Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Review: Living With The Legend

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Lowa’s flagship classic hiking boot has earned its place as one of the all-time greats, but how does it stack up against a new generation of lighter, faster alternatives?
Lowa Renegade GTX - Introduction
We put the Renegade’s rock-solid, do-it-all reputation to the test.



The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

Specs: 
– Price: $255
– Weight: 2.8lbs/1283 g (per pair)
– Cushion: Firm
– Waterproof: Yes (GoreTex)
– Best use: Backpacking, hiking, bushwacking
– What we like: Rugged, long-lasting, supportive, and comfortable
– What we don’t: Heavy, clunky, expensive




The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict

This is The Wise Adventurer’s review of the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, fully field-tested in the mountains of North Georgia by yours truly. There aren’t many boots out there that have been around as long as the Renegade, and even fewer with such a legendary reputation for comfort and capability, so I was more than a little excited to lace up a pair myself this fall. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - TWA Verdict
Out logging some miles on the Renegades in the North Georgia mountains.

After covering several months and countless miles in the Renegade, I’m convinced these Lowa boots live up to the hype. They’re rock-solid, supportive, and built for serious backpacking duty, and more than capable of handling just about any terrain in any weather. As is the case with most of the gear I’ve tested over the years, however, the Lowa Renegade isn’t perfect. 

Here’s my take on what’s great and what could be improved after putting a few months of wear and tear on this legendary hiker. 

Check Women’s at REI / Check Women’s at Amazon




The Test: Why You Should Trust Us

My test of the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid took place over roughly four months, from early fall to late winter of this year. Most of my time spent in the Renegades was in the North Georgia mountains, split between multi-day backpacking trips, group camping outings, and day hikes on trails around the Pine Log Wildlife Management Area. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - The Test
From hiking and backpacking to walking the pups and running errands around town: I did just about everything in these boots.

We get a pretty good mix of weather in Georgia this time of year, so I had ample opportunity to test the Renegade’s waterproofing chops, as well as how they handle slick mud, wet rocks, and mossy roots. I also took them on countless hikes around the neighborhood to log as many miles as I could during the testing period, which included everything from casual three-mile dog walks to rucking up and down hills with a 40-pound sandbag in tow. 

Detailed Evaluation of the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

First Impressions

The Lowa Renegade feels sturdy and comfortable right out of the box, but it’s definitely the kind of boot you want to spend a little time breaking in before heading out for a serious trek. That’s to be expected from an all leather upper boot with a bias toward backpacking duty, but I’d definitely recommend spending a few hours getting to know yours before committing to them. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Detailed Evaluation
This is a full leather boot, so I don’t recommend cutting any corners when finding the right size or properly breaking them in.

Ultimately I found myself exchanging my first pair in a size 10.5 for a size 11, and then exchanging those for a size 11/wide, as my little toe was just a bit too cramped on the edge of the toebox. With that being said, I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due here: If you’re the type that has a hard time finding a boot that fits well, Lowa makes the Renegade in nearly every size imaginable. 

Fit and Comfort

While every foot is different, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid was one of the few boots I tested this year that required me to step up to a “wide” size rather than their standard last shape. The normal size fit decently well in my typical size 11, however I found Lowa’s standard toe box felt a bit too cramped for comfort, even after several miles of break-in. 

Once I’d moved into their wide fit, however, everything fell right into place. The Renegades gave me support where I wanted it, a generous dose of breathable padding in the tongue and around the ankles, and a surprisingly quick and easy break-in for a full-leather boot. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Fit and Comfort
Lowa offers a great range of fits for every type of foot, but we wish they’d put a little more effort into their insole. Here’s the Renegade (white) compared to the much more comfortable and supportive insole of an Oboz Bridger.

The midsole is definitely a bit firmer than most, but if you’re looking for a serious backpacking boot that’s built to haul a heavier pack, firmer is what you want. The one place I’d say the Renegade could use a little improvement would be in the insole, as Lowa uses a simple piece of thin, uniform foam covered in a felt backing. 

