Nearly every major hiking boot brand has its signature model, and for Lowa, it’s the Renegade GTX. We took the popular mid-height boot out backpacking and day hiking in Washington’s rugged Central and North Cascades. Loaded down with gear and traveling over sometimes questionable terrain, we came to appreciate its widespread appeal. The boot is comfortable and supportive, relatively light for what it is, and for those with hard-to-fit feet, available in an impressive range of sizes and widths. Below we break down the Lowa Renegade’s comfort, weight, traction, durability, fit, and more. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best hiking boots.
Outside of initially trying on the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, my boots went directly from the box to the trail for a multi-day backpacking trip into Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness. While this isn’t an ideal way to break-in any hiking footwear, the Renegade proved to be comfortable straight away. The feeling underfoot is just what I want out of a serious backpacking boot: firm with enough stiffness for long uphill slogs, along with a soft collar for cinching the laces. Further, the midsoles offer sufficient isolation from the trail even with a loaded down pack and lots of hiking and scrambling over rock. And I didn’t come to appreciate this until later, but this is high praise for a boot: once we arrived at our lake-side destination that evening, I didn’t even think to swap out the Renegade for a pair of camp shoes (I just loosened the laces a little bit).
Weighing 2 pounds 10 ounces on our scale in a men’s size 9, the Lowa Renegade undercuts much of its midweight competition. This includes boots like the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (2 pounds 13.8 ounces), Arc’teryx Bora2 Mid GTX (2 pounds 12 ounces), and even the less supportive Keen Durand Mid WP (2 pounds 13 ounces). The Lowa feels solid rather than flexible and light, and we still prefer a boot like the 2-pound Salomon X Ultra 3 for fastpacking, but the Renegade’s weight is pretty impressive considering the high levels of comfort and support.
Typically, stepping up to a quality boot gets you great all-around traction, and the Renegade GTX doesn’t disappoint. Lowa employs Vibram for their outsoles, and the tread pattern mixes stickiness over rock and roots with plenty of bite in hardpack, soft dirt, and snow. On a recent backpacking trip, the boot excelled while descending steep granite and loose, dusty trails. As my hiking partner was carefully assessing his steps in a pair of budget-friendly Keen Targhees, I moved with full confidence in the grippy Vibram rubber. One area we haven’t tested the Renegade’s traction is mud but we expect it to perform competitively there as well.
Breathability rarely is a strong suit of a leather hiking boot–and we certainly didn’t mind the cool feeling of an alpine stream surrounding the shoe as we were testing the waterproofing—but the Renegade gets a passing grade here. The leather that covers the majority of the boot’s upper is thin enough that it doesn’t turn it into a sauna, and the insole and lining do a decent job absorbing and dissipating moisture. It was hot on the trail and we had plenty of sun exposure, but I didn’t sweat excessively or develop any hot spots or discomfort.
The “GTX” in the name gives away the Renegade’s waterproof design. Gore-Tex is a mainstay on hiking boots $200 and up, and along with a solid leather upper and water repellant coating, the boot hasn’t leaked a drop. The great summer weather hasn’t afforded us our usual opportunities to hike in the wet Pacific Northwest, but we’ve given it a fair shake by crossing and standing in streams whenever possible. Even as the miles add up, the waterproofing is holding strong. The waterproof build and modest insulation from the Gore-Tex liner also should make the Renegade Mid good for snowshoeing in mild temperatures.
Stability and Support
Additional stability and support is one of the main arguments for stepping up to a tough boot like the Lowa Renegade. While it’s not overly stiff by any means—it was comfortable enough to wear without any break-in period—the boot is noticeably more rigid underfoot than a lightweight shoe like the Merrell Moab 2. The Renegade is accomplished for hauling a heavy load—I’ve worn the boot weighted down with a backpacking pack, as well as a few trips with 40 pounds worth of a hiking baby carrier, child, and assorted gear, and am yet to roll an ankle. While the lacing system doesn’t secure your foot as well as Salomon’s Quest 4D 3, the three sets of locking hooks tighten evenly and the boot’s solid platform is easy to trust on technical and off-camber sections of trail. If you prioritize a stable ride or like the safety net that comes with a sturdy boot, the Renegade is a great choice.
