Lowa Zephyr GTX Mid TF Review
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.
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
The Zephyr is designed for:
It’s not designed for:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
There’s not much to dislike about these boots, but we’d like to see some upgrades made on a new version:
While the boots weigh ~550g per shoe, they feature an ideal roll–off motion thanks to proprietary stud configuration developed by Lowa. The boots are technically, heavy but they feel relatively light on your feet.
The boots can withstand short exposure to monsoon downpours in Thailand, but not long exposure (1+ hour). As for stepping in creeks / bodies of water, moisture won’t seep in as long the tongue isn’t submerged.
The boots were comfortable out of the box, but it’s recommended to spend 2 weeks breaking them in before any prolonged use.
The boots fit true-to-size.
Build quality, waterproofness, and breathability are all excellent. However, mud is a bit difficult to clean off of the upper material.
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.
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