The burden we place on ourselves when hunting mountainous terrain is very real and one of the most crucial factors in the overall success of our outings is how well our feet perform. Struggle with improper footwear and at the least you’ll be in for an uncomfortable few days. However, on the other end of the scale you could easily be faced with a trip that is totally ruined. A huge dictator of your success during mountain hunting excursions are your boots and more importantly, how well they fit and perform, especially when the going gets heavy and the days very long.
Lowa are a well-regarded provider of quality footwear. Being 100% hand crafted in Europe for well over 90 years, they have established recognition
and acclaim for providing some of the finest boots to hunters, hikers, climbers and mountaineers. During this period, Lowa has received worthy accolades for adhering to the European Unions most stringent manufacturing, environmental and labour regulations. They are also the only footwear company to be granted the ISO 9001 status for their highest quality construction and process standards.
We eagerly accepted a pair of the updated Ranger lll GTX for review. I also just happened to have a few trips planned and looked forward to taking them into the Victorian high country for a hike and more importantly to see how well they handled our terrain.
An updated version of the popular Lowa Ranger ll GTX®, the newly upgraded Ranger lll GTX® features an improved VIBRAM® Natural outsole which provides a rugged tread for assured traction and comfortable hiking. The boot is created around a classic one piece design, with a primary focus on it being adaptable and capable of handling moderate loads on and off the trail. The upper of the Ranger lll GTX® has also received a face lift and is now comprised of a new rich embossed waxed nubuck leather and finished off with an abrasion resistant wrap around rand. The overall look provides for a boot that is aesthetically pleasing and de- signed for the job of tackling mountains.
Other features of the Lowa Ranger lll GTX® include a GORE-TEX® lining, which allows for adequate waterproof comfort and ensures that breathability is also maintained via the use of a Gortex membrane. The boot is centered around a balanced comfort foot bed and features a PU midsole with a SPS Cushion. The stabiliser portion of the Ranger lll GTX®
is comprised of Nylon and is 5mm thick in the heel & 3mm in the forefoot. A C-4 tongue and tongue stud/X-Lacing system help ensure proper fitting and further avoid troublesome tongue slippage. The Ranger lll GTX® weighs 1640g and also comes in a extra wide version for people with those special requirements.
Like some guys out there, I too seem to have particular footwear requirements that need to be addressed in order for me to find a boot that won’t cause me prob- lems when on the hill. I’ve been fortunate enough to have laced up a variety of high end mountain boots over the years. Some have bode really well with me and others not as much. For the best outcome when purchasing boots, I really believe that they should be tried on and properly fit- ted prior to being purchased. As opposed to the method of buying sight unseen via the internet shopping approach, which can lead to disappointment if you are not familiar with the boots being purchased. This is where a retailer stocking your intended boot is especially handy and so crucially important. In my particular case, I was lucky enough to meet up with the guys from Lowa at a recent Shot Expo in Sydney. Other then being properly sized up, I was also able to discuss important aspects of proper boot care and mainte- nance, which I was happy to find out, is also a highly important aspect in Lowa’s approach to making and selling boots.
After being properly fitted, it was determined that I have a wide foot and that I required a boot applicable to my needs. Fortunately for me, the Ranger lll GTX® also come in a wide boot version. This allowed me to be expertly sized and fitted. From the onset, these boots have felt good on my feet. No initial rubbing or awkwardness, left me feeling a little more than assured and confident. However, I also knew good and well that the true test would come when I started trekking in them with a pack on my back. As a precursor to a planned multi- day backpack hunt, I took the opportunity to wear the boots into some mountainous terrain around northeast Victoria for their maiden journey. The going was rough enough during this trip for me to get a good feel for the boots and I came away feeling quietly confident with the backpack trips that were soon to come.
Before too long I was preparing for a multi-day backpack hunt into the Vic Alps. During that trip we did some k’s with laden packs in mountainous sub-alpine terrain, as we searched for ideal locations to hunt deer. It’s always a great situation when you can walk with strength and confidence in a quality pair of boots. It’s
a feeling that provides surety, allowing for you to get on with the task of hunting deer. For the duration of the trip my feet stayed dry, remained free of any hot spots or blisters and overall handled the hike superbly.
When your boots are new, the initial wearing-in phase is most crucial in deter- mining whether your boots will give you ‘hot spots’. These ‘hot spots’ more often than not have a tendency to eventuate into blisters. When blisters occur on your feet during a multi day mountain adventure, the out come is generally never much fun. In many cases, it pays to pre-wear your boots before any initial trip into the mountains. When brand new, I usually try to wear them around home or out and about town. This will give be you an initial feel for the boots and help with the process of breaking them in. If a serious multi-day trip is planned for the initial walk in a new pair of boots, then I prefer to do some short day hikes in some mountainous country close to home. This serves as a pre cursor and will inevitably help better prepare you for any potential issues that you may encounter when the boots are new.
The Ranger lll GTX® is a versatile sub-alpine hiking boot, designed to meet the needs of those looking for protection and surety when hunting mountainous terrain. I experienced great comfort and overall success whilst wearing these boots and can recommend them to anyone with bush hiking in mind.