I gave up heavy boots long ago, and Lowa’s Focus GTX is a perfect example of my trail choice now, whether I’m just out for the day or humping 40 pounds over a long weekend. Yes, if I were going to tackle a five-day outing on the PCT I might want a boot that would outlive me, be resole-able, and built like a Russian tank. But for everything else, that is, 99 percent of my hiking and backpacking, the Lowa is ideal.
At just slightly more than a pound a boot, the Lowa is no minimalist trail runner, either. The outsole is super grippy, even on East Coast moss and teflon-slick roots, and there’s enough meat underneath that you can stomp where you want without worrying too much about sore dogs. (Speaking of which, the heavy toe rand is more protective than average, too.)
Lowa has also managed to make a low-riding hiking shoe that doesn’t suffer from constant tongue wandering, even without over-tightening laces to secure it.
Gore-Tex? Yes, but the reality is a low-cut shoe will get over-topped by even a trickle of water. The larger benefit (this time of year) is that it keeps the Focus warmer, so you can wear a lighter sock.
The only criticism you might level at the Focus is that it is a little burly — you can shave yet more ounces if you want an ultralight day hiker. But what I dig is that there’s enough shoe here to happily hike with a weekend full of gear on your back, but not so much you’d opt to go lighter if you’re just out for a faster afternoon of Class IV scrambling.