Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid TF Review

Overall Score:8.2

After 12 months of extensive use, the Lowa Zehpyr GTX Mid have proven to be a solid pair of general-purpose boots, whether on or off the trail. They feature a fully waterproof construction and are one of the lightest, most nimble boots in its class – highly underrated for hiking. 

Durability: 8.0
Functionality: 9.0
Performance: 9.0
Aesthetics: 7.5
Value: 7.5

Weight: 560 g (per shoe)

Upper: Split Leather / Synthetic

Weatherability: GORE-TEX Extended Comfort

Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm

Manufacturing Country: Slovakia

Warranty: 1 Year

Length of Test: 12 months

Acquisition: Self Purchase

Countries: Thailand

The Zephyr is designed for:

  • All-terrain, 3-season use.

It’s not designed for:

  • Deep winter or extreme conditions.
Durablity

Build Quality

Lowa is known for quality craftsmanship and the Zephyr GTX Mid is exactly what you’d expect from this historic German brand. For starters, the split leather / synthetic upper has proven to be hardwearing and abrasion-resistant. The boots have been pressed, pushed, and dragged through the Thai jungle with only minimal signs of wear.

The exterior edges of the midsole have taken a beating and have slight cosmetic damage, but the PU cushioning doesn’t feel any more packed out than when the boots were brand new. Further more, the lugs are all intact and not overly worn. 

On the flip side, some of the seams and stitching have frayed and become a bit loose – although nothing has fallen apart. 

Functionality

Main Feature Set

Weatherability: The Zephyr’s GORE-TEX (GTX) membrane has lived up to its hard-earned reputation. I’ve worn the boots in monsoon-level rainstorms, hiked through wet rainforests, and crossed numerous streams with no leakage or wetting out to date.  

Even with their high-performance GTX lining, the boots have always managed a fair amount of breathability. After extensive high-output use in the tropics, my feet never overheated or felt clammy – when paired with midweight merino wool socks

As a side note: it’s worth noting that the Zehpyr’s dry quicker than most GTX-lined boots – within 6 hours or so, depending on the humidity level. 

Traction: Traction is a clear strong suit of the Zephyr GTX Mid. The Lowa Cross II outsole is ridiculously durable, shock-absorbing and has excelled on a variety of terrain including the unforgiving floors of the Thai jungle. To my surprise, Lowa’s proprietary outsole has performed better than any Vibram or Contagrip outsole I’ve used in the past. 

Even on wet surfaces (the natural kind), the outsole’s deep lugs and aggressive tread pattern provided a grippy surface for crossing numerous rivers via slippery, wet logs – without losing my footing once. However, on wet concreate… tread carefully. Otherwise you’ll be slipping and sliding around like a penguin on ice. 

Performance

Practical Utility

Comfort: minus the relatively narrow toe box, the Zephyr GTX Mid are hands-down the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. The entire “frame” of the boot is built around a lightweight philosophy of shock attenuation, speed, and agility. 

Unlike the clunky and heavy leather boots of yesteryear, the Zehpyr’s are comfortable enough for all day wear – especially for multi-day trekking.  

Since Lowa sacrificed cushioning and trimmed down the upper to shave weight, the boots sport a highly nimble feel. And for how light these boots are, they offer much better support than expected and can handle heavy use in difficult terrain. 

The midsole’s dual-density PU is moderately (torsionally) rigid, which allows for solid foot planting but still offers enough flex when sidestepping. Most importantly, the Zephyr has had no problem hauling a 25+ kg pack for rucking through technical terrain while both acending and descending – a worthy feat for any boot. 

Aesthetics

Design Elements

The Zephyr GTX Mid boots have an aggressive design that might have too much of a “tacticool” aesthetic for some. Given that they were originally purpose-built as desert combat boots for the British SAS, the military-vibe is engrained into their design heritage. For us, the polarizing look of these boots only add to their rugged charm. 

As for versatility, I’ve used these boots extensively around town and on the trail – regardless of the environment, they never felt out of place.  

At the time of writing, the boots comes in six (tactical) colorways: wolf grey, black, desert, coyote, ranger green, and sage green.

Value

Primary Alternatives

The Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid is one of the most underrated midweight boots on the market. While popular with tactical operators around the world, these boots are less-known by backpacking and outdoor-focused communities. Even with their military origins, these boots have a “born in the mountains” DNA and will perform better than most of their hiking-bred competition. 

If you’re looking for an even lighter weight boot or are interested in minimalist footwear, we highly recommend that you check out the VivoBarefoot Tracker FG

Alternatively, the primary competition (non zero-drop) for the Zephyr GTX Mid are:

BOOTS UPPER MATERIAL OUTSOLE WEIGHT WATERPROOF?
Zephyr Split Leather / Synthetic LOWA Cross II 560 g Yes
Tracker FG Wildhide Leather VBF Firm Ground 329 g Yes
Acrux TR Synthetic Vibram Megagrip 608 g Yes
Stream Synthetic Vibram XS Trek 544 g Yes
Ridge Flex Leather / Synthetic Keen.All-Terrain 603 g Yes
8.2/10 Rating

Overall Verdict

The Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid TF is a solid choice for a midweight maximalist boot – from day hiking to multi-day trekking, and even everyday wear.

For myself, I’ve transitioned to exclusively wearing zero-drop minimalist shoes. So, it’s hard for me to wholeheartedly recommend a maximalist boot with a 10mm drop and relatively narrow toe box. However, for individuals that have yet to or do not to want to make the transition to minimalist shoes, the Zephyrs are a recommended buy. 

What We Liked

  • Exceptional traction on most terrains: wet, dry, and mud.
  • Long-lasting and reliable waterproof GTX lining . 
  • Supportive with a highly nimble feel, for speed and agility.  

What Could Use Improvements

  • A more natural toe box for increased toe splay capability.
  • A lower heel-to-toe drop (perhaps 4mm) for better ergonomics.
  • Less shock attenuation for better proprioception. 
Longevity

Usage Timeline

Excellent

Initial Usage

Build quality, waterproofness, and breathability are all excellent. However, mud is a bit difficult to clean off of the upper material. 

Excellent

Good

12 Months of Usage

A year of near daily use has definitely made these boots seen better days, but they’re still in an overall good condition. Based on the total amount of wear, they should have another year of “life” left in them.

Good

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