That’s a bit of a bummer considering the Renegade’s asking price, especially compared to less expensive boots with much more sophisticated inserts from brands like Oboz or even Merrell. If you don’t mind a firmer touch, chances are the Renegades will suit you just fine, but I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference when testing other models back to back. 

Support and Stability

The Renegade Mid is regarded as one of the more stable and supportive boots money can buy without stepping up to a full mountaineering-style boot. Much of that comes from Lowa’s full-length stabilizer, which runs from heel to toe between the insole and midsole of the boot for added protection and rigidity. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Support and Stability
Even when loaded down on steep and loose terrain, the Renegade feels sure-footed.

In the field I found the Renegade lived up to its reputation, offering sure footing and dependable ankle support, even when I found myself toting a fully-loaded 65L pack. On rocky trails the Lowa’s firmer-than-average midsole really earned its keep, absorbing the lion’s share of any sharp points and edges passing underfoot.

Grip and Traction

Lowa specs the Renegade with a Vibram EVO outsole, and as of this writing, I love everything about it. The rubber itself is plenty grippy on slick surfaces from mossy roots to rainy sidewalks, and also seems to be particularly slow-wearing for such a grippy compound. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Grip and Traction
Lowa’s meaty lugs and excellent Vibram soles stick to everything from wet rocks to mossy roots.

In terms of outright traction, I found the Renegade’s deep and well-spaced lugs bit down into anything and everything well, which is particularly important considering the notoriously slick red clay we have here on Georgia hiking trails. The Renegades were also one of the few boots I’d recommend for more technical hiking and off-trail duty, as they perform well when side-hilling over off-camber trails or traversing the leaf-covered descents of the Georgia backcountry in the fall.  

Weight

The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid tipped our home scales at 1283g in a size 11/wide, or about 2.8 pounds per pair. That definitely puts them among the heaviest boots I tested this year, although they’re still more than 100 grams lighter per pair than the popular Salomon Quest 4 boots they compete with.

Lowa Renegade GTX - Weight
The Renegades certainly aren’t a lightweight hiking boot, but their added support and stability were a welcome tradeoff.

I had no weight-related complaints to report from my time with the Renegades, and found their added support and stability negated any fatigue typically associated with wearing heavier boots. Considering they’re on the “lighter side” of the heavy-weight category, I feel the tradeoff in protection was well worth the weight penalty. 

Durability

I read through dozens of reviews of the Renegades before I got my current pair for testing. Some folks are on their third pair and swear they’re the toughest thing they’ve ever owned, others complain about stitching coming undone and soles delamination after some basic day hiking. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering “What gives?”

Here’s my take: This is one of the best-selling boots anywhere, period. It’s currently REI’s top seller overall, which means it’s naturally going to have the highest number of total reviews for better or worse. Unfortunately people feel more compelled to leave reviews after a bad experience than a good one, and I think this explains why the Lowa Renegade can seem potentially problematic at first glance. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Durability
My Renegades are still holding up great from top to bottom, and I’d wager they’ll go for a 1,000 miles or so without issue.

For my part, I can tell you that after several months of use, I have zero durability concerns with the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid. Granted, when you’re buying a boot like this you want to know how they’ll look years from now, not months, but I’ve seen no signs of premature tread wear, delamination, or stitching issues. I’ll report back down the road with a long-term update on my Renegades, but for now I’m comfortable recommending them to anyone looking for a well-built and long-lasting boot. 

Breathability

I found breathability was about what you’d expect from a boot that’s tall, waterproof, and made entirely out of leather: It’s not a high point of these boots, but it isn’t an issue either. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Breathability
The Renegade was breathable enough to keep my feet happy, and about what you’d expect from an all-leather boot with a Gore Tex liner.

In cool to cold weather, the Lowa Renegade GTX gave me exactly what I wanted, which was a warm and comfortable feel without ever getting hot. On hikes in 70-degree weather and above they can definitely get to feeling a little stuffy, but even then they still breathe well enough to keep moisture buildup at bay, and I never had issues with sweat-soaked socks or hotspots regardless of conditions. 

