up the inside and when laced up they become the shape of the wearers heel, ankle and lower leg giving an unbelievable amount of comfort and support. The soles of these boots are a moulded one piece rubber type material with a very good open tread pattern which helps stop them from becoming clogged up with mud, stones etc. Although the soles are quite thick they have a softness and suppleness to them that flexes as you walk helping to clean any mud etc out of the tread giving good grip, contact and feel for someone making their way through uneven terrain.
Initially I tried on the boots and wore them around home for a few hours and finding them to be very comfortable but perhaps a little stiff in the soles compared to what I was used to.
I decided our freezer needed filling with venison and grabbed a rifle and backpack with all the necessary gear to hunt and retrieve a deer out of the bush. I am fortunate that I live in an area where it is only a short trip from home to get a deer for meat and 15 mins later in the Toyota had me parked in a paddock ready to go hunting, as a precaution I shoved an old pair of sneakers in the pack in case I got sore feet as is often the case with a pair of new boots.
The areas where I hunt are extremely steep with a lot of loose rock very long grass at times and thick lantana and a healthy population of red deer. I set our along the valley floor gradually working my way up the side to get a good vantage point to use the binos to locate the deer, as I walked along I noticed the stiffness appeared to have gone from the soles of the boots giving me good flexibility and grip while climbing up over gravelly ridges, loose rock etc, walking about a kilometre and finding a good place to glass from I sat down at the base of a large boulder looking around for a deer, after 10-15 mins I spotted 4 does and a yearling feeding in a patch of green panic (grass) high a up above me about 600 yrds away, to get a favourable wind and the possibility of a shot the only way was straight up and around above them, a climb of about some 700-800 yrds, it appeared they were feeding and not going anywhere so I set off to close the gap. Clambering over rocks, sticks and lantana with as much caution as possible, 20 mins later found me on the valley wall directly opposite. With a good lean on a rock and using my backpack as a rest in no time I had a yearling on the grass ready to be field dressed and packed out. All the dressing out done, 15 mins later I had the deer ready to carry back to the Toyota. I normally carry a yearling like this out in one piece and as in most instances in this country it is a very steep down hill hike, a bigger older deer I would have had to quarter it to carry it out.
With the deer set up for a kiwi style carry out I set off down the mountain towards to Toyota about a kilometre away. This is where the boots are put to the test, walking downhill in extremely steep conditions in ling grass etc carrying a body of venison. This certainly tested the ankle support and the ability of these boots to grip and mould to the shape of uneven terrain while carrying a heavy weight as well as the pack and rifle. Anyone who has done much of this sort of hunting and carrying out bodies of meat realize it is sometime a darn sight harder walking downhill than uphill, with the very real risk of a bad fall in a remote location.
I picked my way downhill and make my way to the vehicle and realized I had a pair of boots with good ankle support and grip on uneven ground for carrying out these heavy weights.
The boots lace up nicely across the top of the instep holding the ankle in place and stopping your feet from sliding forward in the boots while going downhill. This is very important because if you slide forward in this situation it puts a lot of pressure on your toenails and the tops of your toes. I have in fact seen hunters doing carry outs or just with a heavy backpack in this situation ending up with blackened big toenails that are extremely tender and be hardly able to walk let alone hunt for some time afterwards.
I used these boots for several more hunts at home finding them comfortable and reliable. Then the opportunity came to work, hunt and fish on a large cattle station in the Northern Territory, we moved from Qld to NT for 7 months and being a FIFO position could only take one pair of boots, so these LOWA boots were to become my work, hunting and go to town boots for the next 7 months. On arrival at Kununarra (W.A.) we were driven back to the property in the NT where I drove the grader doing station roads and firebreaks. We were camped in a caravan towed behind the grader visiting rivers and billabongs in some of the most remote and beautiful places in the East Kimberley area. Almost every afternoon offered the opportunity to go hunting and fishing and whenever we had the time to ourselves about all you can do is hunt and fish which suits me just fime.
Apart from wearing these boots to work everyday they have been worn on dozens of wild pig and scrub bull hunts, countless fishing trips in some of the best barra fishing areas in the world, hiking along river and billabong banks as we didn’t have a boat to access the water.
Unfortunately our time came to an end in the Territory and we are back in QLD in good deer country with an empty freezer and I need to find some good venison, I find myself lacing up my LOWA boots and heading out to find a deer as these boots have proven the test of time and have become a part of my day to day hunting gear.
As they are approaching 12 months of continuous use sometime under atrocious conditions, apart from being badly discoloured and the normal scuff marks from a lot of use these boots appear as though they are going to last me for a long time to come. Through their endurance and comfort they have won me over and I would have no problem recommending these LOWA boots as a high quality hard wearing and comfortable hunting and hiking boot.
Yours in hunting