As I post this article, Honolulu is in “lockdown” mode. Our health professionals tell us to eat nutritious food, keep a social distance and maintain an exercise regimen. For me that means a daily walk around the neighborhood or a hike with the doggy up the Mau’umae trail, not far from my home.
During this tumultuous time, putting one foot in front of the other is great therapy and in order to do so it helps to have good shoes on your feet.
I’ve become a big fan of Lowa, a German manufacturer of high-end hiking boots and athletic shoes.
In my opinion they make some of the best “crossover” sneakers–shoes that can be worn in the wilderness, at work or on social occasions. The second reason is pure bias. I have dual German/American citizenship, so the made-in-Germany aspect is a no-brainer. (Of course it doesn’t hurt that the quality of German products is generally first class).
Lowa is no exception.
Founded by a Bavarian cobbler named Lorenz Wagner, the company has been around since 1923. Herr Wagner was onto something because nearly 100 years later, LOWA is a worldwide brand that annually sells over 2 million pairs of boots and shoes in over 40 countries. The firm is still based in Wagner’s home village of Jetzendorf, in Bavaria which is about an hour north of Munich.
The Innox Pro Lo, resembles an athletic shoe but is actually a cross between a running shoe, a trail running shoe and a hiking boot. What I like is that you get the best of all possible worlds with this product.
For starters, the Innox Pro Lo is really light (350 grams or .77 lb). The shoes have a synthetic, mesh fabric upper with a “PU” or polyurethane frame for durability, shock-absorption and stability. LOWA says that they are one of the few outdoor footwear companies that manufacture 90% of their line using polyurethane (PU) midsoles. PU absorbs shock, supports and rebounds well and, is durable. LOWA claims a PU midsole also offers excellent support, lasts 2-5 times longer than a comparable EVA midsole and, is much less toxic to manufacture.
The lightweight mesh outer is sturdy and very breathable. This was a big deal for me in Hawaii and for that matter in Fiji, where I spend quite a bit of time in the bush. Many of the Lowa shoes use Gore-Tex which is waterproof but the Innox doesn’t have this component which is why I chose it.
There are good reasons for not having the Gore-Tex waterproof element.
A waterproof shoe by definition doesn’t let water in. If you’re walking the streets of Fiji’s capital (Suva) in a downpour you’d surely want a waterproof shoe.
However, if you’re ankle deep on muddy trail in the wilds of Abaca on Viti Levu, water will get in. The problem with a waterproof shoe, is once water gets in your shoe, it doesn’t get out. You don’t want to be walking around incessantly with soggy feet.
Thus a ‘non-waterproof’ shoe by allowing water to go in and out, will dry out faster.
For people who plan to encounter serious mud, as you’d expect in the tropics, you’d want a shoe with these qualities, not to mention breathe-ability in a hot climate.
Another reason I like this shoe is that it can handle a variety of terrain. Whether you’re in the Costco parking lot or romping up the 1,048 steps of Koko Head Crater Stairs, this shoe can handle it.
The sole has really deep lugs which serve two purposes. The lugs give you great purchase yet are spaced out enough that they kick out small stones and mud so you don’t end up taking it with you. The sole has wonderful arch support while at the same time is flexible like a running shoe. It also has stability in the mid sole, akin to a hiking shoe. The toe is reinforced to protect you, which is a good thing.
It’s exceptionally comfortable too so you can make it an everyday shoe. The first time you slip into a pair you’ll feel right at home.
You can easily wear these shoes around town, to a BBQ (when that comes back into vogue), or even on a hike.
I wear the Innox non-stop. I take it out on the trail near my home in both wet and dry circumstances and it functions exactly as I would like, meaning I wear it with confidence.
At $175, it’s not cheap but you really do get what you pay for. They are manufactured in Slovakia and the quality of workmanship and materials is evident. A less expensive shoe is not going to have the capabilities much less durability of this Teutonic hybrid. You can get them directly from Lowas online.