Waterproofing

The Renegade is a premium, full-height hiking boot with a premium, full-height GoreTex liner. As such, my expectations for waterproofing couldn’t have been much higher, and I’m happy to report the Renegade doesn’t disappoint. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Waterproofing
These boots are happy to slog through rain, streams, and puddles, and were easily one of the best in my testing this year.

These boots haven’t leaked a single drop over the last several months, and I’ve had them in everything from rainy-day hikes to wide creek crossings. The Renegades also had no issue passing all of our intentional soak tests, and were just as dry after two seconds of submersion as they were after a full minute. Zero complaints from me. 

Value

It’s no secret that the Lowa Renegade is one of the most expensive hiking boots out there. They typically retail for around $250, which is a full $100 more than popular alternatives like the Merrell Moab 3 Mid. With that being said, the Renegade has a long track record of longevity and performance that few competitors can match at any price.

Lowa Renegade GTX - Value
The Renegade’s go-anywhere, do-anything nature doesn’t come cheap, but if a tall leather hiker is what you want, you’ll get your money’s worth out of these boots.

I see it like this: If you want a serious, do-it-all hiking boot that’ll last a very long time and handle whatever you throw at it, the Renegade’s combination of bulletproof all-leather construction, reliable waterproofing, excellent traction, and unwavering stability will be worth every penny. If you’re more of a casual hiker, weekend backpacker, or someone who rarely carries over 30lbs on their back, the Renegades may be overkill, especially if you prefer boots or trail runners with a softer midsole. 

Who Should Buy the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid?

When I imagine the prototypical “hiking boot” the Lowa Renegade GTX is exactly what comes to mind: Leather, tough as nails, super supportive, and built to haul a full pack. If a traditional hiking/backpacking boot is what you want, this is absolutely that boot, and there’s no doubt you’ll get your money’s worth out of a pair of Renegades. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - Who Should Buy
I’d recommend these boots for traditional backpacking duty all day, but they also work great for occasional hikers who prefer support and stability over plush cushioning or a featherlight built.

If you’ve owned leather hikers in the past and are looking for something a little lighter, softer, and faster, however, chances are you’ll want to look elsewhere. While I wouldn’t expect any boot in this year’s hiking boot field test to outlive the Renegade’s burly construction, there’s a lot to be gained out there nowadays if you’re willing to give up a little support and/or stability. Folks with lighter packs will get miles of smiles out of trail-runner-inspired alternatives and technical hiking shoes, so don’t sell yourself short if you’re not 100% sold on a traditional boot like the Renegade. 

Alternatives:

  • Salomon Quest 4 GTX: Another super-tough, super-supportive backpacking boot backed with oodles of protection and technical prowess. Benefits from a tech-focused design that moves naturally with your feet, but isn’t as proven in terms of durability and longevity. 
  • Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof: Checks all the important boxes for a traditional hiking boot, but does it for a lot less money. Not as capable or supportive as the Renegade, but handles everything reasonably well from day hikes to thru-hikes. 
  • Oboz Sawtooth X Mid: Another super-tough leather hiker that’s built to last, albeit with a much cushier insole and one of the springiest heels we’ve ever tested. Not quite as tall or tough, but still well above average and costs a bit less to boot. 

The Bottom Line

If a full-size, full-support hiking boot is what you want, the Lowa Renegade will deliver the goods. There are much faster, lighter, and less expensive boots out there, but as a highly capable boot that’s built to last and confident under load, the Renegade simply won’t disappoint. 

Lowa Renegade GTX - The Bottom Line
The Renegades have earned their reputation, and if support and longevity are what you’re after, they won’t disappoint.

This is one of the best-selling hiking boots of all time, and for good reason: It just does everything well. Traction, protection, comfort, and durability are all here in spades, and it’s all wrapped around a high-performance GoreTex liner that’s kept my feet dry without fail for four months now. At well over $200, the Renegade is definitely an investment, but if my current experience is anything to go by, it’s an investment that’ll pay dividends for hundreds of miles to come. 

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