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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.