Hands-on Gear Review

Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's Review

Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO
Best Buy Award
Price:  $400 List | $400.00 at REI
Pros:  Easy to put on, lightweight, good heel lock, climbs well, deep heel makes good traction while walking
Cons:  Not as warm as other boots, webbing lace loops seem vulnerable
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Lowa

Our Verdict

In the mountains, low weight, comfort, and high technical performance are all qualities which are highly desirable. The Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's hits that sweet spot of being comparable to a comfy light-weight hiking boot while possessing technical ice capabilities. The wide tongue-opening makes them slide on to the foot more easily than any other product tested and the flexible ankle cuff and rockered sole allow them to hike very well. The stiff full shank and innovative tongue stud for lacing combine to offer the perfect amount of support and stability for front-pointing in the ice. The main downside we see to these well-priced boots are that they are less warm than some of the competition. However, in our tests, these are the most reasonably priced full-shank women's mountaineering boots that accept step-in crampons, and we think they are an amazing deal for what you get, which wins them the Best Buy award.

New Version Update - September 2017
The Lowa Mountain Expert is now called the Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's. While you can still find the old model on sale from multiple major retailers, our purchase links will take you to the new version which is pictured in the main photo above. Keep reading to see the results of the design overhaul!


RELATED REVIEW: The 6 Best Mountaineering Boots For Women

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
McKenzie Long

Last Updated:
Tuesday
September 5, 2017

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The New Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO Vs. The Older Version Of The Mountain Expert


The Lowa Mountain Expert is now called the Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO - Women's and retails for $400. The updates are numerous with regards to the lacing system. The new model implements the new I-Lock system: a locking eyelet which essentially allows you to separate the tightness between the top of the foot and the shaft of the boot. The roller eyelets on top of the foot are a new addition and contribute to a more even distribution of pressure. Lastly, the eyelets on top of the foot are on their own fabric and leather tabs in order to dole out the tension equanimously and to stop the upper material from bunching together as the foot flexes forward. The midsole is also redesigned with DuraPU™rubber, which contributes to lowering the overall weight of the shoe (which now weighs 3.34 lbs). Lastly, details like the stitching patterns and logo placements are switched up to offer a fresh aesthetic. The new model is offered in a Berry color and there is a $5 increase in price. Overall, it seems like these reconfigurations will affect the adjustability and comfort of the boot!

For a quick visual comparison, see the side-by-side photos below, with the new Mountain Expert GTX EVO on the left, and the older Mountain Expert pictured on the right.
Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO
Lowa Mountian Expert - Women's

Here's a summary of the main differences between the Lowa Mountain Expert GTX EVO and the previous version:
  • Camming Eyelet — This new hardware located at the top of the ankle makes it possible to customize the tension at the top of the foot separately from the bottom of the boot.
  • Roller Eyelet — The new roller eyelets have the purpose of distributing weight evenly across the top of the foot.
  • Flexfit Synchro system — The eyelets occupy their own on their own fabric and leather tab real estate, so to speak, to allocate tension uniformly and to prevent the upper material from scrunching up as the foot flexes forward.
  • New Midsole — The Mountain Expert GTX EVO features an updated DuraPU™ midsole. This material is lighter and, according to Lowa, doesn't affect the boot's stiffness and support.
  • New Color — The latest version is available in a Berry/Black color scheme.
  • New Design — Looking at the comparison photos above, you can see slight tweaks all over the boot (stitching lines, logo placement etc) which result in a fresh looking product.
  • Reduced Weight — A pair of the Mountain Expert GTX EVO weighs 3.34 lbs (compared with 3.92 lbs).

We've yet to put these boots on our feet, so cannot vouch for them. Until we have the chance to do so, the review below refers to the older Lowa Mountain Expert boots.

Hands-On Review Of The Lowa Mountain Expert Boots


Leading ice in Lee Vining Canyon  CA in the Lowa Mountain Expert. These boots have excellent heel lock  which allows them to front-point and climb ice very well.
Leading ice in Lee Vining Canyon, CA in the Lowa Mountain Expert. These boots have excellent heel lock, which allows them to front-point and climb ice very well.

Weight


As the lightest full-shank women's boot we tested, the Mountain Expert provides great performance without weighing down your feet. Each boot weighed 31.32 ounces for a size 41 (which was the largest size we tested, and still the lightest). The lightness of these boots adds to the comfort while hiking and climbing. Even though we like the performance of the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX - Women's, they are much heavier, which tires the legs and feet much more quickly over a full day of activity.

Warmth


Insulated with synthetic Primaloft, these lightweight boots skimp a little on warmth. They still protect your feet in the cold while ice climbing and standing in snow, but are noticeably less warm than the Mont Blanc or Nepal Cube boots. This makes them a better choice if you plan to do a lot of hiking in your boots, but not a good choice if you plan on spending a great deal of time outdoors in below zero temps.

Water Resistance


Lined with a waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex membrane, these boots protect well against wetness.