We’re still early to make a long-term judgment on durability, but I’m not convinced the Renegade has the toughest build within the midweight market. Thus far, the boot has seen a mix of on and off-trail use within the granite-filled Cascade Mountains of Washington. And while the upper materials are holding up well to abrasion and the tread hasn’t chipped away like some rubber will on the unforgiving rock, there is a little separation developing between the toe rubber and the leather upper on the right boot. To us, the issue seems to be that these two pieces meet halfway up the toe—unlike boots like the Salomon Quest 4D 3 that have a toe cap that extends all the way over the toes. More trail time will tell if this crack expands, but it is a slightly worrisome sign after only a couple months of use.
We suspect a big part of the Renegade’s popularity is its excellent fit. No one boot will be ideal for all foot types, but the Renegade gets pretty darn close. I got my typical men’s size 9 in a regular width and found it fits true. The heel is snug and stays securely into place—helped by the three sets of locking lace hooks—and the toe box is roomy enough for the toes to spread and not get mashed on long descents. What sets the Renegade Mid apart is its available sizes, which range from 7.5 to 15 in men’s and 5.5 to 11 in women’s, along with narrow, regular, and wide widths. For those that struggle to get a good fit, the Renegade is one of the best options we’ve seen.
What We Like
- Very comfortable underfoot along with great cushioning around the ankle.
- Stable and easy to trust on difficult trails and with a heavy pack.
- Available in a big range of sizes and narrow, regular, and wide widths.
What We Don’t
- Potential long-term durability concerns where the rubber toe cap meets the leather upper.
- Lacing system falls a little short of the Salomon Quest 4D 3.
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||$230||Midweight||2 lb. 10 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Nubuck leather|
|Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX||$230||Midweight||2 lb. 14 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Nubuck leather / mesh|
|Arc'teryx Bora2 Mid GTX||$330||Midweight||2 lb. 12 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||PU coated textile|
|Vasque St. Elias GTX||$199||Heavyweight||3 lb. 1 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Nubuck leather|
|Asolo Fugitive GTX||$240||Heavyweight||3 lb. 1 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede leather / nylon|
|Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX||$165||Lightweight||2 lb. 0 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Suede leather / nylon|
The push for lighter footwear has done little to diminish the Lowa Renegade’s popularity. Its excellent comfort, support, and foot protection makes it a year-round favorite for hikers, backpackers, and snowshoers alike. The $230 price tag is about $100 more than lightweight boots like the Merrell Moab 2 and Keen Targhee III, but we consider the Renegade the much better option when carrying a backpacking pack or hiking over dicey or steep terrain. You get a noticeable increase in stability, traction, and build quality—with only a small weight penalty—when upgrading to the Renegade.
By far, the Renegade’s closest competitor is the über popular Salomon Quest 4D 3. These boots have gone toe-to-toe for years, and both are great options for difficult day hikes and long backpacking trips. They’re also fairly even in weight—on our scale in a men’s size 9, the Renegade weighs 2 pounds 10 ounces and the Quest 4D is slightly more at 2 pounds 13.8 ounces. In parsing out the differences, the Lowa has a more traditional upright feel in contrast to the aggressive Salomon’s stance that resembles an over-the-ankle trail runner. We also found that the Renegade offers a little better trail isolation when carrying a heavier pack, but we do prefer the Quest’s fit that can be secured tightly around the ankle for fantastic support (for more information, see our in-depth Quest 4D 3 review). Both are excellent boots—they finish towards the top in our hiking boot round-up—but the deciding factor may come down to fit: the Salomon’s are somewhat low volume and only offered in a single width, while the Renegade’s are available in narrow, regular, and wide sizes.
Two additional boots often considered alongside the Lowa Renegade are Asolo’s Fugitive GTX and Vasque’s St. Elias GTX. All three boots are built with a tough upper material, Gore-Tex lining, and proven Vibram outsoles. In addition, all are plenty supportive and comfortable for hauling a heavy load, although the Fugitive is the stiffest and requires the longest break-in. The St. Elias GTX is the least expensive choice of the group at $199, but does have a well-documented history of poor laces (that is an easy fix, however). What pushes the Renegade to the front of the pack is weight: both the Fugitive and St. Elias check in at over 3 pounds for a pair and the difference is noticeable as the miles add up.
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