2011 Update: Although I still wear the Renegade boots, and claim that they’re the best hiking boots on the market, my reasons for doing so differ from those I expressed three and a half years ago. (And I don’t like Superfeet anymore!) The following is left for posterity.
Early last Fall, it became clear that my old pair of boots — 5.11 HRTs — were at the end of their life. New insoles bought me a little while longer, but the fact had to be faced.
I knew exactly what boots I wanted to replace them. Trouble was, I couldn’t afford them. (Still can’t, in fact.) So I had to search for something else to hold me over for a while. I’d heard much positive review of Lowa and Vasque, and thought this an excellent opportunity to try them out. After much research, I settled on the Lowa Renegade GTX hiking boot.
REI happened to carry them and, rather conveniently, I had a pair of boots that I’d been given a while ago but never been very fond of (Montrail Torre GTX — I wore them in Thailand). So I took (perhaps unfair) advantage of REI’s lenient return policy, and ended up with a pair of Lowa Renegades for only $30.
The craftsmanship is excellent. I can spot no failures of any kind along the boots. Most any other boot I’ve worn for this amount of time has shown some small failure: a broken stitch, or a bit coming unglued somewhere. Not so with the Renegades. The Germans, I think, know a thing a two about making boots. (Actually, they’re made in Slovakia, but I’m Am’r’can, damnit, so that’s close enough for me.)
The soles are Vibram, like most other boots, and provide excellent traction on varied terrain: concrete, dirt, rocks, etc. Snow is a little iffy, but that’s been the case with any boot I’ve had.
The Gore-Tex liner is great. Verifiably waterproof and breathable (though I’ve not had the opportunity to wear the boots in hot weather).
The break-in period was non-existent. They were comfortable and supportive as soon as I put them on.
My feet registered no complaints concerning the standard Lowa insoles, but they were small and flimsy, like those provided by any other boot manufacturer, and I’ve been in a love affair with Green Superfeet since the Summer (more on that later), so after a couple weeks I swapped them out, and have been happier for it.
Some people report Lowa runs slightly large, but I found this to be untrue. I ordered my normal boot size, and they fit perfectly.
The absolutely only complaint I can offer for the Renegades is the lacing system. Lowa is quite fond of their D-rings. I am not. They allow for slightly faster unlacing, but slower lacing. And if you lace too fast, without paying attention, the lace may not make it’s way entirely inside one of the rings, and pop out eventually. This happens every now and then to me. It’s not enough to turn me off from the boots, or dissuade me from recommending them, but it is a minor annoyance. (And I had to find something to complain about.)
I’ve been wearing them daily for close to 5 months now. Though this Fall and Winter, regrettably, have seen me mostly in urban areas, not logging any serious mileage over mountainous terrain with heavy loads, I am very pleased with the Renegades and whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone looking for a mid-to-light hiking boot, or footwear for every day urban wear. (Plus, they look quite snazzy with TAD Legionnaires, no?)
I wore these boots yesterday on a 23 mile hike, with about 1300 ft elevation gain, under a 75lb pack. My feet aren’t too happy about it, though they’ve ended up worse after shorter humps with lighter loads in lesser boots. Last week I did 12 miles under the same load with no problem. They’re definitely light hiking boots.