Rock Climbing Ability


The flexible ankle cuff also allows for more movement while pulling the occasional rock move. The sole rubber is fairly sticky, which helps to grip the rock, but the edging precision in these boots is less than in some of the other boots. Having a front toe-welt allows for use with step-in crampons, which makes them climb ice far better than a boot without a front welt, like the La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX - Women's, but reduces the edging and smearing ability simply by adding bulk to the front of the boot. These boots are best at ice climbing, and won't fail you if you have to climb the occasional rock step to the summit. If you plan to do a lot of rock scrambling, try a boot like the Trango which is tailored to that purpose.

Ice Climbing Ability



McKenzie Long leading a pitch of ice in the Lowa Mountain Experts. The excellent heel-lock and stiffness of the full shank allow these boots to climb ice very well  and provide excellent support for front-pointing.
McKenzie Long leading a pitch of ice in the Lowa Mountain Experts. The excellent heel-lock and stiffness of the full shank allow these boots to climb ice very well, and provide excellent support for front-pointing.

Qualities that make for good ice climbing ability are stiff, full-boot support, and good heel-lock, which often comes down to fit and the lacing system. The Mountain Expert has both. The tongue has a metal stud in the center for winding the laces around. Lowa claims that this patent-pending feature allows for customization of the tightness along the top of the foot. At first we were skeptical, but found that this in conjunction with a good-fitting heel cup keep the foot firmly in place and prevent the feet from sliding forward and banging into the front of the boot.

The metal tongue stud is a patent-pending innovation that is intended to allow the wearer to customize lace pressure along the front of the boot. We feel that it does help with the heel lock while climbing.
The metal tongue stud is a patent-pending innovation that is intended to allow the wearer to customize lace pressure along the front of the boot. We feel that it does help with the heel lock while climbing.

With the heel locked in place, the feet and legs have good leverage when front-pointing in the ice without the insecure feeling of the heels sliding up in the boot. The stiff- full shank provides a great platform to stand on in crampons. Overall we were quite impressed with the ice climbing ability of these boots.

Hiking Ability


The flexible, slightly lower-cut ankle cuff allows for a great range of movement while hiking and approaching. The sole is rockered, which enhances the hiking ability and makes for more natural movement in an otherwise stiff boot. The heel is not as deeply incut as on the Nepal Cube GTX or the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX - Women's, but is still pronounced enough to provide decent traction and braking when walking downhill in slippery snow.

Durability


Overall, we found the Lowa boots to be durable and hold up to hard use well. The one problem we foresee is that the webbing loops that hold the 3rd metal lace loop seem vulnerably placed, and could be snagged by sharp crampon points.

The laces on the Lowa Mountain Expert. We feel that the webbing holding the 3rd metal grommet lace pull might not last.
The laces on the Lowa Mountain Expert. We feel that the webbing holding the 3rd metal grommet lace pull might not last.

Best Application


Since these boots are less warm than some of the other boots we tested, they are not the best choice for very cold climates like Colorado, but work better in wetter, warmer maritime climates, such as California and the Cascades. Since they are lightweight and hike well, they also make sturdy boots for backpacking in snowy, alpine environments.

Value


For $100 less than our Editors' Choice winner, the Lowa Mountain Expert is a lightweight, high performing boot at a lower cost, which is why it wins our Best Buy Award. It is an excellent deal for a high-quality product.
McKenzie Long

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 5, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Climber

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Nov 22, 2013 - 11:21pm
Gingerela · Climber · New York, NY
After gear demo in Ouray Ice Fest in 2011, I felt in love with Lowa Mountain Expert and bought it as my second pair of mountaineering boots. I have never been happier with them, and they have been to Mt. Whitney and Mt. Rainier with me since then. Comfort, warmth, flexibility, water-resistance, durability, light-weight and easy to put on / take off are some of the best feature I enjoy.

I was sporting Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX In my first ice season. I could climb but I have flat arch & poor circulation. My feet were constantly cold despite adding heat-reflecting insoles & toe warmers. I like the warmth of the LaSportiva Evo but it was too pricey and heavy as hell.

When I demo Mountain Expert, the warmth I felt for the first time in my toes was comforting. The boots gave me more control with crampons (M10) and I could feel the terrain & ice more precisely. The price and design made Mountain Expert a great find amid the ultra pricey Evo and other brands. The boots are so comfortable, flexible, warm and light (yes, light!) that wearing them are no different from putting on a pair of trail runner.

On winter backpacking trips my feet stayed dry after stream crossing and all day in the rain. My feet were comfortable in them most of the day. On water ice climb I never had wet feet (when worn with gaiters and hardshell bibs.) These boots are easy to put on and take off. When you put them on, they stay ON and rarely did the lace come loose. The boots are easy to clean and maintain. I highly recommend Lowa Mountain Expert to lady mountaineers and ice climbers from novice to expert.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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