According to Greek mythology the Gorgons were three monstrous sisters, the most famous being Medusa. They had snakes for hair, and anyone who looked at them directly was turned to stone. Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who observed her in the reflection of his mirrorlike shield, thus avoiding the instant stone treatment.
You won’t turn into stone by wearing Gorgon shoes from LOWA, Germany’s foremost manufacturer of hiking boots. However, I like the idea of the mythopoetic moniker. It’s a bit prescient.
A Gorgon is a novel way to segue into the present world, beset with a biblical plague. Plagues are part of humanity and are present in mythology and the collective unconscious.
With mythos in the air, I find myself walking more than ever, generally close to my home.
Walking is also great way to fight the Covid blues. To quote CG Jung, the best way to get through tumultuous times is by putting one foot in front of the other.
I would add, while this is great therapy it certainly helps to have good quality (no less Gorgon) shoes on your feet.
My exercise is generally confined to my neighborhood or the nearby trails here in East Honolulu.
Whether it’s walking the dog on the street, or hitting the Mau’umae Trail atop Wilhelmina Rise I need a “crossover” shoe robust enough to deal with lava rock and mud yet civilized enough for a foray into Costco.
That’s where these sturdy shoes come in. LOWA makes some of the best “multifunction” athletic shoes in the business. LOWA, which became famous making boots, produces products that can be worn in the wilderness, at work or on social occasions.
Full disclosure, I do have a bias when it comes to German products. I have dual German/American citizenship, so made-in-Germany is a good thing. More often than not, it’s synonymous with quality (even if these particular shoes are manufactured in Slovakia).
So let’s delve into the design of the Gorgan.
Hybrid design/Stable Frame
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that LOWA’s boot making DNA (they’ve been making boots since 1923) shows up in every product they make. Their shoes, even if they aren’t boots, are over engineered and as solid as Krupp Stahl.
The Gorgon GTX, resembles a typical “athletic shoe” but it melds a hiking boot and an everyday walking shoe.
You get the best of all possible worlds.
The Gorgon GTX is light (380 grams or roughly .80 lb) and are designed with a synthetic, mesh fabric upper and 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.
GORE-TEX Upper construction
GORE-TEX is designed to be efficient on variable types of terrain. For my purposes, specifically for Hawaii I wanted something that was both breathable and waterproof.
Sounds antithetical but when you combine a GORE-TEX upper construction, which is completely waterproof, with judicious use of textile material in the other areas, you get both water resistance and breathability. (It’s a great winter hiking shoe in Hawaii because the Gorgon will keep your feet dry when it starts pouring).
Road-testing the Gorgon GTX
When I first tried on the Gorgon, I was surprised how stiff it was.
My only other experience with a Lowa crossover shoe was the Innox Pro Lo–a trail running and hiking hybrid which has a more flexible sole that the Gorgon. With the Gorgon it was if (surprise, surprise) I was trying on a boot. The Gorgon is a bit heavier than the Innox which presumably means there’s more material that goes into the construction.
Of course the boot-like demeaner morphed into a walking shoe the more I broke it in. It will take you a week or so of trail or street work before it becomes truly comfortable.
The Lowa website describes Gorgon GTX as ideal for fitness walking and birding as well as everyday urban wear.
I used them in the hills, in town and in the neighborhood. And yes, even on a visit to Costco and the rifle range. The acid test was on the above mentioned Mau’umae trail on a day that was quite wet. The volcanic rock is not only sharp but can be quite slick. It’s easy to get hurt if you’re not careful. The ‘Gorgons’ performed marvelously by being exceptionally grippy and the GORE-TEX kept the moisture out.
Suffice to say they are just fine for the street and provided the kind of stability I needed at the range.
I’m not quite sure where the birding fits in or that there were even shoes designed for this avocation, but why not? Birders need to wend their way through just about every terrain, even swampy areas and that’s where this GORE-TEX enabled shoe makes a whole lot of sense.
One last thing. The LOWAs are going to outlast just about any other shoe in this category. At $210 retail it’s not inexpensive but in the long run you’ll both save money and have an incredible comfortable experience.
Note that if you poke around the internet you may find these shoes on sale. The newer models have different color schemes and the retailers are selling the older ones for up to 50% off. My shoes were Black/Anthracite but you can also get them in Steel/Blue and Ranger Green.
One more thing. To conquer the Covid-19 blues just remember Dr. Jung’s words, “put one foot in front of the other.
Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and Fijiguide.com.