In my ever present search for supportive, yet lightweight footwear I seem to keep stumbling on to amazing boots/shoes that take comfort and support to the next level. In recent years I have definitely gravitated toward ultralight footwear. To say I have adopted the old adage of “a pound on your feet is like 10 in your pack” would be an understatement.
However, I have also found there is such a thing as too light for what my feet demand to remain pain free. Ounce counting along with support considerations are vital for longevity in the field. This statement seems obvious, but sometimes we get so focused on certain criteria that we forget to look at the whole picture. The good thing is there is a slew of options in the midweight boot category that bridge the gap between ultralight shoes and supportive mountain boots.
In the spring of 2019 I was able to test a range of new boots from various manufacturers, including the Lowa Baldo GTX. The German boot company Lowa has been making quality mountain boots and shoes since 1923. They, like many of their competitors are well known for their rugged mountain boots and have really ramped up the technologies in the ever-evolving lightweight and midweight boot categories.
One of Lowa’s premier features on their boots is their X-Lacing system. This is comprised of a square stud in the middle of the upper tongue that keeps the tongue centered and the laces under consistent tension. This system, along with the roller eyelets help make up a 2-zone lacing setup for all day comfort when hiking or glassing. I’m normally a big proponent of doing a lacing adjustment a few miles into the day in order to keep your boots properly fitted (similar to tightening down a load on a trailer after a few miles down the road from the load adjusting in transit), but with this system I felt no need to adjust on the fly. I was comfortable all day. The 2-zone lacing setup does what the name implies: it gives you essentially a lower and an upper zone for custom tension on those laces in the different parts of the foot. Too often a boot company will build a boot that forces the user to have the same tension throughout, but this isn’t the case with the Baldos
Lowa has a good reputation with people that need wider boots due to the roominess in the toe box and wide boot options they offer across their line. The Baldos are roomy yet supportive and they are resoleable. Many ultralight boots are just plain worn out and re-soling isn’t an option but the Baldos give you the option to re-sole so you can continue running these boots for many years.
Last but not least is the overall comfort of the boot. Out of all the boots I tested this spring, I often commented to those in the field with me how impressed I was with the Baldo’s comfort. It was like I was walking on a pillow and the Vibram outsole (the Trac Lite II) is soft underfoot for extreme quietness when hiking, stalking, and still hunting.
If you are looking for a boot that is lighter than the traditional mountain boot (2.97 pounds per pair; 1.485 pounds per boot), and is still supportive, and gives you a custom fit and feel, check out the Lowa Baldo GTX (GTX just stands for Gore-Tex). Sportsman’s Warehouse is a Lowa dealer and you can find more info on this boot model at www.lowaboots.com. $260.